Idle Eye 184 : The Sea, The Sea

One of the nicer things about blogging is that you can snatch content out of the ether, sometimes even from the canon of others, in order to add value to your own efforts. This has the knock-on effect of making you appear well-read and approaching intelligent, the beauty of which is that you’re probably not going to be hauled over the coals for plagiarism. If, like me, you have about five hundred regular readers who can’t even be arsed to leave a comment, let alone set up a complex litigation process, you’re almost certainly in the clear. So, when I needed to come up with a header that hinted at an imminent move to the coast, I delved deep into the net and came up with the above.

Now, I’ll be straight with you: I’ve never read anything by Iris Murdoch, not one jot. But I liked the cut of her jib, and made a stab at what counts as research in this neck of the woods (family-sized wine box/Wikipedia/online Oxford English Dictionary/12.5g snout). There, as I was scrolling through endless, worthy literary appraisals of her oeuvre, I discovered that The Sea, The Sea concerns a middle-aged, male DFL (down from London), who is pompous, deluded, paranoid, and using a location shift to put into some kind of context and write about the lunacy of his own existence. To boot, there are a couple of ladies he needs to get his head around, and he’s not much cop at the cookery either.

I mean, really! Clearly, this Murdoch woman was a fantasist of the highest order, trapped inside and by the treacly brown caricatures of her own epoch. The very thought that such a wretch could make it through to the end of a day unscathed, not to mention be taken seriously enough to have his witterings read by anyone other than himself, is absolute nonsense, and both he and his creator should be judged as harshly as hindsight allows. Perhaps back in 1978, this kind of poppycock had its place, but not today, lady, not today. Besides, every man and his dog now has a signature dish, right?

I know what you’re thinking. What about this new lot, with their 140-character Twitters, the Instagramming of whatever grub they happen to be eating, and the showing of bottoms and worse on self-destructing media platforms? Well, let me tell you something: these people will not be troubling Random House any time too soon. They know their place, and we should applaud our youngsters for ‘letting off steam’ in plain view, freeing up the marketplace for those with, how shall we say, a little more gravitas.

Enough now, I’ve got a flat to paint and flog; these things don’t take care of themselves. And then I’ll be off. All this mediocrity is getting me down, and the sea air will do me good. Can’t wait…

Idle Eye 183 : The Curse of the Nipple

Yesterday, after completing a minor household task, I managed to create a monstrous black stain on the bedroom carpet. I am no stranger to incidents such as this: invariably, the fulfilment of duty spawns a plethora of resultant issues which, in themselves, take as long (if not longer) to address as the initial assignment. Some American bloke on YouTube made out that it would be a breeze to shift, so armed with a can of WD40 and a can-do attitude, I set about re-absorbing the thick treacle into an old pair of socks. To begin with, everything went swimmingly: the socks gobbled up the stuff, and I could just make out, mirage-like, faint traces of the biscuit-coloured original peeking through. But then I got bored and went off to make a sandwich.

When I returned, it was to a scene of unimaginable horror. Emboldened by my absence, the stain had swollen to approximately ten times its original size, with concentric dark rings of ever-increasing viscosity working their way towards its demonic nucleus. The ribbed nature of the Axminster, combined with the brutal raking light of summer, lent the whole terrible scene the illusion of depth, as if an Ordinance Survey map had been 3D-printed onto the floor by David Cronenberg. And then, as the sun subtly snaked across the sky, the nipple (sic) began to move. This was too much: crashing down the stairs and onto Facebook, I begged my virtual pals for assistance but was met with barely-concealed hilarity and erroneous advice. “You don’t understand,” I pleaded, “this is no laughing matter. I’m trying to sell the flat and there’s an enormous breathing nipple in the bedroom. Who’s going to want that?”

After being directed to a couple of (let’s be honest) wildly inappropriate websites, it dawned on me that I’d have to solve this one alone. That I would have to become that cute, swotty chick at the end of a teen slasher movie, single-handedly dispatching the killer after all her chums had been seen off (and then, sensibly, going for a lie-down in a boat on a lake). I made my way back up the stairs and opened the door. The nipple appeared to be dormant, pulsating gently in the afternoon haze. Things had clearly gone beyond a simple Shake n’Vac solution but I had to think of something. And quickly.

So I rang Foxtons. I dropped the bait of a well-presented Edwardian flat, pregnant with original features and within walking distance of the shops and amenities of our vibrant, artistic community. Next, I mentioned one particular feature unique to the property; indeed, perhaps to anywhere in the world. I could hear them frothing down the phone, drunk with the lure of imminent commission, and immediately set up a site visit. Then I found another can of WD40 and rolled up my sleeves: I had work to do.