Bairbre Power: 'How do you work three TV remote controls? Video the cable guy!'
This week I had to eat humble pie and go back to watching TV as I used to. In a spark of financial pruning, we got rid of our TV package because, quite frankly, we were paying for things we never watched and creatures of habit, we always stuck to the old reliables.
As part of this saving-money-for-Christmas-holidays lark, we invested in an Apple TV box for less than €200 and were full of enthusiasm for open-ended Netflix. Finally, I was going to be able to watch all those Scandi drama series you hear so many people raving about. But, in reality, it's a bit like getting your hand stuck in the box of Roses at Christmas and I soon got sick of it. I missed my evening Tv news and political analysis, and I couldn't bear the talking heads with their contouring brushes and annoying crackly, croaky voices on the YouTube channel.
Tell me this for nothing... just why is it that every 'influencer' whining on YouTube seems to have the same gritty-gravelly tone, or as someone in the Financial Times recently described it, a frog on helium?
I just want plain speaking with good grammar when I settle down to watch TV. I don't want American news channels with shoddy analysis, so I went back and signed up again for good ol' RTE. But if the truth be known, in the end, it was Strictly Come Dancing, or the lack of it, that got to me.
Before going out for dinner with a pal the previous week, she poured me a generous G&T and leaned across and zapped her remote to programme the Strictly show which was starting during our dinner date. After the restaurant, she sashayed home with great glee to watch the show, and no doubt shimmy around her marble kitchen island while making a cuppa.
I, on the other hand, was green with envy after jumping into a cab. I loved my weekend nights in watching Strictly and, for years, I was a Saturday night dancing die-hard, albeit on my couch. I never suspected how much I would miss it until it was gone from my week. To be honest, I thought I would hate the new format of the show without cheeky Brendan Cole, my ol' dancing partner who famously flung me up in the air (below) when I interviewed him back in January.
On reflection, it was probably the personal highlight of 2018 in terms of doing something different and moving outside my comfort zone, so when the house took a democratic vote and Eir TV won, I was secretly thrilled.
And so it came to pass that their engineer called this week to set up the new TV box. Romy Power gave him a royal welcome and licked his shoes. When he was finished with all the wire work, he offered to show me how the system worked and handed me a new remote control. That made three on the table. One to switch on the telly, the second mini one to scroll around the Apple Tv box and now a new one to navigate our way around Eir Tv.
I've said it before, but I failed pass maths in the Leaving and I'm not techy minded. I know it frustrates the hell out of my adult kids. Toddlers barely able to walk seem to be able to operate remote controls with ease, but not me. How many times have I flicked the wrong button in the dark, or sat down on the remote by accident, and sent it off piste only to ring up my daughter on a date, or in a cinema, and look for advice on how to navigate my way back. She's whispering to me, but I can tell she is not amused.
This week, I vowed to be more digitally savvy, so I pulled out my new Samsung 9 phone and filmed the engineer as he walked me through the steps, the HDM1, my phone panning his every move between this light means this, that button does that and the colours at the bottom mean this. "Well, in 15 years in this job, this is the first time anyone has ever done that," he laughed. "And I suppose it makes sense," he added.
I don't know if the last bit was in response to my surprised expression, but I know I'm not alone with this remote control dyslexia. I'm making friends with the new gadget and so far, all good. My favourite button is the back arrow. It's like a default and brings you back to where you were before the accident.
If only life had a default button like that. Press, press, press.