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…

IE Audio 4 : The Demon Grog

Bit of back story here. Not all that funny either, but at least it demonstrates we can pull something out of the bag if pushed.

https://theidleeye.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/idle-eye-156-the-demon-grog/

Idle Eye 156 : The Demon Grog

Of all the relationships I’ve ever had, perhaps the most difficult is the one I still hold with the booze. It’s pretty shit, to be frank, and I didn’t choose it either. My namesake grandfather died of it before I was born, as did my own father indirectly, and it will probably see me off prematurely if the snout doesn’t get me first. Its claws are pan-generational, way outside the boundaries of logic and reason, and conveniently, a quick re-read of the above somehow absolves me of any absolute guilt, thereby allowing me to persevere with more of the same in order to write dispassionately about it. As if that makes it okay. The obvious, entry-level question filed by those close enough to be concerned, is this:

Do you drink alone?’

And the most honest answer I can give is:

Yes, I do. I drink alone out of preference. Because then, finally, the ever-present critical voices (which extend into every cranny of my existence) shut up long enough for me to be able to do the things I actually care about. Until I go down the opposite slope and couldn’t give a toss any more. Can I get you a top up?’

It’s not what they want to hear. And those I’ve upset along the path (trust me, there have been a few) will see it as a romanticised excuse, along the lines of Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited, very much the architect of his own downfall despite every gift life bestowed upon him.

Someone kindly gave me a book last Christmas. Called ‘The Trip To Echo Spring’ by Olivia Laing, it discusses the troubled link so many writers have with the demon grog. Not that I have ever considered myself a bona fide writer, and thereby lies the problem. The very term has such powerful connotations that the unsure are crippled at the starting blocks, pitifully reliant on whatever it takes to be taken seriously. Until the crutch becomes counterproductive, by which time it’s usually too late. Between these, I walk a fine line: If that glorious moment ever comes about when something I have created becomes a thing, I’ll probably be too mullered to notice. But maybe you will, and I’d be grateful if you could let me know. We’ve been around the block together for nearly four years. You owe me.

I have a rule. When I spew this stuff out, usually late at night and alongside a bottle of Pinot, I resist the temptation to hit the publish button until the following morning. Because, no matter how cathartic it may seem at the time, the unforgiving light of a new day will invariably reveal my incisive efforts to be little more than a muddled, steaming pile of cack. But ask yourselves something: You’re reading this. Does that mean it’s through quality control, or am I slumped comatose over the return key?

I’ll leave that one with you.

Idle Eye 8 : The Hit Parade

London 2011. I’m on the phone. It’s been two hours, thirty seven minutes and six seconds but the show is far from over

Da Mudda:  Yes, yes! Now, which one is the Delete key again?

Me:  It’s the one with the backwards arrow, Ma. Like a Turn Left sign, remember?

Da Mudda:  Yes, of course, like a Turn Left sign…a Turn Left sign, yes…ooohh, the little flashing line seems to have gone. Is that meant to happen?

Me:  Did you press the key?

Da Mudda:  Which key?

Me:  The Delete key!

Da Mudda:  Now don’t get annoyed, I know you’ve told me…hold on, hold on…it’s the one…umm…it’s the one with…the…with the…is it the big one at the bottom?

Me:  Not the big one, that’s the Space Bar, remember?

Da Mudda:  Yes, of course…the Space Key…sorry, Bar…Oh look, I’m fed up with all this email stuff, it’s quicker to send a bloody letter for God’s sake! Can we talk about something else, please? Your brother tells me you’re getting lots of viewers on the blog. Is that good?

Me:  It’s early days, Ma. We’ve only been counting for a week but it’s looking promising.

Da Mudda:  Well, I’m sure you know what you’re doing. All that money we spent on your education, it’s about time something looked promising.

Me:  As I said, it’s early days. But we’re getting comments already and we had over 300 hits in the first week.

Da Mudda:  Over 300 hits! Well I never! (long pause) Do you remember your seventh birthday at the Imperial War museum? I gave you some hits then, with the bristly end of a hairbrush if I remember correctly, but probably not as many as 300. I suppose that makes your brother a…hit counter!!! (laughs hysterically)

Me:  Yes, I suppose it does.

Da Mudda:  Ah, he’s just on the other line now, can I put you on hold?

Me:  Sure, Ma.

A cacophony of clanking (not unlike that bit in Alien when the monster bursts out of John Hurt’s stomach) followed by a violently distorted version of The Archers

Da Mudda:  Stephen, I’ve got your brother on the other line. Can I call you back in a couple of hours?

Nibs:  (over loudspeaker) Ma, we’re really busy tonight, I’ll call you later. And could you ask him to call me about the blog, there’s a few things we need to straighten out.

Da Mudda:  Well he’s here now. Shall I put him on for you?

Nibs:  Not now, Ma. Get him to call me tomorrow. After 6pm.

Da Mudda:  Ok, will do.

More clanking, deafening digital keystrokes and mild swearing. The Archers disappear into a Smallbone of Devizes vortex and I once again make contact with the Mothership

Da Mudda:  (coughs) Er, hello?

Me:  Hello mother.

Da Mudda:  Ah, you’re there!

Me:  Yes, I am. By the skin of my teeth, but still here. Just.

Da Mudda:  Excellent! So, where were we? Oh yes! Now, which one is the Delete Key again?

Ad nauseam