Idle Eye 174 : The Tic

I’ve developed a tic. Nothing at all to do with nits, lice or any other parasitic insect erroneously selecting my decomposing cadaver to lay their eggs in (if only!), but that of the more irritating, involuntary variety. As with the other ailments I seem to have accumulated this year, I’ve spent a bit of quality time getting to know and learning to live with it, but I’ll be straight with you: this one’s a hard baby to like, let alone love. Because the tic, unlike Samantha (who you may remember from a couple of months ago), thrives off everything I don’t:

  • Stress? Bring it on! 
  • Anxiety? Eat it for lunch!
  • Exhaustion? Fill my boots!
  • Heartbreak? Mine’s a pint!
  • Increasing awareness of the pointlessness of existence? Yum yum!

Anyway, I was in the supermarket earlier, loading up with few enough bottles of Pinot to avoid suspicion but a sufficient amount to get me through the evening, when I realised I couldn’t get the bloody things into my bag. I was shaking like Mr Stevens, and to make matters worse, quite visibly to the queue behind. At which point, as an unwitting performance artist, I had to make a decision: do I let them think I’m a chronic alcoholic, or do I go the route of a hapless somebody life has chosen to frown upon? The latter seemed disingenuous, the former too candid. So I went the extra mile: looking straight into the eyes of the lady closest to me and channelling my late father, I smiled winningly after having completed the task, and made an almost imperceptible bow. Combined with a slight wink. The look she returned was a cocktail of pity, incomprehension and disgust.

When I got back indoors, I wikied the DTs. Just for the sheer hell of it. Not that I can possibly have them, because they only kick in when you stop drinking. But oh my stars, it made for uncomfortable reading: nightmares, agitation, global confusion, sweating, fast heart rate, the list goes on – it’s enough to keep you on the wagon for good. Fortunately, the tic I have has nothing to do with the above, despite the similarity of symptoms. I’m under a lot of pressure right now, and I could do without the snide remarks, thank you.

Tomorrow, I’m up at 5.50am to take four trains to a town which sucks the marrow from my very soul. If I stayed at home, I’d be privy to the dulcet tones of builders improving the flat beneath me, or witness to the owner dry shampooing a dalmatian next to the bins. Is it any wonder I’ve got the shakes? Or that I occasionally take to the bottle in order to blot out such horrors? Judge me not, for the cause is greater than the effect.  And if you think that depression, paranoia and anger are part and parcel of the same, you can all fuck off. The lot of you. Seriously, take a hike…

Idle Eye 137 : The Worst Drink of the Day

I hate tea. Quite why it has been adopted as the nation’s drink of choice is totally beyond me, seeing as pretty much anything else that’s liquid and stays down would be infinitely preferable. Let’s not beat about the bush: In its raw state, it looks (and tastes) as if it has been strained though your grandmother’s underpants. Then you add milk (as if that’s going to help), and when it’s made, perfectly normal people from right across the class spectrum make weird, contented sighs over the duration of its consumption as if to say that life, up until this point, has been a bit much. “Best drink of the day”, they go. Utter balls! Stick around with me & I’ll show you a belter come 6pm.

Three drinks that are better than tea. Fact!

  1. New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Noir
  2. Your own sick
  3. Someone else’s sick

You know, the bit that gets me is when they say “Ooh, I’m dying for a cuppa.” I could understand it if they were after a triple shot of wormwood-laden absinthe with a vermouth chaser, but tea? Really? It’s just so…lame! So, why exactly have we embraced this muck to our collective bosom? Well, as with most things, it’s a long story which I shall attempt to condense for you here. If you want proper facts, there’s always Wikipedia:

  1. Chinese accidentally discover it ages ago
  2. Portuguese nick it from Chinese
  3. Dutch nick it from Portuguese
  4. Brits nick it from Dutch
  5. It’s British. No argument. Like curry

The rest is history. There’s a bit of faffing about with taxes and the East India Company, but for the most part we stuck our flag right there in the middle of the pot and pretended to like the stuff. I blame that Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, who made it fashionable and got hooked on it, dozy mare. A bit like Diana and marital infidelity, and look how that’s taken off. Only problem was, the proles had gotten a taste for it as well, and curiously, it was offered as an alternative to the demon grog at temperance meetings. Now, I’ve never attended a temperance meeting (probably not for me), but I’d imagine that tea really isn’t going to cut the mustard when you’re bug-eyed, frothing at the gills & threatening violence to anyone in the vicinity without an almost full bottle of pinot to hand. But what do I know?

And so to the present. I concede I must kowtow to the social mores of our time if I wish to succeed in my chosen field, but I shall do so on my own terms. A short cup of coffee, brutally strong and infused with one of those flavoured syrups, is more than enough to see off the competition. Preferably in sync with a couple of fags. And to those who see this as a crass invasion of tradition, hear ye:

“We do not have to accept the world as we find it” – Ed Miliband