Virgin On The Ridiculous
Last night's The Bill had a wonderful variation on the usual police chase. They were chasing a criminal who was a 'free runner' - the sport of acrobatic scaling of obstacles in urban environments, climbing high walls and leaping from rooftop to rooftop. It was funny and spectacular in equal measure with the nice final touch of having the rather chubby Gina Gold (played by the brilliant Roberta Taylor) put the cuffs on him as he descended to earth.
A year or two ago, I was involved in a piece of improvised drama based on The Bill, though not by choice.
Beardy Branson's Virgin Media blokes had come to convert me to digital.
(A tip to Virgin subscribers: when you answer the door, don't say "Are you Virgin?" or, even worse, "Are you the Virgin boys?" You'll immediately wish you hadn't, suggesting as it does that you're enacting what I believe is a popular scenario in porn films, involving TV repair men.)
These particular Virgin boys were a threesome. Sorry, I'll rephrase that: there were three of them. That seemed a bit mob-handed to swop one set-top box for another.
Anyway, they had just been supplied with short-wave radios, or 'walkie-talkies' as we used to call them, to communicate with their colleague in the van outside.
I was startled to hear one of them say:
"We're in pursuit of an IC1 male in a blue Ford Escort, index Alpha, Tango, Victor, 492, Delta, heading on to the Jasmine Allen Estate."
"Shall I put SO19 on stand-by?" I said, trying to enter into the spirit of the thing.
"Do you watch The Bill, then?" he said, as though I hadn't made that as obvious as the balls on an Airedale.
Then his face lit up as he had an even more spiffing idea: "Can I tell him that you used to live on the Jasmine Allen Estate?"
I gave my consent, but he could see my enthusiasm, such as it was, was now waning.
To be honest, I was wondering how this piece of 'improv' was going to play out. Would they march me out of my house in handcuffs, throw me into the back of the Virgin van and drive me at high speed to the nearest town with one of them making siren noises and another on the radio saying: "Tell the DCI we've got the little scumbag."?
Happily, the need to get the colour balance right on my ancient TV soon distracted them from fantasy car chases round the Jasmine Allen.
The previous occasion that two Virgin engineers came to my house was equally bizarre. They had a mock fight in my living room, slapping each other round the face in what resembled a form of rough foreplay.
I wondered if I should put the gas fire on so that they could wrestle naked on the hearth rug like Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in Women in Love.
When I move, I'm switching to Sky.
My God, those Sky engineers have a lot to live up to.
Meanwhile, on last night's Coronation Street, where Jack and Vera are about to move to Blackpool, Vera was getting sentimental about 'The Old Vicarage', as she ludicrously named her terraced back-to-back a few years ago.
"Just think of all the meals I've served at this table", she said.
"Aye well," Jack replied, "Let's not dwell on the bad times."
That's why we love Corrie.