Idle Eye 110 : The Lunar Twits (Have Taken Over the Asylum)

Property prices getting a bit steep for you in that there London? Need to stick your flag into a chunk of affordable real estate almost certain to appreciate wildly over the course of several lifetimes? Well guess what? You’re in luck. The Lunar Registry is currently flogging off tracts of land on the Moon, complete with certificate of ownership, full mineral rights and a framed satellite photograph of your very own galactic Shangri-La for the unrepeatable knockdown price of $18.95 an acre. “What could be greater than to own your own crater?” Indeed.

Tempting though this offer may be, it might also be prudent to point out that many of us will be simultaneously drawn to the more desirable hotspots of our celestial neighbour. For example, the Sea of Vapours is looking pretty tidy: Own front door, excellent transport links, ideal for first time buyer, no onward chain. And unorthodox though it may seem at present, Mare Vaporum is likely to be a strong pull for artistic individuals priced out of the likes of Penge and Peckham Rye, and speculative buyers can therefore realistically expect a robust return on any investment made in advance of the inevitable gentrification process. In short, there’s going to be a bunfight.

Let’s presume I want to snap up a couple of acres in the Lake of Dreams, one of the most sought-after locations for adventurous romantics. Lacus Somniorum has, at best, ill-defined borders and includes the flooded impact craters Mason and Plana to the north. Which basically means I’ll be pitching for the south-facing plots like everyone else. To say nothing of future boundary disputes, riff-raff moving into the neighbourhood and the division of maintenance duties once the conversions start:

“Turns out them next door have discovered a rich seam of anorthite that runs DIRECTLY through my back yard and I’ve only just had the bloody thing moonscaped. I’ll be screwed if I’m going to help those nouveau riche shysters any more than I have already, particularly after they only painted their half of the pod doorway. In orange, for Christ’s sake! So petty! And while we’re at it, the sinkhole’s opened up again and guess who’s mucking out the sulphur deposits? Now, I’m no pedant but it’s basic human decency to keep the communal zones clear. Who else do they think does it? And as for the stink that comes out of their kitchen most nights…”

To be fair, Lacus Somniorum is probably not for me. And that goes for pretty much every must-have bolt-hole on the wretched planet – It will become the East Grinstead of the Solar System before you know it and I haven’t got all that long left. So what to do? I’m thinking Pluto’s looking like a good bet right now, as is the Heliopause and Eris if you can be arsed. Or simply wait for Foxtons to open their first gravity-free bar.

Idle Eye 109 : The Cotswold Diner

Like Cornwall, the trouble with the Cotswolds is that they’re woefully inadequate at catering for regular folk. By which I mean that every idyllic bar and restaurant, set in local stone and staffed by enthusiastic pin-striped undergraduates, leaves in its wake a paucity of eateries affordable to the indigenous population that isn’t a flame-haired former news editor or her tit of a husband. Even your bog-standard takeaway has been usurped by Cameron’s cronies, now profiteering proudly from weak puns and an artisan prefix. So, where to fill up without spunking away your wages when buried deep in the West Country?

Good question. And if you are holed up in a country B&B, your options are drastically reduced. For you must either drive to one of these godforsaken places, or learn to enjoy the pleasure of your own company with a Waitrose 2 for 1 nuclear meal and a bottle of anything red that will stay down. A Sophie’s Choice, basically. But then I got to thinking (necessity being the mother of all invention): What if I could harness that 1987 Panasonic Destroyer of All Hopes & Dreams to my own advantage? Perhaps even rustle up something my guts wouldn’t instantly reject, and in record time? The mind began to work overtime, like it’s supposed to do during sex or at the moment of violent untimely death…

As luck would have it, I discovered a Microwave Oven Recipe Book nestled alluringly between a brace of curry menus, purposefully placed in order to offer the budget diner the illusion of opulence. For example – How about some plaice fillets in a white wine sauce? Preparation comes in at a mere 10 minutes, presumably the time it takes to leap into the Thames in Hunters waders and net a couple of the flat bastards before they hightail it off in their inherited Aqua Rover. What’s more, the end result serves four people, a salient glimpse into the lives of others as you attempt to scrape the charred remains of sliced mushroom from the duvet cover. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not round off the evening with a pineapple upside down cake? Simultaneously conjuring up Hawaii and the 1970’s, this delightful pudding is rustled up in seconds if you happen to have a greased soufflé dish stowed away in your rucksack and can handle 100g of refined sugar before the witching hour.

Sadly I don’t and can’t, to say nothing of the potential shame involved. To fail at cookery is one thing, but to fail at fan-assisted cookery in the seat of all things cookery is quite another. So I bailed, as you’ve probably guessed by now. However, tonight acquainted me with a spectacular 2012 Sangré de Torro (a snip at £8.99) and guess what? That family bag of farm-raised, oak-smoked Gloucester Old Spot flavoured crinkly kettle chips hand-picked by Dave on 26/02/14 doesn’t seem so bad after all.