Idle Eye 148 : The Eisenhower Matrix

It’s harder than you think, being your own boss. Try it sometime and see for yourselves. Traditionally I have been pathetic at organising my day, which is why I usually get other people to do it for me and hopefully throw in a few quid at the same time. But right now, I’m out of the plane without a chute and unless I sort something out pretty quick, I’ll be land pizza before you know it. There are, however, little tricks you can employ to create the illusion of structure, some of which I shall outline below for anyone in the same predicament:

1)  The old ‘leaving the flat’ ruse is a bit of fun – Get dressed in a hurry, swig down a mouthful of instant coffee (leaving the rest) and, if you’re feeling bold, give yourself a quick peck on the cheek. Then walk around the block a couple of times and come back in, panting and complaining bitterly about the inefficiency of whichever rail network you weren’t on.

2)  Create a few formal breaks. These will prevent you from atrophying at the computer and provide the added bonus of allowing you to catch up with all the latest gossip. It’s important to stay in the loop.

3)  The Reward System, albeit rather primitive, is a great incentiviser. That call you made to Virgin Media Customer Services took a while, right? Have a sweetie. Made it through thirty emails about erectile dysfunction and/or PPI? Have another sweetie. Anything whatsoever to do with the Inland Revenue or TfL? Crack open a bottle of single vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir. Actually, make that two.

4)  Stay focused. Tempting though it may be to stray with another episode of Inside Health and discover you’ve probably got shingles/leg ulcers/something irritable going on with your bowel, you’ll only spend the rest of the day on the med sites and give yourself PTSD to boot.

5)  Draw the curtains. Because the people you can see outside are almost certainly having more fun than you, will be rich in Vitamin D and couldn’t give a monkey’s that your delete key has packed up again. For them, life is one big picnic. For you, it’s an eternal game of chess. Against Magnus Carlsen.

6)  Nothing of interest will come through your letterbox and no-one of interest will ring the doorbell. Ever. Hold your nerve.

7)  Facebook and Twitter are not your friends. They are the Trojan horses of the internet, willingly invited into the workplace where they bed in and beckon, stealing your time and reason. Like Mata Hari. With cats and babies.

After these, you’ll need an endpoint. Something to neurotransmit a strong signal to the brain, telling it to pack in the chores and loosen up a little. Sex, recreational drugs, alcohol and repetitive pop tunes have always been popular with the young, but if, like me, you find yourself in your twilight years, The Archers seems to work okay. In conjunction with the above.

Idle Eye 32 : The Right Royal Charley Horses

Oh God, it’s happening. It’s the beginning of the end, and coming at me faster than Usain Bolts’ departure from the Virgin Media ads. With every week that passes, a new and unfamiliar ailment jumps to the head of the queue and blots out the severity of the previous, leaving precious little time to acclimatise or, dare I say it, learn the niceties of co-existence. Here, have a taste:

First it’s the kidneys, kicking off at the rigorous programme I’ve been putting them through of late and behaving like the Greece of the lower back. Then it’s the gums, truculent and bloody, demanding I treat them to a darn good sonic seeing-to with a new brush that cost more than my bicycle did in 1977. Next up it’s the calf muscles, miserable cowards that they are, waking me up regularly at stupid’o’clock with a muscle spasm known to our friends over the pond as Charley Horse. CHARLEY HORSE? It’s cramp, for Christ’s sake, not the Campdown Races. And if all these weren’t enough, the ears now want in on the act. Yep, just to spice things up a little they’ve chucked in a dose of tinnitus for good measure. So now my entire conscious world is soundtracked to the exact same monotonous whine that accompanied the test card when the fat controllers wanted you to go to bed.

But one has to be fatalistic, no? The alternative is a slow morph into Mrs Brady Old Lady, bemoaning every malady to a captive Saturday morning Post Office queue that understandably only wishes a few more on her. So instead, let’s think of it this way: Someone up there does not want me to be an Olympian, that’s clear, and this brutal truth frees me up to be a magnificent spectator. Now I can enjoy the success of others vicariously from the comfort of a hostelry of choice, without all that unpleasant sweating and grunting. This ain’t no handicap, folks, this is an open door. When the great unwashed are jostling for position along the Mall to cop a glance at her maj, I shall be enjoying the easy access lavatories on ground level at the Idle Hour, a pint of Harveys in one hand and a festive menu in the other. And, as the Thames Pageant glides down the Thames in all its splendour, I’ll be hearing all about it, third hand, from some bloke who once met that other bloke who broke into the Queens bedroom for a right royal chat. Top geezer, apparently.

So my advice, for what it’s worth, is this: We’re all a bit broken, can’t change that, but don’t let that put you off. Celebrate the flaws, and if you so happen to be an SW13 resident, watch this space for further Royal/Olympic updates to your favourite local. Nibs told me to put them in here but I’m blowed if I can remember what they are…

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.