Idle Eye 91 : (Deadlier Than) The Mail

I threw a massive hissy fit on Wednesday. Not indoors, as you might imagine, hurling abuse at the microwave or railing at the escalating shortcomings of this bag of bones I laughingly refer to as a body. No, not this time. This week it was aimed smack at the nose of the nation’s favourite Tory chip wrapper via the armchair critic’s soapbox of choice, the Facebook. Sorry, fAcebook. Because nothing affects change better than having a good old bleat on social media, does it? And this was to be my very own Arab Spring. My personal Pussy Riot. And after a few well-chosen words of spleen, my virtual army of loyalists would rise up, incensed and vying for blood, hacking away at the Sidebar of Shame and the jaded leveson of journalists that created it until all that remained were the smouldering carcasses of innuendo and hypocrisy, laid bare for all to mock, like the aftermath around a medieval gibbet.

Strong stuff. Well, I thought it was rather good. But you’re probably wondering what on Earth has unleashed this cauldron of bile, right? To be honest, it was pretty lame: They dragged up the sworn total of my late father’s estate from the Public Records Office (to the exact pound), posted it as a headline in the Showbiz section next to a nice picture of him smiling and wearing a rustic hat, and hinted that the kids were in for a few quid. Ordinarily, I would have gone fair game: live by the press, die by the press, but now that the firm are fighting off evil SOB’s we didn’t know existed until this happened and the sum total is modest by anyone’s standards, the lines are drawn. Terribly sorry to disappoint any trash trawlers out there, but I’ve had enough. Catch any of us falling out of a cab outside the Ivy with our knickers gasping for attention and you’ve got a point, but when you’re struggling to stay afloat in CamBlighty and its flagship rag is suggesting that you are one of the chosen few, then guess what? It’s time to lay down the cards on the table.

I used to think the Mail was pretty innocuous. Just tittle-tattle for the chattering classes that would disappear like the morning mist. And I found it amusing to wear the ironic tee-shirt that claimed it hated me because it set me apart from the idiots. But it is so much more than that. The soft-sell approach it adopts to seep into the national consciousness and wear it down into submission is more insidious than heroin or sugar. And a lot less palatable. So, my friends, when the time comes for my magnificent windfall to appear, I do hope you will join me in raising a glass to our splintered society, made possible by the magnetic powers of a free press and a government that allows this to happen. Chin-chin x

Idle Eye 73 : The Manner Born

Ok, that’s enough misery porn for now. Whilst I’m touched that you’ve doubled my hit rate over the last couple of weeks, the time has come for us to move on, grab whatever remains of our time on the planet and wring it for all its worth. And now that I’ve got a few more of you on board, perhaps I can cynically manipulate your touching empathy into full-blown, squalid addiction to the kind of weekly whimsy you can normally expect to find here. Let’s face it, it’s a brutal old world and your humble blogger, being the lowest of the low on the battlefield of journalism, must resort to any means necessary.

Anyway, Nibs and I have been down in Wales for the past few days. Quite strange really, going through the things our father left behind that add up to a life. Small things, touching things, insignificant things. Things of value. Distressing things. But all just things, nonetheless. And we had agreed, as a family, that we wouldn’t take anything until such time as we all felt less raw about it. But then, as Nibs searched the kitchen cupboards for something vaguely edible and I squirrelled about in the cellar for a bottle of wine, I hauled up a bottle of Chateau Leoville Barton 1998. ‘Bit good for packet pasta’, he went, ‘but have it if you want to.’ Now, anyone who knows me (or indeed had the poor fortune to read Idle Eye 20 : The Liquorice Nose) will implicitly understand how little these few words actually meant: If it’s red and it stays down usually means it’s past the post in my book. But, bowing to his superior knowledge of grape and the grain and my nascent understanding of his extensive wine list, I did indeed take it home.

Having a decent drop indoors is not unlike entertaining the Landed Gentry: You know you can’t treat him like all the others, but your frame of reference is somewhat limited and you don’t want to make a tit of yourself. Do I lay him down? And if so, for how long? Will he get upset that I don’t actually have a cellar and he’s reduced to hanging out with the proletariats next to the microwave? What exactly is the correct manner of address? And, as a vegetarian, will he blow a gasket if I skip the rack of lamb and opt instead for a family bag of Twiglets and a ramekin of humous? All these concerns of propriety had me scouring the net for hours. And, sadly, they just made matters worse: How will I know when the bastard has opened up? And when he’s forward on my tongue? Let’s face it, if you’re prepared to down a two-for-ten carstarter, the above has never applied and is never likely to. In the words of the late Bill Hicks, I’m like a dog being shown a card trick.

So, watch this space: London Luddite in Wine Legacy Shock. Coming soon to a tabloid near you.