Weed doesn’t watch tv. He doesn’t like it and mostly he doesn’t have the time. Daikon AirCon has his time and they are not giving it back. Daikon AirCon is sucking him up and rearranging him in straight lines to their liking, night and day — rather like something going through an air conditioner.
Weed senior, Weed’s dad, had insisted he have a tv. Buying the tv had been a thoroughly horrible experience all of its own.
‘It is the heart and the hearth, the unifying, er … thing, the unifying bit in the middle. The unifying principle. A home without a telly is like a castle without a keep, a trifle without sherry, a toilet without a seat, shoulders without a head. And what’s the point of all that, eh?’
They were in the electrical things shop and Weed’s dad was declaiming — loudly.
Weed had exhibited the temerity right there, surrounded by all those wonderful things, to suggest he might not want or need a tv. He had told his father quite frankly but not at all rudely that he didn’t much like the box and that he didn’t have the time to watch it, and when he did have the time he preferred to do other things such as build a tachyon drive in his bathroom.
Now Weed’s father was gently remonstrating with him.
‘How can you say that? Here we are in this treasury of home entertainment, this trove of electrical convenience, this … this … emporium of … of … discounted stuff, and you say you don’t want a tv, that you’ve got better things to do with your time?
‘Did you know that if the history of this planet was represented as one year, then the telly was invented on December 31st at 11.59 and 59 seconds, just when everybody was popping the bubbly. It therefore represents the pinnacle of a whole year’s evolutionary struggle and carnivorism. And do you know why it took a whole year to invent? Because there was no tv to give us ideas. We had to think for ourselves. Think about it!
‘It is estimated that in history a number of billions of people lived and died without setting eyes on or even hearing the name of tv. That’s a number of billions of people, Robert. That’s more people than you or I could shake a remote control at, lad. All these people who lived and died in mud huts and palaces alike, having to make their own entertainment with logs or bones or string quartets, and you in this wonderful pharmacopoeia have the bloody cheek and the selfish nerve to say that you don’t want one ‘cos you don’t want one. Well, son, I say unto you, go send your peanuts back to Ethiopia.’
To help make his point, Weed’s father climbed a twin-tub UltraKwik MegaKwiet washing machine and declaimed to the whole store.
‘How can it be bad? I asks you, how can it be bad? Tv, after all begins with a crucifix. Not that we believe in all that bollocks, but it’s the association. It denotes goodness and … and nice things. And to them that says there’s too much violence on tv, I say stick it up your arse!
‘It represents peace because it’s nice to watch it when you’re relaxing after work and everyone shuts up their yacking when the telly’s on.
‘It represents love because we love to watch it.
‘It represents harmony because everybody watches it together.
‘It represents wisdom because the people who make the programmes are very clever to know all that stuff; and the telly is the information that saturates us.
‘It represents truth cos the camera never lies.
‘It teaches us self-discipline because we have to get up early to watch breakfast tv.
‘It teaches us forgiveness, ‘cos when the football is snowed off or when the cameramen go on strike they show those nice old movies with proper women in them like Audrey Hepburn and proper straight men like Cary Grant.
‘How can it be a bad thing? Let us pray.
Our Father who art Television, Hallowed be thy Schedule.
Thy kingdom is here. Thy will is done, On earth as it is on the Goggle.
Give us this day our daily fix.
And forgive us our lapses of attention while we make the Brew, As we forgive those who misplace the remote control.
And lead us into Temptation in the Ads and the Soaps, But deliver us from thinking.
For Telly is the kingdom, and the power switch and the glamour, for ever and ever, Innit.
The customers and staff who had gathered round to hear Weed’s dad burst into enthusiastic applause and glared at Weed.
Weed bought a tv.
Extract from the novel Weedby Chris Page