Sunday, August 30, 2009

The revolution will not be televised

I have never bought a television. Really. Never. Every television I've ever owned has previously belonged to someone else and been passed on to me free of charge. In 33 years of life, I have purchased just about everything else -- but television sets and sex have always been free. And recently I have decided that I don't really need one of those things.

The television, obviously.

Tomorrow, or the next day (or the next day; whenever I can be arsed), I am going to take the cumbersome Panasonic monstrosity that has sat in the living room these past three years and drive it down to the local household waste recycling centre. There, I will heave it into a skip (ftypah: "dumpster") with as much force as possible, hoping to see its lifeless grey screen smash into a jagged, dusty mess. Then I will begin a new life as the sort of Radio 4-listening type that you invite to parties because of all the interesting things I have to contribute to conversation -- thanks to my hours of taking in Desert Island Discs and the Shipping Forecast.

I will become a kind of one-man version of Chris and Jenny, without the charm, the wit, the loving interplay banter, or the Scottishness. Which kind of takes away most of the reason you would invite the Phins to a party, save Chris' extensive and unmatched knowledge of sport.

Nonetheless, I'm getting rid of my television. Admittedly, part of the reason is financial. For those of you playing along at home, owning (a) a television in the United Kingdom requires a license. If you want to watch rich cunny bastards destroying the community fabric of Britain (b), you must pay £142 a year for the privilege. For roughly the same amount of cash, you can get an hour and a half with Viki. Sadly, I just don't have the money for either.

In fairness, the license fee isn't unreasonable. Again, for those of you playing along at home and scoffing at the idea of a TV license, I would ask whether you or anyone you know watches only the television that can be received via signal. I'll bet you don't. Basic cable from a gang of cocksucking thieves Comcast will run you $8.59 a month in St. Paul, Minn. That's $103 a year. And when I lived in the U.S., I was the only person I knew slumming it with basic cable. Odds are you pay a hell of a lot to watch television; and you don't even get the pleasure of being able to complain to the government about the poor quality of what you're watching.

Still, reasonable or otherwise, I don't really have the money. So, the television goes.

I'm not too upset. As I get older I find myself watching less and less TV. And that in which I do partake is available on the internets. So, I won't miss a moment of Strictly Come Dancing when it starts up 18 September (Joe fucking Calzaghe! Yes!); episodes of NCIS will be available via Demand Five; and I was already using YouTube to watch wrestling.

But, also, as my viewing habits would suggest, television does nothing other than melt my brain. And I have come to realise that I give it far too much reign over my life. For reasons that I can't quite figure out, I am not able to not pay attention to a television. It demands that I stare, open-mouthed and idiot-eyed, at whatever flashy kabuki dance of useless information it parades before me. I must obey. I must listen. I must watch. I'm not one of those people who can block it out. No matter how incredible/amazing/wonderful the real world is, if there's a television on in the room some small part of my brain is sitting there saying: "Hey, wait, what's Paula Deen cooking? Shouldn't I be paying attention to this?"

No. No, I should not. I am less than a month away from starting in on my masters degree and I don't need the temptation of forgoing studying for the sake of watching Top Gear or Top Gear.

So, farewell, television. It was nice while it lasted.

(a) Perhaps it's misleading to say that you need a license to own a television in the UK. You can have a TV without a license but if you plug it in or even have it placed in such a way that it looks as if it could be viewed easily, a license inspector will assume it is in use and issue a hefty fine.

(b) I once watched an episode in which a couple from Devon moved to Carmarthenshire and giggled idiotically at the fact that they couldn't pronounce the name of the house they were thinking of buying.


Huw said...

I'd decided not to get a TV for my new place; football is about the only thing I like to watch that I can't watch online or on DVDs. Alas, my new landlady put paid to that plan by installing a TV as part of the property, gratis. As a fellow Free-TV obtainer, I am sure you appreciate I can't really turn that down.

I'm bring Viki along the next time we meet for a pint.

jenny said...

Yes, we lived for years without telly and became totally obsessed with Radio 4 and BBC 7. BUT AS YOU ARE FULLY AWARE it has turned us into social outcasts who can't join in properly at parties. It may look like lovely loving interplay, but it's just two confused people bumbling around an awkward conversational chasm full of rugby and ballroom dancing.

CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED! Although it will be nice to talk to someone else who has spent far too many hours of their life listening to Marcus Brigstocke.

Anonymous said...

Must admit I tend now to read after 9 pm and also the things I really want to watch - rugby, cricket and the footie has been gobbled up by Sky anyway.................
Really only watch the News and some BBC with the kids, Dr. Who, Strictly etc

Wierdo said...

Surely you'll have to wait precious extra hours for doctor who?! Is this not reason enough to keep a telly (it is for me...)

Although, without David Tennant...

Dani said...

Fine. But don't come crying to me when you miss Paula's recipe for deep fried sugared butter balls.

Banksy said...

"Whenever I can be arsed"?

You've gone native Chris, that's English usage as I don't think Americans say 'whenever I can be assed", but correct me if I'm wrong.

Unknown said...

"I haven't had a TV now for three to four years and it don't seem a day too long."

Tv is not advisable for we Bipolars Chris. We are too sensitive. It upsets the balance and equilibrium. Spend the time writing another book in Welsh about Anhwylder-dau-begwn.

Chris Cope said...

Last Train - The book is not about being bipolar. I made a real effort in writing it to ensure that it was not about that. Bipolarity is an aspect of my life but is not my life.

Cer i Grafu said...

You'll be inundated with letters from the Tv licence centre in Bristol now - about one a fortnight. They don't even give you a stamp addressed envelope to confirm that you haven't got a tele. I've been having them for years; just chuck them in the bin!

Cer i Grafu said...

By the way, you can watch all the bbc and itv channels and others on

You'r not meant to watch bbc without a licence but they won't know - the computer doesn't give off a signal even if the license van is parked outside your house, so you can watch Dr Who live if you want, but don't answer the door if anybody knocks just in case.

Unknown said...

Point Taken! I'm trying to adopt your mantra!