Idle Eye 177 : The Lunatic Fringe

I remember looking into a mirror in my early teens and becoming deeply distressed by the reflected combover, struggling to conceal an anaemic pate that lay beneath. Why, oh why wasn’t I blessed with a testosterone-laden rug such as Oliver Reed’s? Or an exotic, lustrous mane like the one Peter O’Toole sported so memorably in Laurence of Arabia? Ladies seemed to enjoy that shit back then, and I was convinced that once they had gotten past the brutal truth – that I had only just started sprouting hair elsewhere – the likes of Farrah & Co would have leapt at the chance of running their fingers through a pubescent schoolboy’s formative locks, despite not yet being able to take them out to a licensed restaurant and manfully settling the bill.

I’ll be straight with you: things haven’t improved much since. My twenties and thirties saw only an uphill battle with the tyranny of the tresses, so when Jon Bon Jovi and Nick Cave appeared (with their effortless, follicular fuck you’s), I was getting through an entire can of Boot’s Unperfumed (pink for maximum hold, as opposed to the lightweight blue) every day, and considered myself single-handedly responsible for the ozone hole that could be seen from spaceships. But still I persevered, despite resembling a deep-fried greaser plugged into the mains. When the 90s penchant for a brutal No.2. shave cut became a thing, I consoled myself with the fact that all fashion is cyclical, and that I would almost certainly be de rigueur come 2005. By which time I was presented with an entirely unforeseen challenge.

A couple of grey babies had appeared. Initially quite subtly, nestled in amongst the more robust strands, but with a deft go on a comb and a handful of wet-look gel, no one was any the wiser. Being that 2-3 months older than my peers, I have always been held up as a poster boy to the perils of ageing, so I badly needed a few tricks up my sleeve. Grecian 2000 was briefly considered, until I cottoned on to the fact that it is exclusively a product for the tragically deluded. And anyway, why couldn’t I shore up to what nature had in store for me? It is what it is, as they supposedly say, and the ladies I so badly wanted would have instinctively recognised this and loved me for it. I laboured under this fallacy for a few more years until it became ridiculous: by 2015, it looked as if I’d had a deliberate rinse.

Please don’t get me started on all that Silver Fox nonsense. Flattering though it may be to be seen as a kind of Blake Carrington figure (google him, children), the stark truth is that my body is telling me to wind down and take a back seat: my days as a dynamic provider are totally shot. That’s why I look like someone’s dad now. And fortunately for you, not yours…

Idle Eye 86 : The Pixies

One of the reasons I bailed out of the music scene in 1998 was down to an overwhelming fear of becoming one of those ancient ponytailed rockers who never learned when to throw in the towel. For me it was get in there early, shine while you have the limelight, then hand over the baton to the next in line. It’s usually a brutally short career path, as for footballers and athletes, but rightfully so: You need the stamina and the recklessness to bend your body and mind to the outer limits of excess in order to advance the cause, and these are the exact qualities that tend to retire with every advancing year (unless you are Sly Stone).

But never mind all that. I got an email from the Pixies a couple of weeks ago saying they were doing a secret show in Brixton and would I care to join them? How very thoughtful, I thought, and as each and every Pixie is a tad older than myself, I figured it would be churlish to refuse. It’s manners, innit? Like when your nan asks you over for tea. So off I popped on Friday night with a few chums, having enjoyed a few statutory light refreshments beforehand.

And hats off to them, they really were jolly good. Mr Francis, or Black now apparently, was shouting and screaming like my mother in the 1970’s, with not a jot of hair on him. Which was brave. His old chum Mr Santiago (on the guitar) was particularly splendid, and guess what? He was follicularly-challenged too, neatly getting around it with the cunning use of a flat hat. Mr Lovering on the drums was thinning a bit, but we forgave him for it as he pounded it out like a headmaster before New Labour got in, and then there was New Kim on the bass (Old Kim had stopped for reasons most probably outlined in paragraph one). And oh my stars! New Kim had masses of hair! And she wasn’t afraid to move it about, neither. In fact, New Kim probably had more hair than all the other Pixies combined. And I loved her for it. These are the things that matter when you’ve been out of the loop for a while.

We retired to an old-skool boozer on Coldharbour Lane for a swift digestif. Some boys with trainers the size and shape of Beirut flat blocks were unattractively spitting into their microphones, whilst behind them a disc jockey seemed to be having problems cueing up his songs. I know I’m going to come across all fuddy-duddy but you wouldn’t have got that from David Jacobs, now would you? At least he could put the bloody needle down in the right place, for heaven’s sake!

But I’m forgetting myself: Dear Pixies, it was lovely to see you all, and thank you for inviting me to your lovely party. I am most grateful. Now, where is my mind?