Back in April, Devon’s analogue television transmitters were switched off, marking the beginning of the nationwide transfer to a digital signal. Now, this has been a bit difficult for me because my aerial is pretty ropey and won’t receive the new transmissions. I can’t really afford a new one; and because I live in a grade two listed building, satellite dishes are not an option. Basically, they’ve repossessed my television rights; not that the picture was that good anyway.

Of course I wasn’t watching all that much before in any case, but now I’ve been deprived of the cop-out of turning on the idiot box as soon as I get home and not doing anything for the rest of the evening. I can still do that, but I have to choose a DVD and get up every so often to exchange it for another. This involves too much thought, so I get sick of it sooner; and I save time anyway because I don’t have to sit through the adverts. No adverts means a drastic improvement in my irritation threshold, since adverts are annoying. There are only so many times I can watch a generic box on wheels being presented as the ultimate fashion accessory before I develop a strong urge to bury the nearest dealership in custard powder and do a rain dance.

The benefits don’t end there. I’m saving more than £150 a year by not buying a television licence, which means more money for books as well as more time for reading them. When I’m failing entirely to read anything I can use the time to post updates here, for which I feel your gratitude shining upon me like the June sun. Or not.

In short, then, all is well in my shiny new boxless universe, and that reminds me of a book I bought years ago from a library that didn’t want it any more. It was called The Evil Eye: the Unacceptable Face of Television, and it instructed me not to give in to the ionised siren song of the cathode ray tube; issuing dire pronouncements about social and psychological decay should I foolishly not heed its prophetic warning. How kind of the authorities to help me to go cold turkey and find that it’s quite nice with cranberry sauce.

I’m going to make one post stand in for several here so that I can switch off my brain and copy things from my reference library. It’s been a while since we visited Bizarre Books, so here are a few more gems from that indispensable volume.

Anonymous Bibliography of Mangrove Research, 1600-1975 (Paris: UNESCO, 1981)

Maclaren, Rob Grow Your Own Hair (Glasgow: Healthway Publications, 1947)

Reynolds, John W. The Earthworms of Ontario (Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1977)

Glatt, Meier Teach Yourself Alcoholism. (EUP, 1975). Call me precocious if you will, but I’ve devised my own course of study.

Collins, Sewell The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Terrier (Grant Richards, 1926)

Scoffern, John Explosive Spiders and How to Make Them (Boy’s Own Paper, 1882)

Reid, Joseph V. You Can Make a Stradivarius Violin (Chicago, Ill: Popular Mechanics Press, 1950 & 55). Unless your name is Stradivarius, no you can’t.

Cort, Samuel Walter Cancer: Is the Dog the Cause? (John Bale, Sons & Danielsson, 1933). Clue: no.

Broel, Dr. Alfred Frog Raising for Pleasure and Profit (New Orleans: Marlboro House, 1950)

Stubbings, John Wilfred The Diseases of Electrical Machinery (Spon, 1939)

Hirschfield, Isador The Toothbrush: its Use and Abuse (New York: Dental Items of Interest Publishing Company, 1939)

Hore, Annie Boyle To Lake Tanganyika in a Bath Chair (Sampson Low & Co., 1886). Just when you think a Victorian travel monograph can’t surprise you, one does.

Today’s chronologically random quotation is from the German composer Max Reger (1873-1916), and was chosen for being gently scatological and insulting to critics.

Ich sitze in dem kleinsten Zimmer in meinem Hause. Ich habe Ihre Kritik vor mir. Im nächsten Augenblick wird sie hinter mir sein.

I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me.

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