Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy memories of looking through someone else's window with binoculars

Now, you may think the title of this blog post is a bit creepy. A bit peeping Tom. But it's more innocent than you think.

Last night I was pondering the evolution of the TV set since the 1970s. We have a modest plasma telly in our place; our living room is for living in, for talking, for welcoming guests, for laughing, for listening to music as well as watching telly so covering one wall with an intrusive giant tv was never in the game plan. I was watching Downton Abbey, which we had recorded via our digital recorder, when I harked back to 1975.

Back then the VCR wasn't even an option in Australia. Colour telly was just coming in and how exciting it all was! I was nearly thirteen, and as square-eyed as any kid that age in that era, the era before computer games, x-box and mobile phones. You had the telly, or you mucked about outdoors, read a book, played a board game.

Our neighbours across the road weren't short of a dollar. They bought a colour telly the day they were available in the shops. From our balcony, we could look across into their living room where, unfettered by curtains, the telly blazed away in full colour.

Mum and I were transfixed. So much so that we took to tuning our black and white telly in to the same channel the neighbours were watching, turning the sound up so we could hear it on the balcony, and watching the colour telly through binoculars. Yes, we did. I am almost ashamed to admit it. What a pair of dags!

When the weather turned chilly we gave up and went back indoors to our black and white telly, but within six months we had bought a colour telly of our own. I can still remember the day it arrived from Grace Bros. It was a Nordmende 26" tv, with a plastic key you inserted to turn it on. You could remove the key and hide it so little kids didn't muck with it. It came with instructions which included the recommendation that when you turned it off you waited an hour before you turned it back on again to give the CRT time to cool down. Mum took these all very seriously.

That fab telly, with its futuristic looks that didn't date it to the mid70s, lasted 20+ years. Gradually it developed problems, the screen took on a greenish tinge and there came a day when it broke and the technician couldn't fix it; the parts were no longer available. Sadly it went in the council cleanup to be replaced by a Sony. Mum bought the Sony just before the advent of plasma and LCD tellies, and the CRT on that thing is enormous. I think she got it in 1995/6 or thereabouts, and it's still going strong.

How exciting it was back then to get a new item of technology! These days twelve year old kids seem to accept that an iPod, iPhone, XBox, whatever, will automatically come their way sooner or later (sooner if they pester hard enough). The me in 1975 had never dreamed about computers, or recording the telly to a hard drive, or watching telly on the internet. The me back then would stay up till all hours to watch a particular show or movie, as there was no other option. You watched it or missed it. Simple.

How times have changed, and how much we take for granted in today's rapidly evolving technology culture. Part of me thinks the simpler days were much, much better. The other half says I'm too much of an old fart to bother staying up to midnight to watch a tv show.

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