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2007-08-07 📌 Pete Writes: Branson Pickle

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That's fucking it. Branson is a dick and I can contain my fury for no longer. I will not be silenced; let him have me killed, see if I give a toss. As the cartoons had it: I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more!

First, some advice. Don't subscribe to Virgin Media. Just don't do it. If you do you will regret it for the rest of you miserable existence. Picture it: You're on your deathbed, aged ninety. Generations of grieving relatives have assembled at your bedside to see you on your way into forever. Glowing obituaries have been drafted at news desks around the country. Elton John has been brought out of cryogenic suspension to re-record 'Candle in the Wind' for the millionth bastard time. It's the best death possible, the place we all hope we end up (as opposed to, I don't know, being eaten alive by sharks and carnivorous insects whilst watching your dad do your mum up the wrong'un, to pick a random example out of the air.) And instead of basking in your many triumphs — the unique experiences, the adventures, the laughter, the joy — or thinking of your true love and how you'll soon be joining them in everlasting and eternal paradise, or even just giving quiet thanks for a good life well lived, you're all pissed off and wondering what the fuck you were thinking when you signed that contract, and also bemoaning the fact that you didn't listen to me when you had the chance. That's right: he will even fuck up your death.

It all started with Battlestar Galactica. He stole it from us, eight episodes into series 3. Eight! Do you have any idea how frustrating that is? I'd rather have not seen any of it and just waited for the DVD. But no; a taste, a tiny tantalising sip from the space-goblet of sci-fi genius that is BSG and then BAM! Branson takes over, BSG vanishes and my life gets worse by a small but noticeable increment as I no longer have a reason to look forward to Tuesday, which is something that, quite frankly, we all need because Tuesdays are as dull as fuck.

Originally we were with Telewest who, to be fair, were dicks as well. The very first bill they sent us was red; no warning, just 'you have three days to pay or we will send the flying monkeys blah blah blah'. We refused to pay until we saw an itemised statement and a copy of our missing first bill. They countered by cutting us off. We did mocking laughter and pointed out that they obviously didn't know who they were dealing with. I confused the piss out of an unfortunate call centre woman who made the schoolboy error of calling up at 9:00AM on a Saturday expecting coherent answers to stupid questions and for a while they left us alone. Then, three months later, we buckled and coughed up. We had to; BSG was starting again. Unfortunately, we'd obviously been put on some sort of black list — Richard Branson's list of enemies, if you will — because when Telewest was absorbed in to Branson's womb-like financial interior to later emerge, dripping mucus and poison afterbirth, as Virgin Media the red bills began to arrive frequently and often, at a rate with which we could not keep pace. Now, God was kind to me and my boys; he lavished wit, good looks, charm and immense penile girth onto the whole bally lot of us but he left us sorely lacking in the ability to pay a bill in less than three days. There is no way that three stoners - one of whom who gets paid on the very random third Thursday of every month, another who has gone through bankruptcy proceedings and another who temps in pubs and lives in a shed at the bottom of a beer garden for four days of the week — can organise themselves to pay a bill that quickly. It just can't be done. And I know what you're going to say; just start a direct debit, Pete. Well, answer me this; why the fuck should I? Direct debits may be convenient (for us and Branson) but they're unsustainable due to the (very) fluid nature of the financial situation here at 28 Cooksley Road. If the bills were sent out on the same day each month, like with council tax, there wouldn't be problem but they arrive at random intervals, with no rhyme or reason. You'll pay one and then another will arrive two days later, or a week later, or a month. I got one today for £280 that I know for a solid fact I paid ten days ago; you always know when £280 leaves your account because your wallet keels over and dies from the shock and you have to spend a month living on beans. It's bullshit. We shouldn't be penalised for not giving a giant multi- national corporation access to our bank accounts. Somehow it just don't seem right.

(Break for enraged skyward fist shaking.)

Even this wouldn't be so bad if the service was half decent but they can't even manage that. The movies on demand thing barely works, the interfaces are fiddly and annoying and you're constantly confronted with the words 'no programme information' because the box is too retarded to be able to tell you what it's showing. As Phil shrewdly pointed out, you only get programme information when you've been cut off, presumably to show you what you're missing, such as endless showings of Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns. For this piece I'd planned on doing some background research but I can't because, hilariously, my Virgin Media net connection has crapped out on me. Touché, Branson. Touché.

When it was all kicking off between BSkyB and Virgin over who got the rights to what I encountered a worrying number of people who were pro-Branson, on the flimsy basis that at least he's not Rupert Murdoch. Not me though; I wanted Murdoch to win. Fair enough, Murdoch is a megalomaniacal force for evil, spewing dross and misinformation to every corner of our benighted planet, but at least he's up front about it. Branson likes to pretend like he's your mate, a plucky British underdog. The little guy.

This is a tad disingenuous on Branson's part. He's not the little guy, he's the big guy. He couldn't be any bigger if he was stomping around the planet in a giant robot version of himself, firing lasers and Ragnarok missiles onto the screaming, scurrying people below. This last week it emerged that Virgin was in cahoots with BA over price fixing on transatlantic flights. BA was fined to the tune of £270 million; Virgin got away with it because it was someone in their organisation who owned up and the OFT have rules regarding leniency to grasses. BA, in case you don't know, is the company that Branson maintains has been running a dirty tricks/smear campaign against him for over a decade. See here:

What a fine upstanding fellow he is and not, for example, a hirsute, relentlessly self-promoting Antichrist. I'd offer him my first born child so that he could sup the marrow from its living bones but that wouldn't leave him anything to ask for in the next bill he sends. But here's my plan; when he dies (which is bound to happen sooner or later) I'm going to track down his burial site and, by the silvery light of the moon, I'll dance on his grave. I'm thinking a sort of hornpipe/jig number; jaunty, but calibrated for maximum insult. That'll learn him.

Rant concluded. You may now go about your business.

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