Wednesday, 25 June 2014

It's a goal

While on holiday (I'm home now) I was away from TV for over three weeks. I need not have done without it. I actually brought along my 16-inch digital TV, with its aerial cable, in case I was on a Club site where you could simply plug in and watch, without fiddling around with a satellite dish. There was at least one such site.

But I never did. In the evenings, I was out catching the Golden Hour of fine light with photography in mind, or cooking, or eating, or washing up, or photo-editing, or blogging. These were all things one does. They are proper activities, with strong elements of creativity and enjoyment in them. Passively watching a flat screen, with moving coloured pictures and noise coming from it, had no appeal whatever.

I saw that most caravanners, the older ones anyway, sat inside their little (and not-so-little) homes-on-wheels staring at something on TV. Most seemed to have gigantic screens. They all sat in darkened interiors, mesmerised by what they were watching. Me, I had my lamps on, the inside of my caravan lit up brightly like a goldfish bowl at Christmas. And no TV up on a shelf to worship. Me and the laptop, for all to see and wonder at. Lucy on display. Lucy drinking tea or coffee, guarded by Fang, and watched adoringly by Rosie. Lucy alive and kicking, and not being a TV zombie. I must have been considered extrovert, eccentric, un-British. Why wasn't I watching Corrie like everyone else? Odd.

So the TV stayed in its box, and just took up floor space, getting in the way. If I wanted the BBC News, or an intelligent programme to listen to while doing something else, there was Radio 4.

It was also a waste of time bringing along videos to watch on my laptop. I never felt inclined to. I did not want to spend precious holiday time on it. Nor did I read much, except to look up quite a lot of factual stuff on the Internet.

Frankly I could have relied completely on my photos and blogging to while away the hours when inside the caravan. I also slept a bit. It was often the case that I went out late morning, returned mid-afternoon, had a cup of tea, a snack, and then a couple of hours' kip; awakening with the alarm set on Demelza to hear the 5.57pm Radio 4 Weather, and then the 6.00pm News, while I cooked. Then I'd go out again. No time for TV!

At home, my basic daily routine is this. Household chores and blogging in the morning; some lunch; a few hours out somewhere nice; then back to kip, cook, and do something interesting - which doesn't often include watching TV.

I'm terribly picky about what to watch. If it isn't compelling, something to do with history, science, or remote travel destinations, I usually don't bother.

Sport? I couldn't give a monkeys. Sport is a junk activity as far as I'm concerned, on four grounds:

(a) Personal involvement can easily overstress the body and lead to injury, with lifetime consequences;

(b) Just watching it for hours on end is bad for one's health, especially if swilling booze and munching snacks;

(c) It's competitive, which leads to aggression between the players, crass tribal behaviour among fans, and the constant potential for argument, intimidation and violence;

(d) So much money is now thrown at the main sports, that the temptation to treat them as identical money-making machines is overwhelming, and the stench of cheating, betting, bribery, and general corruption is everywhere.

I suppose I'm thinking chiefly about football, but all of the major sports, including athletics, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf, and cycling, have now become merchandising circuses, hogging TV time, and promoting spurious celebrity. It irks me that - in particular - football players and managers can acquire cult status. For what? For behaving admirably? For living exemplary lives? For promoting modesty, simplicity, intellectuality and a rejection of material acquisitiveness? For having their brains in their boots?

In my view, the World Cup and the Olympic Games waste national resources, put the police under unnecessary pressure, create disharmony between countries, and divert attention from important global problems. Do not talk to me about 'national pride' and 'bringing nations together' and 'the pure ideal of physical achievement in the service of one's country'. I think these events are poisonously divisive; and quite clearly subverted by background political and big-money dealing. Don't be deceived: it's just war and aggression by other means, with the usual profiteering going on behind the scenes. I think that multilateral co-operation and pooling of resources to combat some global issue is infinitely better than winning a few cups, and a few gold medals, and creating an excuse to stage the biggest-yet firework display.

So I've no time for any of it.

As far as I'm concerned, football and the rest could cease to exist tomorrow, and it would make no difference whatever to my quality of life. Sport does not pass my Desert Island Test. Which is: if shipwrecked forever on a remote island, alone, what would seem essential for a satisfying future life? And what not?

It is perhaps best that my notion of what really matters isn't widely shared. What! Abolish football, and all other sport? What would all those legions of fans have to fill their lives with?

Well, how about offering their time and their cash and their ideas to help out the local Social Services? Or...


  1. I've hardly watched any TV over the past three weeks either, and I've not been on holiday. O, there was Only Connect and a few episodes of Michael Portillo's railways journeys, but they'd been recorded and were watched late at night as we relaxed with a drink.

    Me thinks dear Lucy is being deliberately provocative with her thoughts on football, etc! I haven't watch a single second of a single match in the World Cup and didn't follow the Olympics either, but there's no doubt that they give pleasure to millions of people. And I do admire athletes who win medals in their sport, even if they've had to put the rest of their lives on hold for years in order to reach the standard.

    Moreover, if most of the nation is glued to the TV on a beautiful summer evening, it does leave the countryside free for me to explore, and certain pubs quiet enough to enjoy a lovely meal with friends.

  2. Well, I don't shrink from expressing unconventional views!

    I do agree that the World Cup and Wimbledon can mean empty beaches and quiet country walks in the evening.

    But I was annoyed by a large family group at the Newport Caravan Club site, down from Birmingham, who decided to watch a mid-evening World Cup TV programme al fresco about a week ago. They sat around in the open, drinking their heads off - whisky was loudly mentioned - with the TV volume full on. It wasn't even England playing. And after the match, and the endless commentary, they partied on till 12.45am. I was surprised there wasn't any complaint. Perhaps the other caravanners thought they were too formidable a bunch of people to take on. They were clearly insensitive to the feelings of those near them, some of whom undoubtedly might want peace and quiet at bedtime.

    Experience suggests that you can do nothing with such a situation. People oblivious to any nuisance they cause are not to be moved by requests from others: they just get belligerent and vindictive. I thought they were bad ambassadors for football fandom. I will also grant that they could have been a lot worse, and that it was mainly the young men not the parents. But this merely confimed my view that football dumbs people down, and is a pain in all respects.


    1. That reminds me of the old song: He's football crazy, he's football mad, and the football game has robbed of the wee bit sense he had...!

  3. You have a twisted view of sport and it's inherent benefits Lucy. It isn't the sport per se that is the problem but the commercialisation of it and the obscene amounts of money that many engaged in it professionally supposedly earn. If sport was left as an amateur occupation things might be different. So caravanning doesn't necessarily mean escaping from certain things such as noisy football supporters on holiday. You think those you encountered were noisy and self-indulgent, they probably thought you to be an old fuddy duddy. I'm afraid that consideration for others is a modern disease which seems to be getting worse each day.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. Please don't mince your words, now!

    I'm sticking to. my guns. Even if you eliminate the awful criminality and money-making, I think the competitive nature of sport encourages aggression and tribal behaviour in all concerned. That is not going to lead to world peace, is it?

    And while sensible exercise is a Good Thing, many people do harm themselves through sport, especially when aiming at some prize.


  5. Well I'd rather see people playing together peacefully and competing than to see them at each others throats or at war. You can get injured even by not partaking in sport. I've done that a few times myself so sport isn't any worse in that respect.
    Shirley Anne x


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