Telly smarts

Posted on: 15th May, 2017

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

I’m not quite sure how many channels we have. I’ve tried to scroll through the list, but get distracted before I get to the end every time. Who knew that there were enough twins who commit murders to have an entire series dedicated to their heinous crimes? Or people who have lost weight and now have excess skin?


You know those people who always need the new upgrade of any bit of tech or appliance. I’m the complete opposite. I squeeze every last breath out of an appliance or device before it is declared defunct and is laid to rest in the back shed – the place where stuff that doesn’t work anymore goes to die. At the moment there are two refrigerators, one large freezer, a couple of washing machines, a dryer, and a few televisions nesting with the swallows. Most of them were second hand when they came into our lives, callously swept aside by a shinier, new model. I very rarely buy anything new. In that sense we are a kind of Appliance Sanctuary, a Refrigerator Rescue Centre, a Retirement Home for old washing machines that still work. We treat them with the respect that they deserve and humour their idiosyncrasies. I have rarely had a refrigerator that had a working light. The last CD player we owned had to be tilted to get the disc in, but played perfectly for years. At the moment our sound system is a bit cranky and needs careful voodoo fiddling of cables to avoid saturation. It’s the type of thing that can drive some people crazy, but I find it comforting. I can’t explain it. There is something to be said about a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” attitude to life. It’s better for the planet, it fights the built-in obsolescence that is the source of so many of our modern problems, and it kills the status anxiety that aspirational consumerism creates.

One of the results of my attitude to appliances is that we have never enjoyed the full glory of satellite television. For the last twenty-five years we’ve been out of the loop. While most of our friends had all the Irish and British channels and more, we only had whatever RTE and TV3 had to offer. In fact we lost RTE One altogether after Saorview came in. The result was that we probably watched less telly than the average household, but watched more TG4 than any other household outside of the Gaeltacht. Our old, second hand televisions were often a bit temperamental, particularly sensitive to high pressure zones in the summer and gales in the spring. Reception was always best in the winter (which is when you want to watch telly anyway). The Soarview box never really settled in, and couldn’t make up its mind where it felt most comfortable. It often ended up hung by a wire to the corner of the window. Closing the curtain could wreck havoc with the transmission, as could laptops and sitting to the right of the box. Now, all that has changed.

Back in January the television, which was like a chunky, grey elephant in the corner, finally gave up and died. Call me crazy, but I wanted to watch the US inauguration on a proper telly. I took myself down to the nearest electrical appliance store and bought a smart TV, jumping straight into 21st century global broadcasting with a three year warranty for accidental breakage. I have opened a window on the world and a peep hole into my soul,

I’m not quite sure how many channels we have. I’ve tried to scroll through the list, but get distracted before I get to the end every time. Who knew that there were enough twins who commit murders to have an entire series dedicated to their heinous crimes? Or people who have lost weight and now have excess skin? Or hoarders?  If quantity is a measure of popularity then religious and sports channel are tops. The fact that I am not interested in either makes me wonder just how out of step with the general population I am? Same goes for soaps, game shows and most reality TV.

A recent study concluded that you could predict how a person voted in the US election by what television they watched. It was called ‘Duck Dynasty versus Modern Family’. The fact that I am a fan of the latter and haven’t a clue what a dynasty of ducks looks like (are they really ducks?) only confirms the study.

Being thrust all at once into the world of infinite choices I have discovered a lot about myself. I was a news junkie before I moved to West Cork (I was in the Brussels Press Corps) and I have discovered that, like cigarettes, the addiction never leaves you despite over twenty years RTE methadone.

Though I wasn’t surprised that I enjoy a good historical documentary, I did not realise how attracted I am to building, particularly restoration and renovation, with anything along the grand designs lines a close second. Though I have often fantasised about self-sufficiency I am not really interested in following the lives of swamp people, or Alaskan survivalists, or anybody battling nature on a daily basis. Same goes for cars, though I spent many years watching Top Gear just because it was the only thing to on. Now that everything is on all the time I have no interest.

I have always been fond of police procedural shows and my love has not abated now that I can watch them 24/7. It’s rare that a day goes by without some serial killer downtime. Go figure, but I find it relaxing.  Most startling is my new love for shows like ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’, which are basically people eating. It seems that my ideal show is a detective series where the killer is a food critic. I’m sure I’ll find it on the TV guide one day.

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