Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's like a jungle sometimes I wonder how I keep from going under (my Mum usually helps)

I shouldn't have been surprised - this morning I woke up, turned on the TV, and the first thing I saw was my nemesis Erik Thompson grinning at me from a Packed to the (Pat) Rafters promo, while Jason Mraz played in the background, like all the evil in the world coming together in a swooping black cloud. All I needed was "with a special cameo from Bernard Fanning!" and that would have been the end of my day. As it was, I think it's made my virus a little worse, and so I'm still a little shaky. I'm so embarrassed the Statewide League Grand Final between Launceston and "The Norch" has been cancelled because North and South of Tassie can't work together, embarrassed like when that girl I played netball with made up her own swear words. We can eat all the BELIEVE! bars we want, but as long as we're still north vs south in this war, nothing is going to happen. Bet the AFL are just delighted. It hasn't been a good couple of weeks in Tassie, what with suicidal politicians, that horrible Loongana print ad, the man drought and now this disaster. Still, I think I'm doing OK at the moment personally - I've decided that in addition to my aim of getting on the board at Kermandie football club within two years (and my other aim to be reviewed in a fancy magazine as the "Tasmanian blog equivalent of Wisconsin Death Trip"...I've said too much), I'm now determined to be photographed at least once in the T section of the Mercury at some kind of really lame but somehow cool when the photos appear social function. OHA hockey club, I'm looking at you. Incidentally the bloke on the radio just said he heard the Faker gig was "fairly good" - that's commercial radio code for it was completely horrendous and people were jumping out of windows to get away from "Are you Magnetic?"...this from a radio station that seems to think Brian McFadden is a visionary poet, so we can conclude that when even Sea FM aren't pumping you up, it's time to pack it in...

So it turns out that there's a gang of handbag thieves in Hobart, intent on...er...stealing your handbags, the police are powerless to stop them and everyone is on a red alert (what it's got to do with an old Basement Jaxx album, who knows). Obviously, this is the latest attempt by our brilliant local paper the Mercury (which these days is more like a pamphlet) to terrify everyone into staying in their homes at the weekend. After all, a few weeks ago these gangs were said to be roaming around Syrup looking very Asian and daring each other to punch innocent strangers in the head for wads of Yen. My only really genuinely experience with a gang was back in Scotland when, for reasons beyond my control, the leader of a gang wanted to beat up a friend of mine, and thus we were all fair game apparently, so the playground equivalent of the Mercury said. Keep in mind we were 11 at the time, so the gang was probably on a par with the KISS army for fierceness, but I think we were all scared witless by my friend and the tales of what he had done, and how badly we were all going to be beaten up (incidentally, now I think about it, I think my friend actually quite liked the adventure...something doesn't quite add up). This gang thus remained pretty much sight unseen until one day we got off the school bus, and saw them in the distance. At which point, we rather bravely scattered in all kinds of directions, and which point I actually realised how ridiculous the whole situation was, and stopped running and had a lovely walk home, chatting to some nice girls who wanted "twos of my can of ginger". Naturally, this lack of danger was disappointing to my friend, who told me that in fact my casual gait had further enraged the gang and now they wanted to beat me up. At which point, I had had enough, and told him where to go, but his Mum had told my Mum about the horrific jets vs sharks Ayrshire warfare that had erupted. My mum put the dinner down, puts her hands on her hips and marched over to where this gang was playing soccer. "I'm looking for Muggsy" (it wasn't Muggsy, but I can't remember his name) she said, hands on Glaswegian hips. "Who's Muggsy?" said Muggsy, for a laugh, as if impressing everyone with his clever ability to confuse and befuddle. "Are you no him son? Cos I heard he was fucking ugly like you," said my Mum, who then proceeded to unleash a good old Glaswegian tirade of abuse about leaving her son alone. And, for what it's worth, he did, and the next time I saw him, he was selling coke from a van outside Celtic Park. We exchanged a glance, and he scuttled to the back of the van and hid. I somehow think my Mum bashed his head in with a bottle of ginger, and she's just never told me...maybe one day...

In Penguin, we didn't have gangs - we had cool kids in bunches, but the idea that they would use their time to do anything but loiter with coolness is incredibly unlikely. For my part, I've said before my own little flirtation with coolness came at school, when I had a brief posse of followers hanging on my every cynical Burnie is crap the world is amazing poetic utterance. This particular gang of followers were particularly impressed with my descriptions of much better waterslides outside of Burnie the day we went to the Grade 8 end of year picnic. I sort of realise now that I wasn't really that impressive, but I did at least give people hope that they could escape the North West Coast, which I think helped some fragile psyches. Nah, they just thought Scottish accents were cool. Word of my incredible grasp of the world reached the cool kids in Penguin, and one day, in one of those things you always think you imagine, I was eating a hotdog in Alanah Hills Dads milk bar where everyone giggled at the world Golden Gaytime and sort of thinking about whether or not I liked Frente and whethere I should get up and play Pacman, the Penguin equivalent of Danny and Kenickie came bounding into the milk bar, nudged each other and (with their babes to match) wandered over to me. Having had experience with gangs before, I knew what to do, and tried to find my Mum, but it was too late for that. I thought, well, should I ask them if they like Ordinary Angels? Maybe it's a Girlfriend crowd? Danny stood about one foot away from me, and looked at my Joe Bloggs top and he smelled of a mix of hair care product and Creme Egg. His girls, delicious but ditzy, stood about a foot back, as if commanded to stand in place. He smoothed his jacket down and spoke deliberately. "I hear you are Scottish!" he said, to which I thought, well, I guess some casual racism is coming, it can't be any worse than my English teacher saying "Ach ye get an A!" when she gave back my work. Yes, I said, congratulations on noticing, was it the way I was sitting? Did you mistake this hotdog for a haggis? Actually, I gave quite a meek shrug, and said yes, and prepared to be told to go back to my own country. He looked at Kenickie, and broke into a broad smile. "That's fucking awesome!" he said, gave me a giant thumbs up and a pat on the back, and walked off, girls swaggering off with smirks. I have no idea what was going on, and it's confused me to this day. Maybe anyone who said no I'm Welsh was in trouble....

My infamous girlfriend by the way - of whom I've been listening to Suzanne Vegas 99.F, because when she was stoned, she would get really deep about it - used to tell me she was in a gang, but when questioned, she conceded the most gang related thing they ever did was steal apples from a farmers yard, which makes her less a Crip and more of a Little Rascal. My own experiences in a gang didn't quite make me a Blood now I think about it. When I was about 8 or 9, we used to play My Secret Valley, which if you don't remember was an amazingly camp 80s ABC kids show in which a member of the Spider gang would tie a member of the Secret Valley gang up and raise their fl...and how the hours until Alex Papps came on did fly. Anyway, out of that playing, we decided to form our own gang...which initially and I think rather sweet and innocently called the Sausage gang (because it was the only thing we all liked...is that a bit Ian Thorpe?) and which we later changed to the Gold gang because our school uniform had gold in it (and some really kick arse 80s tracksuits that were so flammable). The gold gang, for what it's worth, had a mission that we didn't like girls but they had a gang that didn't like boys and for some reason the only way to settle this was for the two gangs to...well, play catch and kiss really. See, just when it was sounding dodgy. Anyway, the girl I always liked was seemingly always kissing Christian and it was making me cry (what a song) and our gang related misadventures would probably have continued had it not been for a red headed kid in the gold gang called Darren, who decided that kiss chase was stupid, and he was sulking at the top of the caterpillar. Personally, his gang credentials were a little bit in tatters anyway, since he was spending all his time writing poetry about a girl called Casey and finding two hundred things that rhymed with "she's good at running". In what I can only describe as a proto Plath attempt, this particular tortured soul decided to announce his love for Casey and the stupidity of gang related warfare with a frankly insane head first plunge of the caterpillar into the bark. We were all...well, we were 8, relatively unconcerned doesn't quite cover it, but someone had to go and see how a fellow gang member was, and that someone wasn't me, but the person who did later said that as he lay in the bark whimpering in pain, Casey came up to him and called him a duh brain. Then she leaned in and gave him a kiss, then called him a duh brain again. Ah, the nature of relationships...1/3rd kissing...2/3rds duh brain...

I've just remembered by the way it wasn't Muggsy, it was Moggy, sort of like a cat...erm...terrifying?

6 comments:

Mrs Slocombe said...

you should thank Clapton every day for those Scottish parents of yours: very nice one, I don't know how you ever get the rhythm right, but when you do......

Kris said...

There was a gang that did the rounds in Burnie quite a few years ago that went by the quite fearsome name of (wait for it), the “Big Boys”. It strikes terror in the heart, doesn’t it?

Around my way these days, there seems to be an equivalent posse going by the name of the “Risdon Vale Boyz”, often shortened to “RVB”. Obviously more negro-oriented than the “Big Boys” (note the telling substitution of the ‘s’ with a ‘z’, a sure sign of genuine African Americanism), their names appear to be ‘Zane’, ‘Caden’ and ‘Dennis’, the lad’s telling all the world that they are indeed “RVB 4 Life”. Incidentally, the name ‘Dennis’ sends chills down my spine.

squib said...

That's very funny. I've often noticed how when people say they're Scottish, everyone jumps on them and starts telling them about their Scottish ancestors. Well I do that too and usually the Scottish person looks completely bored. I usually finish by saying, 'we could be related!' and they don't like that much either. The same thing happens with Irish people

But have you ever noticed that when someone says they're from South Africa, there's a big silence. No one wants to be from South Africa and no one can even think of something nice to say

Secret Valley! OMG! When I was a youngster my friend and I wrote to our local shire and suggested that our town should have a holiday camp like Secret Valley. The Shire president met with us to discuss our vision

lol Jesus how embarrassing

Miles McClagan said...

Mum was one of 13 kids, she was born into gang life, she knew what to do and say...

The Big Boys, that's awesome...boys aint nuthin but trouble...it's not Billy Zane is it? Haven't heard of him for ages...my local gang in Scotland was the BYT, the Bourtreehill Young Team, which made them sound like a YMCA volleyball team.

I'm so stoked the shire leader was into My Secret Valley...unless he was a spy from the Spider Gang...I get so many people who think I know their cousin...after all, Scotland is basically one street after all! Glad I'm not South African though...the accent isn't as cool...

Jack Dorf said...

It's good to know there were other Darrens out there suffering for their art face down in the tan bark.

Miles McClagan said...

Damn right, and due to the finite passage of time, I never knew if he and Casey ended up together, but I really hope they did...