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"He says she reads the news and takes her top off. Can't believe it. There's also a weatherman that jumps up and down on a trampoline and he's only a little fella and he struggles to show you what the storms are doing to Scotland because its too far away from the ground." He told my mum.
I was excited to have some new channels on the TV. Up to that point we had only 5 and they were all very boring. I got into the habit of staying up late at night when they had gone to sleep to see what I could find. It was almost like you were browsing a secret realm that only the bravest get to see if you stay up past your bed time. It was on one of these nights that it first happened. I was flicking through the channels seeing how high the red digital numbers on the cable box could go when an image came onto my screen of a sad looking creature. I could see the tears welling in its eyes as it stared back at me from the other side of the old CRT TV we had.
I went up a couple of channels and saw some kind of Spanish western, and then back down to channel 69 where the creature would be. I'm pretty certain it was a dog but I hadn't seen a picture of a dog before so I wasn't sure. To me it looked a bit like some kind of weird ferret. It would hover on my screen staring at me, in silence. Just the hiss of TV static playing over its face as tears fell from its eyes. I didn't think too much into it at first as there was a lot more exciting things happening on the other channels. I would just sit there in front of the TV and marvel at how much crazy stuff was being broadcast. A vast world at my fingertips which seemed to only get crazier the later I was able to stay awake.
But when I tried to find it during the day, channel 69 didn't exist. The screen would be blank. But at night when my parents went to sleep if I browsed to that channel it would be there, looking at me, crying. I swear its eyes would track me if I walked around the room. But mostly I would sit and just stare deeply into this tiny dogs eyes, full of sorrow, and wonder how I could help it.
So I decided one day that he was probably hungry. I saved a sandwich from my packed lunch at school and smuggled it out and that evening, when my parents went to bed, I began to feed it. I wasn't sure how I could get the sandwich to the dog so I just did the only logical thing possible and opened up the front hatch of the VCR and slid the tuna mayonnaise sandwich into the TV's 'mouth'. And it worked! The puppy looked so happy. His tiny little face bounced around the screen like a DVD screensaver and he yapped and yipped, and he stopped crying. He didn't have to be alone anymore on channel 69. I would be there to make sure he was fed and looked after, my little TV dog.
But all good things have to come to an end. A week later my dad had to throw the whole TV/VHS combo home entertainment system in the bin as a hive of ant's had moved into it because (in his words) .. "SOME FUCKING IDIOT KEEPS PUTTING CRISPS AND SANDWICHES AND SHIT INTO THE FUCKING VHS". He was very angry, I decided not to tell him about the dog I was looking after. I hope the dog went on to find somebody else to make him stronger, to feed him and nurture him. Out there in the realm of cable TV.