Idle Eye 31 : The Third Best of All Possible Burgers

I know what you’re thinking: He’s slipped a day, either Bank Holiday excess or Morris dancing. Well, this time it’s neither, and I refer the discerning reader to last weeks entry for clues. Yes, my good ole ISP surpassed itself this weekend, giving me speeds of 0.01mb/s which rendered the internet unusable for the duration. So, let’s waste no more time & get on with the naming & shaming. It’s Virgin Media. That’s VIRGIN MEDIA. Please, if you’re out there & can help yet another screwed-over punter, pop your advice in the comments section (including ultra-violent stuff, don’t spare the rod) and I will buy you a beer. I mean it. Rant over.

Deep breath…

Now, as some of you may already know, Nibs’s award-winning burgers won another award last week. EBLEX, or, to the acronym-phobic the English Beef and Lamb Executive, dole out annual gongs to anyone with the balls to compete against the mighty purveyors of sport-inducing fast food. It is a fiercely contested event with several thousand entries but once again the IH (sorry, Idle Hour) knocked them all into a cocked hat. All but two, that is. So that’s a big bronze for SW13 (South West Thirteen) and diddly squit for the rest of London. Telling, seeing as we are swamped with sleb chefs and the like, and all the more weird for you to have this news delivered by a vegetarian. Them’s the breaks.

I did have visions of being invited (in a reportage capacity, natch) to an opulent, velvet-lined ceremony, a sort of low-rent Oscars perhaps, somewhere in Piccadilly where penguin men and their peacock other halves would chat sotto voce about the state of farming in the UK and the latest must-have ingredient that’s simply divine. I saw Nibs shaking hands with Wossy and, after a short, heartfelt speech during which he fought unsuccessfully to choke back tears, he clasped a 3x actual-size engraved bronze hamburger to his chest with one hand and punched the sky with the other. All to rapturous applause and a 1970’s sound library string section. And as he made his way through the crowd to the bosom of his loved ones, Terry Wogan took the mic from Jonathan and made a shit joke about cows, methane and the third best of all possible burgers. Like he would.

Sadly, this star-spangled fantasy was exactly that. I never got to wear the suit, to weep in the aisles, to shoulder up vicariously to the movers and shakers in the world of burgers. However, as I shimmied into IH Barnes on Sunday with a group of friends clearly impressed by the Bloody Marys, I did feel the need to point out a certain certificate, resplendent in its faux-mahogany frame, and bask in an element of reflected glory. Life is a cabaret, old chum. And I love a cabaret.

Idle Eye 30 : The Olden Days

Hard though it may be to believe as you plough your way through the weekly helping of cattle’s business in front of you now, but on the odd occasion I need to indulge in a spot of research. This is usually achieved with a decanter of ‘2 for £10’ industrial-strength red (min 13.5%, Old World), and a go on my massive ‘style over content’ computer which helps me access topical websites, news stories and films. Ahem. However, the last few weeks have seen my super-speedy 30MB broadband service shrivel to a Coalition-stylee standstill and it has remained thus ever since.

Not being made of the sterner stuff mandatory for a Customer Services face-off, I decided to go the Help & Support Forum route, traditionally populated by angry, semi-literate Neanderthals that use emoticons and swear a lot. Which it was. Only this time they were joined by a teeming throng of bitter, desperate regular folk caught in a quagmire of corporate indifference, their cries disparate but the crux being the same: GET ME OUT OF HERE! Not a good sign. Page after page of anguish read like an online script of Hieronymus Bosch’s Hell and I was right there at the top: Hell’s Hell.

Pessimistically, I posted a newbie complaint and shortly I was visited by Stevetaylor and DannyB01, lamenting my predicament whilst nurturing their own. And as I basked in self-pity I watched it demoted from prime position as even newer sufferers were added. Within minutes I had become a veteran, like Christopher Lee at the end of Taste the Blood of Dracula. Old ladies, students, even web professionals were getting sucked down into the vortex in real time. What chance did I have? Would I ever see iPlayer again? Or even an email? Religion suddenly became a viable concern as all hope slipped away.

And then I thought of Nibs, as one does in a crisis. He is the Elite Republican Guard evangelist of failed services: Dropped a delivery? SEE YOU IN COURT! Shabby marketing? SEE YOU IN COURT! Thread count a bit low on them T-shirts? SEE YOU IN COURT! NO-ONE SCREWS WITH ME!!! SEE YOU IN COURT! AND I WILL WIN!!! I kid you not, this is his mantra and it works. Because now this is what you have to become in order to get what was standard in the Olden Days. Remember them? The Olden Days? When we didn’t have Customer Services because it just happened off the bat, without question? When a little man in overalls would turn up and fix the internet after a cup of builders tea and you’d pop a couple of bob into his top pocket after? Of course you don’t. Because that particular nirvana has been systematically eroded from our consciousness, leaving only the flotsam and jetsam of crud in its wake. So don’t ask me how I managed to post this. Please don’t. Or I’ll see you in court.