Idle Eye 71 : The Hollow Man

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

He knew his onions, that TS Eliot. When I was a nipper, I had no thought at all of the concept of impending death, for it was a strange, unknown place populated by ailing adults moaning about their pensions and that. Besides, I was pretty convinced that when my number came up, I would go out gloriously like one of the Spartan 300, taking on whichever government happened to be in power with nothing but my trusty iPhone and a tatty pair of Edwin jeans. And they would lay me in the ground, still young and handsome, and remember me fondly as such.

But the fly of reality invariably contaminates the ointment of illusion. In the early hours of the morning on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 my father died. Peacefully, and in no apparent pain, he shuffled off this mortal coil at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital after a long series of debilitating illnesses. Unheroic and without doubt a little afraid, he departed in a manner familiar to most, for in death there is no hierarchy. I was with Nibs at the Idle Hour when we heard, at which point his four children sped through the night from different corners of the country to be there. On arrival, we all knew we had only a few hours of family time until the media got word and privacy would become luxury, so each of us said a quiet goodbye and waited for the inevitable.

And sure enough the inevitable came, but not in the shape we were expecting. I think it would be fair to say that our father was not exactly astute when it came to all things fiscal, and although his paternal stance could be tough, his underbelly was soft and prone to flattery, which came in droves from all the usual suspects. In fact, the media could not have been more respectful, for which the family will be eternally grateful: It was from those much closer to home that we had good cause to worry about. As I write this, steps are being taken to rectify the situation but I must remain tight-lipped for legal reasons, until such time as the truth can come out. All I can say is that our faith in human nature has taken a severe battering and watch this space: If we’re right, there will be much to report here at a later date.

There is a protocol between Nibs and myself. Something along the lines of me splurting this stuff out, him giving it the yea or nay, and the resulting post depending on the outcome. Tonight, I pray he will give me the benefit of the doubt. For what should have been a moment of reflection has morphed into something significantly more unpalatable. If only he had gone with a whimper. If only…

Idle Eye 49 : The Day Before We Came

“Are you a parent who drinks too much?” blazed Dr Cecilia D’Felice in the Times this weekend, above a photograph of a slick young professional enjoying a perfectly legitimate reward for expelling her mewling sprogs onto a troubled planet. And not to be outdone by her alarmist strapline, she then proceeded to lambast these soft-target breeders with a checklist divided up into stages, neatly calculated to cause maximum collateral damage:

‘You have to be drunk to approach somebody socially with confidence’ – BAM!!!

‘You use alcohol as a reward’ – SOCK!!!

‘You spend a great deal of time drinking’ – THWACK!!!

‘You need more alcohol to achieve the same effect’ – KERSPLATT!!!

‘You can’t remember what you did’ – WHAM CR-R-A-A-CK PLUNK!!!

‘You feel physically unwell during or after drinking’ – KAPOW ZOWIE CLUNK BOFF!!!

“Oooh,” I thought, as I browsed the paper on my iPhone at 4am with one eye as the other was begging the brain to sort itself out after a traditional friday night hammering, “what’s going on here?” Now, not having children myself, I thought I’d be in with a chance of slipping through some kind of statistical net. You know, the one which has no political bearing whatsoever and thereby has no consequence whatsoever, leaving the barren forty-something on the outskirts of anything that even resembles concern. But oh no! Dr D’Felice had somehow managed to make me feel guilty on a Saturday morning well before the birds outside had begun to sing. And all before I had got vertical and had a word with the morning glory. God’s teeth! And to think felice means ‘happy’ in Italian.

I think that what bothers me the most about this deconstruction of what it takes to be a responsible modern parent is the omission of the driving forces that take people away from there in the first place. So, I’ve got a kid. Oh balls! Everything’s gone up in the supermarkets. Holy Moly! If I’m gonna come off my interest-only deal before I’m dust, maybe I’d better start paying the bastard off. And tits on toast! Don’t even start me on pensions or I’ll have off your particulars. All I need right now is a new-world glass of  acceptably sourced old-world ruin and the nippers can fend for themselves. Them’s the rules.

As I stumbled my way through the above, a text came through from Nibs inviting me (and I presume y’all) to his party at the Idle Hour on the 27th. There promises to be, and I quote, “loads of free booze and one hell of a party spirit”. Now, in the interests of responsible journalism, I am compelled to steer you towards a mere couple of glasses each, only to wag them in front of your designated driver before you head off to make babies at the Godly hour. And for this I make no charge and wish you all the luck in the world. As if…