Morning Room Memories

Back in the sixties and in the depths of County Limerick we just had one TV Channel – and boy was it exciting! The Virginian galloped towards our sofa and on The Late Late Show Gay Byrne revealed that sex did indeed sometimes take place in Ireland. Once a year the modest and carefully tended box linked us up with magical metropolises and often odd sounding music during the Eurovision Song Contest. The thrill of the signature tune announcing the live European link up at the start of the show can still send a thrill to my heart.

All this cosmopolitan razzmatazz happened in the Morning Room of our rambling country rectory. I’m not sure why it was called the Morning Room since we usually sat there in the evenings. The name must have appealed to my mother, with its poetic hints of bygone days and ways. It was a rather ordinary room that had the same vast windows and long wooden shutters as the rest of the house but what made it different was, of course, the television. We were amongst the first people in the area to get a television and news of its arrival percolated through the neighbourhood. It was placed on a table to the left of the fireplace.

My first attempts at watching it as a young girl were not that pleasant. I remember having to leave the room because people were being shot. “It’s only a film” I was told, but this did not comfort me. I did not associate violence, blood and gore with the Morning Room. I returned to my pony books, unimpressed by the new contraption’s savagery.

After a while I realised there were many other programmes on offer and I loved watching The Donna Reed Show when I got in from school. The fire in the Morning Room was not normally lit until later in the evening so, during colder weather, I snuggled up under an old fake fur brown coat belonging to my mother as I journeyed into the idealised, apple pie world Donna Reed’s American middle class family inhabited. I enthusiastically absorbed the tantalising images of dating and open topped cars, ice cream parlours and dances. On one occasion, when my parents were off shopping in Limerick, I even brought my pony Merrylegs into the room to witness our new mechanical marvel..

A bell on the wall of the Morning Room that had, in grander days, been used to summon servants, was now used to alert other members of the family about some unmissable programme.. We gathered together in awe to witness the Moon Landing.

Given the wondrous vistas it offered it seemed only natural that our television required its very own special protective covering when it was resting. The cloth used for this purpose was multi-coloured and from Africa…both of my parents had spent many years in foreign climes.

Much though I loved our telly I did sometimes find it rather brazen. Cowboys galloping through the high chaparral, for example, was fine, but sometimes people kissed right there in front of me and made me squirm with embarrassment. It seemed unhygienic and silly. What on earth was the point of it? And then I suddenly understood, I got it, I wanted to be kissed myself. I had fallen in love with Davy Jones of The Monkees.

The Monkees were fabulous and their songs were great too, but Davy Jones was particularly gorgeous and not that much taller than myself. I raced into the Morning Room for our dates. Romance had entered our country rectory. I did not want anyone else in the room while I adored him. This was just between Davy and myself.

Wimbledon was another high-point of my television viewing. Though the players were in black and white they were very dramatic. Bjorn Borg was the good boy but many of the others threw tantrums and said rude things to umpires. If they won their faces shone with joy.

I later lived near Wimbledon for a while.. I even sat in a seat beside its famous Centre Court and watched one of the matches.

It was good to be there….but the strange thing was it was nothing like as glamorous as it had seemed in the Morning Room on our black and white tv…

Warm wishes,

Grace

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