The Great No TV Challenge: Week 1

I have no choice but to live without a TV for three weeks - could you do it? And more importantly WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING ON CORONATION STREET?

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

Last week Mr. F and I moved house. It took five days, help from various friends and my eleven-year-old step-daughter, but we did it. That’s what life is like when you’re too cheap to hire a van to drag your shit six hundred metres up the road.

It also means that when you up sticks to a decidedly more modern building from the derelict one you’ve persuaded your other half to abandon*, you end up with no landline, internet or TV for the three weeks after moving.

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This is the only thing on my TV right now.

The no landline thing is fine. Our building is new and there are a few quirks to work out, and obviously, this being 2012, I have a mobile. No internet is hugely inconvenient, especially when trying to do things for work, but the Wi-Fi in the café over the road sometimes works, so I can make do.

The no TV-thing, though. Sweet Jesus.

The digital switchover happened in August in Ireland, which means that Sky are apparently inundated with customers who need their TVs/ aerials/ some other technical thing that I don’t understand retuning. They can’t sort us out until November 27th, a full three weeks after moving in.

I haven’t been without a television since I left boarding school at fifteen. I realise how spoiled this makes me sound, but take it from me, when you’re friendless and sharing a dormitory with fifteen other girls who think its fine to throw rubbish on your bed and occasionally spit at you from a second story window, a solo retreat into a world of soap operas and black and white movies in the safety of your own room is bliss.

At school, we were only allowed to watch it one fixed evening a week - they didn't even let us change the night when Top of the Pops moved from Thursday to Friday. We also had school on Saturday mornings, for our sins.

It’s not like it was horrendous, mostly it was just incredibly boring but I did miss the freedom that came from being allowed to watch TV, and to choose what I watched the whole time I was there. 

Nowadays, all my jobs (for lo, they are legion) allow me to work at home 95% of the time. On top of that, one of Mr. F’s jobs (his are legion too) is as a sub-editor on a national newspaper, which means he usually doesn’t get home from work until midnight.

This means that I don’t use just watch TV for entertainment or educational purposes. I watch it so the house is not entirely silent but for the sound of my typing. I am slightly worried about having to do without it…

Week 1:
It’s not like between unpacking boxes and trying to arrange a new flat, I’d have had time to watch a lot of telly. On priniciplw  (and because I worked in daytime TV for a short while and now can't stand it), I don’t actually turn the box on before about 6:30pm, preferring to get the most of my work done, instead.

I can find out what’s going on in the world from news sites and, of course, Twitter. I don’t even look at the news channels unless there’s a really salacious important story on.

When Mr. F is in, the TV tends to be dominated by whatever sports are on, which is fine - when he’s not in I get to be totally selfish about what’s on the box. I spend those nights reading, working on tapestries (it would gall you how long I spend on this shit, not to mention how long each one takes to complete), and making conversation with my guy.

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This tapestry measures three by four and a half feet, and quotes Nick Cave.

 

What I really like to do is record stuff - Coronation Street, Girls, Fresh Meat, Newsnight, documentaries about maths that no-one ever wants to talk about, and about a zillion films from Sky Movies, so that I have something to watch on nights when Mr F isn't about.

I know that sounds sad. I do have a social life and enough friends that I could be out every night that Mr. F is if I wanted to. I don’t, however, have the inclination.

For reasons that probably crystallised in my adolescence, mooching around solo a few evenings a week is one of my favourite things to do. I guess if you’ve ever been a loner, that sense of being happy in your company never really leaves you.

I would have appreciated the chance to stay up to date with Girls on Sky Atlantic this week (as I appear to be the only person on Earth who didn’t illegally download it) but what’s really struck me about it is the amount I’ve got done.

I wrote four xoJane pieces in one day; read an entire book in one sitting for the first time in about a year (Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch is very funny and sweet, if you’re interested); re-watched some of my favourite films on DVD and I'm not actually bored at all.

But, overall? It’s a bit like when you’re living with friends and one of them goes on holiday for a week. You don’t exactly miss them, but there’s definitely something amiss about the place. It’s a bit like Sky Atlantic and Channel 4 are my homegirls, and I really wanna talk shit with them over a bottle of wine.

Unlike that holiday feeling I’ve been getting from a lack of online access (you know – “No-one can get hold of me ergo I can’t get anything done. What a shame…” ) it’s more like being in isolation.

I can’t join in with bits of chat with my bona fide, living-and-breathing friends, or comment on Tory’s Strictly recaps, because I haven’t seen them.

My step-kids, who I usually record a couple of films and Simpsons episodes for every week, are appalled by the lack of “things to do” around the place, by which they mean “things to watch.”

At one point their boredom was such that I ended up explaining what people used to do before television was invented. Which went something like this:

“They became ‘accomplished’. They learnt all sorts of skills like how to sing or play musical instruments to entertain themselves. They also used to read aloud to each other, or paint and play games. Why don’t you play a game?”

[Note: Due to the level of ‘spirit’ in my family, I do not know how to play a single card or board game, including Scrabble. My grandmother is so competitive that by the time I was four, my cousins and I were banned from playing Snap with her because not only did she cheat constantly, she would become violently enraged if she lost.]

Anyway, the step-kids didn’t want to play a game so I ended up telling them about how the Brontë sisters used to get so bored they’d walk around their dining table for exercise. They didn’t want to do that either.

“But what do you and Dad do, when you’re here in the evenings?”

“We talk.”

“That must be weird.”

Judge freely BUT also tell me what I’ve been missing out on while TV is temporarily missing from my life. Is Girls as good as I thought it was? What’s happening on Coronation Street this week?

As soon as I get online again I’ll be tweeting throughout all my favourite shows, and a few I can’t stand @AlisandeF

*I asked to write about Chez Derel many times. Rebecca said no. [I'm sure I didn't say no - I think you offered me a choice and I picked the other one. GAH, I feel bad now! ]