Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

The quiet…

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s a combination of factors. Book deadline clenching like a fist (though nearly done now, thank God, just final tweaks), my mum moving house so various boxing up etc to be done… and just to improve matters enormously, my internet’s stopped working. The people who work in Virgin Media’s Mumbai call centre are my new best friends. We chat daily. They think someone might be able to drop round and fix it in a few days’ time. Maybe a week. They aren’t sure if he’ll be able to fix it. Who knows! How we laugh.

  It’s bizarre to think that the internet didn’t exist a few years ago. How did I get so quickly to a place where it breaks down and my entire working life stops? Not to mention my social life, which was consisting, due to book edit, of online poker and the odd email. Now I’m marooned. When Virgin say they can’t send someone to fix it immediately, it feels like dialling 999 because your arm’s been chopped off, and the ambulance people saying “We might get there between 12 and 4 on Thursday.”

  In the short term, I am filled with rage and hatred towards Virgin for not having enough technicians, not offering a better and faster service, and putting those nice people in India in the position where someone slightly less try-hard than me might start shouting at them because, through no fault of their own, there’s a slight language barrier, an irritating time delay, they aren’t allowed to give out direct contact numbers for the technical support people who might be coming round, and they can’t help with questions like “Are there independent technicians in London that I can hire separately from Virgin?” because they are thousands and thousands of miles away and they don’t know where to buy a pint of milk near me, never mind get your modem fixed. I’m sure they’re all very nice. But people have got a bit internet-hooked, now, and get a bit hot and scared and frustrated at the idea of being without it for days and weeks at a time.

  Part of me thinks it might even be dangerous at a time when (as I’ve discovered after that Observer column a couple of weeks ago) the BNP actually seem to have more than three people who take them seriously, for Virgin to create a scenario where Indian people are OBLIGED to give bad news on a crackly line to people who just want to speak to an engineer within 50 miles. It’s really hard not to find yourself thinking that those jobs could have been given out locally and, although the news would still have been bad and the technical back-up still slow and shit, at least there wouldn’t be the time delay which makes everything so much trickier to communicate. It’s not because they’re Asian, it’s because they’re far away. But I bet that, at some subliminal level, it doesn’t help the culture for the principle of a giant call centre and a series of mechanical button-pressing options (which everyone hates anyway) to be combined with the idea of work going abroad when people are short of money here. It’s like wishing there were more white traffic wardens, which I always do. It seems so harsh for people who suffer prejudice anyway to be stuck with the jobs that always make people SO INCREDIBLY ANGRY.

  But maybe in the long term the lack of internet will be good for me; with the principle of immediate news/information/communication delivery completely removed, perhaps I shall learn patience and how to live a more peaceful and old-fashioned life…..



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Omeed at 4:29 pm on June 2nd, 2009

hiya vicky, when are you heading off to the WSOP? are you bothered much that you missed the big 40K tourny. Good luck when you do go


RomanticRecluse at 6:19 pm on June 2nd, 2009

Victoria, I know how you feel.  A while ago my computer had a terminal crash.  I was planning to buy a new one but the old one failed first.  For months I only got a web fix at the library in town and even then I did little more than look for technical info.  As soon as I could I ordered a new computer but when it arrived I couldn’t get online.  Eventually I got back online but my months offline went so slowly because the web is my main source of entertainment.

If you were my neighbour and you told me about your computer problem I’d enable my wireless network and let you share my non-cable connection until you got it sorted (which could be the 21st century version of lending cups of sugar).  Is there anyone in your area who could do this for you?

Alex Scott at 8:04 pm on June 2nd, 2009

There’s a South Park episode called ‘Over Logging’, which is a Grapes of Wrath parody about how our lives fall apart when the internet goes down. It’s worth a look - when you get your internet back, that is.

Victoria Coren at 10:49 pm on June 2nd, 2009

Hi Omeed. I’m going to the WSOP in a couple of weeks, probably not for very long - might actually miss the main event this year, sadly. TBA… But I don’t mind missing the $40k event, to be honest I think that’s a PREPOSTEROUS amount to pay for a poker tournament and I wouldn’t have played it even if I’d been there. I’d feel silly playing in a MTT for that kind of buy-in.

PS. internet back on and to be fair I did get a very helpful call from a nice technician. But, ominously, they say there is “still a problem” and it might go off again tomorrow…

charlie at 7:03 pm on June 3rd, 2009

Hey Vicky

I thought this pleasant comment [on CiF] made a pleasant change:

My question: why do you have to be so bloody rude to the author? A harmless enough little piece, an easy read and quite interesting, I found it.

Mend your manners. If you don’t like something, you don’t need to broadcast it. It’s no big deal if Victoria Coren is not to your taste. Personally I find her journalism highly experienced and well-constructed, but that’s just me.

And so say all of us

malc at 12:51 pm on June 4th, 2009

Hi Vicky
I would love to improve your social life!
Just say the word !!!
Glad to hear that your book agony is coming to a end.


Jo Carney at 11:20 pm on June 4th, 2009

“If you don’t like something, you don’t need to broadcast it”

If you don’t like some journalism, why can’t you broadcast it? Are we turning back the deference-clock so that print journalists can be as rude about people as they like, but nobody is allowed to be rude back?

Nothing appeals less than people who can give it but can’t take it.

Sam at 1:08 pm on June 5th, 2009

Good lord the responses to this blog have become very bizarre recently.

It’s obviously because of the BNP article. Inspired by a friend, I sent a letter to Nick Griffin a few months back telling him I had ethnically cleansed my chess club by getting rid of all the black pieces. Since then I keep getting BNP literature through the post, which is annoying because it seems they were too stupid to realise I was taking the piss out of them. Hence I’m waiting for them to propose this in their manifesto (would probably be one of their better policies though).

charlie at 2:03 pm on June 5th, 2009

message for Jo Carney:-
not sure who you’re getting at here but if it’s me that’s ok… d’ya want to be my friend? I actually enjoy the company of up their own arse, aggressive, feeble minded morons ...but if you don’t drink sour piss-  that’s ok just keep talking it

Victoria Coren at 4:35 pm on June 5th, 2009

Charlie, I think it’s me he’s getting at… I suspect I’m the one who apparently “can give it but can’t take it”. The thing is, quite apart from whether or not I can take it, I don’t really give it; I’m basically nice about everyone, though I may have implied I’m not an enormous fan of the BNP.
  Am told by the moderator that Jo Carney has posted several other comments that were too unpleasant to put up. This one looks fairly harmless, just a bit grumpy, but I don’t want this forum full of grimness - it’s not the free speech page of a newspaper, it’s a little website for people who like poker or dictionaries or tough quiz questions or think my column is funny - and the mod knows I don’t want to see anything nasty on my own site, so the horrider things won’t find their way here.

Jo Carney at 9:24 pm on June 5th, 2009

It’s simply untrue that I have posted anything here that’s ‘horrid’ or unpleasant. No swear words, no lewdness, no threats and nothing that was defamatory and untrue. I did quote a French proverb and that got ‘moderated’.  Domage!

I’ve got VC and her supporters to pretty well admit that only praise is acceptable here. Enjoy! Goodbye!

And I win.  Even if this gets ‘moderated’ I still win.

LC at 11:45 pm on June 5th, 2009

Well, not necessarily just praise. I think the mod just wants to keep the unpleasantness to a minimum.

Sam at 1:39 pm on June 6th, 2009

Haha, brilliant.

Jo, add me on facebook please. My name is Sam Gallagher and I have a picture of Chairman Mao as my profile picture so I should be easy to find.

Roger at 2:41 pm on June 6th, 2009

I cant sleep, or eat. whilst waiting for your name being confirmed as a replacement to Caroline Flint. A new photo shoot of you in a red dress should soon dismiss the idea that women in the cabinet are only ‘window dressing’  and to be taken seriously….

RomanticRecluse at 4:39 pm on June 6th, 2009

Is Caroline Flint that Big Brother contestant who threw a tantrum when she found out that the Head of the House hadn’t given her a place in the luxury bedroom and stormed into the Diary Room to slag him off and ask “Is it ‘cos I iz a woman?” or am I confusing her with someone else?

I’m trying to remember who my MP is.

Andrew at 11:03 pm on June 6th, 2009

Jason Reichert at 11:33 pm on July 10th, 2009

Showing you some love from the other side of the pond…from an American no less.

It’s pretty damn funny how few people over here know who you are despite your poker accomplishments. Speaking of which, not sure how much online you play but if my Internet went down like yours I’d probably be having a worse fit about it than you did. As for writing, I’m a guy who went to college, got my journalism degree, and pretty much junked it. If people over here had half the civility you do in your dealings and writings, America would probably be a wee bit better off presswise.

Only two kinds of people over here when it comes to you: Peeps like me who think you’re fantastic, and people who have no clue who you are. Keep doing what you do….you do it all very well!

Victoria Coren at 10:23 am on July 11th, 2009

Thanks Jason, what a lovely message. Funnily enough, I just came home from America this morning… makes me wish I was back there!

J at 2:46 pm on October 26th, 2009

73ray99 at 9:20 pm on February 15th, 2010

Sources are Virgin, the BNP and the Observer. Three subjects I’m not entirely comfortable putting together outside their so called “business” context. Ofcourse, I’m only joking.

By the way, I like your site. Please have a look at mine at . You looklike you’ve been busy doing all this yourself. I’m experiementing with Wordpress, just as it’s cheaper to experiment with.

Victoria Coren

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