T V License

I do not drive a car, I do not have a dog and I do not own a gun. Not surprisingly I do not have a driving licence, a dog licence or a gun licence. The authorities that check these things do not constantly pester me to find out if I am driving without a licence, keeping a dog in secret, or possessing an unlicensed firearm.

But the television licensing authority feels it necessary to send me nagging letters asking why my address does not appear on their database of TV licence-holders. The idea that there are actually people who prefer not to watch television seems beyond their comprehension.

We may be eccentric, we may be missing out on important news and information but we are not actually breaking the law by not owning and using a television. However, I imagine it won’t be long before people like us will have to band together and form an association of Telly-free households. We are probably fewer in number than the Vegans or the Monster Raving Loonies but as a minority we should have some protection.

I am approaching my seventy-fifth year, the age at which I can have a “free” TV licence – should I so wish. I didn’t expect the TV licensing people to simply notify me of my new status, though surely there must be some national database of names of addresses of pensioners over 75. That would be too simple. After all I had to request my bus pass, it wasn’t just sent to me when I reached pensionable age.

So I searched for the TV licensing Authority website, imagining that all I’d need to do was send them details of name, address and date of birth – perhaps a photocopy of my birth certificate. Nothing as simple as that.

Pages and pages of forms, all assuming that I wanted to cancel an existing TV licence or the part of the payment relating to the time after I reached 75. I ploughed through many pages of this garbage and even filled in a form – I think – explaining my rather unusual circumstances in that I was applying for something I didn’t want or need simply because I had been told it was available free and I ought to have a bit of paper to say I didn’t need it!

It beats Charles Dickens creation “The Office of Circumlocution” into a cocked hat!

I wonder how much it costs the treasury to administer this unwieldy bureaucracy, not only the collection of annual licence fees and the receipts for payments, but the vans going round to check on those dangerous lunatics who watch Coronation Street or Strictly come Dancing without a licence! I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the cost of policing the TV licence fiasco comes to more than the sum collected.

It is obvious to me that the licence fee is a crazy way to pay for public service broadcasting. The BBC is a public service As such it should be funded out of general taxation, like other services schools, hospitals, libraries and the emergency services. You know it makes sense. Alas the government don’t.




So many things I almost did,
So many roads I almost
Then something, someone came along
To save me from myself.

I think of the almost times
When I almost said something hurtful
and risked losing a friend,
When I walked into the road without looking
and almost got knocked down,
When I almost went out and left the milk pan boiling
Or the lights blazing or the tap running,

Luck – or my guardian angel –
held me back from the brink and all the things I almost did.





Today I want to be extravagant
To do, to be, to experience something extra
something outside my usual dull round
Of daily dreary activities
Meaningless actions, getting nowhere, achieving nothing.
Today I will break free
And for once be extravagant.
Wandering outside my comfort zone
Trying new things, exploring new possibilities.
But what shall I do?
I know, I’ll buy a cream meringue and eat it with a double cappuccino!



Compass needle pointing to North
Never wavering, never deviating
Solid, strong, unchanging, unbending.
Showing the way to the uncertain traveller.
Some people are born with an inbuilt compass
Know from the start where they are going to.
I’d like to be one like that
But alas I am not.
I struggle to make sense of maps
To plot a compass bearing
To set the map so it faces North.
Perhaps I need a Satnav
A firm voice telling me
“Turn right”, “After one mile, turn left”
You have reached you destination.


No Room on the Plane

There’s been a recent fuss in the news about an airline who had overbooked and wanted someone – someone who had paid for a seat and was already sitting on the plane – to leave to make room for one of their staff who needed to travel to wherever the plane was going. OK, but after asking people politely to go on another flight they them dragged a customer out of his seat and forced him off the aircraft.

Of course this made the headlines. If the travelling public had any sense of fair play the airline concerned would shortly be filing for bankruptcy. Who in the right mind would want to travel with a company who treated their fare-paying customers in this way?

Alas, people are so used to the idea that the airline – the big wealthy powerful organisation – is always right,  I doubt if their turnover will even decrease by a small amount. In fact it might well increase as newspapers in search of a good story will send their reporters to see if they can get “bounced” and if they are treated well or badly.

Of course it is ridiculous that airlines can overbook in this way. Remember they’ve already been paid for the seats and stand to lose nothing by reneging on their contract to transport the passenger to the agreed destination.

The remedy I suggest is this:
 All  long-haul airlines to be required to have at least 5% spare capacity  – ie seats that are not booked and are kept available for airline employees and emergencies that do not require to plane to deviate from its planned route or make an emergency landing. I’m thinking of scenarios where a passenger is taken ill with something unpleasant rather than life-threatening. Who wants to sit for several hours next to someone who is vomiting copiously every ten minutes? There should be somewhere segregated to take such a passenger. The same should apply to a very noisy and disruptive child whose parents cannot control his behaviour. The cabin staff can hardly knock the brat out with a strong sedative however much they might like to do so, but they can and should be able to minimise the discomfort to fellow-travellers. This could be done by taking the child and parents to the “spare” seating area where they can at least be separated from the rest of the passengers.

Air liners are notoriously cramped and uncomfortable and I feel an airline who offered more space, not just slightly wider seats but room to move around, even a lounge where passengers could chat and play games and lie down if they wished should attract passengers looking to get there not in the shortest possible time but with the least degree of discomfort. An airline that advertised as “Never overbooked” or “If you’ve paid for a seat, we guarantee you get a seat” should be first choice for any sensible customer.

Alas I don’t think this will happen. Airline passengers are so used to being treated badly and herded around and made to stand in queues that they expect it. Any airline that offered space and comfort to its customers would immediately be suspect.

I can imagine a cartoon – unfortunately I can’t draw so have to describe it – where a man is arguing with an airport official “What do you mean I’ve been bumped off the plane? I’m the pilot!”



(this is the best way to fly!)

Missing You

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/missing/”>Missing</a&gt;

I lie awake
An ache like toothache
Will not go away.
Nothing feels as empty as a double bed
With a single sleeper.
Nothing as empty as a solitary life
Where once there had been two.
I rise, dress, prepare to meet the blank day
I set two places for breakfast.