Thursday, 3 March 2005
The T.V Licence, and the art of taking a piss
On odd occasions I come down to the pigeonholes in the Blenheim lobby to discover I have yet another letter from the T.V licensing body. This particular piece of threatening correspondence usually sets out in detail the nasty things they can do to you if you are caught in possession of an unlicensed television, and presents a series of alarming statistics showing impressive numbers of ‘successful prosecutions’ and ‘detection rates’. I’m a sucker for this kind of psychological warfare. The licensing body has taken on the same role in contemporary society as ‘the four horseman of the apocalypse’ did in the early modern period. They are usually referred to in hushed tones by students at the start of every year and are attributed with implausible powers of perception. The picture one gets of them, is that they drive around the streets of Britain’s cities in state of the art ‘detection vans’, armed with enormous satellite dishes that can pick up guilty households on their radar. They can also smell fear, and produce categorical evidence that you are lying when you tell them you don’t possess a television. ‘That’s funny’, they would doubtless say, in a Columbo-esque kind of way, before proceeding to pick your alibi apart with consummate skill. I tried not to pay my licence, but somehow the guilt kept eating away inside of me and I ultimately relented.
Into my head came nightmarish images. I would be sitting in my Blenheim cell at night, watching Friday night porn on Channel five in a zombie like stupor. Then, suddenly, the door would burst open, and into the room would leap two officers in ski masks and carrying assault rifles. ‘T.V licence board, get on the fucking ground!’ they would shout, and I, terrified, would spread-eagle myself on the carpet as they inspected my T.V. ‘I just use it to play my Xbox’, I would stutter, meekly, but these specially trained operatives would see through me at a glance and issue me with a hefty 1,000 fine. In reality, I suspect the TV licensing board is a somewhat impotent body. It probably consists of a single computer with a mail-merge system that routinely sends out nasty letters, effecting compliance by maintaining an atmosphere of terror. In essence it’s the same technique that was used during the purges in Stalinist Russia. I complied earlier in the year, my two flatmates didn’t and there has been no visit from the B.B.C ‘Cheka’. I need to face up to the fact I am weak.
The public urinal is the last battleground of masculinity. Deprived of large-scale war by the nuclear deterrent, and restrained from butchering our neighbours by the rule of law, we now divert our energies into more trivial areas of competition. One of these is to torment people with nervous bladders, the phenomenon where one finds it impossible to perform an ‘act of nature’ when one has reached the appropriate venue. I do suffer from this affliction on occasion, and it is pretty annoying to say the least. One stands there squirming in embarrassment, praying for your bowels to get their act together and cursing the sequence of events that brought you into this situation. The chap next to you usually displays one of two reactions. Either he gets suspicious and suspects you of having ‘George Michael’ style motives for your expedition to the public urinal, or he revels in the position of power in which he now finds himself and takes as much time as possible in order to prolong your discomfort. Defeated and dejected, one sometimes has to admit that one is beaten, and retreat to the confines of a nearby cubical. Alternatively, you sometimes find yourself playing the opposite role and find yourself next to someone who suffers from the same defect. You stand triumphant while the poor chap struggles to function, taking your time, and considering the adage that sometimes ‘life ain’t all that bad’. Life is all about the small victories.
Speaking of which, i've just won Aprils 'rant of the month' at 'Have a Rant.co.uk' for one of my old posts. Sadly all I seem to have won is a virtual certificate and 15 rant point, yippie fucking-doo