Idle Eye 36 : The Certainty of Chance

I know what’s going on. I think I’ve figured it out now. But before I let you in on it, I need to get you up to speed. It’s not going to be a plain sail, so strap yourselves in and let the ole grey matter do the rest. Oh, and feel free to bail out any time you like: I would if I were you.

Ok, let’s start by examining the shape of the world and how we all got to where we are now. Nice easy one to kick off with. Now, according to the laws of chaos, the state of being is seismically affected by and sensitive to its inaugural conditions. In essence, this means that the most miniscule of deviations from an initial source can and does result in monumental disparity at the other end. This becomes increasingly dramatic over a longer passage of time, suggesting that it is almost impossible for a single entity to reproduce itself exactly at any point on the arc of our complex evolution. The chance ratio is mind-boggling, akin to attempting to compute the speed of time or the distances between planets.

There are, however, two notable exceptions to the above. They fly in the face of science, mock the concept of religious zeal and defy all laws of logic. I am, of course, referring to England’s dogged refusal to win at the football or the tennis. EVERY BLOODY TIME! It is utterly exhausting in its sheer inevitability, the outcome of which has no bearing whatsoever on the relative strength of the opposition. We could be playing against eleven veteran garden gnomes, all gaffer-taped together and drenched in baby oil and still suffer humiliating defeat. Perhaps Tim, or Andy, or whoever the next hapless ball-basher we adopt happens to be, invigorated by an adoring mass on the mound and the prospect of washing powder sponsorship, will tease us all the way to the quarter-finals, where he will splay himself over the court in a orgy of grunting, farting and swearing. And lose, quickly, in the grand tradition of his esteemed forebears.

And if all of this isn’t enough, the managers/trainers/players get endlessly wheeled out to dissect every pitiful performance on Sky Sports and the like, thereby justifying their monstrous fees and keeping us glued to the lantern in the fervent hope that ‘we’ shall learn from our mistakes. Which can never happen, right? Because, as we learned earlier, it is impossible. That one flap of the butterfly’s wing could alter history, forever. And we can’t have that. The quiet comfort we have embraced as a nation hangs on the certainty that, come Hell or high water, come rain or shine, we will always be bollocks at football and tennis. Or, as the ad-folk would put it, ‘reassuringly disappointing’.

So then, one down, one to go. Any guesses?

Idle Eye 35 : The Language Lab

I have a Spanish chum who, bizarrely, is using this ‘ere blog to teach herself the idiosyncrasies of English, both written and spoken. Yes, I know, I know. But in a few short weeks she will take an exam, after which she will be expected to be able to brush up her Shakespeare whilst talking down and dirty at her local hostelry. A tall order if ever I heard one. So, in the interests of pan-European conviviality, I thought it might be a bit of fun to deconstruct last weeks’ post, pile of steaming turd that it was, using the vagaries of our mother tongue as we go and thereby completing two tasks for the price of one. Soraya, this one’s for you:

Firstly & foremost, the brief I have to fulfill every week is this: Write approximately 500 words that engage the reader using whatever skills I have to hand. Keep it light, preferably funny, preferably topical, but no matter what, shoehorn The Idle Hour into the piece at some point. Inevitably this happens, but, to be honest, there’s only a certain amount you can say every seven days without getting, well, a bit samey. Consequently I am forced to rely on my admittedly magnificent sense of the absurd. Let’s look at last week:

It’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Every writer/columnist/talking head in every paper/blog/satire vehicle has already said what I was already thinking so I had to come up with an alternative, one which fitted my suffocating outline for which I am receiving remuneration. So I settled for Michael Ryan, the bloke who broke into HRH’s bedroom in the ’80’s, a cheap but quick fix in the face of the actual insanity going on around me in real time. Now, all I had to do was tie that in with Nib’s slick operation round Barnes way and Bob’s your uncle. Except…

Well, look at it. It’s a bag of spanners, no? For starters, my handle on the Queens’ English is at best contrived, and at worst, feeble. Weak jokes based on the received knowledge that she says ‘one’ every five minutes, has no grasp of the entertainment put on in her honour, and a rather unpalatable presumption that she conforms to a class stereotype. And let’s take a closer look at how I managed that contractual obligation:

After a series of ‘Carry On’ capers, Her Maj makes an implausible quantum leap with the assumption that Nibs is there behind the curtain. Why? Utter, utter crap, for which I apologise. To you, to HM, to Nibs, to the Idle Hour and all who work within an establishment that has strived tirelessly to provide a service to which I have not done adequate justice. And lastly to Soraya. You must feel discombobulated. But please don’t think me floccinaucinihilipilificatious, for the last thing I want is for you to develop hippopotomonstrosequipeddaliophobia, that being the nadir of all lingual dexterity. And do let us know how you get on…

Idle Eye 34 : The Rough Diamond

So I broke into the Palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said ‘Eh, I know you and you cannot sing’
I said ‘That’s nothing
You should hear me play piano’

The Smiths, 1986


Her Maj:   One is ready for bed. Are we all locked in?

Security:  We certainly are, Ma’am. Will there be anything else?

Her Maj:   Neo, not today. Has that ghastly racket stopped yet?

Security:  Not for a while, I’m afraid. Some of them are playing from the roof, apparently.

Her Maj:   What a frightful bore. Don’t they have homes to go to?

Security:  Most of them do, Ma’am, but not as good as yours.

Her Maj :  No, of course not. Run along then, quickly now.

Security:  G’night, Ma’am.

Her Maj:   Yes, yes! (shuts door, slips into Liberty-print nightie and turns on radio)

‘…and what a glittering spectacle of an evening it has been. A firmament of stars, raising their voices in unison to celebrate the Queen’s 60 years of unwavering devotion to her nation…’

Her Maj:  Balls! Wretched little man. Hasn’t got a clue.

‘…as the Palace is transformed into an everyday street with a magnificent light show, and Madness perform ‘Our House’ from the rooftops. Incredible!’

Her Maj:  And what, pray, is the point of that? If one wanted to live in a street, one would bloody well have bought one.

(switches off radio. there is a cough from behind the curtain)

Is that you, Philip? I’m afraid the singers are still on, dear, you’ll have to go back to the Edward VII. Tell them your pee’s red again.

(another cough)

Who’s there? Come on out, damn you!


Nuy look here! One is getting a little fed up with this nonsense. Are you one of those oiks from the roof? If so, you can get your Cor Blimey trousers on and scram. There’s nothing for you here. Nothing, one tells you.


It’s not you, is it, Michael? I’m afraid there’s no wine left after the last time and we sent your shoes back in 1984. And all that grubbing about in the papers, really! I thought we had an agreement?


Are you from the Idle Hour? Well, are you? Now listen, the jubilee burgers were perfectly adequate and we settled the bill in full. We’d be grateful if you would consider seating us away from the traps next time and perhaps we just might tip more substantially. Is that what this is about? Come on, Mr Nibs, show yourself, man!

(moves closer to the curtain and throws it back to reveal….)

Her Maj:   Elton!!!

Sir Elton:  It’s Sir Elton, Ma’am. Remember?

Her Maj:   Wawrt are you doing here?

Sir Elton:   I’m just teaching that Morrissey a lesson. Think he’ll find not only can I sing but also tickle them ivories a treat. And where’s he for your big day then?

Her Maj:   Isn’t he on the roof?

Sir Elton:  That’s Madness, Ma’am.

Her Maj:   Not arf!

(drum roll)