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Date: 01/12/16

Ten Years Beyond The Mast

(Firstly, please read this and this. What follows might make marginally more sense that way.

Done that? Good-oh!)

Well, that decade fair sped by, didn't it? I still have quite clear memories of that evening at the end of November 2006 when I finally rid myself of that burbling, attention-seeking nag in the corner of the living room.

But a decade on, how fares my world, devoid as it is of all those things that my colleagues and family talk about, often as if they were real events in a real world?

I can honestly say - like I did five years ago - that I still do not miss television, still do not believe for one moment that I am losing anything of import as a result, and still get slightly irritated when I go to other people's homes and they have the wretched instrument chunnering away in the background, almost as if to actually switch it off and concentrate on the real people there in the room with them would cause the waveform of the entire cosmos to collapse and catapult them into an alternative (or, as the Yanks say, 'aldernade') universe in which the most implausible things happen as routine; like shambling, clueless imbeciles with unfeasible hairstyles representing their country to the world, or where a big-mouthed, sociopathic businessman with someone else's unfeasible hairstyle becomes Leader Of The Free World™...erm...

And yes, I am still quite insufferably superior about all this; that is a major part of the fun.

So, has anything changed since I last reported to you on my campaign? Well, the old TV sets - the Bush mentioned in the 2006 post and the 14" Panasonic I used to have upstairs - plus my mother's old Bush VCR (remember them, boys and girls?) all went to the Household Recycling Centre about four years ago. The unit that the equipment in the living room used to stand upon or inside went the same way after its disassembled components had spent years in the late shed. I kept my Sony stereo VCR in order to digitise some stuff I had, but that hasn't been used even for so small a purpose since about 2008.

In the meantime, of course, all the UK's analogue transmissions have ceased, giving the eager populace an even wider variety of channels upon which little worth the effort of watching ever appears, and where matters are only ever enlivened by interference caused by a stray coypu wandering past; so the old VCR would be of no 'licenceable use' in any case.

Not that this has - or would have - deterred the merry funsters of TV Licensing plc, who have continued to bombard me with letters of an increasingly threatening tone despite my telling them all those years ago that - if they ever needed to get involved in my life again - I would tell them.

I have kept all of the letters they have sent me, and they afford me countless seconds of amusement whenever I receive them as I watch their language escalate from the mildly hysterical to the faintly apocalyptic. "We have passed your details on to our Investigation Division", they thunder in red ink. They could pass my details on to the Fifth Panzer Division for all I care. "We have opened an Investigation", they menace, little realising that this means as much to me as if they had said, "We're opening a tin of beans for tea".

I have, of course, been promised visits from their (subcontracted) agents, but only once has one of them called while I was actually at home. He was a nice old cove, resembling in appearance and voice the late, great Dic Jones, so I wasn't inclined to be short with him. I told him of the situation, and he said he would faithfully report back to his handlers. There was silence from Bristol for a year or so, and then they started the sequence of letters again. I could always send them a letter revoking the implied right of access of TV Licensing plc, its heirs and successors to the premises, but I hate to spoil a good game.

Another thing which has changed only recently has been the closing of the loophole in the legislation which made it perfectly legal to watch television programmes on 'catch-up' online without a licence. I notice that BBC's iPlayer now requests one's postcode when seeking to view one of the Castration's offerings. If I were ever tempted beyond caution to complete that requirement, I would pick the postcode of a sworn enemy just for all the potential fun it would create for all involved; unless that is as big an exercise in deception as the good ole detector vans which trundle around looking like mobile clothes-airers hoping to catch miscreants in their own lovely lounges.

So, a decade on, I still believe that I am generally better informed about the world than those who depend for their window upon it on broadcasting organisation which - as becomes clearer with every passing year - regard large proportions of the world's events and substantial sections of political and ethical debate as being either not worth reporting on at all, or as being fit only for slanting for political and ideological purposes (the bacteria-like proliferation of BBC programmes with the terms British or even Great British in their titles in the clear attempt to mitigate the effects of the national upsurge in Scotland being just the most obvious example) in service of the State and the rest of the owning classes.

I still also believe beyond all possibility of doubt that I have been able to put more of my limited time on this roundabout to far better and more satisfying use than just sitting there staring at the increasingly inarticulate and over-rewarded patronising me like there was no tomorrow, and forcing me to pay for the privilege; even if that merely means that I have more time to do what I am doing right now, which is inflicting the navel lint of my life on a wider audience.

Don't watch that space...