Idle Eye 16 : The Curse of Celebrity

I despair, I really do. We are living in an era where all you have to do to be the zeitgeist is get your bum out or unleash your rotten larynx onto a public so anaesthetised by mediocrity that to hit a note accurately is the equivalent of a presidential motorcade. Without the sniper, obviously. Although, my stars, we certainly could do with one. Does anyone remember a time when to be a celebrity meant that you actually had to have something of value to offer? When footballers earned not much more than Bob the Builder and spin was something you did in tennis not politics? And when did it become acceptable to get your house done up by TV producers with one eye on the ratings and the other on gullibility? The list goes on and on as our resistance to cack shrinks like the polar ice caps.

Anyway, I’m on the phone to Nibs because I saw that Nick off The Apprentice at my work last week, and he had that Keira Knightley off the films at Idle Hour Barnes. Not last week, but recently. In the last 18 months, anyway. And she said it was her favourite pub in London. And I was going to ask that Nick off The Apprentice to check out the Idle Hour but at the last minute I got scared and I went red and he saw me and I got really embarrassed. So I pretended not to see him and then he walked past me and then I did this really loud cough and then he turned around and I was like, so, uh! And then I went into WH Smiths and got some Malteasers. And Heat magazine.

Perhaps we’re all missing a trick here. I recall a time when Kylie, whose work to that date had been considered risible, was implausibly embraced by the fashionable music press. NME, Sounds, Melody Maker, all of which had been championing fiercely independent bands, suddenly turned on a sixpence and tried to make us all believe that this (admittedly) attractive media puppet had significant cultural value that we were not yet aware of. I fervently believe that this was the fulcrum point of our demise.

Anyway, I’m on the phone to Nibs because I heard that track off the last Take That album was on an advert. And the advert was, like, really brilliant. And then I got to thinking it would be really brilliant if the Idle Hour had, like, a song, sort of like the Take That one, not exactly like it but kind of the same, and it was on an advert for the pub, but with Take That doing the music. Or even Kylie. Cos that would be really brilliant.

Art, as in nature, has ever-decreasing circles of influence. One day these circles will become so small they no longer have the space to turn. Then, and only then, my friends, will we understand. Last orders at the bar, folks. And I’ll have a P please, Nick…

Idle Eye 15 : The Scotch

Burns Night. What’s that all about, eh? Come on you Scotch, I want an explanation. And it had better be a bloody good one. Seems to me you get in a bunch of transvestites partial to a bit of sheep’s entrails boiled to buggery in it’s own stomach lining, get them half cut on single malt and let them loose on poetry. What could possibly go wrong? Now, any one of the above would normally be cause for alarm but, as Aristotle once succinctly remarked, ‘the whole is profoundly more disturbing than the sum of its parts’. And he was wise..

So let’s take a step back and put it all into perspective. Can you imagine the flack if we foisted a similar indignity on our deep-fried Mars Bar munching chums?

The Scotch : Ah dinnae ken this Pam Ayres, laddies.

The Brits : Ahem… Well, she’s a completely irrelevant poet who we drink to until we are sick, every year, then we read her poems which no-one understands or likes while we eat a traditional British dish that no-one likes. Then we dance about a bit and chat to the food in an accent that no-one understands. Then we go home.

The Scotch : Are yuz tekking tha puss?

The Brits : Not at all. It’s really good fun. You just have to get into the spirit of

SMACK!

…it.

*bleeds*

Anyway, turns out that Nibs is throwing a gourmet version of this, frankly, astounding evening at Idle Hour Barnes this coming Wednesday and, if for no other reason, I’d be grateful if you’d all go along and report back here. For instance, I’d like to know what exactly is the posh version of a haggis. Is it free-range? Left to amble freely across the heather-strewn highlands and islands until such time that Alex Salmond needs a bit of free PR and the axe comes down in the back of a soundproofed tartan Range Rover? Does it sport a diamante sporran perhaps? Or, specced up with free education, does it take the moral high ground over you the humble diner, sweating miserably over your forthcoming university fees? All these and more are questions I would like answered by this time next week so please, do your bit.

Finally, I’d like to round up this weeks’ waffle with a plea (yes, another one, don’t get out your pram). Like the Good Lord himself, this blog needs followers, and I’ve heard tell that it has been a bit tricky of late to subscribe. There’s a reason for this : I failed to add the button that lets you do exactly that. Until now. It’s on the Posts page, RHS, up top. So if you’ve arrived here via Arsebook etc.. please don’t bail out. Click. Subscribe. And trust me, I will make your life a sorrier place than it is already. On a weekly basis. And you can’t say fairer than that xx

Idle Eye 14 : The Bagging Area

Let’s talk cheese. Why the hell not? It’s a staple. Good, honest fare made by farmers and Blur and consumed in quantity by the French, West Country types and yours truly. Soft on the palate and hard on arteries, this formidable foodstuff has done the rounds for centuries and is showing no signs of letting up any time soon. So it came as no small surprise to learn that sleb chef Anthony Worrall Thompson has sullied the reputation of our dairy doyen by popping into Tesco in Henley-on-Thames and nicking it. For Heaven’s sake man, get a grip! Now, clearly Tony feels the same about the Empire of Evil as I do but really, cheese and discounted coleslaw? My heart actually bleeds for the guy so I thought I’d use my Bro-given platform to offer him a little assistance for the future:

  • First rule of shoplifting: Always shoot above your status. There’s very little point in doing time for sandwich fillings, no matter how much quality bubbly you wash them down with.
  • Second rule of shoplifting: Never admit culpability. Ever. Even if they find you with a boot full of hooky lager and an empty petrol tank, you hold your head up high and come on all Penelope Keith. It’s the British way. None of this ‘Oooh sorry, I’m a klepto, I’ll make amends’ crap, it’s balls out, chest in or bust. Either that or think very hard about the products you have stolen and seek culinary advice. From a celebrity chef, perhaps?

Speaking of cheeses, Nibs brought over a selection from the Idle Hour last week. You know the sort of thing, a NASA-funded one that removes the roof of your mouth, another so creamy it should be ‘R’ rated, some blue, some borrowed etc.. And, it must be said, they were outstanding. All of them. In case you’re wondering, yes, the Alex James one made an appearance, woo hoo! It’s called ‘Blue Monday’ for all you Eighties throwbacks out there, it’s made in Kingham, Oxfordshire and apparently it’s eye-wateringly expensive. Of course it is: The man drank a million quids worth of champagne in three years, he’s got to claw it back somehow.

Hang about, I’ve just come up with a solution. No win, no fee, and it works like this: Tony, you load up the Bentley with the three crates of champers you actually paid for and head over to Alex’s in Kingham (it’s not far from your manor, I checked on Google Maps). In exchange for these, Alex will donate as much Blue Monday as he can squeeze into the boot and/or passenger footwells because he laaavs abitavit! (BTW first check whether he’ll bung in a bit of cheap slaw on the side). Then, when you’ve sorted your respective addictions, head on over to the Idle Hour for a conciliatory slap-up where Nibs will show you both how it’s done proper.

Honestly, I blame the parents.

Idle Eye 13 : The Resolutions

I’d like to start off 2012 with an apology and then we’ll get down to business. It seems that one or two of you were deeply affronted by the insinuation made on the Cast & Crew page that Nibs’ and my own dear mother is somehow affiliated with the Nazi party. On reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this may not be the case (despite some damning evidence to the contrary I am legally bound not to disclose) and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused. So much so that I spent the week after Christmas tracking down the only surviving member of the Waffen-SS, one Herr Josef Ümlaut, to make the apology in person. I am, and have always been, a gentleman.

So where were we? Ah yes, 2012. Well, we all enjoyed the fireworks (thanks, Boris) and we’ll all be working just that little bit harder to pay them off, right? But never mind that, it’s the Olympics, innit! THE OLYMPICS!!! Sponsored by health and efficiency magnates Coke and MacDonalds and mascotted by cuddly cyclopses Wenlock and Mandeville. Brilliant! I don’t know about you but I am going to be glued to my set for weeks, swilling official fizzy pop and burgers until I am fit enough to hound down one of those monocular LOCOG lackeys and lance it with a javelin. There, I said it. Now, who else can I offend this week? C’mon Seb, have a pop.

I also promised Nibs that I would make this blog more Idle Hour-centric in one of my less rational, claret-sodden moments of weakness. Well, it was New Year and I was welled up with the mucus of human kindness. So we discussed characters we could slowly introduce that, in time, you will all become familiar with, based on your favourite pubs’ staff, locals and such. It was a drawn-out process but we got there in the end. So, without any further ado, I would like to introduce you all to Timmy:

You:  Hello Timmy!

Timmy:  Meow.

You:  TimmyTimmyTimmyTimmy!

Timmy:  Meow.

Obviously, over time, Timmy’s inherent qualities will manifest themselves on the page and her (sic) antics will become increasingly unlikely and hilarious, but first I have to get to know the little gal and this far in it’s all she’s given me. However, I think you can already tell she’s got the X-factor and I’ll be exploiting this ruthlessly as you might imagine.

Lastly, but by no means leastly, I’d like to thank you all for reading this nonsense over the past few months. Perhaps if you stick with it, you will notice a maturity of style and keen wit develop as the weeks go on, and perhaps, in an ideal world, you will meet Giles Coren in a fancy restaurant he is being paid to eat in and beg him to review Nibs’ tiny but perfectly formed establishment. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Oh, and Happy New Year.