Back in the  council house  rock n roll on the dole days  of the 1980’s I was given a huge television , a valve driven colour set which must of  been a flag ship model in it’s day , it was a great tv  except it was now black and white with a heavy ting of green and we didn’t have a licence .

A rather formidable tv licence enforcement woman did the rounds of the estate , she was used to the pathetic attempts at subterfuge ‘Have you got a television ?  ‘   ‘No.’ The theme tune to Brookside blaring out in the back ground , she was a notorious menace to the dole maintained community .

One day she arrived and we went through the usual routine , I shut the door on her , when I returned the tv was gone , my friend John Ritchie was desperately  humping the  thing out of the house .

Once it was in the garden I couldn’t be bothered to haul the thing back in as I was faced with the dilemma of having to buy a colour licence for a black , white and green tv !

Tv was a bigger part of my life back then , culturally more relevant and at times highly eclectic and  inspirational .

I eventually became  strung out and detached from reality , the constant touring and recording schedules and the intoxicants caught up with me , in the early hours of the morning watching a Fassbinder film I became  convinced I could  psychically translate the German dialogue .

Unable to adapt to a conventional life I stayed up watching  late night Tv ,  Prisoner Cell Block H , a god awful Australian  women’s prison series  , The James Whale show , an  odious dick hosting an informal call in chat show kind of thing , Frank Sidebottom getting thrown off by James himself , Frank was too good for the show anyway , Charlie Chuck , The Red Hot Chilli Peppers making  Cleo Roccas knockers fall out , yes it was heady stuff indeed .

In the early days of the embryonic Spacemen we often found ourselves in that nether land  when the town was sleeping and we were not , the tv stations shut down and suddenly you were marooned without stimulus .

The BBC played a   queasy  version of  God Save The Queen and cut to the test card ,not knowing the purpose of  a test card it seemed  creepy  and cryptic , it never changed , the girl ,  the clown  , they also supplied a test tone drone , a grating atonal erie  whine  .

Looking back on it I now understand what a great idea the test card was  , the  other stations just had fuzz which had it’s own entertainment value , if you stared long enough you would certainly see things , strangely the same things as other people.

If the entertainment value of the fuzz wore off the final ritual was to watch the dot , the shiny point of light that appeared when you shut down old tv’s , it would appear as a bright dot then slowly fade to nothing , an almost profound experience  .

Fortunately watching tv was a lot more than late night crud ,for the first 5 years or so  Channel 4 was amazing , I saw so much great stuff , I remember thinking one time , it was three in the morning , I was watching a Sun Ra documentary , I am so glad I don’t have to get up in the morning .


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