7 Reasons Not To Have A Staring Contest With The BBC One Ident Hippo
For one reason – which is why it doesn’t qualify for this site – I had to live pause the TV last night so that Claire and I could watch The Apprentice together. I paused the TV when the Hippo ident was showing. The exact point at which I paused is shown below. Knowing that I had at least fifteen minutes before I could press play, I had a choice. Start the ironing or have a staring contest with the hippo. I chose the latter. This is my story (of why it was a stupid idea).
1. Winning. From the moment I even contemplated staring at the hippo I knew I was going to lose. The only way I could have won is if we had had a power cut. (An unlikely scenario unless I was to attack the fuse box with a cucumber). And yet, despite being fully aware of the highly probable outcome, I still entered the battle. It was pointless, it was a waste of time and I was always going to finish second. Or last. Whichever didn’t come first really. For someone who enjoys winning it was a bizarre and futile decision that did me no favours. When the inevitable did happen a little bit of my aura had been destroyed. I’m was no longer the man I once was. So if you are ever tempted, don’t do it. You’ll never be the same again.
2. Distractions. A couple of minutes into the contest my phone rang. Now, even if I don’t answer my phone, I nearly always look at the display to see who I am going to ignore. It’s a habit. While on this occasion I was strong enough to ignore it, my mind was no longer on the job in hand. It was on who might be calling me. Was it Claire saying she’d be longer than she initially thought? Was it my Mum wondering where the rest of her Mother’s Day present was? Was it Marc wanting to sell me a baby? To this very minute I am not sure if my line of vision flinched towards my phone or not. It’s impossible to say. What I do know is, it did me no favours. When you are staring at a Hippo – especially a picture of one on the TV – you have to be in the zone and you have to stay in the zone. Distractions are zone killers.
3. Fish. I gave myself the benefit of the doubt. I told myself that my line of vision had not altered and so, if I was able, I may re-enter the zone. And, after a few minutes, that is what happened. I know this is what happened because my focus began to drift. The hippo was now a blurred hippo. And then the blurred hippo wasn’t a hippo at all. It was a fish. A fish in side-profile. A scary fish in side-profile. I mean this thing was ugly. It had a pair of lips Leslie Ash would have been proud of and a scaly body that reminded me of this. I am not sure this will work for you – in fact I am not sure I want it to work for you – but if you have a spare ten minutes just stare at the hippo above. If you’re unlucky the fish should appear across the lop of the hippo’s head. The lips appear in the hippo’s right eye if that helps.
4. Guilt. Having rid myself of visions of Piers Morgan and Leslie Ash’s illegitimate child, I then experienced severe pangs of guilt. The hippo was drowning. I had done that. I had paused the hippo and made him tread water. Twelve hours on I am pretty sure he wasn’t drowning at all. I am pretty sure this was pre-recorded footage and all I had done was paused its progress. But at the time, when you’ve been staring at a hippo for approximately thirteen minutes, that type of rational thought doesn’t enter your mind. You really do feel like a hippo murderer.
5. Terror. This is when you realise that the hippo is staring back at you. And he looks angry. Probably because you have made him tread-water for fifteen minutes. He also looks a bit like a crocodile with his nostrils protruding from the water. And that’s when you start panicking. Are you actually on BBC One? Are you sure you’re not watching – and recording – Animal Planet? Do you even have the Animal Planet channel? Is there even a channel called Animal Planet? So, yes. Staring at a hippo for too long makes you go mad. Really quite mad.
6. Visions. When Claire eventually arrived beside me on the sofa and gave me an opportunity to end my ordeal, I realised it wouldn’t be over for a little while longer. All the staring at a bright screen in an otherwise dark environment left me looking through those annoying colour blotches that you are only supposed to get when your eyes are closed. As one does in such circumstances I shut my eyes to try and get rid of them. This didn’t work. Instead I was faced with a vision of the hippo. In sort of a yellow and red mosaic. A mosaic that slowly began to disperse. Which is when I decided I was through and settled back to watch The Apprentice. With the occasional appearance from a fish.
7. Tea. I can barely bring myself to write the words. It went cold.