• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 08
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Test Card Screen

They flick through the channels, over and over, the endless on. They can’t settle on anything. There’s a programme on the art of album covers on BBC4 that Mark says he wants to watch. But then he starts composing tweets when the presenters fixate on abstract 80’s designs, white, pink and yellow. Tina turns over.

‘I was watching that,’ he says.

There’s a cake-off going on over on Pick TV. Contestants have to select ingredients blindfolded. After the reveal, they’re allowed five minutes to plan, and whoever bakes the tastiest cake in the allocated time, wins a super food processor. Flour and icing settles everywhere: face, hair and floor. There’s a strange absence of decorations on the turned out sponges.

‘Do we have to watch this rubbish?’ Mark glances up from his iPad.

Tina turns over. She remembers how as a teenager she’d stay up until the presenters said goodnight, and how comforting closure felt. Some channels displayed a clock; others folded to a static screen of fuzzed emptiness.

On the other side, they’re discussing New Order covers. She mutes the sound. And she sits and stares at the blur of lines and colours, no meaning, or any meaning you like. Test card screen. She can almost hear that tone, and how it would force you out of your chair to switch it all off.