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 .