Monochrome memories

Dec 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Personal Columns

The confirmation lesson on Wednesday included a line about moving from monochrome to technicolour.  What?  How many thirteen year olds would have a clue what that meant?

“Anyone ever seen a black and white television?”

“You mean like those old films?”

“Yeah, but like that all the time and on a really small screen”.

There’s a monochrome television here somewhere.  It must be thirty years old. I know it was my grandmother’s because it’s a Boot’s 14 inch. (Why Boot’s got involved in such a business is a mystery). My grandmother bought everything in Boot’s, my grandfather, who died in 1972, had worked for them and I assume my grandmother got some discount as a Boot’s pensioner.

My grandmother died in January 1987 and I remember bringing it back from England in the back of my little red Austin Metro, along with an assortment of other items. It had been in the attic for seven years when we moved house for a year between 2006 and 2007.  It had not been used since November 1990, when we bought our first colour set, which until last Christmas was wired up to Sky satellite, Sony Playstation and an Xbox.  It now sits in my study.  I must buy an aerial so I can watch RTE before it goes digital.

I remember watching a Sunday cricket match on the black and white set once at my grandmother’s house in the late 1970s; Somerset scored 150 runs and were beaten easily.

I briefly revived the Boot’s set  in the summer of 2006.  With a good degree of apprehension, I had plugged it in and stood back. Something that had not been attached to the mains for more than fifteen years might object to such a sudden injection of power.

There had been fuzziness and I had turned the tuning knob and there loud and clear was TG4 the Irish language channel. Miriam turned our ordinary television to TG4 to compare and contrast. No doubt about it, Irish was just as incomprehensible to me in black and white as it was in colour.

I remember feeling disappointed in a way; I had rather hoped that it might be filled with programmes like ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ and ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ and all those other terrible Saturday evening programmes from the 1970s. I remember someone who had a vintage wireless complaining on one occasion that they could no longer get Athlone or Hilversum.

My grandmother, who saved elastic bands, paper bags, pieces of string, and was frugal to the utmost degree, would have approved greatly  that the set was still around.

Perhaps the confirmation class might like to see a black and white television, on the other hand, it might make them think I am really, really old.

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  1. Yes my 13 year old said “what do you mean black and white teles, how are you supposed to watch that?” We never had a reliable tele, either that or the diesel engine that generated the 1Kw of electricity was broken down again…so its a 30 odd year late THANK-YOU Ian for letting me stay to watch The Sweeney when it was on….As a 14 year old I was always fascinared by your Dads cigarette rolling machine!!!!!!Ahh pleasant Black and White memories….

  2. ‘The Sweeney’ was banned at the school I was sent off to. Despite them charging the county council astronomical fees, they said there couldn’t be an autumn half term, so gave us just one day off one year. Some of us sat down to watch Inspector Regan and the housemaster discovered us and went mad!

  3. When I lived in Rathgar we had a big old sturdy tele through which we could listen to something that sounded like we imagined Radio Mexico to be. It occasionally was able to show a pattern of flickering white lines. That was it. For a special treat we’d set a video of the Blue Brothers on top and watch that. The box on the Box.
    Eventually, despite its usefulness as a step, it had to go. I can’t remember how though, far it was too heavy to lift.

  4. I remember Rathgar in the early-80s. The Church of Ireland Theological College is just the other side of the River Dodder (and tried to pretend that it too was in Rathgar!)

    There used to be horror stories of the tube blowing up on old tellies and throwing shards of glass in all directions.

    I loved The Blues Brothers, even bought a tape of the music from the film, it has long since disappeared.

  5. Have to say Ian that I liked your “click older posts” thing on the old blog because i’m always playing catch up. Having posts sorted into categories means I miss some. . . I digress. . .A guy at work this week asked if we had a typewriter because he needed to fill in a form that couldn’t be filled in online. I nearly fell off my chair.

  6. Baino,

    If you click on ‘Recent Posts’ beside the heading ‘Lead Article’, you’ll get the stuff for the past week.

    What do you do if you have a form that requires typewritten completion? I had never thought about that.

  7. I have to agree with Baino, I like the “previous posts” button because if you had a lot of catching up to do a person could just start on today’s post and just keep going back until one you recognised you had read before.
    This is what happens when you learnt to type in the old days!

  8. I did a typing class when I started Sixth form College in 1977 – I was the only boy in the class. I never learned, I took the RSA Stage 1 exam at the end of the year – and failed it.

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