Who remembers BBC Programming for Schools and Colleges? They'd wheel in a massive metal trolley with a gigantic television at an adult's head height. We would all be made to sit cross-legged in front of it, craning our necks upwards at its cyclopean glory, supplicant before the televisual altar.
Two teachers would manhandle a gargantuan bakelite videocassette, the size of a box of Milk Tray, into a top-loading VCR with valves and steam vents protruding from the back. A hushed silence would descend as—behold!—the vast Screen would lazily flicker to life, like a sleeping god, and upon its mighty Face would appear a single Clock, counting down.
No human agency could affect the sedate passage of that intransigent second hand. Nor all thy piety nor wit could lure it back to cancel half a deathly, final Tick. The seconds would disappear into the past, one by one, as if sliced from our lives by Death's own scythe. Children visibly aged as the BBC decreed that this minute of our lives would be spent in silent, appreciative contemplation. Should any child—gripped, perhaps, by a prepubescent frenzy of rash indiscretion—have the temerity to break gaze with the Screen and glance about him, he would find himself surrounded by a carpet of wizened greybeards. Perhaps he might recognize them as those classmates who, only minutes before, were as youthful and vibrant as he.
No child ever looked, though, because the Screen held us all in its hypnotic grip. And as we gazed into the Screen, the Screen also gazed into us.
Again and again the seconds were cleaved from that monolithic Clock, one after another after another.
And then—O perfect and divine wonder! a blessing from the Lord of Television!—some coloured plasticine would appear on the Screen and unroll itself into the word Watch! while someone played a penny whistle.
Some guy would then show up and tell us about different types of shoes, or how film sets were all made of plywood if you looked at them from the back. It didn't seem to matter much. We had looked into the Screen, and deep within our childish hearts we knew: the Screen had looked into us, and the Screen had found us wanting.
My memory of early childhood may be somewhat skewed, largely since that entire period happened to someone else, but I remember the Screen. What was it Mister Eldritch said to Olivia?...
The reason I bring this up is that the Demon Internet hold music, which I have had to sit and listen to four times today, is the same 1970s plinky acoustic-guitar thing that they used before the Clock. I always imagined a typical 1970s session musician, looking a lot like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, sitting on a stool and plucking idly at a guitar in the smallest and shabbiest of the BBC recording studios. No score and no instructions. Just sit there and improvise for a minute and a half. Here's your ten shillings and a lukewarm tea from the BBC canteen, now it's back out onto Wood Lane with you and back to the busking.
Now I have the theme from Watch! in my head. And it won't go away.