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 52 : The Name’s Nibs

MI6 building, Vauxhall Cross. Yesterday.

M:  Ah, Nibs! Thanks for coming in. Sit down, won’t you?

Nibs:  Thank you, Ma’am.

M:  Seems there’s a bit of fuss in Whitehall about this wretched peerage you’ve got. Makes a mockery of all the legitimate ones like Savile, apparently. Now, I’ve told the PM we’ll let it slide for diplomacy’s sake so I’ll hear no more of it from now on. Is that understood?

Nibs:  Implicitly.

M:  Shut the door on the way out, will you Nibs?

Nibs:  Of course.

Heads towards door but then turns back

Would it make a difference if I told you that the Treasury had nothing to do with it?

M:  Explain.

Nibs:  The peerage, Ma’am. I got it off of the internet.

M:  Don’t be ridiculous, Nibs. I don’t have time for this.

Nibs:  I’m afraid it’s true. eBay. £94.85. Last Christmas. I was the highest bidder by 75 pence.

M:  Damn you! You do realise this compromises our entire operation? Everything we hold dear?

Nibs:  I do, Ma’am.

M:  Then why, Nibs? This had better be good.

Nibs:  It is.

M:  I’m waiting.

Nibs:  It’s the budget cuts, Ma’am. Take a look at my expenses for the 2010-2011 period. What can you see?

M:  Well, you do seem to have eased off on Jägermeister and KY Jelly.

Nibs:  Marginally, yes. But what else?

M:  Hmmm… hard to say. Travel, perhaps?

Nibs:  Exactly! Last time Q handled finance I was on a bullshit train fighting that ugly gorilla with bad teeth. £94.85 lets me turn left on planes these days: It’s a no-brainer.

M:  Hold up. What are these endless entries saying Idle Hour Barnes?

Nibs:  Entertainment, Ma’am. With respect, perhaps you’ve forgotten how we do things in the field?

M:  I was entertaining at the Idle Hour when you were in school shorts. And if you think the sunday roast is going to slip through accounts without a public hearing, you are very much mistaken.

Nibs:  It’s just business, Ma’am. My business.

Cue exciting theme music alongside exciting graphics with bums’n’guns’n’bosoms under water and a couple of ducks from the Wetlands Centre chewing some grass

M:  Oh, and Nibs?

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am?

M:  You’re fired. Hand your keys in at reception. This is the last time we shall ever meet. Goodbye, Mr Nibs.

Nibs:  Lord Nibs, Ma’am.

M:  Lord Nibs. Whatever. But £94.85! Really?

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am. Off of the internet.

M:  Astonishing.

Nibs:  Indeed. And you get a certificate.

M:  A certificate?

Nibs:  Yes.

M:  Framed?

Nibs:  No, Ma’am.

M:  I see. So Nibs, you’re a nob now?

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am. The name’s Nibs – Lord Nibs.

M:  Nob or not, get out, Nibs. Now!!!

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am.

Disclaimer: The Director General of the Idle Eye would like to make it clear that any of the above insinuations pertaining to the dubious authenticity of Lord Thorp’s peerage are merely that and completely unfounded. And he’s not standing down, neither…

Idle Eye 3 : The Gift

Readers, I need help. Last weekend I bought a bottle cutter off that eBay and made a vase. A vase, for God’s sake! A sure sign that I’m heading at breakneck speed towards the final countdown. Whatever next? Carpet dye? Comfortable shoes? In my defense, it was an attempt to stem the tide of neighbourhood wrath every fortnight when a pantechnicon with my address embossed on the side appears at 5.45am and minimally reduces the glass mountain engulfing the street it has just woken up. Frighteningly, I’m getting the hang of it too, thanks to the glossy 35-page brochure exquisitely realised by Terrence Picone and Sydney St James from Wyckoff, NJ. Apparently, when I get really good, I can make a Gold Votive Candle Holder from an Orangina bottle, or a magnificent Fish Decanter with just a Pescevino white wine bottle and cork. And some liquorice paint. But this giddy level of excellence does not come quick, oh no! According to Tel’n’Syd :

“During your learning phase you should successfully cut about 80% of the projects you start. And once you have practiced a little, 95%. Practice, practice, practice!”

No time like the present then, so I took the Triumph Herald to Majestic and loaded her up with a suspension-busting cargo of practice items, including some challenging top flight shaped ones for when I get better. And I really don’t have long to master my craft. It’s the Idle Hour 10th anniversary this month, you see, and my thinking runs somewhere along the lines of making Nibs something special to mark the occasion. Something he can look at on a busy night when he’s clearing the tables of lesser bottles and feel a warm Ready Brek glow of pride that we are from the same womb. He also mentioned that there was a bit of a ’10’ theme going on, 10% off booze, 10% off food, 10 years lopped off the tail end of your life etc..etc.. Which is nice. But anyway, first things first. I’ve got 2.5 cases to get through before I can start and there’s a potentially lethal cutting tool involved. These are the kinds of impossible odds young David faced in the Valley of Elah as the mighty Goliath waved his sword about and pointed at his wet patch. But, like the warrior I have become, in times of peril I shall overcome.

Footnote from Kings College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5

I must say I can’t see what all the fuss is about the NHS. Over-stretched/underpaid and most of them absolutely shattered but always time for a smile and a chat. Bless them all. Nurse Rached has been particularly sweet and set me up in Physio with my cutter as there’s really not long at all until this anniversary thing kicks off. And most understanding about the mess. Turns out T’n’S were wildly optimistic with their percentages but there again they are American: Perhaps I should sue.