The Art Of Conversation


May 1st   2006

“Bugger all on the telly again.”

The Trouble looks up from her magazine. “So why don’t you switch it off ? Instead of hopping from channel to channel all the time? That remote doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going.”

“It’s going. On the tip with the telly if they don’t start putting something decent on.”

“You said that last week but you keep watching it.”

“Only in the way that Captain Bligh scanned the horizon when he was cast adrift on an open boat; in the hope that if I keep looking one day I’ll finally sight land.”

“There’s plenty of land to be seen already if you’d look properly.”

The Shakespeare in me emerged. “What land is this you speak of?”

“Well there’s The Royal.”

At first I thought The Trouble meant a documentary about Prince Charles or one of his dodgy offspring, then I realised she meant the hospital thing on Sunday Nights,
a soapish drama whose only redeeming feature is the sixties music that punctuates the scenes. “The Royal?” I said. “The Royal isn’t land. Or if it is it’s a swamp. I wish it was a swamp then Wendy Craig might fall in it and be sucked under, I saw quite enough of her in fucking Butterflies.”

“Fucking Butterflies? Wasn’t that one of David Attenborough’s?”

“Bill Oddie I think.”

“He’s never off the box these days, is he.”

“He should be in a box. With Wendy Craig.”

“Oh I quite like him.”

“He’s a self-satisfied little prick. Like Noel Edmonds.”

“Don’t you like anybody on the television?”

I thought about it for a moment. “I don’t mind one of the newsreaders.” I don’t, I was lying, I don’t like any of them, especially Trevor McDonald, the lot of them would be knackered without the autocue, but I want to keep the conversation going.
Television hasn’t killed the art of conversation in our house. It fuels it.