content by: editor
For 20 years, Billy hasnít had a TV or read the papers, and the radio has been clicked to off.
One of my earliest memories is of being sat in front of a television watching the test card and not being able to get up and switch it off. I must have been about one. As I got older, I spent my time playing in the woods over the back. I still saw television but only an hour or two a night, and I painted pictures at the same time anyway.
In 1978, I left home and only saw television when I visited my mother on Sundays. I got into art school but was expelled for writing ďtoilet wall humourĒ, refusing to paint any pictures in the college and refusing to visit art galleries. I spent the next 15 years on the dole.
A friend gave me an old television set but, being a heavy drinker, I used to get into very bad arguments with it. Iíve noticed that if you have even a passing knowledge of a subject covered by television then you already know more than the programme. And anyway, the approach of the presenters is smug and patronizing, video filming looks false and plastic, and the colours are bad.
So I kept the television in its box most of the time. The times I did take it out, and it started talking in the room, ended with me shouting at it and beating it with a walking stick. In the end it wasnít really worth the exercise. Then one night, when it was particularly tedious, it got kicked off the table onto the kitchen floor. On examination in the morning it was found not to be working, so I put it out for the dustmen. After that I decided it was best not to have a television set at all.
I tried to read newspapers, but the opinions seemed to be just as dumb. So I read old novels instead. Likewise, I can listen to music on my Dancette, but the stuff on the wireless sounds weak and useless, so I never bother with it. On Radio 4 they speak at you, and I donít like that.
It seems that most contemporary culture is tired and dated because of its adolescent need to appear cool, smug and uncaring. Although my main problem with television and media is that it encourages passivity whilst at the same time convincing the recipient that they are somehow thinking, having an opinion, or expanding their brains.
I think that the people who commission television programs and edit newspapers must be afraid of imagination, energy, spontaneity and only be in love with their mortgages. Billy Childish 14 November 02
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