Idle Eye 14 : The Bagging Area

Let’s talk cheese. Why the hell not? It’s a staple. Good, honest fare made by farmers and Blur and consumed in quantity by the French, West Country types and yours truly. Soft on the palate and hard on arteries, this formidable foodstuff has done the rounds for centuries and is showing no signs of letting up any time soon. So it came as no small surprise to learn that sleb chef Anthony Worrall Thompson has sullied the reputation of our dairy doyen by popping into Tesco in Henley-on-Thames and nicking it. For Heaven’s sake man, get a grip! Now, clearly Tony feels the same about the Empire of Evil as I do but really, cheese and discounted coleslaw? My heart actually bleeds for the guy so I thought I’d use my Bro-given platform to offer him a little assistance for the future:

  • First rule of shoplifting: Always shoot above your status. There’s very little point in doing time for sandwich fillings, no matter how much quality bubbly you wash them down with.
  • Second rule of shoplifting: Never admit culpability. Ever. Even if they find you with a boot full of hooky lager and an empty petrol tank, you hold your head up high and come on all Penelope Keith. It’s the British way. None of this ‘Oooh sorry, I’m a klepto, I’ll make amends’ crap, it’s balls out, chest in or bust. Either that or think very hard about the products you have stolen and seek culinary advice. From a celebrity chef, perhaps?

Speaking of cheeses, Nibs brought over a selection from the Idle Hour last week. You know the sort of thing, a NASA-funded one that removes the roof of your mouth, another so creamy it should be ‘R’ rated, some blue, some borrowed etc.. And, it must be said, they were outstanding. All of them. In case you’re wondering, yes, the Alex James one made an appearance, woo hoo! It’s called ‘Blue Monday’ for all you Eighties throwbacks out there, it’s made in Kingham, Oxfordshire and apparently it’s eye-wateringly expensive. Of course it is: The man drank a million quids worth of champagne in three years, he’s got to claw it back somehow.

Hang about, I’ve just come up with a solution. No win, no fee, and it works like this: Tony, you load up the Bentley with the three crates of champers you actually paid for and head over to Alex’s in Kingham (it’s not far from your manor, I checked on Google Maps). In exchange for these, Alex will donate as much Blue Monday as he can squeeze into the boot and/or passenger footwells because he laaavs abitavit! (BTW first check whether he’ll bung in a bit of cheap slaw on the side). Then, when you’ve sorted your respective addictions, head on over to the Idle Hour for a conciliatory slap-up where Nibs will show you both how it’s done proper.

Honestly, I blame the parents.

Idle Eye 1 : The Beginning

So, are we all in then? Sitting comfortably? Good. Now, let’s get on with it..

Several months ago I was staring down the bottom of a glass in a Godforsaken hellhole of a bar in downtown Cairo, broke, homeless and with the useful years of my miserable life long since behind me. ‘How did I get here?’ I appeared to ask, although in reality I was more concerned with shaking out the last piastres from my pockets as it was dangerously close to closing time. A young man walked in and sat down on a stool beside me. He was well dressed, freshly shaven and surprisingly clean. He ordered a Manhattan from the bar and for several minutes he observed me closely. Then, without warning, he patted me gently on the shoulder and offered to buy me anything my heart desired. ‘Anything?’ I asked gingerly. ‘Anything at all’ he replied, smiling.

‘Well blow me’, I thought, ‘that doesn’t happen every day’, but just before I put in for a vintage Bentley, leather seats, walnut dash, wire wheels, complete with Page 3 dazzler gazing adoringly at me from the passenger seat, I stopped to consider. These talismans of success were all very well, but surely in essence they were ephemeral? The fleeting trappings of, say, a footballer or rock star. If I was to turn my life around, I needed something of substance to build on : Something I could look back on in later years and be proud that I had made a courageous decision in the face of temptation. And at that moment, I knew what I wanted.

‘Decided yet?’ asked the young man.

‘I have indeed’ I replied, swelling with self-knowledge.

‘So then, what’s it to be?’

Dropping down from the stool and drawing myself up to my full height, I turned to the benevolent stranger to give him the answer that would change my life forever :

‘Sir, what I would like more than anything else in the world would be to write the weekly blog for West London’s Idle Hour pubs, giving the readers regular updates on events, promotions and gossip in what will become known and anticipated as my own wry take on life but simultaneously informative & entertaining. Thank you for giving me this chance, I shall never forget your kindness and perhaps one day I too will be able to pass such an opportunity on to another..’

‘A fine choice’ he replied. ‘For a moment there I thought you were gonna go for the vintage Bentley, leather seats, walnut dash, wire wheels and the Page 3 bird. Guess I’ll have to shift them elsewhere. Have fun with the writing, my friend’, and without warning he was gone, leaving me the tab for the Manhattan, the bastard.

So, that’s how it started. And that’s how we’ll carry on, you and me. And if, at any time, you’re not too sure where it’s all going, just remember what I gave up. For you, dear reader, for you..