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25 November 2020

My new super-hub promises non-stop football. Instead, I am plunged back into TV’s dark ages

As I sit confused by the new remote, graphics and instructions on the screen, I ask myself, am I too old for new tech? 

By Hunter Davies

I am walking on the Heath, watching football live on my mobile phone. Who would have thought it? Not me, 75 years ago.

During and after the war, we did have football on the wireless, though normally just the Cup Final and England versus Scotland. Our family, like millions of others, had to plug our crackly wireless into the light socket on the ceiling, there being no wall plugs in our council house.

It meant that at this time of the year you listened in the dark, as you could not have a light bulb in at the same time as the wireless. Yes, we did have a coal fire, which gave a bit of light, but that was always obscured by wet washing my mother was trying to dry. I don’t know how we were not electrocuted. Or asphyxiated. Oh, but we were happy then…and other romantic bollocks.

[see also: Why sport’s new status as a purely digital product is not sustainable]

Today, there is wall-to-wall live football. I not only watch on my mobile but on my TV, my computer and my laptop, which I take along when me and my chum go off on jollies to the Isle of Wight or the Lake District. She is not too thrilled; no more than my dear wife was. “Pathetic, a grown man, still a slave to football, at your age, you have your priorities all wrong…”

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Modern technology really is amazing. All it costs is money.

I have had a subscription to both BT Sport and Sky Sport for years. My ex-lodger, a young Romanian woman with a degree in Chinese who was a nanny for a famous actor round the corner, said if you have a subscription to BT Sport and Sky you should be able to access it on your mobile and laptop, wherever you are in the world. Here, I’ll do it for you. Oh God, I miss her dearly, now I have got myself in a right mess.

For some stupid reason, mainly meanness, I agreed BT could provide everything – my broadband, land line, mobile, wi-fi, BT Sports and Sky Sports. My monthly costs will drop in half, from £200 a month to £100. Wow. Lucky me.

[see also: Hype, injury, excess… players can waste their potential for many reasons. Is niceness one of them?]

Except, for two weeks I have had mainly bugger all. The new BT Super Hub was delivered when I was out, so I had to trail to the postal depot. Then it turns out I need a new TV aerial on my roof, otherwise I can’t get BBC. I do always record Match of the Day and watch it on Sunday morning.

It seems like going backwards, to the dark ages of the 1980s, when dishes were appearing on the nation’s roofs. Surely, everything is wireless today? As for the super-fast broadband, that is just as slow and dozy as it has always been. I can’t understand the new remote, or the graphics and instructions on the screen. Oh God, what have I done? I am too old for new things.

The more technology you have, the more things go wrong. Companies try to upgrade your contract, just to get more money out of you. You get promised magic, then when something goes wrong, you go potty, out of all proportion, because you had settled down to witness magic.

[see also: I thought my football treasures would ease me into old age. But now I am tired of the clutter]

Having put up with all this aggravation – in order to have a simpler life with Sky Sports and BT Sports from the same provider, and be able to watch all Prem games live – the rotten bastards at the Premier League suddenly decided you have to pay extra for certain games.

On principle, I told myself I would not fall for this nasty trick. I would wait for the next day and watch the pay-per-view game on catch-up, if I could work it out.

But then I weakened. I wanted to watch Spurs play West Brom, to see if they would win and go top of the league. Which they did. For ten seconds.

I paid my £14.99 to Sky Box Office – but then I could not access the game. I had to download something else, stuff I could not understand. Did I shout and scream. And even more when they stopped all this pay-per-view nonsense – after they had taken my money.

Back in 1958, £14 was my wages for a whole week, when I joined the Manchester Evening Chronicle. And in 1945, I don’t remember any complications when sticking the flex in the light socket. The wireless either came on, or it didn’t: in which case we amused ourselves by boiling up our clogs for dinner… 

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This article appears in the 25 Nov 2020 issue of the New Statesman, The last days of Trump