Idle Eye 145 : The Guinea Pig Bridge

Last week, my friend Philippa sent me an internet link all the way from Australia. It led me to a short YouTube clip, showcasing a bunch of guinea pigs running with glee across a roughly-hewn wooden flyover towards an unknown bunker somewhere inside the Nagasaki Bio Park in Japan. And all to an impossibly infectious soundtrack penned by American pet songsmith maestro, Parry Gripp. Sample lyric:

Guinea Pig Bridge…
Guinea Pig Bridge…
Transporting guinea pigs
From Point A to Point B,
Utilising the latest
Guinea Pig Bridge technology,
Conveniently and safely

When I say sample, I do actually mean the whole shooting match. It is so astonishingly brief, it demands at least another watch (or in my case, a fiftieth). But let us examine this in detail:

At the outset, Gripp infers that the bridge in question is responsible for the conveyance of said critters to their port of call. However, on closer inspection, it soon becomes apparent they are doing the bulk of the work themselves, the bridge being a mere conduit, implemented in order to achieve their travel objective. Given the paucity of time Gripp has available to get his message across, it does seem somewhat duplicitous to throw in what is tantamount to a lie in the first twenty seconds, but fortunately any such misgivings are short-lived: All is beautifully resolved in the second half.

In one of the most succinct circumnavigations of Building Control ever to grace popular song, Gripp signs off his work with a disclaimer: If the powers that be have any issues at all as to potential occupational transit hazards, engineering/architectural standards or a practical yet compliant end user experience, they are conclusively put to bed in just three lines. The absurd suggestion that outmoded guinea pig bridge technology could possibly be employed here is tackled head on, leaving no room whatsoever for manoeuvre. It is a triumph, and Gripp knows it. And with that it’s all over, leaving us with the keyboard hook as outro and a gentle fade on a brown furry bottom, heading majestically towards the horizon in true Hollywood Western stylee. It is quite unlike anything I have ever seen.

Remember that 1990s ad for Tango? When the pop drinker was repeatedly slapped in the face by an imaginary orange buddha, hinting that a massive taste explosion could only be properly enjoyed if you were up for having another look in slo-mo? Well, this is the latter-day equivalent. You simply can’t not watch it again, if for nothing else than to try and figure out what’s going on. And thereby lies the genius: In our post-MTV, attention-bereft times, the money shot has to be spent and out of the building before we’ve taken our first breath. So we click back to the start and give it a second go, and before you know it, Gripp is the new Hitchcock. And that’s as it should be.

Idle Eye 29 : The Step

Health and Safety fans out there will no doubt be amused by the latest HSE initiative to quell ‘ridiculous’ rumours that have abounded for years, such as the magnificent trapeze artists to wear hard hats and office workers banned from putting up Christmas decorations malarkey. It’s enticingly labelled the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, it’s chaired by the enticingly labelled Judith Hackitt and sets out to put a bit of common sense back into the workplace so we can all get on with our lives. Safely. And healthily. Unfortunately, when you log onto the panel there are no satisfying howlers for us all to giggle at round the water cooler, no siree. There’s just a brutal grey block with gaping text fields nagging us for information: What is the issue? Who advised you of this? Have you raised this directly with the person? What was the outcome? Subtext: YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WIN THIS, BEDWETTER! WE WILL GRIND YOU DOWN WITH HIDEOUS MUNICIPAL ADMIN UNTIL YOU SUBMIT NOTHING! BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE: NOTHING!!!

Now, I don’t know about you but if I’m going to dob in a jobsworth I’d like to to it with a little more panache. Some rich text formatting, perhaps? Or a background template image of Hunter S Thompson straddling the American desert in an enormous convertible ripped to the tits and toting a Magnum. It only seems fair: They made the mistake, now meet us on our terms.

In an attempt to illustrate the above point further I made a swift call to Nibs, hot off the plane from Dubai as is his wont. All Idle Hour staff, I’m told, have to fill in a form stating they are aware of the step leading into the garden, and that they are able and willing to climb all three inches of it and also descend should they so wish. That they acknowledge the inherent dangers thereof and are prepared to sign a disclaimer lest any accident pertaining to the above should occur. It does strike me, however, that if said staff are unable to negotiate a step no higher than two Mars bars making out, perhaps they should consider an alternative career path, the Hillary-esque hazards of hospitality potentially being the very thing Ms Hackitt is so keen to dispel. Who’d have thunk it?

My particular favourite is surely one on the MBCP hitlist if indeed it were true: The Bodleian Library Oxford, for centuries the hub of literary excellence, has always relied on its pointy ladders to access and distribute those out-of-reach tomes. Until now. Gone are those exquisitely-crafted relics of yesteryear, replaced by motorised cherry pickers which zip in and out of the ancient shelves, making a mockery of common sense and human initiative. So come on, Ms Hackitt: Give us a form we can use that goes even half-way to express our disgust at your systematic annihilation of our heritage. And we’ll get in staff who get the step…