independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

There's a lot to be said for two channels and a big couch

Credit: Photo: John Tarrant

THERE is a lot to be said for 'two channel' land, a big couch and no agenda. Houses were homes, there were three square meals a day and only one television in the house.

To run a household today, you would want the organisational skill of a trade unionist, the disposition of a diplomat and the energy of an Olympic athlete. First and foremost the house has to look like a mini-palace because everyone else's does, the kitchen needs to be a virtual restaurant open 24/7 and when it comes to television? "well, there's a channel for everyone in the audience".

Growing up, no matter what extra activities we took on, everything was done and dusted by 6pm of an evening, at which point everyone would be home and dry in time for dinner. This was a pivotal point in the day as well as in my life, in that what I gleaned from a childhood of dinner table discussions was worth every bit as much if not more as any Leaving Cert or university degree.

After dinner, we would migrate to the sitting room and spend the evening sitting together on a stretch of couch, hopping from RTE 1 to RTE 2. Some nights there would be a drought of programmes and the next a near overdose. What I liked however about this existence is that though the days might see us thrown to the four corners of the country, the evenings belonged to family.

In today's world, it's next to impossible to achieve that same balance. Whilst busy days are the fabric of modern existence, I have a bit of an issue with the day spilling over into night. When everyone should be tucked up indoors by 7pm, I am putting on an overcoat, loading up a gear-bag and going out into the night with one child or another. Gaelic football, camoige, hurling, soccer, body conditioning (???), running club, you name it, my kids are at it! As a GAA mentor and a keen soccer player himself, my husband isn't far behind them. But if the truth be told I am the fittest of the lot with all the running around I do!

Television is a passtime indulged only at the weekends and only then after the house has been scrubbed (because it needs to look like a palace), only after a menu befitting any fine eatery has been produced (because to argue would take more energy) and only after ten million matches have been played.

Compared to the high speed pace of today, life way back when might appear mundane and predictable and of course there were days when it was. Yet it never did me any harm and it has been my yardstick ever since. I am not looking to recreate it – I just wouldn't mind a little more space in time for us to sit on a stretch of couch with no agenda only to complain about there being nothing on the box.

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