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TV Review

A war to end all hooliganism

After several months of being "forced" to listen to the radio (and listening to such insane people as the rabid woman guest on Five Live saying England has a hooligan problem because we haven't had a war and that the hooligans would be the first to enlist because they'd enjoy a good ol' war) because the TV rental firm repossessed my box ("Thank you DER", to employ their ad soundbite!), I have finally got hold of a TV and video on hire purchase.

Thank God! Now I don't have to spend endless, boring hours talking to friends, painting and reading books. I can switch on and zap. Homer Simpson is right, you know—the remote is a true technical marvel.

I didn't watch a lot of it when the other firm (not DER) delivered it. I had too much time to spend on moving all my furniture—firstly to make room for the house altar, and secondly, to position my chairs in the correct direction and make sure my plants and art didn't block guests' views of it.

After programming the cable channels in, I flicked through to see if all was OK. I watched bits and pieces of all manner of thing. On CNN a debate was taking place on child soldiers. (I wonder if they are hooligans? I always though they didn't have the money to go and see a game, let alone buy a football.) Apparently they are abducted by the militias, grow up accepting violence as normal, and in peacetime they have trouble re-entering society: they are mentally unfit for anything and have no education to speak of. A UN man said he was working to make sure all countries have a minimum age of 18 for servicemen—how comforting, and philanthropic.

Zap! I caught a scene from the American Civil War soap North and South. One of the characters (Patrick Swayzee) is a slave owner. His friend is a Yankee capitalist—socialists can't help chuckle at the man's name: Hazard. Apparently they are friends, although they end up fighting each other (in the two armies). The Confederate looks at the diabolical conditions capitalist Hazard's workers endure in the factory. "At least they are free—they can go where they want," says our erstwhile Yankee. Quite. Capitalism needs this "freedom" to operate: you can work for a capitalist or choose to starve.

Zap! At last I can catch up on Eastenders. I see Nick Cotton has a son. He was caught trying to steal money from Dot's purse by Mark. "Like father, like son," says our fruit-and-veg philosopher. In 1987 "Between the Lines" was attacked in a dishonest article by the People newspaper, because we called Eastenders a morality play with a distorted view of what our class is like. Fifteen years on and it is still moralising: Nick's son is "born evil", and is it right to let Ethel end her life when her cancer is too painful to bear?

Zap! It was awful listening to the Republican Conference on Five Live's Up All Night show; seeing and hearing it in glorious Technicolor was nauseating. Visions of Nazi rallies sprang to mind—people screaming in adulation at their "strong man".

Zap! Zap! Zap! I saw Teletubbies in German, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Turkish. At least I know how to say: "Time for Tubby bye-bye" in several languages now. I could complain but, then, when I was a kid TV had Happy Days and The Magic Roundabout. I watched the Fonz whilst my old man followed the adventures of "Boing" Zebedee—probably to com to grips with his 60's acid flashbacks.

Zap! Ah-something good: Woody Allen's Radio Days film. After that, turned on my radio and listened to Brian Alexander's show and Up All Night, whilst flicking through a book I was given, The Biology of Art, which studies how Homo sapiens's need for art developed, through a comparative study of chimpanzees' paintings.

But no doubt I shall be tuned in tomorrow to see if Mel will forgive Steve and to cry when Ethel snuffs it. Anything else would be boring, wouldn't it?

GRAHAM TAYLOR