A midwinter mystery of the missing TV ads

Midwinter is a good time to have a celebration of the impending rejuvenation of the Oak King at the winter solstice, in particular to have a party, a bonfire and afterwards to head off into town for a few more drinks, ‘cos it starts to get cold when the fire dies down and the sun’s gone down, and fire vodka/krupnik is not enough to fight that.

our Winter Solstice bonfire
our Winter Solstice bonfire

So I get talking to a fellow customer at the bar who was after making small talk, and one of the things about small talk with strangers is that you have to find common experiences, and here I discovered one of the keys to early retirement has to be living differently. When the subject of TV came up I had to say I don’t know anything about that, because I don’t have a TV. Now this was interpreted as I don’t have a TV to avoid paying the TV Licence fee, i.e. that I stream online but in fact in my case I don’t have a TV because I don’t watch TV in any significant way – days and weeks will pass when I don’t watch TV, on the internet or catch-up or whatever.

And this did not compute, indeed I must have been an odd conversational partner because when that second stalwart topic came up, what did I do the concept of being retired also was atypical, because he felt I looked too young to be out of the rat race. I did pass some time by observing I had worked for The Firm which he guessed right – there is an oddball look to the inmates of the erstwhile research facility in an otherwise normal town. I would hazard a guess he worked for The Firm but the drinks showed up at that stage so it was time to bid him a Merry Christmas and get back to the serious business in hand. I had linked the two however for him – one of the reasons I don’t watch TV is because I don’t want to see advertising. You quite effortlessly buy less consumer shit if you don’t see ads for it. If I want something to do a job  I will go out on Google and search for it, and will find plenty enough sellers and as much information as I could wish for. Until then I don’t give a toss what new stuff is out there for sale. And busting TV out of my life gets rid of a lot of ads. Respect your enemy. It’s why I use ad-blockers too on the web.

Now I’m not so extreme as to say having no TV is cost-free – there is undoubtedly lots of good stuff on TV, and I don’t get to see that. But on the upside I get a lot of my time back, to think, to make stuff, to read, to kick out the odd post here. I’d say the way to retire early well is to be curious in all things, to make and fix rather than consume, and just generally get headspace. The two worst things about the way work became for me just before the end were the chronic stress and the general busyness it imposed, I was turning into a zombie for the lack of headspace to step back and ask myself where I wanted to go in life. I didn’t have time to watch TV when I was working and I still don’t have time to watch TV, because of the ads and because the good stuff to shite ratio is not good enough for me. Yes, I save £140 a year of the TV licence, but that isn’t a particularly big deal. And of course I don’t get to pay Sky TV £50 every month, which would be a big deal. For sure, there will be all sorts of things I don’t hear about that I might want to buy, but what I don’t know about doesn’t trouble me 😉

But it’s clearly odd, and atypical enough to confound two common topics of conversation. I don’t mind looking odd, and indeed I think he was still mystified about what looked to him to be people too young to be retired being retired. Which kind of reminds me of the quote that to retire early you have to pass on the blandishments of consumerism and stand out like a celibate monk in a brothel. I was clearly not on the breadline and good for a decent round of drinks, but the jump from not watching TV ads making it easier to avoid spending money on crap just didn’t add up for him.

But what the hell. I had a good time with my fellow solstice celebrants, and a fellow resident of the town saw a little bit of how to take a road not generally travelled.



9 thoughts on “A midwinter mystery of the missing TV ads”

  1. A winter solstice bonfire, followed by a trip to the pub – now that’s my idea of fun!

    The solstice morning here in Shropshire was grey and windy, and the sun rose behind dark clouds. This is Britain of course, variable weather – the people waiting at Newgrange celebrate over several days.


    Sure enough, the 23rd was beautiful. As the sun rose, it shone a golden light across the large pool here, the trees against the golden sky were mirrored in the still water.

    We were both there, together – this is why we retired early (only 6 years early, but better than any later!)


  2. Yea, I have found that one of the harder penalties of ER is the not fitting in with the masses – you have to hide it or have an explanation palatable to them so that they can cope with your being different, lest it offend them.

    So unless you are lucky enough to have a partner &/or friends who’re like you or tolerant of the differences of others, it will be a relatively isolated life.

    Society’s guardians [who unfortunately for us outliers make up the majority of most populations] do not accept significant differences in others – as it offends their sense of neatness in How Things Should Be. Perhaps they feel it’s a subversive criticism of them – like we care enough to criticise others just for being different….. each to their own is my credo 🙂


  3. I’m not sniffy about TV in general, but BBC4 is pretty much all I watch these days plus the channel 4 news and a few select BBC comedy programs.

    I wonder if that will change when I escape to ER? (er-ish) I can only imagine watching less when there is no job stress to veg out from.


  4. About a year ago there was some very useful advice on pensions on this blog which came in handy as I was thinking about taking the plunge and retiring in 2017 at age 58. Well since then things have moved on apace and I’m now leaving next May at age 57, having gone through my finances carefully and taken a hard look at issues of lifestyle and what trade off I want between money and time.
    I gave my employer 6 months notice in November, and despite a sense of apprehension at the time, I have not looked back. The sense of relief is profound, and all looks good. That said, there is also a feeling of ‘what will it actually be like?’ I realise I have no map for understanding what retirement will be like, because I’ve never done it before, and that can be scary at times,
    Anyway – thanks for the advice and encouragement contained on this blog. It has helped me to have the confidence to pursue the lifestyle I am now looking for.


  5. @all – happy Christmas and New Year!

    TV eh – what I don’t know doesn’t trouble me 😉 But I am sure it’s good.

    @SpreadsheetMan – it seems to go either way. Many used it to veg out and do less when this need goes away, OTOH my Dad watched a lot of daytime crap after he retired!

    @Tony Congratulations – that’s greta news, indeed some of the greatest things I hear on here are the stories of people who make the break earlier than they thought.

    It takes time to adjust, seems to be about six months or so. I’d suggest not making huge life changes until you get to know the retired you – -many of the plans people make when working are the projected dreams of a cubicle slave. But each to their own – you have had a decent time ot prepare for the change ahead. Congratulations and the bets of luck!


  6. £50 a month for Sky TV?! You’ll be lucky! 😉

    I can’t get my head around not having a TV even though I don’t really watch ours all that much, we’ve still got a 50″ flat screen jobby and I love it 😀

    Hope you had a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016.


    1. It’s made easier because I detest sport in all its forms so I have no requirement for live anything. The Web is good enough for most stuff and DVDs (secondhand from charity shops or from the library) do movies fine they are cheap many years behind the release curve


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