Maybe it’s because I’ve just come back from some wide open spaces and uncluttered scenery, but I find myself noticing more and more the intrusion of tv screens into every corner of our public spaces. It used to be just pubs, then it was airports, and then the Post Office decided our queuing experience would be enhanced by adverts for Saga Holidays and incontinence pads. In Berlin, even the U-bahns had them – nothing you might actually want to watch – just adverts – but enough to draw the eye and distract you from your private musings.
Now it’s taxis. I may be slow picking this one up because I don’t travel by black cab in London all that often as I prefer my daylight robbery done at knifepoint rather than taximeter. But we were shattered, we had a suitcase too heavy too wheel and more backpacks than we had actual backs to carry them on, so we got a cab from Paddington. Once we’d dragged all of our luggage on board and sat down and persuaded the driver that there was sentient life south of the river, we set off and a screen flicked into life showing us a safety video (why on earth does anyone think our travelling experience will be enhanced by making it more rather than less like a plane journey?) and offering us a cornucopia of choices of things to watch but no actual option to turn the bloody thing off. This was after sitting through 15 minutes of jabbering inanity on the Heathrow Express (and of course 15 hours of poor sound and badly cut films on the plane).
It’s the buses and trains next, I’m warning you now. Back when the no 38 was a routemaster they experimented briefly with putting TV screens in them. The CCTV shots were quite amusing (a great cheer went up on the top deck every time they came into view on the screen) but the rest of it was just a dreadful harbinger of things to come. The advertisers see us as one great captive audience who will be delighted and diverted by their drivellings instead of driven into a fury of irritation by one more flickering object in the corner of our vision. They see our vacantly staring out of windows as so much wasted selling space. Pretty soon, the windows will go to improve our viewing pleasure. You read it here first.
Those of you who might like to look at uncluttered scenery, projectile vomiting penguins and the like should go here*. The rest should await the resumption of normal service, which will begin (with some delays) tomorrow.
* It may take me a while to get all the pictures on, so be patient.