Idle Eye 141 : The Smear

Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that the humble gerbil has graced the dailies once again, but not in a good way. Turns out our furry brethren can no longer be considered impossibly cute playthings of the very young (and, on occasion, my good self), being as they are conveyors of misery, disease and quality herbs and spices brought in on the Silk Road. And we’re also expected to believe that in 1347, in between exercising on their little wooden wheels and nibbling whatever they liked nibbling back in medieval Syria, they found time to pop over to London and give us all the Black Death.

It is a monstrous slur, cooked up by some Norwegian boffin with too much time on his hands, and fails to digest some pretty basic facts. For starters, there is no evidence whatsoever that gerbils took up residence in the UK until comparatively recently. Why would they? If your thing is copious quantities of sand and sunshine, you’d probably give it a bit of a wide berth, right? To say nothing of the logistical issues if and when you finally made it to Calais. Absolute nonsense.

Furthermore, architectural clues only date back to the 1950s. Before Rotastak, the Nottingham-based pioneers of affordable rodent housing, there were slim pickings to be had if you were small, hirsute and over here. Rats understood this implicitly, so they made alternative arrangements. But they were also fat and greasy enough to hack it. Their smaller, more delicate cousins wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. You can take Syria out of the gerbil etc…

Clearly we are being whipped up into a collective state of anxiety. It’s what the media does when it wants us to go to war, or sanction the spending of taxpayer cash on something unpalatable the government has shares in. What on earth can the gerbil have done to get them wound up so? And why are we being told that the more sinister rat is the fall guy? It smacks of Andy and Rebekah, the former taking the hit so the latter can persist with her satanic craft. Something stinks up there in the corridors of power, but what?

And then it struck me. Helen Perley’s exquisite 32-page tome Enjoy Your Gerbil (The Pet Library™, 1971), clearly states that the same is no ordinary rodent, and frequently refers to him as a ‘Superpet’. Probably the exact kind of pet that could radicalise British teenage girls into making the arduous pilgrimage to his homeland. And guess where that is? See? By demonising the critters, we surreptitiously put the brakes on the next wave of IS recruits and no-one gets hurt. No-one, that is, except these innocents abroad, and who speaks for them? Who will fight their corner after the first spate of distressing pet murders? And which sick individual will be the first to expand their perspex property portfolio at the expense of the less fortunate?

Right there.

Idle Eye 48 : The Crucible

A couple of things have been bothering me this week. Firstly, this Jimmy Savile business is beginning to grate: Yes, it’s a given that everything that has come to light is abhorrent. Yes, the BBC screwed up. Yes, the victims all deserve an opportunity to move on. And yes, even the benefit of hindsight into another time with a very different moral compass does little to assuage his misdemeanours. But the cynic in me does question the merits of a media witch-hunt against a dead man, purposefully manufactured to whip up powerful emotions in those less than able to handle them. Remember the paedophilia scandal of 2000? When Newport pediatrician Yvette Cloete had ‘paedo’ graffitied onto her front door by her own neighbours? And if the deceased really are a legitimate target, where do we draw the line? Do we destroy the gravestones of Kenneth Williams and Joe Orton, both now institutions much loved by the general public? How about Pier Pasolini? Or why not Caligula? Come on, readers, I’m sure you can dig up another long gone family favourite with a dodgy track record.

The other thing is how to segue the above into an attractive advertisement for the Idle Hour. Tall order, granted, but that’s the task in hand and by hook or by crook I’ll find a way: It’s what I do. Now, please bear with me as I freeform in italics:

The Idle Hour is one of West London’s best kept secrets. It sells lovely wine and beer, serves great food and has a wonderful suntrap garden, ideal for all those lazy Sunday afternoons with the family. In no way does it condone any suspect behaviour with young ‘uns. Bang out of order, all that. And anyway, it just does booze’n’grub. Properly, with a touch of class. And no fiddling. Ever. And that’s a promise!

Those of you who know me and/or Nibs will implicitly understand the above seemingly blasé approach needs to be taken with a very large pinch of salt. Partly to simmer down the tone and partly to avoid litigation. But, as there is an increasingly large percentage of you that don’t, I shall attempt to paraphrase every politician wheeled onto Radio 4 to spread the word of whichever wretched party they happen to represent:

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: The Idle Eye blog does have, and has always had the best interests of the Idle Hour public house at heart. And if, for whatever reason, the former has strayed from its initial brief, it would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.

So there you have it. A seemingly impossible remit brought about by the power of the written word. And, for any Sun readers who have managed to get this far without assistance, the address you’ll be looking for is as follows:

The Idle Eye Front Door,
No 10 Downing Street,
London SW1A 2AA

Thanks for your time xx