On 14th June, we got this reminder:
Renew your licence before it expires on 30 June 2013
to remain legally licensed.
Like last year, the licence fee is £145.50
Last year, I would not have hesitated to pay the bill. That’s just what you do, right? TV is normal, and it’s just a fact of life in the UK that you pay your TV licence.
Or is it? When this reminder popped into my inbox, we were having some financial worries, and I wasn’t keen on seeing that amount disappear from my bank account. After some thought, and a discussion, we decided that we wouldn’t renew our licence. This meant that we would not be able to watch any live TV, as it was being broadcast. Catch up services would still be available to us.
We asked questions such as:
- do we need it?
- my partner asked how he would watch the world cup, next year.
- what if the licencing authority doesn’t leave us alone?
- what will we do without TV?
I knew that we could pay our licence at any time and start watching TV again if we wanted to.
On July 1st, our experiment of living without TV began.
The first week or so, while we broke the habit of our nightly TV watching after dinner over peppermint tea, it was odd. It came up in conversation.
Take note of the last word in the above sentence. Conversation. Switching off the TV allowed us to talk over our peppermint tea, rather than mindlessly watching whatever remotely interesting programme we could find.
We are independent people, and don’t spend a lot of time in the same room. When we did (with TV), we ate our dinner, had our tea and watched TV. Then we would disappear into our respective rooms, one to study, the other to faff about online (me).
Now, it is different. We eat dinner, chat about our days, and then sit down with our peppermint tea on the sofa, and talk. Like, talk about our days, plans, happenings. We engage in meaningful conversation about news, world issues, our thoughts of the day.
We don’t miss the TV. We watch the occasional show on catch up, and I have indulged in a bit of 90210 for some mindless TV watching. The big difference is, we don’t let it rob us of meaningful time together. Our occasional TV watching is mindfully done; a show that we like, and can enjoy together.
We mindfully invite TV into our lives, rather than the other way round. We do this by asking why, and if it is a good use of our time. If it’s our favourite show, it passes the test. If we are desperately searching the catalogue of catch up shows, then we notice and turn the laptop off and start talking instead. TV doesn’t rule our lives anymore, and I love that.
The TV is staying unplugged, and unlicenced.