The Independent, 24 July 2012

Do you mind Alan Sugar knowing what you watch on TV? Because if you sign up to his new catch-up TV service, YouView, that’s pretty much what you’re agreeing to: the broadcasters and their commercial partners will know what you’re watching and when you’re watching it. Whether he’ll cut you off if you turn off halfway through The Apprentice has yet to be confirmed.

Why anyone would want this service, I’m not sure, since BBC’s iPlayer, 4oD and the ITV player cover this ground between them quite successfully. I guess the market is technophobes: people who want catch-up telly, but don’t want to watch it on their computers, and don’t want to link the computer to the TV.

The idea seems to be that you buy the box, for a hefty £300, but then you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription. Understandably, given that you could get all those channels for free through a games console that would cost rather less, and would let you watch DVDs or Blu-rays too. But it’s not the price which I find off-putting, it’s the data gathering.

Sure, they’ll render the data anonymous. But it will still be shared with other companies who can then target their advertising to your postcode: imagine the horror of discovering you live in an area which is mainly watching Andrew Lloyd Webber pick a West End Jesus, when you had seen yourself as more of the Mad Men demographic. It’s surely only a matter of moments before estate agents start marketing properties as Sorkin-friendly (none of that reality muck round here, thanks for asking).

I don’t know why I find the idea of corporations tracking our viewing-habits so distasteful: as a reviewer, virtually everything I read or see or watch is recorded for public consumption somewhere. But at least I’m getting paid for that. And, crucially, it doesn’t reveal my personal tastes: it just reveals what I’m covering for work. It’s the equivalent of doing someone else’s shopping with a loyalty card.

Not that I have loyalty cards, obviously, since I don’t want Boots or Tesco to know about my shopping, any more than I want Lord Sugar to be surprised I gave up on Line of Duty after two episodes. Losing out on reward points seems a small price to pay to me: besides, I don’t need a reward for going to the shops, because I am an adult and can cope without getting prizes for completing simple tasks.

I can’t get past the belief that the financial rewards for the consumer – targeted discount vouchers – are considerably smaller than the financial rewards for the provider, who know far more about us than they should. So, with regret, YouView, you’re fired.

Last night, Boris Johnson read an ode, composed specially in English and Ancient Greek, at a gala for the International Olympic Committee, which I like to think of as his small, rebellious recompense for the lane closures and traffic jams.

While the Greek is undoubtedly better than the awful English doggerel (London has a river, as the Greek says, rather than a shore. But then, shore rhymes with more, whereas river is not such a giver), I do wonder why they bothered.

I’ve never really understood the fondness for putting English into Greek or Latin, other than as an academic exercise for the translator which, given that Dr Armand D’Angour is a Classics Fellow at Oxford and can compose Pindaric alcaics at will, he clearly doesn’t need. There was even a brief, ugly trend for putting AA Milne and JK Rowling into Greek and Latin, as if that weren’t the epitome of twee.

I like Ancient Greek as much as the next girl, but if we’re going to the trouble of reading something that looks like Pindar, why wouldn’t we just read Pindar?