My mum was a writer. As a girl, she filled notebook after notebook with her stories. I remember her buying her first portable typewriter when I was in primary school. She regularly set it up on our dining room table and she’d tap away at the keys for hours. Mum wrote articles, short stories, a historical novel, a local history book and many poems. I learned this one off by heart as a child and 45 years later, I can still recite every word.
Life was simpler in the 1970s. We had a choice of three television stations in Perth – channels 2, 7 and 9. And television did close down (as Mum said in the poem). At a certain time each night, the transmission of programs would cease and all that was displayed on the screen was a test pattern. There was great excitement in 1975 when colour television arrived in Australia!
Before the advent of television and takeaways, people seemed to live more active, healthy lives. The 1970s also saw the launch of the award-winning “Life. Be in it.” public health campaign.
If you were around in the 1970s this poem will take you back. If you weren’t, here’s a history lesson for you.
Television, that deadly box
Its tentacles around you lock
To hold you fixed and in one place
An automaton of the TV race.
A night ahead while all else sleeps
Is spent in misery while you keep
Your TV warm for morning shows
In the darkness there it glows.
For Count and Bert and Ernie too
Big Bird and Cookie Monster blue
Come on your screen in wild delight
To break the silence of the night.
A power strike is hard to take
What other arrangements can you make?
You cannot read, you know not how
Why, it’s as foreign to you as milking a cow.
Take stock of yourself when you long to turn on
Go for a walk, or a skate, or a run
For life’s too short to sit and watch
Night after night your gogglebox.
Why not start afresh tonight?
Turn off your set and live your life
It will take nerve, it will take grit
But don’t waste your life, BE IN IT!
by Christine Lucas – circa 1976