Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday 21 December 2013

Not just me, then

Interesting piece in the Guardian a few days ago comparing the TV schedules for Christmas week 1978 with the current fodder - interesting particularly that so much was crammed into just the two BBC channels (why he omits ITV, I don't know).

However, he's not really comparing like with like. Christmas week was special, after all, and he doesn't mention the deadening effect of repeats on the usual weekly schedules in those days. One thing about the multiplicity of digital channels, catch-up and PVR services these days is that the repeats are available elsewhere (if and when you choose to have them, and frequently I do, since there was so much I've missed in the past or forgotten about). I can remember that for every moan of "It's just repeats" there was one of "Why can't we have X back?".  And now we can.

The technological advance of digital TV would have happened anyway, Thatcherism or no, whether through some farcical period of "pirate" satellite broadcasting or in the way that it has developed. We might be sorry that public service may seem to have diminished in terms of the diversity and variety in any one channel's offerings: but the increase in channels has allowed the recent success of foreign language series, available almost all year round, rather than the occasional worthy movie.

And when I think of the times we used to joke "Just get them to hold it there for a minute" while we popped out to the loo or to make a cup of tea - well, with the pause button, now we can.

But I think he's right about the dumbing-down effect of endless copycat formats, property shows, and the apparent sheer terror among producers of just allowing someone to talk, uninterrupted, without people in the background acting out what they're talking about, irrelevant background music tinkling away to no great purpose, and so on (imagine if we couldn't have a real-life conversation without all that).

Friday 13 December 2013

Yes, very amusing, but if you've made the effort to start trekking round Foyle's, do you really need to be told that books are a good idea?

(Time for a deep breath before resuming the shopping fray).

Meanwhile, in other news, I see Covent Garden and Seven Dials are - in the spirit of the times - thriftily re-using last year's decorations.

Trafalgar Square is of course, unchanging:

Monday 9 December 2013

You'd better watch out....

Or at least, you should have done on Sunday morning because several thousand Santas (among them my niece) turned up in Victoria Park for a charity run.

There were Santas of all ages, sizes and even species, with sundry non-traditional variations on the costume, collecting for all kinds of charities - medical, social, environmental - and many of them had set up booths and banners for their groups.

After a not-too-serious set of warm-up exercises and posing for group photos, they all flooded towards the start point, and set out round the edge of the park.

The fastest of the serious athletes among them were back at the beginning of the 5km course within a quarter of an hour, and from then on a mixture of fast runners, joggers, people with dogs and pushchairs on a family amble came through. Clearly one child could not be parted from her scooter, but there was one little lad, who can't have more than about 7, who ran proudly home with his dad, grinning from here to Christmas. Somehow they all managed not to bump into each other as they either collected their medal with relief or ran straight on to make it up to 10km. Apart from a few late stragglers, it was all over in plenty of time for lunch.

And yes, children, even Santa needs the loo.