“When this old world starts getting me down,
And people are just too much for me to face,
I climb way up to the top of the stairs,
And all my cares just drift right into space,
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be,
And there the world below can’t bother me.”
I can relate to that. We all need somewhere, a space, whether literally, or conjured up in our minds, where we can escape the worries of the day. Indeed, somewhere where our cares just drift right into space.
Everyone needs some relaxation time. Some ‘me’ time, as the Americans would have it.
The Dalai Lama agrees. He says, “Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.” Thus it seems that it is the simple things in life to which we turn for moments of calm and repose.
Unlike Carole King I can’t climb right up to the top of the stairs and sit on the roof, as it has a very steep slope and I would surely end up bedraggled amongst the flowerbeds, thirty feet below.
Some people walk the dog. I don’t have a dog so I’d look ridiculous trailing a lead along beside me.
Others knit. I don’t know how to do that either, so the clacking together of knitting needles would be superfluous in my case.
Fishing is hugely popular in the UK but I have never found the idea of forcing a hook into a fish’s gob an entertaining concept, so there is little amusement in it for me as I would be simply launching a length of string into the river and staring at it for a few hours.
My Arcadia; my Shangri-La; my Utopia is a simple destiny. It is available to just about everyone, but few venture to the extreme edge where it may be found.
I feel it is a secret but not guilty pleasure. It costs me nothing and brings me the same sense of harmony and tranquillity as meditation.
I refer to it being at the edge of existence because it is to be discovered at channel 740 on Virgin Media, quite close to the French language news channel and TalkSport. In other words, it is the Pluto to our Earth; perhaps even the yin to my yang.
Late in the evening, if I don’t feel sleepy and I just feel the need to ‘be’, I turn to QVC. Oh yes, notionally, they are trying to sell me something, but I have never purchased a single item from them since they arrived into my life in the UK in 1993, and I doubt that I ever will. It isn’t the selling, it’s the exquisite bonhomie, the good-natured, pleasant sociability. I allow it to wash over me as if it is a mantra.
QVC has a similar soporific effect to new-agey Andreas Vollenweider albums, or choral evensong on Wednesday afternoons on Radio Three. QVC can move the angst-ridden viewer from sufferance to tolerance by their lilting and calming messages about microwaveable gloves, duvet sets, and face cream.
When QVC was being set up in the UK, prospective presenters were auditioned on their ability to ‘sell’ a yellow pencil during a fifteen minute piece to camera. That fifteen minutes must have felt like a lifetime, but it has led to a line up of hosts who can just talk and simply never run out of steam, and that adds to the drowsy, slumbering, snoozy, opiate-like trance that envelopes both presenter and viewer. We join together in false interest in the Leighton Denny Inkjet and Pixie Dust Duo (nail varnish, apparently). Although I am never, in one hundred lifetimes, going to be in the market for Leighton’s nail products, I can slouch back on the sofa and admire the pleasing colours in the bottle, and sigh with satisfaction at the confident drone of Alison Young as she meanders her way through the benefits of Pixie Dust nail varnish.
It’s rather like having a warm bath at the end of a tiring day in the city.
Over at that furthest edge of the spectrum, there are imitators to the behemoth that is QVC. Latter day Perkin Warbecks all of them, and there are plenty from which to choose.
Pricedrop TV which has the cheek to charge you £1.53 if you fancy calling them to buy something, and their neighbours on the EPG, bid TV who not only want that £1.53 per call, but when I tuned in to them today, were offering some sort of plastic painting system for a quid, with a small box displaying post and packing charges of £7.99.
You see, these pretenders to the throne are just after our business. They want our pounds and pence.
But QVC has a higher calling. I am their disciple, their BFF, their proselyte. They are my lama, my teacher and Bodhisattva in my search for harmony at ten o’clock on a Monday night when I have just watched Chelsea lose at home to Rotherham.
Oh, I may never buy any Diamonique, or Liz Earle eyebrow pencils, but QVC brings me comfort and peace in a troubling world.
Terence Dackombe, March 2015
*Lyrics by Gerry Goffin and Carole King (c)