Idle Eye 68 : The Parable of the Sower

Back in the 1970’s (forgive me for not remembering exactly when), Nibs and I had our first musical spar. We were both newts, desperately attempting to develop the first tail of experience which we could then wave about with authority and impress our mates. Obviously I had a slight edge, playing the Elvis Costello trump card over his Boomtown Rats, compounded further when our dear mother destroyed Nibs’s Rats cassette after seeing Bob Geldof on the Russell Harty Show. This wanton act of barbarism knocked the stuffing out of the poor boy, but as the eldest I undertook a mantle of responsibility with requisite seriousness, and over the subsequent years I offered him up Be Bop Deluxe, Supertramp, Roxy Music et al which he devoured with joy.

Our nirvana of choice was a tiny shop just off Godalming High Street called Record Corner, tucked away in a cobbled enclave far from the everyday needs of Surrey stockbrokers. Here you could lose yourself in formative wonder, as gigantic teenage muso freaks intimidated and beguiled you in equal measures. I remember asking, with a slight cringe, if they had Elton John/Kiki Dee’s ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ in yet and being told to piss off to Woolworths. Which, ironically, is where Nibs bought the Clash’s London Calling, but then let himself down by going to Waitrose immediately afterwards.

On my thirteenth birthday I somehow managed to get a little band together. The venue: Shackleford Village Hall, and it was here myself and three others murdered ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream in front of a live audience. And yet, five of us were guilty. Why five, I hear you ask? Well, because young Nibs had his tiny adolescent hand in it as well. At a disclosed moment, he ran onto the stage and manually plugged in a red lightbulb, giving us the kind of wow factor unseen since the Eiffel tower was launched to an anticipating public. It was a bonding moment, to be sure, but sadly failed to secure my place in a certain young lady’s heart, not mentioned here for fear she may well be reading this.

And so the years passed by, and I continued to share the pearls I came across on my musical journey. Touchingly, the stuff I actually wrote (and performed with the confidence of a startled gazelle) was most keenly championed by Nibs himself. And though we seldom manage to say it to each other (we’re British, innit?) we have always maintained a sneaking respect for the other’s ability in his chosen field. But it was music that did and will always do the lion’s share of bonding. Anyone that has ever endured an Idle Hour lock-in with its inevitable rendition of Wonderwall will understand why. All I ask is that you do not hold me responsible. You sow the seed: Some of it falls on fertile ground, some does not. I rest my case…

Idle Eye 55 : The Trial (Eye in the Dock)

Levity Inquiry, Royal Courts of Justice, Day 67578088

Lord Justice Levity:  Can we turn now to the issue of Idle Eye 54? The post about the origin of the Blues, in which the author attempts to draw some sort of humour from the unlikely premise that it stems from two Edwardian commuters?

General room mumble and rustling of papers

Mr Eye, could you step up to the dock? Thank you. Now, as you are no doubt aware, your most recent effort has been…how can I put this politely…abysmally received. Is that correct?

Idle Eye:  I don’t recall.

LJL:  Without putting too fine a point on it, Mr Eye, it was only seven days ago. Whilst I am aware that a week is a long time in politics, I did think there was a little more longevity in journalism.

Room titters

IE:  It wasn’t one of our better ones, my Lord.

LJL:  Let me put this to you, Mr Eye: Not only was it not ‘one of your better ones’, it fails at every level of your original brief. Would you say that’s fair?

IE:  I would say that could be interpreted as a rather harsh assessment.

LJL:  But it captures the gist?

IE:  Perhaps.

LJL:  Let’s look at the detail. Your two characters, ‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson and ‘Lonesome’ Larry, are two-dimensional to say the least, and if your objective is to make the point that your employer, one Mr Nibs of Barnes, is no virtuoso at playing the guitar, I would suggest that you exercise some clarity in any future endeavours.

IE:  With respect, my Lord, most people who frequent the Idle Hour already know he’s a bit shite at it.

LJL:  And the purpose of your blog is?

IE:  To spread the word, my Lord.

LJL:  Exactly. And how exactly do you think you are achieving this when you introduce a random, borderline racist, sexist stooge such as ‘Fat Mama’ O’Beace halfway through the piece for no apparent reason?

IE:  In our defence, my Lord, we thought it would be amusing to juxtapose the situation, both personally and geographically. In retrospect, this may have been an oversight.

LJL:  Your own mother failed to comprehend what you were trying to say, Mr Eye! So what chance did you imagine the rest of us would have?

IE:  It was an error, my Lord, for which we can only apologise. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing.

LJL:  And I quote: “What? No idea what that was about!” This was from an email dated 27th November 2012.

IE:  May I ask how you came by this information, my Lord?

LJL:  It would be unprofessional in the extreme to divulge our sources, Mr Eye. As well you know.

IE:  I do understand.

LJL:  You may be interested to learn that Mr Nibs of Barnes has stated he was ‘slightly amused’ by the piece.

IE:  Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

LJL:  That will be all, Mr Eye. Thanks for coming in.

Idle Eye 54 : The Real Story of the Blues

Clapham Delta, London 1912

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Morning, Larry.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Morning, Norman.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Tram’s late again.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  I see that.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Distressing.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Somewhat.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  There’ll be hell to pay at Fenchurch Street.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  I fear there will.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  How’s the mojo?

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Just fine, Norman, just fine. And yours?

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Mustn’t grumble, I suppose. Spent the weekend tinkering but she’s really not tickety-boo just yet.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Confounded thing. Have you tried new improved Wonderwall from Nibs Industries? A quick squirt and you’re in the pink, apparently.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Yes, I saw that on last week’s newsreel. Something along the lines of ‘Who needs twelve bars when one will do?’ Or am I mistaken?

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  The very same, old boy. Seems this Nibs chap is running on one over there in Barnes and doing rather well.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Running on one? Whatever do you mean?

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Why, one chord, of course! All that complicated nonsense from Mississippi: Hell bent on twisting our melon, man. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of this fellow’s book and we’d all have a bit more time to cane the children and patronise the wife.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Well, I must say that does sound splendid! I can’t remember when I last gave the eldest a sound thrashing or confined the sow to her quarters.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  I’d not let Mrs Pankhurst hear that if I were you, old bean.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Ha ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha! Very good, Larry!

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Yes, I thought so.

‘Fat Mama’ O’Beace appears

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Uh oh! Here comes trouble.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Oh Lordy!

‘Fat Mama’ O’Beace:  You boys a-talkin’ bout me agin?

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  No, Ma’am. We’s just a-waitin’ for dis ole tram.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Ain’t dat da truth.

‘Fat Mama’ O’Beace:  Now, I no wanna hear no tale of dissin‘ de twelve bar onna count of Nibs In-Dust-Tree. He da Devil chile, with his one chord WunnaWall an he an his Barnes speshal frens. You stay cleeah, y’unnastan?

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  F’sure, Mrs O’Beace

‘Fat Mama’ O’Beace:  Now, I has a cli-yant me ting in Bal-ham. See y’all.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  So long, Mama!

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Don’t go changin’!

FMO’B heads off south

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Awkward.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Rather.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Still no sign of that tram.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Sadly not.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Rotten luck.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Larry?

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Norman.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  This…Nibs. No chance he could knock up more than one chord, is there?

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  None whatsoever.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  I rather feared that was the case.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  I’m afraid it is.

‘Howlin’ Norman Thompson:  Shame.

‘Lonesome’ Larry:  Indeed.

Idle Eye 28 : The Sting

Mrs Sting : Is that the Idle Hour?

Barstaff : It certainly is. How can I help?

Mrs Sting : It’s Mrs Sting here. You know, the other half.

Barstaff : Hello Mrs Sting. Would you like to book a table?

Mrs Sting : No, not exactly. But I could use your help. It’s a somewhat delicate matter.

Barstaff : It’s not the, er, tantric business again, is it?

Mrs Sting : I’m afraid it is. And he’s getting worse. I haven’t slept in over a week and I was rather hoping you could recommend something to dampen his ardour, so to speak.

Barstaff : Of course. Well, the organic chicken thighs washed down with one of our biodynamic reds should do the trick. Mr & Mrs Meatloaf were in over Bank Holiday and they had to be airlifted home afterwards.

Mrs Sting : I don’t think so. Any mention of thighs and he’ll be at it like a rat up a drainpipe. No, I was thinking of something a little more sedative perhaps?

Barstaff : How about our Stroh 80% volume Austrian rum? Pop a couple of shots in his coffee when he’s out pointing Percy and he won’t be bothering you for quite some time, I should coco.

Mrs Sting : Been there. He bought a case back after the last European tour and whipped through it like lemonade. Gave a whole new meaning to Viennese Whirl, mind.

Barstaff : Hmmm, difficult one. How’s the book going, by the way?

Mrs Sting : That’s precisely the problem! I don’t have five seconds to myself anymore. The minute I sit down at the computer he gets all hot under the collar and chases me round the mansion like in The Secretary. I’m only on the preface and I’m exhausted already.

Barstaff : Can I make another suggestion?

Mrs Sting : Please do. I’m at my wits end.

Barstaff : It’s a long shot but it might have legs. I’ve been working here for a while now and when we get stragglers at the end of a shift, Nibs hops onto the acoustic and anaesthetises them with his astonishing rendition of ‘Wonderwall’. Works every time, trust me.

Mrs Sting : Perfect! I’ll get the chopper out.

Barstaff : Isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid, Mrs Sting?

Mrs Sting : No, I mean I’ll bring him over tonight. Book me a table for two by the traps.

Barstaff : Slight problem. Mr & Mrs Bono have already reserved the traps table. Popular one with the Live Aid lot, it seems.

Mrs Sting : Listen, I want that table. Do what you have to, ok? If it helps, I’ll do a book reading in your bloody pub when I’ve done it. Got that? Good. And clear a space in the garden for the chopper. I mean, the helicopter.

Mrs Sting will be reading excerpts from her frank autobiography ‘One Swallow Does Not a Sumner Make’ in the Idle Hour Rest Rooms when she has written it. All rights reserved © 2012 EyeBooks UK, including the made-up bits. Especially them.