The ones with the imitation wood veneer, as though seventy rings of an oak tree were framing this weeks soap operas. The metallic looking buttons would click heavily as you changed slowly between one of four channels, making actual decisions about how to spend your time.
They were somehow deeper than they were wide and radiated a violent heat through the plastic slats on the back, exposing bronze coils and frayed wires. Things you could actually fix if you needed to.
It was on Friday nights in the nineties that I discovered foreign films subtitling the enigmas of Poland and France to those who could stay awake in their bedrooms, drowning themselves in in the shallows of electric light. I would plug my headphones into the tiny socket to tune into the languages that I could not decipher even now.
These days you wouldn’t even think of getting out of your seat to turn over. The remote can get you from two to five hundred in less than a second. Even less exercise for the couch potato who prefers channels dedicated to food processors.
So when you fall asleep in your chair exhausted by the channels that refuse to default to a test-card, make sure you dream of the freeze framed square of light shrinking out of view with a hiss, behind a screen that was actually made of glass.