Idle Eye 130 : The Messiah

As some of you may know, I’ve been working in a Catholic church now for quite some time. My remit is to conserve the merchandise, the latest being a huge gilded reredos with exquisitely carved priests gazing up at a floating Lady of Suffering with her attendant cherubs and, a bit further up, God. With a massive beard. And a book.

Every day I arrive an hour or so before the morning Mass. To get to the scaffold, I have to push my bike past an elderly man lying prostrate on the floor in a state of reverie, touching the feet of a plaster cast of Our Lady with six plastic swords piercing her sacred heart. He barely notices me. Next, I nod graciously at the Silver Vixen (who smiles provocatively back) and then head on up to the tower. Usually I bail out for the Mass itself, but sometimes I catch the last of it. A priest in white and purple robes, looking and sounding like Mark E Smith, finishes the proceedings by chanting the beginning of a hymn and then walking off to the sacristy in solemnity, leaving the congregation to wrap up the singing and follow suit. Which, for the most part, they do.

A few weeks ago, however, a straggler got locked in. She’d passed out on one of the pews and fell under the penetrating in-house CCTV radar. When she came to, frightened and coming down off something, her first vision was that of myself, alone, at height and magnificently backlit by powerful halogens. The following exchange went something like this:

Me:  Are you okay?

Lady:  Who…who are you? Do you want me to sing for you?

Me:  Maybe not now. Do you know how to get out?

Lady:  Are you Jesus?

Me:  Er…

Lady:  Let me sing for you, Jesus.

Me:  I think we’d better…

Lady:  LET ME SING FOR YOU, JESUS!!!

Me:  Ok. What can you do?

Lady:  Tell me what to sing.

Me:  Look, I’m really not Jesu…

Lady:  WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SING???

Me:  Um…How about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Do you know that one?

Lady:  Just like you, Jesus. A twinkling star. In Heaven.

Me:  Thank you. But I really think you should speak to Father Pat first.

Lady:  I wrote you a letter. Did you get my letter?

Me:  I don’t think so.

Lady:  I gave it to Our Lady. She kept it for you. SHE KEPT IT FOR YOU!!!

Me: I’ll ask her for it later.

Lady:  I need to go wee.

Me:  Wait a minute. I’ll come down and show you…

Lady:  HELP ME GO WEE, JESUS!!! HELP ME GO WEE!!!

So I did. I helped the lady go wee. And then we took a short walk together to the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital where she was taken in and my services superseded by those more qualified than I. Because I’m not Jesus: I’m just a fella.

Idle Eye 120 : The Lives of Others

Earlier this year, Stewart Lee beautifully articulated his disdain for Twitter by describing it as “a state surveillance agency staffed by gullible volunteers.” By which he meant that his entire successful life could be accurately traced by reading through inane tweets sent in by the public as to his whereabouts at any given time. And that these same people would be equally fascinated by the tittle-tattle others just like them offered up for general consumption.

On Monday, I arrived home after an an eight mile cycle ride (eight miles, Twitter fans) from work. Needing provisions for the evening meal and a following breakfast, I leapt into the car & headed off to Sainsburys, unthinkingly clad only in my cycling kit, in order to purchase a few necessaries (one packet Beanfeast Bolognese, one bag organic carrots, one carton orange juice, one bottle Chilean Pinot Noir). It took less than ten minutes. After which I headed back, only to discover that my inconsequential trip had been monitored and posted for all to see by someone who, shall we say, does not have my best interests at heart. Here’s the tweet verbatim:

“Well, that was an ill-timed Sainsbury’s visit. Still, always fun to see a middle aged man dressed like Kevin Rowland c. 1983 from knees down”

Initially, I was rather flattered that a man of my crumbling stature could still conjure up the ghost of Kevin Rowland in his prime, rather than that of Marley or an extra from any of George A. Romero’s oeuvre. But then I became increasingly baffled as to why this would be of any interest whatsoever to a bunch of followers who have no idea who I am, and had not themselves doubled back on their journey home upon spotting my car (Triumph Herald), in order to claim their visit to said supermarket was “ill-timed”. 140 characters or less, by their very nature, cannot accommodate shades of grey. The whole truth requires the same event to be seen from different angles, no matter how obtuse or inconvenient. And the clandestine observation of my rolled-up jeans, paraded to an early evening set of shoppers as a misguided fashion statement of yesteryear, could legitimately have been interpreted otherwise.

Many years ago, when I was learning the finer points of filmmaking at Sheffield City Polytechnic, I watched Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter for the first time. The scene that most stayed with me was that of the demonic preacher (played by Robert Mitchum), standing outside and staring ominously up at the home he was soon to infiltrate, an evil omnipresence in hard contrast black and white. Perhaps if Mr Laughton had been born a tad later he would have set his unsettling movie online, the perpetrator being well versed in the dark art of social media and all its blunt power. And perhaps, just perhaps, my sartorial faux pas would have been less compelling to those who really should know better.

Idle Eye 102 : The All Fun Dulwich Mum Run

Adrenalin junkies. Forget Sochi, forget bungee and forget all that Cornwall freak wave surfin’ stuff. You want thrills? Well, look no further. Idle Eye has the sickest tip onna block right now, na’ameen? C’mon kids, it’s the All Fun Dulwich Mum Run and here’s how it works:

Your mission is to get from Gipsy Hill roundabout to the Majestic Wine Warehouse on Park Hill Road (a mere 0.7 miles from start to finish) between the hours of 7.00 and 9.00am. On a bicycle. Armed only with the wits you were born with and an unmitigated faith in humanity, you must arrive at your destination unscathed, alive and in full control of your vehicle. You have no special powers, no protective clothing and no armoured shield. You do, however, have an invisibility cloak known only to your adversaries. Using your skill and judgement, you must traverse your route avoiding all enemy apparatus, from Volvo Estate (6 points) to Range Rover Evoque (25 points) and anything in between.

Beware! Your foe will not lie down lightly, oh no. Its diabolical spawn will attempt to dislodge you, head on, as they leave their designated ship with the entitled opening of passenger door into your given path. Fear not. Hold your nerve. They are unspeakably ugly and will almost certainly end up as education secretary or somesuch. Sadly, they do not yet know this so steer clear if at all possible. Also they are wearing short trousers which you stopped doing in 1977. Clock it and move on.

You look like a bag of spanners, that’s a given. But your Dulwich Mum spends more time than you’ve had hot dinners on her ‘dropping the kids off’ weekday casual look. Remember this when you’re smarting from that ‘turd in my teacake’ withering glance you will almost certainly receive as you slalom yourself out of danger.

It is, of course, possible to run this particular gauntlet by car, milk float or mobility scooter. But it is the bicycle that attracts maximum scorn and is therefore considered by our panel to be most suitable for the challenge. “To be truly hated is to be truly understood”, as someone once said. And no-one is more hated than a cyclist on the All Fun Dulwich Mum Run. Which makes you the perfect candidate. Feels good, right?

You like Hunters wellies? You like Barbour jackets? Of course you don’t. So why not unleash your pent-up fury with that arsenal of oomska you’ve been accumulating for weeks like all good cyclists do and hurl it into the next static vehicle you pass? Don’t worry, they will be expecting this and it looks good on your CV.

The Idle Eye in no way endorses the Majestic Wine Warehouse as an incentive for you to achieve your objective. It just happens to be there at the end of Alleyn Park. And look at the time. Enjoy responsibly drinkaware.co.uk

Nearest A&E: Kings College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS

© EyeGames 2014

 

Idle Eye 63 : The Recyclist

Anyone out there that has built up a photofit of your humble author almost certainly would not have me down as a natural when it comes to all things cycling. And you’d be bang on the money, to be fair: the booze-sodden carcass I carry around with me is probably best suited to more sedentary activities such as bee-keeping or G4S security. So imagine my surprise when the exact same bicycle I’d had stolen in 2004 appeared in my eBay search field the other day. In Huddersfield, no less. And despite my advancing years and appalling loss of flexibility in the lumbar region, I decided it was to be mine. Which indeed it was: Huzzah!

Now, if it hasn’t already come to your attention, a lot has changed since 2004. Gone are the days when you could rock up at your local bike shop, stick your fag out in the plant pot outside and make your purchase without a hint of embarrassment about jeans being tucked into socks. Not any more. Bike shops aren’t even called bike shops. They are Performance Centres, where every nuance of your basic humanity is considered a weakness, to be overcome with specialist assistance from a Wiggly Braggins-a-like, employed to seek out your achilles heel and exploit it ruthlessly. Sore knees? Incorrectly fitted cleats. Sore arse? Spend £120+ and we’ll sort it. And don’t get me started on bad gash…

Anyway, I turned up at one of these places a couple of days ago, looking like the boy from the Hovis ads with added alcohol. Call me naive, but I thought it would be a quick in/out affair from which I’d come away with some fancy kit that would get the ladies clucking at work. Far from it. As I pushed my new steed through the door, wheezing with exhaustion from the 0.3 mile trek, a young lady whisked it away and thrust it into a vertical rack. As mild panic set in, I became aware of an even younger man, pedaling as if his life depended on it on some kind of vast treadmill, in front of which was a video screen displaying French byroads which he was virtually navigating. So distracted was I by all of this, I failed to notice the craggy Australian in bulging shorts looming ominously in front of me, there to help me get the most from my cycling experience. Clearly I was a curio to him (as he was to me) and for a brief while we stood there, locked into our very own Bateman moment.

I cracked first. Of course I did. Making a shoddy excuse, I shot out of the premises and onto terra firma. No sideburns, no kit, but at least some semblance of dignity. For no matter how hard they try, I shall never yield to the tyranny of Lycra. Never. And if I look a bit crap on the road, so be it.