Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Impotent Fury of Brendan Julian (or BJ and the Bore, take your pick)

I hate being sleepy, I can't shake it off, it's surrounding my movements like fog at the moment, and I would like to try and shake it off by doing something spontaneous and interesting but it's not happening. I watch my country try and play rugby league, but I can't even raise a half hearted cheer. There's supposed to be cricket on, but someones sent me the wrong calendar, and instead I lie on the floor of my rumpus room surrounded by hoarded items of limited value, gourmet jellybeans and I listen to Icarus by Santogold on an endless loop, letting the day slip through my fingers like the Scottish defence lets tries in. Even the metaphors are unpoetic and flat as my brain hums until it falls asleep staring at my smoke detector and my slightly interrogation like tiny round spotlights. As my brain hums to a complete stop, my Zaire retro top gathering dust and crumbs as I lie, I consider not moving for the entire day, just letting my brain come up with stupid ideas. Not just how I would book wrestling shows, but proper blank thinking - I read once that if you let your brain go completely blank, the first think you think of is some sort of representation of your guardian angel. Clearly nonsense, but since when I did it, I saw the Taj Mahal, something I've never thought of since, maybe my guardian Angel is Kapil Dev? The way my brain works sometimes surprises me, but instead of creating wonderful and creative thoughts today, it flatlines and gives me nothing. My Mum rings, but I barely register, and instead of listening to her fabulous tales of inner city Ayrshire decay or her neighbours inability to keep schtum, or any stories of how much my Dad hates the nun who runs his school, my brain finally and wonderfully kicks into high gear - well, it sort of sputters into neutral, a big improvement. Our old Torana when I was a kid, coated in chocolate brown paint, would always make a satisfying roar when we got into second gear, and I'd love to tell you what happened when it got into third, but we never found out. The burst of energy is only fleeting though, like my brief time with Julie Fleeting oddly enough, and I slump back on the floor, into a beautiful dream where everyone has paid for their Crowded House tickets, and the DVD player on my floor has magically installed itself...

There was this kid at school called Andrew that I didn't much care for. I didn't much care for anyone in 1994, too clammed up with nervous hormones and raspberry Hubba Bubba to emote anything beyond the basic nervous small talk of life, but I really didn't like him. He was the addendum to life, the guy at the back of our bullying circles, the one who would always say "Yeah go on, do it!" if someone was provoking a fight. His main asset as far as I could see was that he would buy friendship, queuing nervously and fidgeting halfway through the line as he counted his change, working out how many friends he could afford for the week. He would load himself up with Redskin Splits and buy himself the privilege of walking around at the back of a group that didn't pay him much attention. I had been to primary school with this kid, and I had stayed at his house, running around his giant back garden and drinking Tang all summer long, but of course we didn't communicate much now we were older. One day, I saw him almost in tears because he was about 10c short of buying a Chocolate Big M to shore up a friendship in trouble. The last time I ever saw him was on the last day of school, he was near the kid throwing up pink spew as she kicked her leg like she was trying to start a motorcycle. He was more riddled with teenage angst than anyone I had ever seen as he sat with a deep set philosophical scrunity, observing the scene before him, a scene threating to lapse into some of sort of horrible parody of a frat film, and he walked past me, pausing only briefly to say "every one else is fucked" - I didn't know if I was included in the summation or he excluding me from the riff raff, or if perhaps he had been somehow dissed on the final day of school, excluded from a yearbook on account of lacking the funds for the last can on Fanta, but I didn't ponder his wisdom for too long. I appreciated his concerns if, perchance, he thought he and I were the only two people in the world who's fucked quota wasn't so high, but I suspect his monologue was only internal, and since someone has chasing a chicken around the backyard in a pair of shorts (the person chasing the chicken, not the chicken), a girl was amazingly sick as I mentioned, and I had to leave to go and try and enflame the dying embers of my Grade 12 friendship over cold steak and Boags, his words didn't really resonate until much later - he surely didn't appreciate the way I made Tang that much? His exclusion of an entire school body, if meant, could only and surely relate to one solitary incident, the unspoken bond that happens when only happens when two people see an incident and are not sure who to tell. I did also accept his point though, everyone there really was fucked. I mean, someone was chasing a chicken, it wasn't exactly the magical and terrific end of school wonderland promised in the brochure...

Back two years earlier, life was a bit different - I mean, Girlfriend were still Girlfriend, not yet GF4. Nothing, to me, suggests the futility and pointlessness of high school like a motivational speaker. Trapped like rats, we would shuffle into our assembly hall onto seats coated in a uniquely cloth based only in high school fabric, attached to the wall with table football like poles, and listen for the escape bell as a parade of moderately successful local identities would tell us about their moderately successful days and their moderately successful ideas. My own motivation was questionable at best, so I took nothing from any of these talks. They could have caught a half naked Tori Amos to deliver a speech about considering technological studies as an elective, and I'd still have been counting the spots on the roof. Our big guest speaker one year was Brendan Julian, a cricketer of modest repute who ended up forging a moderate career hosting domestic cricket on Foxtel and doing the non exciting stories on Getaway. He did some mildly humourous jokes, maybe even an impression of David Boon, you know how comedians like to squeeze in a local reference or two, before knuckling down to give us the benefit of his wisdom. As far I could tell the speech was bland and inoffensive, at least devoid of the awkward physical comedy of the man who spoke to us about the perils of arson. The speech was obviously written be committee, and Brendans act - for it was surely an act, all about hard work and dedication - was unpolished, didn't leave time for Q&A, and brought none of the subtle nuances he brings to his current television work. However, there was an awkward moment somewhere in the middle, when he went off on a tangential rant about friendship and the true value of friends without having to buy friends...it was his off the cuff middle act, and everyone, well, me and about three other people not asleep, all looked at Andrew, who pulled a defiant spazz face and mouthed to us to get fucked (always with the fucked that boy) but clearly a chord (and not just the pair Brendan was wearing) had been struck. He squirmed for a moment uncomfortably, until Brendan moved back to prepared notes. As we filed out in single file, uninspired, unless the inspiration was to try and kick the cramp out of our legs, we, and lets not pretend I had friends, I, shuffled awkwardly towards the direction of the lunch room. I studied Andrew intently, to see if anything had resonated, and for a moment I thought it had, because he bought his own bag of Twisties and nothing else. For my own part I bought a chicken and salad sandwich, coated in layer after layer of home brand glad wrap, and shuffled awkwardly out into the poorly lit corridor that joined our class to the more exotic subjects, like the ones where the bogan kids built great shiny things out of metal or wood. My salad sandwich seemed somehow more magical when it was coated in glad wrap, and I made a mental note to commend Angela the lunch lady on her presentation, and chide her on the taste...

For some reason, me and Andrew sort of shuffled out together, the only two people left who hadn't eaten, the last in line, and there, in the corridor was Brendan. He was on the phone to his agent, hopping from foot to foot. I didn't catch the opening part of his conversation, but it was the phrase "fucking unresponsive wankers" that really stood out. He caught our eye on the "ive" syllable and couldn't really back out. He was clearly unhappy with the reception to his speech, but still wanted to cling to the tenets of it that he believed children (children) were the future (future) of humanity. He had clearly lost Andrew already, who previously had had the kind of slack jawed gaped expression that can only come when a boy of a certain age meets a man on a Sheffield Shield Weetbix card. Me, I was still trying to work out if he was Brendan Julian or Jo Angel. He paused his conversation, looked us directly in the eye, and with all the sincerity of a graduate from Larry Emdurs charm school said "stay in school kids!" and gave us a big warm hearted thumbs up. We stood awkwardly waiting for further instructions, hell, I had nowhere else to go, but they weren't forthcoming, and I wandered off in the entirely wrong direction, munching on my salad sandwich as I went zombie like towards the metal end. Andrew went in the other direction, straight back to the canteen to stock up on supplies, and Brendan went home in his 1993 Nissan Camira to the airport, to fly out cursing and bemoaning a generation he had already lost touch with, a generation that probably exited the assembly hall wondering if we could get the arson man back (his impression of Bob Hawke was just gold). Andrew, I saw him much later down by the tennis court, animatedly telling the story to his "friends" as I read some sort of pretentious novel on the hill. They weren't listening, his delivery was poor and patchy and devoid of build, and they were already drifting off bored. At which point, he grabbed a few bottles of Oasis from his school issue backpack, and they became interested again, laughing in all the right places. There was something quite wistful and melancholy about the whole scene, but I couldn't put my finger on at the time - I can now though, obviously learning that true friendship couldn't be bought, and my own friends would come to be valued and loved for who they were, not for what they could give me...

No, that's not it - the tightarse didn't even shell out for Fruitopia...no wonder they all abandoned him in the end...

9 comments:

Jannie Funster said...

I think the former title best.

Do you have any idea what Andrew's doing these days? maybe he shaped my pretty good.

Yes, Julie and it all, are far too fleeting.

Miles McClagan said...

I did consider for a moment Facebooking him to see what he was doing, but I know from experience it's a familiar story - moderate success, 1 or 2 kids, check out me hotrod (I like the first 1 too, got a Daniel Kitson vibe)

squib said...

Regarding your lack of sleep, what do you think of Faker's Sleepwalking? I love it

I think this Brendan guy could be played to perfection by Ricky Gervais

Kris said...

Some years ago (the summer of 1998/9, I believe it was), I was approached by two kids in Hobart CBD who asked for my autograph. Reasonably certain that no child in their right mind would want my autograph, I asked them who it was that they thought would be worth getting to sign their hats. They said, “You’re Brendon Julian aint’cha?” I replied in the negative, but they persisted “come on, sign our hats, and we won’t bother you anymore.”

So I signed their hats in the name of “Brendon Julian” and they left me alone as promised. I should have thrown them a thumbs up and “stay on school” for good measure. Somewhere, somehow, I’d like to think that someone will post on a blog about the time in Hobart that the crafty Brendon Julian tried to evade two canny autograph seekers but was found out.

Miles McClagan said...

That kind of works because Andrew looked a bit like Gareth (and Faker? I'm not a big fan admittedly on limited listens, my favourite insomnia song is Distraction by Zero 7, works every time)

Wouldn't it have been excellent if this post was all about Brendan Julian being awkward about signing autographs? And I would give anything to have him start using "stay in school" at the end of every Foxtel broadcast? He really is just a man of mystery, and since I've never been mistaken for any cricketers, good work (thumbs up)...

Baino said...

I'm 20 years older than you but my high school experiences seem the same only we had Jeff St John playing on the oval bobbing around in his wheelchair whilst I tried to work out what Copperwine might taste like - because it was 'cool' - and Sherbert because our headmaster was way in touch 'not'. And a salad roll with a chocolate milk was heaven in a lunch order on Monday.

I once was walking through town and an obscure actor who'd been on commercials such as K-Tel walked towards me. I had that 'Don't I know you' kind of look and bugger me if he didn't walk up and say "Yes, it's me . .would you like an autograph!" To this day I have no idea who the knacker was! *must install smoke detectors*

Miles McClagan said...

One of our local newsreaders here was walking up and down the street daring people to notice her...my friend went "That's..." and just as she said that, the newsreader fell on her arse, making my friend end her sentence with "...funny!"

How good was a lunch order bag? Kids today should be greatful to get a lunch order bag (with a best of Sherbet CD thrown in?)

Kath Lockett said...

Great post Miles. Our 'Brendan Julian' visit at school (Murray Bridge South Primary, Year 7 in 1980) was Joe Dulce. Exactly one month before the rest of Australia - and then the world - took hold of his one and only hit song - Shaddup You Face.

Yes, he sung it. And yes, we loved it, clapped along and say 'hey!' where indicated.

Lunch treat? Pastie with sauce, chicken twisties and a small carton of Farmers Union Iced Coffee. They weren't too concerned about kids and caffeine in those days.

Miles McClagan said...

I could not be more impressed that you got Joe Dolce...what a treat! We got the Terrapin Puppet theatre and obviously "BJ", but no hall of fame musical talent...I couldn't cope with school now either, all that "nutrition", Jamie Oliver has a lot to answer for