In many respects I had a much easier time growing up than my siblings. As the youngest of three by the time I was ready to be moulded and shaped my parents, bless them, had either lost interest in crafting their offspring into the future leaders of Australia or had become disillusioned with the whole process.
Not only was I allowed to have my ears pierced, drink and have boys over at a considerably earlier age than either my brother or sister, but I distinctly remember my brother bitterly recalling that, for his Year 12 ball he had had a curfew of 12.30 (half an hour after the ball ended) with strictly no drinking, while the rules for me consisted of a half hearted suggestion that I should probably be home by 2am and shouldn’t really drink too much.
When it came to one thing, however, my parents were stricter than most people’s I know: the bloody TV. Whether I was rationed three hours a week or half an hour a night television was always a precious commodity. Each potential program had to be weighed against what else was on offer and watching a movie would mean three days of no TV at all. At the time I assumed my parents were malicious bastards. These days I assume they just wanted us to grow into literary giants or come over all Tom Sawyer and start whitewashing a fence or something but the long term impact has had the unwanted side effect that I still view TV as something of a wondrous commodity.
Being allowed to watch as much TV as I want, whenever I want and whatever I want is still a bit of a strange feeling for me. Like somebody who grew up in a famine and feels the occasional need to binge I still sometimes have the urge to park myself on the couch and make my way through the channels with complete disregard for what is on.
This has caused some tension in the household because Andy was raised with a much more laissez faire attitude. The result is that, while he will only turn the beast on to watch a particular program and doesn't really like to watch it much at all unless he's into a series, I will frequently flick it on just to make sure I’m not missing out on anything, as though some almighty deity might have programmed my favourite shows back to back and then forgotten to tell me about it.
Strangely enough the TV shows today seem to be a lot shitter than when I was growing up. Not that I would know. The thing is that, when I wasn’t allowed to watch TV everything sounded like some amazing secret I would never be let in on. I would hear people talking about 21 Jump Street (a show I was never allowed to watch under any circumstances) and want to weep with envy. The half hour of The Simpsons that I didn't see was always better than the half I did see. At least I pretty much assumed it was. These days I can watch all the 21 Jump Street I want (hey, I have the DVDs) but, Johnny Depp’s cheekbones aside, it’s only just bad enough to be funny. You only want what you don't have, I suppose.
I suppose also that whoever-it-was was right when he said you can’t go home again but sometimes it would be sweet to go back to a time when everything on TV was a fantastic half-hour secret just waiting to be discovered. Sitcoms were one moment of high-larity after another and there was no better way to waste an evening. At least as far as I knew.