Idle Eye 40 : The Shady Side of Forty

Some of you may have noticed that I got a bit carried away of late, what with that Wimbledon, the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. It’s understandable, (I need to vent the ole spleen from time to time), but it’s not exactly what Nibs shells out for on a weekly basis. So, in the interests of fair play, I have decided to big up his little boozer in the style of another cultural phenomenon currently doing the rounds. Strap yourselves in, literature lovers, this week the Eye gets down and dirty with the unspeakable smut known in smart circles as ‘Pubby Porn’ (those of you of a weaker disposition may prefer to click away here):

Innocent Young Barmaid : Oooh, Mr Nibs! I’ve never worked in a pub before. And I’m so young and innocent, maybe you could show me how you pull that massive pump of yours so I can give all of your loyal customers the satisfaction they so rightly deserve.

Nibs : Yes, it is a magnificent beast, to be sure. And I am a masterful landlord, strong, handsome and yet curiously aloof. But just this once I shall assist you in your endeavours after which you’re on your own, love. Now, grasp the shaft with all those tiny, innocent fingers and pull down slowly until all that lovely frothy stuff comes out into the glass.

IYB : Oh my! As a young, innocent woman I can honestly say that your masterful teaching has unleashed my inner goddess. Never have I felt so vulnerable and yet so empowered. And still young and innocent.

Nibs : Hold up, I haven’t shown you how to unload the dishwasher yet.

IYB : Mr Nibs! No-one has ever taken me to such places. It’s making me go all funny down there.

Nibs : Ok, we’ll do the cellar next if you want. Now, we get most of our deliveries in through the rear. Is that something you’re familiar with?

IYB : Well, not exactly, but I’d be more than happy to learn. What with me being so young and innocent, like.

Nibs : Excellent. Most of the staff get the hang of it within a couple of days.

IYB : But I worry so, Mr Nibs! How does it all get inside?

Nibs : Don’t worry your pretty innocent head about that. It’s like the bloody Tardis in there, I should coco.

IYB : Now you mention it, it does all seem to fit in. Just perfectly.

Nibs : Oh, and have I told you about our magnificent burgers? Somehow we’ve managed to squeeze them into the nation’s top five?

IYB : Oh pleeeease! Tell me more! Every time you squeeze a burger a little piece of me melts inside.

Nibs : Think you’ll find that’s the cheese.

IYB : Oh, Mr Nibs, take me now! Hard, rough and up the M40!!!

Nibs : Yes, we need to do a run to Costco, you’re right. Is there anything else you’d like to slip in?

IYB : Sixty Kettle chips and a bag of night-lites?

Nibs : Thanks for coming in.

Idle Eye 39 : The Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*s™

Alright now, that’s enough. ENOUGH! The sinister orgy of branding masquerading as the Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*s™ has slapped me in the face one too many times and I have just hit my Michael Douglas in Falling Down moment. I tried to be good, I really did. Over the past few months I have learned to shore up my chakras when it came to vile mascots We**ock™ and Ma***ville™, to shrug off the utter chaos on the roads, to smile encouragingly at hapless joggers bouncing their way towards an early grave, even casting an inquisitive glance at the bizarre structures rising up around the Mall and St James’ Park which I pass every day. The risible logo no longer reminds me of Lisa Simpson giving head and I drew some not inconsiderable mirth from the G4S fiasco. All in all I have been coping pretty well. Thanks for asking.

However, (and here’s the rub), I draw a line at ‘restricted words’. Actually, screw it, I draw a line at the insane paranoia the big four ****ors™ have created, protecting their already saturated global coverage from small butchers shops in Dorset that presumed to arrange a string of sausages in the shape of the Ol**pi*c™ ri*gs™. And when it comes to the biggest of the lot, M*Dona**s™, you have to ask yourselves what exactly they so badly need protection from. It sure ain’t the public, because around every corner you turn, there invariably lurks a statistically obese brand fan squelching down on yet another B*g™ Ma*™ in flagrant denial of their forthcoming trip to the nearest NHS ticker unit. Perhaps, just perhaps, the brutal truth lies somewhere in the exclusion of competition:

If we just get rid of all the other players, maybe the gullible public will actually think our burgers are halfway decent. Because, God forbid, if they cottoned onto the fact that there are thousands of less corporate ways of enjoying wholesome food, (Mondays at the Idle Hour, for instance) they might, actually, stop buying ours. And we can’t have that.

The Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*cs™ will be ring-fenced alright, but not to keep out the suicide bombers, the ‘quiet loners’, the snipers, the deranged clerics or Black September. Not this time. Neither will it give much credence to the athletes who will have waited all their lives for those glorious few seconds of competition. Oh no. These gam*s™ are all about keeping the suits happy at the not inconsiderable expense of the general public. And no amount of monocular furry mascots can detract from that. Yes, it would be wonderful to have a level playing field where we could all choose what we ate and drank as we cheered on our respective nations. But dream on, my friends, dream on. And welcome to Britain, 2**2™…

Idle Eye 38 : The Treat You Can Eat Between Meals

I have an old school chum, Dicky Woollard, who used to be a crisp wunderkind. He was the man behind all those flavours that, once they hit your tongue, you would instinctively purr ‘Oooh! Sausage and Beans!’ to a select tasting committee responsible for sourcing and funding exciting new avenues in the potato chip arena. This he achieved by pioneering an extraordinarily cost-effective method of seasoning the naked crisp as it emerged from the frier, gasping and pathetically porous, by squirting it with a powerful concentrate that clung to its quarry like a Murdoch to News International. This did away with the necessity to enhance pre-dunk, which unfortunately nuked off many of those MSGs so vital to one’s cognitive responses, and thereby required quantity to Dicky’s quality. In short, he was the Thomas Edison of snacks and, to my mind, one of the unsung culinary heroes of our time.

There’s not much not to like about the humble crisp. For starters, there’s very little actual substance in a bag of ‘em, truly making it the treat you can eat between meals. Furthermore, never before in the history of food has simplicity been made so ruthlessly efficient. Within seconds you can be enjoying a full English breakfast, a Thai jungle curry or an exotic hint of the Orient, all of which have been made possible by a swollen tuber that spends the best part of its useful months underground. A bit like Rocky 2 without the violence or monosyllabic dialogue.

Publicans have long courted the allure of our coated cousins because a), they cost next to nothing and b), the salt count is so astronomically high that it is not physically possible not to order more drinks after a bag or two. Inexpensive business acumen, just ask Nibs. And whilst they face fierce competition from the likes of the nut and, new kid on the block, the savory popcorn, these babies have stood the test of time and have no intention whatsoever of being consigned to the dustbin of yesteryear. Find me a boozer that shuns the crisp and I will show you a liar.

Anyway, I think we’re missing a trick here, and by this I do not mean to tinker in any way with the Godlike precedent set by young Dicky back in the day. No siree. It’s just, well, it’s just the bloody names, innit? If we are living through a time in which a potato can become pretty much anything you like, why draw a halt at cheese and onion or BBQ beef? Dare to be different, people! Let’s have Despair flavour. Naïve Optimism flavour. Kierkegaard’n’Chive. Taxplan’n’Tuna. Or how about New Olympic flavour (as used by Chris Hoy) in an empty packet? See? Teen Spirit. Hospital Corners. John Prescott Scratchings. There are no boundaries other than the walls of your imagination. Now, do your bit: I look forward to further suggestions in the comments section…

Idle Eye 37 : The Climbdown

It takes a brave man to admit he is wrong in these litigious times, but tonight I must be that brave man. Ok, I was wrong about Murray. Despite last posts’ right royal slagging, the boy put in a performance worthy of my humiliation, and despite being Scotch and ginger and bad-tempered and obscenely young, I have to admit I warmed to our great pretender, particularly at the end there when he did that blubbing thing for the telly. No kidding, I was welling up myself, my eyes filling with national pride as my heart burst. True, I had consumed three Babychams (in original glass) which I had been saving for occasions such as this, but the emotions were bona fide. Yes, they were.

I do, however, have a couple of reservations. Of course I do: It’s what I get paid for. The first being that Boris Becker on commentary. We forgave him back in the day for being the kind of boy you would have enjoyed bullying at school if you enjoyed bullying boys at school because he was quite good at hitting the balls. However, if it were me talking about other boys hitting the balls out of the school environment and actually on live television at one of the most prestigious sporting events of the year, I may well have avoided the Arnie impersonations. Just a thought, Boris. When you are catching your breath following those mesmerising dropshots conjured up from nowhere at championship point, the last thing you need is the aural equivalent of HASTA LA VISTA BABY coming atcha through surround-sound speakers or YOU SON OF A BITCH at each contested line call. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my reportage marinaded in barley water. As I say, just a thought.

Secondly, and possibly more disturbingly, I need to express some concern here as to the mental health of my brother. I had been made aware that he was holding a Wimbledon Retro party at the Idle Hour on Sunday which involved dressing up, boozing and unremitting carousal. No change there then. I almost consigned this to the dustbin of history until I discovered that he compered this apparently splendid evening DRESSED AS VENUS WILLIAMS. Not Andy Williams, which I would have considered the more appropriate approach despite Andy’s continued failure to dent the world of tennis. Not Andy, not Robbie, not Tennessee (although this I would have paid good money to see) and not RM. No, my brother, my own flesh and blood, in his infinite wisdom decided to host his big event attempting to mimic a strapping Amazonian American lady who could eat him whole before a game and has probably never heard of the Black and White Minstrel Show. What could possibly go wrong? Astonishingly nothing did, and the pub did record business for a Wimbledon final. We’ve come a long way, baby.

That’s it. You’ve had your pound of flesh, now move on please: Nothing more to read here…