Branson's New Year Gift
New Year's Eve: 45 minutes to Coronation Street and one of those traditional on/off soap wedding stories.
The TV picture freezes. Then it disappears. A strange code appears on the Virgin Cable box.
I try 'rebooting' the set-top box. Nothing.
Aha! Virgin have a recorded message line about any service problems. Number unobtainable tone.
Aha again! Virgin have a fault reporting line. Number unobtainable tone. Not even a recorded message.
Check the bank have paid my direct debit. They have.
Go outside to see if a drunken yob has pulled the cable off my wall. They haven't.
Connect to internet and go to Virgin website. Faults in the system are not put on the Home page. That would be far too convenient. I have to burrow deep into the website to find the 'service status' page. And I finally find confirmation that my area has lost the TV service. So, ironically, has Manchester, the home of Coronation Street. Just as well they're all at Liz's wedding.
But fear not. 'A ticket has been opened', whatever that means.
Just before Corrie starts, the picture returns. Then, 15 minutes before the second episode, the picture starts breaking up again.
On a night that is meant to be marked by goodwill to one's fellow man, I find myself wishing that a rare fungal infection infests Branson's facial hair so that his beard begins eating away his stupid, grinning face until all that remains is a bony shell and those giant, carniverously capitalist wide-boy molars.
Back to internet and ITV website. They now stream live broadcasts so at least I have back-up. But even on broadband the picture keeps freezing while 'buffering' takes place. Technology sucks.
And the internet stream is a couple of minutes behind the TV broadcast. But, darting between the TV and the PC and cursing like someone with severe Tourette's, I eventually see Liz marry Vernon.
At least I don't have to stay up until the early hours to watch the repeat on ITV2.
Go to bed to read Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought and the chapter on The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television.
These include: asshole, cunt, cocksucker and motherfucker. Coincidentally, some of the words I had been applying to Branson and his Virgin Media.
I now apply them again to the arseholes (British spelling) who are letting off fireworks outside, creating a realistic impression of World War Three, stopping me reading and stopping me sleeping.
'Happy New Year, you fuckwits', I murmured as the book fell from my hands and the pyrotechnic rumblings fell to the level of a quiet night in Basra.