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Small Screen Big Screen Childhood: Act One

“I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see.” – Kicking Bird

When you are young, a child, you look at cinema and television with a certain innocence, or naivety. I suppose that is like the life around you as a child, things are new and you are seeing them for the first time. Not to say cinema and television were not great and exciting things. They were. They are. When certain parts of the little world you live in alter, it can be much more of a big deal, and can take a while to adapt to it. I don’t mean your life as you know it needs some drastic readjustments. Sometimes it does though. Besides, when you are a kid your parents tend to make all the decisions about the changes in your life. At least, that is how it is meant to be. That is the norm. Sure, you have to go with those changes as they turn up. Like moving home, or losing a tooth. Or when your parents separate. You stay living with your mother, and you see your father now and again. They divorced when I was a young boy, long enough ago to not fully remember how that went down, but not too long I don’t remember what happened afterwards.

I am talking more about what you see, more specifically on the television, or at the cinema. When you are a kid. The vast differences in those forms is in itself something you have to come to terms with and try and understand, as a child. Like most things. Why do we have to go to the cinema to see a movie on a massive screen and really loud? Why am I stuffing my face with Maltesers and drinking a bucket of Coca Cola? Said no child ever, right? We love sugary snacks. We love watching that huge screen with little eyes. We love big sounds. We like big and loud.

We often mimic this in our homes: close the curtains, turn off the lights, and pump up the volume on the TV. And watch a movie in your very own mini cinema. Don’t tell me that’s not super awesome when you are a kid. That is super awesome when you are an adult. Curl up on the couch and wrap yourself in a blanket. With a beer and some salty popcorn. That’s the life. Sometimes I wonder, that is why we live, right there. But sitting at home watching the TV has its comforts. It’s your home. It’s your uncle’s house. Where your grandmother lives. You are not surrounded by loads of strangers in the dark – at least not on a regular every day basis. And the remote control. Changing channels can be as arbitrary as twiddling a pen between your fingers or biting your nails. But you’re a kid with choices. The remote control is a toy. Let’s cut out the parts where your mother snatches it from you because you are giving her a headache. Or you can’t find the damn thing. Just enjoying channel hopping. That in itself is an addictive little pastime. The VCR had a remote “toy” control too. Wonderful machine. I remember when my mother bought one for the first time. And we would record everything onto video cassettes. Sure, we would watch them again, but we could now record shows. Years later of course I had built a vast and perhaps ridiculous collection of video tapes of favorite shows and movies. Not to mention hour of music videos. And Oscar telecasts.

Yes, in the early nineties I began videotaping the Oscars. Every year. As time went on, and when they were no longer shown on the BBC (I miss Barry Norman), I would ask a friend of my brother’s to record it. He had Sky TV, we didn’t. Hoping, praying, they would remember. I am neurotic during Oscar season – even when I was a teenager. I would ask them if they were setting the timer on the VCR, as it was on late here in the UK, or would they be staying up. This inquiry was purely a subconscious reminder to them – I had little interest in how late they were going to bed or if they would be watching the Oscars. To be fair though, he always did record it. And I was super grateful. I would watch the Oscars on videotape. More than once. Rewind. I’m an avid movie lover you see. An Oscar nut.

Act Two

Act Three


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