Idle Eye 93 : The Bloo Loo

Some of you may be familiar with the ignominy of dealing with the occasional nocturnal plumbing malfunction, by which I most certainly am not referring to the incessant failings of the male anatomy in its twilight years. No, last night offered me the luxury of delving deep into the cistern of my own personal lavatory to block off the overflow, thereby preventing the subsequent tsunami of waste too disturbing to contemplate in the small hours (or at any other time for that matter). Despite having the incorrect tools to hand, I managed to wedge a family-sized Toilet Duck bottle in there somehow and fiddled about with an entry-level spanner until I got bored and went to bed. No need for a tradesman’s call-out, I’m all over this one. Thank you very much.

However, this morning presented me with a couple of extra problems not traditionally associated with the more experienced plumber. For starters, my arms were indelibly stained with the remnants of a Bloo Max Loo tablet, purchased on the promise that it would give me a cascade of fresh blue water for up to two months, but failing to alert the client of its potential Smartwater association should the have-a-go hero get involved at the business end. Vigorous scrubbing at the sink only made matters worse, as semi-dissolved globs of the stuff flew up into my face and onto my person, leaving me resembling a low-rent wannabe Smurf. Oh, and I managed to smash the lav lid into three violent-looking shards due to incorrect posture in the ire of despair.

At this point, your less plucky DIYer would probably have thrown in the towel. Understandably so. But I was undeterred: A quick spruce up in the shower and a brisk march over to Plumbase was all I needed to get my spunk back. The opaque black bag I took with me contained a rather unattractive red valve spare which could well have been straight out of the Ann Summers catalogue, but I was confident it held all the clues needed to secure a healthy tank by midday. Wrong:

Me:  Good morning! I wonder if you could help me? Do you have a washer for this cistern plunger?

Plumbase:  What’s a cistern plunger, then?

Me:  Er…It’s this. It just goes into the…er…down part. You know, inside the top. And it’s leaking. I’m sure it’s perfectly simple.

Plumbase:  Is it one of ours?

Me:  I’m sorry?

Plumbase:  One of ours. Y’know, Royal Doulton, Twyford, Ideal and the like.

Me:  You mean, British?

Plumbase: Don’t stock the competition.

Me: I see. I don’t think it has a label.

Plumbase: Can’t help you then, mate. By the way, you’ve got blue all ov…

Me:  Yes, I know.

Smarting from the latent xenophobia of the high street, I returned home to do battle in the blue room. For I would say to the house, as I said to those who served in Plumbase, that I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. And Bloo Max…

Idle Eye 92 : The Blue Pill

Regular readers of the filth I throw up every week will almost certainly have my little ruses down by now. Bung my father into the tags and up go the hits, regular as clockwork. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, and you can rest assured I shall be milking this remarkable stroke of luck until it dries up. Thanks for your understanding.

This being the case, let’s trawl back over the last seven days. I went to Wales with my youngest sibling Emma, if for no better reason than to muster some undeserved interest from your good selves, but actually to sort some shit out. Yes, we administered the estate in a manner appropriate to those thrust unwittingly into a position of responsibility. And yes, we said and did stuff that sounded good and proper to those not in the know. But the truth of the matter is that we, like so many others in a similar spot, winged it. Never more so than when, after an exhausting day of admin and delegation, we discovered a sealed bag from the hospital on the kitchen table which contained a well-worn wallet begging for attention. Yes, like in the Grudge. I looked at Emma. Emma looked at me. Open it, she seemed to go, although she probably actually said it and I pretended she didn’t for dramatic effect. So I opened it.

It contained a plethora of post-it notes and business cards, too disturbing to go into here (I shall be scarred for life, remember where you read it first). But amongst these was a small, quadrilateral blue pill which requires no further explanation, especially not to you lot. Needless to say, it was effectively useless to my sister and so, squaring up to my role as responsible eldest, I agreed to take it home for research purposes. It had been a long day and I wanted nothing more than a quick shower and an early night, so without a second thought I necked the confounded thing, washing it down with 75cls of a 2009 New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Noir, and waited for the dawn to rise. Dad may have been many things but a realist he was not, and this was to be my legacy.

I awoke in a state of shock. My bedclothes lay all around (and above) me, and as I peered inside the tent I had inadvertently made, I realised that my father had not entirely gone. That there was a message he was sending me from the beyond to take with me through the years I have left. That the blue pill I had nonchalantly swallowed was perhaps a bridge across the void, the Michelangelo touch that traverses this world and the next. And how he would have been proud of me, raising the game by writing all the bollocks I do, the very thing he loosely encouraged without ever really knowing where it would end up. But it ends up here. Dad, I hope you’re listening…

 

Idle Eye 91 : (Deadlier Than) The Mail

I threw a massive hissy fit on Wednesday. Not indoors, as you might imagine, hurling abuse at the microwave or railing at the escalating shortcomings of this bag of bones I laughingly refer to as a body. No, not this time. This week it was aimed smack at the nose of the nation’s favourite Tory chip wrapper via the armchair critic’s soapbox of choice, the Facebook. Sorry, fAcebook. Because nothing affects change better than having a good old bleat on social media, does it? And this was to be my very own Arab Spring. My personal Pussy Riot. And after a few well-chosen words of spleen, my virtual army of loyalists would rise up, incensed and vying for blood, hacking away at the Sidebar of Shame and the jaded leveson of journalists that created it until all that remained were the smouldering carcasses of innuendo and hypocrisy, laid bare for all to mock, like the aftermath around a medieval gibbet.

Strong stuff. Well, I thought it was rather good. But you’re probably wondering what on Earth has unleashed this cauldron of bile, right? To be honest, it was pretty lame: They dragged up the sworn total of my late father’s estate from the Public Records Office (to the exact pound), posted it as a headline in the Showbiz section next to a nice picture of him smiling and wearing a rustic hat, and hinted that the kids were in for a few quid. Ordinarily, I would have gone fair game: live by the press, die by the press, but now that the firm are fighting off evil SOB’s we didn’t know existed until this happened and the sum total is modest by anyone’s standards, the lines are drawn. Terribly sorry to disappoint any trash trawlers out there, but I’ve had enough. Catch any of us falling out of a cab outside the Ivy with our knickers gasping for attention and you’ve got a point, but when you’re struggling to stay afloat in CamBlighty and its flagship rag is suggesting that you are one of the chosen few, then guess what? It’s time to lay down the cards on the table.

I used to think the Mail was pretty innocuous. Just tittle-tattle for the chattering classes that would disappear like the morning mist. And I found it amusing to wear the ironic tee-shirt that claimed it hated me because it set me apart from the idiots. But it is so much more than that. The soft-sell approach it adopts to seep into the national consciousness and wear it down into submission is more insidious than heroin or sugar. And a lot less palatable. So, my friends, when the time comes for my magnificent windfall to appear, I do hope you will join me in raising a glass to our splintered society, made possible by the magnetic powers of a free press and a government that allows this to happen. Chin-chin x

Idle Eye 90 : The Milk of Human Kindness

So then, milk. When everything around you is going tits up, what better way to block out the maelstrom than to bang on about cow juice for a few paragraphs, maybe even whilst squeezing the udders of allusion along the way. Personally I can’t stand the stuff, which is probably why my body has morphed into Orville without Keith Harris up it, but I know there are those that can so I shall tread carefully.

Earlier today, Mr Pearce came to sweep our chimney. I booked him in weeks ago, so desperate was I to avoid the queue of disgruntled SSE customers, fighting back in the only way they know how (at this point I should insert the hashtag middleclassproblems but I dislike Twitter even more than I do milk, so I won’t). Anyway, about fifteen minutes before he turned up, I realised there was no milk in the fridge. Because there never is. Because it’s shit. Which presented me with a dilemma: Do I go off to the shops and get some, running the risk of missing Mr Pearce and upsetting him and his old-skool ways, or do I fly in the face of all odds and pray that he doesn’t take the statutory 50/50 mix of hot beverage/milk that is the constant of all tradesmen? Tough one, right? But being the kindly old soul that I am, I opted to ensure his cuppa would be drowning in white mucus. Which was the right decision.

If you’re not sure what I’m on about here, try this: Next time you’re getting those chunky shelves built over the telly, or getting the interweb mended or installing those to die for cast iron radiators, offer him up a cup of black coffee over the natural break. At first, you will be greeted with an ecstasy of coughing from lactose-corrupted lungs. Then the white eyes, writhing in his face, vile and bitter as the cud. And any vain hope you cherished of patronising smalltalk will be violently dashed, like smelted pig iron on a blacksmith’s anvil, leaving you helpless, afraid and pitifully vulnerable.

In short, it’s better to have a pint indoors for emergencies. UHT if you have to, but make sure there’s something suitable in or suffer the consequences. A splash of the white stuff is the trade equivalent of popping a brace of speckled hens into a lap dancer’s G-String. It’s an emollient, particularly over the troubled waters of class. And for 58 pence (nota bene, Mr Cameron), you will secure peace of mind and an unruffled path to the kind of smug never more succinctly satirised than by Patrick Nice of the Fast Show.

‘But what of Mr Pearce’, I hear you ask? Well, after I had established the status quo, we discussed his family history, the upturn in trade for Victorian fire grates and touched lightly on politics. After which I gingerly asked if he would care for another cup:

‘Naaah, Gawd bless yer, squire, I gotta run’, he went. Which was nice…