Switched On


Whenever you watch commercial television, it seems you’re never too far away from some not-very-funny daytime presenters telling you to take the necessary steps to gird yourself against the impending digital revolution.

As you’ll no doubt be aware, the analogue signal is going to be switched off. Just like that. To my mind, it sounds like an act akin to switching off someone’s life support machine. Whump, and they’re gone. The one scrap of comfort is that it’s not happening for a little while, except if you live in Whitehaven, Cumbria (let’s see a show of hands). In Whitehaven, it might have already happened. I would wager that a fair unprepared handful of the Whitehaven population are now wondering why nothing happens when they press their respective On buttons, the poor saps.

Why is this happening? Apparently, it’s because things are going to be digital from now on. In order for the digital signal to have sufficient welly, they have to switch the analogue one off. That’s the long and short of it. This is a weird situation, I think. It’s a bit like someone deciding that oxygen should be removed from the air in order for them to pump something else into it, and that we all need to install synthetic lungs in order to continue existing.

Truth be told, I’m an analogue type of guy struggling to keep abreast in a digital age. But, after a few timely promptings from Mrs H, I realised it was time to get organised in time for The Change.

A Freeview box was an appealing choice, so one sunny afternoon, we acquired one from Curry’s and took it home to make a start on it. Everything was plugged in, but interesting and informative digital programming was far from forthcoming. At some point in the proceedings, I ventured outside and realised that our roof lacks an aerial, and that the cable protruding from our living room wall was simply a dormant piece of Telewest hardware, albeit one which (quite by chance) provided an excellent analogue signal.

After a brief experimentation with an old-style wire loop aerial through which we got one or two channels (which remained on screen only as long as I stood in a very specific spot in the middle of the room) I decided that a second trip to Curry’s might secure us a digital aerial.

Even having acquired and installed one, the much-anticipated torrent of digital goodness remained firmly secured behind some impenetrable technological dam. I made my third pilgrimage to Curry’s in order to return all the hardware in a fit of pique. Actually, I was very polite and sheepish about it.

I have long resisted the option of asking Telewest to provide our telly, since I anticipated inordinate cost, not to mention the social stigma attached to having more than five channels. But with a heavy heart I made the call.

For reasons that were never totally made clear, our cheapest option turned out to be the most abundant. Thus we found ourselves in possession of the mythical, 120-channel ‘XL’ package. We gave it a spin last night, and were most impressed (my own excitement levels were bordering on the inappropriate). Not only can you choose between 120 different programmes currently showing, but you can, at any moment, watch anything that has at any time graced the televisual airwaves. More or less. Imagine my delight to discover that I suddenly had unfettered access to the third series of Father Ted.

So, you’ll understand if the blog is a bit quiet from here on in, although, to be fair, my frequent hiatuses rarely draw much complaint these days. And you’ll also excuse me if I take me leave for the moment: I’m off to watch the latest episode of Dog Borstal, followed by a pentuple bill of Location, Location, Location.

Explore posts in the same categories: Goings on, Special Occasions, TV

7 Comments on “Switched On”

  1. Ross Says:

    Doug, I’ve started to notice a theme in recent ‘logue entries. Aside from apologies about absence of updates, you seem to be increasingly baffled by things that are modern. Maybe this could be introduced as a category heading so those of us interested to learn how you coped with the spinning jenny, street ligthing, the blackout and women getting the vote can see all relevant articles in one quick click.

  2. Wee Gorbals Says:

    No experience of digital TV but digital radio (if youcan get it) is a winner. Crystal clear broadcast quality…and you can get radios with secure digital cards meaning you can easily record music, plays, novels, comedy. BBC 7 – pure dead magic. As Ross observes your on-the-surface luddite qualities Doug, I’m suprised you’re going to digital TV. Digital radio – where the love is.

  3. Doug Says:

    Women have the vote?

  4. Ross Says:

    Yes, bless ’em.

  5. J Says:

    I’ve started watching “Grand Designs” from the on-demand section of telly.

    It’s putting entirely inappropriate thoughts* into my innocent mind re: the ongoing redecoration of J Towers.


    * Lust, usually. Oddly.

  6. rhetoric Says:

    Rhetoric says : I absolutely agree with this !

  7. Your former housemate Alex Says:

    What’s your phone number?

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