I have done something shocking and life-changing. I have cast aside a fifty year old family legacy. How do I put this? Maybe pour something strong into a mug and sit down. Comfy? Ok, I cancelled my Sky subscription, not to change to one of their competitors but to go cold turkey from Coronation Street and Fair City. I’m afraid to tell my Mam, she won’t understand. What is the reason for this madness? Like most Irish households I grew up on a diet of soaps and marmalade sandwiches.
You set your day by them. Neighbours on; Lunchtime. Home and Away; Dinner and homework. Coronation Street; settling in for your last couple of hours before bed, probably included tea and the biscuit tin.
Eastenders came along in 1985 (I was 9) and had the impact that Breaking Bad has these days. They covered topics such as teenage pregnancy and homosexuality which shocked our parents so much that it was banned for many of us. I was forced to listen from the stairs. My diary from 1987 contains nothing of my life but plots and times of soaps. Thursday was the best day ever as Top of the Pops was on along with Eastenders. I can’t help but think of all I could have achieved without TV. Definitely not in the realm of sport as anyone who knows me will testify. Maybe, I’d have had more friends, nope I was the shyest kid ever and would blush on eye-contact.
Could I have read more? I don’t think that would have been possible. Allow me to quote my 13 year old self and I do this with an old school redner: “Speaking of books, will you remind me Mabel (my diary’s name) to try to get a book out of the library on the Tudors as I find them fascinating. I brought an orange and a packet of Burger Bites up to bed with me. I really love that, snuggling down under my warm quilt on a cold night with some food and a good book”
That diary is pure gold and if for some insane reason it was published (I become an underworld crime figure or people have become so brain dead from Facebook and the Kardashians that this is all their jellified brains can handle and it becomes a modern day Crime and Punishment) , readers would think it was satirical, along the lines of Adrian Mole or Ross O Carroll Kelly.
To my shame, I haven’t changed much, still like a bed/food combo and in hindsight perhaps I did need TV. Teenage Aisling seemed to live her life like Gale Boetticher without the mass meth production. The few social skills I possessed were probably learnt from the soaps. Is that why I love pubs? Always a disappointment though that no faces get slapped or secrets spilt. Also any wedding I’ve ever been to have run smoothly. Nobody bursts through the doors at the last minute to disclose the groom has a second family of little people living in a cave or the bride has a fetish for coddle. I tried my best at my cousin’s wedding by making a speech about how she once peed herself when I drunkenly couldn’t find the key to the hall door in time but sadly the groom found it endearing.
I have been 4 weeks soap free. I miss them… Orla and Wayne; Paul and Niamh; Steve and Michelle… I’m still grieving. I’m not starving myself entirely, I do have Netflix and I’m catching up on some really good TV. I will use my soap-free time wisely… to read, to write, to shout at the kids and possibly all from my bed while I eat Burger Bites.