Idle Eye 117 : The Silence of the LANs

Way back in 1995, when Brian Eno unleashed his 3 1/4 second micro-ditty on the new Microsoft Windows startup, he unconsciously escalated the extinction of the human race. Bold, I know, but think about it: Ever since then, we have acclimatised ourselves to endless pings and pongs (none of which last long enough to be truly irritating, though still being the aural equivalent of nails down a blackboard), reminding us that an email is in, a lorry is reversing or the filter on your water softener needs changing. It’s the price we pay for living in an increasingly computerised world, where machines take the drudgery out of those tiny, mundane tasks we used to just do unthinkingly.

And now we are once again free. Free to linger twenty seconds longer when we put out the recycling, free to eat another bun before leaving for work, free to swap the ringtone from Coldplay to Kylie, and free to take the time to consider our freedom. And if we forget to do this there will always be another sonic nudge, composed by a teenage digital guru of whom we are supposed to have heard, denying us the luxury of our own free will. Silence has become the flaccid hangover of yesteryear, rather than an essential neutral space from which all ideas spring forth. And slowly, we are morphing into the cabbages we now have more time to chop:

BING BONG!!! Based on the median temperature taken in your area over the last eight months, it is an above average day outside. You will not be needing your walking boots or Echo & the Bunnymen trenchcoat.

SPLOSH!!! Based on nocturnal activities over the last twelve hours, we suggest you hang on to whatever fluids you have available. However, immediate release of solids is recommended to facilitate motion of any kind.

QUACK QUACK!!! This light-hearted alarm call suggests that you have an amusing, alternative persona and would be fun to go out with of an evening. You, and 15,000,000 others just like you.

UUURRR UUURRR!!! No, it’s not an air raid. Time to call your mother.

FWHO-HOO-HOO HOO-HOO!!! Somebody you’ve never heard of has just texted you on the train. Either that, or you are shit at whistling.

All these little intrusions incrementally chip away at our ability to act for ourselves. We know this and accept it without resistance. In time, we will inevitably become pathetic, dependant amoebas, like die-hard listeners to the Radio 4 comedy slot, hopelessly reliant on whatever dross is out there yet powerless to affect any meaningful change. Ironically, we do have the ultimate say: By turning off our devices, flipping our laptops onto silent and taking the reins of our lives for once. By denying the fat controllers of our local area networks the autonomy they so desperately seek by merely flicking a switch. But we don’t. Because they haven’t made an app for it yet.

Idle Eye 3 : The Gift

Readers, I need help. Last weekend I bought a bottle cutter off that eBay and made a vase. A vase, for God’s sake! A sure sign that I’m heading at breakneck speed towards the final countdown. Whatever next? Carpet dye? Comfortable shoes? In my defense, it was an attempt to stem the tide of neighbourhood wrath every fortnight when a pantechnicon with my address embossed on the side appears at 5.45am and minimally reduces the glass mountain engulfing the street it has just woken up. Frighteningly, I’m getting the hang of it too, thanks to the glossy 35-page brochure exquisitely realised by Terrence Picone and Sydney St James from Wyckoff, NJ. Apparently, when I get really good, I can make a Gold Votive Candle Holder from an Orangina bottle, or a magnificent Fish Decanter with just a Pescevino white wine bottle and cork. And some liquorice paint. But this giddy level of excellence does not come quick, oh no! According to Tel’n’Syd :

“During your learning phase you should successfully cut about 80% of the projects you start. And once you have practiced a little, 95%. Practice, practice, practice!”

No time like the present then, so I took the Triumph Herald to Majestic and loaded her up with a suspension-busting cargo of practice items, including some challenging top flight shaped ones for when I get better. And I really don’t have long to master my craft. It’s the Idle Hour 10th anniversary this month, you see, and my thinking runs somewhere along the lines of making Nibs something special to mark the occasion. Something he can look at on a busy night when he’s clearing the tables of lesser bottles and feel a warm Ready Brek glow of pride that we are from the same womb. He also mentioned that there was a bit of a ’10’ theme going on, 10% off booze, 10% off food, 10 years lopped off the tail end of your life etc..etc.. Which is nice. But anyway, first things first. I’ve got 2.5 cases to get through before I can start and there’s a potentially lethal cutting tool involved. These are the kinds of impossible odds young David faced in the Valley of Elah as the mighty Goliath waved his sword about and pointed at his wet patch. But, like the warrior I have become, in times of peril I shall overcome.

Footnote from Kings College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5

I must say I can’t see what all the fuss is about the NHS. Over-stretched/underpaid and most of them absolutely shattered but always time for a smile and a chat. Bless them all. Nurse Rached has been particularly sweet and set me up in Physio with my cutter as there’s really not long at all until this anniversary thing kicks off. And most understanding about the mess. Turns out T’n’S were wildly optimistic with their percentages but there again they are American: Perhaps I should sue.