Lent Day #10

Day #10 (40acts): Have a screen break. This one is all about taking a break from watching television. There’s a blog post that accompanies each suggestion and in this one the person who writes says what a difference it made to them to stop watching television about 18 months ago. They also suggest that their children have longer attention spans and more creative imaginations because they don’t watch television.

I remember buying video recorder about seven years ago for my parents. I got it in Tesco and when I was at the checkout they refused to let me have it until I gave them my address to pass onto the licensing authorities. Since I didn’t own a television and was giving the recorder as a gift, I thought that this was a stupid thing. The cashier was resolute and eventually she called her manager who said the same thing: ‘why would you buy a video recorder if you didn’t have a television?’ Because it is a gift, I said, to hardened minds.

A while later I was visited by a man from the TV licensing people From the doorstep he took a brief look in and said he didn’t think we had a television. I was surprised by this because wouldn’t it have been easy for us to have it upstairs? Anyway, we didn’t have one and we still don’t.

I still watch TV programmes, just on 4od or iplayer. I’m enjoying Pointless, a good fun game show with gentle humour and general knowledge. But I don’t think that I need to change that habit. Of course, if I’m going to post a blogpost every day I do need some screen time…

Perhaps I overuse my smartphone and I could do with using that less, so that might be a challenge to try. I’ve also thought in the past about reducing my computer use at work. I’ve even considered switching off the computer for a day a week to see how I go and whether it really is possible. Usually when I arrive at work the first thing I do is switch on my computer, even before I’ve changed out of my sweaty cycling clothes. And the last thing I do in the evening is switch off the computer and monitor. A lot of my colleagues don’t even manage to switch their monitors off. I’ve given up pestering them about it but I do believe that if they can change their habits on that, then other things will change too. And we Quakers do need to find new habits if we’re to succeed at becoming low-carbon sustainable Quaker communities.

Day #10 (action): Today I saw a lot of statues on a walk around London with some friends. And that got me thinking of the Alfred Salter statue in Bermondsey that was stolen presumably to be sold for scrap metal. So I signed the e-petition on Cashless Scrap Metal Trade – Amendment to Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964. It currently has over 55,000 signatures but needs another 45,000 or so to go anywhere in government. I do wish that a solution could be found to the illegal trade in metals, particularly as it is stolen from railways and rooftops as well as statues, manhole covers and other items.

In January home secretary Theresa May made an announcement introducing urgent legislation to combat the epidemic of metal theft in the UK. Measures, including the banning of cash payments for scrap metal, would be tabled as amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, currently in the House of Lords.It is intended that these new laws will improve the traceability of scrap metal transactions and reduce the ability of anonymous sellers to handle stolen metal.


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