It’s a date

I’ll check my diary

Look what just arrived — could it be a belated valentine from the other Legal Occupier of this address? Because the 27th has significance in our lives. It’s our anniversary!

(Actually our anniversary is the 28th. I can never remember with exactitude despite piling up an impressive number of them. I figure having it nailed down to those two days deserves some credit, don’t you?)

Seeing as she would never get the date wrong, chances are it’s not from her. I open it. What’s this?

Every 5 seconds? Talk about a quickie.

Oh no, we can expect a visit from an Enforcement Officer on the 27th or literally any other day. Fantasy scenarios aside, this is no joke. It’s even got what’s been artfully printed to look like a stamp at the bottom:

Looks official, signature in contrasting ink and everything. That’s Hales, John Hales, licence to instill fear in the noncompliant.

Canterbury isn’t just around the corner, but it’s close enough that it shouldn’t take two years for an officer to hurry up and get here to check up on us already. That’s about how long we’ve been getting love letters from Capita, the company contracted out by the BBC to blanket the country with stern letters like this.

There is a legal requirement to have purchased a licence, currently £145.50/year, in order to watch live TV and use the BBC iPlayer service. The assumption is that everybody is tuned in at some point. There are no discounts for not being camped out on the couch in front of the tube; it only takes once a year, so if you’re only turning it on to catch the Queen’s Christmas message, savour every word.

“We see you when you’re sleeping, we know when you’re awake.”

The problem is, not everybody watches television (or uses their computer as one). Many people use services such as Netflix exclusively, or spend their time surfing YouTube, which warrants no licence. And some outliers have no interest in moving pictures at all.

Just having a TV in the house doesn’t mean it has to have papers: you’ve actually got to turn it on. As it is inconceivable to Capita that you can own a set which primarily gets used as, say, a temporary storage facility the top of which is easier to access than drawers and a step up from the floor,

Guilty

only occasionally being called into service for things called ‘videos’, you’re considered guilty until proven innocent — “Tell us you don’t need one.”

If only it were that easy. Yes, you can inform them that none of this applies to you, but you’ll still have to be prepared to admit an Enforcement Officer to check up on you. Or so they say.

Actually, Capita ‘Officers’ have no more right to enter your home than the Pizza Delivery Guy.

“If you’re not going to eat this, I am.”

You’re perfectly entitled to close the door in their face, or better yet, not open it in the first place.

Why would you be so rude? Perhaps because you have the quaint notion your home really is your castle, or as close to a castle as you can afford, and being asked to admit what are basically salesmen, or else, sticks in the craw.

As you can see, the tone of the letters is firm if not threatening. It works. There are even people who have admitted to caving in and getting a licence although they absolutely don’t need one, due to a combination of intimidation and ignorance of the law.

Mrs Legal Occupier and I made sure we knew our rights before taking the drastic step of laughing at the letters that come through the slot about once a month. And anyway we’re busy the 27th. I for one am going to be spending it apologising for wishing her happy anniversary right after waking up.

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