Idle Eye 120 : The Lives of Others

Earlier this year, Stewart Lee beautifully articulated his disdain for Twitter by describing it as “a state surveillance agency staffed by gullible volunteers.” By which he meant that his entire successful life could be accurately traced by reading through inane tweets sent in by the public as to his whereabouts at any given time. And that these same people would be equally fascinated by the tittle-tattle others just like them offered up for general consumption.

On Monday, I arrived home after an an eight mile cycle ride (eight miles, Twitter fans) from work. Needing provisions for the evening meal and a following breakfast, I leapt into the car & headed off to Sainsburys, unthinkingly clad only in my cycling kit, in order to purchase a few necessaries (one packet Beanfeast Bolognese, one bag organic carrots, one carton orange juice, one bottle Chilean Pinot Noir). It took less than ten minutes. After which I headed back, only to discover that my inconsequential trip had been monitored and posted for all to see by someone who, shall we say, does not have my best interests at heart. Here’s the tweet verbatim:

“Well, that was an ill-timed Sainsbury’s visit. Still, always fun to see a middle aged man dressed like Kevin Rowland c. 1983 from knees down”

Initially, I was rather flattered that a man of my crumbling stature could still conjure up the ghost of Kevin Rowland in his prime, rather than that of Marley or an extra from any of George A. Romero’s oeuvre. But then I became increasingly baffled as to why this would be of any interest whatsoever to a bunch of followers who have no idea who I am, and had not themselves doubled back on their journey home upon spotting my car (Triumph Herald), in order to claim their visit to said supermarket was “ill-timed”. 140 characters or less, by their very nature, cannot accommodate shades of grey. The whole truth requires the same event to be seen from different angles, no matter how obtuse or inconvenient. And the clandestine observation of my rolled-up jeans, paraded to an early evening set of shoppers as a misguided fashion statement of yesteryear, could legitimately have been interpreted otherwise.

Many years ago, when I was learning the finer points of filmmaking at Sheffield City Polytechnic, I watched Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter for the first time. The scene that most stayed with me was that of the demonic preacher (played by Robert Mitchum), standing outside and staring ominously up at the home he was soon to infiltrate, an evil omnipresence in hard contrast black and white. Perhaps if Mr Laughton had been born a tad later he would have set his unsettling movie online, the perpetrator being well versed in the dark art of social media and all its blunt power. And perhaps, just perhaps, my sartorial faux pas would have been less compelling to those who really should know better.

Idle Eye 45 : The Sick, the Bad & the Wicked

Language has moved on a bit since I were a lad, and rightly so. It is the moral duty of the next generation to mix things up for their elders to the point where traditional arteries of communication get so furred that we reluctantly hand over the baton and creep off into extinction. Take this weeks title, for example: A couple of decades ago you could be forgiven for thinking all three denoted particular ailments and we would have had the utmost sympathy for those afflicted. Today the same guys are Top of the Pops. Well matrix, actually. However, anyone of a certain age attempting to shore up their own vocabulary with yoofspeak walks a mighty thin line. For they shall be vilified by those they borrow from, ridiculed by their peers and old hat before the week is out. It’s cruel, I know, but that’s the law of the jungle.

The same goes for businesses and politicians trying to cash in on a fleeting youth market. Nothing makes you look more out of touch than when attempting the exact opposite, as I shall demonstrate:

IDLE HOUR MENU

Homemade Soup 5.50
OMG!!! Legendary. Crucial when served steamin’. Meat flava

Our Award-Winning Organic Steak Mince Burger 11.00
Commin’ atcha with fries’n’tha. Totes amazeballs

Wild Mushroom, Tarragon and Pea Risotto with Parmesan and Rocket 11.00
Proper nang gang’o’veg, bluds

Callebaut Chocolate Brownie w/ Organic Vanilla Ice Cream 5.00
Frigid, but ice is nice

And so on. Shrewd oldies should never kowtow to the shifting sands of youth patois because, as Stewart Lee would say, it’s not for you. Its very purpose is to keep you at bay, and should you and your cronies at Bletchley Park ever manage to hack your way in, the rules will change quicker than Usain Bolt’s lady count in Stratford. Nota bene, Mr Cameron, nota bene.

I browsed my young niece’s Facebook page the other day. Not in a weird way, honest, but she’s just back from Croatia & I thought I’d see how she got on. Turns out she’s all gravy, well sick and had an epic keen one, oh yeeee boii. Which is important, because if she thought anyone over 25 had a clue what she was on about, she probably wouldn’t be. I mean, have. Whatever. And the very fact that an old git like myself can access the online exploits of todays teenagers may well have something to do with Mark Zuckerberg’s downward slide on the stock exchange. When the exclusive goes global, the cool factor goes out of the window and if you happen to be under 25, that’s all that matters. Innit?

Fortunately for us seniors, there is one trick left up our collective sleeve. One last defiant roar before we shuffle off this mortal coil. Revenge, as they say, is a dish best served cold:

“What’s Grandpa saying, mum?”

“I’m not sure, dear. Just leave him to it.”