Idle Eye 195 : The Fringe Benefits

There is a fulcrum at which most rational human beings hit the flashpoint of incandescent rage. For some, it can be relatively insignificant: a cooker ring fails to ignite on cue/the washing machine was set to tepid for those difficult whites/an old friend has posted another holiday selfie when you’re hoiking out hair from the shower basin and wondering if you’ll ever see the sun again. But for the rest of us, the idiocy of others can be more than enough to tip you over the edge; when you become a deranged Michael Douglas in Falling Down; when you would exchange your hospital bed (if such things still exist) for a Kalashnikov and stumble out into the street, high on budget laxatives, in order to spew your disgust onto and into an unsuspecting public. At which point you would turn the muzzle, still white-hot and smoking, thrust it down the back of your throat until you are at the point of gagging, and wait for the lights to go out. Some things just do this to you.

Today, Pippa Middleton got married to some bloke I’ve never heard of. The news appeared on my Facebook feed and then, as I was mentally haemorrhaging, Radio Four announced it as the “society event of the year”. Now, it so happens I’ve been using R4 as a kind of aural sedative for some time now: not because I’m particularly riveted by a lot of the content, but because the alternatives are beyond puerile and at least they have the faint gift of being able to string a sentence together. So when that statement was aired, it was the equivalent of your mother pissing into your school lunchbox (when you’d specifically included avocado). I know some of you like that kind of thing but it’s really not my bag.

I went back to the computer and this chinless Herbert was coming at me from all sides, like in Batman when The Joker manifests himself on every platform that existed in 1960s fiction. Said hedge person had clearly muscled in on that most saleable of assets, a next-to-royal derrière with next-to-nothing between the ears, and was touting his investment in the only way he knew how: via his chums in the media. Oh yes, all sorts were there to give it the requisite gravitas: tennis ace Roger Federer, someone off Made in Chelsea, a princess or two and the fetid saliva trail of the Mail and the Telegraph. And it looks like it was a wonderful day for all concerned: my bosoms were bursting with British pride.

I mention this because I’m tentatively learning to manage my anger levels. By ejaculating my disdain onto the page, I, by default, become a better, more well-rounded individual that you’d feel comfortable curling up alongside of an evening. Everyone needs a valve, right? You get me? Good. Now fuck off and make me a cup of tea.

Idle Eye 163 : The Builder Jour

Now don’t get me wrong, I know people need to get works done from time to time in our fair capital. How else can we justify those absurdly inflated prices for what effectively are outmoded hunks of Victorian brick? But there comes a point when you just snap, and last Friday I did exactly that. When you’re running a Kickstarter campaign from home and the din and dust from downstairs penetrate through to the very fibre of your being, words have to be said.

To be fair, I held off as long as I could. I was pleasantly chatty (in that monosyllabic way builders seem to enjoy) when our paths crossed in the street. I pretended not to mind having to listen to Taylor Swift thirty times a day at ear-splitting volume, I managed to feign some kind of interest in the project and I even shrugged off the endless banging (that made my treaty glass of Pinot do a Michael Jackson across my desk) as the inevitable consequence of home improvement. What’s all that about? Why hasn’t someone come up with a device that just hits whatever it is they’re hitting once, very hard, job done? I don’t claim to understand what’s going on down there but it is positively Neanderthal. Yet still I did not react.

The final straw came when my water got shut off for the weekend. The builders had done a POETS day, the owner was on a train to somewhere foreign up north and I hummed like a lactating hyena. Then, finally, I saw red. A torrent of pent-up fury was unleashed down a broken phone line, made worse by the excruciating platitude that these things happen. I calculatedly escalated the intensity and tone of my delivery which would have culminated in a commanding Sgt Major roar, but unfortunately I had lost my voice a couple of days beforehand and ended up coming across as a mildly peeved Joan Rivers.

At approximately 11.30pm, a builder reappeared. He had hightailed it back from Southampton and was clearly steeling himself for the raving neighbour I’d no doubt been portrayed as. However, I was the consummate gentleman. Together we investigated the site and found the main feed, wrapped in white tape and haemorrhaging water into the back garden despite being turned off. Calls were made. Brows were furrowed. Not a lot could be done. Until tomorrow. Sorry, mate.

At this stage of the proceedings, there remained but two courses of retaliation. The first being an out-and-out screaming match which, as we’ve already established, was sadly denied to me. The second, ultimately more satisfying option was to plough into a freshly purchased bottle of Bulldog gin and stay up most of the night ranting and listening to vintage Australian pop. And then turn up at Crystal Palace Food Market (where I had a stall to promote the campaign) still steaming, still stinking and looking like death itself. Which is what I did. Obviously.