I was enraged yesterday to hear that a major bugbear from my own childhood 30 years ago is still being perpetuated in this day and age...though in retrospect, why am I surprised?
When I was a kid, there were 3 channels in the UK - BBC1, BBC2 and in Scotland STV. Scottish summers, you may be surprised to hear, aren't always the sunniest, and when I was a wee girl there were no holiday clubs or holidays abroad, not much to do really apart from that 2 weeks at the Glasgow fair (around July 20th) when you went camping in Blackpool to enjoy different rain. So you really looked forward to the special summer telly programmes laid on for kids for a couple of hours every morning. I still remember my favourite 'Why don't you?' The problem, of course is that Scotland is a place that exists when you live in it, but when you live in England, especially southern England, it simply doesn't exist. England, you may be amazed to hear, doesn't let its kids out of school for summer until July 20th, today to be exact...why? The rest of Europe slowly slips into the summer break over the last few weeks of June and while every kid in Europe, including Scotland is out having fun, England is still sending its little guys off to school. I have never understood that - especially given the climate, but there you go - the poor wee buggers get to miss what is potentially the only sunny month by not starting their holidays until the end of the summer. So us poor little Scottish kids used to drag ourselves out of bed every morning, turn on the TV and get boring political programmes, boring women's daytime telly, the news but not a single arts and crafts programme, no one telling us what we could turn yogurt pots and washing up liquid bottles into, not a single hint of Tom and Jerry or Scooby Doo - because no one in London realised or cared that 5 million Scottish people existed and were on holiday for 4 weeks before the English kids. Then Glasgow shut down the last 2 weeks of July, so when the kids' programmes finally showed up we all went camping, returning just a week before the Scottish schools went back. I used to sit seething all those weeks in July, not because I was a major TV lover but because the telly was telling me I didn't matter, I didn't exist, I didn't count. It is not nice to be a kid that doesn't count.
So there I was having coffee with mum yesterday with my kids watching the Disney channel and at every ad break they were blasting out 'Schools out tomorrow', from tomorrow we'll have super quiz shows for kids to win great prizes', from tomorrow there will be an afternoon kids' movie every day of the holidays' Grrrrrr! Do they know what size of a chip they force on to people's shoulders with this arrogant behaviour? Is it time to dig a big channel along the border and let the water flow in?