Getting a big telly

Middle-class people don’t, as a rule, like big tellies. Owning a titchy TV, ideally with a fuzzy picture you have to squint at to make out, signals that your priorities lie with more cerebral things, like reading metaphysical poetry. It’s all part and parcel of that British thing of wanting to make your house as uncomfortable as possible. There is a weird kudos in this – to the point that, at the very top of the social strata, people live in freezing homes with threadbare rugs and buckets of water to catch the rain.

Indeed, anything that might be deemed comfy – thick-pile carpets, generously stuffed sofas, a fridge that you don’t have to unpack before knowing what’s in it, is thought vulgar. And a massive, plasma-screen telly, with its Benefits-Britain connotations and implicit suggestion that you might actually use your TV, is most vulgar of all, up there with Saddam Hussein’s paintings of big-titted blondes watching warriors fight giant snakes.

saddam art
I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like. 

But when you have kids, the maths on going to the cinema doesn’t work any more (when you’re looking at £25 for two tickets, plus £30 for a babysitter, before you’ve even chucked in drinks, popcorn and travel, it had better be a fucking good film.) Which means that, if you’re going to see anything made post-Avatar, you’re going to have to watch it at home.

But watching movies on a 20’ cathode ray really isn’t the same, even if it does stop you spending five quid on giant cup of watered-down Sprite. There’s a reason they invented HD and surround sound. It’s better.

Which leaves the middle-class mother with a dilemma. Does she succumb and spank £600 on a telly (which, admittedly, will pay for itself after about nine cinema visits)? Or does she look clever and stick with the rubbish one she’s got?

Many do the latter, because if there’s a bigger middle-class crime than watching lots of telly, it’s letting your children do so. And if you can make Ben 10 as dull and uninvolving an experience as possible, there’s a chance that your kid will forgo the pleasures of telly in favour of climbing trees, scrumping apples and all the other things kids are supposed to do but don’t any more. That’s the theory, anyway.

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