Idle Eye 146 : The Parcel

In a mad fit of enthusiasm for all things Idle Eye, I purchased a camcorder off of the eBay last week. Not an expensive one (£40) and not new either, but something to document our relentless march of progress nonetheless. When the initial rush of a successful bid had simmered down, I checked the spec on the reviewer sites, only to discover that the very model I am shortly to own has been universally panned:

  • Poor quality video/Image stabilisation a joke/Irritating control scheme
  • Focus awful/Shocking battery life/FOUL AND PESTILENT software (sic)
  • Unattractive picture/Useless low light performance
  • Horrible LCD/This small piece of obscene machinery hardly does itself justice

And so on. But at least it works and comes with an attractive carry case, so I paid up and waited eagerly for shipping details. These were duly sent in a cheery email from the seller the very next day. I was given a reference number, and a website I could go to in order to live track my parcel from Derby to Crystal Palace. Now, according to Google Maps, this is a journey I could feasibly walk in 43 hours if I kept to the M1 and M6 (sleeping arrangements are not mentioned but I would imagine I could do without, spurred on by the thrill of new ownership). So the fact that my camera was to be delivered by one of the UK’s premier courier services could only mean I would be in receipt within a day or two, surely?

Not so. When nothing had turned up for over 100 hours, I had a quick gander at my status. Here I found a bewildering series of green boxes, virtually representing the arduous trek my poor parcel is currently undertaking. According to its unique history, it was collected a week ago, then marked for despatch. The following day, something called a Hub Sorter scanned it and threw it onto a Hub Trailer. Next it was sent to a Depot, processed at same, and scheduled for shipment. The final box proudly declares it is now ‘Manifested for Delivery’. Manifested for delivery? It’s a camera, for Christ’s sake! Not a subversive piece of neo-Nazi agitprop!

This is the legacy of our once-proud Royal Mail, scandalously undersold to profit hedge funds and the like. Yes, it was a bit pants at times, but aren’t we all? And they were reassuringly pants, unlike the charlatans I am dealing with now. This lot have the temerity to suggest they are the messengers of the gods, begging the question: Which ones exactly they are serving? Tedius, the keyholder of infinite patience? Verbose, the supreme mistress of eternal obfuscation perhaps? Or how about Prophylacticus, the virginal numen of delayed gratification? None of whom are mentioned on the website, I note.

Slight addendum. As I put in the full stop above, the doorbell went. It was a thoroughly pleasant courier with a box, a smile and a beard. And winged sandals.

Idle Eye 81 : The Eye and the Erewash

Couple of things. Firstly, I must confess I lied to you back in Idle Eye 77 about getting the jellies re-zapped. I never did, at least not then. It was simply a narrative convenience to say so. However, after five months of headaches and grinding admin, I finally reached a compromise with the suits at Optical Express – I could have one eye enhanced. On the house, but just the one. Bugs sodding Bunny.

It was a Sophie’s choice, basically. Should I have gone for the one that could see into the future, all Michael J Fox but lacking the most rudimentary of motor skills, or the other one, stuck in the 1980’s with crap hair but bringing up the rearguard rather nicely, thank you. I opted for the former, the trade-off being that I wouldn’t have to wear senior glasses every time my phone rang.

Big mistake. When the stench of molten eyeball had finally subsided and I was able to take a good look around, it became apparent the roles had been reversed. The former limp biscuit was flexing its muscles like Charles Atlas, and last month’s King of the Hill had tumbled onto Skid Row. Woefully, my everyday reality had now become the equivalent of whatever Scandi cop show is currently doing the rounds, all shallow-focus and inner ennui. And I’m wearing the glasses as I type this.

In better news, it turns out that this ole blog has been embraced by the good folk of Derbyshire, presumably because last week I suggested it was somewhat remote and they have a honed lust for revenge. Now listen: Of course Derbyshire isn’t remote. I looked it up on Google Maps and it’s quite near Nottingham, which I have heard of. That Robin Hood once ran about there being terribly left-wing in a forest, and there’s also lots of pubs and lovely ladies. Apparently. One of which was the delightful Christine Free, who I met recently and has a slot on Erewash Sound, now broadcasting my Elsan extracts every Wednesday sometime between 10.30 and 11am. The humanist in me just wants to reach out and beg her to desist. It’s just not fair: These people have historically travelled many miles to avoid the appalling whimsy I subject you to every week, but she wouldn’t have it, bless her. So here we go:

“Welcome, Erewash, and thanks for listening. I’ll try my darndest to keep you all on board although honestly, the odds are poor – My own mother whacked me senseless with the bristly end of a hairbrush outside the Imperial War Museum for being spectacularly annoying in the 1970’s. Sorry. I’ll be mostly chucking out irrelevant drivel for the first few paragraphs, after which I will somehow manage to tie in my brother’s pub in London, thereby fulfilling my contractual obligation. It’s gonna be a white knuckle ride, so hold on tight! Now, here’s the weather…”

Idle Eye 80 : The Idiot’s Lantern

Last week, I inherited a television from my father’s estate. It’s a flat, shiny thing, riddled with sockets and touch-sensitive knobs I will never use or comprehend, coming as I do from the old school when you had to force a button the size of a liquorice comfit deep into the belly of the set with your actual finger in order to switch channels. And the word remote meant Derbyshire or somesuch, not a slab of hand-held plastic trickery fashioned to aid the plight of the obese. However, I do acknowledge the relentless march of progress and in order to show good will, I reluctantly accepted the beast into my home.

But, oh my stars, it’s big. So big, in fact, that they make you buy all these other boxes to cope with it, none of which I understand either. And, if the boxes and the TV are going to get on with each other, they have to be connected with ‘intelligent’ cables that cost more than your average four-door family saloon did in 1977. But it doesn’t stop here, oh no: Your service provider then offers you a bewildering series of package choices to enhance the Trojan horse now dominating your living quarters, any of which will set you back yet another significant slap in the wallet. Inadvertently, you have become the Lady Macbeth of home entertainment, so stepped in blood it is impossible to return. How about a wall-mount? Or perhaps an LAN link-up with your home hub, using the ferrite cores (provided)? And after a few hours they’ve got you wide-eyed and screaming down the phone, like one of Jodi Foster’s chums in Taxi Driver:

Give me one of them Fnørkel adaptors…..Yeah, I can collect…..Actually make that three…..NO, I DON’T KNOW WHAT ****ING FNØRKEL ADAPTORS ARE, JUST GIVE ME SOME…..NOW!!!!

Mindful of the above, the Idle Hour has adopted a strictly no TV policy inside the pub. It’s for the best: If you are enjoying an intimate dinner for two with candles and fine wine, the very last thing you need is a sweating young man in an open-necked Pink shirt trying to pick up Eurosport in HD. Kind of puts you off your stride. However (and I don’t think he’ll mind me telling you this), Nibs does in fact own the biggest television I have ever seen in my life. It is the size of an Olympic swimming pool, wedged into a lounge no deeper than a galley kitchen. To give you an idea, if you wish to obtain 20/20 unpixelated vision, you have to flatten yourself against the far wall or, better still, climb up the fencing of the school next door and peer through his office window. Although, to be fair, if you are prepared to go to lengths such as these in order to catch Corrie, perhaps you should be relayed through to the punters: I’ll see what I can do…