Thursday, November 13, 2008

The militant of the sandpit (where it all began)

One of my favourite things to do here in Tasmania is to try and assign personalities to people who work in Big W - this is a tough ask, as inevitably the bedraggled sweaty big lunged girl stacking the dog food speaks like Emma Thompson, while the really pretty girl with the self confident air says "nerfuckin" a lot and has a vacant psychopathic stare. It's always really interesting when you like someone (oh, I'll never tell) from afar and then there's strange awkward get to know you period where you have to reveal a lot about yourself and you hope that they aren't stupid and they'll laugh at your jokes and they don't like Bathurst (that's a big hope whenever I meet a girl, she doesn't like car racing) and they will let you play ATARI when you want. My best male friend, he has a girlfriend that he clearly really likes but when he's round the boys he's all no, don't worry, I'm going to dump her soon, I'm not a tied down kind of guy, and he's all I can't get time to sit and play on the XBox, and I'm all did you see Channel V, how annoying and patronising is that Beyonce song, and then he says you weren't even listening, and who's Beyonce? While he might tell us he's run out of things to say to his girlfriend, and has absolutely no opinion on the sub par solo career of any member of "DC", we all know he hasn't, he goes home and is in a happy relationship no matter what he tells us to be cool and we go through the little cycles of life round some beers at the pub every third Friday (and free nibblies always go well too). It's strange though, my girlfriend from the failed uni days, she was massively into Bob Dylan, and I still went out with her, which is a form of love. Meanwhile, back in Big W, the girl who looks exhausted, out of shape, puffed and like she's retaining chips, says to the hairdress/promotions model "Excuse me terribly, would you mind passing me that screwdriver" to which h/pm says "Nerferkin customers nerfuckin lunch"...I hope blue eye shadow girl isn't like that, it'd be a crushing disappointment...

Long before I traded in my ability to solve a quadratic equation to remember the third member of Destinys Child, I spent a lot of my early years as something of an idiot savant. I couldn't tie a shoelace and a lot of my emotions were bizarre and strange, and everything I drew looked like a circle with eyes (I got an A in the circle with eyes North West Coast drawing competition) but give me a complicated book on cricket or a nine times table and I was your man. I was also blissfully happy, and uncritical of anyones right to self expression. And no one looked more boss in a white T-shirt with brown shoulders than me - like all schools, there were a lot of life lessons to be learned (thanks Cilmi) in a short space of time. A kid called Bradley had a party at his house, and I wasn't invited - and I cried and wouldn't give him my silver crayon for the next year no matter how hard he asked or sucked up to me by pretending to like Nik Kershaw - which taught me the importance of selling out to be popular. At some point we must have re-conciled because he signed my Bicentennial with a message that was ridiculously touching (a bit too touching to be honest). My main early lesson though was about the inevitability of death. A kid in my kindergarten class died in what you could enigmatically call suspicious circumstances when a train hit the family car on the Penguin train tracks. I don't know how this was explained to us, but I put my hand up and asked if he'd be back for maths later that day - I still don't know if that's sweet and innocent or lunk headed and embarrassing. After these stumbles though, I settled into a pre defined role as the school smart kid, and although I was popular, I was also crushingly emotionally immature and prone to deep thoughts and emotions. My hissy fits were strident and I was lucky I was at a school that encouraged the free expression of emotions or else I'd have got a wedgie with my lunch order bag every single day. I distinctly remember telling a kid who turned the hose on me to stop being blasphemous...I didn't know what the word meant, it sounded impressive, and suitably awed, he put the hose down and backed off...he's lucky, I'd just learned the words counter productive from an infomercial, and I wasn't afraid to use them...

Idiot savanting aside, my early years were quite lonely. Not in a bad abuse lit slit my wrists kind of way, but being an only child I had a lot of spare time on weekends to play with my toys and roll down the hill in my back garden. The only time I really had my friends up to Penguin to my house was on my birthday, when we would have the greatest parties ever - they were all pretty uniform in their parentally designed simplicity. First, my Mum would play this horrible nasty record (remember them kids?) that to play you had to put pennies on it. It was about a space alien who came from the moon to say happy birthday and it would make run around the house screaming and begging for her to turn it off - so she would turn it off, wait until I came back in, then turn it on again. Then when everyone would turn up, we would feed them a demented amount of fizzy pop and sausages, then take them over to Penguin football ground to run around (and, if I'm honest, throw up) and kick a football (or a soccer ball, another sign of strangeness in mid 80s Tasmania), then I'd want everyone to leave so I could watch Peter Gilligan host World Of Sport (i threw a major hissy fit one Sunday when Pete was ditched for something called Live Aid - who was watching that rubbish?) but everyone would stay until they won a prize. Actually, there was one birthday where I didn't win anything all party, so Mum and Dad rigged it so I won "best dancer", just so everyone could go home. It was a shattering blow to Tina Sparkle, as this girl who turned up was a dancing genius - a veritable shimmy master in hand knitted jumper and Delvene Delaney poise. Neighbours had stopped to gasp at her body popping moves, she was lithe, she was fantastic, the party had all eyes on her, and I was some benny in a pair of brown chords who hadn't even perfected the Tassie Two Step who hadn't even noticed, lurching like Igor around the brown armchairs. When I was proclaimed the winner, after very little debate, I always remember her face crumbling beneath her, crumbs and tears mixing casually on her cheek as she learned life wasn't always entirely fair. Like I cared, everyone was leaving, I could go and watch TV, and I had just won a Crunchie...serves her right for her pin the tail on the donkey prowess anyway...

My finest hour though was when I was in Prep. I didn't have an easy time in Prep, it was a lot like a first date, no one knew anyone, and we milled around awkwardly asking each other accusatory discovery questions like "do you like saveloys?" or "is that your aqua crayon?" hoping to weed out the week. One girl had the absolute temerity to have a yellow Superman school bag and short hair, while my main foible, apart from the whole shoelace thing, was that I didn't understand the concept of a wind up, and as a result I was pretty humourless, but also a good friend to the oppressed. Damn that our school didn't have a blind kid or at least a poor immigrant. Anyway, there was a threatened teachers strike in the middle of term two of our prep year (or play-do term, as it was known) and word got around as we tried to mould our green do into something like, oh I don't know, a ball or a cat (or in my case a circle with eyes). While none of us knew what a strike was, we were pretty sure that it meant more time at home, and none of us wanted to be deprived of our easy access to nap time, lunch order boxes or beanbag valley. As it happened, those things were mostly my concerns, so I stood in the sandpit at little lunch and said something akin to "If they shut the school, what about us kids!" - yes, I was just like a great politician, inspiring the masses, girls with braces feeding me grapes. It was a firey speech, until I accutely remember no one at all paying attention to me. The concerns of the masses were far more on exactly how a girl called Pippa had got the scar on her arm, and my militant political activism was short lived. Crushed, I sat down to eat my disgusting paste filled sandwich, totally angry and fed up as to why no-one cared about what happened to the kids of this world. At which point, as I munched on the paste and the bitter taste of apathy, Pippa, scar and all, came up to me, blonde hair blowing in the air conditioned playground (t'were posh our bit), striding towards me and the painted red wall against which I was leaning. She leant over, giggled, said something like "you're funny" and left again...

And so, began a different kind of life...and of course, different kinds of disappointment...her opinions on saveloys, however, to this day remain unknown and unrecorded...

9 comments:

Miladysa said...

Your school days seem to be a mix of Gregory's Girl/Grange Hill/Recess/The Exorcist...

Another winner :D

TA

squib said...

So here's my idea. You print out all your blog posts and put a lacky band around them and call it 'Looking for Blue Eyeshadow Girl'. Or 'Finding Blue Heaven Nog' (or whatever that disgusting stuff was called). I think you have a novel here!

I can be your agent. I'll only take 50%. Is that fair or wot?

Jannie said...

Myabe you should've given Tina Sparkle your silver crayon and all would've been forgiven? :)

We owe all this brilliance to Pippa?? Long live Pippa!

Oh, and the Taz 2-Step is quite starting to catch on here in our solar heated playgrounds. You shuld come and watch sometime.

rhubarbwhine said...

I'm laughing at Tina Sparkle. Poor Tina, imagine being ripped off from her dancing award!

Miles McClagan said...

We didn't have anyone making an anti drugs record though like on Grange Hill...they were definitely interesting days though...if ever I get one of my old school pictures out, it seems like a different person!

I thought you were going to say print all these blog posts out, put a band around them and send them to her...50%, can I knock you down to a robust 43%?

Well, Tina Sparkle couldn't have my gold Crayon, that was the king of my (Crayola) castle...and yes, it's mostly Pippas fault...the Tassie 2 Step should really be a dance craze you know...it just needs a film clip...

She was completely ripped off...I think she should have lodged a protest or got some kind of encouragement award, but meh, life isn't fair is it!

Kath Lockett said...

"back in Big W, the girl who looks exhausted, out of shape, puffed and like she's retaining chips..."
It's all GOLD Miles...!

Miles McClagan said...

She certainly wasn't retaining exercise, that's for sure...

Baino said...

Well you are funny!

"I hope blue eyeshadow girl isn't like that" - you haven't even spoken to her yet?

Miles McClagan said...

No, because I only ever see her when she's working elsewhere from me...it's impolite to disturb...she is enigmatic, I will say that!