Saturday, October 25, 2008

That's when good neighbours drum for Jesus

My thoughts are very confused and muddled from a complete lack of sleep and anxiety related to the fact that my thoughts are confused and muddled - I pride myself on relatively constructed thoughts, even if I'm not the best expressor of these thoughts in succinct ways. The temptation today is just to post a picture of a cute dog with a smiley face or that AHA viral video from Youtube and it let it pass for constructive comedy. The laziness and sleepiness is because I had to get up early to pick Mum up from the airport. By the standards of Hobart airport this was relatively easy apart from the ridiculous fact you have to pass through security just to buy a copy of the Herald Sun. I love Hobart airport for other reason than the entire security system when you come into Hobart is set up to stop rogue bananas. There is no security off the plane other than a dog, a fat woman in a white shirt yelling about fruit, and occassionally a man not old enough to shave manning a bag check point. Today though for a break in tradition, they put the dog on the conveyor belt as the bags came off the plane (not just let him sniff the carry on luggage - I presume this was a long service reward) to hunt for the stray bananas. I loved the fact that the Koreans behind me asked their Tasmanian host family what the dog was looking for and were straight facedly told bananas. It is a bit of a cheek to be more tired than someone who's just travelled from Glasgow, but I was tired, and I couldn't hide it. The woman at the newsagents was making fun of my accent, and I didn't have the wit or energy to reply - this family we know in Burnie are Scottish, and this one time they were out to dinner and the waitress was giving it a bit of the och aye the noo and the brother of our friend said "And can ye make it quick before your fucking face puts me aff ma dinner"...I didn't say anything as remotely sparkling as that, but it did seem quite the ordeal to go through just to get that Mars Bar that comes in the silver packet (I told you I was tired) and read about Dane Swan. For someone who thrives on human study the ebb and flow of an arrivals lounge isn't the writing gift you might imagine - I tend the find most humanity comes from the lonely, rather than the people hugged by millions (or the girl I saw in Melbourne who went from sitting depressed no one had picked her up to being carted off by hundreds). There's something dispiriting about the people who walk off, get their bag and quietly shuffle onto the airport bus without a hug or even a man with a sign. Besides, the humanity inherent in airports was stripped away by that terrible reality show which given the gift of a million stories focused on Jeremy Spake. Please, who has ever seen a worker and airport who was...who was happy? Obviously he was a plant....

When someone returns from another country, I really never care what they saw, because if someone says they saw the London Eye, well, that's a story, but how can you relate to that? I'm interested in the human behaviour, and the presents I get if I'm honest (I got a boss Zaire retro top). My mum mostly fought with her sister about, wait for it, the way she turned off the dimmer switches in the house, to the point they nearly flew home without mending the fences. As I've mentioned a few times before though, it's never really about the dimmer switches. The street I grew up in in Scotland is essentially a closed off little mini planet, a circular individual street fully gated off from reality. In truth it's no different from the next circular street down the road, just change the names and a few dates and the same simmering resentments fester over car parking and who's walking who's "wee dug" - dimmer switches are the least of the problems. My auntie does worry me though - her solitary existence is quite frightening, it's driven her to a form of psychosis that approaches the levels of the great eccentrics of yore, where a dimmer switch being turned off without the manual recommended settings being applied can turn into an issue worthy of blowing up over. She lives at a table, smoking, gazing wistfully out onto the world, a world that's really go beyond the mini bus route to ASDA, passing the days until death with a less than cheerful gait, doing Sudoku at 2 in the morning. The list of grievances and potential grievances by which she lives is thick and impervious to resistence, but when you leave, she misses your company and feels bad about that. My Mum says that when I stay there, I'm just oblivious to all the drama she's trying to create, because my own constructions are simple and based on my own simple sense of humour, mucking about with puppets or playing cards on the IPOD. When I'm in that circle of life (Simba) I try and try to stay oblivious, but as much as I do sometimes appreciate the genuine way the people pitch in when, say, someone is ill, I do know that if I stay there, within about four weeks you can feel the strange pull of people who don't talk to their own grandchildren between 8am and 8:08 am because it's porridge time. There's a lot of good and a lot of bad in that little circle, and the bad is a suffocation and a bewildering insanity that minor details become gigantic and fearsome wars. I mean, the recycling man is probably still talking about the excessive workload he had in April when he lift up to ten extra newspapers...

The one thing that I did find out from Mum though, just to emphasise my continuing theme here of small strange communities, is that in my home town, there is a massive prevalance, perhaps far too many to be honest, of psychics and psychic nights (or "spooky nights" as my people like to call them). I've said before I a complete athiest with no belief in ghosts (aside from that night in Queenstown) or spirits or that Ghost was a good movie. However, all across various school halls, scout halls and pubs, there are psychics stating the obvious and turning it into cash. If you don't know, Rangers (the football team my religion, if I had one, doesn't like) adopted the Tina Turner classic Simply The Best as their anthem a few years ago, so chances are if the psychic says the ghost says Simply The Best, about 200 people feel a direct connection, just to give you a complete example of the genius we are dealing with here. Now, the psychic my Mum went to didn't endear herself to my Mum by saying she looked like her sister (didn't go down well) and spent more time apologizing to Mum than contacting the dead. However, mid way through the would be seance was disrupted by a psychic connection the strength of a painful migraine. The psychic, who I desperately hope was clad in headwear that made her look like the GE Money Genie, paused, put her full abilities on the line, and boldly and directly stared down one of the attendees, a wee woman called Sharma, and said "I'm getting a reading...have you recently changed yer brand of lager?" - and I think, obviously I'm not one to question the answers from the great beyond, that the psychic had seen Sharma down at the local ASDA and seen the kind of lager she was buying and putting in the trolley, put two and two together and came up with the magic. Of course, that might just be a cynical view point - but knowing my local town the way I do it's inconceivable a local psychic wouldn't have been able with even lazy googling not been able to find basic facts about Sharna. Sharna for what it's worth, even I know who that is, she's the girl who tells everyone she's bestest mates with the Rangers players and I would imagine that would have come up at some point. I find a lot of where I used to live a sort of strange mish mash of good intentions and spectacular moral judgements from people with not a lot of moral high ground to make the judgements, and I would imagine the psychic reading of Sharna was also some kind of knowing dig, as everyone knows everyone else. You don't have to do much to be a psychic where I come from - get on a bus, that'll pretty much do it...

All of this though is partially my fault - because I moved away. Once you do, you dislocate yourself from people who are essentially good people, but when you go back you just don't know what they are talking about, and the judgements I apply to them can apply to me in my own life. Plus I'm a great believer in my future involvement in a local community and events surrounding it, so I'm proud that my circular street at least keeps it's disputes to minor gossip and differences rather than violence and drug dealing. And as my Mum said when I said welcome home, "I was home" - I love the place, it's just a bit mad and insular. No madder than putting a dog on a conveyor belt I suppose to hunt for a stray tangello or selling a busted oven outside your house for a hundred bucks like my neighbour is doing at the moment. When I lived in my old house round the corner from where I am now, we lived next door to Keith Moon, a would be drummer who regularly practiced his wicked beats over and over again. The problem was he hadn't really got much beyond page one of the how to drum book, and his beat was regular and monotone, and of course wasn't accompanied by any kid of melodic band, so the for three years we had to listen to his ba doom doom da da doom time keeping work without getting the benefits of a more tuneful performance. Perhaps had we lived in a more gated community of people we could have gathered in some sort of pincer movement and asked him to stop but on our own we didn't want to turn into the kind of people who end up on Today Tonight. And it perhaps just as well, because he was, as I love to say in my lovely way, proper mental. The only conversation I ever had about him, he said that his flat was having police messages pumped in through his stereo, and that the store round the corner from where I live was actually a surveillance hut for the police (that I could believe). His theories on what was being put into the water were equally interesting, and he rounded off his state of the union address by telling me what he'd like to have done to Hilary Duff (and it wasn't watching her in Raise Your Voice). While I can appreciate both sides of the gated insular community debate, at that moment I was delighted that I didn't have to have him in for tea and biscuits as I would probably have to in Scotland, but I figured with his connections and obvious paranoid conspiracies, not to mention the speed like intensity of his drumming, the drugs at his place must be out of sight. However, any consideration that I might be his friend or indeed his buyer were ended when he said "And when I let Jesus Christ into my life"...no wants to live next to someone drumming for Jesus do they? Not even Jesus I would imagine...

I have to go, I'm starting a four year stretch for smuggling in a mandarin...that damn dog...

8 comments:

Baino said...

I've never had a 'reading' my sister's right into all that stuff but she talks so much I'm sure she gives loads away. And I don't believe in ghosts . . if they existed, my husband would be back to berate me for tossing out his golf clubs and Stevie Wonder albums.

Bimbimbie said...

I'm impressed - those rogue bananas are now taking planes. The roadside state border stopchecks must have put them off traveling in cars and trucks, classy little things*!*

Miles McClagan said...

I think it's kind of annoying me a little bit because with my late cousin, his family are really being played on by psychics, and it's sort of difficult. You sort of want the clues to be dropped and them just to give you a name and specifics...I never did like Stevie Wonder though, so if she said I did, I'd be so haunting her...

Miles McClagan said...

I know, imagine if just one of them snuck into the state, one of those rogue bananas...as if I didn't have enough to worry about with glow in the dark cats...thank god for our specially trained dopey beagles...

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I thought I'd drop by and offer you a peanut... :-)

Did you know that evidently most of the ghosts are disappearing in the UK - something to do, apparently, with the prevalence of cell phones. It does rather make one wonder where they're going to.

Miles McClagan said...

Yay, delicious peanut! Thanks! The last thing I saw on UK ghosts (apart from my own anecdotal experience) was that show where Girls Aloud went hunting for ghosts, I'm disappointed Chezza didn't tell me about the phone/ghost interface! Are they going in the phones? I'm confused...

Mad Cat Lady said...

I can't help myself - I really NEED to know the proper way i am supposed to turn off dimmer lights - please?

Miles McClagan said...

Well, it definitely involved a slow and deliberate twist instead of either a full quick turn or flicking both switches off at once (apparently if you rush it, the whole street burns down...)