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It was perhaps the very impossibility of it that caused it to slip out of control.
“Don’t you go changing the channel.”
“But mum, I wanna watch Jet Jackson.”
“You watch too much of that spooky stuff.“
“Jet Jackson ain’t spooky.“
“Everything you like to watch is spooky,” Rosely added, quite unnecessarily I thought.
“Then what about Zoo Quest,” you tried warily. “It ain’t spooky. It’s on the ABC.“
I carefully forgot to mention it was actually called Zoo Quest for a Dragon. It was the program the teacher had recommended.
“Never anything good on ABC. Just borin’ documentaries and dumb Pommie shit,” Rosely said snottily.
“How d’yer know? We never watch nuffin but Channel Nine.”
“That’s right. Graham Kennedy’s on there,” my mother said grimly. “You go changing the channel and you’ll forget to turn it back again, and we’ll miss him.”
“In Melbourne Tonight ain’t on for two hours!“
“I don’t want to have to worry about turning it back for that long!“
“I’ll turn it back in time, honest.”
“We don’t watch the ABC in this house, son,” Horrie said adamantly. “It’s for the bosses, and them other rich, stuck-up types.”
“Anyway, there aren’t any ads,” my mother muttered.
“You hate ads. You always complain about them.”
“Oh yes, I know. But if there weren’t ads, there’d be no chance to make a cuppa or go to the toilet. Honestly, I don’t know how those toffy folk that watch the ABC manage it.”
“They have servants to do that stuff for ‘em,” Howie contributed.
But in fact the advertisements were the only times my mother paid attention and the only part she liked—though she never allowed herself to admit it. The Graham Kennedy program was almost entirely ads—on-air promotions thinly disguised as comedy. Kennedy made entertainment by stuffing up the ads and demonstrations of the products, amazingly to the utter delight of the relevant sponsars, because his misdeeds made their product memorable. And although they lied about almost everything, the ads did tell her about the latest household appliances and gimmicks and what was on the special at the supermarkets. It was the way she kept in touch with the outer world.