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E Jane Dickson: A good reason to keep only one television in the house


Don't tell Santa. Just when you thought the market in pointless "personal electronics" had bottomed out, Sony has brought out a 3D TV set, designed to be worn on the viewer's head. I predict a rush of copycat "wearable appliances"; domestic goddess types could whizz about the house on "hoover-skates", with an iron strapped to one hand and an electric whisk on the other.

I hate to be grinchy about it, but the head-mounted telly is something else my teenagers can strike from their Christmas list. They have more than enough "personal electronic" devices as it is and they're frankly too personal for my liking (I accept that mobile phone messaging services are marvellous when a teenager needs to canvas 33 close friends on which shoes to wear for a party; the flip side is when a catty comment hangs around the ether, like a bad smell in black and white).

It is already a source of some disgruntlement that our household has just the one, unfashionably-boxy television, plonked in the corner of the living room. I've tried passing it off as retro chic, but no dice; my kids view the "one TV policy" as an act of Victorian cruelty on a par with forced parlour games.

It's not that I hold strong views on television as a corrupting influence or think that young minds are better employed in model-making or spelling bees (actually, I do think this, but have the wrong kind of children for such pursuits). It's just that I hate the idea of the three of us slumped, slack-jawed in front of the telly in our separate rooms, when we could be slumped, slack-jawed watching telly together.

For me, the point is the shared experience. It doesn't have to be educational viewing or even tasteful. Often it's the least improving programmes that turn out to be most instructive – for me at least. Ask a teenager "what's happening at school?" and the stock response is "nothing" or "stuff". But with the three of us squished up, Simpsons-style, on the sofa in front of Waterloo Road, the "stuff" I really want to know comes pouring out in response to on-screen scenarios.

Endless footage of surgical procedures gone wrong – I think there must now be a dedicated Appalling Operations channel squeezed into the airwaves between The Hitler Channel and Family Guy repeats – is hardly uplifting, but can provoke illuminating comments on teenage body image. There's a peculiar licence to these "eyes front" conversations. Safely distanced from personal experience, events unrolling on screen – dramatic, polemic or banal – are an effective lightning rod for hard-to-approach subjects. In any case, the tussle for the single remote, is I think, in some obscure way character-forming, a necessary exercise in compromise. I would not, perhaps, choose to watch Hollyoaks on a regular basis. ("It's how young people speak, Mum. Get over it.") My kids, on the other hand, do not clamour for Question Time ( "Stop shouting, Mum! They can't hear you and they don't care"), but the flickering screen, like the fire in the cave, draws them in and mostly, by the end of the show, all are ranting merrily at the screen. Better than "Boggle" any day.

I have long viewed the six-inch stiletto as an instrument of sadism, created to prove the old – and somehow elementally – French notion "il faut souffrir pour etre belle". How wrong I was. According to Parisian shoe maestro Christian Louboutin, "The arch of a foot in a high heel is precisely the shape of a woman's foot when she orgasms. Putting your foot in a heel, he argues, "you are putting yourself in a possibly orgasmic situation". At £600 a pump for your genuine Louboutins, it's an expensive thrill. But somebody needs to tell Victoria Beckham, whose heel-wearing genius is matched only by her ability to remain stony-faced at all times. If stilettos are the new sex – and this is Posh in throes of ecstasy – I'm sticking with the old kind. It's cheaper and you don't get blisters.