Idle Eye 113 : The Refusenik (A Slight Return)

The Persians deliberately weave a flaw into the corner of the astonishingly beautiful rugs they create because they believe that only Allah is truly perfect, and it would be a bit of a slap in the face if they try to emulate him/her through their Earthly offerings. Readers, I am that rug: I got it wrong about Glastonbury (as I did with the Olympics and the once Scotch, then Brit, now re-Scotched Andy Murray). As a weathervane for the zeitgeist I can get seriously off-kilter sometimes and hands up, I’ve done it again. Not that I’m admitting it to those who dragged me there, kicking and screaming blue bloody murder to the permanent detriment of their weekend – Good Lord, no! Some things must remain between you and I, and I beg you to keep schtum on this one.

Despite the mud and the mucus, the filth and the fury, the long-drops and the long marches home, I reluctantly acquiesce that it was all reasonably acceptable. Being little more than a soldier ant in a ruthlessly efficient outdoor entertainment machine was, to be fair, somewhat daunting initially. And last time I frequented the place it was a squalid haunt of low-lives, drug dealers and hippies trying to locate my chakras. Particularly after bedtime, which it then seemed churlish to adhere to. However Glastonbury, like all things, has evolved.

Yes, it is vast and yes, it is seemingly commercial. But there are no Audi stalls here, attempting to flog you a luxury vehicle in the most inappropriate of places. No Costa, no McDonalds or Coke, miserably shoehorning their bullshit product in with anything popular they can access in order to maximise reach. For the most part (and I grant you, there are a few exceptions), the on-site businesses are small and endearingly homespun. You do not resent spending a couple of extra quid to keep these guys going. And this in itself would be enough. Perhaps a thumbs-up from this rusting ancient, best suited to keeping an eye on his portfolio in the pink paper, is not the best festival accolade out there. But it doesn’t matter, really it doesn’t.

If you fancy seeing out your ticket price in a hessian shack listening to ’70’s prog rock powered by punters on bicycles, then good luck to you: It’s there for the taking. Failing that, head off to Shangri-La when the main stages shut down and gurn the night away on substances for that authentic Hieronymus Bosch experience. Again, it’s your choice. The trick is knowing which buttons to push and which ones to let go of, and no-one really minds if you screw it up. It’s all part of the deal. Despite myself, being in a field with thousands of people yelling “ED…IS…DEAD!” at the Pixies felt curiously liberating. But if you think for a minute I’m going to let on now that I’m home, dream on…

Idle Eye 37 : The Climbdown

It takes a brave man to admit he is wrong in these litigious times, but tonight I must be that brave man. Ok, I was wrong about Murray. Despite last posts’ right royal slagging, the boy put in a performance worthy of my humiliation, and despite being Scotch and ginger and bad-tempered and obscenely young, I have to admit I warmed to our great pretender, particularly at the end there when he did that blubbing thing for the telly. No kidding, I was welling up myself, my eyes filling with national pride as my heart burst. True, I had consumed three Babychams (in original glass) which I had been saving for occasions such as this, but the emotions were bona fide. Yes, they were.

I do, however, have a couple of reservations. Of course I do: It’s what I get paid for. The first being that Boris Becker on commentary. We forgave him back in the day for being the kind of boy you would have enjoyed bullying at school if you enjoyed bullying boys at school because he was quite good at hitting the balls. However, if it were me talking about other boys hitting the balls out of the school environment and actually on live television at one of the most prestigious sporting events of the year, I may well have avoided the Arnie impersonations. Just a thought, Boris. When you are catching your breath following those mesmerising dropshots conjured up from nowhere at championship point, the last thing you need is the aural equivalent of HASTA LA VISTA BABY coming atcha through surround-sound speakers or YOU SON OF A BITCH at each contested line call. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my reportage marinaded in barley water. As I say, just a thought.

Secondly, and possibly more disturbingly, I need to express some concern here as to the mental health of my brother. I had been made aware that he was holding a Wimbledon Retro party at the Idle Hour on Sunday which involved dressing up, boozing and unremitting carousal. No change there then. I almost consigned this to the dustbin of history until I discovered that he compered this apparently splendid evening DRESSED AS VENUS WILLIAMS. Not Andy Williams, which I would have considered the more appropriate approach despite Andy’s continued failure to dent the world of tennis. Not Andy, not Robbie, not Tennessee (although this I would have paid good money to see) and not RM. No, my brother, my own flesh and blood, in his infinite wisdom decided to host his big event attempting to mimic a strapping Amazonian American lady who could eat him whole before a game and has probably never heard of the Black and White Minstrel Show. What could possibly go wrong? Astonishingly nothing did, and the pub did record business for a Wimbledon final. We’ve come a long way, baby.

That’s it. You’ve had your pound of flesh, now move on please: Nothing more to read here…

Idle Eye 36 : The Certainty of Chance

I know what’s going on. I think I’ve figured it out now. But before I let you in on it, I need to get you up to speed. It’s not going to be a plain sail, so strap yourselves in and let the ole grey matter do the rest. Oh, and feel free to bail out any time you like: I would if I were you.

Ok, let’s start by examining the shape of the world and how we all got to where we are now. Nice easy one to kick off with. Now, according to the laws of chaos, the state of being is seismically affected by and sensitive to its inaugural conditions. In essence, this means that the most miniscule of deviations from an initial source can and does result in monumental disparity at the other end. This becomes increasingly dramatic over a longer passage of time, suggesting that it is almost impossible for a single entity to reproduce itself exactly at any point on the arc of our complex evolution. The chance ratio is mind-boggling, akin to attempting to compute the speed of time or the distances between planets.

There are, however, two notable exceptions to the above. They fly in the face of science, mock the concept of religious zeal and defy all laws of logic. I am, of course, referring to England’s dogged refusal to win at the football or the tennis. EVERY BLOODY TIME! It is utterly exhausting in its sheer inevitability, the outcome of which has no bearing whatsoever on the relative strength of the opposition. We could be playing against eleven veteran garden gnomes, all gaffer-taped together and drenched in baby oil and still suffer humiliating defeat. Perhaps Tim, or Andy, or whoever the next hapless ball-basher we adopt happens to be, invigorated by an adoring mass on the mound and the prospect of washing powder sponsorship, will tease us all the way to the quarter-finals, where he will splay himself over the court in a orgy of grunting, farting and swearing. And lose, quickly, in the grand tradition of his esteemed forebears.

And if all of this isn’t enough, the managers/trainers/players get endlessly wheeled out to dissect every pitiful performance on Sky Sports and the like, thereby justifying their monstrous fees and keeping us glued to the lantern in the fervent hope that ‘we’ shall learn from our mistakes. Which can never happen, right? Because, as we learned earlier, it is impossible. That one flap of the butterfly’s wing could alter history, forever. And we can’t have that. The quiet comfort we have embraced as a nation hangs on the certainty that, come Hell or high water, come rain or shine, we will always be bollocks at football and tennis. Or, as the ad-folk would put it, ‘reassuringly disappointing’.

So then, one down, one to go. Any guesses?