Idle Eye 128 : The Turn of the Screw

It started with Mary Poppins. Perfectly harmless, but the seed was sown. When I didn’t baulk at that, the bar was incrementally raised: Doctor Doolittle/The Jungle Book/Oliver/Bugsy Malone, even Camelot (which was really quite grown-up). Still I did not flinch. Then the heavy artillery: Cabaret/Grease/Jesus Christ Superstar/New York, New York/A Star is Born. I took umbrage at the latter, my tender sensibilities already affronted by the vulgarity of Hollywood pizzazz. But still they kept on coming: Evita/A Chorus Line/That’s Dancing. And then I knew. How could I continue to live this lie? The sleepless nights, the deception, those red velvet trousers I had always secretly despised? No, the time had come: I had to tell my mother I was straight:

Mother:  Oh, don’t be ridiculous!

Me:  Ma, I am. I think I always have been. I’m sorry.

Mother:  It’s probably just a phase, dear. Lots of boys your age go through it. Now, settle down and I’ll pop on some Barbara Streisand.

Me:  Please don’t. I’m serious about this.

Mother:  Of course you are. Let’s have a cup of tea and you can tell me all about it.

Me:  You’re not listening to me, Ma. I’m straight. And no amount of cups of tea or Barbara Streisand will change that.

Mother:  Yes yes yes! No need to shout. Now, I’ve been flicking through the papers and they’re showing West Side Story again at the Ritzy on Saturday. Thought we might…

Me:  You’re just not getting it, are you? I don’t want to see West Side Story, I don’t want to see The Sound of Music and, to be frank, I don’t want to see any more musicals. Ever. Again. Do you understand?

Mother:  I’ve seen you watching Cabaret alone in your room. And singing along.

Me:  Cabaret is different. The narrative is the driving force behind that film, and the music just so happens to be great as well. But without the former, they’re just songs looking for a vessel. The combination of the two is a heady mix. It’s the unsurpassed, bitter-sweet genius of Bob Fosse.

Mother:  See?

Me:  See what? Look, just because I like Cabaret does not make me gay, ok? You’re just going to have to get used to it.

Mother:  But…but what will I do?

Me:  I know it’s hard for you right now. But lots of straight men go on to lead happy, fulfilled lives and I’m determined to be one of them. I just want you to be happy for me. Do you think you can do that?

Mother:  Yes…I think so. But are you sure? I mean, have you actually tried it? You know…

Me:  Yes, I have.

Mother:  Oh God…(sobs)…I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry!

Me:  Please don’t be, Ma. It’s ok, really. And I think, given time, you’ll come to love Echo & the Bunnymen as well. They’re super on stage, and you’ll die for the hairstyles.

Idle Eye 43 : The Priory Priority

Interesting stuff. Yesterday evening threw up one of them family parties which involved myself, Da Mudda & Ursula all pitching up at Idle HQ to accompany Nibs in a cab that shot us all off to Esher, where we celebrated not one but four (count ‘em) birthdays in some way connected to The Firm. Most of this I have scant recollection of due to usual suspects, but what I did note before succumbing to the ensuing jollities was that legendary sleb hospital, The Priory, was but two minutes away from the Idle Hour itself. Now, I know my brother reasonably well, and when it comes to business I’m afraid to report, gentle reader, he leaves me in the starting blocks. So this salient fact is unlikely to be a mere accident, no siree. And my suspicions were further raised when I did a little, er, research earlier this afternoon. Let me elucidate:

As we all know, what goes on in the Priory is supposed to stay in there, but, human nature being what it is, this is rarely the case. Perennial reoffenders, such as tubby Take That favourite Blobby Williams, fall over themselves to break out of those forbiddingly high perimeter walls, blurt out their respective misdemeanours to whichever red top will shell out a few bob, only to check themselves back in there a few weeks later, steeped in remorse and seeking the kind of meaningful salvation only prohibitively priced clinics can administer. This being the case, we need to get inside the mind of the fugitive patient to fully understand why Nibs chose Railway Side to be his bedrock:

Once out, he/she will almost certainly be on the sniff for somewhere to unwind. Now, according to google maps, the only logical route to achieve this would be to head north.

‘Why north?’ I hear you cry.

Well, listen up: As they hit the Upper Richmond Road, they will invariably come across a hostelry called the Halfway House. This will resonate with the afflicted in a way we cannot begin to comprehend, and will simultaneously spur them on to seek out their real nirvana. And as they stumble towards the railway crossing like Paul towards Damascus, they will find another sure sign that they are on the right track: the Vine Road Recreation Ground. From there it is but a hop and a step to the Vegas that is Idle Hour.

But don’t for one minute think that this is one way traffic: Nibs is far too smart for that. When the seasoned drinker reaches saturation and the bosom of his/her esteemed family can no longer tolerate the inevitable, redemption can be found by simply retracing ones’ steps and heading south, where it is highly unlikely all that personal info will yet have been scrubbed from the database. It’s a narcotic Pushmi-Pullyu situation, in which the hapless addict bounces from one haven to the other.

Bro: Respect is due.