Call me old-fashioned if you like, but there is an advert on BB C1 here in the UK at the moment, which appalls me and fills me with despair about the future.
As a retired teacher who concentrated on reading skills and extending vocabulary and widening interest, I sit and look at this advert, which seems to be on three or four times every night at the moment. It is for BBC I Player and shows a railway carriage full of people of all ages travelling along through the countryside. On one side of the carriage are people looking bored, dozing, looking miserable, generally fed up. On the other side are folk who have tablets or whatever they are called on which they can get BBC I Player, so that they can watch their favourite programmes as they ride along, Of course they are all looking happy and enjoying the journey.
Has no-one ever told them about looking out of the window and watching the scenery go past? Watching the villages, the towns, the folk working in the fields, the animals, churches - the list is endless.
When our son was small we would play games on long journeys. One that I remember was spotting a red London bus when we went to London, or spotting the Cathedral when we went to Lincoln (it is on a hill in the middle of flat country and can be seen from miles around). We used to say "Last one to spot the Cathedral is a monkey's uncle!"
Are we going to become a nation of people where no-one raises their head from a screen of some kind, where no-one is at all interested in what goes on around them? There are so many fun things to do on journeys both in this country and abroad.
Travelling in China a few years ago, of all the images I retain probably the most vivid is of women in a remote village in the middle of nowhere standing round some kind of grinding stone while a donkey walked round and round grinding the corn. In this country on train journeys I used to look for the churches - had they spires or towers, about how old were they, were they in the middle of the village or were they on the outskirts, perhaps as part of an estate?
Please let's all resist this with all our might. For the sake of our children and grandchild we must keep them interested in the real world out there, the world they can actually see, not the one which is portrayed in a television programme.