I don’t own a telly and this is a matter of great embarrassment to me. Admitting to being a television-less person seems to have the same connotations as choosing to become a vegan does, or being teetotal without first having a bad experience of alcohol does. I expect even people who tell others that they have a worrying and potentially dangerous fetish get a lesser reaction than I do when I reveal my home entertainment secret.
Not having a TV does have its benefits. Every day I have loads of time to spend thinking about reading a book while looking at pictures of people I don’t know any more on the internet; it also gives my living room the effortless, half-empty look of a semi-furnished crack den inhabited by a particularly house-proud addict with a separate addiction to pink Lucozade.
I do love watching TV though, so when it comes up in conversation that I don’t own one (which is more than you’d think, actually – people talk about TV shows a lot) I get one of two reactions:
1. The classic part-jealous, part-derisive “good for you” – let’s live a meaningful existence, I wish I was as ‘brave’ as you to turn down the daily malnourishment of the bore box, stick it to the fat cats, I bet you bake your own soda bread and crochet your own ukulele covers too, you wholesomely boring sonofabitch.
2. Whatever you liar, do you think you’re better than me? Is that it? You do know watching box sets is still classed as TV, don’t you? Arsehole.
The thing is, I didn’t choose to be TV-less. Why would I? I just ended up this way. I would love to own TV again and curl up in front of its warm glow; have my brains mushed to a glutinously glorious pulp and smile a gawpy smile as my time I should have been using to read New Scientist gets eaten away by repeats of How It’s Made. I like telly. I miss it.
I have a PC though, and there lies the problem. Despite gagging for my daily fix of Dave Lamb being unnecessarily sarcastic about slightly burnt bruschetta, there are things like 4od and iPlayer to appease my primal need for Embarrassing Bodies.
Unfortunately, catch-up players are thoroughly and completely shite. They are insultingly terrible to the point of being the worst way to watch or enjoy any media whatsoever. They rarely work the way they are meant to but generally this fact only reveals itself after wading through the diarrhoea quagmire that is the first four adverts. That’s almost three minutes of my fucking time they’ve stolen there, right from the word go! Three whole minutes of my life just because I want to sit at my computer and watch a documentary on the lost Abel & Cole orphans of Harrogate and Starbeck.
The relentless ad breaks aren’t even the worst; the buffering – oh! The senseless buffering! – it’s enough to drive a person to practice just LYING DOWN AND DYING because it would SERIOUSLY BE A FUCKING BETTER USE OF MY ARSESHITTING TIME.
Basically sitting in front of a pebble dashed wall and watching it crumble away slowly as the world continues its descent into the endless abyss of time is preferable to trying to “catch up” with anything on any online TV programme repeat service. They say it so casually. “Hey, did you miss that thing? Oh don’t worry, just catch it when you’ve got time in-between speedboat racing and going clubbing and having loads of sex! It’s no trouble!”
It strikes me as odd that they name all of my hobbies so specifically, but that’s the magic of modern information sharing over the internet, I suppose.
I’ve endured this existence for nearly a year now and this week after finding out there was a new series of River Cottage I decided I had enough. In two days I will be the proud owner of a brand new 24” LED flatscreen bastardmachine that will entertain the fuck out of me every night until I realise it’s 1am and I need to go to bed.
I cannot bloody well wait.