Clearing up the Confusion

I seem to have caused some confusion in my last post when referring to TV licensing. Sorry about this, here is the full story.

We have two sorts of Tv in the UK, the BBC and commercial TV. The BBC is mostly free from adverts, though they do till have adverts for their own services, and sometimes, about License Fee Evasion. It funds itself by the tax which we still call the “license fee” despite it now being legally a tax. The rest of them (and they are mostly a woeful bunch of purveyors of old American TV andΒ  “reality” TV) finance themselves by selling advertising. This is often lengthy and dull.

So, when we were struck by lightning about 35 years ago, I was on my way back from work in the middle of teh worst rainstorm I have ever experienced in this country. I only kept driving because I was on a motorway and it is (a) illegal and (b) dangerous to stop on a motorway.

Julia, meanwhile, was at home. Advice is to shut off the TV during thunderstorms, but she doesn’t like thunder so she turned the TV up to drown out the sound of thunder. This was not one of her best ideas.

The resulting lightning strike on the TV aerial damaged the aerial and sent a bolt of electricity through the TV plug which reduced the ceramic fuse to powder and scored the brass terminals in the plug. It also blew part of the back of the TV apart and covered the interior with soot. Finally, it sent a ball of lightning across the room. Julia watched it move across the room, gradually getting smaller. This was a little upsetting for her and she was sill shaken when I arrived home.

We decided to throw the TV away and do without it, which we did for a couple of years. In this time we got regular letters from the BBC about our lack of license. I wrote and explained that we didn’t need one as we had no TV. They wrote again, three months later. I repeated my reply and advised them I didn’t want more letters as they were useless, time-wasting junk mail. They replied that they would keep reminding me as they often found that people forgot to get a license when they eventually bought a new TV.

So, I relied that if they wanted to waste time, energy and license payers money on junk mail they were welcome, but that I would like a list of the employees in their office so that I could write them pointless letters demanding details of the furniture they had in their houses. In those days I could be quite bolshie.

They wrote to thank me for my letter and said that they wouldn’t write again, but would appreciate it if I remembered to get a license when I eventually got a new TV. When we got one a year or so later, we did get a license.

I see from Wikipedia that you can’t stop them sending letters because they aren’t adverts, but you can, as someone did, send them a bill for Β£40 as a fee for opening, processing, reading and filing the letter. The BBC, of course, refused to pay, so he took them to small claims court and won, getting his Β£40 and costs.

Interesting . . .


Featured image is Robin Hood, a notable defender of the peasantry. Or a fictional character.

19 thoughts on “Clearing up the Confusion

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      She was very shaken when I arrived home. Fortunately it has never happened since, though she still turns the TV up to drown the noise (it doesn’t work though).

  1. Lavinia Ross

    Poor Julia! I can picture the ball lightning moving about the room and dissipating. Ball lightning has always intrigued me. Many years ago in a book I got through interlibrary loan, I read Hungary has one of the highest incidences of ball lightning in the world. The book was full of reports from people that had seen, and experienced, ball lightning. Here is a link on ball lightning. Julia managed to create a phenomenon outside the lab herself!

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      It was a rare win in half a century of fighting jobsworths.

      Julia sends her regards. She still doesn’t like thunder, and still turns up the TV to cover the noise, but is now able to smile and eat bred with the crusts on so things are not all bad. πŸ™‚

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      πŸ™‚ I as rushing and it didn’t occur to me I may be spreading confusion. Sorry about that. It’s hard enough understanding some of it when you live here.

  2. paolsoren

    I get letters like this every now and again. I put the all in an envelope and address it to the manager and post it. Without any stamps. When it gets there they get a letter from the Post Office demanding payment before delivery. It annoys them.


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