Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson on: cable TV

Roads wear out and every so often we must expect the Cavaliers in the outside lane to be replaced by men whose trousers fail to cover all their bottoms. Cones will go up and the traffic will stop.

It may well be irritating to sit there, being gently marinated in your own sweat. But the fact is that roadworks are the inevitable result of a thriving society in which 42 tonne trucks thunder up and down the highways and byways, bringing fresh produce to your corner shop.

However, there's a worrying trend. For the last four weeks, London's South Circular road has been closed due to an entirely new sort of road work. I have been marooned by gridlocked traffic for more than a month.

And it's not because the road had worn out or because some vital underground maintenance needed to be carried out.

No, they have dug up the main artery between south west England and the City because Videotron, our local cable TV company, decided to drive one of their JCBs through a water main.

You'll know when the cable people are about to come round, because you'll wake up one morning to find the pavement outside your house looks like one of Joseph's more vivid overcoats. All the electricity, gas and water routes are individually marked out in different coloured chalk so that they know exactly where to dig when the time comes.

When the time does come, your street begins to look like the Somme. If they don't park a JCB on your car, they'll encase it with mud. And then, when all their carefully laid chalk marks are covered with more mud, they'll wait for you to step into the shower before they drill through the water pipe. You get out and are half way through writing a book on your computer and they'll cut the power.

Then, in the evening, when you have eight people coming for dinner, they'll sever the gas.

Outside, there will be troughs both at the top and bottom of your road, so even if you could get to your car, there's no way you'll be able to drive it anywhere.

A day or two after they finish, a man with a bad suit and a cheesy grin will knock on your door asking if you'd like the cable service which, in case you hadn't noticed, is now available in your street.

If this happens, there's only one course of action - you must punch him straight in the mouth. What you must not do is invite him in and sign all the various forms which spew out of his plastic briefcase.

"If I want better porn or big bucks films or, perish the thought, football, I need to dig even deeper into my pockets"

If you do, more men will come round to drill great big holes in your walls, just so that your television can show exactly what was coming in anyway via the big council house wok on the roof.

I now have cable TV and it is a disaster. It tells me what is happening in Lewisham, and at night it shows me a bunch of overweight German blondes with black pubic hair having simulated sex.

There are two 24 hour a day news services, both presented by people whose teeth are so white, I can't look at them, and reruns of programmes which weren't funny 25 years ago - and which are very not funny now.

I can see French game shows and, if I tune into QVC, I can buy a video recorder from Tony Blackburn. Yesterday, a woman spent one hour trying to sell me a necklace, so I tuned to MTV where Prince was singing a song called My Name Is Prince. Blimey.

Most of the 36 channels on offer are scrambled, and if I want better porn or big bucks films or, perish the thought, football, I need to dig even deeper into my pockets. And I refuse to let my money be used to dig up your street. It's not sociable.

To be fair, I do get a great deal of motorsport on my TV these days, but car racing without the Murray Walker soundtrack is like holidaying in a caravan - it's not really a holiday at all. The only advantage Eurosport has is that it covers post-race press conferences, whereas Grandstand switches immediately to cricket as the chequered flag falls.

But is this worth £168 a year, when you get the BBC for half that? Plus, the BBC doesn't dig up your road, sever all your essential services, cut off your telephone for two days or send cheesy salesmen round wearing awful clothes.


Jeremy Clarkson, Column

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