Idle Eye 195 : The Fringe Benefits

There is a fulcrum at which most rational human beings hit the flashpoint of incandescent rage. For some, it can be relatively insignificant: a cooker ring fails to ignite on cue/the washing machine was set to tepid for those difficult whites/an old friend has posted another holiday selfie when you’re hoiking out hair from the shower basin and wondering if you’ll ever see the sun again. But for the rest of us, the idiocy of others can be more than enough to tip you over the edge; when you become a deranged Michael Douglas in Falling Down; when you would exchange your hospital bed (if such things still exist) for a Kalashnikov and stumble out into the street, high on budget laxatives, in order to spew your disgust onto and into an unsuspecting public. At which point you would turn the muzzle, still white-hot and smoking, thrust it down the back of your throat until you are at the point of gagging, and wait for the lights to go out. Some things just do this to you.

Today, Pippa Middleton got married to some bloke I’ve never heard of. The news appeared on my Facebook feed and then, as I was mentally haemorrhaging, Radio Four announced it as the “society event of the year”. Now, it so happens I’ve been using R4 as a kind of aural sedative for some time now: not because I’m particularly riveted by a lot of the content, but because the alternatives are beyond puerile and at least they have the faint gift of being able to string a sentence together. So when that statement was aired, it was the equivalent of your mother pissing into your school lunchbox (when you’d specifically included avocado). I know some of you like that kind of thing but it’s really not my bag.

I went back to the computer and this chinless Herbert was coming at me from all sides, like in Batman when The Joker manifests himself on every platform that existed in 1960s fiction. Said hedge person had clearly muscled in on that most saleable of assets, a next-to-royal derrière with next-to-nothing between the ears, and was touting his investment in the only way he knew how: via his chums in the media. Oh yes, all sorts were there to give it the requisite gravitas: tennis ace Roger Federer, someone off Made in Chelsea, a princess or two and the fetid saliva trail of the Mail and the Telegraph. And it looks like it was a wonderful day for all concerned: my bosoms were bursting with British pride.

I mention this because I’m tentatively learning to manage my anger levels. By ejaculating my disdain onto the page, I, by default, become a better, more well-rounded individual that you’d feel comfortable curling up alongside of an evening. Everyone needs a valve, right? You get me? Good. Now fuck off and make me a cup of tea.

Broken Biscuits No.11.

Right, I’m going to post this today and terminate the faffery once and for all. Because it’s tomorrow, see? These endless half-arsed drafts are getting on me tits, and I’ve got more important things to sort out; like the barnet. So then, it’s going to be another top drawer show at Sheffield’s stunning Yellow Arch Studios with a proper quality line-up:

Somehow, that Jenny Vegas has wormed her way up to the top of the bill and managed to get her mugshot into the newspapers. Seriously, there is no end of front to the woman (her manager Dougie spotted this as well, I gather).

Once again, the absolutely brilliant Jenny Lockyer will be with us, if she can brave the M1 on a day like today. Always a joy to watch, with trademark acoustic guitar, a pitch-perfect voice and the gentlest yet most off-kilter sense of humour evah!

Then there’s Billy Button: although perhaps his halcyon days are now a distant memory, he still can astonish an audience with that gold lamé jacket and a toupee to die for. This is one consummate showman who ain’t lying down in a hurry!

Our compere, Maynard Flip Flap, will have a thing or two up his sleeve. Quite literally, perhaps. A stalwart of Sheffield’s legendary Cabaret Boom Boom, Maynard is blessed with the gift of the gab, street theatre nous and will, without doubt, rudder our kooky ship safely to shore.

Dan Laidler‘s Windy’s Farm is back, obvs. Whoever would have thought that a black and white windmill could spread so much joy throughout the land? And that bloody Idle Eye mosquito will be pitching in with something, I’d imagine. Please desist with this oxygen of publicity thing, it only encourages him.

And that’s about it. It’s going to be fun, this one. I know I always say this, but TBH I can’t think of anything else right now & it’s sunny out. Next up will be Fringe Brighton in May, more on that another time. Adios amigos x

Idle Eye 194 : The Guzzler

As I was straining the greens before leaving work this afternoon, it occurred to me that an actual person invented those little rubber mats that sit awkwardly in the belly of their white porcelain hosts. Someone with the nous to recognise the perils of splashback, and the business acumen to get them into pretty much every tinklehaus in the country. So I tried to imagine taking the initial concept to pitch. Like you do:

Institute of Industrial Design:  Thanks for coming in. How can we help you?

Me:  I’ve invented something very small and simple that will change life as we know it.

IID:  Oh good. What precisely is it?

Me:  It’s a little rubber mat that stops piss flying up into your face.

IID:  Sorry, we didn’t quite catch that.

Me:  A rubber mat. That stops piss flying up into your face. There’s a massive gap in the market.

IID:  A gap in the market, you say? For the prevention of flying piss?

Me:  Yes. It’s an age-old problem.

IID:  That has not once been flagged up. Until today.

Me:  Just because no one’s flagged it up doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Try telling that to Apple.

IID:  Except Apple almost singlehandedly advanced computer technology, hardware aesthetics and consumer demand beyond anything previously imagined. Are you seriously suggesting you can do something similar with the toilet?

Me:  Correct. There will come a time when we cannot envisage life without them. Like cat’s eyes. And the vacuum cleaner. Have some faith.

IID:  And does your little mat have a name?

Me:  Not yet – I’m just the ideas guy. But I’m thinking it could be a bit of fun; something to take their minds off it.

IID:  Off what, exactly?

Me:  That they’re basically spraying piss all over the place.

IID:  Fun doesn’t quite spring to mind.

Me:  Of course it does! How about “The Guzzler – putting the fun back into functional”. See? It’s even got its own strapline.

IID:  The Guzzler?

Me:  Why not? Does what it says on the tin. And it alludes to the piss ending up inside The Guzzler and not all over the end user; without making a huge song and dance about it.

IID:  Is this your first business venture, by any chance?

Me:  I’ve had heaps of ideas. But this is the one I’ve been most excited about.

IID:  Of course. And you’ve told no one else about it?

Me:  No one at all. Intellectual property and all that. I wasn’t born yesterday.

IID:  Splendid! Could you leave a copy with us? And help yourself to a Malteser on the way out, we’ll be in touch.

And that would have been it. Followed by unimaginable wealth, admiration from my peers and a lifestyle lesser mortals can only dream of. All of this from a bit of rubber with a few holes in it. So reach for the stars, my friends. Just don’t let on to Durex…

Idle Eye 193 : The Single Spies

I’ve become obsessed with Tristram Shandy of late. That entire notion of an unreliable narrator and the layering of truths to create another, even more unlikely than the sum of its parts, appeals to me enormously right now. There is good reason for this: for too long, being the snivelling coward that I am, I have swerved and dodged the slings and arrows hurled at me by those who seek to undermine my work and beyond. And, to flip the idiom to suit my purposes, if only they came in battalions! For then it would be clear – the masses have spoken and they all think I’m an arse. At which point I could sneak off, lick my wounds and start again.

But they don’t. No, they come as friends, as lovers, as colleagues. They come individually, neatly spaced and lightly armed. Their slight is seemingly insignificant, rarely an assault. Their motivation is often unclear, even to themselves, but calculated nonetheless. Yet the cumulative effect is devastating. They come in disguise – wolves in sheep’s clothing – and like a cancer, once they’re in they set to work, which I mostly exercise for them. For their design is to sow the seeds of self-doubt rather than take a scythe to the results. And thereby I become the architect of my own destruction, and the finger of blame has no one to point at other than myself. Good, innit?

So the time has come to hit back, however uncomfortable that may be (I’m a liar, not a fighter). Stasis is tantamount to an admission of guilt and weakness, so clearly no longer an option. I will draw my line in the sand and no longer shall they cross it. And to those of you I will lose in the process, I say this:

‘I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you. Now fuck off.’

Do you know why? Because it’s not straightforward, is it? Read the second paragraph again with the presupposition that it is written by someone suffering from acute paranoia. See? Changes everything. But if I bring it up myself, perhaps you will salute my honesty and self-awareness, and be more inclined to side with me if it ever came to it. It’s a ruse. One chicane inside another. Although, in this particular case, it’s also a cry for help. Somewhere in all of the above, the narrative gets lost in the exposure of the framework. But by revealing a small portion of author vulnerability, I intend to cement from you a loyalty of sorts.

And so, gentle reader, I leave you with this: which layer suits you best? Which section of this woven tapestry will you believe, if any? Let us not forget I am still in character and I have an objective. But behind that character lies the reason to create him in the first place, trustworthy or otherwise. And the absolute truth is for you to decide.

Idle Eye 192 : The Grate Sex Guide

Traditionally, I tend to shy away from comment on sensational media stories. They’re usually clickbait, or cooked up from deep within the well of fake news, tailored to have us frothing at the gills over piffle we’ll have forgotten about long before they’ve come up with the next lot. No no no. I subscribe to a couple of respectable broadsheets, which conveniently afford me the illusion that I can filter out any such dross, arm myself with a succinct, accurate world view and lie guilt-free in a bed of my own smugness. For which I make no apology.

Occasionally though, something slips through the net. And today it concerned a young man from Romford, Essex who tried to have sex with a drain cover in the middle of his street. Initially, my curiosity was piqued by the use of the word ‘romp’, as I wrestled with the mental image of a Bacchanalian tryst ‘twixt man and wrought iron, with any neighbouring traffic juddering to a halt in front of the star-crossed lovers. But then I considered the trajectory of the event: there must have been a fulcrum point at which 33-year-old Florin Grosu (sic) was so swollen with lust for his intended, asking it back to his place was totally off the map. Perhaps the grate had gotten coquettish? Or that, in a blaze of white-hot alpha masculinity, our Florin had rushed towards the object of his desire and thrust himself upon it. Which spawned the obvious leading question: how?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in a first date scenario, but from what I remember and in all fairness, it can be tricky navigating that initial moment of consent. But when he knew for certain he had a green light and his trousers were ankle-bound, the options available to young Florin became multifold. Which must have been perplexing in the extreme to someone in a presumably altered state, and to whom time was of the essence. Now, I’ve seen stock shots of your average drain cover and, to be blunt, there are approximately twenty inlets. Twenty! So what was the poor boy to do? Select at random the most alluring, or systematically make his way through each one in turn until his manhood had been whittled to a shadow of its former self? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Then must have come the inevitable wave of post-coital self-loathing. When it was brutally evident that the bond between street hardware and human being is platonic for very good reason. But imagine, if you will, there was something more to it. That, after many years of thwarted forays into the quagmire of romance, Florin had finally found something of value and was expressing his gratitude in the only way he knew how. Not so funny now, eh Romford Recorder? Shame on you! For as they say: true love, like proper news, is a battlefield.

Broken Biscuits No.10.

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Yes, it’s hot on the heels of Komedia Brighton but you need to know pronto. This very Saturday, BB10 returns to Antenna Studios at Palace, because that’s where it was spawned. And for this show, it’s super local (with the allowable exception of Jenny Vegas, who’s only there for the free crisps) and super cool. We’ve got Vivienne Westnorwood for starters, and she doesn’t travel through postcodes unless there’s a very good reason. And then there’s Peyo Santalla, who so happens to have my flatmate in his band, and will dazzle the collective Palace crowd with some stuff he will have already badgered you into coming down for. I am merely the conduit, the weaver if you will, for some serious SE19 action. Do not judge us: we are on a higher plain.

If you’re in any doubt whatsoever, we’ve also got the magnificently bleak Tim Suturist as compere, after he’s finished flogging you quality veg at the market. It really doesn’t get any better than this (even though you think it might). And Idle Eye will try out some new material. Because it’s about time. I thank you x

Broken Biscuits No.9.

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Another great night. And despite my phone bricking as we were setting up (meaning no one could get hold of me at all for soundcheck info et al), it just added to the wonderful jumble of mayhem that seems to characterise these shows. Almost predictably, Southern Rail robbed us of Joanna Neary (although she has kindly agreed to join us at the Brighton Fringe, more on that another time), and compere Kate Tym was stricken with a virus and held at bay in St Leonards. But we got through it! Here’s how:

With the mighty Mr B, of course! The voice (and banjolele) of reason in a sea of madness, his immaculate set, attire and bonhomie were a joy to behold, as we all knew they would be. And he played The Crack Song, which I will be grateful for until my dying day. We Need To Talk About Kanye was another killer: seek it out and love him forever. This is a gentleman of substance you cannot afford to miss.

With Lorraine Bowen. Her Casiotone-fuelled, endearingly confused mix of pop, fashion and laughter had the house eating out of her hand the minute she stepped on stage. The Crumble Lady herself gave us tunes to die for, moves to watch and learn, and low fidelity acumen to shame the new kids on the block. Seriously, we had a party like it was 1969 and we didn’t want it to stop. Now that’s showbiz!

With Jenny Vegas. Once again, she delivered a blazing set with less than 24 hours notice, this time treating us to a reading from her new book 39 Shades of Brown. Which is as fabulous as it sounds. And she crushed the rumour that she and I are…well, you know…with the most damning words her vocabulary could muster. In front of a live audience. Don’t mess with this lady, she tells it like it is.

With Idle Eye and guests. This time he put a bloody jacket on and looked halfway respectable, let down somewhat by three pairs of reading glasses worn simultaneously. If he learns his lines and comes up with some decent between post banter, it might be worth coming to see his offerings at some point in the future. You heard it here first.

With Joss Perring and Nick Hollywood. Who once again transformed the Komedia Studio into a magical den of light, vintage film and great music. It’s always special to watch this father/son combo at work, particularly when they’re made up to the nines and sporting attractive hats. And Callum Hughes, who stepped in as compere with minutes to spare and masterfully ruddered our kooky ship through the entire evening. And Dan Laidler‘s Windy, who is fast becoming the unsung hero of Broken Biscuits. Hola Windy!

Thank you, Komedia Brighton, that was fab. BB10 is back at Antenna Studios in Crystal Palace on Saturday 11th February. Yes, that soon! Info post comin’ atcha after this. And sleep and red wine. Over and out x