Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Sky's the Limit!

The Sky's the limit!

What a wonderfully aspirational line! Out there, in this brave new world, there may be no limits to what one may achieve. Set your sights to the very furthest of the horizons. For those who are prepared to work the rewards may be absolutely limitless. Perhaps even Mars may be that next horizon.

It's not actually the case, though, is it? Unless, maybe, we invert the 'imagery.' And tweak the translation. 

Imagine, instead, staring down into a puddle, perhaps upon a stretch of industrial wasteland... a wasteland, let us conject, that has been slowly poisoned into surrender through decades of unrestained, deregulated toxic abuse. We perceive this puddle as being of a curiously unnatural turquoisey colour, close and yet not close enough to anything that mother nature might hold within her pallet. 

There is a glistening sleekness to the surface, such as spilt oil might leave. A seemingly-almost-infinite array of abandoned plastic tat- partially submerged, afloat, encircling, or otherwise 'arranged' about the immediate area- has gathered about in order to further adorn the scene. McDonalds Happy Meals and Toys R Us feature proudly here, the whole Glimmie clan of several 'collecible' dozens may be found, and a vertable herd of My Little Ponies, several generations of Sylvannian Families. Everything has been coated under a fine grey dust, serving to mute the effect, and to bring about some sort of contradictory unity to the blaze. Empty Walkers crisp packets bumble across the land like so many abandoned kites. If the site is deemed worthy, maybe the very latest-bar-one model of Apple's iPhones will soon be welcomed with open arms, or at least a freshly dug pit, to their ancestral  home. Redundant Sky boxes nestle amongst pauperised TVs and other screens, usurped in turn by the newest, very latest in upgrades, none deemed any longer worthy.

And there, just there at the furthest shore, where the sub-soil-layer of supermarket plastic bags is just visible at the waterline, when the cold breeze desists and those blackened indeterminate flakes settle, there, peering deep into the murk we may glimpse the poorly reflected image of 'our limitless' Sky. 

Doesn't it look small?

Several years back I, solely as a fan of the game of cricket, decided to give Sky TV a go. I won't here revert to type and deride the then-government's God-awful decision to sell our national side to an Australian oligarch... leave it at that on the cricketing front. But I did then relinquish a teeny-tiny bit of my soul. 

So, there, in the package, we had high definition options- admittedly not quite as many as might be 'on offer' today- maybe a dozen rolling film channels, and those standard Sky options- Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts, Sky One and Two, a bottomless bargain bin of other tat channels, and four (was it) stations of continual 24-hour sport. 

Now, when I write 'sport,' what I more accurately mean is 'activity.' To describe the amorphous array of 'options' on offer as wholly sport really pushes the bounds of credibility way, way beyond... eh, credible. I think conkers and table subbuteo were in there somewhere, kite flying, arm wrestling, stuff! Stuff that nobody in their right mind would choose to watch! Was sewing in there... somewhere?

But, there was lovely test cricket! If memory serves, I also seem to recall that each and every ad break may not have been devoted to bolstering the UK's then considerably less-widespread gambling addictions. But that was then. And, it seemed affordable... obviously not as affordable as when the UK was able to watch its own national team playing at home via the BBC, or Channel 4, but (resentfully) affordable. 

Think of the package as a rather large cake. For the purposes of this allegory, think of it as tall and rich and currently uncut. Slendiferous! 

Some time after buying in there came the realisation that the cost, by stealth, was creeping upwards, although 'creeping' really doesn't quite describe the ascent. Most of the film options were eternally the same, on an ever-revolving loop- all of the most recent releases were only accessible via 'pay-to-view' options, anyway- so the film channels went. The depth and diameter of 'the cake' remained the same, but there was a hefty slice missing, or now set aside. Less for more! 

The chronology now escapes me, but many of the formerly-accessible high definition options were 'suddenly' on the wrong side of an emergent divide. Others, essentially high-definition channels, stealthily slipped through, and were gone... over to the dark side (newer package options). The cake was essentially the same cake- the 'potential' cake- but the slices, those upon my plate, were becoming thinner. And drier, and less appetising! 

As marvellous as cricket, test cricket, truly is, there were those moments when the never-ending football season would swell to swamp particular sports stations, that part that was actually 'sport.' There were the play-offs- surely defeating the objective of a league that has really already concluded, but never mind. There was the transfer window- window? What is happening, this isn't even actual sport, is it? And there were times when cricket was absent, not the stamp collecting, the tiddly-winks, or the blow football, but there was sometimes an absence of cricket, test cricket... and now for the cost of an oligarch's ransom!

So even the sport went. Thus, effectively removing that aspect of the package for which the deal was initially sought.

The remaining slice of cake was so thin as to appear almost as if not really there, wholly transparent in certain lighting conditions. Yet the ransom still kept creeping.

That one thin remaining slice of cake would bow in a gentle draught. 

So Sky was finally jettisoned! Or, that was the plan...

At which point the Sky became far darker and stormier. Should one accidentally assume too much freedom Sky will quite liberally wave the legal card... not quite so much about providing entertainment all of a sudden! 

One is expected, no required by diktat, to undertake 'a conversation.' The purpose of which is to convince one that Sky is not only essential to one's leisure time, but also suddenly again, and by some sort of miraculous process, almost affordably reasonable. And, should one be so foolhardy as to open that door a tiny chink, one might easily find that Sky is again on the payroll. Slightly cheaper for a short while, but soon to find itself back on that upscaled spreadsheet.

Look, just there, at the far shore, where the oil has accumulated- to the right of the tsunami of plastic straws, behind that raft of cotton-buds... no wait, the strange black flakes are settling- there, under the discarded, half-buried TV remote, there, isn't that the reflected Sky, just there?

Doesn't it look small...

and insipid... 

and such a pale imitation. 

What ever would one term that colour?

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