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 57 : The Eyes Have It

Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I’ve been monstrously short-sighted. Of course, when it first happens you are blissfully ignorant of nature’s slight until such time as your mother clocks you barging into furniture or, in my case, not spotting her entering the room when under a chaise longue with a stolen hoard of the stepfather’s Playboys. (Yes, we had a chaise longue. Get over it.) Anyway, shortly afterwards I was given a confidence-busting pair of Elvis Costello’s courtesy of the NHS at the exact same time as things began to drop downstairs. This was obviously unacceptable to a young adult drenched in Hi Karate as it severely compromised my chances with Farrah Fawcett-Majors and made it almost impossible to wear headphones in bed: Something had to give.

Five years later, I was given an appointment with Dr Richards at Guildford Road. And, thanks to the wonders of modern ocular technology, I was eventually able to discard those ridiculous billboards of inadequacy for something far more suitable. Sexy, even. From that moment on no-one would ever know that I couldn’t read the body copy of a cornflakes packet less than a metre from my own face. I had contact lenses, for Christ’s sake! Now I was carnally available. Any time. Anywhere. But sadly, this was not to be. Even Nibs, with whom I shared a bedroom, barely registered acknowledgement and he certainly was not my target market.

Fast forward another thirty years and you discover a man who has not moved on. Those two tiny slivers of translucent plastic are still the vehicle through which I decipher the world, and now they are scratched, world weary and begging for change. So, finally, I have decided to listen. On 2nd March of this the year 2013, some bloke called Mr Patel in Shaftesbury Avenue is going to digitally zap the fuck out of my vile jellies and I shall have my road to Damascus moment at last. Unless he buggers it up, of course, in which case you are reading the fifth last post here. Needless to say, one of my main concerns was how this would compromise my bohemian lifestyle in both the short & long term, but according to the Trevithick Laboratory, it turns out that the sustained intake of New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Noir (2008-2011) appears to protect the mitochondria cells which stop you getting cataracts. Who’d have thunk it?

There is, however, a small bridge between now and then, and we do have the Idle Hour Burns Night ahead of us. Now, I don’t wish to appear presumptuous, but if you do happen to come across someone looking like an outpatient from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, may I ask you to have a small word with Nibs and convince him I’ll be needing a complimentary tipple for medicinal purposes. And if he balks, maybe mention that I’ll be getting a room of my own soon.

 

Idle Eye 5 : The Party

I must say, I’m enjoying this hack business enormously. Seems you just bang out a few well-chosen words when you’re pissed, turn up at an Idle Hour party and everyone smiles at you in that ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of way. Splendid! And while we’re at it, I thought it would be wise to jot down a few muddled thoughts from Nibs’ anniversary bash at IH Barnes because a) it was a fabulous, bonkers evening, and b) I’m being paid for it. So here goes :

10 years in any old game is quite something. It demonstrates that you have stamina, balls and a willful refusal to fail. These are qualities I have long admired in girlfriends, employees and whiskey, the obvious exception being that I have never employed a single person in all of my years on the planet. And that’s as it should be, as any fule kno. But when it turns out that Squitly Junior, who used to nick sweets from the Shackleford shop and (very much later) roger his nanny while his elder sibling was getting off on Starsky & Hutch downstairs is the one who fits the bill, I have to concede that despite my obviously superior looks and intellect, a tip of the hat is due here. So, well played bro, here’s to another ten..

It probably is also timely to introduce whatever readership we have here to Da Mudda. Back in the 1960s, Nibs and myself decided to give birth to someone who would eventually become our mother, half woman, half Nazi, never, ever wrong. And out of respect we let her raise us, send us to expensive schools and attend functions, bar mitzvahs, parties etc.. So it was indeed a pleasure to see her there in the crowd on saturday, listening with pride as her god-given parents murdered ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him’ and ‘Oliver’s Army’ as backing to the ever-forgiving Roland Rock and his band. We have a photograph of her weeping, although it is not yet clear whether this is out of despair or joy. Time will tell.

A small but grateful word to the bar staff : Being a vegetarian, lily-livered, ex-art school renegade comes with its’ set of not unsubstantial hurdles when it comes to nibbles. (You know when you have reached your middle years when you can say ‘nibbles’ without a hint of embarrassment. Although I have long since reached them & my ears have just turned red. No-one tells you this stuff.) My undying thanks goes out to the young lady who left me with a plate of crudités as the carnivores sought their quarry.

For anyone who was there, it was lovely to meet you and thank you for, well, for being you. Who’d have thought we’d hit it off so well, eh? Let’s hope this crazy old vehicle stays on the road for a few more. And mine’s a large one, if you’re offering..