I saw it with my own eyes. These two eyes, right here. Had I not seen it, and had I simply heard of it from even a reputable source, I would have struggled to believe it. But no. I was lucky enough to be able to bear witness to this afternoon's Sky News broadcast.
There aren't many times in your life when the pairing of Boris Johnson and Kelly Brook, gabbling away while having their hair blown around on a rooftop somewhere, is actually the intellectual zenith of your afternoon. But that's how it happened. From there, the scene changed to a Holiday Inn in the west country, and an exterior shot of the hotel where the Pakistan cricket team were staying.
I should add at this point that I understand all of this was available in HD. Thank goodness. Can you imagine if you weren't able to see people milling around outside a hotel in HD? I would consider that to be a much diminished viewing experience, almost to the point where I might think it wasn't even worth watching. I mean, people loading luggage into a coach, meh; but wait a minute! People loading luggage into a coach IN HD - oho! Oh yes! That's the fucking good stuff, right there matey.
There were further treats in store for we keen Sky News viewers, as the camera lingered on the coach. We saw the coach reverse. We saw it turn. We saw it drive off, along a road - much like many other vehicles on many other roads, except we could zoom into the windows to see barely detectable splodges of person behind all that reflective glass. Could we detect guilt? Could we see the shame, in HD? Not quite. But we could see the coach move off, past a tree, to a blur of leaves.
It didn't stop there. Did you think it was going to stop there? Fool. No, of course it fucking well didn't. It was then that the Skycopter - where are my manners? the HD SKYCOPTER - took to the air to film the team coach trundling along the motorway, towards Somerset's cricket ground. This was BREAKING NEWS, we were told, in white text in capital letters on a red background. Coach drives along road!
History doesn't record whether the coach stopped at Taunton Deane services for a bag of Ginsters pasties and a couple of Mars Milks, but luckily we caught up with the coach soon afterwards - arriving at the cricket ground! And people, many of whom were cricketers, wearing Pakistan cricket uniforms, getting out of the fucking coach and walking towards the dressing room. At this point I was hoping that the Sky HD dressingroom cam would show us the players getting changed, in HD, but no - apparently that was 'private', or some bothersome such thing.
It's OJ Simpson we have to blame for all this, of course. Ever since that bloody chase live on TV, the helicopter has been a vital tool in the 24-hour news channel's bag of tricks. Look, easily-impressed humanoids! Here's a big shiny whirry thing that makes you think you're flying! Wheeeee! Who cares what the story is, we can look at it from the air! Wow!
The HD Skycopter - which, I presume, is decked out to look like a bloody great big vulture, or at least should be - circled menacingly overhead. Look! There was someone's back garden. There was the cricket pitch! Was that a lawnmower, or a roller?! Hard to tell, as the Skycopter swooped over, waiting for the players to emerge onto the playing area.
Finally, it buzzed off, and we were left with a camera peering through the gates, looking at some blokes doing stretching exercises. To be fair to the Sky HD reporter reporting live from outside the gates, in HD, he looked pretty embarrassed to be there.
I'm not trying to belittle the story itself, just the mindlessly baroque coverage of it from Sky. Of course, if it's all true, the News of the World sting has huge implications for sport in general, and cricket in particular - though it's worth bearing in mind that nothing's been proven yet, and nothing may have happened without a newspaper getting involved - and that one bit of cheating, if it is cheating, doesn't mean that other bits of cheating necessarily have happened. It's worth reading this article, I think, to get a bit of a breather before everyone condemns the Pakistan players, or the team, or cricket, or sport.
But even if it is all true, the coverage of this sort of thing is face-deskingly silly. Putting a bloody helicopter in the sky to look at a coach travelling along a road? Do me a lemon. If the BBC had done it, Sky's friends in the press would have been wetting their pants about the waste of money. Because it's Sky, we just kind of assume somehow that you might as well put a big top tent over Kay Burley and the rest of them, for all it matters. Surely there are more important things to be filming than cricketers getting on a fucking bus?*
I'm not saying the story isn't important, because it is; but does it really deserve this kind of bizarre treatment? I know television people assume we're a bunch of chimps who'll go thudding away at the remote control if we're not giving a slew of exciting moving images so we can look at the pretty colours and wait for something fun to happen; but maybe sometimes the story is more important than getting pictures of buses going along roads, or people walking around, or a man on a lawnmower in Somerset.
At least, I'd like to hope it is.
* I'm aware of course that there was a massive real news story involving the Pakistan cricket team bus, or more importantly the Sri Lanka team coach, some time ago. I'm pretty sure it didn't get as enormous coverage (in HD) as this bit of nonsense did, though the mind plays tricks.