TV vs Internet

Today, from the office to Kings Cross

– So where are we off to today?
– Newcastle
– Never been there, what am I missing?

My driver is quite hard to understand; he talks quietly, with short sentances delivered in a gravely snarl. At first I think he’s being off with me, but it’s just how he talks – he’s friendly enough.

I outline my favourite things about Newcastle: the regeneration of the Quayside, including the wonderful, wonderful Baltic gallery; the access to a wild and dramatic coastline; the fact that my brother is there and my grandma’s not far away; and that I generally love geordies – they tend to make fabulous research subjects.

– So what are you researching?
– Kid’s TV shows
– What like Sesame Street?
– Err not exactly…

But he’s off. Listing the Sesame Street character’s: Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, The Cookie Monster, Oscar The Grouch.

– I loved that show. It was great. All those characters, I remember them all now. Must have been 20 years since my kids watched them, but they’ve stuck with me.
– People usually tell me it’s too American
– Yeah, it was American, but my kids loved it. Great for teaching them things. There was The Count too, Ah, ah, ah, ah, ahhh. That was the other one. The Count

We pause for a while, before he asks:

– So do you watch a lot of TV?
– Depends how busy I am, I tend to like good drama series best. How about you?
– Mostly sport. On Sky. Good coverage. The best. Don’t really watch much TV these days.
– Why’s that then? Nothing on, or have you got better things to do?
– It’s the computer. Spend a lot of time on that now. Didn’t use it ’til 6 months ago. Thought I could live without it…

My driver used to fake knowledge when email or the internet was discussed. Really he didn’t have a clue, could barely switch on the computer. He couldn’t be bothered with it, didn’t really see the point. His wife was the one that used the computer, if he needed anything he’d get her to do it.

But he got found out! He was copying down an email address and wrote ‘at’ instead of ‘@’ and his mate laughed at him. He decided it was time to get up to speed and asked his daughter (more patient than his wife) to teach him.

– it’s a bit frightening at first. All this stuff out there. Can’t get your head round it

Now he’s hooked. The internet, he’s found, is great for the stuff you’re interested in, like music and travel. He’s become a dab hand at using messenger and email, chatting to a daughter in Australia.

– it’s exciting too. Getting an email. It’s nice. It’s like getting a letter. Only you don’t get letters any more, do you?

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