Idle Eye 91 : (Deadlier Than) The Mail

I threw a massive hissy fit on Wednesday. Not indoors, as you might imagine, hurling abuse at the microwave or railing at the escalating shortcomings of this bag of bones I laughingly refer to as a body. No, not this time. This week it was aimed smack at the nose of the nation’s favourite Tory chip wrapper via the armchair critic’s soapbox of choice, the Facebook. Sorry, fAcebook. Because nothing affects change better than having a good old bleat on social media, does it? And this was to be my very own Arab Spring. My personal Pussy Riot. And after a few well-chosen words of spleen, my virtual army of loyalists would rise up, incensed and vying for blood, hacking away at the Sidebar of Shame and the jaded leveson of journalists that created it until all that remained were the smouldering carcasses of innuendo and hypocrisy, laid bare for all to mock, like the aftermath around a medieval gibbet.

Strong stuff. Well, I thought it was rather good. But you’re probably wondering what on Earth has unleashed this cauldron of bile, right? To be honest, it was pretty lame: They dragged up the sworn total of my late father’s estate from the Public Records Office (to the exact pound), posted it as a headline in the Showbiz section next to a nice picture of him smiling and wearing a rustic hat, and hinted that the kids were in for a few quid. Ordinarily, I would have gone fair game: live by the press, die by the press, but now that the firm are fighting off evil SOB’s we didn’t know existed until this happened and the sum total is modest by anyone’s standards, the lines are drawn. Terribly sorry to disappoint any trash trawlers out there, but I’ve had enough. Catch any of us falling out of a cab outside the Ivy with our knickers gasping for attention and you’ve got a point, but when you’re struggling to stay afloat in CamBlighty and its flagship rag is suggesting that you are one of the chosen few, then guess what? It’s time to lay down the cards on the table.

I used to think the Mail was pretty innocuous. Just tittle-tattle for the chattering classes that would disappear like the morning mist. And I found it amusing to wear the ironic tee-shirt that claimed it hated me because it set me apart from the idiots. But it is so much more than that. The soft-sell approach it adopts to seep into the national consciousness and wear it down into submission is more insidious than heroin or sugar. And a lot less palatable. So, my friends, when the time comes for my magnificent windfall to appear, I do hope you will join me in raising a glass to our splintered society, made possible by the magnetic powers of a free press and a government that allows this to happen. Chin-chin x

Idle Eye 70 : The 70s

Good Lord! Have a look at the mast there. Turns out we’ve managed to get through seventy (SEVEN OH) versions of this literary piffle together. And it got me to thinking, as it does when you’re running out of ideas, that just maybe it would be a bit of fun to do a quick post about…wait for it…the 1970s. Obviously I will have to tie this concept in with the pub, but between you & me I think I can swing it: I’ll just say something about the price of a pint back then (probably about 50p), then have a good old moan about inflation, the Tories and the grand old summer of 76, when you could fry an egg on the pavement and Terry Scott (off Terry and June) pushed me into the swimming pool with his face covered in meringue and scared the living shit out of me for the rest of my years. It’s a long shot, but I think Nibs will run with it ‘cos he’s good like that.

It’s funny. I was having an ale with me ‘ole mate Donald (off Julian Cope) just now, asking him which peeps he remembered most from that time. And both of us came up with pretty much all of the Yewtree candidates. Admittedly we’re both diehard musos, and our reference points were probably the DJ’s that allowed us a path to the songs that would change our lives forever (currently residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure). But even as a soft as shite, lily-livered Southern pansy, I still recall the blackouts when Nibs & I helped our mom dig about in the pantry for the Prices candle multipack as our stepfather crawled the walls upstairs, hurling abuse and worse at the Three Day Week whilst simultaneously sorting the eight track cartridges for his three hour journey in the Jensen the following morning: Walker Brothers, followed by Shirley Bassey, followed by Cleo Laine. And, if we were lucky, we’d get a pound to spend in his absence, half of which usually went on a chart-topper of choice and the other on premium smack, straight off the boats. Innocent times, innocent times…

But no other consumable can define the zeitgeist like a chocolate bar. Mars, Galaxy, Milky Way were just entry-level stellar signposts to the hard stuff. From here we got the Texan bar (sure was a mighty chew), and for misogynist hardcore chocoholics there was always the Yorkie, marketed at the Surrey stockbroker craving a bit of rough via the long-haul trucker. And let us not forget the aftershaves: Hi Karate, Old Spice, Blue Stratos, Bay Rhum, all of which I had purchased long before the fluff came, and the illusion that a socially backward pre-teen actually had a chance with a pneumatic bikini-clad babe had been shattered for good. But never mind that, I still had the lovely Farrah. Always Farrah. Isn’t that right, Charlie?