I’m back, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. I took the decision based on how much I’d missed. I took the decision because I was missing out. I took it because there’s too much coming up which I didn’t want to miss, and because I was drinking too much. And I took it because I’m a gadget-freak and I believed all the hype and the adverts.
Having fallen out with Sky TV (see Lions, Tigers and Beers previously) over the standard of their service, I’ve had a summer of watching my chosen sporting events from the bar of my local. No great hardship, you might think, supping a cold one as the footy, cricket or rugby is on the box? We’ll yes, and no. If the soccer is on, all four tvs in the pub show the match, sound up high and no-one moving off their stools or in front of the screen. A boozer packed with replica-shirted herberts all ooh-ing and ah-ing in unison is a fun place to be. Rugby matches, especially the internationals, are often accorded the same level of respect and attention as is the round-ball game, except on the whole the fans are bigger, drink more and are much better behaved.
Cricket on the other hand, even though it is the nation’s summer game, is often begrudgingly switched on to a couple of screens with the volume either right down or off altogether (though god help you if Man Utd or Chelsea are on the other channel, then cricket doesn’t get a look-in at all). There’s something distinctly unsatisfactory in watching a England vrs the Aussies to the sound of Puff Diddly or Lady Goo Goo blaring out over the sound system, when all you really want to hear is Botham seething in the comm box, or Bumble laughing at the fancy dress costumes in the crowd. No, unless there’s a packed mob whooping en-masse at an Australian collapse, or multilaterally despairing at the ineptitude of the English bowling display, the pub’s not the place to enjoy the great game. It’s also difficult to concentrate on anything when Dan Dan is looking at you.
So enough is enough, and I’ve gone all Cable TV on your ass. Step forward Lord Branson and his Virgin Media TV. Andy the tv engineer has this morning arrived to install it. I get, movies-on-demand, catch-up tv, recordable, pauseable, fast-forwardable tv AND Sky Sports AND much of it in “Glorious HD”, as the Sky advert would have us believe. And this time it’s not Sky equipment which I have to deal with and which will inevitably go down on me, it’s a Virgin Box. It’s a schoolboy dream, nearly. Fnarr fnarr.
So then, HD. How exciting is that? Truth is, I’m not really sure. Yeah yeah, I’m sure sport and movies will be stunningly (or should that be gloriously) enhanced when watched in HD, but surely they can be only as glorious or as stunning as my TV will allow? You’ll be fully aware of my technophobic tendancies and I have no idea how good or bad my telly is. It’s a couple-of-years-old Toshiba and it may well be ( and knowing my luck, it probably is) a bag of old shite, no more likely to give me the full, glorious, HD sensation than one of those wood-clad, 14-inch, 1970’s jobbies on which whole indian villages watch the world cup. Do I need to tramp down to Comet and spend wads of cash on the latest LED/LCD/Plasma box to make my new service worthwhile? Bloody hope not. Maybe I just go and get my eyes tested? I’m long overdue a visit to the opticians and I’m convinced my minces aren’t what they were. Gotta be cheaper than buying a new telly, hasn’t it?
You won’t have missed the fact (especially if you’ve been reading me) that The Beatles back-catalogue has been re-released having been digitally remastered. Will I really notice the difference if I play these CDs on my little mini-system? Granted, if I had a 3 grand, state-of-the-art hi-fi, with speakers the size of Belgium I might well be able to appreciate the cool clean repro on these new discs. But I have a cd player the size of a teasmaid, so I doubt that I’ll feel the benefit. And anyway, my ears need syringing. Poor old sod. Pardon ?
For those of you who feel a bit flush, this new Beatles stereo box set retails at £169.99, mono at a cheeky little £200. That doesn’t Please Please Me either.
Looking down the tv listings, there’s another thing that puzzles me. Do I really care that I now have the capability to watch Friday Night With Jonathan Ross in High Definition? I mean, next week he’s interviewing Ant n Dec. How glorious would HD have to be to make me enjoy that experience?
So while I’ve been tapping away here, Andy the Virgin man has been and gone. I’m hooked up, tuned in and watching a Steven Fry documentary in yes, GLORIOUS HD. It seems (and this will shock you) that I may have to upgrade my subscription if I want to be able to watch all the channels I thought I was getting, but Steven Fry will do for now. He looks pretty good in Hi Def, I suppose. I’m started playing with all the new gadgets and toys on my new cable service because England have just collapsed against the Australians at Lords. HD or LD, they’re still a bunch of wankers.
The Last Night of the Proms is on later. Pomp and Circumstance in crystal clear sound and vision. Try asking to watch that in your local.