Idle Eye 188 : The Magic Roundabout

Like any half-decent Englishman, I have learned, over the years, to accept and obey the traffic laws and by-laws dictated to us by criminals and lunatics in suits. I’ve been burned too many times now, and any fight I may once have had in the flower of my youth has deliquesced into a tragic slurry of sufferance. In my head, I remain a Knight Templar of fierce resistance; in reality, I’m that bloke who’s married to Hyacinth Bucket.

Anyway, for reasons completely beyond me, I was forced to drive into Swindon a few weeks ago. As I turned off the M4, I tried to remind myself of any saving graces it had to offer: I knew the band XTC came from there, and I found myself whistling Senses Working Overtime over the top of Radio 4 as the landscape morphed from remote pastoral beauty into a brushed aluminium and steel megalopolis. ‘No biggie’, I thought, ‘I can handle this.’ But then, as I mentally glossed over the brutal truth that was beginning to unfurl, everything ground to a halt. The satnav, which I had recently upgraded from a bossy American cartoon character into a satisfyingly British Jeeves, suggested ever so politely that I did a u-turn. Then ever so slightly less so. And then it really kicked off:

Satnav:  Get the fuck outta here, dickweed!

Me:  Listen, I’ve just paid an extra £40 for some manners and a posh voice. What’s going on?

Satnav:  This is Swindon, man! It’s the wild fucking West! See that bitch coming up? See that? That’s the Magic fucking Roundabout, dude! No one gets out alive.

Me:  Perfectly straightforward. If we simply obey the Highway Code and follow the signs, I’m sure everything will turn out just fine.

Satnav:  Damn! I should kick your scrawny ass right down that motorway. TURN THIS MOTHERFUCKER AROUND NOW!!! Ain’t telling you again.

Me:  I can see you’re upset. But it’s only a roundabout. And it’s not exactly Basingstoke, is it?

Satnav:  Basingstoke’s got nothing on this. Do your research.

Me:  I have. According to the Basingstoke Gazette, Brighton Hill and Thornycroft are the two most miserable roundabouts in Great Britain; particularly in rush hour.

Satnav:  Yeah? YEAH??? Well, chew on this one – In 2009, the Swindon Magic Roundabout was voted fourth scariest junction in the UK by Britannia Rescue. And said it’s one of the most complex rotaries in the world. So fuck you.

Me:  Where were the other three?

Satnav:  It didn’t say.

Me:  My money’s on Basingstoke.

Satnav:  We don’t have time for this. You gonna turn around or no?

Me:  It’s illegal to do a u-turn on the approach to a junction. You should know that.

Satnav:  You brown-nosed, obsequious piece of shit. On your own head be it.

Me:  Do you like XTC?

Satnav:  They’re okay. Prefer their earlier stuff.

Me:  Shall we put some on?

Satnav:  As you wish, sir.

Broken Biscuits No.4.


Next up is Komedia. Now, everyone on the circuit knows that this is an important one, so if any of you Brighton (or environs) folk would care to part with a few quids and get stuck in, we’ll make it more than worth your while. I mean, look! We’ve got Jules Oliver for starters, who’s won more comedy awards than I’ve had hot dinners and is surreally obsessed with Concorde. The plane, not the venue. Natch. Also, James Cook is doing a turn: his astonishing career has spanned NEMO, IAMX, The Mighty Boosh and a string of spectacular solo albums. Thoughtful, political and above all, effortlessly catchy – not to be missed. And yay! Kate Tym‘s going to hightail it over from St Leonards to join us once again. Her Tampon Tax Poem at BB2 Hastings went through the roof on the IE Vimeo account; she is one seriously funny lady.

I was told recently that after seeing Dan Laidler‘s wonderful mini-series Windy’s Farm at BB3, a colleague woke up in the middle of the night in deep distress at poor Windy’s plight. So we’ll be showing them all over again. The cruelty of art, the cruelty of art.

Finally, I am delighted to announce that my old pal Nick Hollywood will be doing a DJ set with his 15 year old son Joss. The Brighton-based godfather of electro-swing himself alongside the next generation of home-grown talent. This is worth more than the price of admission alone, so please do the right thing. The link below is for online bookings, but you can also contact Komedia direct at the number on the flyer. Looking forward to seeing you there x

Broken Biscuits No.3.


Three under the belt now and it’s going from strength to strength. BB3 was fantastic! Gary From Leeds stepped up to the plate at the very last minute and was bloody hilarious; Marijne and Paul from Salad got back together for the first time in 18 years and belted out a set that had us all doubting it; Franck Alba and Nina Walsh’s beautifully subtle electronica was a joy to be immersed in, and Idle Eye was…pretty good, actually. And yes, we got hold of a projector somehow, so Dan Laidler’s Windy’s Farm had its second outing in public and went down a storm. If you don’t believe me, have a look at some of the edited highlights below. Thanks so much to everyone who came, to everyone who performed or helped out, and to all those who made a cash money donation. These are the things that help keep the arts going at a time when we need them the most. See you in Brighton x

IE Audio 27 : The Final Curtain

A certain curtain.

Idle Eye 187 : The Spanish Inquisition

In a desperate attempt to be liked (or at least accepted) by my peers, I recently acquired a 170g container of shop-bought guacamole. I had a vague notion that, on one of the very rare occasions somebody came to visit, it would be noted I have flamboyant, cosmopolitan taste and this, in turn, would open up channels of conversation/admiration hitherto denied me. Initially, the fluorescent green gloop didn’t appear all that promising, but after a little tweaking and decanting, I was able to approximate one of those food photographs you used to see in cookbooks of the 1970s, or off of the cardboard sleeve of a Vesta quick meal. So far, so good.

Anyway, I popped the concoction into the fridge, cling-wrapped to buggery, and went through my little black book. Who would be the lucky recipient, I wondered? From the dwindling gene pool of those still speaking to me, I decided that my mother was probably the safest bet. After all, she hadn’t seen me in a while and if I seriously cocked up, she’d break it to me gently like mothers do. Having said that, I knew she’d be suspicious if I casually asked her over for nibbles, as I still carry an official warning from the WHO. So I dressed it up a bit: I pretended I’d painted the kitchen in a new eco-friendly Farrow & Ball estate emulsion – Badger’s Backside, or something like that she could relate to – and waited for her to take the bait. It didn’t take long:

Mother:  What have you done?

Me:  Nothing.

Mother:  Bollocks!

Me:  It’s not bollocks. I’ve just painted the kitchen and I thought you’d like to see it.

Mother:  I don’t believe you.

Me:  Seriously, I have. Why don’t you swing by and I’ll get us something to eat?

Mother:  Are you on drugs?

Me:  Of course not!

Mother:  So what’s the catch?

Me:  There’s no catch! It’s just an excuse for you to come over.

Mother:  Okay. But this something for us to eat you mentioned. Will you be making it yourself?

Me:  Don’t be ridiculous! When have I ever done that?

Mother:  I want you to promise me.

Me:  I promise. It’ll be from the shops. Like you like.

Mother:  No, not how I like! I’m just not comfortable with you getting involved at the business end. Let’s go for a spaghetti or something. I’ll pay.

Me:  All right, I’ll come clean: I bought some guacamole the other day and I was just trying to impress someone. But I don’t have anyone any more so I chose you. I’m sorry, I feel a bit cheap now.

Mother:  Did you paint the kitchen?

Me:  No.

Mother:  Did you dick about with the guacamole?

Me:  A bit.

Mother:  Look, you know I love you…but not that much. I’m going to call the police. Do you understand?

Me: I do.

Mother:  Bye for now.

Me:  Thanks, Ma.

Broken Biscuits No.3.

Broken Biscuits CP flyer_July_HiRes2-1

Broken Biscuits CP flyer_July_HiRes2-2

Just to let you know that BB returns to Antenna Studios in Crystal Palace on Sat 16th July, and once again the line-up is superb. The unfathomably prolific Franck Alba will be knocking out a few tunes like only he can; Joe Duggan, possibly the Palace’s finest wordsmith, will make you laugh, cry and think, most often all at once; Marijne and Paul (engine room of ’90s indie darlings Salad) are reunited at long last, so expect effortless, lyrical pop for those with something upstairs; and yes, DRS and I will pretend we’re not pissed as we try to hold it all together. And if we can get a projector, we’ll be continuing the newly-found tradition of screening Dan Laidler‘s superb animated mini-series Windy’s Farm. If we can’t, we’ll sing a little ditty or something. Like you like.

Tomorrow, we head out West for the Wonder Fields Festival just outside Exeter. We’ll be doing a few posts on Sunday, probably around midday. In a tent. And we’re meant to dress up as Aztecs or something but that ain’t gonna happen. One of the very rare occasions that common sense and human dignity shall prevail. No one needs to see that x

Broken Biscuits No.2.


In what was one of the more bizarre weekends of our time, we took Broken Biscuits to the coast. Although the sea air was heavy with anger, sadness and confusion, for three hours we tried to provide an antidote. And provide it we did! Hastings Observer Building is a bloody marvellous hangout: creativity oozes from its every pore, so it was perfect for our little variety show. My undying thanks go to David Quantick, Kate Tym and the Ingrid Pitt Orchestra for putting it out there, to Dan Laidler for the first screening of Windy’s Farm, and to John Knowles for allowing it all to happen. And, obviously, to everyone to came. Because without you etc….