Watching the latest F1 Grand Prix on TV I was struck by one of the camera shots of a group of spectators watching a TV screen of the race while behind them the cars were thundering by on the track.
What struck me was that they preferred the virtual experience to the real one.
Today we are surrounded by screens to such an extent that they are in danger of becoming the new reality for many.
In a restaurant the other day I noticed a family waiting for their meal.
The parents were in conversation with one another while the two young children were each glued to their tablet screens, oblivious of anything else that was going on around them.
Now the October break is over and bonfire night and Remembrance are upon us it is just a hop skip and jump to the big one – Christmas.
Present lists are being prepared and shops and TV adverts are gathering momentum in the headlong rush to the consumerist heaven – or hell, depending on how you regard it!
I wonder how many ‘screen’ devices will be sold and given as presents, including to children.
I was recently in the Lake District and went to an exhibition of the stories of Beatrix Potter with lots of colourful models depicting the wonderful stories she wrote.
There was a lot about Beatrix herself and her love of the area and its wildlife and how she was an able artist who illustrated her stories.
In the shop at the end were the books and the cute stuffed toys.
But where were the sketch books, pencils and paints to help children to aspire to follow in Beatrix’s footsteps?
I felt sad that the children were being fed a sugar coated virtual world instead of helping them to engage with the real world Beatrix lived in and loved.
In the same area there is a garden centre which has everything sparkly and cute about Christmas with the most amazing displays.
Well, nearly everything. I asked if they had any nativity sets, the traditional models depicting the birth of Jesus in the stable. After some head scratching they came up with a small snow scene version and a little candle holder with Mary, Joseph and baby.
Here was another crucial example of the virtual perception of Christmas submerging the reality of the season.
I do hope that as people prepare to celebrate Christmas that in their planning the often expressed wish to get away from the consumerism of the season will be put into practice and that there will be a full enjoyment of the reality of what life and Christmas is all about.