PART THREE: JOYS OF TV
In which Samuel Johnson discovers television.
It’s been some weeks since I’d snatched Samuel Johnson from his rightful century and plonked him down in ours. He’s got used to walking around without a wig, although he’s often complained that his head is cold and has kept a beany on most of the time, which, with his puffy face and stocky build made him look more like a market salesman then the Great Cham of literature. He’s got the hang of the tube and taps his Oyster with inordinate pride. At first he gleefully skimmed his way through Dickens novels and left orange stains all over my copy of Ivanhoe. I’ve tried to introduce him to Harry Potter but he didn’t understand it, the muggle world is too magical for him.
He has, however become comfortable with the television and has taught himself the mysteries of the remote and can remember exactly which number goes with which channel, something I have never mastered. He’s also developed a keen fondness for both Doctor Who and Eastenders but an enraged hatred for panorama and horizon which made him red faced with rage at the lack of information amongst the visuals.
Indeed, I feel we had been getting in a bit of a rut and if this was a relationship, we have become one of those boring couples who had nothing to say to each other except what’s on telly tomorrow, what we had already watched and what we want to watch next. For a legendary conversationalist, he’s become pretty boring.
So, it was on a Saturday night when I decided to surprise him with something a bit different. I knew there was no point talking to him till after Doctor Who but as soon as the ‘next week’ trailer was over I switched the television off.
“Sammy, we need to go out.”
“But the television gives me pleasure, more so then any play or concert and with much less effort than any book. It is a marvellous creation, opening a window into any life it wishes, sending narrative and emotion and learning, such variety of learning. It is right to learn a little about everything that a person can. Take Eastenders, those people know that life is but stumbling from tragedy to tragedy and a funny bit with streetsweepers and a dog, almost Shakespearian.”
“What have you learned today?”
“Erm,” Johnson’s eyes rolled as he tried to remember what he had watched.
“And yesterday, what did you watch yesterday?”
“Cars, I learned about cars yesterday. I want a Ferrari Testarossa. There must be no more pleasure than riding in a Ferrari Testarossa with a pretty maiden.”
“Yes, and there’s another one on now.” He switches the channel and I sigh. Maybe I can think of something to get him out the house.
Until Next Time...
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