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.

Idle Eye 161 : The Rhinoceros

In what has become more French farce than reality, everyday objects have conspired against the launch of Amateur of Life and Death in a way I could not possibly have conceived. If I could only stand back and laugh (and maybe I will sometime in the future), perhaps I’d get some kind of perspective. But when you’re living through an implausible nightmare, the absurdities get so polarised you just can’t help but take them personally. I’ll try to boil it down. Firstly, the iMac went haywire. Right at the point I was editing in the last bit of footage for the Kickstarter promo, the screen strobed at me like an Eighties disco and then presented ugly green vertical stripes across everything I tried to do. At which point, I lost it:

Me:  Not now, bubba, not now.

iMac:  PARTAYYY!!!

Me:  Listen. We’ve known each other for almost four years. I dust you, I defrag you, I clear out that ugly crap you accumulate on a regular basis and all that I’m asking is that you work with me for the next four weeks. It’s important. It’s why I bought you in the first place. Now is not the time. Capiche?

iMac:  PARTAYYY!!!

Me:  No. Not Partayyy!!!  You can go wild after this is all through. But not now. I’m trying to do something that really matters to me. In fact, the rest of my life hinges on it. So just play ball or you’re out with the recycling.

iMac:  PARTAYYY!!!

Then my shaver packed in; I ordered another. My watch stopped dead; one of those Russian ones that pride themselves on longevity in the field of conflict suddenly went AWOL. I took it off, and as I did, two of the lights in the living room blew for no reason at all. I turned them out at the dimmer and then, I kid you not, our lavatory started to overflow. I knew something was up because the flat below had just started building work and they’d been crashing about for God knows how long, but when water starts pissing its way into your hallway, words have to be said. Next up, two builders appeared:

Builder 1:  Awright, mate? Sorry about that, didn’t know youze was on the same ring.

Me:  It appears we are. Can you stem the tide? It is rather unfortunate timing.

Builder 1:  Bloody cheap stopcocks, that’s your problem. Who fitted this craphound?

Me:  It was done by an emergency plumber four months ago. The parts are new. And they worked this morning.

Builder 2:  Tone. I gotta be in Dalston in fifty. Can you sort this? I need the van, mate.

Builder 1:  What am I supposed to do?

Builder 2:  To be honest, I don’t give a monkeys. Either come with me and deal with this clown tomorrow morning, or sort yourself out. Your choice.

Me:  Excuse me. I have a book campaign going live in 48 hrs, a toilet that badly needs sorting, and you two are debating whether to leave now?

Builder 2:  Another job, mate. Life, innit?

The phone went. An automated someone chose this exact moment to offer me compensation for another accident I’d supposedly had. And as I was screaming blue bloody murder into the void, both builders left the…er…building, leaving me with a secreting loo and a flat teeming with broken stuff. There was no-one around to scream at, so I screamed at the iMac:

Me:  You jumped up, poncey piece of crap! I hate you, I hate everything you pretend to be and I hate how you come across all slick and cool when actually, you’re nothing more than smoke and wires. SMOKE AND WIRES, do you understand me? Of course you don’t! Because you can’t do jack shit without me. Nothing. NOTHING!!! And when I’ve got you fixed and you think this is all business as usual, let’s see how you feel when I wheel in a Gates. Because I’m through with you, Apple. Really, I am. Jobs would be turning in his grave if he knew the shit you’re trying to pull now. So I’m out. Fuck you!!!

iMac:  PARTAYYY!!!

To be continued…

Idle Eye 107 : The UE65HU8500 65

Just been on the internet to see how much you can pay for a telly if you happen to be a rock star or a footballer or Russian. Like you do. Turns out that a quick trip over to Simply Electricals (serious about electricals) will get you a spanking 4K Curved Ultra Smart one for a mere £99,999.00 (includes delivery and four pairs of 3D glasses). That’s a quid shy of one hundred thousand for those of you who, like me, are taken in by those cunning ruses so often employed at Poundland and the HMRC. ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND BIG JUANS!!! I’ll let that sink in for a bit.

Call me old-fashioned, but being curious as to just how smart the wretched thing would have to be for that much dosh, I delved a little deeper into the site only to discover that the UE65HU8500 65 is cloaked in the same kind of secrecy normally afforded only to Catholic priests and BBC news presenters. And for the kind of service that comes as standard with these guys, I would have to fill out an online form or call them on an 0844 number, no doubt giving them the codes to my WiFi sniper alert system and green light access to the remaining members of the Spice Girls still up for a party. Regrettably, I failed to deliver on both counts and consequently the mysteries of the absurdly wealthy shall remain as such.

But hold on there. My Google search revealed a further option in the topbar, presumably for anyone who isn’t impressed by or earning a living from kicking a bit of leather about or pretending to be Jim Morrison. The very same television can be bought from Currys for the stealaway sum of £4,999.00. This includes only two pairs of 3D glasses and home delivery is extra. But for the not insubstantial saving of £95,000, I think I might even consider getting a couple tailor-made in Paris by Givenchy and picking the bastard up myself, no matter where from. My only fear is that the gargantuan 65 inch width would require significant structural alteration of my front room, and the very thought of yet more builders discussing steels whilst stubbing their fags out on the kitchen tiles is almost too much to bear. I’ll live with the one I got off Dad.

It is fascinating though, no? That people are prepared to spend more moolah than I earn in three years on a bit of kit that will be redundant before the cheque has cleared? But I’m guessing that that’s the point: It demonstrates that money is literally no object and will be impressive only to those who are held sway by it. In medieval times, running about with a massive codpiece and laying claim to swathes of countryside had a similar effect, but almost certainly to a lesser demographic. We’ve come a long way, baby…