Monday, August 25, 2008

The Occupational Elf and Safety Act, Subsection Glenorchy

So I'm in a good mood today because the Pies In The Sky got up and my tax is done, and it's always exciting in Tasmania at finals time - weird how the smell of linament takes me back to being a bewildered child wandering about Penguin Oval holding up the game by running around in the forward pocket. Incidentally, I think on the cover of NWFU footy record, Volume 3, Issue 6, I'm on the cover hanging out by the fence at Penguin, but you have to take my word for it - it's rather brilliantly a red photo (like Kane is walking to the ring) on a yellow background, so it could be anyone in the photo, but it looks like me painted red. Also, the show that's going to make my year, Alive and Kicking on SBS on Wednesday, the bloke who made the documentary about, quote, about the challenges four Tasmanian rural communities face in keeping their local footy clubs going (amazing) played for Avoca in the Fingal League - that's just ridiculously fantastic. The only way it could be better would be if he got an interview with Puffing Billy Fielding sitting on his tractor. Brilliantly, I've found two sensational clips on Youtube, two blokes who have made a short film about Penguin being one, and the other a show reel of Southern Tasmanian adverts from 1986 - 7HT used to have a record store? - and I think things are going well. And to cap everything off, I saw the first bag of manure for sale sign I've ever seen by the side of the Southern Outlet. This was all in all making for a fantastic day, the kind of day it's fantastic to live in Tassie, good friends, beautiful scenery, glistening summer sunshine...what more could anyone want? Well, the glistening summer sunshine is pretty much there's a sun out and it makes it maybe about 2 degrees warmer than normal,

Contrastingly, if you asked when I was at my most miserable in life, it wasn't school - incidentally, on Youtube, there's a short film about Hellyer College in Burnie being the worst college in Tasmania because it's full of vandalising bogans who can't spell, but the people who made it put up the word "fuems" on one graphical slide, and that's amused me all day - and it certainly wasn't the foggy confusion of 1999, when I failed uni, and then entered into the worlds most half arsed relationship which essentially fizzled to a halt one day because of an argument about lamingtons, that was all golden compared to 2000, and my first working stint in Glenorchy, here in the magical south of Tasmania. Now - I will be fair on this, it's other people who tell me bad things about Glenorchy, so the stabbings outside McDonalds people talk about are all "alleged" in my book - all I ever had problems with was a bloke call me a bad word for asking him for identification one day, and maybe one domestic violence incident in the mall. However, it's not got a great reputation. I myself have had some great days there at the local football club - we took a Japanese girl there once for instance who amazed us with her ability to drink a can of Boags in 0.03 seconds - and even at work. So the problem wasn't the town, although I found it quite dark and forboding on school holidays and in winter when the black clouds came out of my soul and into the sky, and it wasn't even the red headed girl I worked with who was without a single question the worst human being I've ever met - I don't say that lightly, I've bet Bono (oh, satire) - who was just compellingly unpleasant. Still, she saved all year to go to Tamworth then she got ditched by her boyfriend, so you know, that was funny. It wasn't even that the Pies In The Sky were 5-0, and everyone was telling me it was fate the Grand Final was moved forward to my birthday and then Essendon won a flag that day...the problem was me, unpleasant, surly, childish, immature, and a pretty lost kind of person. I had lost a girl, I had lost my social life, my friends were off doing interesting things, I was doing nothing except having long winded chats on the Internet about Britney Spears and the early years of Mick Malthouses coaching (will Josh Fraser be a ruckman one day? Oh the future possibilities!) career and I was in Glenorchy moping about my life. In fact, I think I could say I wasn't miserable at all, just amazing listless and apathetic, it was like I wasn't there. At least when I was in my relationship, someone else was equally listless and apathetic and I could bounce off her - this was me on my own. Every day just seemed to be the same - and then, luckily, a little Aboriginal battler lined up for the start of the 400m and I got so inspired that...

OK, that's massively untrue, it just seemed to lighten the paragraph. What did happen though was Xmas time came around and I was sort of a little better. I had a real moment of closure with the netball girl, had big plans to go home to Penguin and have a fantastic New Year, and had saved money to go back to Scotland as well in 2001, and I had got back into listening to music properly, so things were picking up and I was feeling really good. I went to work to drop the keys off, and I'm rocking my Joe Bloggs 92 clothes (although I couldn't find my hat), and feeling pretty good about myself, and then I was walking through McDonalds, and there was there was really bogany little blonde girl in the queue in front of me in a black parka with a furry collar and she was arguing about pickles or something with the guy serving her, and she was getting really aggressive with him, unfurling herself to her full 4"8 in height and jabbing her finger about her human rights being abused by not being able to get a Big Mac without a pickle. And I'm sort of laughing, but also thinking, was this what I was like last year when we had the big fight about the lamingtons? And I'm thinking this is how people end up getting stabbed - the dispute that causes the nuclear button to be pushed won't be ethnic divisions, it'll be because one delegate wanted tea and got coffee. So she leaves eventually, saying something like "NerfafuckingKFC" or something poetic. And the boy, who was quite stressed with this small scale confrontation, he says to me "She's worse than that elf" - I thought he said she was bad for his health, and yes, she certainly was, but when I was outside later chomping on my tepidly tasting chicken burger and wondering whatever happened to the green thickshakes we got in Burnie on St Patricks day, I realised he had said something about an elf? Where had I ended up, Narnia instead of Norchy? It stuck in my end for quite some time, until I decided that he was making an amusing joke about her lack of height, I had myself an amusing anecdote to tell when I had dinner parties in the future, and off I went, straight to Video City to go and do battle with the sales pressure police ("Hi, anything I can help you with!" "Yes, do you have Cop and a Half with Burt Reynolds?" "Get out of my store") and complain internally about whatever happened to mom and pop video stores and American influences on the language (ooh, see, he's clever, he combined the two, someone get him a mince pie).

So the next day I'm there again back at work and I'm on my way through pram valley to go and get the Herald Sun, and I notice Santa sitting (well, slumping) in a big throne next to some bogan kids sort of kicking his legs and asking him for, I don't know, a pony or a bike or heroin or something. And to his left is this girl, roughly the dimensions and size of a mack truck, although she had nice hair in fairness in a ponytail, and she's dancing in an elf costume about 7 times too small for her, trying to get the kids off Santas ankles and trying to sort of pacify these little horrors with some tinsel and sock puppets, but smiling at them and being just an angel in the face of hell. The kids parents were god knows where, probably trying to steal a car or something. Santa, he wasn't helping at all, he was just snorting every now and then. Now at this point, I thought, well, unless there's shift work this must be the elf they were talking about, but there's no need to slander her reputation McDonalds youth. Maybe, I thought, it's like when you like a girl and you pull her hair instead of asking her? Look, I thought, she's a big looking discus thrower, but she's giving it her all in a pretty embarrassing job that probably pays peanuts, and as I tucked into my noodles and listened to Bob Dylan on my Walkman I thought, well, there's something in that for all of us. Sure, I might be stuck in a rut, and my life isn't going well, and I'm stuck working with a ginger whinger, but she's surrounded by little brats, people are having a dip at her, probably making fun of her weight and her stupid elf costume, but she's being professional, and she's smiling, and look at me, sitting here moaning about noodles and the lack of interesting stories in the Herald Sun and the poor state of my life. It was a really important moment, this girl just giving it everything for the kids and for her local community and it probably would have resonated with me even more had, just as Like A Rolling Stone came on the walkman and I ate a particularly spicy noodle, she hadn't taken a swing of her mighty leg and kicked one of the kids right square in the arse with her Blunstone boot, and told him to "Nerfafuckinggetferking off him..."

And to be honest, at that moment, I was even more inspired...

8 comments:

Kath Lockett said...

.....are you sure it wasn't Princess Mary in her pre-brunette, pre-Sydney pub scene, current-root-in-a-ute days?

You're a hilarious writer, Miles. I hope you're keeping copies of this stuff. You write it, and I'll edit your grammar....(ex-English teacher here, blush blush)

Raena said...

Your posts make my day.

Unbelievably, they also make me a little bit homesick for the northern suburbs.

Mrs Slocombe said...

That was grand: like an Eddie Campbell book without any pictures.

bruce said...

Just seen your comment re Scuzzlebutt and note you're in Tassie (and for that matter a fellow Scot). We're heading there for New Year (Falls Festival with some time either side). Been a while since I picked apples in Cygnet; any insider tips on where to go?

Mrs Slocombe said...

Grandly streamy: like an Eddie Campbell comic without the pictures.

Mrs Slocombe said...

sorry: I had a goldfish moment

Miles McClagan said...

I think my grammar is probably my weak point - when I should have been learning grammar, I was too busy thinking about footy maths and bootball. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Mary though...if it had been the Taroona mall though...

I actually made myself miss the Northern Suburbs writing that...the Tasmania Transport Museum, I haven't been there for ages...

Miles McClagan said...

Insider tips? I suggest if you want, I could tell you a detailed pub guide...the magical adventures of Syrup, Tacos who serve you drinks whenever you are drunk...the Tasmanian Transport Museum is excellent. So much transport...

There's so much to do, it's hard to know where to start!

Eddie Campbell, I had an uncle called Eddie Campbell..he was mates with Gerry Rafferty, then punched him in the face. Hell of a guy.