Tag Archives: TV

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 and  “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 £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 £40 and costs.

Interesting . . .


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

Robin - singing

15 Minutes

The title is the time I have allotted myself to write this post. I have been using my time to sit with Julia in the evenings rather than sit in the dining room typing. It seems a slightly better use of my time at the moment. After 33 years of marriage you start to think (I do anyway) about the barren wasteland that would stretch out in front of you if you didn’t have a wife. So, as I’d like to stay married I am being a caring and solicitous husband. It will pass, but until it does I am finding it difficult to fit blogging in. Sorry about that, I will answer all comments by tonight.

I watched a programme about Victoria Wood last night. I’ve seen it before, but it was better than most things that were on, and it finished at the same time as Forged in Fire began.

In the old days we had two Channels. They were in black and white and apart from Watch with Mother at lunch time the only daytime Tv was school programmes. Somehow it seems, looking back, to have been far more enjoyable and better quality than the multitude of stations and repeats and “reality TV” we have today. Personally, I’d be happy to spend much of the evening with it witched off but Julia puts it on for background noise and we never seem to switch off. Some of my best days recently were the ones in out early married days when the aerial was struck by lightning and the TV blew up. We did without one for 18 months (endured a number of letters from the Licensing Agency about not having a TV) and only got one for the start of Julia’s maternity leave.

I’ll leave it there as my time is up and the shop beckons.


Day 156

I’ve just put the pizzas in the oven. Nothing special, just two veggie pizzas on ready-made bases. We will have leftover supermarket coleslaw (Julia insists on buying it rather than making it) and a basic green salad with it. Very basic. The urge to cook has deserted me today.

This might have something to do with me being force to watch the Jubilee Parade today. Well, not exactly forced, but  after preparing lunch and flopping in front of the TV I was unable to resist.

We had soldiers and military bands, followed by members of the Commonwealth, and then the flood gates opened and the detritus flowed.

I have no objection to community groups in costumes, or with massive puppets, as they have all joined together and done a tremendous amount of work to get there. Some of the work was impressive, some less so. Some of it was relevant to the Jubilee, some, quite honestly wasn’t. To the best of my knowledge Brazil hasn’t joined the Commonwealth yet, so I was perplexed by the Brazilian theme of many of the dancers. It was, let’s face it, a case of having some carnival costumes and a desire to use them. Even that was better than what came next . . .

I do have an objection to the same tired mob of B List Celebrities being trotted out and throwing themselves in front of TV cameras with false grins. There were several bus loads of them on the parade – one bus for every decade. I know it’s a fine line between a national treasure and a washed up has-been (or even a washed up never-was) but I could have done without most of them.

And that was how my Jubilee Bank Holiday ended. Four days of relaxing, ending with me in my normal Sunday night mood – back to work tomorrow in an imperfect world after an overdose of poor quality TV. I really need to alter my habits or one day my head is going to explode in mid-tirade.


Day 65

Target: 250 words

Subject: General twaddle

Objective: Get it done then get on with cooking

Menu: Sausages, cauliflower cheese, onion sauce, potato wedges

Confession: The carbs thing was going well until I got to the end

Got up, pottered round, ate a bacon sandwich provided by Julia, wasted time on computer, watched Sense and Sensibility on TV, lunch (vegetable soup, incorporating the remains of last night’s vegetable stew), wrote by hand (carefully – I want to be able to read it later), two episodes of Criminal Minds on Prime, cruised eBay and am now writing today’s blog post whilst working on tonight’s menu.

The objective is to keep it easy (one roasting tray) and use leftover cauliflower. I was going to use it for soup but we still have plenty of veg soup after liquidising the stew and after that we have  a bag of peas for pea soup.

Menu planning has been something that has suffered recently. I can’t blame it on long covid, or even old age, I’m just fed up with menu planning, having fallen into the trap of ordering much the same food each week and cooking the same things. I happen to like vegetable stew with dumplings, so that’s OK. I also like vegetable stew without dumplings. And I like it liquidised and served as soup. That’s three meals taken care of. Something with roast veg. Pizza (or quesadillas). That’s two or three more. Corned beef hash. That’s nearly an entire week and I haven’t had to think. I really should do better. We have pasta, we have prawns, we have other veg.

Watch this space. I’m going to set myself a target of cooking something new every week. This week it’s pea soup, so that’s easy enough. Next week, who knows?

I’m also going to start eating salad for lunch. maybe just one day a week, but it’s a start. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Or, more appropriate in my case – a supertanker takes 20 minutes to come  to a halt.

Time passing . . .

Boxing Day

Christmas day passed quickly. It’s now the early hours of Boxing Day. Several meals, presents, chocolates, Bailey’s, Strictly, Love Actually and several naps filled the day in a most satisfactory manner. We also had phone calls from the kids and I spoke to my sister so all the family stuff is done too. I am, as I have said before, a man of simple needs and it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

The Ancient Santa card is on the left, the other is only about 25 years old.

On the writing front, I allowed another deadline to slip by without submitting anything and reminded myself that there are two more to look at before the end of the month, which isn’t far away. I’ll get round to doing something in the next few days I suppose, but if I decide to sit with Julia and watch TV instead, it won’t be  a tragedy. I quite like sitting and watching TV  with Julia.

Boxing Day sees my favourite meal of the holidays – turkey sandwiches with cranberry jelly and stuffing. I usually add mayonnaise to, but I’m planning on heating  some part-baked baguettes for tomorrow and I’m not convinced that hot bread and mayonnaise will go together that well. The day after Boxing Day usually features turkey sandwiches too, but they aren’t such a novelty by then.

Santa and Snowman figures

The pictures show our Christmas decorations by candle light. The Santa card is 33 years old. Julia always brings him out for Christmas and I have gradually phased out buying other cards, so it proved a wise investment. The Santa and Snowman figures are part of Christmas tradition too. I tried several different settings to allow for the colour temperature and managed to produce a number of odd effects. None of them quite captured the magic of candle light.

That’s about it. Another ordinary day in a dull life.


Shopping and The Saint

We’ve just been to pick up the shopping order from TESCO. There were a couple of things that weren’t available and one substitution.

This was bagged rocket (or arugula if you speak American). Yes, I shouldn’t be buying it, for a number of reasons, including expense and ecology, but I try to eat a variety of things and at least you can taste rocket. Well, not this week, because they substituted it fro lamb’s lettuce. They could have substituted organic rocket (though it may have made their price guarantee squeak a little), or watercress (another salad you can taste) or even the “peppery” salad, but no, they substituted it with the lamb’s lettuce. It will do, but it doesn’t look like the obvious substitution to me.

They don’t leave it to the discretion of the packers to do the substitution, they use an algorithm. Heaven help us if the robots ever take over – I cannot even begin to imagine what life will look like once we fall int6om the hands of the algorithm-wielding little metal menaces. That’s another good argument for not living to be a thousand.

The strange thing is that when I check rocket on the website, it is available, and lamb’s lettuce isn’t. Probably because they’ve been fobbing all the rocket customers off with lamb’s lettuce.

Easy answer is to give salad a miss until we can start growing our own again.

I watched The Saint at lunchtime. At the age of 8 I thought this was the best TV show ever made. Today, 55 years later, the tale of a mad scientists breeding giant ants in a Welsh cave system, though dated and not great literature, didn’t impress me quite so much. However, to be fair, it was far from the worst thing I’ve seen on TV recently.

The clock picture is to mark the occasion of me getting round to altering the clock in the car, after the clocks went back at the weekend. I kept meaning to do it but never got round to it. The story of my life.


Snow, TV and Haibun

It snowed today. First it was slow, soft flakes, then ice clicking on the  windows and, after the wind fell, icy particles falling quickly. I’ve never really looked at snow so closely before. Perhaps it’s true that you watch nature more closely when you write haiku. Or maybe, in the absence of Murder She Wrote, merely means I have time to stare out of the window. It’s a rare day when Jessica Fletcher is absent from our screens, but today seems to be such a day. I had to watch Father Dowling instead.

I use snow in the English sense. It fell a couple of hours ago, gave us a light dusting and has now almost gone. This is, to be fair, early for English snow as it often doesn’t appear until January or February, and some years we have none at all. It may be thicker on the uplands and in Scotland, but compared to many places we don’t really have snow in the UK. We do have disruption caused by snow, but that’s because most of us have no equipment to cope with it.

Big news of the day is that Issue Six of Drifting Sands Haibun is now out and thy have shown exquisite taste in selecting one of mine. I could link directly to mine but will, instead, be more modest and just link to the magazine. Scroll down to Wilson for mine, but read some of the others on the way. From the ones I’ve read so far, I have to say that this is one of my favourite issues.

It’s now time to have lunch and complete the online grocery order. Whatever I die from, I doubt that it’s going to be stress. I’m feeling quite serene at the moment, in the absence of work, modern life and the need to wear shoes. There’s something very relaxing about life in slipper socks.

I’m currently working on a post about the RNLI, but, as usual, gathering the information takes me longer than writing a quick note on daily life, which is why slipper socks and snow rose to the top of the pile.

A Simple Day for a Simple Man

I’ve just spent a happy morning in front of the fire chatting, eating chocolate and watching compilations of Christmas songs on TV. I am a simple man and this is all I need. This expanded to a happy afternoon doing the same.

I just spent five minutes trying to delete a surplus full stop from that sentence. One of my resolutions for next year is to keep my computer screen cleaner, as it turned out to be a small mark on the screen that lined up perfectly. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it always fools me.

As I said, I am a simple man.

I have my wife by my side, my firstborn nearby and the spare child checked in by some mysterious process which allowed his face to appear on a computer screen and tell me I was looking older. He is looking uglier and tubbier than last time I saw him. It is good to have all this modern technology to hurl abuse at family members who are thousands of miles away, though I’m not sure that when I first came across a “video phone” in a science fiction story that I would ever use one for this purpose.

After that I rang my sister using 19th century technology and delayed her until she had to go, because her oven was emitting smoke. Her cooker has either elected a new pope or burned her Christmas dinner. I fear it is the latter.

I’m now going to stalk a few of my regular blogging companions and see how their day is going. After that it is turkey and more TV. I also intend drinking some of the tea I have been sent as presents and rounding the day off with biscuits.

1995 Robin stamp


New Day Dawning

Julia has a sixth sense for when I’m enjoying myself.

I left her asleep, and breathing rhythmically (as in pigs grunt, men snore, ladies breathe rhythmically), and crept quietly downstairs for some quiet time with WordPress. Next thing I know, she’s up and zipping everywhere in high energy mode whilst asking what I’m making for breakfast. I had said I’d make breakfast last night, but I was thinking it would be a while. I don’t know how people manage to move from asleep to manic in such a short time. I woke up an hour ago and I’m only just making the transition from lethargic to sluggish. At this rate ‘awake’ will cut in around lunchtime and snooze around 3pm. That’s my sort of day.

And, as I say, sensing that I’m just starting to relax with my keyboard, she is here, buzzing with energy and deflecting me from my plans.

We had a Chinese takeaway last night. It was our first since March. It might actually have been out first since 2019, as we haven’t been having much Chinese. I’d been looking forward to it for a good three months. It was a complete disappointment. Too salty, badly presented and surrounded by guilt. The guilt is mine, as I should be economising and not eating such rubbish. The saltiness and poor presentation is down to the restaurant. It’s good news for my health and diet that I won’t be having another one in the near future (apart from lunchtime, when the leftovers come into play). Strange how you can look forward to something so much and then find it is so disappointing. There is nothing good I can say about the experience, apart from the fact it was first class aversion therapy. In terms of diet and spending, the lockdown has been good for me.

Julia is now making breakfast, as I’m too slow. I’d better go now, and at least make some attempt at being a half-useful husband…

I have been asked to point out that this is a work of fiction and that none of it, apart from the Chinese meal, represents, an accurate version of the truth. And even if it did, I have no room to talk as I was snoring so badly last night that she had to wake me up so that she could hear the TV. I know that bit is true, because I was snoring so loud I even woke myself up at one time.

Do you remember the days when TV was so exciting that it was impossible to fall asleep?



The List (2)

I meant to post this yesterday, but I forgot to add that to the list, so it didn’t get done.

14. Warm up yesterday’s soup and eat with the remains of the sourdough bread from Lidl

15. Ruminate on the question of why a budget supermarket has the best bakery

16. Freecell

17. Look at list of jobs.

18. Look again. Are you sure it doesn’t mention Freecell?

19. Look again. Nineteen points in and only two of them are actually on the list.

20. Magazine article. It’s nearly done. An hour later it was still nearly done. Ditto for thirty minutes after that.

21. Let the article mature and go back to it tomorrow.

22. Alarm rings. Is it that time already? Time to pick Julia up.

23. Lose the plot and watch TV.

My performance was patchy in some areas but I think I really nailed Number 23. I’m going to try another list next week and see if I have similar success.