Screen Burn

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.


12 responses to “Screen Burn

  1. A warm welcome back. I’ve certainly missed you. So will you be telling us anything about the journeys and the stay. I hope so as I feel that you have to share at least a little of what appeared to be the trip of a lifetime.
    I’m now off to look at your photos.

  2. Thanks for the welcome back. The trip is a bit ‘off topic’ but I’ll be adding a bit of narrative to the flickr pics. (it’s taking some time)

  3. Fair enough and no rush. The ice bergs look mighty impressive, I’ve never seen any myself.

  4. Welcome back!!!! You’ve certainly not missed any good transport in London!
    Hope you had a great trip!!!

  5. Flighty – I’ve added about half now, the rest will go up by the end of the week.
    Carina – I missed the whale, though… typical, you go all the way to Antarctica to see whales and then one swims right up the Thames

  6. Right I’ve added the last of my penguin pics now if anyone’s interested.

  7. Of course we’re interested. Well some of us are. Oh all right I am.

  8. Another vote for the penguins & ice pics here. It’s the only way I can tone down the green tinge of envy here. Hope you had a great trip!
    And as for the TV on buses, they’re trying it here in Birmingham. Despite only dragging myself onto a bus on rare occasions, I already know the narrative on the comedy clips off by heart. The best bit’s definitely the CCTV sweep of the bus, designed to make my fellow brummies sit up, tidy themselves, & generally preen for the cameras (or in my case remember to sit behind a great big bloke and slump).

  9. Well Flighty and Pixi, head on down to my flickr page here
    Do they have sound on the bus tvs? That really is evil. It’s as though they have forgotten people can read and might want to do so in peace…

  10. very good photos, and looks like you had some good weather as well. Surreal – the shot of the people by the pool on the ship, in the middle of shots of penguins and icebergs! heated pool I take it?

  11. Thanks disgruntled. I take it you didn’t join the pool side party!
    Everyone I’ve told about your trip has both laughed and sympathised about going all that way to not see any whales only to miss the one here.

  12. claire – not only was it heated, they were drinking hot chocolate laced with brandy – a recipe for hypothermia if ever I saw one
    Flighty – to be honest, it was the penguins I went for (can you tell?) and if one of those swam up the Thames then I really would be amazed … and no, I didn’t try the pool

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