Jenny Eclair on why we need people to jiggle our aerials

“What we really need in this country are roaming teams of telly experts, travelling around in a van, happy to pop by, retune your channels, explain your remote controls”

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I recently went to stay with my mother in the North. My mother is a telly luddite – I’m surprised her main TV isn’t a 14-inch black-and-white number with a coat hanger down the back. I’m surprised the telly in the spare bedroom isn’t a cereal packet cut out to look like a telly with a screen made of silver foil.

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“Some of the channels aren’t really working,” my mother mutters. Correction: she cannot get any BBC channels on two out of the three tellies in her house.

I try to retune one, but fail miserably and the process makes me sob and bite my own arms. “Let’s just leave it,” begs my mother, watching me crawl on my knees for the HRT pill I’ve just dropped.

I phone my brother. He should be able to sort it! He admits that not only have the tellies defeated him but he can’t get her circa-1990 DVD player to work, either.

Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but there is nothing ornamental about a DVD player. If it doesn’t play DVDs then it’s just a stupid box.

I tell my mother the DVD player belongs down the dump. She looks at me like I’m offering her assisted suicide, but eventually we brave an actual shop and purchase a new DVD player.

Fortunately, the machine is not in stock and will be delivered by “the nice man” once I’m safely back in London. I offer this man all sorts of favours to install the new machine for my mother – I think I start winking and showing him my purse, but he merely swallows hard and says, “It’s all part of the service”.

Hallelujah! Because that’s what we all need – more service. In fact, what we really need in this country are roaming teams of telly experts, travelling around in a van, happy to pop by, retune your channels, explain your remote controls and possibly jiggle your aerial (ooh-er matron)!

We are an ageing population and, for many older folk, the television is a lifeline. By the way, I’m not talking about my mum here (she’ll have you know she plays bridge and is a stalwart of her local book club, too). But people sneer at the TV and they shouldn’t – for so many of us it’s a mate, the constant companion in the corner who speaks when you tell it to and shuts up when you’ve had enough.

So why isn’t someone designing tellies for the old, with simple big-button remote controls and a slot in the back where you drop in the DVD and it automatically starts playing? Technology opens up so much for everyone, but the more it advances, the more complicated our everyday lives become.

So, basically, if you’re really good at fixing tellies, just make sure you offer that service around your neighbourhood. I can’t tell you how grateful we hopeless hysterical technophobes will be!


Me and A&E

One of my favourite programmes on the box at the moment is Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E, filmed a cherry stone spit away from where I live here in south-east London. I gave birth to my daughter in King’s College Hospital. Three hours and five stitches (to be honest I’ve had worse yoga classes)!

I don’t want to re-visit the place personally, but I’m glad it’s there. Sometimes when I’m eating my evening meal I think, if I choke, I’d still live. I could get to King’s in two minutes and they’d save my life. Yes, it’s all about me!

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Jenny Eclair goes to the Edinburgh Festival 3–17 August with stand-up show Eclairious. Her novel Life, Death and Vanilla Slices is available to buy now.