Idle Eye 152 : The Angry Birds

It’s hard not to get incensed by all the stupid things people do. Whether they’ve voted wrong, or looked at you funny, or gone shopping with a ridiculous hipster hairdo or put their feet on the seats, it’s enough to have you frothing at the gills most days, right? To be honest, it’s exhausting. A quick spleen vent at work or down the pub doesn’t help much either, because there you’ll just find even more stuff to get livid about. It’s an infinite cycle of bile. A human centipede of perpetual fury. And once you’re in it, there’s no getting out. Without lithium. Or chocolate.

So where can like-minded hotheads meet and bleat when the going gets excruciating? Which crucible is robust enough to contain the white heat of contemporary rage? Yes, you guessed it, it’s our old chum the Twitter. That stalwart portal, which gives with one hand and destroys with the other, is the paradoxical Shiva of the internet. But here it is not enough just to rock up and pitch in, oh no! To be considered a player, you must have followers. Like Jesus. Or Charles Manson. When you finally get a few, you’ll be needing a few more. And then more still. Until eventually, the very notion that these followers are actual people, as opposed to numerical online manifestations of your rampant unfettered ego, evaporates like a springtime morning mist.

Anyway, I was checking my feed this morning at 5.17am (I was up early, sick with worry that I’d forgotten to charge my phone), and noticed that I had been unfollowed. Only by one, but I felt the ricochet and was smarting from it. Having that extra bit of time on my hands, I spent the next few hours trawling through recent hard drive back-ups in order to expose and humiliate my perpetrator. Unfollow me, I thought? I’ll learn ya. But this one was good. Very good. Using what they call a cloaking address, xoigirl.vikki264 had manipulated my good nature into accepting her into the fold and giving her that most rare of opportunities to shine. Which, for reasons best known to herself, she had chosen to spurn.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can handle rejection. It has been the fabric of my very existence since I told Helena Bonham-Carter’s sister I had all my own teeth and hair in an introductory email. However, I’m super-sagacious these days. I had deliberately chosen to ignore her rather pneumatic avatar in favour of what I considered a more mature approach to online platonic relationships. That somehow, in the vein of Pretty Woman, she could have been persuaded to take the straight and narrow path. But it was not to be. To say nothing of any potential misinterpretation of my intentions. So now I find myself with a mere 33 followers and yes, I’m bloody spewing. Although ViaFlowers11 is looking promising, despite the cost of the visa.

Idle Eye 130 : The Messiah

As some of you may know, I’ve been working in a Catholic church now for quite some time. My remit is to conserve the merchandise, the latest being a huge gilded reredos with exquisitely carved priests gazing up at a floating Lady of Suffering with her attendant cherubs and, a bit further up, God. With a massive beard. And a book.

Every day I arrive an hour or so before the morning Mass. To get to the scaffold, I have to push my bike past an elderly man lying prostrate on the floor in a state of reverie, touching the feet of a plaster cast of Our Lady with six plastic swords piercing her sacred heart. He barely notices me. Next, I nod graciously at the Silver Vixen (who smiles provocatively back) and then head on up to the tower. Usually I bail out for the Mass itself, but sometimes I catch the last of it. A priest in white and purple robes, looking and sounding like Mark E Smith, finishes the proceedings by chanting the beginning of a hymn and then walking off to the sacristy in solemnity, leaving the congregation to wrap up the singing and follow suit. Which, for the most part, they do.

A few weeks ago, however, a straggler got locked in. She’d passed out on one of the pews and fell under the penetrating in-house CCTV radar. When she came to, frightened and coming down off something, her first vision was that of myself, alone, at height and magnificently backlit by powerful halogens. The following exchange went something like this:

Me:  Are you okay?

Lady:  Who…who are you? Do you want me to sing for you?

Me:  Maybe not now. Do you know how to get out?

Lady:  Are you Jesus?

Me:  Er…

Lady:  Let me sing for you, Jesus.

Me:  I think we’d better…

Lady:  LET ME SING FOR YOU, JESUS!!!

Me:  Ok. What can you do?

Lady:  Tell me what to sing.

Me:  Look, I’m really not Jesu…

Lady:  WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SING???

Me:  Um…How about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Do you know that one?

Lady:  Just like you, Jesus. A twinkling star. In Heaven.

Me:  Thank you. But I really think you should speak to Father Pat first.

Lady:  I wrote you a letter. Did you get my letter?

Me:  I don’t think so.

Lady:  I gave it to Our Lady. She kept it for you. SHE KEPT IT FOR YOU!!!

Me: I’ll ask her for it later.

Lady:  I need to go wee.

Me:  Wait a minute. I’ll come down and show you…

Lady:  HELP ME GO WEE, JESUS!!! HELP ME GO WEE!!!

So I did. I helped the lady go wee. And then we took a short walk together to the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital where she was taken in and my services superseded by those more qualified than I. Because I’m not Jesus: I’m just a fella.

Idle Eye 64 : The Long Good Sonday

Oh dear, it’s that time of year again: When supermarkets are brimful with leftover Lindt reindeers cunningly repackaged as bunnies, when television spews out blatant hints that our homes ain’t exactly lemon fresh, when every roadside flower seller gears up for the big one and every self-employed soul in the land prepares for a two-day pay dock. Yes folks, we’re on the Easter runway and already we’re feeling the love. The pope has been picked, the weather is promising to be spectacularly shithouse and the M4 is wetting itself. With joy, you understand. With joy.

I’ve never quite got my head around the whole Easter deal, to be honest. As an excuse to bleed the nations’ wallets once again, it’s badly timed. Too self-consciously close to Christmas/Valentines Day, the concept is far-fetched and not particularly sexy. But Jesus was no fool: He implicitly understood that the gap between Bank Holidays badly needed plugging (40 days was quite enough for him), so with one eye on the Letts and the other on electability, he got them to roll back that stone. And the rest is history. Two thousand plus years on, however, and something significant has got lost in translation. When the fantastical rebirth of the figurehead of all modern guidance is represented by a chocolate egg stuffed with Smarties, you just know we’ve got something out of kilter. And an M&S £10 dine-in almost certainly will not bring a loved one back from the dead or help anyone in their quest for salvation, although it must be said that I have yet to try their lamb bhuna.

You know, if I was God with all his incumbent powers, I’d probably be a bit miffed with the bastardisation of my message, what with the sending down of my only son only to to be müllered by idiots. And yet you’d also think that I’d be savvy enough to stop it happening, being God and that. But maybe that’s just it: If you’re the boss, you just have to let go a bit and let the little people figure it out for themselves, no matter how far from the point they stray.

Having said all this, the Idle Hour will once again be pushing the boat out on March 31st. The italics because, due to some bizarre stroke of fate, the anniversary of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ just happens to fall on the exact same day as the Oxford/Cambridge boat race. It’s the kind of double whammy that only happens once in a millennium and consequently needs exploiting to the hilt. Expect tankards filled with Thames water to be converted into Pinot Noir, organic soda bread to be broken on winning rowlocks and live crucifixion of your coxwain of choice in the beer garden. Because that’s what He’d have wanted. And anyone that tells you different is a liar and a charlatan…

Idle Eye 10 : The Rebuff 2 (This Time It’s Personal)

Sorry I’m late. Really, sorry. I did try to get this one in on time, even wrote a couple of drafts about an Idle Hour demon that kept me up at night (written at 1am) but Nibs gave it the thumbs down. And he was right to, in fairness. High on booze, wasabi peas and lack of sleep I bunged it all together like a fake Jackson Pollock and then tried to justify its brilliance in a heated follow-up call deep into the small hours:

Nibs:  Look, you know I love what you do. You know I do. But come on! This one’s so…so…well, angry.

Me:  Angry? Angry? You don’t geddijewewe? Corsets angry! Eye-mmaking a point about time and how weedon tavenuffuvvit. Angry? ARSE!

Nibs:  Mate, why don’t you have another look at it in the morning. It’s late, I’m busy, Barnes is still chokka and you’re pissed.

Me:  GnnNOT PISSED!

Nibs:  I think you are, Bro.

Me:  S’pose you think Charlie Brooker zangry then? Or your bezziemait Giles Coren? S…Spose Jonnoz Born wazzangry too? Eh? EH? But Bro…Bro…(whispers)…thazza point. Thazza holefuggin point.

Nibs:  It’s a pub blog, Bro, not Look Back In Anger. I just need you to be the funny guy so I can get more customers in to buy beer and eat food. Bums on seats: It’s really that simple.

Me:  Z’nuthin simplabout gudriting, man. Snot teasy making this shiddup every we…week y’no.

Nibs:  I’m not saying it is easy. That’s why I pay you to write it. Otherwise I’d do it myself. But calm down, have a good night’s sleep and have another go tomorrow. You’ll thank me for it.

Sound of hysterical laughing in background

Me:  Hang gone…(goes into kitchen. Vulgar swearing, shouting and stumbling followed by phone drop) Bro, you there?

Nibs:  What’s up?

Me:  Ursula sritten ‘Primadonna’ onna blackboard!

Nibs:  (stifling further hysteria) She’s got a point, mate!

Me:  Bar studs! BAR…SSTUDS! FUGG YORL! (Slams down phone and retires)

I woke up this morning still utterly convinced that my misunderstood work would stand the test of time. After all, Jesus had a bad ride, no? And Sophocles wasn’t exactly flying off the shelves in Ancient Greece. I even uploaded the bloody thing onto my phone so I could bask in my greatness on the train. And then I read it.

There is a fine line between genius and bollocks. The greatest minds our crowded planet has ever produced had the courage to surf this line, some close to the mark, others actually touching it. But no-one, not one, ever crossed it. And the ones that did have been consigned to the dustbin of history, their stories never to be passed on. Ever. And that’s as it should be. For they shall be cast out of the Kingdom of Heaven for trawling too wide a net. And trying to polish a doo-doo when they don’t.