Downton Abbey, I'm missing you already
I have been glued to the telly for the past seven weeks and I'm feeling rather bereft now that Downton Abbey is finished. Sure, it'll be back next year with a new series, but that's too far away for me. It has proved to be a crucial part of my work/life balance.
Part of my enjoyment - apart from the sumptuous scenery, beautiful costumes and superb acting - has been influenced by being able to watch every single programme in the series. This is the first time I've managed to do this with any telly series in the last 12 years. I have put this down to having a particularly talkative child. I remember once when he was seven, I made a conscious decision to try to watch the six o'clock news and see how many items I could hear without interruption. I heard none properly - I deduced there was something about Iraq, something about President Bush and a report from Israel, but I could not hear any details.
'Ah well,' I thought. 'At least I'll get the weather forecast.'
But, nope. Couldn't hear it, so had to screw up my eyes and get nearer the telly to peer at where the rain symbols were.
I have missed out on great telly sagas such as Desperate Housewives, Gavin and Stacey, ER, House, The Apprentice, etc. My friends tell my how good these programmes are, but I have never seen an episode of any of them. Past experience made me give up before I'd even started. Part of the problem was that I never knew when programmes were on - when I gave up a regular salary I saved money by not buying TV listings guides. Of course, this became a vicious cycle because I didn't know when any potential good telly programme was coming on. I fell further into the trap of not seeing any good programmes because I'd got into the habit of not watching television.
I'm trying to think what I did when I didn't sit goggle-eyed to the box - I have a feeling it was washing and tidying and getting bags ready for the next day while entertaining one and only son. Once 8.30pm came round I would be too bleary-eyed to be able to concentrate on a programme anyway.
The key to my changed circumstances is my foot. I have put it down, firmly and squarely. I have started using a phrase, 'I insist' and have added extra words, such as 'my right on a Sunday night in my own front room after working hard all week'. It has taken a while for the new status quo to take root, but I have accompanied it with lots of ssshhhing and have physically removed the foam ball one and only son enjoys kicking around the front room at all hours of the day.
We only have one telly in the house. I can't help thinking that if I'd known with hindsight that it was going to take 12 years before I could watch a whole series I would have bought another one, rigged up my own special room, and left one and only son and the husband to watch endless repeats of Doctor Who on their own.