Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The désespoir of the book keep



Not even my newsagents new haircut can cheer me up - he's gone from tough guy hard ass to slightly effiminate hairdresser in a comedy sketch in the course of one floppy trimmed fringe. Not even...the wood from my desk has infected my soul - most people would settle for a new challenge in life, but I'd settle for a new car park, it would enliven my day. I'm not cut out for a life of pushing sales and middle management anymore. All that keeps me going is the daily beep of a friendly e-mail, the daily disentegrating magic that is marital hell, unfolding before my eyes (todays couple actually changed buses to get away from each other), and the wit and wisdom of the crackling blue work radio, counting down the hours until I can go to America one traffic and weather report at a time. Since last year, I haven't seen the local radio van around here for a while. The last time they were here, a beautiful girl in skin tight blue shorts looked me in the eye, and said with heartfelt angst and despair "We're out of New Ideas" with such unpardonable sincerity I felt awful and didn't want to make a fuss - I took my free can of V and moved on awkwardly. It just broke my heart when the rain came and she stood despairingly with one finger in the air, judging the wind and sighing - if the wood has infected me, the Lleyton Hewitt articles had infected hers. I'd love to care when the numbers come out or a report is printed, but I don't. I care though when a fat girl leaks on the chair - just in case I have to clean it up. I get home as soon as I can, cherishing my space and my freedom, put Chungking on exceptionally loud, ignore the opinions of Damien Fleming on the story of popular television shows, and tick off another day as passing. It's not a system designed to impose a challenge on my life, but it's my system...my manager, she has her horses, her boyfriend who looks like popular former cricketer Mark Ridgeway...others have their keep fit classes, their kids, their zany outer life where they push themselves forward into life and it's myriad of options, but me, I sip a glass of orange juice, let the little voice inside my head that says I should be doing more die out for another day, and resist the temptation to punch my neighbour in the head. I lie down in my hammock, and know tomorrow we'll all pretend we care about systems and numbers and that a store bought donut will somehow convince us we're some kind of magical hard working team rather than a collection of dis-interested individuals a Jason Mraz triple play from hometime...for now though, we're free...

No matter where I go, the system of coping with work fascinates me. If I'm on holiday, I love how the Scottish worker is completely allowed to be as grumpy as they want. Mum said when she was on holiday, everyone was tip-toeing around the bus driver because "he doesn't like this route" - it makes you wonder how we got through the war. My favourite coper in Scotland was unquestionably the wee woman who worked at Irvine train station when I went through there about five years ago. Irvine train station isn't a glamorous locale - it's pretty much a big draughty hall and rubbish tip where occasionally trains pass through. It also remains the last bastion of the dreamer, mostly a bewildered and grumpy ticket issuer in a standard issue black cardigan oblivious to the presence of a queue the size of Lithuania, making it through the day with a haughty air of disinterest and three packets of Rolos. I was on my way to see St Mirren play, I don't know, Arbroath or something, and I decided that what I really wanted was to be completely sick and unwell for the rest of the week, so I went to buy a square sausage roll and a can of Tizer. Inside the solitary cubicle no bigger than the average key cutting booth, there lay a world of melting chocolate bars, cans of suspect "ginger" with dubious sell by dates, and magazines not quite as risque as the pouting cheesecake covers would have you believe. The lady there was rosy of cheek, unguarded of emotion, and hefty of bosom, her standard issue hairnet at a jaunty angle as she clearly and quite publically, how shall we say, enthralled, by her Fabio covered romance novel. Oblivious and completely forgetting she was public, she had obviously transported herself off to a fantasy world where she wasn't actually in a tiny cubicle listening to Dougie Vipond and hoping every sixth caller wasn't trying to steal a Caramac bar. I took in the scene for a moment, and decided that I would leave her alone. I would have felt bad disturbing such a vivid and erotic fantasy involving no doubt a swashbuckling adventure with my face and a request for a can of Tizer. I sincerely hope that when she did have to return from her wonderful created fantasy land, she didn't have to look on a pasty faced local saying "Haw Missus, geez a can of ginger and a scud mag"...I mean, that's just cruel....

When I was walking around today listening to Cibo Matto on my IPOD, I went into my favourite book store. I know the person who manages the store will usually listen to classical music on his own IPOD (I wonder if he'd like Cibo Matto) and isn't happy if there's a patron who over-reads a book in his store, and by company directive has to get up and pack books onto the shelf in front of the recalcitrant customer until they either leave by embarrassment or he has to pressure them with a sales technique to buy something. His neatly trimmed beard and his désespoir air of melancholy infect the shop as much as a single mother smoking, possibly turning sales away at first, but making up for it in inspiring people to buy some depressing Russian literature to cheer themselves up after visiting his store. Today an old boy in nothing that wasn't blue, including his mood, was obsessively reading the Michael Parkinson autobiography, and chuckling at some of Parkys more amusing anecdotes (oh Parky, will your anecdotes never cease to amuse). I could see the cloud of wistful depression begin to grow on our bearded friend, the Vivaldi or...some other classical composer (we only got to Volume 3 of the 80s magazine series The Classical Composers) having to be turned off in the service of the store and the public. With the barest of effort he lifted up a pile of Mark Thomas books and placed them wearily at the feet of old boy blue, hoping that his mere presence would inspire him to leave. To his amazement, it did, the old boy ruffling his blue beanie, leaving Parky mid chuckle, no doubt just as he was recapping some amusing incident with Raquel Welch, and going to get a muffin. The book keep almost, almost smiled as he picked his pile of books back up, got touchingly close to his classical music and his half wagon wheel...when the old boy came back just to finish the chapter, unable to enjoy his bakery produced product until he knew exactly what Parky thought of John Wayne. Were I a better writer, I would love to be able to more aptly describe the slough of human despondency and fatigue that came over the book keeps face, but suffice to say, it really, really had to be on hell of a Wagon Wheel and Wagner combination to make up for the inconvenience...

My walk today (and the spotting of a Fabio novel in a book store) meant that I was able to observe the method of coping everyone was adopting in the store, just to get through their day. Luckily, blue eye shadow girl was a complete model of professionalism, but as I walked, I almost crashed into the two slowly-walking-at-the-pace-of-the-feet-off-the-old-credits-of-the-Bill mall security guards walking around the shopping complex with the diffident air of two people who really couldn't accomplish much in a serious situation. Disrespected, bored, her as portly of waist as ginger of dye job, he with a Russell Brand haircut, a misguided sense of complacency, a hopeful air that a sixteen year old girl wouldn't sully her private school by stealing a tank top from whichever fashionable pumping out the Sneaky Sound System trend store the kids were into today. As they walked, clearly paying attention to nothing, never mind seeking to stamp out horseplay, which was rampant by the way, they began to amuse themselves by passing somewhat ironic judgement on the walkers fashion sense, and then just blatantly shopping for clothes instead of paying attention. It wasn't so much a job of security and danger as an amusing amble in a comfortable uniform with a walkie talkie - in other words, like being in the scouts or something. Eventually, the woman, poisoned by the boredom and the Wendys Dagwood Dog she's been eating, turns to the guy and says that she's always wanted to be an archery teacher, and she hopefully waited for his response, which was sort of supportive, but also a bit "I'm not listening". I completely and utterly missed the context because I was once again gypped in my need to find Weeds Series 3 on DVD and took out some minor frustration on a Sanity girl, but I found it a wonderfully human moment, the perpetual gap between dream and reality summed up in one sentence. Instead of living out her dream, seeing the joy on kids faces as they began to realise they could apply arrow based skills not just to targets but to deer as well (who let Sarah Palin in?) and her voice was completely heartfelt in declaration, she was frisking women in leggings to see if they had stolen a pair of slippers, and that was on a good day. As they walked off to discuss whether a jumper in Millers would fit her ample frame, I kind of hoped that one day she would teach archery, one day she would leave behind the world of ugh boots, prams and vomit in aisle seven, and do something with her life...as I might...one day...

Not that I could teach archery though...maybe I could be in charge of the camp sing songs...I think that'd be more of a thing I could do...

8 comments:

squib said...

Ah, good ol Parky, eh :) I saw Denton advertising an interview with him. No doubt, next year when Denton retires someone will be interviewing him also. How marvellously original, interviewing the interviewer...NOT

Miles McClagan said...

Interviewing him AGAIN? How much more can he get out of the John Wayne anecdotes? Denton will be interviewed by Hotdogs soon...can't wait...

Ann O'Dyne said...

aww man. it's all brilliant, but unfortunately I have the attention span of a canary - they're not blog posts, they're effing novellas.
Good novellas, requiring a couch and some cushions for complete immersion.

I went to Tasmania once. It was wonderful. Bruny Island - I wish I could live there.
cheers.

Miles McClagan said...

I've never been to Bruny Island! It's pretty much round the corner, but I don't spend my holidays here, I mostly sit on my comfy couch with all the cushions and watch Foxtel...oh well! Part of my 2009 resolution is to go and see Tassie!

Bimbimbie said...

You are funny and I like what your eyes observe ...

Miles McClagan said...

I think it's my glasses that help! I want a stylish pair like Lolo in my picture (she so rocks) but these ones are good for observation...

Baino said...

Giving a little away there o bespeckled one! Caramac, what happened to that, I used to love it. Never mind Miley . . .if you're keen enough you'll break out of the humdrum. I'm not mad about my job either but I'm paid well and now I'm too old to move. Should have been a tradie, I'd have cleaned up by now! Damn my father and his "You've got to get your Matric!"

Miles McClagan said...

Caramacs are just so delicious, and they remind me of quality time with the nanna - and yeah, one fine day, we'll fly away, don't...no wait, that's Morcheeba lyrics. I will get out one day, although judging by my woodwork abilities, being a tradie is out of the question