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.