Sunday, February 18, 2007

One day, the geek shall inherit the earth

I've never denied my geekiness. In fact, I've always embraced it (and, luckily, so has Mrs Spike) and revelled in the fact that whilst some people feel the need to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars entertaining themselves, I can be quite happy and fulfilled with not much.

Recently, I've discovered some kindred spirits, some fellow geeks who find interest and solace in the same things that I do; TV. But not just any TV - ancient TV. And not just any ancient TV; the forgotten parts of ancient TV. Long-gone channels' morning start-up sequences, programme trailers and commercials, continuity. For most people, this stuff comes and goes and it's forgotten in an instant, but this is the part of communicative media that's always stuck with me, from the BBC's rotating mirrored globes to promotional sequences for companies lost in the mists of time.

The reason my geekiness has peaked followed an evening on my own, after Mrs Spike and the kids were all a-bed. Whilst some men may be tempted to peruse on-demand cable wobblies or internet wank-fodder, I spent a happy half hour watching a DVD filled to the brim with ancient clips of TV. The birth of an experimental pay-per-view service, a late-80s satellite test transmission, the routine daytime opening of an ITV franchise that lost its licence in a beurocratic reshuffle.... but the pinnacle was this: a 10 minute sequence from around 1977, featuring the end of a childrens' programme, dry, dull announcements regarding the channel's evening line-up and then, "an engineering test transmission", a routine afternoon staple back in the days when daytime ratings didn't matter - a national channel giving itself over to an hour or so of blissful, inoffensive library music and the test card.

The thought struck me that, chances are, my mother probably watched this very transmission some 30 years ago, in the days before she got re-educated and re-entered the working world. I would probably be taking a nap or playing, she vacuuming or reading. What a bizarre experience, I thought, that we should be sharing this long-forgotten and seemingly unimportant TV blip some 30 years apart.

What a very strange life I lead...

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