It will give you square eyes!

As I walk home from work in the dark, I never want to have my ipod in playing music – mainly because I want to be more ‘aware’ of my surroundings. When I am not listening to music, I have the habit of thinking and my thoughts often wander to things that, over the years, have changed. It was during one of these moments, that I suddenly started to think and yes, reminisce about how television has changed throughout my life time…


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Does television give you square eyes? Original Image from pixabay.com

Does television give you square eyes?
Original Image from pixabay.com

Recently, when O2 stopped doing broadband, I had the option to move to Sky. I had various options with the ‘packages’ but one thing which really annoyed me, and why essentially I didn’t actual go with Sky, was that if you didn’t take the television service with the package you had to pay an additional £27.00. This really confused me since I was actually paying for something I didn’t actually have. Why did I not want it, well, I’m not a great television watcher and with the current number of channels available on FreeView, did I really need umpteen more to flick through trying to find something suitable to watch! The actual number of channels we have now available to us is huge compared to when I started to watch television when I was younger. There has been quite a few significant changes with the television change and, if you think back, maybe you will be able to remember the same things as I do – or just maybe – even more!

  • Black and White with a wiggly aerial – Saturday night was always the night when my brother and I would head off to our shared room to do one of two things – explore the recent dungeon while playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons or to watch the television programs which mum didn’t want to watch on the main TV in the house so we had to watch on our little black and white portable. I remember it so well. The channel selector which you had to turn/rotate to find the channel you wanted and then fine tune it using the tiniest hand movements to get a picture which was as close to watchable as possible. One slight move too far, and the picture dissolved into a snow storm of fuzzing lines. There was always one hope if the picture was not watchable – the wire aerial which was attached to the back. By carefully turning, bending, twisting and rotating this, there was a chance, well a small chance, that suddenly the picture would gain clarity and you could watch your program. Unfortunately, that moment of clarity usually happened when someone else was holding the aerial, hanging out the window, with one leg dangling from the sill. Not really the perfect viewing position. Although we tackled the aerial saga most weekends – we still enjoyed watching The Professionals and of course ‘3,2,1’ and with the infamous Dusty Bin!

  • “…quickly switching the channel if mum suddenly appeared!”

    Breakfast TV – One thing which I always wanted to achieve when I was growing up was to actually stay awake until the television channel shut down. Yes that’s right – they actually did shut down! At about midnight, the voice over man would say good night, they would play the national anthem and then the screen went black only to be replaced with an ear piercing whistle/beep. I remember actually seeing it for the first time, telling mum that I was not sleepy and staying up and actually seeing it happen. Although there was that great sense of achievement, it was somewhat of a disappointment – I think I actually stood up when they played the national anthem, just to absorb the sense of occasion. Morning television was unheard of. On a Sunday I think the first TV program started at 9:00 – although on a Saturday I think the X-Men cartoon started somewhat earlier. Breakfast television was definitely a grand occasion. With all the hype before the launch I remember seeing, I think, Frank Boff on the screen at 7am one morning saying “Welcome to Breakfast TV”. Now, television is virtually 24/7 but then it was something very special. Of course ITV (Yorkshire – never Tyne Tees) soon followed and soon there was a plethora of breakfast programs to watch and call into. It was, of course, quite a while until they actually started to have hashtags!


  • More and more channels – There were always certain rules in my mum’s house when I was growing up. Even now, mum is not a great believer of having the television on on a Sunday and there was always certain programs and channels which never graced the ‘main television screen’ downstairs. Looking back, this didn’t impact on my up bringing at all, it probably actually brought us closer together as a family, sitting together on a Sunday evening, listening to the radio and winding wool…pause for a moment of nostalgia. Channel Four was a ‘new’ channel which I remember bursting onto our screens. With the spinning/rotating multi-coloured ‘4’ it arrived with the reputation of being ‘alternative’. This of course went straight to the bottom of the main screen viewing rota, even below ITV! Of course, in a moment of fantastic marketing, the channel started to push the boundaries of TV broadcasting and I remember thinking it was so ‘risky’ watching some of the programs on the channel – even on my black and white portable – quickly switching the channel if mum suddenly appeared! Now, as I mentioned in the intro, there is so many channels choosing one takes so long that I usually just watch certain programs when I am sat eating – Murder She Wrote on ITV3 at 19:00 is usually on of my favourites during the week! Despite the number of channels available, it still amazes me that I can spend a good five minutes flicking through the channels and still find nothing new or interesting to watch! – maybe I am now more of a YouTube sort of guy.

  • There has been many more changes with the telelvision which I don’t have time to mention in this blog post, remote controls, internet connection, 3D viewing and even on demand tele! Within the next ten years, I’m sure there will be many more changes to how we view and engage with the television – maybe even virtual reality is on its way. Despite many negatives about television – including square eyes – I have always seen it as part of the family, and enjoy those moments when it brings people together to watch key events or the timeless films at Christmas. Picture quality, sound production and subject content have all improved, but I think, although I don’t want to go back to having to stick the aerial out of the window, some of the old shows were still the classics – so thank you tele for being part of my life and letting me guess the clues in 3,2,1, tumble over the bonnets of cars with The Professionals and dance off to the back of the stage singing bring my sunshine with Morcombe and Wise. Those, for me, were the golden days of television

    If you have any fond memories of television then please add them in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter or Facebook.

    You can keep up to date with my content by following me on Twitch, Twitter and Facebook. If you are interested in joining or playing Minecraft, then you can join the server and website here. Of course any subscribers to my YouTube channel are always appreciated.

    2 comments for “Let Me In! – Simon’s Cat – YouTube

    1. Profile photo of Longshanks
      February 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Would be cool to play an one off, one of the dungeon crawls you made! Maybe the 8 level one!!!

    2. Profile photo of David Thompson
      March 21, 2017 at 12:05 am

      I miss those early days so much. The current state of rpg’s , the rpg xubculture if you like, doesn’t feel like it did back then. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

      I was introduced to Advanced D&D 1st Edition, by my sisters boyfriend (the BEST boyfriend of the many she had IMHO..), who showed me S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks module after discovering I enjoyed computer based adventure games, I was hooked immediately and it wasn’t too long before I was hanging around the local game shop, Games Gallery, from which I was invited to join in a game run by the assistant manager, who was to become my long and good friend Steve, who was coincidentally, the reason I got to work at the local branch of Games Workshop for a time. Working there, in those days, before it became a Warhammer only shop, was amazing. It was the proverbial kid in the sweet shop!. Staff discount made it even sweeter – 50% off GW’s own products, and 25% off everything else. We also ran a great rpg club, with about 60-80 members at its peak.
      I was always the GM for my main group as no one else had the time it took to prepare a game properly, though after a few changes to the group, and people from the club popping up, I eventually got to play. Games by a company called Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU) were very popular in all of my groups. FGU sold games such as Bushido, Aftermath,Space Opera, Chivalry & Sorcery, Freedom Fighters, and Bunnies & Burrows, but there were many many more games, by many different companies, covering all sorts of genres – and I still have them all. Many were, as was the style back then, table and chart and rule HEAVY. We loved that. Comparing themto the current crop of “rules lite” systems, I would certainly go back to the old games instead. We played these games sometimes 5 days a week, as for a time we were all unemployed. It was all we did.
      I often spent days creating scenarios, making maps, creating player characters as well as npc’s. I found it quite therapeutic, as is miniature painting – thousands of the little buggers packed away testify to the time I spent doing it. My “toy soldiers” as my brother in law calls them…
      I used to get quite attached to my favourite characters, and whilst one or two died over the decades, most did not.
      For almost all of my characters I would go overboard by most people’s standards. I like to have an image for my characters, whether a photo or artwork. Sometimes I will see an image and that is the base for the whole character, built around the image.
      I always believed as a player, that giving the GM a detailed background, list of goals, motivations, friends, contacts and enemies, will help the GM bring my character into the game more, by using some of what I have given him in the game. As a GM I like to see what players come up with for their characters, and will often use it in the game. It involves the player more, makes the game more personal if part of the game is suddenly about them, and it can help the players become more invested in their characters.
      For myself, I would often map out the characters home, create a family tree, siblings, etc.
      For our Star Trek RPG (by FASA Corp), I created the whole crew of a 500+ personnel star ship… All as detailed player characters. Unnecessary and a bit OTT I know, but it helped bring every department on the ship alive, every member of the landing party was a person not simply a red shirt.

      I am often bemused whilst watching streams when I see the gm of a streamed game pull some “new” idea out of his box of tricks, and the players are like “wow!”, “that’s original”, “I would never have thought of doing it that way!”, knowing we did it 30-40 years ago.

      The games my most recent group and I played/ran, were very detailed games with a lot of depth. Quite dark games too, mature themed, and often very emotional and intense. Having played with the same people for nigh on 20 years, you create a bond, a closeness and familiarity that allows you to communicate in a way you couldn’t, with people you don’t know very well.
      I have been brought to tears several times in recent years during the last (decade long) game we played ,as some scenes were simply too emotional or powerful, overwhelming (GM was a bastard – but an EXCELLENT GM).

      Sadly the group folded, but the GM offered to keep the game going for just me, which he did for a few years, which to be honest I really needed, as it helped me through a bad depression at that time).
      Over the years I have experienced a lot of things because of rpg’s, and made some great friends, too. I have a lot to be grateful for, regarding rpg’s. I was discussing with my brother in law, my collection of rpg’s and miniatures. When he realised how much they are worth, (some regularly sell for £100’s!) he always tells me to sell sell sell. He doesn’t grasp what they mean to me .
      Yet I won’t. Part of me hopes and prays that I will get a local group together (even some of the old group!) and start using them again. But aside from that, as my memory fails, little by little each year, these boxes and books and miniatures on the shelves are my constant reminders of happy and sad and exciting moments, and great fun, and more importantly, great friends.

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