Idle Eye 68 : The Parable of the Sower

Back in the 1970’s (forgive me for not remembering exactly when), Nibs and I had our first musical spar. We were both newts, desperately attempting to develop the first tail of experience which we could then wave about with authority and impress our mates. Obviously I had a slight edge, playing the Elvis Costello trump card over his Boomtown Rats, compounded further when our dear mother destroyed Nibs’s Rats cassette after seeing Bob Geldof on the Russell Harty Show. This wanton act of barbarism knocked the stuffing out of the poor boy, but as the eldest I undertook a mantle of responsibility with requisite seriousness, and over the subsequent years I offered him up Be Bop Deluxe, Supertramp, Roxy Music et al which he devoured with joy.

Our nirvana of choice was a tiny shop just off Godalming High Street called Record Corner, tucked away in a cobbled enclave far from the everyday needs of Surrey stockbrokers. Here you could lose yourself in formative wonder, as gigantic teenage muso freaks intimidated and beguiled you in equal measures. I remember asking, with a slight cringe, if they had Elton John/Kiki Dee’s ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ in yet and being told to piss off to Woolworths. Which, ironically, is where Nibs bought the Clash’s London Calling, but then let himself down by going to Waitrose immediately afterwards.

On my thirteenth birthday I somehow managed to get a little band together. The venue: Shackleford Village Hall, and it was here myself and three others murdered ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream in front of a live audience. And yet, five of us were guilty. Why five, I hear you ask? Well, because young Nibs had his tiny adolescent hand in it as well. At a disclosed moment, he ran onto the stage and manually plugged in a red lightbulb, giving us the kind of wow factor unseen since the Eiffel tower was launched to an anticipating public. It was a bonding moment, to be sure, but sadly failed to secure my place in a certain young lady’s heart, not mentioned here for fear she may well be reading this.

And so the years passed by, and I continued to share the pearls I came across on my musical journey. Touchingly, the stuff I actually wrote (and performed with the confidence of a startled gazelle) was most keenly championed by Nibs himself. And though we seldom manage to say it to each other (we’re British, innit?) we have always maintained a sneaking respect for the other’s ability in his chosen field. But it was music that did and will always do the lion’s share of bonding. Anyone that has ever endured an Idle Hour lock-in with its inevitable rendition of Wonderwall will understand why. All I ask is that you do not hold me responsible. You sow the seed: Some of it falls on fertile ground, some does not. I rest my case…

Idle Eye 34 : The Rough Diamond

So I broke into the Palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said ‘Eh, I know you and you cannot sing’
I said ‘That’s nothing
You should hear me play piano’

The Smiths, 1986

 

Her Maj:   One is ready for bed. Are we all locked in?

Security:  We certainly are, Ma’am. Will there be anything else?

Her Maj:   Neo, not today. Has that ghastly racket stopped yet?

Security:  Not for a while, I’m afraid. Some of them are playing from the roof, apparently.

Her Maj:   What a frightful bore. Don’t they have homes to go to?

Security:  Most of them do, Ma’am, but not as good as yours.

Her Maj :  No, of course not. Run along then, quickly now.

Security:  G’night, Ma’am.

Her Maj:   Yes, yes! (shuts door, slips into Liberty-print nightie and turns on radio)

‘…and what a glittering spectacle of an evening it has been. A firmament of stars, raising their voices in unison to celebrate the Queen’s 60 years of unwavering devotion to her nation…’

Her Maj:  Balls! Wretched little man. Hasn’t got a clue.

‘…as the Palace is transformed into an everyday street with a magnificent light show, and Madness perform ‘Our House’ from the rooftops. Incredible!’

Her Maj:  And what, pray, is the point of that? If one wanted to live in a street, one would bloody well have bought one.

(switches off radio. there is a cough from behind the curtain)

Is that you, Philip? I’m afraid the singers are still on, dear, you’ll have to go back to the Edward VII. Tell them your pee’s red again.

(another cough)

Who’s there? Come on out, damn you!

(silence)

Nuy look here! One is getting a little fed up with this nonsense. Are you one of those oiks from the roof? If so, you can get your Cor Blimey trousers on and scram. There’s nothing for you here. Nothing, one tells you.

(silence)

It’s not you, is it, Michael? I’m afraid there’s no wine left after the last time and we sent your shoes back in 1984. And all that grubbing about in the papers, really! I thought we had an agreement?

(silence)

Are you from the Idle Hour? Well, are you? Now listen, the jubilee burgers were perfectly adequate and we settled the bill in full. We’d be grateful if you would consider seating us away from the traps next time and perhaps we just might tip more substantially. Is that what this is about? Come on, Mr Nibs, show yourself, man!

(moves closer to the curtain and throws it back to reveal….)

Her Maj:   Elton!!!

Sir Elton:  It’s Sir Elton, Ma’am. Remember?

Her Maj:   Wawrt are you doing here?

Sir Elton:   I’m just teaching that Morrissey a lesson. Think he’ll find not only can I sing but also tickle them ivories a treat. And where’s he for your big day then?

Her Maj:   Isn’t he on the roof?

Sir Elton:  That’s Madness, Ma’am.

Her Maj:   Not arf!

(drum roll)