Letter: No box in the corner and proud of it

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Sir: We were infuriated by Reggie Nadelson's 'A box in the corner makes the world a better place' (25 February), which depicted a family like ours as sanctimonious misfits, just because there is no television at home.

Many people come to visit us, all of whom would laugh at the suggestion that we are remotely interested in grouse-shooting or that our surroundings are gentrified. Why do friends of our children prefer to be at our house than anywhere else, as has been the case ever since primary school? On his sixteenth birthday several of my son's school mates are going to come over for an evening's music-making. Yes, we too 'play musical instruments and talk a lot', but we do not see what is so bad about this.

We even go out from time to time and keep in touch with a cycle discernable in skies or trees, rather than in the 'new shows' on a screen that 'resonates with the cycle of the year'. Think what Ms Nadelson is missing] But we are not morally opposed to television, as she assumes. We simply do not have enough time for it at home. Any television we watch elsewhere we appreciate, probably more than do people for whom it is a familiar background phenomenon.

I would never belittle what television reporters did for Ethiopia, but it is frightening to read that the famine 'took place on television': it did not. For the people concerned it took place in the Ethiopian dust. Other horrors, which do not get television coverage, get forgotten, because people find it hard to imagine them. When our children were younger, I read to them nightly in order to stimulate their imaginations.

By using the telephone, computer, radio and the Independent newspaper, none of which is exactly 'Victorian', and through our friends of many nationalities and of all ages, surely we cannot be 'entirely withdrawn from the mainstream'. My daughter (17) has just won a prize in a national competition, a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This particular 'peculiar case' very much resents being labelled as a 'know-nothing' who will be unable to vote intelligently.

The tribal metaphor Ms Nadelson uses is the wrong way round. It is the conventional people who behave tribally, by turning on anyone who contradicts their received ideas. As for her literary allusion, Samson in Gaza was not eyeless by choice, but because of what was inflicted upon him by the uncomprehending oppressor.

Yours sincerely,


Old Cwmbran, Gwent

26 February