Watching the second season of Killing Eve, I had the most unexpected sense memory. Despite the fact that I, too, have been to many of the glamorous locations in the show — despite not being a psychopathic assassin with exquisite dress sense — it wasn’t seeing Villanelle or Eve wandering the streets of Paris or Rome that made me feel the pang of nostalgia, but instead a scene of Villanelle lying on a hotel bed, MTV on in the background.
There was a period in my life where I was traveling more than I do these days — which is to say, barely, and only ever for work — and I’d find myself in hotel rooms in countries where I didn’t speak the language on multiple locations. Every single time, I’d end up finding MTV on the television and basically living with that as the soundtrack to my stay.
It wasn’t the music that I wanted, many times just the opposite, with me complaining internally about the videos on rotation — MTV Europe still favoring music videos at the time I’m talking about; I don’t even know if it still exists. What I wanted, simply, was the voices saying words that I’d understand. It grounded me in a strangely reassuring way, despite how banal and meaningless what those words might be when strung together in that particular order.
I would rarely actually watch what was on MTV. It was background noise, there to reassure and little else. It became the sound of me being out of touch with the world and needing something to ground me, just a little.
With that in mind, the fact that I found myself searching out, and being disappointed by, MTV the last time I was back in Scotland and on my own for a few hours feels as if it’s saying something important. I’m just not entirely sure what.