Sarah Sands: Community viewing is back in style

Share
Related Topics

If one divides a house into male and female parts, there is no doubt about the gender of the television. It is preening and dominating and size-obsessed and demanding of worship. Most of the gadgets we use are getting smaller and neater – computers, phones, laptops. Not televisions. Televisions are growing into monsters.

Do you remember when it was considered genteel to disguise a television in a cabinet? Or when wide screen was associated with the socially downmarket, the province of the nouveau riche and council estates. Was the world mad? Now televisions are hung on walls like works of art and cost as much. Thirty-two inches has become basic, 42 inches normal, and 50 or 60 inches is where men really want to be. Five foot televisions.

Even the most frugal men seem to lose their heads at the prospect of a new television. And it is not just the shape and size which makes their hearts beat faster. It is something far more esoteric. It's plasma and LCD and LED, it's HD and 3D and screen resolution, with cinema sound.

When they first introduced high definition, the big question was what it did for the complexions of our news readers. It was raised as a reason for dumping Moira Stewart – now going great guns with Chris Evans on Radio 2 – and generated a debate about women considered too old for TV. In fact the real implication of high-definition TV lay elsewhere. It was the matches, stupid.

I cannot really tell the difference. Indeed, the Sky man who came round to put ours in grinned and looked as if there was one born every minute, and said it was up to me, when I asked whether it really changed things. But men swear that the grass is greener for those with high-definition TVs; and, suddenly, everything has come together in an act of sublime symmetry. Heavenly TVs and the World Cup!

Television is criticised by social psychologists as a solitary, passive activity. Yet these new cinematic screens and patriotic fervour are creating communities of television watchers. It could not be more sociable. Just as wealthier 1950s households invited round the neighbours to watch the coronation on the street's only television set, so it's fashionable again to have people in for the big occasion. My first World Cup party was at the home of the PR man Matthew Freud, where a group of men vied for greatest knowledge of the game, the women grew slightly bored and we all admired the size of the set.

Our big show-off TV arrived last week and I'm looking for all the yellow in the picture, having seen a Japanese man explain in an advert that that is its special quality. Naturally, it's been researched by my husband. I didn't know he'd got it, and rang as I walked home. "I'm just going by the Sony shop. Shall I pop in and buy a telly?" There was a terrible sigh. As if it were possible to buy a television as you might buy a box of washing powder ...

Last week at a glamorous wedding in a Surrey village, the happiest man apart from the groom was an IT specialist who had negotiated a departure from his bank that would give him three months' gardening leave, starting now. "I've got a new HD deal and a new set," he said. "I'll not be moving much from the sofa."

I'd say that was excessive, except my family is already calculating whether we can really make my son's wedding next month if England are still involved in South Africa. Whoever is watching the football that day, the cheers and groans will mingle with those of every other fan in the street, however little some of them understand 4-4-2. The noise of blaring televisions is to be the sound of summer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape