Perhaps it was my sunny photograph coupled with my spritely writing style that did it, leading one or two readers to have doubts that I was a child of the pre-television era, those days when broadcasting brought us no pictures.

We had only the wireless; any pictures we saw came into our minds from colourful writing and fine acting that added to our own imaginations. 

The television came to us, well me, one afternoon in 1949 when I was ten. My friend Jeremy Dart knocked on the door and said his dad had something to show us. Jeremy’s parents were rather different from other mums and dads; for a start Jeremy and his sister Vanessa always addressed them by their Christian names, Fred and Kathleen.

They were vegetarians, a bit odd in the view of my mum and dad who were both butchers; Kathleen seldom smiled, only ever wore sandals and never shaved her legs.

Fred was large and quiet, an electrical engineer and he worked for GEC. And he’d built his own television set, ready in time for the switch-on of the Sutton Coldfield transmitter which brought television to the Midlands. London could see TV already; the rest of the UK had to wait for the march of the tall masts.

Fred’s TV was not a handsome piece of furniture. It stood in the centre of their sitting room, a tower of glowing valves and wires and other stuff all tightly packed into a one-time orange box, topped by a cathode ray tube, a nine-inch screen.

And there it was: my first-ever sight of a television picture, a children’s programme featuring Muffin the Mule, a wooden puppet on strings who danced and nodded on a piano. “Annette Mills sings the songs; Ann Hogarth pulls the strings.”

We kids realised that we were witnessing a kind of miracle: pictures that came through the air to land in ordinary houses.

The only home movies we’d seen before that were silent comedies on Mr Ellis’s film projector when he ran them for his daughter Carol’s birthday party. Another miracle of the time was when, kicking a ball out in the street, we looked up and saw for the first time an aeroplane flying over us with no propellers.

The jet age was dawning.

Another neighbour, Mr Banks, soon caught up with Fred Dart when he built his own TV. He struck a snag though; he couldn’t get a cathode ray tube so he had to settle for a war surplus radar screen which, instead of being black-and-white, his pictures were a slightly disturbing black and green.

It wasn’t long before these primitive home-made seta were displaced by commercially manufactured TVs: “Fine sets, these Fergusons,” read one advertisement illustrated with a cosy-looking fellow smoking a pipe. Then came the coronation in 1953 and the nation’s chimneys bristled with H-shaped aerials. Our miracle had been and gone to become commonplace.

Or had it?

The air is flooded, 24 hours a day, with noise and colour, trying to sell us things or lull us into believing that we are being entertained or enriched. The technical miracle is still involved but I believe it’s so often debased. For example, Eurovision is a technological marvel but the alleged “song contest” generates little else but expensive loud and gaudy displays.

Another columnist, recently injured, claims he was “forced” to watch large doses of daytime TV, a relentless diet of quiz or game shows. The experience bruised him. He was appalled by the idiocy of some contestants.

One man fought long and hard to answer where he would expect to wear “dentures”. At last, he spoke: “Feet,” he said, leaving us to wonder what made him believe he was up to such a contest in the first place. 

I do wonder what Fred Dart would make of it all, the likes of his little miracle being put to such ends.