We have cut down our TV watching to a few hours a week.
While the DH was away recently, I decided to pretty much stop watching television – that is, only turn it on for programmes we really want to watch. I found by doing so that I seemed to have a lot more hours in the day and I enjoyed the quietude of not having chatter in my ear all the time.
The thing that flipped me was switching to Radio 4 one morning to avoid the sport on BBC1 and hearing the words: "Since the collapse of the Dutch Government yesterday". This was an event that had not been mentioned on the television news and I suddenly thought Balls to it. They’re not even telling me the bloody truth. I don’t even live in Britain any more, why do I give a stuff about Jeremy Cunt and what he’s up to? I know they’re all thieves and liars; I wouldn’t vote Tory if you stuck pins in my hands, so why am I aggravating myself listening to their doings? If I want news, I’ll get it from the Internet, not have it pushed at me in my living room. I also hate the breakfast show’s new setup, with the presenters squeezed together, and no Sian. So, the hell with it.
It’s not as if we ever watched real rubbish – game shows, reality TV, talent competitions or any of that crap. We were pretty discerning watchers, but we did have a habit of leaving it on in the background, muted, between the programmes that we really wanted to watch.
So, when the DH got back, I suggested to him, courtesy of an idea in the book Organized Simplicity (review to follow) that we each pick three hours a week of TV we really want to watch and other than that, we switch it off. We can watch DVDs if we wish (currently on Series 4 of The Wire, which is brilliant), but we will be more circumspect about general television.
We both chose The Good Wife. We’re also watching my old friend Mary Beard’s new series, Meet the Romans, and have recorded Bettany Hughes’ series on goddesses. And to be honest, that’s about it. We struggled to get to our three hours. I no longer watch Mastermind or Only Connect, Bang Goes the Theory or Horizon – they don’t quite pass that badge of quality. They’re OK but they’re not unmissable. So, period dramas and history documentaries it will be, plus Alicia and Will once a week.
That leaves a lot more lovely time for reading, hobbies and listening to music. Our morning seem much quieter and more restful, with the sound of birdsong from the garden and Bach or Beethoven on the stereo, and our evenings now seem incredibly long, even though we go to bed at 10.00.