Idle Eye 194 : The Guzzler

As I was straining the greens before leaving work this afternoon, it occurred to me that an actual person invented those little rubber mats that sit awkwardly in the belly of their white porcelain hosts. Someone with the nous to recognise the perils of splashback, and the business acumen to get them into pretty much every tinklehaus in the country. So I tried to imagine taking the initial concept to pitch. Like you do:

Institute of Industrial Design:  Thanks for coming in. How can we help you?

Me:  I’ve invented something very small and simple that will change life as we know it.

IID:  Oh good. What precisely is it?

Me:  It’s a little rubber mat that stops piss flying up into your face.

IID:  Sorry, we didn’t quite catch that.

Me:  A rubber mat. That stops piss flying up into your face. There’s a massive gap in the market.

IID:  A gap in the market, you say? For the prevention of flying piss?

Me:  Yes. It’s an age-old problem.

IID:  That has not once been flagged up. Until today.

Me:  Just because no one’s flagged it up doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Try telling that to Apple.

IID:  Except Apple almost singlehandedly advanced computer technology, hardware aesthetics and consumer demand beyond anything previously imagined. Are you seriously suggesting you can do something similar with the toilet?

Me:  Correct. There will come a time when we cannot envisage life without them. Like cat’s eyes. And the vacuum cleaner. Have some faith.

IID:  And does your little mat have a name?

Me:  Not yet – I’m just the ideas guy. But I’m thinking it could be a bit of fun; something to take their minds off it.

IID:  Off what, exactly?

Me:  That they’re basically spraying piss all over the place.

IID:  Fun doesn’t quite spring to mind.

Me:  Of course it does! How about “The Guzzler – putting the fun back into functional”. See? It’s even got its own strapline.

IID:  The Guzzler?

Me:  Why not? Does what it says on the tin. And it alludes to the piss ending up inside The Guzzler and not all over the end user; without making a huge song and dance about it.

IID:  Is this your first business venture, by any chance?

Me:  I’ve had heaps of ideas. But this is the one I’ve been most excited about.

IID:  Of course. And you’ve told no one else about it?

Me:  No one at all. Intellectual property and all that. I wasn’t born yesterday.

IID:  Splendid! Could you leave a copy with us? And help yourself to a Malteser on the way out, we’ll be in touch.

And that would have been it. Followed by unimaginable wealth, admiration from my peers and a lifestyle lesser mortals can only dream of. All of this from a bit of rubber with a few holes in it. So reach for the stars, my friends. Just don’t let on to Durex…

Idle Eye 193 : The Single Spies

I’ve become obsessed with Tristram Shandy of late. That entire notion of an unreliable narrator and the layering of truths to create another, even more unlikely than the sum of its parts, appeals to me enormously right now. There is good reason for this: for too long, being the snivelling coward that I am, I have swerved and dodged the slings and arrows hurled at me by those who seek to undermine my work and beyond. And, to flip the idiom to suit my purposes, if only they came in battalions! For then it would be clear – the masses have spoken and they all think I’m an arse. At which point I could sneak off, lick my wounds and start again.

But they don’t. No, they come as friends, as lovers, as colleagues. They come individually, neatly spaced and lightly armed. Their slight is seemingly insignificant, rarely an assault. Their motivation is often unclear, even to themselves, but calculated nonetheless. Yet the cumulative effect is devastating. They come in disguise – wolves in sheep’s clothing – and like a cancer, once they’re in they set to work, which I mostly exercise for them. For their design is to sow the seeds of self-doubt rather than take a scythe to the results. And thereby I become the architect of my own destruction, and the finger of blame has no one to point at other than myself. Good, innit?

So the time has come to hit back, however uncomfortable that may be (I’m a liar, not a fighter). Stasis is tantamount to an admission of guilt and weakness, so clearly no longer an option. I will draw my line in the sand and no longer shall they cross it. And to those of you I will lose in the process, I say this:

‘I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you. Now fuck off.’

Do you know why? Because it’s not straightforward, is it? Read the second paragraph again with the presupposition that it is written by someone suffering from acute paranoia. See? Changes everything. But if I bring it up myself, perhaps you will salute my honesty and self-awareness, and be more inclined to side with me if it ever came to it. It’s a ruse. One chicane inside another. Although, in this particular case, it’s also a cry for help. Somewhere in all of the above, the narrative gets lost in the exposure of the framework. But by revealing a small portion of author vulnerability, I intend to cement from you a loyalty of sorts.

And so, gentle reader, I leave you with this: which layer suits you best? Which section of this woven tapestry will you believe, if any? Let us not forget I am still in character and I have an objective. But behind that character lies the reason to create him in the first place, trustworthy or otherwise. And the absolute truth is for you to decide.

Idle Eye 192 : The Grate Sex Guide

Traditionally, I tend to shy away from comment on sensational media stories. They’re usually clickbait, or cooked up from deep within the well of fake news, tailored to have us frothing at the gills over piffle we’ll have forgotten about long before they’ve come up with the next lot. No no no. I subscribe to a couple of respectable broadsheets, which conveniently afford me the illusion that I can filter out any such dross, arm myself with a succinct, accurate world view and lie guilt-free in a bed of my own smugness. For which I make no apology.

Occasionally though, something slips through the net. And today it concerned a young man from Romford, Essex who tried to have sex with a drain cover in the middle of his street. Initially, my curiosity was piqued by the use of the word ‘romp’, as I wrestled with the mental image of a Bacchanalian tryst ‘twixt man and wrought iron, with any neighbouring traffic juddering to a halt in front of the star-crossed lovers. But then I considered the trajectory of the event: there must have been a fulcrum point at which 33-year-old Florin Grosu (sic) was so swollen with lust for his intended, asking it back to his place was totally off the map. Perhaps the grate had gotten coquettish? Or that, in a blaze of white-hot alpha masculinity, our Florin had rushed towards the object of his desire and thrust himself upon it. Which spawned the obvious leading question: how?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in a first date scenario, but from what I remember and in all fairness, it can be tricky navigating that initial moment of consent. But when he knew for certain he had a green light and his trousers were ankle-bound, the options available to young Florin became multifold. Which must have been perplexing in the extreme to someone in a presumably altered state, and to whom time was of the essence. Now, I’ve seen stock shots of your average drain cover and, to be blunt, there are approximately twenty inlets. Twenty! So what was the poor boy to do? Select at random the most alluring, or systematically make his way through each one in turn until his manhood had been whittled to a shadow of its former self? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Then must have come the inevitable wave of post-coital self-loathing. When it was brutally evident that the bond between street hardware and human being is platonic for very good reason. But imagine, if you will, there was something more to it. That, after many years of thwarted forays into the quagmire of romance, Florin had finally found something of value and was expressing his gratitude in the only way he knew how. Not so funny now, eh Romford Recorder? Shame on you! For as they say: true love, like proper news, is a battlefield.

Idle Eye 191 : The Showgirl

It’s time to scotch a rumour, now that we’re safely ensconced inside a new year and you’re vaguely listening again. And, unlike the usual ephemera that does the rounds on the social (only to rapidly disappear up its own euphemism), this one concerns yours truly and the highly improbable premise that things have taken a turn for the better in my private life. Worse still, that it may involve a certain Jenny Vegas, who has been in my employ for a few months now and, to be perfectly honest, really not my type. This kind of hearsay is not only unhelpful, but also deeply unprofessional; to the point where I had to make an awkward call to Miss Vegas in person and make an complete tit of myself:

Me:  Jenny, can you talk?

Vegas:  That you, Dougie?

Me:  Er…no. It’s Idle Eye. From the Broken Biscuits shows.

Vegas:  Aw, hiya! Did ya have a fab Chrimbo?

Me:  Yes, thank you. It was most pleasant.

Vegas:  What you doing calling mi in’t middle of t’night?

Me:  It’s 10.15, Jenny…AM. And there’s something urgent I need to run past you.

Vegas:  Is it Hollyoaks?

Me:  No, not exactly. It’s a bit more delicate than that.

Vegas:  Gi us a clue then. An don’t tek all day.

Me:  I’ll come straight to the point. There are certain, how shall we say, insinuations flying about at the moment about you and me. Have you heard anything?

Vegas:  In…sin…yer wha?

Me:  Insinuations. People are talking.

Vegas:  Eh?

Me:  Look, this isn’t easy for me. But the word on the street is that we’re somehow…entwined.

Vegas:  I only ‘ad a few Lambrinis…an’ a whiskey chaser. I were holdin’ back!

Me:  We’re not talking alcohol, Jenny. This is the hard stuff.

Vegas: I don’t do that neither. Not since rehab.

Me:  Ok, I’ll spell it out. They’re saying you and I are a couple. Romantically. As in going out together. And you have my full…

Vegas:  Whose seyin’ that?

Me:  No one in particular. But you know how the rumour mill works.

Vegas:  Yew…an mesen?

Me:  That’s about the sum of it.

Vegas:  Are yer fookin ‘avin a laff?

Me:  Deadly serious, I’m afraid.

Vegas:  Well, Mr Eye! Altho’ I am a woman of great bewtay, talent an intelligence, not to mention a consummated professional, I don’ av time for owt like tha. An even if I did, I do have mi reputat…repit…image to think abaht, yer naw.

Me:  If it’s any conciliation, it was nothing to do with me.

Vegas:  That’s right, never is wi you blorks. Nah piss off, I’m busy…

And that was that. Whilst I’m no stranger to the odd rebuke, this was one of the oddest yet; particularly as I shall be working with Miss Vegas for the foreseeable future. But if you ask me, the lady protests too much. They usually do, the little minxes…

Idle Eye 190 : The Big(ger) Picture

X:  2016 is coming to an end. I think it’s time you and I had a chat about what you’re doing.

Me:  Sure. What about it?

X:  Well, for starters, what exactly are you doing? A year ago you said you wanted to be a writer. Now it’s all about these shows and you haven’t written the blog since August. You need to be clear about your end goals because no one else is.

Me:  I wouldn’t worry about that. No one reads it anyway and I needed a breather.

X:  That kind of attitude will get you precisely nowhere.

Me:  I’m already precisely nowhere. Which is why I’m doing the shows.

X:  Okay, let’s take a different tack. Are you making any money from them?

Me:  Absolutely none. In fact, I fork out quite a bit to make it all happen.

X:  So what’s your projected business plan then? Because it’s not looking too crash hot at the moment.

Me:  I don’t have a business plan. Actually, that’s not true, I do: the plan is to keep doing stuff until something gives. Sort of like ‘paying your dues’ when you’re in a band.

X:  Bands don’t ‘pay their dues’ any more, for god’s sake! Your head’s somewhere in the 1970s. And if you don’t come up with something a little more concrete, so is your career.

Me:  I quite fancy a 1970s career, now you mention it. It was all a bit more clear-cut back then.

X:  If you’re not going to take this seriously, don’t come crying to me when you can’t pay the fucking bills.

Me:  All right, all right! Jeez! Well, the way I see it is as a package. The written stuff feeds the live stuff and the audio stuff, I get to meet some great people along the way and eventually I sell the concept.

X:  Who to? Santa? The Magic Fairy Godmother?

Me:  If you’re not going to take this seriously, don’t come crying to me when I can’t pay the fucking bills.

X:  I am serious. Who on earth is going to shell out for your ‘concept’, seeing as it’s doing so well right now?

Me:  Santa.

X:  And what if Santa only wants one of your acts? That Jenny Vegas, for example: you seem to be putting your back into that one.

Me:  You’ve just proved that my concept works in a single sentence.

X:  How exactly?

Me:  Because you mentioned Jenny Vegas.

X:  So?

Me:  Until today, she’s only been part of the shows. But now you’ve put her into the writing, and we’ll probably record this as well. And then I can sell it all on to Santa as a multimedia extravaganza and buy a house in Beverly Hills.

X:  You wrote this, not me!

Me:  Are you saying you don’t exist?

X:  You’re really not at all well, are you?

Me:  I’m fine. The back’s playing up a bit though.

Book Update No. 16

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Remember this? If you can’t, please allow me to bring you up to speed: almost exactly one year ago, following on from an intense yet successful Kickstarter campaign, Amateur of Life and Death was released into the world via my very own little publishing wing, Ward 10 Books. Twenty brilliant artists from disparate disciplines and locations all contributed two illustrations, it was beautifully designed by Ursula McLaughlin and it became a hardback as we raised £1000 more than I had originally pitched for. It sold quite a few copies to begin with, but then came the inevitable slowdown and the impenetrable wall of the big stores was never adequately scaled. This upset me at first, but it lead onto the alternative route I have adopted since April; live performance and the Broken Biscuits shows. Which I adore, but the book is still a very real thing, still available and I am immensely proud of it.

As we prepare to enter the season of goodwill, may I humbly suggest the above as an adequate token of affection for a loved one, a colleague, a pet, an accountant or anyone else who knows you. It is quite easy to wrap, has pictures if you don’t like the words, and it fits under most doors. Simply click on the link below and I will sign it & send it to whoever you wish. If the link doesn’t work, could you let me know in the comments please? I’m a bit shit at this stuff which is why I’m not rich.

I thank you x

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IE Audio 29 : The Wicker Man

Quality undercoat for exterior stone and wood. With Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet.