My, How things have changed – Part 3 -Typing

Tuesday 15th November

When I first started working in that little engineering firm, I remember clearing out an old filing cupboard, and coming across several sheets of lined foolscap covered in some strange markings, almost hieroglyphics, but more like squiggles and dashes.  At first I thought they might have been in Urdu or Arabic, but Wendy, a much older woman in the office, put me straight. “Oh, that is shorthand, that is.  I don’t think anyone here uses it anymore.”  Apparently there was a whole language, which secretaries used, to write as speedily as a letter was being dictated by their boss.  And then they would sit down at a typewriter and type up the letter, making sure to insert a sheet of carbon paper between two sheets, one flimsy, being the office copy, and a piece of stiffer letter-headed paper in front.  And the typewriter may well have been mechanical or an early electric one with some sort of automated paragraph stops and a return key, rather than sliding that big chrome lever all the way across the platen bar, often making a ringing sound.  I am suddenly reminded now of another favorite on childhood radio, “The Typewriter Symphony” which I used to love, but I digress.

For years typewriters were the norm, and armies of women became typists as a career.  In large organizations there would be whole rooms full of typists – ‘The Typing Pool’, and even quite small firms would often employ someone just to type up not only letters, but contracts, orders and invoices and receipts.  There were precious few photocopiers, and typists used to always have a bottle of tippex, or little leaves of correcting paper to overtype on mistakes.  If you made a mistake, there was no backspace and change facility, and no spellcheck either, you had to get it right first time, or go back and manually correct it, or worst of all, start over again.

Then, wonder of wonders the electronic word processor arrived, which had the simple facility of remembering the order of the keys typed, and so standardized letters could be remembered along with all the Tabs and spacings and paragraphs and bullet points, and better still amended before pressing print, and just like a mechanical piano off it went and typed, well – golf-balled most likely, a whole document on its’ own.

Pretty soon even this too became obsolete, as the PC with Word and cheap printers became pretty ubiquitous everywhere.  And now, we do not need those armies of typists, with all their specialist knowledge.  Everyone can type their own letters, and thanks to spellcheck no-one even needs to know how to spell, and judging by the hasty entries one sees on facebook all the time even cares how bad their spelling is.  Mobile phones now come with keyboards, or touch screen versions and there is even software available for disabled people to be able to type, just by using a pointer or looking at the screen keyboard and blinking.  And voice command technology is so good nowadays that you pretty soon will not even need a keyboard at all.  I wonder how long before we will be able to just think our letters and out the cursor on the screen will roll the words, all spelled correctly and with orthodox syntax and any font you want too.   Or maybe we will see the death of the printed word completely – all communication being straight from person to person with no interface at all – much like talking once was.

Forgiving and forgetting

Monday 14th November

You know that old adage, forgive and forget; so easy to say but much harder to accomplish.  If anything the forgiving is quite easy, at least on the surface – the hard part is the forgetting.  And because the forgetting is so hard, then whenever you remember, you remember the hurt too and that little bloom of anger will sometimes burst open and flower again, and so what was forgiveness all about if it can still hurt to remember.  And what is it about forgetting that we find it so hard to forget the slights, the rejections, the wrongs done to us, and sometimes find it harder to remember the good things, the times people were kind to us, or did us favors.  Are we really so mean spirited that we harbor these grudges for so many years, when the one who supposedly hurt us has in all probability completely forgotten that they ever upset us.  Maybe it is because there is some sort of unfinished business going on here; that riposte you only thought of saying days later, the words you should have said but were too shell-shocked or too scared of, in your turn, hurting them that you held back, bit your tongue, choked back that bitter reply.  But because you held it in it is still rattling round there somewhere inside your mind with no way out, except to resurface every now and then and remind you, especially when you thought you had forgiven and forgotten them long ago.

Sometimes these memories of hurt done to you and unresolved become so bad that people seek professional help.  I have never had any truck with psychiatry, or counseling as they call it nowadays – can you really imagine opening your heart up to a complete stranger in that way; letting them poke around in your memories, stirring up even deeper thoughts from your self-consciousness that really should remain buried.  I have found that working through it all, and yes, as I have done, writing it all down is the best way of dealing with these old wounds.

Someone, I cannot remember who, wrote that at a certain age we are all damaged goods, and yes I can look back and easily blame my absent father or my absent-minded mother, or my over-bearing Grandma for making me who I am – but maybe I should really be thanking them, rather than blaming them.  If I had had an ordinary (though what that is I can only imagine) childhood and hadn’t grown up an only child and so introspective, and reflective, then maybe I would not have been able to have written my book at all.  I mean, who wants to read about a boring and safe life lived with full confidence and making no mistakes at all. It is the flaws in people that we find so attractive not the perfection.

So Forgive, yes Forgive by all means, it is really quite easy to Forgive  – nothing really matters that much, it was only life after all.  But do not Forget, no, never let yourself Forget, but treasure that hurt, harbor it and use it to make something good come out of it.

The Whole European Project and beyond

Sunday 13th November

Although one hesitates to comment for fear that one’s observations will be obsolete before daybreak, what with elected heads of government toppling almost daily and stock markets zig-zagging their charts across our screens hourly, and the wringing of hands and almost constant summit meetings of Merkel and Sarkozy,  (I quite like the term Merkozy actually, it has a ring about it) and the smugness of our own Cameron and Osborne that we aren’t in the Euro, thanks of course to the much reviled Gordon Brown, who of course will never be thanked for it – it is actually in an awful mess.

Co-incidentally, after yesterdays post, and of course nothing is co-incidence – it is all linked, the whole thing kicked off shortly after the war ended and was an attempt by France Germany and Italy to tie their economies together so that they could never go to War again.  Laudable and completely logical, especially after the dropping of those awful atom bombs on Japan, when the understanding was that all future Wars would end in this sort of annihilation, (well they were wrong about that) and given that European history of a millennium and more of almost constant war the prospect of any future War in Europe was viewed with such horror.  The thing grew and grew and became a roaring success, and at least some of the participants were aware of the logical inevitability that they were creating a United States of Europe, or trying to.  But unlike America, which grew exponentially, as more and more States were formed by wiping out the Native Americans and filling up the space with mostly poor and dispossessed Europeans, Europe was a different entity entirely.

And now that the Euro, the financial precursor to political Union, is so spectacularly falling apart, one has to begin questioning the logic of Europe entirely.  I am certainly not one of those Tory backwoods supporters who have never gotten over the fact that we no longer have an Empire, and no little Englander either, I quite like the multi-cultural society we live in, especially here in London.  In any case one cannot stop historical inevitability, and now that air travel has facilitated easy and cheap mobility, people will move and want to work in whatever country they fancy.  Maybe we should just forget about borders completely and let people travel where they will without let or hindrance, it will probably sort itself out in the end in any case.  The war on illegal immigration seems to be going the same way as the war on drugs; vast expenditure and very limited success, and fortunes being made by criminals fighting the system.  Am I advocating Anarchy?  No, but maybe just accepting that the world is becoming much smaller and facing up to the fact that companies and people will move to wherever it is most advantageous, so maybe we should be trying to equalize conditions and taxes and wages all over the world, so that Nations become more like regions and we stop worrying about all of this competitive growth that is ruining the planet, and concentrate on living together happily.

Oh Catherine!!!  Pipedreams surely, but actually – that is probably what most people really would like, so why not.  You know why not, stupid.

The Day after Armistice Day

Saturday 12th November

When I was a little girl, shortly after landing back in England and moving to Putney I joined the Brownies.  Well, in reality, Grandma enrolled me in the Brownies – she thought it would do me good “It will buck you up Catherine, and you will meet lots of girls of your own age.”  I really did not like the Brownies that much, I couldn’t understand what all the stuff about Uniforms and being in a Pack meant, to me it was just another part of this enforced culture being shoved down my throat.  I was a very reluctant Brownie, I didn’t mix with the other girls and used to miss it quite a few weeks, skulking in my bedroom and hoping Grandma didn’t remember it was Brownies night.  But I can remember twice taking part in Remembrance Sunday marches, I was only eight or nine and though the war was fresh in all our collective memories I had been born just after it ended, so I couldn’t really understand what all the fuss was about.  How strange to be celebrating all those who had fallen, (died of course, but fallen sounded more poetic) as if War itself was something heroic.  We were formed into rows about six wide and had to wait in the cold and drizzle until it was our turn to join in, behind the cubs and before the Boys Brigade, then we had to walk along the High Street, lined with onlookers in dark coats and umbrellas, and to the Memorial gates where we were again sorted into groups, us brownies quite near the front.  There was a ceremony with laying of wreaths and a trumpet solo, and then slowly everyone left.  I don’t suppose that at that age I thought about it that much, the horror of war and dying for ones’ country were not things that a nine year old girl normally dwells upon.

At school I always quite liked poetry but was more interested In the mechanics of metre and rhyme than the sense of the thing, but at about fourteen I started reading Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and the other War Poets and it suddenly hit me, what all the fuss was about.  The suffering of the troops, especially in the First World War in the trenches, and the horrendous casualty rates, had been so traumatic that society had more or less renounced War forever. And one just cannot imagine the true horror of that war, as poorly educated farm boys were shipped off to tramp in fields of mud and sulphurous gases and knowing they were just waiting their turn to go over the top and face a hail of bullets.  Incredible then, that we managed to stumble into the Second War in a generation, and so soon after too.  And I see the observance of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday parades as a sort of collective shame that we have failed those who fell in former Wars, by not ensuring there will never be any more War.  And yet we still continue, here In the twenty-first Century to send young men, hardly more than boys off to War; and though we might hide behind UN resolutions, (or in the case of Iraq, the lack of one) we simply do not learn the lessons of history, that War solves nothing that could not have been sorted out by talking instead of shooting.  So, as Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Milliband will be laying their wreaths tomorrow at the Cenotaph with heads bowed and serious faces, they will happily commit even more young men and women to die in maybe Syria or Iran, or wherever they might decide in the near future.  Because for all the bowed heads and wreaths the simple truth is that the dead cannot speak.

Frozen Planet – Amazing

Friday 11th November

Having just taken you down the by-ways of nineteen seventies television, how about coming bang up to date with the wonderful ‘Frozen Planet’?  I have always loved Natural History programs, and nobody does it better than the BBC.  In fact I think that ITV have stopped altogether – maybe they think there is enough wild life on X factor already.  Well, if the audience figures are anything to go by then watching poor innocent lambs being torn apart before our very eyes by ravenous vultures is as popular as ever.  I have only dallied once, when, out of sheer boredom, and maybe a modicum of curiosity at what all the fuss was about, I watched a few minutes of X factor; and a few minutes was enough.  Maybe it says a lot about our society that this sort of thing is so successful, at least I suppose it might be considered one step up from Big Brother.

As a child I used to love those Disney wild-life films, you know, the ones about a bear family in Yellowstone Park, or prairie dogs or the mountain lion jumping from rock to rock. Then we had the wonderful Life on Earth and all the other Life ones which followed, all beautifully filmed and sound-tracked by what was at the time, a relatively youthful David Attenborough.  What is it about his voice, with those slightly arched and old-fashioned middle class tones that we find so reassuring and attractive?  He is, by all accounts, quite curmudgeonly and very right wing in real life; none of that stops him from being able to talk with what seems such intimate knowledge and enthrallment about the natural world, and the dangers which mankind is threatening it with.  So, a long quiet love affair, shared by millions I am sure, and possibly we were always a bit afraid that the current series might be his last.  Someone once reviewed the Rolling Stones (no, I do not like them at all and never have done) that one went to watch them not to see how good they were, but just to see if they were still alive.  But David Attenborough just seems to get better and better; nowadays he doesn’t walk through caves where millions of fruit bats are roosting and, incidentally, defecating on his head, and he doesn’t sit in a forest glade with silver-backed gorillas’ any more, in fact one fears that never more will we see him in those baggy khaki shorts and safari shirts.  He just narrates, and brings to life the spectacular photography, and what photography, slow motion and time-lapsed ice crystals forming or melting, and the beautiful underwater ice sculptures are just incredible.  My only small gripe is the bit tacked on the end where they show you how they filmed it, this takes away some of the romance I feel.

Maybe in a hundred years time, we will have begun to properly explore Antartica, if the technology has improved significantly; though in all likelihood we will destroy more than we manage to preserve.  It used to be a real rarity for anyone to reach either pole, and it was only a hundred years ago since Amundsen beat Scott by days to the South Pole, but now our modern-day adventurers’ Polar achievements are hardly even newsworthy, but I was dismayed when this past summer they managed to take a ship right around the Arctic circle, now ice-free because of global warming.  The most sobering thought is that this program may be obsolete at some time in the future, as our Frozen Planet becomes even more of a rarity.

A Bouquet of Barbed Wire

Thursday 10th November

I watched the TV serial first, then ran out and bought the book, which was unusual for me as I was usually drawn to watching something because I had already read the book, and then feeling slightly let down, as the characters never quite lived up to my imagination of them. This time around I got hooked, line and sinker I might add, to Prue and her mother Cass, and her American Husband, the precocious Gavin, and her obsessed and lovelorn father Peter, played superbly by Frank Finlay.  It was amazingly modern and frank, very risqué for 1976, and terribly exciting, with its combinations of flirting and eroticism.  The dark undercurrent of mental if not physical incest of Peter for his daughter was quite shocking too.  But so brilliantly acted, and skillfully written that it teased you right up to the end.  It was written by Andrea Newman, a writer I was unfamiliar with, and though I loved Bouquet and bought the book and read it almost in one go, I never really liked anything else she has written.  Maybe it was just that the TV serial had so whetted my appetite for the characters that I just wanted to devour anything about them; I can remember the anticipation building through the week until it came on again, and there was a real buzz at work, as everyone talked about it, and had opinions about the morality of the different characters.  One of the themes was that Cass, Prue’s mother seems to be quite aware that Prue’s husband is trying to seduce her, and seems to be quietly encouraging him; at the time this idea, of a much older woman leading on, enticing, stealing a lover from her own daughter was really quite shocking.  Older women didn’t do that sort of thing did they?  Well, yes, they obviously did, and probably always have done in certain circles; you had just never seen it on TV before.

And there were only the four characters ever on screen, except another young girl, can’t remember her name, but she came in about half way through, otherwise it was just the four of them.  A clever device as it kept the whole thing ‘in the family’, so to speak.  And the strange thing is I cannot even remember the ending, and even though one was desperate to find out what would happen next, desperate almost to see who would be sleeping with whom next, the ending eludes me.  Maybe it never mattered really, it was just the being in the thing that mattered, being a part of it, almost as when one is caught up in an Agatha Christie film, the twists and turns in the plot matter not a whit, it is the world one is transported into that one loves; it really doesn’t signify which rich and scheming relative actually put the knife in, it is the telling of the story that one loves.

They tried in vain to write a sequel, Another Bouquet about a year later, but I only watched a couple of shows; the same characters, the same actors, but somehow I had moved on, or found it all a bit ridiculous a second time around.  It was a thing of the moment, it had truly captured the zeitgeist, and the imagination of millions of viewers, such was the power of the real golden age of television.

I think it was the last time I was really hooked on a television serial, with the possible exception of This Life, but that was twenty years later, and we had all moved on, maybe I will write about that another time.

The Seven Deadly Sins – Wrath

Wednesday 9th November

Los Angeles was the city chosen by Brecht in his lyrics for Anna and her twin sister Anna to discover Wrath.  Wrath, a strange and rarely used word nowadays, except in “The Wrath of the Almighty” type of proclamations by the likes of Ian Paisley in Northern Ireland.  It means Anger, of course, but violent uncontrolled Anger at that, and of course it is perfectly obvious why it is a deadly sin.  It not only harms all around one, but most of all oneself.  What makes us Angry though, is it a gradual build up of events, like the cumulative water on a stone, and then we get to a tipping point of frustration, where the least little thing makes us erupt in volcanic anger?   Or is it the righteous indignation when we are wrongly accused?  Or is it, as so often is the case, when Love turns to Fury as our loved one lets us down, or rejects us, or simply does not reciprocate in the way we do?  So many things seem to make us Angry that one wonders if it is perhaps an essential part of our make-up, a defence-mechanism maybe for survival when times are tough.  Or is it just the result of stress from living such un-natural lives? After all, it is only in the last few thousand years that we have begun to live in settled communities with different skills and tasks and the added pressures of city living, with mass transport and the commercial imperative of making a living and being successful even more recent departures, is it little wonder that though we cope on the surface we are all prone to letting things push us into Anger.

I know that I was angry with Grandma for weeks after I discovered her little poisoned darts after her death, but maybe I was not so angry at her, but at myself for letting her get to me.  And maybe this is the key to Anger; we lash out at friends and family, or the unsuspecting girl in Starbucks who gets our order wrong, or the driver of the bus when it is suddenly decided to terminate here, when all along we are maybe angry with ourselves, and often angry because we realize we have just gotten angry over nothing and rather than back down we have to justify our anger by getting really furious and threatening to write to someone’s boss, or never coming here again.  Stupid really, but sometimes when one gets angry it is really quite hard to calm down and just forget it.

But what do you say about the really angry people, who leap out of their cars and assault another driver, or who beat someone up over an insult, or smash up their partner over a suspected infidelity, or who actually murder someone in a fit of jealous rage.  How angry do you have to be, to kill someone?  Better not try and find out, I think.  I do find that I have mellowed more with age; things that would have made me livid when a younger woman I let slip by me with a resigned shrug of the shoulders, more and more I realize I cannot change the world, so why get Angry at it. ‘Nothing really matters’, I find myself saying; it’s really quite easy, it’s called Apathy.  Why don’t you try it for a change?

My, How things have changed – Part 2 Photography

Tuesday 8th November

My mother had a Brownie box camera, it was years old when I can first remember it and a bit battered at the corners.  It was basically a cardboard box covered with black paper and with a lens and exposure trigger in the front.  I believe the film had to be entered one sheet at a time in a slot at the back.  My mother took so few photo’s with it, it is quite hard to remember the sequence of events.  Consequently I have only a small handful of photos of me as a child, one or two completely unrecognizable baby pictures, one in Grandma’s arms, and one in my Silver Cross pram and  a few of me on beach holidays, presumably at Whitby as I look about ten in them.  I have no photos, except those in my head, of Cyprus.  I find this really strange; there they all were, my Mother, my Father, and Grandma in a foreign and spectacularly beautiful country and nobody thought to take any photographs. But then my mother let slip once that all the photo’s she had in Cyprus had mysteriously gotten lost in the move to London, whether by accident or by the hand of Grandma I am not sure.  These early snaps are really small too, about 3 inches by 3, and are so poorly focused as to be next to useless in trying to see what I might have looked like.

One of my first purchases when I was working was a semi-decent camera.  I spent quite a lot of money and bought a Compact Russian, half frame camera with a good lens and light meter and a full range of exposure times and F stops.  I also spent some time reading the instructions, and tried in my amateur way to take good pictures.  Because the process was quite complicated, checking the light, adjusting the distance to focus correctly on your subject, and the using your judgment as to shutter speed, and because developing a roll of film was quite expensive, you tended to think about the shot before taking it, avoiding lamp-posts sticking out of people’s heads, or shooting into bright sunshine, consequently the pictures, mine at least were pretty good.  I also adopted a policy of rejecting any I didn’t like as soon as I collected the pictures from the developers.  I have about three Albums full, of nicely mounted and annotated pictures, including some of Adrian and Justin I must admit.

My next camera was an Instamatic, with a drop in film cassette with automatic rewind.  This was self-focusing, or so it professed, though all too often you got a blurred background.  Because there was no light meter or F stop, only a little sunshine, a moon, and a half sun symbol, the pictures were inevitably poorer in quality.  This was so easy to use though that you got far more spontaneous pictures.  I used this for several years in Italy, and now looking back, I wish I had kept the old camera and thought about composition a bit more.

Then there were those cameras with a circular disc of film; I never got one of those but moved straight onto a digital one, a very expensive Christmas present from Edward.  I loved the fact that you could review and reject pictures before getting them developed.

And now it is all downloaded onto your computer, manipulated, cropped, anti-red-eyed, straightened, re-focused, more light, more contrast, so that the picture isn’t at all the same as the one you took.  Or now more and more people just fill up their mobile phone with tiny pirctures they have to squint at to even see.   Funny thing is, after downloading my pictures I hardly ever look at them again, yet I often get out my three old albums and pore over them.

Oh, I do love to be beside the Seaside

Monday 7th November

I have just returned from a weekend with friends who live by the coast, near Bournemouth.  Not quite the exotic luxury of Sandbanks, but a nice house and only a few streets from the sea.  And I am reminded how much I love being beside the sea, especially out of season, when the wind whips up the sand into little swirling eddies around your feet, the rain is gently plashing your face and the surf is crashing in rather than that gentle lapping of summer.  The Mediterranean seashore I remember as always sunny and the sea as blue as blue can be, though this may simply be the cumulative memory of many summer holidays later, set against the rainy grey of London.  Growing up in Putney, we would often holiday in Whitby, with its’ wide and flat windy bay open to the elements, the ruins of the Abbey and the narrow winding streets leading up from the beach to our Hotel.  Here the sea seemed vast and moody and not inviting at all, but as a child I used to go paddling here and can recall building sand-castles and canal systems down by the sea in the soft and wet sand.   We stopped going when I must have been about fourteen, and I spent several years without a holiday or sight of the sea at all, until after Grandma’s illness when she and my mother spent a month there, and I joined them after my Paris adventure for two weeks.

Until I met Edward I hardly went anywhere either, it always seemed too much bother, and besides I had my mother to contend with; we hardly communicated at all really, and the thought of spending two weeks by the sea-side with only my mother for company, morning noon and night, was too daunting to contemplate.  But with Edward, though we spent most of our summer breaks in Tuscany, we were never that far from the coast and would often end up in some small fishing village, taking late lunches in the beautiful Italian sunshine and enjoying their totally unhurried lifestyle, gazing out across the sand and sea, a carafe of vino-rosso, a bowl of olives and the sun slowly going down on the horizon, the perfect end to the day.

Now, although I have been invited to join friends in Italy, I politely decline; I mean what couple wants a middle-aged woman for company, but I do miss the sea I must admit.  I could easily afford to buy somewhere by the coast, and the outskirts of Bournemouth or Brighton near my father would be perfect. But then I still have the responsibility of my mother, and though she is in good health at the moment, she is at that dangerous mid-eighties age when illness can suddenly creep up on one.  So, I think I will wait a while longer before moving from London, and I must admit that I have lived almost my whole life here, for good or bad, and though I am attracted by the sea-side, and London is changing before my very eyes, I am quite nervous of the thought of moving.  So, while I do love to be beside the sea-side, I don’t need to be there all the time.

My, How things have changed – Part 1, TV

Sunday 6th November

I find it hard to remember what we did in the evenings before Television, although we did love the Wireless, especially on a Sunday evening when Grandma insisted on listening to ‘Sing something Simple’.  We were quite late getting our set, a Murphy – it must have been 1962 or there-about.  Of course, Aunt Maud had one for the Coronation, and though we missed that it was her central show-off item whenever we visited in the Fifties; she would shepherd us all in to her uncomfortable drawing room, draw the curtains and dim the lights, and get Uncle Herbert to plug it in and switch on.  Well, we waited and waited, and secretly I was sure it would never actually start, then slowly a white dot would appear in the middle of the screen, and then after about five minutes, it would pop open and a crazy zig-zag of black and white jagged images would appear, and a crackly fizzing sound.  Uncle Herbert would then go up to the set and start adjusting several small knobs on the back of the set, constantly asking if the picture had settled down.  Eventually it would be watchable, often with a heavy black and white shadow like an aura around the people talking.  Our own set was a bit more modern and would usually start after only a couple of minutes, in fact we learnt not to keep adjusting the vertical and horizontal hold buttons as it only made the picture worse, it usually cleared of its’ own accord sooner or later.  At first, Grandma would be the only person allowed to operate the set, but she soon inveigled me into being the one who had to jump up and increase the volume a bit, or just see what’s on the Commercial channel, (no remotes back then) there were of course only two channels to watch, though this hardly stopped us (well, Grandma mostly) becoming avid viewers.  I soon bored of the thing, and apart from a few American comedies like ‘I love Lucy’, ‘Green Acres’ and ‘The Beverley Hill-billies’, and our very own ‘Doctor Who’ with its’ wobbly sets and ‘Steptoe and Son’ I would watch the Six O’Clock news and a bit of Tonight and then go up to my room to read and listen to music.  My mother liked ‘Gardeners Club’; though Percy Thrower’s words of wisdom rarely translated themselves into action on my mother’s part.  She rarely sat with us and watched TV though, she always had something to sort out in her room or the kitchen.

I have been a sporadic Television watcher ever since, picking and choosing more as time goes on, ending up more often than not on BBC2 or BBC News, since I got my Freeview box.  Sometimes out of sheer boredom I flip through the available channels, and none are at all appealing, especially the shopping channels; I mean, who even watches this drivel, let alone buys anything, but I suppose people must or the channels wouldn’t exist.  Sometimes at friends who have Sky, we are taken through all the cookery and home makeover and travel channels, and even the God ones, and Asian channels, including three or four just on Weddings.  What a strange world we have available on our large flat screens, and who would have thought it when that huge wooden box full of valves was delivered in the early sixties.

Most strange of all though is TV on the computer.  Not only BBC i-player, but apparently you can ‘stream’ almost anything from anywhere in the world these days, and there are literally hundreds of digital radio stations available on the internet.  So, like that old nursery rhyme, “Rings on her fingers, and rings on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes.”  Though I doubt much is worth watching or listening to.