If you're like me, you've spent a fair amount of time watching things on TV that, in hindsight, seem a complete waste of time. Then you watch the next instalment if only to see if this one's any better than the last. Perhaps, as I have, you've become inexplicably hooked by a couple with more money than sense being filmed looking for a property in the country.
If I see one more undercooked rack of lamb on Masterchef I may throw up.
There's an antidote to the hollow feeling that comes from wasting an evening in front of the box. It might be hard to swallow for the first few attempts but it's well worth persevering. If you do, a whole new richness will enter your life. Every day will hold the promise of discovery and excitement. Life will feel that much more worthwhile.
There's a magical effect produced when a TV is switched off. Your attention becomes your property again. You can do with it whatever you wish without it being constantly dragged to the screen.
Then there's the silence. Opportunity for stillness. Your mind relaxes, free from a constant bombardment of images and sounds.
So what do you do instead? What's this magical alternative to relaxing in front of the telly?
Read a book.
It's the best antidote to boredom and that empty feeling of having wasted time.
Ok, I'm an author so I would say that, you might think. There he goes, trying to peddle his books, you might say.
In response, I admit that I'm as affected by TV in all its forms as anyone. I waste vast amounts of precious time slumped on a sofa in a semi-comatose state.
As soon as I pick up a book and start reading, I feel so much better. Reading is a much richer experience than TV can ever be.
I'll prove it to you, if you have any doubts. Read any book that has been adapted for TV, then watch the program or film. It's become a cliche that the book is always better than the film but this just isn't fair. A book is a book and a film is a film. They're different media. You can do things in books that films, even using the most sophisticated computer generated imagery, can't possibly display. The greatest actor on the planet can't hope to communicate feelings with the same intensity that living inside the character's head can.
Try Lord of the Rings, even if you've seen all the films.
Read The Handmaid's Tale, even if you saw the TV programme.
Read The Shining, then watch the film.
Read anything by Iain Banks, David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, Neal Stephenson.
Why not try the greatest crime writer in the history of the world, Raymond Chandler? His books have been made into films again and again. The Big Sleep is a particular favourite of mine.
You don't even have to buy a book. We have a brilliant library service in Lancashire.
If you do want to make a purchase, support an independent book shop.
By the way, there's a TV adaptation of China Mieville's The City and the City coming on the BBC. Get the book. Immerse yourself. Then enjoy the program in a very different way.