Watching the television in bed is a guilty secret for many of us, but all it does is lead to less sex and more biscuits
A new study has been published that suggests kids who have televisions in their bedrooms are more likely to become obese than those without. While our screens have become flatter, our children have become fatter, say the researchers from University College London, their science overshadowed only slightly by the roaring pride with which they rhyme.
Few will be surprised. It is hard to be healthy, and it is easy to let the TV drag us into its beautiful death. TVs in the bedroom, even among adults, are the last guilty pleasure in a shameless world, their blue lights exposing the very worst of us, the very very worst. Bodies sprawled on a big hot bed, the only distinction between day and night whether the covers are pulled up or off. A thousand episodes of something American, talking only when the question arises of what else that actor has been in (Luther) or whether anyones making tea (I did it last time) and can you smell burning. The truest pleasure in 2017: a firm pillow on which to balance your plate. God, just writing the words makes me feel excited.
Watching telly in bed is so awful its almost kinky. Which is, of course, ironic, considering the widely known but yet-to-be-researched-by-a-university fact, that as well as obesity in children, it causes celibacy in relationships. Sex with food only exists on TV, and yet TV inspires so much food in bed, except rather than whipped cream its reheated quiche and a nice bit of peanut buttered toast.
The TV in the bedroom is so often the third person in a marriage, one thats read Cosmo and knows what to do with their hands. It is difficult to ignore the seduction of an object that asks for nothing except that you relax entirely and watch the solving of a nice rural murder. Here is a warm box that works like two paracetamol and a glass of wine, but also: a shower so cold it burns.
My friend has a rule: no telly in bed unless she and her partner have had sex within the past 48 hours. This is not her first time at the long-term relationship rodeo, and watching TV in bed, she believes, is, while not yet the end, certainly the first stop on the tram thats headed there.
Watching in bed alone is quite different. Alone, telly in bed becomes a pit you sink into, a bottomless mud bath of peace where emails go unanswered and responsibilities are shed like Hobnob crumbs in the sheets. Another friend (I have two, thank you) claims it was the TV in her bedroom that made her gay. She was around eight, she thinks, and one evening stumbled upon an Australian drama about nuns. And she moved very close to the screen. She remembers thinking: Hello. Then: I should turn this down so my mum doesnt hear. Which was when she knew something was up. There was no sex happening, no swearing or noises that would indicate she was watching something inappropriate for a child. But she knew that what she was watching, privately, alone in her bedroom, was scratching an internal itch, so she decided to close the door and become gay.
The second unmentioned element to this story of the effects and dangers of bedroom TV, after sex, is the television itself. The flat-screened elephant in the room. Call me hip, call me modern (please, please), but do real people still even have TVs? Sure, therell be one holding court by the sofa, but in their bedrooms? In an age of iPads? The main benefit to people no longer needing an actual TV to watch telly is that we must no longer engage in the politics of where to put it. Because be aware, the line between mounting a plasma the size of Ikea above the fireplace, and having a carpenter design a bespoke cabinet that hides your expensive TV behind a shelf of Penguin classics, is thinner than you think. TVs as objects, the way we celebrate and hide them with varying degrees of pride and shame, tell others too much about who we want to be.
So its not a huge leap to discover that the TVs can also tell, in theory, the UK intelligence services. While we watch smart TVs they watch us, a muted red light on our idle books, our dying plants. Which is one thing when its an eye into our living room, but quite another when its in our bedroom. Lucky were just eating biscuits.