Idle Eye 172 : The Blind Leading the Blind

I’ve never considered myself to be one of those consumer warriors. You know, the types that scour their cornflakes in the morning for evidence of weevils, and then send in a lengthy complaint to customer services, stating how their lives have been irreparably scarred by the ensuing trauma. However, it has come to light that a certain established blinds manufacturer (begins with V and ends with elux) is flatly denying a noted issue with their grey plastic runners which perish and fray the cords over time. Clearly a design flaw, IMHO. As I have three of the things, and the replacement kits (£35.66 each) comprise of 98% bits which still work perfectly well, I thought I might have a word.

Trouble is, I’m not very good at it. If I was my mother, I’d go all Penelope Keith down the phone and wait for them to cave in. But I’m not. So when they wheel out the stock argument that the problem is I’m using them too much, I simply agree and cough up. Of course I’m using them too much! I love my blinds to the point where I just can’t help myself. Up and down they go, up and down. Like a whore’s drawers. If you’re a night owl, you may have seen me from the street, overusing my blinds right through until dawn, particularly at weekends. In fact, I’m baffled my fingers haven’t worn down to the quick in direct proportion.

Now concerned that this compulsive blind usage could be a known ailment – perhaps somewhere on the spectrum of Aspergers or OCD – I trawl the net for medical clues and sure enough, I discover that NHS direct has a designated page, helpfully broken down into manageable sections. Bizarrely, excessive masturbation is down as one of the root causes, not something I’d be keen on admitting to in court if it ever came to it. Or to the nice Scottish lady so keen on taking my order for the three replacement kits. So it looks as if I’m stuck with it for the time being. I can only pray it doesn’t get any worse.

As with any form of addiction, there are drawbacks; however, I’m generally fine when in proximity to objects I can open and close. Sash windows are OK, as are those sliding metal grilles they have on coaches to store luggage behind. But get me out into the open and I’m crawling the walls (if there are any), desperately seeking something, anything, to block out the light and then let it back in again. I have suggested via email to V***x that they should consider a field kit for those in a similar predicament but, as is the way with these things, I haven’t yet heard back.

Apparently, the replacements will show up on 26th October. By which time I’ll either be in the Priory or lying spent in a pool of my own excess. There should be a law.

Idle Eye 148 : The Eisenhower Matrix

It’s harder than you think, being your own boss. Try it sometime and see for yourselves. Traditionally I have been pathetic at organising my day, which is why I usually get other people to do it for me and hopefully throw in a few quid at the same time. But right now, I’m out of the plane without a chute and unless I sort something out pretty quick, I’ll be land pizza before you know it. There are, however, little tricks you can employ to create the illusion of structure, some of which I shall outline below for anyone in the same predicament:

1)  The old ‘leaving the flat’ ruse is a bit of fun – Get dressed in a hurry, swig down a mouthful of instant coffee (leaving the rest) and, if you’re feeling bold, give yourself a quick peck on the cheek. Then walk around the block a couple of times and come back in, panting and complaining bitterly about the inefficiency of whichever rail network you weren’t on.

2)  Create a few formal breaks. These will prevent you from atrophying at the computer and provide the added bonus of allowing you to catch up with all the latest gossip. It’s important to stay in the loop.

3)  The Reward System, albeit rather primitive, is a great incentiviser. That call you made to Virgin Media Customer Services took a while, right? Have a sweetie. Made it through thirty emails about erectile dysfunction and/or PPI? Have another sweetie. Anything whatsoever to do with the Inland Revenue or TfL? Crack open a bottle of single vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir. Actually, make that two.

4)  Stay focused. Tempting though it may be to stray with another episode of Inside Health and discover you’ve probably got shingles/leg ulcers/something irritable going on with your bowel, you’ll only spend the rest of the day on the med sites and give yourself PTSD to boot.

5)  Draw the curtains. Because the people you can see outside are almost certainly having more fun than you, will be rich in Vitamin D and couldn’t give a monkey’s that your delete key has packed up again. For them, life is one big picnic. For you, it’s an eternal game of chess. Against Magnus Carlsen.

6)  Nothing of interest will come through your letterbox and no-one of interest will ring the doorbell. Ever. Hold your nerve.

7)  Facebook and Twitter are not your friends. They are the Trojan horses of the internet, willingly invited into the workplace where they bed in and beckon, stealing your time and reason. Like Mata Hari. With cats and babies.

After these, you’ll need an endpoint. Something to neurotransmit a strong signal to the brain, telling it to pack in the chores and loosen up a little. Sex, recreational drugs, alcohol and repetitive pop tunes have always been popular with the young, but if, like me, you find yourself in your twilight years, The Archers seems to work okay. In conjunction with the above.

Idle Eye 30 : The Olden Days

Hard though it may be to believe as you plough your way through the weekly helping of cattle’s business in front of you now, but on the odd occasion I need to indulge in a spot of research. This is usually achieved with a decanter of ‘2 for £10’ industrial-strength red (min 13.5%, Old World), and a go on my massive ‘style over content’ computer which helps me access topical websites, news stories and films. Ahem. However, the last few weeks have seen my super-speedy 30MB broadband service shrivel to a Coalition-stylee standstill and it has remained thus ever since.

Not being made of the sterner stuff mandatory for a Customer Services face-off, I decided to go the Help & Support Forum route, traditionally populated by angry, semi-literate Neanderthals that use emoticons and swear a lot. Which it was. Only this time they were joined by a teeming throng of bitter, desperate regular folk caught in a quagmire of corporate indifference, their cries disparate but the crux being the same: GET ME OUT OF HERE! Not a good sign. Page after page of anguish read like an online script of Hieronymus Bosch’s Hell and I was right there at the top: Hell’s Hell.

Pessimistically, I posted a newbie complaint and shortly I was visited by Stevetaylor and DannyB01, lamenting my predicament whilst nurturing their own. And as I basked in self-pity I watched it demoted from prime position as even newer sufferers were added. Within minutes I had become a veteran, like Christopher Lee at the end of Taste the Blood of Dracula. Old ladies, students, even web professionals were getting sucked down into the vortex in real time. What chance did I have? Would I ever see iPlayer again? Or even an email? Religion suddenly became a viable concern as all hope slipped away.

And then I thought of Nibs, as one does in a crisis. He is the Elite Republican Guard evangelist of failed services: Dropped a delivery? SEE YOU IN COURT! Shabby marketing? SEE YOU IN COURT! Thread count a bit low on them T-shirts? SEE YOU IN COURT! NO-ONE SCREWS WITH ME!!! SEE YOU IN COURT! AND I WILL WIN!!! I kid you not, this is his mantra and it works. Because now this is what you have to become in order to get what was standard in the Olden Days. Remember them? The Olden Days? When we didn’t have Customer Services because it just happened off the bat, without question? When a little man in overalls would turn up and fix the internet after a cup of builders tea and you’d pop a couple of bob into his top pocket after? Of course you don’t. Because that particular nirvana has been systematically eroded from our consciousness, leaving only the flotsam and jetsam of crud in its wake. So don’t ask me how I managed to post this. Please don’t. Or I’ll see you in court.