21 August 2004
My television has been flickering and jumping all week, and so has my mood. The two are not related, but - of course! - I see patterns, intimations, omens. That's my job, to draw inferences and infer significance.
It's been a grey week. I'm doing quick cuts and rewrites on the novel, and I'm okay when I'm working; this particular stage is highly focused but only superficially demanding, which makes it popular with me, those being the two conditions under which I thrive. Seriously, I do like playing with text at this level, largely letting the story stand but weighing every word for its value. But I can't do that for long without a break (once I could, my first novel I proofread in a single sitting, all night long; but that was, ooh, twenty-one years ago and I was nearly half my age and fizzing with excitement). So when I break, mostly I slump in front of the TV and watch Olympics when I can't watch cricket; and as I say, the TV has been increasingly sick, and so have I. I feel like a caryatid, fallen beneath her stone; I can see everything that I have to do in the next year, and it's too much for me. I'm tired, and I want to stop; and I can't, so I am gloomy.
And tonight I had done as much work as I wanted to, so I was back in front of the TV - and it popped and died altogether. And I am trying so, so hard not to see this as a portent. What does my TV know about my state of mind? It's a machine, damn it, and it just went wrong...
See how hard I'm trying?
But the real question is what to do about it. Repairs are unpredictably expensive and untrustworthy; a new TV is extravagant and I can ill afford it. Probably the better notion would be to do without. I've done that before, for ten years together. Books and radio and music are actually enough, no one needs pictures; I generally multitask anyway when the TV's on, cooking or reading a book or whatever. And I know that I work harder without.
But that, of course, is because I am an addict. Can I give it up? Again? I don't know. Not sure if I want to. I have always enjoyed my addictions. Most likely I'll go into town tomorrow and find some special offer that is absurdly costly but cheaper than the list price, and go 'Mm, bargain,' and come home with some giant multichannel monstrosity with added gimmicks. I like gimmicks.
© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.