Wednesday, September 10, 2008

100 over 30 (Zeehan below Zero)

So I'm now 30 - I guess I can accept it, after all, I didn't think at 29 I was suddenly going to be called up to fix Scotlands World Cup prospects. I'm still young enough to be a young art sensation? Aren't I? I don't know anymore, it's all confusing. I've learned a lot over the years - I've learned Blue Heaven is the ultimate flavour of milk, I've learned that Jaffas really are getting smaller, I've learned any chocolate item the public actually likes and wants will be taken off the shelves while tired old Snickers will be there forever, I've learned friends are valuable, I've learned that Nick Maxwell is a great Facebook friend, I've learned sending fan letters to female basketball players will get you a signed card but writing fan letters to AFL footballers will get you nothing, and I've learned anything described as fresh, funky and fun is inevitably absolute rubbish. I've learned songs that are reviewed as "the eclectic sound of summer" are even worse. Honestly, that last Deee-Lite album, absolutely awful...anyway, never mind all that, I think I'm still learning things...I'm sitting watching the Tamar Cats episode of the Alive and Kicking series, and I've just learned the girl who works in the canteen is so bush pig and Tassie, she's fascinating. She should get a show just dedicated to her search for a stripper. I've also made sure that I savour the cup of tea I'm drinking, just in case I wake up tomorrow and the world has been ended by nerdlinger scientists stuffing about with atoms. Scientists are helpful when they invent the IPOD. When you can get Duffy and Kenickie (Jellybean is the best) back to back, science is good...destroying the world, bad...oh, and I'm about to eat an entire packet of Tim Tams and get maudlin, so I better get to blogging while I still can...

So this is my 100th post, and the bush pig girl has changed my thoughts. Let me just set the scene - when I moved back to Penguin from Scotland, I was a shocking snob, clad head to toe in fashionable clothes and with a knowledge of fashionable music and social trends. I got off the plane in 150 pound orange fila boots and a Joe Bloggs Harlequin top, all of which was completely pointless in the land of flannel and a town where the Jaffa Big M was considered morally shocking. I stood in a shop where the local shopkeeper giggled every time you asked for a Golden Gaytime, and in a bakery where old women physically jostled each other for the last bread roll. Before I had come back to Penguin, I had spent a magical school trip in Paris and Lucerne, where I had swum with beautiful Swiss girls in clear blue pools, and stood in verdant green fields with the most breathtaking scenery - actually, I stayed in a hotel where the chef went in a mood because he stuffed up the desert, and threw some of it against a wall before bringing everyone the Swiss equivalent of a Choc Wedge to make up for it, and the beautiful Swiss girls were actually one legged fat old women and men in the local swimming pool, but in my mind, as I stood underneath the Big Penguin, sticking out like a sore thumb in clothes that weren't torn in two, the trip took on a greater cultural significance. I had travelled, I had seen the world, and now I was back where I had started, back in this cultural wasteland queueing for the Advocate. Oh how tortured and poetic and desperately in need of a slap I was, as I told people how I gazed out on the Alps (actually I'd slid down the mountain after being hit with a snowball). I might as well have swanned about the playground in a goth T penning poetry about my miserable life, but for some reason, people totally believed me and thought I was some kind of worldly poet who was enriching their lives with my knowledge, and not a clown from Scotland who had spent most of the trip in Paris playing table tennis badly. My capacity as a cultural better, cooler (briefly) than the established cool kids, was thus established and everything was going well...got a snog out of it...

In the middle of this self indulgent woe is me head slapping nonsense, word came down from the mountain that I had to go to Grade 8 camp - in Zeehan and Queenstown. I really have no idea why people decide the best way to break up the school year is to stick the students in a mining town in the middle of nowhere as some kind of treat, but there was no way out. Naturally, I played it to the hilt that having just been to paradise, I'd never been to m...no, wait, I played it to the hilt that I'd just been in Paris and seen the Eiffel Tower, and now was off on a rickety Kergers Coach to see the West Coast Pioneers Museum and read the Zeehan and Dundas Herald. I remember coming up with all kinds of nonsense as I stared out of the window, listening to moody Wendy Matthews music as we skidded and slopped through the rain, nubile 14 year olds gathered around to listen to my tales of swaggering adventure throughout the world. When we got to Zeehan, a kid called Brad, who I suspect was actually jealous I was chatting to the Tasmanian equivalent of "me bird", told me to shut the fuck up, and I thought, fair enough, mans got a point. I put on my sunglasses and tried to make the best of it. As we stood around, a man came up to us dressed as ye olde crazy critter, sort of going "Howdy y'all, welcome to Zeehan", in an authentic ye olde Zeehan accent...if you were an American in Zeehan. His beard was flimsy and inauthentic, his clothes frankly 80s, and his bush hat didn't conceal the mullet. I thought, just take it in, it's OK...his job was to take us through until lunch time, and get us all panning for gold in a puddle, just like ye olde miners of yore. After ten minutes of me standing with my arms folded looking snobby, the crazy critter came up and offered me a cigarette. I was 14, and a bit bewildered, but I thought, fair play to him, he's trying to crack the snob and get us all involved, I'll play along, and had a smoke with him. He took a draw, said "Fucking idiots" in the direction of the kids panning frantically for gold, and then asked me what Paris was like...I've never, ever been quite so weirded out in my life, staring up at the sky, looking at the endless grey, wondering where my life was, and smoking with a bogan dressed like a crazy old American miner...never mind when I found out what the cigarette contained...

Onwards we ploughed to Queenstown, the self indulgent chip in my shoulder growing into a full packet of Twisties, me sitting quietly in the middle of a holiday for a hanging, the only highlight my first ever viewing of Chances, endless games of Celebrity Head, whittling down the energy of Grade 8s until there was not even the motivation to go and run amok in the town. As a special treat, on our final night, the local school in Queenstown invited us to their school disco, a blue lite special in the middle of the town, in a freezing cold scout hall, that I think the mayor attended. They stood on one side of the hall, us on the other, until they summoned one of our side over simply to tell him he was fat. I was, in my self assessed role of cultural snob acting cooler than I actually was, looking for drugs in that "geez I'm so wicked" kind of way that just makes you look like a knob and end up buying a bag of candy hearts. Within three bars of Hot Chilli Woman by Noiseworks, the evenings first musical choice, the DJs amplifier blew up, leaving everyone standing in silence. It was this moment that I completely transformed, lightened up, and began to enjoy the chaos, as violence threatened to break out at every turn - in the movie of my life, I'd play "Fucked Up Mind" by Hafdis Huld over the scene, and everything would fade to black and white and slow motion, as the Queenstowners talked up their ability to stab us with no real back up other than a fierce scowl, and one of our people threw a chair that skimmed about 1m, grinding to a rather weak halt, all soundtracked by the fissing messy sparking amplifier. In a pinch, the mayor called in the local school band, and I remember standing next to an absolute bush pig girl with frizzy silver and black hair and her boyfriend, who was called Clive, and where as ten seconds before we had been threatening to layeth the smackdown on each other, we suddenly united over the ineptitude of the school band. Screamcore they were called. Could tell they sucked by the way they tuned up. "Fucking nerds can't play ROCKKKKKKKKK!" screamed the girl, her lungs bursting out of her sparkly black tube top, and then she sold me some candy hearts in a bag...as I watched spot fires put out around the scout hall by the mayor, as I watched our local skanky girls get accquainted with the local boys, as I watched the most pathetic fight I'd ever seen roll around at my feet, and as I watched a harassed woman in the canteen threaten to punch any kids who asked for a rum and coke, the lead guitarist in Screamcore tried to do a fancy guitar move, and dropped his guitar square on his open sandalled foot, and scream(core) in agony....

And i realised, I wasn't just in Queenstown...I was firmly back in Tassie...I was home...

8 comments:

kate said...

happy birthday myles.. don't worry about the russians or the cern big bang.. just keep your eyes on those tamar cats and all will be well..

congrats on the century by the way!

nailpolishblues said...

You know...it's not too late to escape.

And holy fuck, how do you manage these huge (funny) posts day after day?

Jackie said...

Thanks for your comment on Glasgow DP - it's always good to have new visitors, it seems I'm reminding a lot of faraway people of home.

I've much preferred my 30s to my 20s. Next year I hit my 40s, which is a bit more of a scary prospect!

Miles McClagan said...

Well, I'm still here, the world hasn't ended yet, no one is invading so thanks for the congrats! I stuck around...might go and watch The Cats, head for the canteen!

I think about escape all the time (when I go and see The Bangles, I might seek asylum in Melbourne)...

Any time I see a "photie" of back home, I start getting homesick! For my 40th, I'm getting a ferris wheel (something to look forward to!)

peter said...

Happy birthday: that was a cracker. At the very least you are a worldly clown, and that's no picnic.

squib said...

Happy Birthday! Perhaps 30 is when you write your novel AND send it off to some publishers?

You're lucky. We got sent to an asbestos mining town on our school camp

Kath Lockett said...

I spent a year in Scotland (Aberdeen, in year eight) and came back feeling the complete opposite to you - daggy, no idea who these tall strange guys were with deep voices in year nine who were small enough for me to beat up in year seven and utterly afraid of even trying to dance at the local Blue light disco, let alone doing anything than bum-suck an Alpine....

You're not going to believe the word verification thingy, true - ootsauce

Miles McClagan said...

If I ever release an album, it's going to be called "The worldly clown", got a right ring to it...

I must dig out that novel, I think the world could do with more Tony Barber cameos. I don't think there was any asbestos in Zeehan...at least, I don't think so...

The out of the loop weirdness came the year after in Grade 9, Grade 8 was incredibly easy, mostly because of soft drugs. Ootsauce I think was a popular word used often by humourous Scottish cartoon mascot "Oor Wullie" - big in Aberdeen I think...