I’ve already slapped my flat for refusing to grow; I could slap it today for refusing to get clean by itself, but I won’t because I have another slappee in mind.
In the past three days, I’ve been tidying up and dusting, etc. with the TV on. I find most boring tasks become less boring with an afternoon film on the box. Actually, sometimes watching daytime TV leads to witnessing more important things, like on a certain afternoon in September 2001, when, waiting for something to start on TV, I went to the kitchen to make myself some lunch and halfway through turned around to see if the programme had started and instead saw two towers, one of which was sprouting smoke. Puzzled (the sound was off), I got closer and never left that spot again for the next two hours.
Television has always played a big part in my life: I remember the Coronation of our Queenie in 1953; the Hungarian uprising in 1956, etc. When I say to people that I was watching TV when I was two, they shrug “so what”: they were watching it in the womb. Ah, but I was born in 1948 and the number of TV sets in France in 1950 could be counted on the fingers of one hand, more or less. My father was mad about gadgets: he bought one of the first Polaroid cameras available in France; the first transistor; the first portable tape-recorder, etc. He would love all the new technology on offer these days.
Anyway, when I’m at home I often watch B-movies in the afternoon, mostly on Channel Five: I love stories about babies snatched at birth and reunited with their mothers twenty years later. I like a good cry. But yesterday I was suddenly struck by the kinds of adverts that are shown during those films. I understand the ones about health insurance; the ones about foods that no yuppie would ever eat; the ones about weird kitchen gadgets, but I don’t understand why there are so many ads for charities. Apart from me, who watches TV in the afternoon? The old, the unemployed, mothers with babies, i.e. people with not much money. Why are they the target audience of those ads? Ah, I know: an old person is more liable to be touched by a short film showing a poor little kid crying in its crib with a voice-over saying that no one will answer its cries, or a tiny puppy yelping as it's being thrown out with the rubbish, or an emaciated African baby gasping for air in its mother’s arms. They tug at your heart and it’s almost impossible to resist calling the phone number on the screen and donate your whole meagre pension there and then. It’s cynical and cruel.
So I’m slapping those charities and the programmers: they are targeting the wrong people. Well, obviously not the wrong people because it works, otherwise they wouldn’t carry on doing it, but those ads should be shown in the evening, when people in full-time employment are back from their offices, where they probably earned enough money to donate to others less fortunate, but probably don’t because they’re not given an easy phone number to call there and then. Slap!