Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday's Murmurings

I assume the BBC will not in future screen Party Political Broadcasts since these would compromise its impartiality and we stupid viewers might think that the BBC itself was urging us to vote for a particular party.


A nice man phones me from British Telecom.
He asks why I no longer purchase my telephone calls from them.
I tell him that my Internet Service Provider gives me free UK phone calls without any restrictions.
Do I pay them a monthly fee for this, he asks.
No, I tell him. I pay them nothing, apart from my normal internet fee.
He asks if I am happy with this arrangement. This is a question that almost demands a sarcastic reply but I don't give one because he's only doing his job.
Thank you and goodbye, he says.
As a 'Come back to BT' pitch it has been a dismal failure.

But this is one reason that BT's profits are dropping like a stone and why they are now increasing their line rental charge which we must all pay (unless we use cable), regardless of whether we use BT for our phone calls.

It demonstrates what an absurd mess privatisation of telecoms was.
BT retains a monopoly of the landline infrastructure and the responsibility of maintaining it. But they struggle to compete with other companies on the cost of calls. As they continue to lose customers, we can expect the cost of line rentals to go on rising. Then more and more younger customers won't bother with landlines at all but just use mobiles.

It would be better if the landline network was state-owned and commercial call providers paid a fee to use it. Line rentals could be substantially reduced. They do, after all, impact most severely on those least able to afford them and on the elderly for whom landlines are a lifeline.


Obama has already been condemned by the Vatican.
He must be doing something right, then.


The Mirror recently sent me some discount vouchers. I didn't expect to use them but this weekend they were also giving away free low-energy lightbulbs so I got the Mirror cheap and added four lightbulbs to my growing collection.
There can be little long-term benefit from these promotions by newpapers because most people, like me, will grab the goodies and never buy them again. But it was interesting to see how little the tabloids have changed since Keith Waterhouse wrote his famous book 'On Newspaper Style'.
They still speak a language that almost nobody speaks in real life, in many cases imposed by the space constraints on headlines. So 'friends' are always 'pals', the police always 'quiz' people and 'children' are always 'tots'. In many stories they are 'tragic tots'.

They also have the strange habit in their editorials of writing the final paragraph in italics and underlined. But these days, for many of us, the instinctive reaction of seeing underlining is to reach for a non-existent mouse and click on the link.
But they don't do this on the online version so there the final rhetorical flourish goes unemphasised. That's a pity. So here, with proper emphasis, is an example of the Mirror's wondrous wit and wisdom:

"Having the family pop in to see your new home is a ritual and the Obamas are no different.
Except when the relatives leave the White House, a US President doesn't just have to tidy up - he's got a world to run

How can a humble blogger compete with quality like that? This small gem of insight is only slightly undermined by the fact that a US President doesn't actually have to tidy up and run the Hoover round. Not even a President as down with the people as Obama.


At 7:26 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

BT have just reduced my broadband cost. I'm glad to see my line rental is going up. I wouldn't want to get something for nothing.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Tim Footman said...

Even when the President was a Hoover?

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

geoff: if something seems too good to be true it usually is - but not always.
Mine is not a universal offer by the ISP but I assume it's designed to retain people as broadband customers by giving them 'added value'.

tim: the last President was a vaccuum - between the ears anyway.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Speranza said...

Personally, I've always enjoyed the way in which people featured in tabloids never marry, choosing instead 'to wed'. Surely that used to be the prerogative of the clergy?

I've just come to this wonderful blog by way of a search on Summer Heights High, which I've discovered very recently.

I LOVE that it's so random on here. Dyaknowaddimean?

Btw I bet you were a brilliant teacher. My favourite bit is Jonah's quiet insight: "I CAN be clever - I just choose not to be."

So true!

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

speranza: I'd hoped that the BBC would re-run Summer Heights on BBC2so it reached a wider audience. But in the present climate they'll probably be too scared of upsetting the Daily Mail.

I assure you I was NOT a good teacher. I was one of those untrained part-timers that used to be allowed into FE colleges.
The 'Day Release' students of old would have made Jonah look saintly.
My father tells the story of a class of Day Release students who smashed up every desk and chair in a classroom while an elderly lecturer continued his lecture on social history oblivious to the chaos and carnage in front of him.


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