Blogger’s Warning: For readers under the age of 55, the latter half of this post will induce an unsustained rolling of the eyes, coupled with indiscriminate outbursts of “Dude, seriously?” Caution is advised.
… been to that neighborhood bar for quiz night lately? How about that favorite Italian bistro of yours for a plate of their osso buco? Gone bowling? Putt putt golf maybe? Yeah, me neither. About the only excitement we’re getting around here is cutting a rug around dodgy, mask-less characters in the produce section. I’m sure you have them where you are too.
I’m here to tell you today that all of this is finally making me a little loopy; this cloistered sense of permanency right now. That earlier sentiment of “I’ve been training for this all my life” cuteness back in March and April is now a “So help me God, if I hear ‘We’re All in This Together’ one more time, I’m going to scream” plea. Cautionary tales are everywhere these days.
Yet, I also realize that we still have no choice but to carry on. Well, of course I’m saying that just between us friends here. I know I can’t control those produce section miscreants anymore than you, or apparently the store manager either for that matter. But what I can control is my ability to stay sane, occupied, and semi-entertained.
It’s time to shake things up: Boxers instead of briefs. Don’t worry — I’m only speaking figuratively here.
Others apparently feel the same way too. For instance, I noticed that Gayle King gave up on challenging Elton John for the total number of eyeglasses one person can possibly own. If it’s good enough for Gayle, then it is for me too. Change up, switch up.
For us, thankfully, the ennui of routine really hasn’t come during daylight hours. Gorgeous continues to work daily with her clients, albeit at a reduction of about 30% of her previous income (about which she considers herself most fortunate); and despite some early difficulties with maintaining focus and absorption, I’ve managed to finally get back into a healthy reading groove again. Book reading was always my #1 retirement goal, so it feels good to chase that pursuit with vigor again. 
Recently though, weariness began to creep in from the shadows amid the evening hours. With but only occasional episodes of new broadcast TV shows airing, those that returned seemed to disappear as quickly as they arrived (i.e. “Call the Midwife” and “Grantchester” to name two). Of course, left to my own proclivities I’m never unhappy seeing the same episode of “Family Guy” for the 17th time. Unfortunately Gorgeous doesn’t share the same zeal for imbecile humor as I do (though she does read this blog, so I for one question the steadfastness of her own discriminating choices).
Enter streaming TV.
Two years ago we dipped our toes into the streaming pool to add more variety to our nightly viewing. Well, that’s not entirely accurate: My nephew visited and was both alarmed and embarrased in seeing his hopelessly out-of-touch uncle trekking to the public library, of all places, to borrow DVDs, when nearly all the content we were watching could easily be streamed. The horror! He waited until the last day of his visit to verbally shame me, and then two weeks later we received a gift from him of an Apple TV device. Bye bye, 20th century.
Since then, we’ve happily watched shows on Acorn TV, the service which features shows from primarily the UK, but also Europe, Australia and Canada. Our favorites are “Doc Martin,” “Good Karma Hospital,” “Vera,” “Dectorists,” and “A Place to Call Home.” The prideful brag of our viewing is that we’ve now watched all 21 seasons of “Midsomer Murder.” And, thanks to Angela at Hashtag Retired, we’ve recently included the Canadian mystery “Murdoch Mysteries” into regular rotation.
So, lots of good evening viewing.
But eventually, perhaps because of the production halts due to the pandemic, we felt we were beginning to exhaust Acorn’s offerings. We’ll continue to keep the subscription (it costs $60 annually), but Gorgeous proposed that maybe it was time to add another streaming service for additional variety (translation: she was having no part of the “Family Guy” reruns I was attempting to re-introduce).
After some discussion, we decided to remain with our nightly British theme and begin a subscription to Britbox. At $69 a year it’s a very good value and chock full of shows both familiar (classics such as “Are You Being Served?” and “As Time Goes By”) alongside new and unfamiliar ones from the BBC and ITV.
Signing up for it was easy: I merely went to the Britbox website and entered all my information plus a credit card. It was after that when things sort of became, well, strange and discomforting: I had no idea how to proceed in getting the service onto our TV. I had done it once before obviously with Acorn, but I had forgotten how.
I feverishly switched from each of the TV’s “input” settings, with their completely unhelpful monikers of HDMI-1, HDMI-2, Smartcast, Airplay, etc. I was sure that somehow the Britbox icon would magically appear on one of them through some sort of magical transference after I had finalized the web purchase to our TV. But no.
I somehow know about casting content from my iPad (I’m surprised too), but I certainly didn’t want to do that each time. No, I had to figure out how to make Britbox appear on one of these HDmacallit inputs.
Scrolling through the many screens in our TV’s “Smartcast” input (none of which contained Britbox, btw), I literally had no idea of all the streaming options out there, some of which are actually free. Not a one interests me, which I suppose is probably why they’re complimentary to begin with; though I am fascinated by this whole world within my TV, about which I previous knew nothing. For instance, did you know there’s a channel called “Pet Collective”? It features pet videos, ostensibly uploaded by viewers. I’ll probably never watch it, but Gorgeous said she’s glad to know of it in case she has a stressful day sometime.
Speaking of Gorgeous, she was actually no help throughout any of this. She prides herself on not knowing any of the actual workings of the TV, i.e., how to get from “regular” tv to the streaming services, and back again. But G-d forbid the WiFi goes out during an episode of “Vera,” and it quickly becomes my fault. She somewhere along the way learned the ultimate lesson of powerful management: blame a scapegoat.
After 90 minutes of reading web instructions and watching how-to videos on YouTube, I finally learned that I had to download the Britbox app to the TV. Who knew? Oh, shut up.
I can’t begin to tell you how I did it, but eventually was able to make the icon appear right next to the Acorn one. I swam against the streaming tide; I managed to conquer the moment. All 90 minutes of it.
Somewhere my nephew has his hand to his face.
If you need me, I’ll be up on the roof.
Until next time…
 Two recent novels I really enjoyed: (1) Simon Mawer, “The Fall” (2004 Back Bay Books); and (2) Nicholas Searle, “The Good Liar” (2016 Harper).