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February 2010 - Switching to Digital

If I was to keep superimposing a caption over the top of Nick Harvey's Comment whilst you were trying to read it, telling you that it wouldn't be available after a particular date in March unless you went out and bought a new computer, at your own expense, you wouldn't be awfully impressed with me, would you?

So why, I need to enquire, are we all sitting idly by, in total acceptance of the fact that our glorious government has decided that we all need to buy a new television set, at our own expense, regardless of whether the previous one is worn out or not?

I mean, it's a matter of personal choice whether I decide to buy a new car or not, isn't it?  If I decide to do so, the Darling man from Downing Street will bung me a nice wad of used fivers as part of his scrappage scheme.

In the same way, if I make the personal choice to replace the old boiler, I'll get a similar wad of fivers towards a nice, new one.

I've just been asked by the proof reader to insert a clause at this point, making it abundantly clear that no connection, direct or indirect, should be inferred between the aforementioned old boiler and the aforementioned proof reader.  Thank you.

The common factor between the motor cars and the old boilers, however, is the personal choice.  I can freely choose whether to replace them or not.  The old ones won't stop functioning at the end of March, by government decree, if I don't take any action.

So where's the huge wad of fivers towards the cost of replacing all the various televisions dotted around Harvey Towers, which I'm being given no choice whatsoever about?  You've gone a bit quiet now, haven't you, Darling?

Much has previously been said and written about this current lot and their stealth taxes, but am I the only one to have noticed the crafty introduction of this television stealth tax by Prudence and his mates?

Exactly how much VAT are they going to pocket from all the televisions I now need to go out and buy, simply because of their decision?

And the latest, just to add insult to injury, and to prove I'm writing this at the end of the month, is that Prudence has just announced that he's now going to bung loads of fivers at any Taliban members who decide to change sides and vote Labour at the next election.  Oh, yes, they'll be able to afford a nice, new television, or three, won't they?

This from the bloke who's already bankrupted the country by bailing out the banks with his wads of fivers, just so they can repackage them into only slightly smaller wads and hand them on as bonuses to their employees.  Oh, yes, they'll be able to afford a nice, new television, or five, won't they?

Are you getting the picture yet?  Are you beginning to realise that Nick Harvey's not currently a happy bunny?

So welcome along, dear viewers, to the February edition of Comment, available on a computer near you, which you may choose to replace or not to replace, sooner or later, exactly as you wish, and with absolutely no pressure applied.

That's the computer, incidentally, madam, which you can choose to replace or not to replace, not the edition of Comment, which I'm certain you'll agree is simply irreplaceable.

However, whilst on the subject of replacing Comment, perhaps it's a good moment to warn you that for the next few months you'll have to replace your Comment reading on the first of each month with something a little less exciting.

In order that I may concentrate on other important activities, including but not restricted to, installing numerous replacement television sets and, of course, finishing my latest book, Comment will be taking a break for a few months after this edition.

It's only fair in a way, that I duck behind the parapet and maintain scrupulous impartiality until after the election, otherwise these pages are likely to become even more of a partly political broadcast for any bloomin' shower who are more than ninety degrees further to the right than the shower we have in power at the moment.

That nice Mr Griffin wouldn't introduce a television stealth tax; of that you can be sure!

So where was I, and with what was I intending to enthrall you all, dear viewers, this month?  I started off extremely organised this time round, but it all went to pot when that caption popped up over the top of dear old Huw Edwards.

My original subject for in depth analysis this time, under the jolly old Acme microscope, was going to be the fact that we all seem to have forgotten how to deal with a little bit of snow.

That idea got rather superceded when I noticed my inability to stand upright on an icy pavement outside the local television shop window as I endeavored to select five or six models to replace my existing, and perfectly adequate, analogue fleet.

Why the <expletive deleted> didn't they bother to grit the pavements this year?  It's not as if it's a difficult task, is it?  You just turn the wick up a bit on the whizzy-whizzy machine that grits the roads, so the angle of spread is a bit wider and it does the pavements at the same time.

Okay, so the odd pedestrian gets a few pepper-blast injuries from the velocity of the incoming grit, but that's far less work for the hospitals than all the fractures from leaving the pavements slightly more slippery than the special winter ice rink at The Eden Project.

I don't remember all that much about 1947, but I do remember 1963 well enough to be certain that we didn't have nearly as much severe disruption, over the months the snow stayed around, as we've just had from a couple of days snowfall this year.

Back in 1963 you just got on with it.  I don't think the Health and Safety Executive had been invented back then.  If it had, somebody buried it under a snowdrift until after the event and we all just used good, old commonsense.

Most of the severe disruption over the last couple of weeks has got little to do with anybody getting their car stuck in the snow and everything to do with loony, health and safety lefties refusing to go and tow it out of the way in case their gloves weren't quite thick enough and their poor little fingers might have got a bit cold.

It's winter, mate!  Your fingers are supposed to get cold!  To slightly misquote a current phrase, wake up, smell the ant-freeze!

I'm told that the captions which are currently interrupting our analogue viewing in this television region are actually being inserted at the transmitter site and not further back up the line at the studios.

Does this mean that somebody had to drive all the way across that field to the transmitter hall to switch them on?  I note that that's one particular activity which didn't get delayed due to the field being covered by a little layer of snow.

One health and safety rule for the digital rich and another for the analogue poor, you see.

When Comment returns, I'll have become one of the new, digital poor, having paid my television stealth tax to the local retailer, who by then will have a dry pavement outside his shop, and not received any scrappage allowance whatsoever on my old sets.  The only upside will be my ability to watch BBC Three in the shed down at the end of the garden.  That's an upside?

And I've just thought of an extra!  As they're not giving me any scrappage allowance on the old sets, why the heck should I waste my valuable petrol taking them to the recycling centre like they say I've got to?

I shall toss them in the bottom of the wheelie bin and cover them with black bags.  The refuse disposal operatives won't realise until the top of the cycle when the bin's high in the air on the back of the wagon and it's just a tad too late.  My my, how sad, what a pity!

Okay, it really is time to go now.  The next edition will definitely appear on the first of a month.  Which particular month is currently the question without answer.  Please keep checking back regularly, ready for the return.

Don't forget to vote when this election comes along.  Remember, voting is your right and your vote should be right!  Right, I'm off, where's me ballot paper?

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