Sunday, 17 November 2013

The happy bubble of television

It’s a shame Morrissey’s autobiography came out after Armchair Nation because there is quite a lot in it about young Morrissey the TV watcher. He has an infallible memory for long-forgotten shows from the 1960s like Torchy the Battery Boy, The Time Tunnel, Champion the Wonder Horse, Mr Pastry’s Pet Shop and Fireball XL5. And he has a nice turn of phrase. In Miss World, ‘all of England places their bets on the beauty of young women whose full human potential is limited to one frozen expression’. And this is him on what television, in an age before videotape, meant to his youthful self:

‘The happy bubble of television shows me the earth and its fragile moments of fantasy, and I, with all the petulance of the pipe dream, am allowed to engage … Television is the only place where we banish ourselves from the community of the living, and where the superficial provides more virtue than the actual. We watch in order to find ecstasy, for at last we can survive in someone else. Our conclusions are our own, yet the landscape is infinite … Television flickers and fleets, and must be watched closely lest what you see is never seen again. Whatever you see you will never forget.’