Idle Eye 56 : The More That I See, The Less I Believe

Hello again. Yeah I know, it’s been a while but, to be fair, there’s been a hefty portion on our collective plate, no? Show a little compassion, per-lease! First up there was that Mayan business which led me to believe there was little point in writing to you lot when the world as we knew it was going to be ripped apart from its very tits. Hot on the heels of that was Christmas, over which I was going to give you a massive end of year special (one third completed) about the horrors of the High Street and shopping for trees, but then I succumbed to the Winter Virus thingy which had me hallucinating like Timothy Leary in front of an arsenal of Carry On movies, wrapped in a dog blanket, as the rest of my family enjoyed Nibs’s hospitality at Idle Hour Barnes on the big day. Sod’s Law. (It wasn’t the Norovirus you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear, but plenty of entertaining emissions were enjoyed nonetheless.)

I briefly raised myself from my pit for New Year, over which I made it over to Chipping Norton on a personal quest to spot Rebekah Brooks and Jeremy Clarkson in their natural habitat, sadly dashed as they were both at the bank. And then back to London for the astonishing news that, according to BBC sources, the Duchess of Cambridge will be squirting out our future monarch in July (if they get those pesky rules sorted by then), and it is likely to be ‘either a boy or a girl’. Now, I know the beeb are paddling the creek with their bare hands at present, but on occasions like these I do not begrudge them my licence fee, particularly now as someone’s going to have to cough up for Rolf after the bodge they made of her portrait.

In other news, it has been heartening to learn that MP’s have called for a 32% pay hike for lolling about inside one of our premier historic buildings, getting messy on subsidised booze & shouting at each other across a green carpet. It’s austerity, innit? And, oh my stars, it’s nice to have Berlusconi back in the picture, don’t you think? For a moment there I thought Italy would have to survive on its back catalogue of exotic pasta and holiday resorts for the Milliband set.

And now we’re balls deep into 2013. Older, wiser and tugging the tunic of the grim reaper. But fear not, friends! Together we’ll surf whatever tide comes our way and, if you can forgive me February (the month I dull the trousers off of you all because I’m off the sauce again), we will rise again, stronger, leaner, fitter…

Actually, you know what you’re going to get. More of the same. Some of it shite, some not. And quite a lot with Nibs in it, because that’s the whole point. Thanks for sticking around: It’s going to be an outstanding year.

Idle Eye 11 : The Voice of Reason

It’s that time of year when the jolly fat man, flushed from the effort of his exertions, comes for his annual handout and leaves you to clear up the mess. Sounds familiar? Yes, it’s that time again and don’t we all love it? I refer to the bankers’ bonus, of course, and the endless discussion thereof, from the red tops to Radio 4, from white van interiors to Hampstead tearooms it seems we cannot be rid of someone, somewhere, who needs to vent their spleen. And we, the Great British Public, absolutely lap it up. In these austere times when, Heaven forbid, we have to share bathwater, meals and the rest with our nearest and dearest, there’s nothing we like better than donning the gloves and having a good old-fashioned wallop at the City.

‘I think it’s disgusting, immoral and it should be illegal’ – A woman I just made up, the streets, yesterday.

‘We didn’t work our whole lives to be lied to and robbed at the end. Is this the right march?’ – A Public Sector worker, Whitehall, yesterday.

‘Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?’ – Simon Le Bon, a yacht, the Eighties.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’m supposed to be a vegetarian, lily-livered Lefty, right? What in God’s name am I doing pandering to these monsters, these harbingers of misery who put profit before people, bonuses before benevolence and continue to take, take, take as we mere mortals continue to reimburse their errors? Well, my friends, think on: Remember when ‘Call Me Dave’ campaigned vehemently for us all to hug a hoodie? Well, I took something on board that day. I learned that perhaps we should learn to embrace the unknown instead of taking a shot at it like the great collector and public benefactor Frederick John Horniman did when he first came across a walrus:

Stooge:  Sir, something stirs there on yonder iceberg. He is a fantastical creature, long of tooth and great of hair. And I do believe he is something of which we have never seen the like.

BANG!

Horniman:  Put him in the bag with the others, Bobbins.

So bankers, hear my cry! I come to you in peace, I bear you no ill will. All I ask is, well, now you’ve got more in your Armani pocket than I shall earn in a lifetime, that you spend it wisely. And it is narratively convenient that I happen to know just such a place for you to do so. Cross the Thames if you have to. Charter your private jets in the direction of SW13 and W6. Spend the wad of our King Mervyn here today and throughout the Christmas period. And do not spare the rod! The Idle Hour will cater for your every need, your whims, your festive fantasies. And with such style and finesse that you will wonder why you ever wasted your nights at Dirty Dicks. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll let me off.

Idle Eye 6 : The Manifesto

As the long winter nights draw in and Call Me Dave’s austerity measures begin to bite, you’re probably wondering, like me, how the disaffected rural peasants of pre-Revolution France managed to stay afloat when hard times came a-knocking. Of course you are. Well, the answer is two-fold: You cross-subsidised, which loosely meant getting another job, such as rat-catching, ash-collecting for laundry purposes, or you became a tétaire (my particular favourite), an astonishing job for the boys which involved sucking mothers’ breasts to start the flow of milk. Probably a long queue at the Town Hall for that one.

Alternatively you did nothing. Nothing at all for months and months, and there was no shame in this: Men and women literally curled up together like gerbils in squalid basements throughout the land for up to fifteen hours a day, and by doing so kept warm and lowered their metabolisms dramatically, thereby reducing the need for food which was in scant supply. In short, it was survival by hibernation.

‘All very interesting’, I hear you thinking, ‘but what has this got to do with the Idle Hour?’ Well, funny you should ask. You see, we can learn a lot from our French friends of yesteryear, but before you cover yourselves in dung and head for the cellar, think on this:

The word ‘Idle’ has long been associated with sloth, from louche dandy fops to Wayne and Waynetta, and yet if we dig a little deeper we find that to be idle was a pragmatic form of self-preservation; a temporary shut-down in preparation for the physical working months ahead. These are the very qualities Nibs had in mind when IH Barnes was born ten years ago, and for his part, self-preservation seems to have worked very nicely, thank you. For my own, I can vouch for the exact same from the perspective of my teenage exchange year in the town of Foix, just north of the Pyrenees, when I shared a room with a goat in lieu of central heating. This is not one word of a lie (unlike most of this blog), and when the time came for me to return to the UK, I wept like a girl for that goat. As she did for me.

So perhaps it’s high time we reclaimed the word in much the same way that we did with the Union Jack from the Far Right. Come on, Hammersmith and Fulham! Our ancestors (Johnny Foreigner actually, but work with me on this) didn’t sleep together in their own filth for hundreds of years for you to do nothing. Time has come for you to stand up with your pint of Harveys and say:

‘I’m idle and proud of it! Tomorrow may be another day but there’s just enough of this one left for me to raise a glass to Wills and Kate, to Nibs and all who sail with him, but most of all to those foreign types who did bugger all and got us where we are today. God save the King!’