Don’t Mind Me: ‘Off in my own world: Unplugged and offline’

Patricia Feehily


Patricia Feehily

He might be the most televised person on the planet, but Pope Francis admitted this week that he doesnt own a TV and he hasnt really watched television since the 90s. Patricia Feehily says she can related to the Pontiff position and being unplugged from mass media can have it advantages
IT was one of those weeks when it looked for all the world as if Alice in Wonderland had realised her dream. “If I had a world of my own,” said Alice, “everything would be a nonsense.” Well, it seems she got her wish.

IT was one of those weeks when it looked for all the world as if Alice in Wonderland had realised her dream. “If I had a world of my own,” said Alice, “everything would be a nonsense.” Well, it seems she got her wish.

First we had the media reaction to Pope Francis’ announcement that he doesn’t have a television set and that he hasn’t watched telly since 1990. You’d think he had cut off his blood supply a quarter of a century ago so hysterical was the response, some columnists going so far as to suggest that anyone who declares to the world that he or she doesn’t watch TV is an intellectual snob, out of touch with humanity.

What kind of nonsense is this, Alice? I’ve been addicted to TV soaps for the last 40 years and I tell everyone that I don’t ever watch TV, just in case anyone might regard me as brain dead. It’s a survival strategy.

Anyway, apart from the soaps, which I affectionately regard as blissful escapism, there are times when I feel like throwing a brick through the screen, so puerile is the content on offer – like Kim Kardashian’s rear end, for instance. I know exactly how the Pope feels, except that I don’t have his will power. I think I’d probably wither up and die if the set ever went permanently on the blink.

Then we have the Dublin based film industry going into something of a hissy fit over the prospect of a film studio in Limerick. Who the hell do they think they are? The self appointed guardians of Darby O’Gill and the Little People would want to get over their Hollywood complex and their delusions of grandeur and remember that Limerick, and not Dublin, was the country’s first City of Culture.

I think it was a brilliant and innovative step by the County and City Council to buy the old Dell factory with a view to providing the city’s first film studio. I’d have no problem at all having my tax used for such a worthwhile project. It doesn’t look like a film studio, granted, but I have no doubt but that we’ll surprise them all yet. We might even persuade Pope Francis to start watching TV again.

Finally, just when I had thrown in the towel after a lifetime of weight-watching, the fashion industry went and did a complete U-turn announcing to all and sundry that the war against flab was over. Curves were in, they said, and size six no longer existed. I should, of course, have been doing a victory dance, but I wasn’t – one, because it was too late for me, and two, because I don’t really know what they mean by “curves”. If it has anything to do with Kim Kardashian’s rear end, then I’m not a bit impressed.

The timing, however, could not have been worse. Fat has become highly politicised, with obesity threatening the very future of the race. So I can’t get too facetious about the issue, or tissue, as the case may be, lest the PC brigade take umbrage. We were already well on the way to becoming the fattest people in the EU in ten years time and the last thing we needed was the fashion industry to turn around and tell us that it was cool.

Then, just by chance I got a whole new perspective on the issue of weight, when I was shown a copy of a letter written in 1850 by a man from my native parish, who had escaped from the Famine and had made it to America. The poignant missive was written to his brother who had emigrated to England, and gave all the details of how he was faring in the land of opportunity. He made specific reference to his own weight and that of his wife - 14 stone and 12 stone respectively – as testament to their survival. The HSE and the Department of Health, not to talk of the exercise and diet industries would be scandalised by the letter, and I don’t even know if the fashion industry could handle it.

Finally comes the news that the Pope isn’t the only one who has been turned off by the television. Kids who were “glued to the screen” until recently are abandoning the media in droves – apart maybe from an army of tiny Peppa Pig die-hards, who aren’t easily persuaded. The older ones miraculously have managed to become unstuck.

But there’s a downside to everything apparently. The kids are now so completely absorbed in their smart phones that parents, at their wits end obviously, are encouraging them to watch a bit of telly again so that they won’t lose touch with humanity and develop touch screen syndrome leading to early onset arthritis in their thumbs.

As I said at the beginning, Alice got what she desired. Everything is a nonsense.