In Ireland there are many different types of family dynamics all stemming from various and perhaps deciding factors in their lives, working, not-working, unable to work, unwilling to work, towns people, country folk, G.A.A., Rugby, football, basketball, no ball, each factor styling their family dynamic.
We all know the GAA families, they happily spent their weekends supporting their beloved Connor and Eimear in their respective sports hurling and camogie. Daddy on the board at the local club and known for his passion when it comes to under 14 club matches. Mammy, who was always into the GAA even before she met Kev, busies herself with the club lotto draw and various fundraisers during the year, she’s also one of the three ladies that rotates washing the jerseys, hasn’t missed a turn in over five years and is always first to the community centre with a tray of sandwiches when the chips are down. GAA ties families like these together, offers a common interest, creates a bond and unites them. Through highs and lows, thick and thin, they stick together, dark winter evening training sessions, glorious sunny days spent in a loaded up car driving to Kenmare or Ennis for a junior club match and crusty ham sandwiches.
Well, we were never that kind of family but we were just as united by a different association, namely, RTE & TV3 hereafter to be referred to as ‘Irish Television’. Ah the good old days, where the remote belonged to the young by day, offering cartoons as Gaeilge, cartoons as Bearla agus ZIG and Zag and Ray D’Arcy in a knitted jumper for the afternoon. Come 6 ’clock it was witching hour for the adults, everyone finished the dinner, one eye on Eileen Dunne and the other on the last spud in the tray. As a teenager you knew you had to sit through the news to get to the good bits, Coronation Street at half seven and at eight o’clock some Irish production about people overeating, overspending or being gay or even being lesbians. Of course as well as the news you had to watch Nationwide at seven o’clock, a half hour general documentary that features things like, a new road in Athlone, the art of thatching, barrel making or a report on a group of O.A.P.’s in Wexford, who had started something new, like line-dancing or amateur drama.
Then came the news at nine, which kids watched a lot closer because any eyes caught glancing in any other direction were sent straight to bed. You were doing well, if you were still there at 9.35 for the weather and it was real coup if you made it to see Olivia O’Leary on Today Tonight, first half only.
A varied evenings viewing, offering a plethora of topic to discuss and debate in the family home and without knowing it, as kids we were exposed to several different perspectives of life, economics and politics right there in the comfort of our own living rooms. Alas teenagers nowadays, well Irish teenagers in Indonesia, have no such luxury. TV viewing choices in Indonesia are, Gossip channel, featuring the Kardashians mostly talking on the phone to each other, BBC world news, on a 36hr loop, Asian Disney, Malaysian Soap Operas, Indonesian Talk shows and Asia’s got Talent (debatable). To the degree that what used to tie us together in times of crisis, i.e. a fire in the Rovers Return or in times of joy, ‘if the family cut back on diet coke, they could keep the house after all’, has now gone.
Shattered to smithereens is what used to provide the dynamic in our family life, each evening between six and nine, the telly. Kids and teenagers are on YouTube, looking at the tiny window of life that interests them, ‘Cupcake Wars’ or similar drivel. Husband is playing online poker with two South Americans and a Russian. Mom switches between her diet app and her kindle app. All in the same house but a million miles from each other.
And only now and then does interactive speech prick the bubble of silence that surrounds each one, and it’s with, ‘is your Wi-Fi slow?’
………….bring back the telly all is forgiven.