Idle Eye 76 : The Talented Mr Reynard

I was making my regular journey to the train earlier today when something stopped me in my tracks. And before you get out of your prams, it wasn’t the sciatica or any other dreary ailment that prohibits the fluid motion of youth. No, this was far more interesting: On the pavement not one hundred yards from my flat lay a vast pile of fox business. Not, as you might imagine, lying there passively like a couple of ancient churros. Far from it. These were super fresh and neatly stacked, resembling a miniature log rick to be used at a future date for some demonic purpose or other. And it got me to thinking that your fox has evolved in ways that couldn’t have been imagined when I was a kid. Back then, they were timid, seldom-seen creatures that you may occasionally catch a fleeting glimpse of when you visited your nan in that countryside. Not any more: His urban cousin has got streetwise, people-savvy and bold as brass. And I love him for it.

Let me give you an example: Earlier this year, the evergreen Daily Mail ran the story of Tod, a fox who got barred from his local pub in Beverley, East Yorkshire. Impressive, huh? I only wish I could have seen his tab. But the naysayers all came from the ‘vermin’ camp, and consequently poor Tod was prevented from enjoying what was rightfully his after a long day of wrestling pizzas from parochial wheely bins. And the delightful sickofthiscountry was so righteously indignant that such a wretch wasn’t properly toilet-trained, she almost dropped one of her own off online.

Now, I know this might upset some of you country folk, but the Idle Hour is furry friendly. Yep, all disease-ridden social pariahs can pop in any time they like, and down a Jäger or two in their own good time. And the foxes are welcome as well. Oh, and anyone who has a problem with this can have a chat with me outside: Just because we city types don’t have an arsenal of profitable livestock to protect doesn’t mean we can’t extend a common courtesy to strangers. Otherwise you other lot, Dubrovnik Dave and Sarajevo Steve, can swing for it. Them’s the rules these days. And while we’re at it, instead of getting all Theresa May about our hirsute brethren, how about we capitalise on their inherent skillset and integrate it into our own? Imagine the possibilities:

Sly, highly-motivated worker required for hen house security position. Must be slim, furry and hated by the right-wing press. Penchant for sleeping infants a bonus, as is the ability to create a pyramid of turd just wherever. Enjoys running, fast food, medieval fables, Yorkshire bitter and squealing after midnight like a girl. Rates negotiable. Start when we’ve mended the French doors…

Message? What we fear is not necessarily the enemy. And put your bloody rubbish in a bin.

Idle Eye 52 : The Name’s Nibs

MI6 building, Vauxhall Cross. Yesterday.

M:  Ah, Nibs! Thanks for coming in. Sit down, won’t you?

Nibs:  Thank you, Ma’am.

M:  Seems there’s a bit of fuss in Whitehall about this wretched peerage you’ve got. Makes a mockery of all the legitimate ones like Savile, apparently. Now, I’ve told the PM we’ll let it slide for diplomacy’s sake so I’ll hear no more of it from now on. Is that understood?

Nibs:  Implicitly.

M:  Shut the door on the way out, will you Nibs?

Nibs:  Of course.

Heads towards door but then turns back

Would it make a difference if I told you that the Treasury had nothing to do with it?

M:  Explain.

Nibs:  The peerage, Ma’am. I got it off of the internet.

M:  Don’t be ridiculous, Nibs. I don’t have time for this.

Nibs:  I’m afraid it’s true. eBay. £94.85. Last Christmas. I was the highest bidder by 75 pence.

M:  Damn you! You do realise this compromises our entire operation? Everything we hold dear?

Nibs:  I do, Ma’am.

M:  Then why, Nibs? This had better be good.

Nibs:  It is.

M:  I’m waiting.

Nibs:  It’s the budget cuts, Ma’am. Take a look at my expenses for the 2010-2011 period. What can you see?

M:  Well, you do seem to have eased off on Jägermeister and KY Jelly.

Nibs:  Marginally, yes. But what else?

M:  Hmmm… hard to say. Travel, perhaps?

Nibs:  Exactly! Last time Q handled finance I was on a bullshit train fighting that ugly gorilla with bad teeth. £94.85 lets me turn left on planes these days: It’s a no-brainer.

M:  Hold up. What are these endless entries saying Idle Hour Barnes?

Nibs:  Entertainment, Ma’am. With respect, perhaps you’ve forgotten how we do things in the field?

M:  I was entertaining at the Idle Hour when you were in school shorts. And if you think the sunday roast is going to slip through accounts without a public hearing, you are very much mistaken.

Nibs:  It’s just business, Ma’am. My business.

Cue exciting theme music alongside exciting graphics with bums’n’guns’n’bosoms under water and a couple of ducks from the Wetlands Centre chewing some grass

M:  Oh, and Nibs?

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am?

M:  You’re fired. Hand your keys in at reception. This is the last time we shall ever meet. Goodbye, Mr Nibs.

Nibs:  Lord Nibs, Ma’am.

M:  Lord Nibs. Whatever. But £94.85! Really?

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am. Off of the internet.

M:  Astonishing.

Nibs:  Indeed. And you get a certificate.

M:  A certificate?

Nibs:  Yes.

M:  Framed?

Nibs:  No, Ma’am.

M:  I see. So Nibs, you’re a nob now?

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am. The name’s Nibs – Lord Nibs.

M:  Nob or not, get out, Nibs. Now!!!

Nibs:  Yes, Ma’am.

Disclaimer: The Director General of the Idle Eye would like to make it clear that any of the above insinuations pertaining to the dubious authenticity of Lord Thorp’s peerage are merely that and completely unfounded. And he’s not standing down, neither…

Idle Eye 22 : (Round) The Block

Every once in a blue moon, those golden nuggets we scribblers rely on to metamorphose into glorious full-blown posts simply dry up. Nothing to be embarrassed about, apparently, happens all the time. There’s no shame to be had in the non-delivery of goods promised in the conjugal contract between writer and publican, is there? Of course not. In any relationship there has to be a bit of give and take, and when the give breaks down, the recipient will naturally collude with the donor in order to reach mutually acceptable ground. Or so you would think:

Me: Bro, I’ve dried up.

Nibs: Don’t worry, been through that one. Top up the tank with a Jager and you’ll be back in no time.

Me: It’s not the sauce, it’s the blog. I’m spent, can’t think of anything.

Nibs: Balls! There’s tons to write about. What about Mothers Day? And the bogs, remember?

Me: I’ve already covered the bogs.

Nibs: Then tell them that I’ve been out to Dubai. There’s a certain mystery to that, no?

Me: It depends what I tell them you did out there.

Nibs: You don’t have to spell it out. Just hint at the exotic. That’s what I pay you to do.

Me: That’s the whole point. The muse, it’s gone! I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here. And the readers expect a certain standard. I can’t let them down now we’ve actually got a few.

Nibs: Sorry, bro, gotta go. Timmy’s done a massive shit on the carpet and we open in forty minutes. You’ll think of something…

It’s a powerful image: The last remaining morsels of my dwindling creativity being sidestepped by a cat offloading hers in the only way she knows how. So I rake through the clues in our woefully brief chat. What’s in there? What did he mean? I’m Sarah Lund without the sex appeal or the jumper. Hmmm… There must be something. Anything. And then, mercifully, it comes to me:

Me: I think I’ve got it. The cat. Dubai. He’s really trying to tell me something…

Lund: Ooets nawwt thaat simples.

Me: I think it is. He just wants me to get more relevant stuff in. What he’s doing. Timmy: She’s a pub cat. Dubai: It’s where he’s going this week. Can’t you see? It all fits.

Lund: Yaah, buüt mabee we haaf to loork further.

Me: Lund. Thank you for your help. Really, thanks. But I’m not sure how many Idle Hour punters are going to get this reference. You’re a Danish detective from the telly. I can’t believe I’m actually having this conversaton and I’m pretty sure Nibs will have something to say about it.

Lund: Søøry.

Me: Don’t mention it. Oh, and Timmy, you finished yet?

Timmy: Meow.

Me: What’s that?

Timmy: Meow.

Me: No shit! Bin the Dane? Focus on the pub? Ok, Timmy, you the lady.

So then, Mothers Day bookings: Sorry, dudes, all gone, all gone. Don’t shoot the messenger…

Idle Eye 12 : The Bruises (Fah La La La La, La La La Lah)

I woke up this morning with two large bruises on my person. The first, a striking black bloomer, was nestling obstreperously on my right knee, and the other, an iridescent slow-burner like Christmas lights seen through an orange segment, sat resplendent on my left forearm. Now, I know for a fact that these babies weren’t there last night because I checked. It’s what you do from time to time when the body begins to rebel. So where did they come from? And what could they possibly want? At first I presumed they were oncoming signs of seasonal ailments suffered almost exclusively by the self-employed, but I was otherwise in good health and indeed had just carried a case and a half of holiday cheer in from the car. Perhaps it was the work of a rogue banker, splashing a small portion of his/her bonus on a voodoo curse in revenge for last weeks post. Unlikely, requires imagination. Bewildered, I called out for help:

Ursula:  What now? I’m making pies.

Me:  I’ve got two weird bruises. I think you should come and look.

Ursula:  Let me get this straight. There’s two shopping days to go, I’m cooking for eight, the flat is a tip and you want me to look at your bruises?

Me:  Something like that, yes.

In a second she was at my side, eager to discover something fresh and exciting about her partner. I peeled up the leg of my pyjama bottoms to reveal Exhibit A, glistening enthusiastically in the raking sunlight.

Ursula:  Is that it?

Me:  No, there’s another one.

I rolled up my sleeve with pride to the location where Exhibit B was vying for position. Ursula shot me a tender look that could have knocked small birds from trees and left, but at that very moment something astonishing happened. The darker bruise appeared to pulsate as I watched it, and as I drew closer I could see there was movement inside, the movement of what seemed like tiny people in what seemed to be a tiny pub, clearly enjoying themselves and raising their tiny glasses towards the huge figure looming above. “Merry Christmas from the Idle Hour Barons Court”, they cried in unison before clanking their respective tipples together. Squinting harder, I could just make out a miniscule bearded man in a Miami Vice jacket and penny loafers embracing another absurdly small representative from the Jägermeister company. In the background I spotted a lavish North African drinking space (ideal for pint-sized parties, by the way) and off in the kitchens an award-winning chef called Tony was creating a fabulous meal for everyone present.

Me:  (urgently) Urs! URS!!!

Ursula:  (in distance) **** off!

I was on the cusp of leaping from my bed when I noticed the second bruise. Not to be outdone, it was ebbing and flowing like a seasick calzone on a waterbed. I took a closer look out of fairness, and again I saw a myriad of microscopic pub-faring folk in mid-carousal just underneath the surface wound, only this time they were crowded around a log fire, being served what looked like mulled wine from a man wearing a somewhat vulgar Miami Vice jacket and Penny Loafers. At first they were blissfully unaware of my ugly moon face peering down at them, but eventually someone shouted and pointed:

Tiny Reveller:  (to room) There appears to be an enormous bloke watching us from above.

Me:  Fear not, small beer-swilling man, I mean you no harm.

Tiny Reveller:  But how are we to know this, vast crater-faced monster? We are here to celebrate what we call Christmas at the Idle Hour Barnes with our favourite award-winning landlord Nibs, Da Mudda and his brother. Could you come back another time?

Me:  His brother? Are you sure?

Tiny Reveller:  Of course I’m sure! Would you like to buy him a drink?

Me:  You know, I think I would, drunken gnome. Please send him forth.

In what felt like slow motion but actually was slow motion, I watched as a perfect replica of myself in 1/75 scale reached up and asked me for money. This was too much: I leapt back, banging my head against the Louis XIV mahogany headboard and instantly knocked myself out.

I cannot say how long I was gone for, but when I awoke I immediately noticed the bruises had disappeared. Oh, and that I’d pissed myself. Again. Looking around me I became aware that it was Christmas Day and my entire family had gathered around to celebrate the occasion. Da Mudda was smiling and pretending to like Bing Crosby, Nibs was smiling and pretending to like Bing Crosby and Ursula was going at my crotch with a J-cloth. And way, way off in the distance, I saw my own reflection. It was drinking an oversized glass of Jägermeister and giving me the thumbs up. And smiling.