Idle Eye 62 : The Big Tissue

Has anyone noticed that toilet roll tubes are shrinking? Anyone? I’ve been giving this one some thought of late (as a former owner of thirteen gerbils, my attention to such matters is somewhat more devout than you might otherwise think) and I cannot for the life of me imagine why. You reduce the circumference of the tube, ergo the volume of tissue necessary to fill the gap increases. And surely it is more cost effective to expand the cardboard by an insignificant fraction than to manufacture the extra sheets? To say nothing of all that extra perforating and, if you’re posh, quilting. We’ve all got used to the stealth techniques employed by supermarkets and the like with their swingeing reduction in product proportion, but this is blatantly a false economy & somebody’s head should roll.

And then there’s the matter of quality. Does anyone remember back in the day when you only needed a couple of sheets to wipe the slate clean? Because they were the thickness of a small sandwich or a baby’s mattress? Or how about Izal medicated, the robust choice of municipal buildings, schools and the more progressive public conveniences? So hardy was it, in fact, it could stop a Sherman tank in full flight if lined up correctly. Well without putting too fine a point on it, nowadays you could copy the entire works of Charles Dickens onto the paper necessary for just one go. And the end user (oh stop it!) lives in permanent fear of finger pop. Don’t think we haven’t noticed, Mr Andrex! And no amount of impregnated aloe vera is gonna make up for all that chafing.

But fear not, my friends. I put in yet another narratively convenient call to Nibs earlier and he assures me that the exceptional tissue provided by the Idle Hour has maintained its triple A status for another year. And, as one of the lucky few who has stood sheet to cheek in the traps, I can vouch for the same. These bountiful beauties are organic, responsibly sourced, line caught & hand stitched by Vestal Virgins on the foothills of the Appenines for your sanitary convenience. No horse DNA, no artificial sweetners, no CFCs, no nonsense. And a free drink at the bar if you can punch a hole through the middle. Pre-application, obviously.

Finally, a word to the ladies from Nibs himself. Apparently you lot are whipping through the stuff like it’s going out of fashion, and, being a gentleman of good character, he is loath to drop by and investigate. Vast industrial-strength tubes regularly vanish into thin air, and whilst he is aware that there are many bottoms to feed, demand is seriously outstripping supply. May I suggest that you ‘make room’ before you leave the house? We are living through a time of unprecedented austerity and it’s only fair that you do your bit. And us blokes promise to wipe up the oversplash when we get in. Right lads?

Idle Eye 61 : The Unreliable Narrator

It was a dirty trick what I did last week. You know, that old narrative chestnut of promising not to talk about giving up boozing and then talking about giving up boozing until the bitter end. It was a bit shabby and you deserve more. And that whole business of leading you to believe I was losing the plot, under the guise of someone who believes he isn’t, was another one. Mean, low-down chicanery. As was the novel introduction of meticulously distressed handwriting with its open invitation for you to pop my clogs. Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.

But it had you going for a bit, no? It certainly had our Nibs on my back like the proverbial monkey:

Nibs:  What the bloody hell are you playing at? You’re meant to be getting me customers, not boring everyone witless with your ridiculous flights of fancy. And I want them to drink more, not give it up!

Me:  They will, bro, they will. I’m using a standard literary technique: The Unreliable Narrator. Over the course of February they will come to doubt me, most probably pity me and then head over to the pub to distance themselves from my predicament. It’s all in hand. Don’t worry.

Nibs:  For ****’s sake! These are drinking people! They just want to come and have a glass or two at the end of the day! And they most certainly do not want to wade through a pile of smart-arsed mumbo jumbo before they get here.

Me:  It works for Giles Coren and you like him. And he’s off the sauce as well.

Nibs:  I don’t care! Coren can do whatever he likes ‘cos he’s writing for the Times. You’re writing for me. Now stop buggering about and get me more punters.

And so it went on. You see, what he has attempted to do here is break the cardinal rule of soft-sell marketing: Never underestimate the customer. By watering down my own copy I would effectively be calling you all stupid. Which would, by default, drive your good selves away to pastures new and that’s something I’m pretty sure Nibs would not want. And yet we do sympathise with the plight of the small businessman, don’t we? Advanced, possibly untested methods are high risk at the best of times and we are in the depths of recession. So, what to do?

Well, I’ve got a plan but I’m going to need your help. It may take a quantum leap of faith on your part but we’re all on the same side. And like so many great ideas it’s pretty simple: Just tell him that you totally get what’s going on here. That you like…maybe stronger…love being preached to every week by a borderline alcoholic whose every word is suspect and the lack of which could well tip you back into sobriety. Give it a try and see what happens. Go on: Trust me.

Idle Eye 60 : The Programme

OK. I promise I won’t bang on about the grog-free month because it makes insufferable reading for those who haven’t chosen this particular path. The self-righteous whingeing of anyone who waves a sabre at their darkest demons is almost certain to leave them out in the cold from normal, decent people such as yourselves, and that’s as it should be. Why should you be subject to the dire documentation of denial, resentment, self-loathing and its ultimate salvation or worse, catastrophic failure that sucks the hapless victim into a vortex of misery and despair? It’s not like you haven’t had your own crosses to bear, is it? And look at you now, with your perfect lives and your perfect families, cruising through the years without a care in the world, enjoying every nuance as if they were delicious, home-cooked meals. Good on you. Fair play to you. You fought the good fight and now you’re reaping the rewards. Well done.

Anyway, it’s all going pretty nicely. Thanks for asking. It’s funny, you do hear these horror stories of people falling into a well of self-obsession and fury as they dry out, but I reckon you’re probably already a bit of a basket case to get that bad. To be honest, I really can’t see what all the fuss is about. I just get up, get on with my day and go to bed when it’s done. And if Nibs rings up and shouts at me for not making the posts more relevant to the Idle Hour, I just tend to laugh it off. It’s all part of the Programme. Highs and lows. Punishment/reward. So what’s the reward, I hear you asking? Well, it’s not what you think. I don’t do that stuff any more. Not this month, anyway. I don’t need to poison my body temple like you people. What you don’t realise is that every smug glug you throw down your necks after a long day knocks at least a week off at the other end. But you don’t care about that, do you? Of course you don’t.

Sorry, went a bit off-topic there. Where were we? Ah yes, the reward. Well, it turns out that by not drinking I’m not only becoming a better person, but I’m also saving quite a bit. And what better way is there to congratulate myself than to get a lovely gift? So I bought a new kettle from off of the internet. It’s practical, you see, because I can use it to make steaming hot drinks that don’t have any alcohol in them. And it looks good around the kitchen (I spent just that little bit extra) as well. I suppose you think that’s a bit boring, don’t you? Well, I knew you’d think that. How? Because it’s all part of the Programme. You think you’re so smart when actually you’re just totally predictable. It’s sad, really. Sad.

pleasekillme1

Idle Eye 59 : The Merrie Month of February

Oh no! An entire month of alcohol abstention is fresh out of the blocks and let me tell you, gentle reader, it is a far, far worse thing than you can possibly imagine. Makes a swift waterboarding at Guantanamo seem like kindergarten, and the relentlessly brutal assault of everyday reality, once successfully held at bay at evenings and weekends, is now free to scythe down its quarry at will. Why, in God’s name, do people do this to themselves? It is no accident that hops/barley/grapes/junipers etc…are widely available across the planet for our consumption, nor that we have honed the requisite skills over centuries to arrive at todays bountiful plateau of choice. To reject them is tantamount to sticking a finger up at creation, evolution and the education of the soul.

Anyway, never mind that now. I’ve only got 500 words and I’m not going to waste them on semi-literate Zen rhetoric. I do, however, need to get across the barren nature of my pursuit and get you lot back into the Idle Hour. It’s my job. And if anyone emerging from their own month of sobriety is under any doubt whatsoever, remember this:

The initial body response is, to be honest, not all that stringent. In fact, it’s a bit of a novelty. No more night sweats, morning tinkle now the hue & viscosity of elderflower cordial (not Castrol GTX), the twin throb of angry kidneys has backed off a bit and I can make it through an entire episode of Borgen without falling asleep and dribbling. However, that’s about as good as it gets. Suddenly I’m acutely aware of the banality of existence, the inanity of radio comedy, the dirty patches on the stairs I said I’d hoover in November, the fact that nothing works properly, that all the stuff I’ve hoarded my entire life has swollen to gargantuan, suffocating proportions and needs urgent attention (the last time this was an issue I moved house rather than deal with it.)

And then there’s evenings. These little bastards stretch off into the distance like the Yellow Brick Road and now that I’m clean, I feel compelled to fill them by doing something useful. But what? DIY would be utterly fatuous. Cookery? I don’t think so. Tidy my room? Ahem. I opted instead for cleaning New Year mud from my leather Stormtrooper boots in the bathroom sink and succeeded in blocking the U-tube and jamming shut that bullshit style-over-content hinged plug.

You see? Alcohol prevents us doing this kind of nonsense for a very good reason. Because it is UTTERLY POINTLESS, and our time would be far better spent earning the money to pay someone else to do it instead. In fact, the more we drink, the more we can help kick start our ailing economy on many, many levels. So please, do as I say and not as I do. You’ll thank me for it.