Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yer Ain Wee World (and how to get into and out of it)



So I'd be lucky today if in total I've moved more than ten feet for the entire day, which has made me a bit philosophical about the small world in which I revolve when I'm not doing anything in particular. I live in my rumpus room, which sadly doesn't have the rumpus room feel of yore, there's no pool table (I had a pool table when I was little that didn't fit in the room properly) or dart board, just a lot of CDs, DVDs and an unwrapped birthday present of a DVD player that has proven too complicated to install. The only movement I showed today was movement to go from this room to my spa, where I have shut out the human population for pretty much all of today. In fact, I've realised that too many days like this, unbalanced scruffy Saturdays, and life ends too quickly, but not enough of them and you end up in a doctors surgery being told to slow down and smell the roses. I never grew any roses - my one attempt to tend a vegetable garden in Penguin ended with the sad sight of concrete being poured. I've always genuinely believed that an entire economy will sink into the ground, but it will never feel worse than your boss being a twat, because the world you live in is, by definition, small, the annoyances (mostly) as small as the space between the microwave and the rumpus room. I spent an entire day fiddling with my IPOD, getting more and more frustrated that I couldn't transfer a pile of Jenny Wilson and Robyn songs onto my small perfectly formed corporate sell out musical device, and of course, as I have said before, when I'm not at my best or feeling sorry for myself, the forces of the universe always deliver me someone crossing my path in a wheelchair to make me have some self reflection. Always happens. This time though, it was an item on Sky News, an item that I'm sure everyone in Australia would be aware of, a terrible tragedy that should have put everything into perspective and, of course, make me appreciate my life and get out and hug strangers - of course, it didn't, because in my world, my small ten foot world, I couldn't get a song onto an IPOD and my jammy donut was a bit rubbish. Legitimate complaints I'm sure you'll agree. Hardly going to make the news, but legitimate, red screaming impairments to my own personal enjoyment. When my cousin died, I made a conscious decision to expand my horizons, to be less huffy and more into my life, but today, well, the fact that the jam in the donut is still annoying probably suggests there still some work to be done...I mean, it's been nine hours...but you should have seen it, it was awful...

My Mum, she's in someone elses "ain wee world" at the moment, and it's not going well. She's staying with her sister in Scotland, and she's fighting a losing battle against the tiny world she exists in, a world she doesn't control. The last straw for her was probably a major row for the correct procedure for turning off the lights at night, and my Mum, not a shrinking flower, has said when she has to get the taxi to the airport she won't even be looking in her sisters direction. I'm well aware though of the suffocating nature of my home street in Scotland (my uncle won't talk to his grandaughter if she disrupts the porridge making hour), and I've discussed it before - apparently the fact that I bought an extra paper when I was there, a copy of the Sun (booooo) into the house meant that the recycling man had a twenty minute discussion with my auntie about the sudden doubling of her paper based needs since outside of my visit it was regular and suddenly he was, I don't know, throwing his back out. The epicentre of this tiny world once upon a time was John Marshalls van, a mobile grocery van that visited our street at 9:47 am every single day. John Marshall looked slightly like the bandito shot at the start of a John Wayne movie, and was a pretty nice guy, and a much better person than me if you take as a quality in a person showing an interest in someone, or knowledge of how much a bottle of Tizer costs. However, there was always a question at the start of every holiday that I knew would come back to haunt me - if you buy a loaf of bread in Scotland, there's two types, plain or pan, and I can never remember which is which. And since the world where I come from is tremendously small, and of course everyone knows who I am and was, this lack of bread related knowledge would be discussed endlessly, usually with the conclusion that that boy has got dead Australian...and this would be spat of course with the requisite distaste for foreigners most of my people seem to show these days. By my holiday in 2001, I was ready for them. You might wonder why I didn't just take the time to research which was which, but I decided on another approach. Asked if the loaf I required was plain or pan, I said, quite honestly, I didn't know which was which. As I stepped off the dangerously loose step that you had to traverse to get from the van to the pavement, I was lucky enough to hear two gossips talking about "that boy getting dead Australian" and being unaware of my presence having a good laugh - in a perfect Australian accent I said to them the succinct "Fuck off mate!", with enough jocularity that it wasn't an outright slander, but with enough Mum taught venom that I made it clear I was heard. And from then on, I was never that boy that's forgot where he came from...I was that boy who'd got too big for his boots...I still probably need a plan for that...

When I lived in Penguin, the world was unfathomably small, a trip to Burnie a magical experience, a trip to Devonport even more exotic. As it turned out, Penguin is probably still exactly the same, the people change, but as Dad said to me on the phone, a local psychic could have a 90% success rate just from knowing everyone in the town. It's always been the kind of place that felt like someone hit the pause button in about 1986, it's never going to change from my memories, even if shops change and there's no Soapbox anymore. I remember when I was really little, and the football club ran out of Violet Crumbles ahead of a game against Latrobe. There was an agitation from one of the women in the town to instantly and completely disband the social committee, as the sales of the usual nine or ten Violet Crumbles that were sold at each home game (about two to me) would impact the financial bottom line, to the point that she was seriously agitating to cancel the game. It's fair to say that rarely has Penguin seen quite so much agitation on one chocolate based topic. The lady in question was exceptionally determined because it was her chance to do something in the community, to get out of her own small world, away from those damn kids, and actually do something for the football club, and if it took the lack of chocolate bars in the canteen to change her fortunes, then by god she was going to do it. The problem was, the lady who was meant to be in charge of what we loosely referred to as catering, she had just been diagnosed with cancer, and actually missed the shipping order because she was the doctors, but the agitator was so caught up in her small world that she actually didn't believe any of it, and continued to push and push despite being told to leave it alone, until eventually she was taken aside by the president and told not to bother coming to the club anymore. Defeated, she returned to her house, her kids, her drinking obsessed husband, and a lifetime of misery, to the point I think she had to move away not to be "that woman who had the pop at the cancer lady" - and of course, the real kicker was that the first woman never had cancer, she just didn't want to lose her role on the committee, after she had completely forgot to order the Violet Crumbles (and the Savs as it turned out)...still, I'm sure if the agitator ever knew that, she'd probably have a good laugh...then kill about twenty people...

Even though I love my local pride, and I would love to get more involved in the community next year, I'm terrified of my life descending to this little tiny world of committees and who's in charge of the sandwiches (well, on one level, on another I'd love it). Still, it's all about balance. One of my best friends is claiming to me as I type this, in a Facebook conversation, that I'm quite lucky to be living on my own, since I get to watch the cricket (oh joy, I can watch Peter Siddle live) and he can't, in fact, since he's in a relationship, he doesn't get to play Doom on the Xbox or have any time to himself. If you are wondering, this is his story for us, his constructed world for "the boys", a world where he wants to be on his own, when in truth, if he wanted to, he'd just move out and leave her, but he won't, because he loves her, even if he'll never tell us. To get out of this little world however, he drinks really heavily, and who am I to judge that huh? As for me, my escape valve when my world is too small and constricting is to go to Scotland, and you can see from what I speak how that's a massive problem, like changing radio stations to avoid Nickelback and putting on Creed. Where I live though, there's really no escape on days when the world feels palpably small - nothing to go and see, nothing to go and do, unless you want to chat up the gum twirling personality voids at Big W. So there's only one thing to do, and that's go out onto my deck and light up a big cigar, and enjoy the view. I did this today, and two people were arguing over the fence about something trivial, the pink socks going in with the white ones, but it's never about that really is it? As I blew a smoke circle in the air, the husband looked at me enviously, shaking his head, not even listening to the sock related drama that was unfolding in his garden. I waved, a little smug at my freedom, and the fact that my grass was painted a little more green, but as always happens, the reflections changed, because his wife went inside, came back - his clearly besotted kid in tow wrapping herself around his leg - and brought him out a cold beer, and apologized (my Mum so would never do that) and gave him a big pash. He waved back, and I gave a little smile of recognition, leaving us both in our way content...

Of course, when he went inside, she probably bollocked him about the state of the bathroom, which never happens to me...and mines is in a shocking state...

6 comments:

Jannie Funster said...

At least you did attempt planting veggies. You can even do a couple in a pot. Not that I plant them myself, I'm too busy interrupting my grand-dad in his porridge-making hour. Not that I have or ever knew a grand-dad 'cause they both died before I was born, but I probably would've interrupted.

Wish I had only a 10-foot area but it's about 20 to the fridge and 30 to the loo.

Fine, fine writing!

Mad Cat Lady said...

I almost wish I had a home computer and could print out all your entries and highlight the phrases I love and then set up a large complicated cross reference system with which to find them with again.

Baino said...

I don't mind being in a small world sometimes. Mine's sitting at my computer early on Saturday and Sunday morning talking to friends I've never met.

Where I live used to be a small community - everyone knew everyone then the building boom filled all the space with mini McMansions without eaves, built so close you could stand in your bathroom and watch your neighbours brushing their teeth while you are brushing yours! And goliath shopping centres, all with the same shops . . .

So I value my little five acre haven and my computing corner in the loungeroom!

Always preferred Crunchie's to Violet Crumbles somehow they have a 'fizziness' that Crumble doesn't.

Erm we have a party room with a half size pool table.

Miles McClagan said...

I did at least try, that's true - it wasn't a good try, but it was an effort. And I never had a Grandad or a Pop either, but that's another story (26 years of Xmas pressies and counting...). I would have totally nagged him until his attention was off porridge and on me...

There can be no finer honour than to have your blog be part of a complicated cross reference system (that's the dream...fingers crossed)...

And I don't mind being part of this small little world sometimes, it's better than seeing people some days. Penguin was one of those claustrophobic places everyone knew everyone, but there was spaces between the houses. I don't like Crunchies, I think they are pretty dry. Woe betide anyone who asked for a crunchie at the footy ground, that was snobbery...

nailpolishblues said...

I'm getting thoroughly fed up with my small world - the curse of the introvert!

Miles McClagan said...

I know what you mean, I had three years of a small world, I never said a word to anyone! It was kind of interesting in some ways...but dull in others...