This winter lockdown seems far worse than the last. What does one do to stave off boredom and acute Covid-itis? I’m a huge rugby fan, so last weekend with precious little else to do, thanks to Boris’s indefensible rules, I looked forward to watching the Autumn Nations rugby tournament on TV. The strong winds and driving rain ruled-out any exercise and I could only dream of going up to Twickenham, or down the pub to see the match. I would have to content myself with sitting at home and watching it on TV.
Carelessly, I didn’t bother checking the TV schedule in advance and, to my intense irritation, I realised that the match, indeed the entire competition, was only available to view on Amazon, the pay-TV channel, not the retail store. First, there was Sky, then BT and Netflix and now Amazon, my least favourite corporation. Why must we subscribe to so many channels in order to watch anything worth seeing, and why then is the BBC licence fee still compulsory, even for older people? It seems these days everyone who runs anything at all, including government and council devote much of their effort to devising new ways of getting more money from the long-suffering public.
The previous weekend I had wanted to watch Spurs play football; I already pay Sky sports around £50 monthly, so I was hopeful the game would be available, but sadly not. To see my team in action, Sky demanded another £15, to watch a game where for 88 of the 90 minutes played Spurs couldn’t score a goal! Basically, I’d paid BT £15 to torture myself for two hours.
With so much time on my hands, I’ve decided to start a new campaign and I’d like your help with it, please. No, we’re not going to get sport and quality drama back on free to air TV; I’m afraid that’s a lost cause. We’re going to demand that someone invent a single remote-control device to replace all the others.
Have you ever tried to use the remote for Apple TV, Netflix or Amazon under pressure of time? When they’re not lost down the side of the sofa, or buried under a pile of newspapers, remote controls are incredibly complex things. These days, you need three or four of them – plus your glasses.
The new Apple TV gadgets are completely impossible to fathom. Apple’s cleverness seems to be aimed at eight-year-olds, which means you get a slim smart black fob with only a few buttons and some incomprehensible symbols. There’s also some kind of blank moving square thing that should permit easy scrolling up, down or sideways.
I don’t think I’m stupid; I’m fairly dexterous and can operate complex machinery. I have successfully flown and landed a jet airliner – in a simulator; I’ve broadcast live radio shows and more than once piloted an actual helicopter, all without crashing. Yet there I sat last Saturday, just minutes before kick-off, frantically trying to get something on my screen, anything that wasn’t more multiple-choice options.
No, I did not want to return to the main menu, nor see a film, watch terrestrial TV, or something random on YouTube. I did not want to preview the next series of the Crown; I just wanted the ****** rugby. The only crown I want will be wrapped in bacon, roasted and accompanied by crisp potatoes, sprouts and gravy and (hopefully!) a few loved ones on Christmas Day. It’s not much to ask, is it?