Conversation is great – until you have to make it

Liz was lost without the TV
Liz was lost without the TV

MP must do more than ‘meet the minister’

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At around 3.30 BST on Friday, September 16, all internet, TV and landline ceased to be available in our house.

The ensuing trauma, I am sure you can imagine, was devastating.

We would all like to think that we are perfectly capable of living without such things.

After all, in the olden days, computers were the size of small sheds and certainly not something we would find in our living rooms.

TVs were in colour (just) and we had three channels to ‘choose’ from.

When teletext first came available in the 1970s this new way of transmitting information about travel and what’s on the telly, made us feel like we really had stepped into the space age. My mother still believes that teletext is the internet.

In an attempt to become philosophical about our terrible situation and remembering all those dreadful magazines and parenting manuals bleating on about ‘spending time with your children’, for a nano second I thought that at least we could converse with each other.

This feeling quite quickly changed to ‘Oh God, now we have to talk to each other’, when the topics of conversation became apparent.

‘Mum, can I watch a film, please?’

‘If it’s on a DVD then yes, you can watch it. If it’s on the telly, then you can’t.’

‘Can I play Minecraft on the computer?’

‘Does it require the internet? If so, then you can’t. But you can play one of your dusty computer games that is sitting on the shelf.’

Repeat the above conversation, ad nauseum, for the whole weekend.

Things seemed so much simpler when we had to choose between BBC1, BBC2 or ITV (and to be honest, no-one really wanted to watch BBC 2 anyway).

The nearest we had come to a film on video was when the rich kid at school bragged about his new Betamax player. Computers were reserved for geeky scientists, or the lab-coated technician at school, who struggled daily to crank up the one BBC computer.

Nowadays, children are used to a seemingly infinite number of channels, many which really needn’t have bothered, plus access to a range of information, educational and otherwise, from a swathe of different media.

It is difficult enough for a grown up to understand the technicalities of wireless, cables, aerials, 3G and other such alchemy, so for a child who has grown up with everything at their fingertips, it is particularly irksome.

‘Mum, can I watch *insert name of some dreadful Disney Channel cheesy show?’

‘No, dear, the TV only works if we plug the old aerial in and even then, you can only get Crackerjack.’

‘What’s Crackerjack?’

‘Oh nothing, I was only trying to engage you in conversation but you didn’t get my stupid joke.’

Conversation soon got a little strained and I was beginning to question the sanity of those parents who purport to revel in this ‘conversation’ thing.

But help was at hand by way of a text (thank goodness my mobile still worked!) from a friend who, concerned for our sanity, invited us round to watch Doctor Who.

Peace was once again restored.