When did television become responsible for us. I caught the end of some drama yesterday and along came the ubiquitous line “help is available for issues raised in this show”. Surely we understand that it’s a drama, a fiction, why do the characters need support? Apparently the support is aimed at us, the viewers. Really, we can’t understand the division between fiction and reality? This didn’t happen when I was a child and I turned out ok. When I was a child we simply called it fiction and that was it. There was no helpline to call to counsel me and explain that cybermen weren’t real. When ET went home we didn’t have a helpline to tell us that it was ok he had arrived safely at home. We left the cinema and took a big dose of man up, job done.
The more I thought about it the more weird I realised it was. We show war-torn countries, death and collapsing economies on the news but there are no helplines. Apparently we can cope with real life but when fiction turns bad we need the Samaritans. Is this part of the cult of celebrity, do we believe these people are real and somehow more important than the rest of us? With the voracious appetite for soap operas I wonder how many people cope in the real world! I went on to watch a baking show yesterday and was disappointed that there was no ‘dough helpline’ to help me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was in a hotel I could have been overcome by a desire to make bread. Where was my help, my counsellor, oh no I was on my own I guess bread is too real life.
What higher power is it that decides when we need supportive helplines? Is this simply another scheme for the government to reduce the jobless figures? To balance the unemployment line they simply generate more ‘demand’ for the counselling services. If you have children and they turn to you traumatised or terrified by something that they have seen on the television can I suggest an alternative. Simply wave your hand behind the set, grin and say “it’s not bloody real” This simple act will help ensure that your children become active members of society rather than TV zombies.
In other odd thoughts from the night I give you spider starvation. They tell us that spiders are intelligent and they certainly ace at spinning webs. But, given that the food stuff of spiders is flies, how do they actually survive? Spiders tend to hang out in lofts and service cupboards where they can freely spin and maintain webs whereas flies hang out in the middle of a room where webs are forbidden. I have a theory here, but you already knew that didn’t you.
I understand that a fly spins a delicate gossamer web that snares unsuspecting flies providing nutrition for the spider. Now that, as a process, is practical and sensible if it were not for humans. We come along and clean cobwebs from open spaces and cause the spiders to retreat into dark, rarely visited spaces. So now your spider is in the pipe box work, the toilet cistern box and under the bath tub. The spider is happy and undisturbed here but, and this is fundamental, flies don’t visit. Your everyday spider works on simple logic; if he is hungry he spins a web and waits for dinner to fly into it. After a day or so without a bite he spins another web, then another and another. This is counter-intuitive because the resultant mass of thick matted web is readily visible to anything that comes by and results in an even lower harvest.
I can hear you crying out that you see spiders out in the open in your home. That is true but remember the process, spin web, wait patiently, catch dinner. These are not true hunters; they are not scurrying across the floor to launch a fevered attack on a fly. The process of spinning a web is not something akin to Spiderman it is a trap that requires building rather than a weapon to deploy. Without the time to build a web they have no chance of dinner so they retire to the nether regions of your home to spin ever denser and emptier webs. We have all found dead spiders under floor boards and in loft spaces; did you think that was old age? Or they got trapped? No, the escapologist skills of a spider are amazing they are dead because of starvation and insanity. It is true, they spend their time running around spinning webs muttering “they will come and then I will catch them”. In the meantime you are busy fighting a one man war against their foodstuff which is merrily invading your home. Like a woman with a houseful of cats awaiting a man they simply die alone.
As with all of nature there are analogies. The fisherman having a bad day is quickly surrounded by several comrades trying to coax the beasts from still waters. Hours spent fishing without a bite is known to drive a man mad, well at least ‘madder’. So the next time your partner complains that you don’t do enough housework just remember she wants the spider webs gone, you’re next and then the cats invade.