Thursday, October 30, 2008

Emma Dundonian

So last night I had this really vivid dream that I was going out with Pink, but she was mardy at me and decided to, with the help of one of my friends, to make a list of all my faults and all the things I had to fix about myself to continue going out with her including ditching my Transvision Vamp T-shirt...as it happens, remembering the details of what happened in this dream kept me sane today, incarcerated as I was with a man who was telling me one to one about his job and giving me an outline of his day. Nominally, this was to help me do my job better, but I could see out of a window, see bright blue skies and happy children with chocolate ice creams that, hopefully, were chocolate ice creams, and his banter was rehearsed, his every gesture a calculated and practiced smirk or gesture of re-assurance. By the time I remember to nod and pretend to be interested, our meeting is over, and for some reason he is pleased with my responses. Funny, I was completely out of my body and watching a film at Village, and I think my out of body self is far more professional than my normal state. Incidentally, we later have another meeting, another airless room that smells of marker pens and impatience, but my mind is still elsewhere, composing blog posts, thinking about toasted sandwiches, trying to remember the first line of Girl From Ipanema. Anything other than the desperate realisation that no matter how many hand outs we get, we'll never be a team as long as no one cares. Deprived of anything in particular to complain about in a serious context, I assign my grievances quite wilfully, and make sure that being here right now, stuck in this office, struggling to breathe, so close to the end of the day, so close to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a Blue Heaven Big M, listening to figures so boring that my brain has shut down, I sit with absolutely sense of context and think my position is worse than a passenger on the Hindenburg. After all, this is my grievance, a grievance born of boredom, no one elses, and it's utterly personal....

It was obviously different in the great Scottish summer of 1990. Unsure, to be honest, of what a summer in Scotland would be like in the 90s (it wasn't much different, but it had a lot less Fairground Attraction) I was pumped up and ready to party. My circular street would rock to the play of incompetently played tennis, moderately intermittent sunshine, and the sounds of Beats International. Of course, it wasn't all great - I mean, everyone wore a big white shell suit, random urchins would demand "twos" on your can of coke, whatever that mean, and there was also the small matter of Beats International at #1...if everyone, by law, has one great summer, then this was surely to be mine. After all, the World Cup was going to take up most of it, a football festival the likes of which the world have never seen before. We collected, for seemingly a year, stickers from the local newsagency (the one with more soft core pornography and packets of Chewits per shelf than any other newsagency in the world) and would pretend to be players from the countries heading to Italy. In my case, my penalty in off the traffic cone that won my team the inter-class-world-cup for "West Germany" ranks as my finest sporting achievement - the only rival to that is a hat-trick against Natone, so that's not going to count. I spent most of the first part of the summer filling in my wall chart, and listening to my Dad explaining in great detail that wrestling wasn't real. In particular, a portly Mexican wrestler called Paul Perez was carried out on a stretcher after his match with the Earthquake, and when poor Paul was being checked on by the medics, Dad was all "Ye eedjit! If a 40 stone man lands on ye, ye'd die! Look! He stops afore he lands on him and makes sure he disnae hit him! Ye eedjit!" - being called an eedjit over and over by my Dad wasn't exactly a promising start to the summer, and Scotland were wonderfully useless at the World Cup - prompting even more rabid anti English sentiment. Down the mall, I bought a copy of "Smash the English Way" by local ned band "Foolish Hit" (get it?) and played it in my room, dreaming of tearing down Thatcherism armed with only a spider painted skateboard and a poster of Texas...simmering with resentment, labouring in the kitchen doing dishes, England in the semi finals...this wasn't how the summer was meant to go...

For what it's worth, Dad had booked Mums 40th on the same day as Scotland played Sweden in the world cup, which annoyed everyone greatly, but inadvertently, it gave me my summer romance - Debbie. Debbie was a Dundonian, from Dundee, a town that I had only been too once, but which my Mum assured me was "full of chuchters" - Debbie was helping her parents at their travel agent or something, and we met on a bus travelling into town. I was on the bus with my cousin, talking about something or other, shell suits starched to the max, when Debbie leaned over and joined in, essentially just to rib me about the fact she could see my pants. Ah, shell suit elastic, how many times can you let me down. Her haunting tones repeated in a clear crisp Dundonian accent that she could see my, as she put them, white Y fronts (I don't believe I would wear such a garment, but I was too embarrassed to check) and if you know my cousin, well, you'd know that he wouldn't miss an opportunity. Given they both were ready to go me for the whole journey, I was so embarrassed I got off about three stops before the swimming pool and ran off, almost getting hit by a bus going the other way. I tried to put it behind me as best I could, but my cousin naturally told everyone. I slunk off one night to go and sit on the swing (rather than watch Belgium) that was round the back of my house and for some reason she was there, rocking back and forth, frizzy perm entirely in place, really cool shoes, rebellious attitude. And out of a conversation that had very little to do with Enzo Scifos midfield mastery and more to do with parents being, you know, so bogus, we became boyfriend and girlfriend, albeit in that "you have a pencil case, me too, let's go out" kind of pre teen way. The relationship mostly consisted of coy glances, meaningul conversations about how Stock Aitken and Waterman were on the decline, would we would do if Scotland became an independent country, and of course, Texas. I tried to make a clever joke about Paris, Texas, but she didn't get it. She gave me a big Valentines style card covered in poems and Elvis lyrics, and I bought her some blackcurrant Chewits off the van. Yes, indeed it was love, and even though her position on where Jim Bett fitted into Scotlands Euro 92 midfield remained neutral, it was the way she spoke that really got to me - that and her amazing blue eyes, so clear, so bright, so innocent - she had such optimism that the future, the far off future, was going to be absolutely and completely amazing. I think she was a bit too obsessed with robots doing everything though - including making Chewits...

Of course, England lost in the World Cup semi finals - we did a conga line round the street - and inevitably Debbie and I broke up. I don't think it was anything in particular, obviously listening to six weeks of robot talk was enough to put anyone off. We just kind of stopped meeting at the bottle laden little circle rockery that was pretty much our home (we would sometimes even have a stray dog for a pet), particularly after I had to miss an apparent anniversary (the third week anniversary of the time she bought me a pencil or something) to go and watch a monster truck show with my neighbour against my better judgement, and when pressed sort of got a bit flustered and said I had to watch England v Cameroon on the telly and ran away to avoid the pressure. Our last conversation, she took a cigarette out of her bag, and smoked it, and talked really deeply about how life was short and time on the planet was precious and she would never waste a moment. I was kind of inspired by her words, albeit in a sort of I respect your opinion and I find you fascinating but god I hope you stop talking so I can go get a sandwich (it's all about the sandwich today) kind of way. She's the only person I've ever had who's given me that speech - I'm surprised at that, because it's a cliched speech, but she really believed it, and she had plans and ambitions, and I'm thinking, well, you're only 11, what's the rush? She looked at me, piercing me with her perm and her thousand yard stare, and sort of tried to get me to articulate on my dreams, a desperate reach for a maturity that in fairness I didn't think I was supposed to have - I shrugged when she asked what my ambitions were, and said, er, well, um, I want to go home and watch some wrestling...she smiled, patted me on the shoulder, and said something akin to we were two different people and walked off, to be never seen again - well, apart from that time she slept with a bloke I went to school with Colin, who had thick round glasses and thought he could transport himself out of his body to have mid air sex with another ghost. I'm not sure where that fitted in with her whole Carpe Diem outlook on life, since it was more like Carpe Nerd, but ya know, I wish her all the best, and that wherever she is in life, her arse is parked on a velvet cushion...

I could absolutely murder a Chewit right now...bloody Tasmanian sweet shops...can't even get a Freddo these days...

10 comments:

Ann O'Dyne said...

tall and tan and young and lovely,
the girl from Ipanema goes walking,
and as she passes ...

Jack Dorf said...

Olha que coisa mais linda
mais cheia de graça
É ela menina que vem e que passa
nun doce balanço, caminho do mar..

Miles McClagan said...

I could not be more proud to start a Girl from Ipanema discussion! Incidentally, my Mum whenever she sings it goes completely off tune and ends up singing Simon Smith and his Dancing Bear...

Babelfish says, It looks at that prettier thing fuller of favour It is girl who comes and that candy passes nun rocking, way of the sea - I hope that's the words!

squib said...

Oh...oh I LOVE Transvision Vamp. I WANT that shirt

Strawberry chewits were the only way to go

I just googled 'shell suits' and rather wish I hadn't

Jack Dorf said...

Astrid Gilberto & Stan Getz's version is my favourite.

Miles McClagan said...

It's a beauty too, from the Pop Art era...an absolute beauty...Caramel Chewits were a delight, and as for shell suits, well, they rank with Hue and Cry as our cultural low points...

I love that version...although not as much as Mums version which lapses into Simon Smith and His Dancing Bear...

eleanor bloom said...

Ah, sweet.
Love The Girl from Ipanema; makes me want to dance in elevators.

Miles McClagan said...

In hindsight, Dancing In Elevators would have been a much better title for this blog...it could just be a Girl From Ipanema festival every day! That'd be great!

Bimbimbie said...

I heard Jim Kerr singing Don't you forget about me ... obviously you haven't your young Debbie and younger you ...sweet*!*

Don't tell me that the little dog at the airport is now keeping Freddo Frogs out of Tassie ... what about Kenny Koalas is he letting them in*?*

Miles McClagan said...

No, I always remember Debbie, and I always will...mostly for the robots...I hope she still believes in them! And the dogs are ever vigilant, but I don't think they worry about the Freddos (that's just poor suppliers) as the Freddos aren't bananas...the natural enemy of the sniffer beagle...