Idle Eye 195 : The Fringe Benefits

There is a fulcrum at which most rational human beings hit the flashpoint of incandescent rage. For some, it can be relatively insignificant: a cooker ring fails to ignite on cue/the washing machine was set to tepid for those difficult whites/an old friend has posted another holiday selfie when you’re hoiking out hair from the shower basin and wondering if you’ll ever see the sun again. But for the rest of us, the idiocy of others can be more than enough to tip you over the edge; when you become a deranged Michael Douglas in Falling Down; when you would exchange your hospital bed (if such things still exist) for a Kalashnikov and stumble out into the street, high on budget laxatives, in order to spew your disgust onto and into an unsuspecting public. At which point you would turn the muzzle, still white-hot and smoking, thrust it down the back of your throat until you are at the point of gagging, and wait for the lights to go out. Some things just do this to you.

Today, Pippa Middleton got married to some bloke I’ve never heard of. The news appeared on my Facebook feed and then, as I was mentally haemorrhaging, Radio Four announced it as the “society event of the year”. Now, it so happens I’ve been using R4 as a kind of aural sedative for some time now: not because I’m particularly riveted by a lot of the content, but because the alternatives are beyond puerile and at least they have the faint gift of being able to string a sentence together. So when that statement was aired, it was the equivalent of your mother pissing into your school lunchbox (when you’d specifically included avocado). I know some of you like that kind of thing but it’s really not my bag.

I went back to the computer and this chinless Herbert was coming at me from all sides, like in Batman when The Joker manifests himself on every platform that existed in 1960s fiction. Said hedge person had clearly muscled in on that most saleable of assets, a next-to-royal derrière with next-to-nothing between the ears, and was touting his investment in the only way he knew how: via his chums in the media. Oh yes, all sorts were there to give it the requisite gravitas: tennis ace Roger Federer, someone off Made in Chelsea, a princess or two and the fetid saliva trail of the Mail and the Telegraph. And it looks like it was a wonderful day for all concerned: my bosoms were bursting with British pride.

I mention this because I’m tentatively learning to manage my anger levels. By ejaculating my disdain onto the page, I, by default, become a better, more well-rounded individual that you’d feel comfortable curling up alongside of an evening. Everyone needs a valve, right? You get me? Good. Now fuck off and make me a cup of tea.

Idle Eye 39 : The Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*s™

Alright now, that’s enough. ENOUGH! The sinister orgy of branding masquerading as the Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*s™ has slapped me in the face one too many times and I have just hit my Michael Douglas in Falling Down moment. I tried to be good, I really did. Over the past few months I have learned to shore up my chakras when it came to vile mascots We**ock™ and Ma***ville™, to shrug off the utter chaos on the roads, to smile encouragingly at hapless joggers bouncing their way towards an early grave, even casting an inquisitive glance at the bizarre structures rising up around the Mall and St James’ Park which I pass every day. The risible logo no longer reminds me of Lisa Simpson giving head and I drew some not inconsiderable mirth from the G4S fiasco. All in all I have been coping pretty well. Thanks for asking.

However, (and here’s the rub), I draw a line at ‘restricted words’. Actually, screw it, I draw a line at the insane paranoia the big four ****ors™ have created, protecting their already saturated global coverage from small butchers shops in Dorset that presumed to arrange a string of sausages in the shape of the Ol**pi*c™ ri*gs™. And when it comes to the biggest of the lot, M*Dona**s™, you have to ask yourselves what exactly they so badly need protection from. It sure ain’t the public, because around every corner you turn, there invariably lurks a statistically obese brand fan squelching down on yet another B*g™ Ma*™ in flagrant denial of their forthcoming trip to the nearest NHS ticker unit. Perhaps, just perhaps, the brutal truth lies somewhere in the exclusion of competition:

If we just get rid of all the other players, maybe the gullible public will actually think our burgers are halfway decent. Because, God forbid, if they cottoned onto the fact that there are thousands of less corporate ways of enjoying wholesome food, (Mondays at the Idle Hour, for instance) they might, actually, stop buying ours. And we can’t have that.

The Lon*** 2**2 Ol**pi*cs™ will be ring-fenced alright, but not to keep out the suicide bombers, the ‘quiet loners’, the snipers, the deranged clerics or Black September. Not this time. Neither will it give much credence to the athletes who will have waited all their lives for those glorious few seconds of competition. Oh no. These gam*s™ are all about keeping the suits happy at the not inconsiderable expense of the general public. And no amount of monocular furry mascots can detract from that. Yes, it would be wonderful to have a level playing field where we could all choose what we ate and drank as we cheered on our respective nations. But dream on, my friends, dream on. And welcome to Britain, 2**2™…

Idle Eye 21 : The Squeezed Middle

Boy, I’m in a mood. The thieving car insurance gypsies* I generally use without batting an eyelid have raised my premium by 21.39380268313%. Now, ordinarily I am predisposed to taking a slight annual hit because, despite my never having made a claim, I am happy to help out anyone who is prepared to jaywalk the M4 in order to provide for their families: Good on ‘em, or at least what’s left of ‘em. However, this year’s astonishing price hike has tipped me over the edge in a kind of Michael Douglas/Falling Down stylee. If only the ineffectual, middle-class sop that I am could pick up an AK-47, stroll into Insurance House, Basingstoke and spew bullets about the place, I surely would. Trust me.

But we don’t, do we? Being British, and instilled with values we don’t quite understand from a time we never lived through, we just take it. Again and again. I rang up Nibs to express my dissatisfaction with the status quo but he was doing battle with his own personal nemesis, the inkjet printer:

Nibs: They deliberately make them so they break and the IT departments just cash in. I’ve just spent £30 on inks and £30 on support and it still doesn’t work. Bastards! BASTARDS!!! And don’t get me started on the till.

Me: What’s up with the till?

Nibs: Same bloody thing. They force you to use their crappy hardware that breaks 50 seconds after they deliver it and then charge you £300 callout to have a look and £200 per hour to fix it. We’re in the wrong game, bro.

He’s right, we are. Because we are both victims of The Squeezed Middle. That wretched, unrepresented state we get labelled with by politicians when there are no better words for being screwed over. It starts in the supermarkets, filters down through insurance and services and takes a scythe to our pay packets along the way. Suddenly we’re all scrapping at each other (when in fact, we’re all on the same side) and the only ones smiling are the string pullers. And you can only reach them if you’re prepared to ring a premium rate number and stay on hold for longer than it takes to grow a beard. It’s enough to make you, well, jolly cross actually.

So what’s to do? I shopped around for a new premium in a fit of pique but after speaking to a couple of brokers I finally understood why these people have your balls in a clamp. Because the alternative is actual contact, albeit only verbal, with the kind of human detritus that diminishes the quality of your life by its very proximity. Screw it, I’ll pay the difference: JUST….GO….AWAY!!!

Hold up, just had a text through. Apparently I’m due £25,000 compensation for that accident I had. Now, as much as I’d like to chat..

*cleared with Viz Comic & Romanian High Commission