Taping over the cracks

I’ve slung out my old Betamax machine.   I realise Antiques Roadshow is never coming to a town near me.  Arthur Negus clearly allergic to suburbia

I don’t need it now as I have “catch up TV”; “download series link” and various programmes 1-hour later.

As a kid, VHS was something your mum told you’d catch off other people’s toilet seats.  Betamax was the ointment you’d use to get rid of it.

With the Radio Times you planned in advance what your viewing would be. As an adolescent I knew Alexandra Bastedo was on Friday evenings; Andy Pandy was Tuesday – I can’t remember which day Sunday Night at the London Palladium was on.

You had to watch things live.  If I missed any episode of The Persuaders I’d have to wait until playtime at my Balham school before catching up.  The quality of the retelling made it obvious none of my mates would ever become screenplay writers.  However, you could miss a decade of Crossroads, and still get up to speed with plot before the first ad break.

And then came video tapes – almost the size of your lounge – and with a slit for inserting the tape which could be as vicious as a piranha.

But the ever present danger was taping over something precious.

I once recorded the 1989 FA Cup Final over The Sound of Music.  Instead of the Nazis turning up, suddenly you had Ian Rush marauding into the Everton penalty area.  “I am sixteen” was suddenly replaced with “You’ll never walk alone”.  The remote buttons were never allowed in my hand again.

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