I’ve been accused of many things over the years, but being dense has never been one of them. Until now that is. It turns out that according to Mme. Laborde, the eldest daughter’s SES teacher or ‘prof de science economique et sociale,’ as a family we are ‘culturally dense.’ This is because we do not own a television and households without a television, apparently have a higher level of cultural density. Not having a television wasn’t ever a conscious decision on our part. I was never one of those middle class mothers who preferred to do cutting and sticking with their offspring. On the contrary, mine were plonked in front of C Beebies as soon as they could focus on the screen. And I don’t honestly think it has done them any harm. The eight year old started reading Suskind’s ‘Perfume’ a few weeks back. He abandoned it after three chapters, declaring that it was too adult for him but not before he’d asked me if his teenage cousin was a young virgin. I said that I really didn’t know and that it was rather a personal question. Mind you, given the teenager in question and his level of personal hygiene, I should think it is quite likely. I can’t imagine many girls want to kiss boys who have to be reminded on a daily basis to clean their teeth.
Getting rid of the television just happened. Our last home was a rented property perched on an exposed hilltop. When the wind got up, everything that wasn’t bolted to the ground blew away. The first few weeks saw us lose a succession of compost bins, plastic ride on tractors and rotary washing lines, all of which ended up in the neighbouring fields. The satellite dish was another casualty until James opted for an installation system that could have survived an earthquake. When we left, the landlord asked to buy the dish for the next tenant and it seemed easier than dismantling James’ handiwork. As our new abode is the renovation project from hell, complete with minor subsidence and major damp, installing a TV never seemed like a priority and a year on, we’ve all got used to life without it. Makes for a far more productive existence too. After all, if you can’t spend the mornings watching Jeremy Kyle, it does mean that you have to find something else to do.
And in the case of the kids, this means reading. They all have their noses permanently buried in a book and something Daisy was reading recently, referred to the difference between an opera and an operetta. She was the one child in her class to know this which only served to confirm Mme. Laborde’s high opinion of us and our cultural density. Should Mme. Laborde ever turn up chez nous, I’m sure she would be sorely disappointed to see that we don’t spend our time playing the violin and painting landscapes. We’re more likely to be found digging drains and pouring concrete.