When satellite television was first starting up, I remember watching an edition of BBC TV’s late and much-lamented science show Tomorrow’s World. They said you didn’t need a dish to receive satellite television: just a roughly parabolic dish-shaped object aligned towards the satellite and a feed antenna (the little box suspended in front of the satellite dish). They demonstrated this by using a metal dustbin lid and received a perfect television picture. (That’s a trashcan lid, if you are an American.)
Last night, I was standing at the checkouts in a local B&Q store, waiting to pay, when my friend suddenly said:
“Wait here, I’m just going to see if I can find a busy lizzy to use for my TV aerial.”
And off she went.
It seemed a little odd, but I try to be understanding.
She came back a few minutes later, before I reached the till, but she had not managed to find any busy lizzy plants in the B&Q gardening section.
She told me that, in the late 1970s, she saw an edition of Tomorrow’s World in which they demonstrated that, if you connect a wire from the aerial socket of your TV set to an indoor plant, it will receive and display a picture just as good as any normal metal TV aerial.
Tomorrow’s World successfully demonstrated this with a busy lizzy and my friend tried it herself at the time – baring the wire at the end of the lead connected to the aerial socket of her TV and sticking it into the 12-inch high stalk of her presumably slightly surprised busy lizzy.
It worked. She got perfect TV reception.
“You mean you feed the wire right down inside the whole stalk of the plant?” I asked her last night.
“No,” she explained to me. “You just stick the end of the wire into the side of the stalk.”
“At right angles?”
“At right angles. A busy lizzy has quite a fleshy stalk. You just stick the end of the wire at 90 degrees into the stalk and the plant acts as a TV aerial for the set and receives signals.”
I looked at her.
“It makes me think Prince Charles might be on to something,” I said. “Talking to plants… What about sticking it into a cannabis plant?”
“Too weak and weedy,” she told me.
“I rather like him,” I said.
She looked at me disapprovingly.