Idle Eye 71 : The Hollow Man

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

He knew his onions, that TS Eliot. When I was a nipper, I had no thought at all of the concept of impending death, for it was a strange, unknown place populated by ailing adults moaning about their pensions and that. Besides, I was pretty convinced that when my number came up, I would go out gloriously like one of the Spartan 300, taking on whichever government happened to be in power with nothing but my trusty iPhone and a tatty pair of Edwin jeans. And they would lay me in the ground, still young and handsome, and remember me fondly as such.

But the fly of reality invariably contaminates the ointment of illusion. In the early hours of the morning on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 my father died. Peacefully, and in no apparent pain, he shuffled off this mortal coil at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital after a long series of debilitating illnesses. Unheroic and without doubt a little afraid, he departed in a manner familiar to most, for in death there is no hierarchy. I was with Nibs at the Idle Hour when we heard, at which point his four children sped through the night from different corners of the country to be there. On arrival, we all knew we had only a few hours of family time until the media got word and privacy would become luxury, so each of us said a quiet goodbye and waited for the inevitable.

And sure enough the inevitable came, but not in the shape we were expecting. I think it would be fair to say that our father was not exactly astute when it came to all things fiscal, and although his paternal stance could be tough, his underbelly was soft and prone to flattery, which came in droves from all the usual suspects. In fact, the media could not have been more respectful, for which the family will be eternally grateful: It was from those much closer to home that we had good cause to worry about. As I write this, steps are being taken to rectify the situation but I must remain tight-lipped for legal reasons, until such time as the truth can come out. All I can say is that our faith in human nature has taken a severe battering and watch this space: If we’re right, there will be much to report here at a later date.

There is a protocol between Nibs and myself. Something along the lines of me splurting this stuff out, him giving it the yea or nay, and the resulting post depending on the outcome. Tonight, I pray he will give me the benefit of the doubt. For what should have been a moment of reflection has morphed into something significantly more unpalatable. If only he had gone with a whimper. If only…

Idle Eye 70 : The 70s

Good Lord! Have a look at the mast there. Turns out we’ve managed to get through seventy (SEVEN OH) versions of this literary piffle together. And it got me to thinking, as it does when you’re running out of ideas, that just maybe it would be a bit of fun to do a quick post about…wait for it…the 1970s. Obviously I will have to tie this concept in with the pub, but between you & me I think I can swing it: I’ll just say something about the price of a pint back then (probably about 50p), then have a good old moan about inflation, the Tories and the grand old summer of 76, when you could fry an egg on the pavement and Terry Scott (off Terry and June) pushed me into the swimming pool with his face covered in meringue and scared the living shit out of me for the rest of my years. It’s a long shot, but I think Nibs will run with it ‘cos he’s good like that.

It’s funny. I was having an ale with me ‘ole mate Donald (off Julian Cope) just now, asking him which peeps he remembered most from that time. And both of us came up with pretty much all of the Yewtree candidates. Admittedly we’re both diehard musos, and our reference points were probably the DJ’s that allowed us a path to the songs that would change our lives forever (currently residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure). But even as a soft as shite, lily-livered Southern pansy, I still recall the blackouts when Nibs & I helped our mom dig about in the pantry for the Prices candle multipack as our stepfather crawled the walls upstairs, hurling abuse and worse at the Three Day Week whilst simultaneously sorting the eight track cartridges for his three hour journey in the Jensen the following morning: Walker Brothers, followed by Shirley Bassey, followed by Cleo Laine. And, if we were lucky, we’d get a pound to spend in his absence, half of which usually went on a chart-topper of choice and the other on premium smack, straight off the boats. Innocent times, innocent times…

But no other consumable can define the zeitgeist like a chocolate bar. Mars, Galaxy, Milky Way were just entry-level stellar signposts to the hard stuff. From here we got the Texan bar (sure was a mighty chew), and for misogynist hardcore chocoholics there was always the Yorkie, marketed at the Surrey stockbroker craving a bit of rough via the long-haul trucker. And let us not forget the aftershaves: Hi Karate, Old Spice, Blue Stratos, Bay Rhum, all of which I had purchased long before the fluff came, and the illusion that a socially backward pre-teen actually had a chance with a pneumatic bikini-clad babe had been shattered for good. But never mind that, I still had the lovely Farrah. Always Farrah. Isn’t that right, Charlie?

Idle Eye 69 : The Hole Truth

I love a chilli, me. By this, I do not mean your entry level, piss-weak hot sauce nonsense that supposedly compliments your meal. Let me make this clear: My meal does not need complimenting. If you could only see it from where you’re reading now you’d understand why. What my meal actually needs is some full-tilt Chernobyl fallout if it wants to be taken seriously in this neck of the woods. Proper, blow your doors off action. And, to be frank, if it fails to deliver on this front, it’s gonna end up in the green bin. I’m sorry, I’ve tried to be all sensitive and that when I get hand-peeled aubergine and cauliflower baked in eco-friendly chain oil with a hint of lime, but hinting is utterly pointless if you want to be considered a player on the main stage: Thatcher/Ferguson/Bowie/Matthews/Laker. Need I say more?

With this in mind, I opted to sample the Idle Hour curry offerings last night. The £10 multi-deal sounded pretty good, but after a couple of Harveys I wanted my cage to be seriously rattled and my guts begging for mercy. I was not disappointed, but this was largely down to my Auntie Valerie lobbing her Scotch Bonnet at me after wiping it clean of Trinidadian goat remnants. Now, don’t get out of your collective prams: I’m not saying my meal didn’t deliver. It certainly did, but as a vegetarian I wasn’t able to go Trinidadian for that extra Scoville mile. I settled for the Thai, probably more than adequate for you lightweights, but lacking the endorphin rush I have come to consider as standard. Somewhere deep within I know this is a bit warped, but you can’t fight the facts: I am what God made me and I am beautiful, no matter what you say.

Now, for those of you not up to speed yet, Nibs is no stranger to the hole strewth any more than I am. He was my sole witness at a swirly-carpet job in Horsham back in the ’80’s, when the entire restaurant staff watched us consume a lamb phall through the kitchen porthole. It was he that introduced me to Dave’s Insanity Sauce that actually had excruciating on its sliding scale of endurance. And it was he that suggested last night that I may not be able to handle it any more. That, perhaps, I should consider winding it all down a tad:

Take it easy. Dude, you’ve eaten the hottest. Maybe it’s time for you to hand over the baton. Think about your future. Maybe move outta town, raise some kids. This kinda shit is for the rookies, Bro. You the Daddy, you got nothing to prove…

He’s right, of course: I need to wind my neck in. But there’s always another youngster out there and I must do my bit. It hurts though. God, it hurts.