I have got to the age and stage at which I do not suffer fools gladly. The fools in question today belong to TV Licensing, that very unaugust organ of the state charged with the task of preventing anyone from receiving television programmes without first parting with the annual television licence fee of £145.50. (I won’t digress here to discuss whether I think it’s worth it to support the BBC…)
For the past seven years, this impersonal body has been sending out letter after letter to our household to warn us that we might be watching television illegally, as no record of a licence at the address it has for us seems to exist. Back in 2005, when the letters started to arrive, we did as requested and rang the given number to explain very carefully that the postcode which TV Licensing was using did not exist and that the property at our correct postcode was properly licensed. The overseas call centre telephonist assured us that this would be rectified. Nothing happened and the letters continued to arrive. Diligently, we repeated the process four times; nothing happened and the letters continued to arrive. We felt that we had fulfilled our moral and legal duty and therefore took no further action. The letters have since continued to decorate our doormat and have varied in their threat level with all the graphic appearance of the rolling English road. They are still coming and the one announcing an imminent summons is in front of me, looking very fierce; I think that we have had several of those over the years.
We have dutifully paid our licence fee throughout our time at this, our proper postcode; the ‘legal occupier’ of the fictional and extremely draughty house in the field over the road has not. It will be an interesting day in court.