What’s on the box?

I remember getting up before 6:30 every morning before school to watch Cheez TV for my daily dose of animation. I remember getting up every Saturday morning for my Disney fix. I remember playing on the floor in the living room while Mum watched Days of Our Lives. My mum Kris recalls this clearly, “you didn’t watch it with me- you played with your toys on the floor while I watched it. You used to say things like “I don’t like that bad lady”!”

My mum Kris- a self proclaimed “TV junkie”, lived in St Ives with her parents and two younger brothers. She was lucky enough to have two televisions in the house- one in her parent’s room and one in the living room. As Kris and her brothers got older, the living room television shifted downstairs so the Garcia kids could enjoy watching television with their friends. “We had comfy lounges and a small fridge down there. Our friends used to come over and watch TV with us”.

Kris remembers her TV as a “large black and white TV with its own cabinet”. Since the kids dominated the television, Kris’ parents placed a small television in their bedroom. Like everyone else, the Garcias were extremely excited when colour TV arrived in the 1970’s!

I asked Kris to dig a little deeper into her memory box. I wanted to know every detail of her TV experience!

Well, I usually sat on the three-seater lounge on the right hand side of the room. If the cricket was on or the Roosters or Eels were playing, my dad would join us.

Mum enjoyed some quality time with her younger brother John every Saturday morning while Hey Hey Its Saturday was on the box. As teenagers, their friends joined them on Saturday nights to watch the show before going out for the night. Saturday seemed like a great night for TV! Mum enjoyed going over to friends’ houses to watch Bill Collins’ Golden Years of Hollywood, “always with wine and nibblies of course!” Occasionally, the whole family would sit together and watch a movie.

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Summer seemed terribly boring for Kris. “It always meant falling asleep on the lounge after lunch while Dad and the boys watched the test cricket.” Kris’ Dad and brothers were “sports mad”. If she didn’t join in, she would not have had the chance to watch anything. She had no choice.

I came to love watching the football, staying up for FA Cup and World Cup finals, the Olympic Games and World Series Cricket. I preferred the one day matches to the tests though.”

“Mum, what did you watch when you were my age?” She managed to list all her favourite shows, including Young Doctors, The Restless Years and Sons and Daughters. “We’d rush to school the next day to discuss each episode!” As children or teenagers, there were several shows we were absolutely dying to watch, but Mum and Dad would say “no that’s not suitable for someone your age.” Kris experienced this as a pre-teen. “There were shows I remember because I wasn’t allowed to watch them, like Number 96. My parents watched it but it was deemed unsuitable for us!” Well that explains why she wouldn’t let me watch Friends as a kid!

I bet your mum wasn’t a TV star like mine! Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement. Kris did make it on TV on two kids quiz shows: It’s Academic and Jeopardy. I asked her whether she watched herself on TV afterwards. “I did, I was cringing the whole time!

After grilling her with questions for a while, there was only one more thing I needed to know. How did Kris feel watching television?

I loved watching TV. It was my way of relaxing. It was also a time that I got to share with the people closest to me. I have such fond memories, especially of watching all those famous sporting moments with my dad, who had been a TV sports commentator in the Philippines. Its still the same today. We share lots of family time around the television.

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Many themes arose during this conversation. For Kris, the television was a string that pulled the family together; a unique bonding experience. It gave purpose to social gatherings. This is still partially relevant today, as my family and I spend most of our time together infront of the TV. However, now at least one of us will sit infront of the TV with a laptop- something that didn’t exist during Kris’ childhood and teenage years. Funnily enough, Kris’ TV “habits” have rubbed off on my family today. Although nobody in my family watches sport, there are shows that three out of the four of us will watch together, and the outlier has the choice to either join in or hibernate in the study. If there’s one thing that stood out during this conversation, watching TV is still a bonding experience for my family.

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