Friday, 16 November 2007

Planes, Trains, and Firearms.....


Idle planned to be far too busy to post this weekend, but if I tell you that I am marooned in the Executive Lounge at Heathrow Terminal One, you will begin to catch my drift.

It's a long story.

Last time I travelled with my shotgun in its splendid, burnished leather case, battered but beautiful, I was told that the lock was insufficient and that next time I should expect to have it refused entry to the plane. The cheek! Vintage guns come in vintage cases, c'est tout. But the jobsworth made it clear he was planning to obstruct me at the next opportunity.

So, this week, I planned ahead and googled for airline-friendly cases. Being of Aberdonian stock, and owning, as I have said, a burnished beauty of a case, etc, I opted for the *oh dear* bottom of the range. It appeared at my office yesterday, a limp-wristed and poofterish excuse of a shotgun carriage case, barely able to withstand the negligence of a trotskyite BAA baggage handler, let alone a determined Mozzie with evil plans for the denizens of Slough. And did it have any locks? Did it fuck.

Instead, there were holes through which padlocks could be attached. Three of them. So, rushing from lunch at the Savoy, I espied Mr Robt Dyas' emporium and summoned the manager. In broken English, he advised me on the quality of his padlock collection. A budget pack of four small-but-strongs were purchased.

Of course, I got back to the office and discovered they didn't quite fit. Furthermore, the hinges along the spine of the case were so easily jemmied as to be worthless.

So Idle, discovering this just as he was about to head to Heathrow, had to make a detour to the architectural ironmonger near Piccadilly Circus. Took me an age, heavily laden with guns and baggage. But reasonably strong chain-link was provided (£1.50 a metre), and the padlocks could be affixed, and a circumference of chain round the whole shebang, to boot.

Now the pressure was on. The Bakerloo got me to Paddington alright, but the Heathrow Express was expressly NOT express, if I make myself clear. In fact it was suffering"congestion", and my journey time was nearly doubled.

I sprinted, Alan Wells-like, from the train at Terminal One, cunningly leaving a small case holding my work papers on the train. I arrived at the check-in, sweating like the Chief Stoker of the Great Britain, and was offered seat 2F. But wait! Production of the shotgun caused much discombobulation. Magically, seat 2F disappeared, and the flight was "closed". Why? Because the trotskyite baggage handlers will not commit to less than an hour to walk a WW Greener 12 bore approx 300 yards to the plane, despite my having booked the gun onto the flight a week earlier.

Some fucker is sitting in 2F right now doing my crossword and drinking my BA bloody mary, and I hope he bloody well realises it.

Me? I'm booked onto the 1940 (expected 2020), and my whisky-drinking is taking place not on Deeside but in the Exec Lounge. The company is commercial folk, I believe. Thank god granny isn't alive to read this.

My papers? Not yet found by the Heathrow express guards, or cleaning staff. I have been advised by a nice skinhead on the desk at Terminal One to manage my expectations lower, as it were.

Have my Three Bad Things happened? Or was the loss of work papers a mere inconvenience, and I shall be prised out of a mangled fuselage somewhere in the Peak District tonight?

It's a bastard, the whole thing. Plus I exchanged short sentences with a plutocrat this afternoon and will have to pretend he was right and I was wrong when I see him next week. Oh, woe. Another whisky, please, Manuel, and is there an update on the delayed 1940 to Aberdeen?

Friday, 2 November 2007

Idle's Edwardian Manners, Part 2

When it became clear that the Second World War was going to take much time, treasure, and manpower, civil servants were dispatched from Whitehall and county councils to have a quiet word with the bigger landowners and stately homeowners, to address their staffing levels.

One such official made a visit to Chatsworth and spent a morning counting the number of gardeners, footmen, gamekeepers and chefs. Before lunch, he had an audience with the Duke.

"We thought" began the chap from the county council, "that you might be able to reduce the number of gamekeepers, Your Grace".

"Bother" said the Duke. "Oh, very well"

"And perhaps one less man in the kitchen garden" said the official.

"Has Birtwhistle said he could spare one? I suppose so, then"

"And one less pastry chef, we thought" said the public servant.

"Dammit all" said the Duke, "can't a chap have a biscuit?"