In My Own Time
As a child of the 60s and 70s, I still can't quite believe that there are more than three channels. My parents disapproved of commercial channels, so obviously I roam the schedules seeking out the juiciest - previously forbidden - fruit. A recent vice is a predilection for ITV2's "reality soap", the BAFTA award-winning (I kid you not) The Only Way is Essex. Any attempt to describe its premise and execution would be pointless. Suffice to say it's the televisual equivalent of a doner kebab. You know you shouldn't, you don't really know what it's made from, you know it's bad for you - but who can resist?
In my second year at school, one of the prescribed texts was Charles Dickens' Hard Times. Oh, how I hated Coketown, Gradgrind and the grimness. I vowed then that never again would I be party to this literary torture and I was good to my word right up until three months ago when I graciously decided to give Mr Dickens another chance with Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist. Like a Victorian fiend, I have devoured every twisting plot, fully-drawn character and line of sparkling dialogue. My next title will, of course, be Nicholas Nickleby.
For film-going I tend to eschew the behemoths of the cinema world, where it is far too likely you will have a row of your S3s ranged behind you. Consequently, I often find myself either at the Grosvenor Cinema or the GFT, where the screenings tend to be less big-budget and more eclectic. I try to drag my 15-year-old son along to "enrich his education". A firm favourite of both of us is the wonderful find of Dany Boon's Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis' (Welcome to the Sticks).