Idle Eye 147 : The Ant

People say that your world shrinks or expands in direct parallel with your immediate environment. If you so happen to be the Foreign Policy Minister of a suitably distressed nation, your brushstrokes will, by default, be rather broad. If, however, you are housebound for whatever reason, the tiniest of details can get magnified beyond all recognition, often becoming the primary focus of your day. And ever since I decided to seismically alter my own life parameters by switching an active job for one that ties me to the computer, my home kitchen has become an exotic new tundra, populated by minuscule, indigenous creatures with whom I must learn to cohabit. My favourite being the common ant, three of which I have become quite fond.

It starts at lunchtime. The minute that multipack of American-style bagels is in town, Dominic and Samantha get active (yes, they have names), darting up to and away from the chopping board without so much as a by-your-leave. They do get on my tits a bit, so I have developed an early warning system, whereby I knock several times on the worksurface and usually they get the message. Obama, on the other hand, does not. His remit is to push the envelope, which invariably he does by hopping up to the cucumber slices and flicking me a V. Fair enough, but I most certainly would not care for him to end his days in my sandwich. So I have words. Stern ones.

A grown man reprimanding a single ant for insubordination must appear somewhat irregular to the uninitiated. But rules are rules, no matter how diverse the cultural boundaries, and Obama would do well to take them on board. Being a big softie, I tend to let him off on the proviso he doesn’t nose-dive into the coleslaw. Because then I’d just get plain ugly. As well he knows.

Yesterday though, he pushed me too far. I had torn off the Marigolds and set them down by the sink. It’s my way of saying ‘in a few seconds I’m coming through with a J-Cloth. Steer clear.’ Dom and Sam totally got it as per, but Obama took umbrage and stood his ground. How exactly do you alert an over-cocky formicidae to the real and present danger? That with one brutal left swipe, I could create more havoc for the little shit than Hurricane Katrina or that big tsunami a while back, without batting an eyelid? Even the clattering of expensive Japanese knives and the sonic deterrent that is Milton Jones on Radio 4 did nothing to stem his tenacity. So I flipped. Crouching down so that our eyes were level, I blew him straight into the washing up bowl. And then apologised profusely.

There’s been no sign of him today. He’s definitely not dead, because I rescued him with a spatula and dried him down with kitchen paper. Probably sulking with Dom and Sam, I’d imagine. But we’ll work something out.

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.