We had three channels when I was a kid. To make matters worse, we were only allowed to watch either BBC1 or BBC2 when my father was in the house. He regarded the third channel – ITV – with the kind of suspicion Donald Trump might reserve for a lawyer with a microphone in their button hole. TV programming – don’t let the oldies fool you, kids – was best characterized as terrible, with occasional outbreaks of entertainment. As children, we sat before the glowing box with a kind of stoic belligerence, daring the set to brighten our evenings, often in vain.
Remote control devices were quite large compared to our modern versions; they were warm, fleshy, clothes-wearing and were referred to by the names of the youngest people in the household. They were typically voice-activated (clever, huh?) and responded to commands such as “Leo, put it on BBC2.” Or “Turn the sound up so your dad can hear the football results.”, but apart from a brief delay brought on by adolescent truculence or inertia, they tended to be rather reliable.
Not so in my experience these days. I have a troubled relationship with most things electrical – in fact I seem to live by one of the lesser-known laws of physics; that which states that the reduction of moving parts in a device is inversely proportional to its reliability. I can’t, for example, keep track of the number of remote controls I have owned for the TV, DVD, Blu-Ray, PVR (I just dragged that one out of my memory) or the cable box. I may be cursed, but it’s a mightily specific hex.
Recently, however, the solid state gods have been smiling upon me. My current TV remote (let’s call him Reg) is a marvel. In fact, he seems to go from strength to strength no matter what I do. Held together with short strips of electrical tape, Reg has the structural integrity (and feel) of a bag of potato chips, but he refuses to stop working. Many pieces of Reg have been swept up and discarded following unintentional interfaces with the floor, but he keeps on keeping on. I cannot break him. Reg transcends the curse!
It rather makes me wish that I was still the household TV remote control unit…