Thursday, August 28, 2008

Staying at Eddie McGuires house

So I've woken up this morning and been pretty grumpy because I'm sore and tired and I'm not sure what day of the week it is. I get disgruntled in the mornings if I get woken up with a start, and at no stage do I seem to recover and become gruntled again. In fact, as I write this, I'm sore all over, and only the quality of the Banjos (them again) sausage roll I've eaten for morning tea has perked me up. I was really annoyed to hear about the disco in New Zealand that was pumping out a bit of Bob The Builder for the kids and got shut down by neighbours complaining about the noise - I don't mind cranking up a bit of Can We Fix It when I'm feeling festive and ironic (I like my mums Scottish inspired creation, Shug The Shoveller, who's response to "Can We Fix It!" was a dis-interested "Nup"). I love the girl who lined up for ages to go and get Stephanie Rice and E-Sulls autographs only to be told they were only signing sponsors underpants. I love the fact she'd skipped dole day to go and draw E-Sull on her arm and got rejected. I'm all for this kind of devotion - I still feel the sting of rejection when my Dad wouldn't let me cross the road to go and get Chris Reynolds autograph after the 1987 NTFL Premiership win by Penguin, and can still remember looking over at the football ground and seeing the massive bonfire lighting up the night sky and feeling a little piqued that I couldn't just go and have a schooner or two. Mind you, I hadn't drawn Chris Reynolds on my arm, that would have got me in the paper. And the way I draw, it would either have been a stick figure or something that looked like a pig - I painted a spaceship in art class when I was little and turned it into a hippo, it was the only A I ever got until a hippy Grade 8 art teacher said one of my paintings was a violent explosion of colour, which it was cos I cracked it and threw all the paint at the canvas, Angry Homer style. And I'm completely sure that my parents are planning something really terrible for my 30th. I hope it's not a Veronica pretending to be a lesbian, that's the worst gift I could get...

So my Mum, she has this little joke she's started telling me where she goes "Remember when we were in Melbourne and we stayed with Eddie McGuire?" - furreners, if you don't know, Eddie McGuire is an Australian television personality, and the president of my football club, and let's just say opinions on him are mixed and leave it politely at that - and she's absolutely right, when I was 10, we stayed at Eddie McGuires house, the joke of course being the Eddie McGuire we stayed was a nonogenerian Scottish gentlemen with a wife called Bessie who in that true kids fashion, I have no idea how we knew them, and I certainly don't think I ever saw them again. However, for three days in 1988 (the year before the release of Cop and A Half with Burt Reynolds), I did indeed stay with Eddie McGuire...um...that's it...that's posted...goodnight everybody. Well, not really, because there was more to it than that. You see, this was our stop over in Melbourne before I left Penguin to go back and live in Scotland, and it had not been a good week. I had a terrific farewell, beating this school we really hated 2-1 in soccer, and I kicked this red headed kid I hated fair in the guts, but I still had to leave Penguin behind, especially when we sat in our empty house and I had the time to look at my signed Bicentennial medal. And my friends. And my (admittedly now a lot more corporate) swimming pool. And Swanny, my hairdresser who slashed my ear...OK, I wasn't sad to miss him. Well, I kinda was, he had some awesome musk sticks. Anyway, I was in this wooden strangers room in some suburb of Melbourne where everything was my favourite kind of pine (who doesn't love treated pine, anyone?) and I always remember he came in and gave this little yellow book about soccer, and it was really nice of him to do that, and he'd written this lovely inscription in it about Scotland and stuff...my parents meanwhile did the bulk of the heavy lifting when it came to being sociable, sitting through a four hour VHS tape of their ballroom dancing which had it involved some Paul Licuria Dancing With The Stars style funkadelia might have been impressive, but which in fact was a room full of dancers shuffing awkwardly to the Pride Of Erin Brockovich or whatever they do in those situations. Well, it was four hours now I think about it start to finish, if you take out the times Eddie paused it to show Big Willie and his incredible much talked about shuffling, only to start the tape again and commentate on a seemingly indistinguishable old man clomping around the scout hall - I guess we just didn't have a trained eye. We also went to dinner at someones house and someone let a cockatoo out that clamped onto everyones head (I'm sure it was trained) in a seemingly pre-determined order. Again, I found something else to do while my parents did the Haworth style lifting in the social world - I found an ATARI in one of the kids rooms and sat down and played Super Slalom until hometime. I think that's always been my state of mind, it seems quite solitary and abstract at times, the classic mindset of the only child, and not even a flying cockatoo trained to peck at crusty bread and say "beer" can lure me into social situations with strangers at times.

The centrepiece of our trip was an outing to a VFL game between my team, the Pies In The Sky and the North Melbourne Bob Ansett owned Kangaroos. I've exaggerated so many aspects of this day in my own mind - we didn't win by 132 points, but by about 50, it wasn't bucketing with rain, just a bit muddy, and it wasn't at the MCG or a final, it was Waverley Park and no one was there, or anything else I associate with this day. I do remember being completely struck by the sheer size of Melbourne though, as we walked along the streets in variable weather. Mostly, I remember it was the first place I ever saw a caramel Milky Way, just sitting in the shop in a brown wrapper like a long lost girlfriend with a fantastic new hairstyle. Caramel? In a Milky Way? What is going on...and at the ground there wasn't just brassy old Di saying lewd things to kids like "I'll give him a lesson when he's older" and selling Violet Crumbles at marked up prices like in Penguin, there were vans selling kebabs and salad sandwiches and Halls Lemonade that wasn't even out of date...less impressively, it was also the first place I ever saw Home and Away, the episode where Nico turns the hose on Frank because he's not in the wedding party, and I was totally hooked, in a way I wouldn't be with Home and Away again until the Thomsen/Godbold era. So we're walking along to the game and Eddie suddenly realises he's left his banana at home. That's banana, single, not even a packed lunch with a Rice Bubbles bar in it, just one banana, and he decides we have to go and get it, because it's his banana, and one from the shops just wouldn't be prepared right. What can you do? Turn the hose on him? So we walked all the way home just to get Eddies banana, then all the way back, and missed a good chunk of the first 1/4 (in my version we missed most of the game and arrived with 5 minutes to go and got in for free). My Dad is still pretty annoyed at this, and brings it up whenever we're stuck in traffic mentioning someone must have gone back for a banana. I can never exaggerate that my first ever VFL game involved just a lot of angry emotions - I was angry because we didn't have time to look at merch, Eddie was angry he didn't have his banana, Dad was angry because he didn't get to see the start of the game, Nico was angry he wasn't in the wedding party, and the woman in the row in front of me was the angriest person of all - she was head of a family of 6 North Melbourne supporters sitting in a row with one kid sitting in the middle of the family in a Collingwood beanie, smiling all day long. At the end of the game, the Mum just turned to the kid and said "If you say one word you are fucking dead", to which the kid simply froze in fear. If only he'd gone home for his banana...

I don't really remember Bessie, I don't know what she did - obviously apart from the ball room dancing, we got a fair idea of her abilities in that regard. Maybe she was the brains of the outfit, or maybe she just hated us. When it comes to Eddie, well, my favourite ever line of rap music (is that a correctly constructed opening?) is on Jay Zs the Black Tape where he raps on the subject of what happens when a rapper tries to deliver a message and fails to connect that he's, quote, "Just talkin to ya...(sigh)...just talking through ya"...I really love that line because Jay Z has been talking through me for years, and I can't remember the last time anything Jay Z said connected with me ("stack chips in anticipation of precipitation on a rainy day" indeed), but it always makes me think of Eddie. I always felt I was talking through him in our brief conversations, that whatever I was showing him wasn't really registering, that he was of an age and from a time of strict train timetable like routines, only eating bananas after 12 and never drinking juice before 2, before a bit of Willisee at night and some toast with crusts cut off at 6:42 and ball room dancing at 7:31. Whatever I was saying to him (and most of it was nonsense, about the decline of Transformers or Empty Nest or...actually, I just realised I'm still the same) just bounced off him and struggled to get through a fog of routine and muddling. Look Eddie, it's time for Lost Cities Of Gold, want to...no, it's 4:37, you've got gardening to do, cheers bud. Everything was set up, there was no spontaniety or deviation at all, just treated pine and elevenses, ballroom dancing and routine. But it made him happy, and I wasn't going to argue with that, he'd earned the right to live the way he chose, and he chose to live his life in set order. For all that though, he gave me something really kind and heartfelt, and I did keep the soccer book for ages, referring to it whenever I wanted to check out something soccer related on the history of the European Championships or just wanted to remember someone doing something really decent for a kid he didn't know. I'll always really appreciate that.

Oh yeah, Bessie had a thing for antique pigs...never did find out what that was about...

6 comments:

ThePopGirls said...

Damn you and your impressive grasp of blogging! You clever youngster!

Kris said...

Hey, I might be able to use a line that impressed very few people when I was growing up in Burnie.

First, my mother was born in Edinburgh, and her whole family emigrated to Burnie to work at the Pulp (like a lot of Scots). That's not the impressive part, BTW.

No, her cousin (her mum's brother's son) is one Luigi 'Lou' Macari: 24 games for Scotland, 5 goals. Stellar career with Celtic (4 seasons) and then Man Utd (11 seasons). Much maligned manager of (deep breath) Swindon, West Ham, Birmingham, Stoke (TWICE), Celtic and Huddersfield.

I gave up bragging about that upon the 4,000 reply of "huh?"

The whole scandal over whether or not Danny DeVito was or was not the bastard child of some third cousin excited people considerably more back then.

Miles McClagan said...

Thankyou Alyson, now get your arse in gear and blog yourself again, we miss you.

That does actually impress me - I will go you one better, when I was in Manchester, I went to Lou Macaris Fish and Chip shop, and...it was out of fish and chips...we had to go next door and get a hot dog...

He has a dodgy reputation for gambling...

Kris said...

I did hear that Lou has a few chippies. The rest of his family do launderettes, but I think his issues with the punt (and the drink) may mean business partners might stretch the relationship.

Mrs Slocombe said...

Miles: where have you come from? How are you doing this? You bastard!

Miles McClagan said...

Well I can definitely tell you, much like Tony Martins suspicions about pipe shops, there didn't seem to be a lot of chips being cooked in Lous chip shop...dealings out the back I think...

Where did I come from? A little place...called Evening Shade. No, wait, that was Burt Reynolds...