Idle Eye 137 : The Worst Drink of the Day

I hate tea. Quite why it has been adopted as the nation’s drink of choice is totally beyond me, seeing as pretty much anything else that’s liquid and stays down would be infinitely preferable. Let’s not beat about the bush: In its raw state, it looks (and tastes) as if it has been strained though your grandmother’s underpants. Then you add milk (as if that’s going to help), and when it’s made, perfectly normal people from right across the class spectrum make weird, contented sighs over the duration of its consumption as if to say that life, up until this point, has been a bit much. “Best drink of the day”, they go. Utter balls! Stick around with me & I’ll show you a belter come 6pm.

Three drinks that are better than tea. Fact!

  1. New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Noir
  2. Your own sick
  3. Someone else’s sick

You know, the bit that gets me is when they say “Ooh, I’m dying for a cuppa.” I could understand it if they were after a triple shot of wormwood-laden absinthe with a vermouth chaser, but tea? Really? It’s just so…lame! So, why exactly have we embraced this muck to our collective bosom? Well, as with most things, it’s a long story which I shall attempt to condense for you here. If you want proper facts, there’s always Wikipedia:

  1. Chinese accidentally discover it ages ago
  2. Portuguese nick it from Chinese
  3. Dutch nick it from Portuguese
  4. Brits nick it from Dutch
  5. It’s British. No argument. Like curry

The rest is history. There’s a bit of faffing about with taxes and the East India Company, but for the most part we stuck our flag right there in the middle of the pot and pretended to like the stuff. I blame that Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, who made it fashionable and got hooked on it, dozy mare. A bit like Diana and marital infidelity, and look how that’s taken off. Only problem was, the proles had gotten a taste for it as well, and curiously, it was offered as an alternative to the demon grog at temperance meetings. Now, I’ve never attended a temperance meeting (probably not for me), but I’d imagine that tea really isn’t going to cut the mustard when you’re bug-eyed, frothing at the gills & threatening violence to anyone in the vicinity without an almost full bottle of pinot to hand. But what do I know?

And so to the present. I concede I must kowtow to the social mores of our time if I wish to succeed in my chosen field, but I shall do so on my own terms. A short cup of coffee, brutally strong and infused with one of those flavoured syrups, is more than enough to see off the competition. Preferably in sync with a couple of fags. And to those who see this as a crass invasion of tradition, hear ye:

“We do not have to accept the world as we find it” – Ed Miliband

Idle Eye 108 : The Joy of B&B

One of the perennial delights available to the migrant worker in the UK is that of the great British B&B. In an age of flux, it is comforting to note that this cultural stalwart has roots deep enough to weather the whims of fancy and will remain defiantly crap until the end of time. And if anyone is in any doubt about this, have a quick butchers at Rising Damp on Comedy Gold before heading out. Ok, let’s start at the top:

A significant percentage of any annual B&B budget goes on external appearance, making it the Joan Collins of temporary accommodation. Sadly, this leaves very little once you’re inside but by this point the transaction has generally been made online, leaving the hapless punter at the mercy of the Fury within (which I shall come to presently).

The room. Invariably will have been converted from an under-used alcove into a Laura Ashley-inspired floral extravaganza, complete with Morphy Richards kettle on a laminated tray with a cat on it, sugar sachets nicked from the nearest Wetherspoons and some UHT milk. The light switch will NEVER be where it should and only two of the floorboards covered by the Rorschach purple carpet will not creak, making a mockery of you and your endless trips to the bathroom (which I shall come to presently).

Actually, I’ll come to it now. The bathroom is, by default, at the furthest point in the building from where you happen to be. Don’t ever question this, it’s just how it is. And no amount of corridor-creeping will prevent other guests being aware and in full audio range of your intended business, be it a shower, a widdle or a go on the throne. If it is the latter, may I recommend leaving a tap running, as this affords the end-user the camouflage of a decaying Edwardian plumbing system, screaming to keep up with modern-day demands as you wrestle to silence your most basic of emissions.

Breakfast. If you, like me, have learned to get by on a monstrously strong cup of Columbian and a couple of fags, you’re going to be in for a shock. Your host will be frying up a wealth of sizzling flesh, surrounded by cats and photographs of horses from the 1970’s. Dietary deviations from the above will be frowned upon, as will quantity. Even going all Hugh Grant doesn’t cut much mustard here so you’ll just have to suffer the consequences.

The internet. This extraordinary modern miracle is not much understood at your B&B which is why they tend to turn it off at night, like in the war. However, as with our current government, they know you’ll go elsewhere if it’s not there so you have the upper hand.

Finally, just remember: If you kick off and report these ailing establishments to whatever ombudsman you adhere to, they’ll go the same way as slavery, capital punishment and underage drinking. On your own heads be it.

Idle Eye 23 : The Future

In a plucky bid to beat the supermarkets at their own game, the Idle Hour has recently been developing its very own customer loyalty card. Using a combination of the latest nuclear, biometric and laser technologies from Iran along with simple household bleach, the SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card is set to revolutionize the entire SW13 eating and drinking experience by actually predicting what the customer will order before he/she has actually left the house, with the added benefit that it is actually organic and a full 18% recyclable:

Punter: I love my SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card. I don’t know how I ever got by without it. Really, I don’t. Sometimes I can’t even remember my own name, let alone what I’m going to have at the pub of an evening. So thank you, SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP), you’re the best. Now, what am I having again?

Sceptics have been quick to condemn the SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card, claiming there are legal implications infringing the rights of privacy currently enjoyed by people who haven’t got one:

Punter: I’m not having one of them SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) do-dahs telling me what to have of an evening. If I want a good, honest pint of Harveys I’ll bloody well have one when I bloody well want one. And them cards can stay right out of it.

Mr Thorp was quick to dismiss such allegations, however. “The situation is still under review” he commented before leaving for a swiftly arranged Press Conference in Tehran, adding to suspicions that his relationship with Mr Aftadinahrmint is perhaps more than political:

Aftadinahrmint: Iran has, at no time in the past or future, been involved in the development of loyalty cards for diners and drinkers in the SW13 area. That is a lie, and I invite inspectors to have a look around when I’ve tidied up a bit.

“Well he would say that” retorted Mr Thorp, echoing a similar political denial of a bygone era.

Like it or not, however, it seems the SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card will be here to stay. We spoke to one of the Idle Hour barstaff about the perceivable benefits:

Barstaff: It’s brilliant, like. Sort of like Brazil crossed with The Matrix. When the punter comes in, we don’t actually have to work out what they want, like. ‘Cos it’s already there in the till. It’s aces, man! And I get more time to smoke fags.

So there’s no denying there will be a sensational switch in the way Barnes barfolk transact as the rest of London looks on with baited breath. The SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card will be big business, so get on board before the bus heads out of town. We tried to track down Mr Thorp for the final say but he was away, which we would have known if we’d read our own article:

“It’s the future”, he said. Yesterday.