‘Good evening. Blueyond - sorry - Virgin Media Customer Services. Carol speaking. How may I help you ?’

‘Slight problem. I can’t get Sky One any more.’

‘Yes, Sir. I know [sighs inwardly ‘Oh God please not another one’]. Those nasty people from Sky increased the prices and Sir Richard called their bluff. Unfortunately, a horrid Australian man called Rupert then called his bluff back so we can’t show it any more.’

‘But isn’t that a prime example of the free market and competition in operation that Richard keeps telling us about ?’

‘Oh no, Sir. This is a virtual monopoly that presents a real danger to the media industry worldwide and all our valuable subscribers. Well those that are left, anyway.’

‘Well, why doesn’t Richard retaliate by charging Rupert 10 times more for Living TV and Bravo+1 ?’

‘Sorry, Sir. We did look into that option but it turns there are only 23 people on Sky who regularly watch those channels.’

‘But you can’t do that. I spend my life nagging my kids to stop watching ‘The Simpsons’ and knuckle down to their homework. What am I supposed to do now ?’

‘I know, Sir. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and upset caused.’

‘Never mind that. Don’t you realise we are halfway through a series of Lost ?’

‘Yes. I know, Sir. I also enjoy that never ending, inane, tedious, frustrating and yet somehow compelling series. If it’s any consolation, I will now have to go round our Shirley’s in St Helens every Wednesday night and make smalltalk with her idiotic husband just to get my weekly fix. Come to think of it, I might move to Sky.’

‘How much refund will I get for the loss of the Sky channels ?’

‘Refund, Sir ? Err, well I’m not sure about that, Sir. You see, we really didn’t expect it to come to this. However you can always watch ‘Little Britain’ and ‘Spooks’ on the newly launched Video On Demand. The marketing lady thinks you might like to call it VOD.’

‘Sod VOD. I’m sorry but that’s simply not good enough. Please may I speak to Richard Branston ?’

‘Sorry - do you mean Richard Branson ?’

‘Yeah. That’s him. The chap in a white wedding dress with a silly beard.’

‘I’m sorry. That won’t be possible. Maybe I can help ?’

‘Can you get a message to Richard ?’

‘Err, well, I’ll try, Sir.’

‘Has he got Sky One in his palatial Oxford mansion ?’

‘Of course. I went there on my induction week. He’s also got Sky Plus and a dodgy descrambler from eBay hooked up to receive satellite channels to follow the South American Ballooning Championships.’

‘Can you ask him whether I would be breaching the Terms and Conditions by using a BitTorrent client to download the remaining episodes of ‘Lost’ ?’

‘Certainly, Sir. Anything else I can help you with regarding your drastically reduced Virgin Media services tonight ? Perhaps you would like to downgrade your Internet connection to 56K dialup (free modem) for the same money. Or maybe I can tempt with with increased telephone charges to mobile numbers ?’

‘Yeah, well actually there is something. Please can I speak to Uma ?’

‘Sorry, Sir. Do you have a surname with that ?’

‘Thurman. Uma Thurman.’