Idle Eye 50 : The End of the Way It’s Always Been

So, I’m tucked away inside a Warren House deep in the grounds of Kimbolton Castle with only my stalwart Roberts radio to remind me of the world outside, when the hapless Theresa May comes on. “Oh, splendid!” I thought. “What can she balls up today?” Did anyone catch this? Anyone? Turns out she reckons people what sell guns’n’stuff are as guilty as them what use them and therefore should expect tougher sentences such as, er, life imprisonment (or longer).  And as I enjoyed a glass of something vaguely palatable from St Neots’ Waitrose and watched a Turner sky disappear over rolling Cambridgeshire hills, a distant bell rang inside my head. Not the tinnitus (although this is becoming almost as irritating as Theresa), and not the call to prayer that was to come the following morning. No, it was the slow recall of a bi-annual event at London ExCel – currently being pushed online. Yes, readers, it’s the 2013 DSEI Arms Fair at which you can buy, perfectly legally, as many weapons of mass-destruction as your budget will allow, giving you that must have edge over whatever foe happens to be irking you at present (as long as they ain’t one of our lot, in which case all purchases come in a brown paper bag).

Now, I’m no logistician, but does this mean Theresa will show up at Royal Victoria Dock in her lovely grey suit and kitten heels and bust the sorry arse of whichever camouflaged warlord she can catch up with? Before buggering back off to Berkshire for high tea? Help me out. And if she is setting a precedent that the salesman is also the criminal, examine carefully the following scenario and give me your thoughts in the comments section:

Police:  Mr Nibs, we is arresting you on suspicion of selling the sum total of seven pints of delicious Harveys ale to one Dan Dodgy, who went on from The Idle Hour down the road outside and smashed in every car window what happened to be parked there. Oh, and defecated onto the passenger seat of a Mazda outside the school. Mr Dodgy has attested that he normally only has a couple and the extra few tipped him over the edge, relinquishing him of any responsibility whatsoever and thereby landing all culpability with the scumbag landlord what sold him the goods in the first place. Anything you say and/or do may be taken down in evidence: It’s the law.

This being the case, I eagerly await the arrival of a Government-endorsed SWAT team at the St Neots’ Waitrose fine wines aisle, getting those brown-aproned peddlers of doom to spread ‘em against the rotary tills and confess. And the subsequent supoena at which I am forced to admit at gunpoint that I was their most significant customer over the month of October and thereby a significant threat to national security. At which point Theresa can legitimately deport me along with my old chum Abu Qatada.

Idle Eye 49 : The Day Before We Came

“Are you a parent who drinks too much?” blazed Dr Cecilia D’Felice in the Times this weekend, above a photograph of a slick young professional enjoying a perfectly legitimate reward for expelling her mewling sprogs onto a troubled planet. And not to be outdone by her alarmist strapline, she then proceeded to lambast these soft-target breeders with a checklist divided up into stages, neatly calculated to cause maximum collateral damage:

‘You have to be drunk to approach somebody socially with confidence’ – BAM!!!

‘You use alcohol as a reward’ – SOCK!!!

‘You spend a great deal of time drinking’ – THWACK!!!

‘You need more alcohol to achieve the same effect’ – KERSPLATT!!!

‘You can’t remember what you did’ – WHAM CR-R-A-A-CK PLUNK!!!

‘You feel physically unwell during or after drinking’ – KAPOW ZOWIE CLUNK BOFF!!!

“Oooh,” I thought, as I browsed the paper on my iPhone at 4am with one eye as the other was begging the brain to sort itself out after a traditional friday night hammering, “what’s going on here?” Now, not having children myself, I thought I’d be in with a chance of slipping through some kind of statistical net. You know, the one which has no political bearing whatsoever and thereby has no consequence whatsoever, leaving the barren forty-something on the outskirts of anything that even resembles concern. But oh no! Dr D’Felice had somehow managed to make me feel guilty on a Saturday morning well before the birds outside had begun to sing. And all before I had got vertical and had a word with the morning glory. God’s teeth! And to think felice means ‘happy’ in Italian.

I think that what bothers me the most about this deconstruction of what it takes to be a responsible modern parent is the omission of the driving forces that take people away from there in the first place. So, I’ve got a kid. Oh balls! Everything’s gone up in the supermarkets. Holy Moly! If I’m gonna come off my interest-only deal before I’m dust, maybe I’d better start paying the bastard off. And tits on toast! Don’t even start me on pensions or I’ll have off your particulars. All I need right now is a new-world glass of  acceptably sourced old-world ruin and the nippers can fend for themselves. Them’s the rules.

As I stumbled my way through the above, a text came through from Nibs inviting me (and I presume y’all) to his party at the Idle Hour on the 27th. There promises to be, and I quote, “loads of free booze and one hell of a party spirit”. Now, in the interests of responsible journalism, I am compelled to steer you towards a mere couple of glasses each, only to wag them in front of your designated driver before you head off to make babies at the Godly hour. And for this I make no charge and wish you all the luck in the world. As if…

Idle Eye 48 : The Crucible

A couple of things have been bothering me this week. Firstly, this Jimmy Savile business is beginning to grate: Yes, it’s a given that everything that has come to light is abhorrent. Yes, the BBC screwed up. Yes, the victims all deserve an opportunity to move on. And yes, even the benefit of hindsight into another time with a very different moral compass does little to assuage his misdemeanours. But the cynic in me does question the merits of a media witch-hunt against a dead man, purposefully manufactured to whip up powerful emotions in those less than able to handle them. Remember the paedophilia scandal of 2000? When Newport pediatrician Yvette Cloete had ‘paedo’ graffitied onto her front door by her own neighbours? And if the deceased really are a legitimate target, where do we draw the line? Do we destroy the gravestones of Kenneth Williams and Joe Orton, both now institutions much loved by the general public? How about Pier Pasolini? Or why not Caligula? Come on, readers, I’m sure you can dig up another long gone family favourite with a dodgy track record.

The other thing is how to segue the above into an attractive advertisement for the Idle Hour. Tall order, granted, but that’s the task in hand and by hook or by crook I’ll find a way: It’s what I do. Now, please bear with me as I freeform in italics:

The Idle Hour is one of West London’s best kept secrets. It sells lovely wine and beer, serves great food and has a wonderful suntrap garden, ideal for all those lazy Sunday afternoons with the family. In no way does it condone any suspect behaviour with young ‘uns. Bang out of order, all that. And anyway, it just does booze’n’grub. Properly, with a touch of class. And no fiddling. Ever. And that’s a promise!

Those of you who know me and/or Nibs will implicitly understand the above seemingly blasé approach needs to be taken with a very large pinch of salt. Partly to simmer down the tone and partly to avoid litigation. But, as there is an increasingly large percentage of you that don’t, I shall attempt to paraphrase every politician wheeled onto Radio 4 to spread the word of whichever wretched party they happen to represent:

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: The Idle Eye blog does have, and has always had the best interests of the Idle Hour public house at heart. And if, for whatever reason, the former has strayed from its initial brief, it would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.

So there you have it. A seemingly impossible remit brought about by the power of the written word. And, for any Sun readers who have managed to get this far without assistance, the address you’ll be looking for is as follows:

The Idle Eye Front Door,
No 10 Downing Street,
London SW1A 2AA

Thanks for your time xx

Idle Eye 47 : The Rag Trade-Off

Like most males of my age, I’m an uncomfortable clothes shopper. The very thought of leaving the warm nucleus of my flat for a brutal, strip-lit warehouse touting whichever vulgar garment happens to be fashionable right now is so appalling that I tend to hang onto the same tatty old shite attempting to cover my nakedness for one more glorious season rather than face the alternative. I’m not proud of it, far from it, but that’s the truth. And as every summer leaves what autumn finds, I have learned to recognise that 50/50 mix of pity and disgust buried deep beneath the permafrost of those I hold dearest. They try to disguise it, bless ‘em, but I know it’s there. And it hurts because I know they know I only have two sartorial settings: Dress to Impress, and Dress Down Weekday.

Take, for instance, my Bolongaro Trevor ‘God Save the King’ tee-shirt with its attendant heraldic symbols, furry-faced monarchs in period ellipse frames and mottled seriffed type. This fits neatly into the former category and gets outed whenever I need to dazzle ‘em. About twice a decade. Anyone who witnessed the annihilation of popular song performed by my brother and I at the Idle Hour last year may have spotted it, and my fervent prayer was that you’d be so impressed by the packaging, a closer inspection of the contents would have been unnecessary. And while we’re on the subject, could someone have a word with Nibs about that Union Jack jacket? We all know it’s a magnificent beast but there’s a fine line between Mo Farah and Jimmy Savile. As well he knows.

In the latter corner lies my John Lewis knee-length overcoat. This loyal lovely has been doing the rounds since the Boer War and was dyed black in 1926 in order to disguise the blood of fallen suffragettes and rotting stitches stolen from a roadside hospital in Ypres. If it were a tree it would be a Douglas Fir: Solid, stalwart, stoic. A bit like Jeremy Clarkson. The inside pockets, however, have frayed beyond repair (although this does have the advantage of easy access to my person for those essential ‘on the road’ adjustments).

Also worth mentioning are the unmentionables. Yes, it’s those grey Christmas 2003 boulder holders I never thought would last out the year, but like the Council Tax and Tesco Metro have managed to survive despite multilateral distain. Admittedly there’s not much to fall in love with here, but as the years have gone by they have formed an impressive crust on the inside elastic which has aided and abetted adhesion to the waistline. Sorry, ladies, he’s taken.

They say charity begins at home. And I have a bag marked the same which will never, ever see a shop marked the same. Because there’s always a couple more years left in there. At least a couple.