There used to be a programme on Radio 4 called ‘I’ve Never Seen Star Wars’ where the guests would confess that they hadn’t done some seemingly normal thing that absolutely everyone would have done. I used to listen to it and think ‘I haven’t done that either’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hermit. (It did tempt me once, mind, a nomadic existence in the Lammermuir Hills.) I just have other priorities. Take TV. At work, we often talk movies and TV. More often than not I just smile and nod since I haven’t seen Stranger Things, Trauma or whatever the ‘in show’ is this week. Sometimes there are gasps of horror as I speak up and say I’ve never seen some seminal classics of celluloid, The Wizard of Oz, maybe, or The Godfather or even the collected works of Quentin Tarantino.
It’s not that I don’t care about popular culture. Through osmosis I can name most of the Kardashians, the characters in Paw Patrol thanks to the little people in my life and I could place most of the actors and actresses nominated for the Oscars. I spend my nights writing, studying, reading or watching documentaries or football, invariably goggling at things which don’t involve too much thought. A new drama involves conscious effort to figure out what’s going on, who that character is, where the plot is going. Plus, I tend to crash out thereby missing crucial scenes as I snore my way through. In short, I’ve got a life and in between working, eating, sleeping, plotting how I’ll take over the world and watching Hibs, something has to give.
It’s not like I haven’t tried. I’ve got a box set of Game of Thrones in the house that I’ve had for six months. I was told I would like it. And it was fine. I got six episodes in and got side-tracked with no fixed plans to continue. Game of Thrones isn’t easy watching with a whole host of characters and complex plots, subplots and relationships going on. I love history and I’ve been told I would like Outlander. Half of it is set in castles and historic places around Scotland. It will take years, probably long after it’s stopped being made, for me to see Outlander. I’m fine with that.
When you pipe up that you haven’t seen something, the looks and gasps that ensue can be quite entertaining. There is a rebel cachet, a sort of street-cred that comes with going against the grain like that. I don’t think I’m going to suffer unduly from not seeing Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders or The Wire. Indeed I’ll probably live longer than those shows’ characters, quietly not giving a hoot, rebelling right there with my notebook and a YouTube video about trains. Life’s too short and it’s all in the living, not just the seeing on a screen.