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 81 : The Eye and the Erewash

Couple of things. Firstly, I must confess I lied to you back in Idle Eye 77 about getting the jellies re-zapped. I never did, at least not then. It was simply a narrative convenience to say so. However, after five months of headaches and grinding admin, I finally reached a compromise with the suits at Optical Express – I could have one eye enhanced. On the house, but just the one. Bugs sodding Bunny.

It was a Sophie’s choice, basically. Should I have gone for the one that could see into the future, all Michael J Fox but lacking the most rudimentary of motor skills, or the other one, stuck in the 1980’s with crap hair but bringing up the rearguard rather nicely, thank you. I opted for the former, the trade-off being that I wouldn’t have to wear senior glasses every time my phone rang.

Big mistake. When the stench of molten eyeball had finally subsided and I was able to take a good look around, it became apparent the roles had been reversed. The former limp biscuit was flexing its muscles like Charles Atlas, and last month’s King of the Hill had tumbled onto Skid Row. Woefully, my everyday reality had now become the equivalent of whatever Scandi cop show is currently doing the rounds, all shallow-focus and inner ennui. And I’m wearing the glasses as I type this.

In better news, it turns out that this ole blog has been embraced by the good folk of Derbyshire, presumably because last week I suggested it was somewhat remote and they have a honed lust for revenge. Now listen: Of course Derbyshire isn’t remote. I looked it up on Google Maps and it’s quite near Nottingham, which I have heard of. That Robin Hood once ran about there being terribly left-wing in a forest, and there’s also lots of pubs and lovely ladies. Apparently. One of which was the delightful Christine Free, who I met recently and has a slot on Erewash Sound, now broadcasting my Elsan extracts every Wednesday sometime between 10.30 and 11am. The humanist in me just wants to reach out and beg her to desist. It’s just not fair: These people have historically travelled many miles to avoid the appalling whimsy I subject you to every week, but she wouldn’t have it, bless her. So here we go:

“Welcome, Erewash, and thanks for listening. I’ll try my darndest to keep you all on board although honestly, the odds are poor – My own mother whacked me senseless with the bristly end of a hairbrush outside the Imperial War Museum for being spectacularly annoying in the 1970’s. Sorry. I’ll be mostly chucking out irrelevant drivel for the first few paragraphs, after which I will somehow manage to tie in my brother’s pub in London, thereby fulfilling my contractual obligation. It’s gonna be a white knuckle ride, so hold on tight! Now, here’s the weather…”

Idle Eye 14 : The Bagging Area

Let’s talk cheese. Why the hell not? It’s a staple. Good, honest fare made by farmers and Blur and consumed in quantity by the French, West Country types and yours truly. Soft on the palate and hard on arteries, this formidable foodstuff has done the rounds for centuries and is showing no signs of letting up any time soon. So it came as no small surprise to learn that sleb chef Anthony Worrall Thompson has sullied the reputation of our dairy doyen by popping into Tesco in Henley-on-Thames and nicking it. For Heaven’s sake man, get a grip! Now, clearly Tony feels the same about the Empire of Evil as I do but really, cheese and discounted coleslaw? My heart actually bleeds for the guy so I thought I’d use my Bro-given platform to offer him a little assistance for the future:

  • First rule of shoplifting: Always shoot above your status. There’s very little point in doing time for sandwich fillings, no matter how much quality bubbly you wash them down with.
  • Second rule of shoplifting: Never admit culpability. Ever. Even if they find you with a boot full of hooky lager and an empty petrol tank, you hold your head up high and come on all Penelope Keith. It’s the British way. None of this ‘Oooh sorry, I’m a klepto, I’ll make amends’ crap, it’s balls out, chest in or bust. Either that or think very hard about the products you have stolen and seek culinary advice. From a celebrity chef, perhaps?

Speaking of cheeses, Nibs brought over a selection from the Idle Hour last week. You know the sort of thing, a NASA-funded one that removes the roof of your mouth, another so creamy it should be ‘R’ rated, some blue, some borrowed etc.. And, it must be said, they were outstanding. All of them. In case you’re wondering, yes, the Alex James one made an appearance, woo hoo! It’s called ‘Blue Monday’ for all you Eighties throwbacks out there, it’s made in Kingham, Oxfordshire and apparently it’s eye-wateringly expensive. Of course it is: The man drank a million quids worth of champagne in three years, he’s got to claw it back somehow.

Hang about, I’ve just come up with a solution. No win, no fee, and it works like this: Tony, you load up the Bentley with the three crates of champers you actually paid for and head over to Alex’s in Kingham (it’s not far from your manor, I checked on Google Maps). In exchange for these, Alex will donate as much Blue Monday as he can squeeze into the boot and/or passenger footwells because he laaavs abitavit! (BTW first check whether he’ll bung in a bit of cheap slaw on the side). Then, when you’ve sorted your respective addictions, head on over to the Idle Hour for a conciliatory slap-up where Nibs will show you both how it’s done proper.

Honestly, I blame the parents.