Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sky TV in France.. an essential naughtiness for an ex pat..

Last night was major panic attack time… a message kept appearing on the TV telling me the sky card is about to evaporate into the ether.. What should I do?

I took a few deep breaths, tried to calm down, but was petrified about the thought of my future life without ITV, Channel 5, Five USA and Fiver, especially as winter has arrived, it is cold, dark in after 4pm and a French field sans Television is not good.

It never ceases to amaze me that every British ex pat in France I meet, tweet or email has English TV. Some have French television too, but I think these are probably just the clever ones who speak~a~dee language well, or enjoy game shows and Benny Hill which seem to be the highlights of French television.

It is so funny that some ex pats, normally the most boring, pompous and best to avoid type, feel that eating Heinz Baked Beans, or Walls Sausages in France is not quite the done thing, yet they are closet English television viewers. Whereas eating is not a crime, yet, do the pompous ones not realise we are all acting illegally? although I am not sure what the crime or punishment would be. I gather it is to do with advertising revenue. Sky has agreed with overseas authorities they will not ‘permit’ people to watch their programmes outside the UK.

Basically, as long as they do not officially know you are not in Britain, you can carry on viewing. Never telephone Sky from outside the UK or they will ‘know;’ and cut you off. Surely, Sky accepting the monthly payments means they are colluding and equally culpable. The onus should be on Sky to confirm where people live… n’est pas?

So back to my problem, I know, me me me, but what am I going to do? ……Well…. and now this is a very bad and sad confession…

My name is Scrumbles and I am a telly~holic….

We have two…. Yes, two TVs AND two sky boxes AND two sky dishes in our house (well the dishes are actually outside the house). In fact, we have another two Sky boxes in the barn somewhere, and a spare TV.. just in case…..

Those of you who have rumbled the cut of Monsieur Darling’s Jib will not be surprised to learn he enjoys sensible programmes on the History and Discovery Channels, plus Rugby, F1 and other insomniac’s delights. However, I love crappy stuff (his words, not mine, tut tut) like soap operas, reality TV shows and US crime, medical, dramas and comedies, most especially Law and Order, House, and Ugly Betty.

I also love UK daytime Television. It is a brilliant distraction from doing any writing, which was within the strategic plan for 2009, and golly gosh, here we are, in November already, and I have managed about six blogs; but how can I resist the delightful Philip Schofield on This Morning?

Some of my Twitter pals will remember, a few weeks ago, I questioned through tweeting @schofe about an ugly thermos flask behind him on the ‘This Morning’ sofa. Much to~doodling and tweeting between @schofe and me occurred as to the exact location of the said flask. I eventually sent him a picture, of my TV screen showing the flask, which turned out to be a vase. .

He described the whole thing as ‘vasegate’ and eventually smashed it, costing him £85 from his own pocket, bless him, he is such a 'guy next door' person, both on TV and Twitter. The ‘incident’ was posted on U-Tube for a while, so the fun could be seen again.

Because Discovery and other yawny stuff are not available on the sky free cards, we have continued, at great expense mind you, our subscription to Sky for M. Darling’s television. I, forever the martyr, have viewed with a free card, bought in France from some blokey making a living out of flogging sky boxes and cards.

Recently Sky decided to replace all cards; so much skulduggery occurred whereby we wrote a letter to Sky, advising them we had moved (not mentioning this was 6 years ago) and gave a new UK address. The letter was posted to the UK and we asked the co-conspirator to post it to Sky with an English stamp. The new sky card for M. Darling duly arrived and he is now happy and content watching bridges being built, aeroplanes being analysed and a lot of other seriousness relating to physics, engineering and other scientific stuffy stuff.

So, back to the current dilemma, MY television. With trembling hand, I checked out the Sky website and clicked tentatively on the Help section, hoping they could not see I was looking from a foreign land. There I discovered people who had ‘bought’ a freeview card after 2004 would automatically get a new card.

Remember I had bought MY card ‘sous la table’ Dare I put the card number in to check?

Adrenalin was flowing as I put in the number and added the obligatory illegible numbers and letters code, presumably to determine I was not a spy bot, foreign or otherwise. The answer was sadly, no, my card was prior to 2004 and therefore under a death sentence.

The next bit I found said for £20 they would send me a new card. Happy days and tres simple. Nervously I put in the UK bank card details, British address and a made up telephone number. All was accepted and the card should be delivered within 5 – 7 days.

Oh.. I also used a Gmail email address so I could not be discovered in my underhand, illegal and devious pursuit of my beloved Corrie, Enders, X factor etc. Mmmm….I’m a Celebrity… starts on Sunday I can’t miss that.. can I?