Monday, December 1, 2008

F Troupe

So for a day when I nearly quit in a big fit, it was a pretty uneventful day. A small child in Angus and Robertson did laps around my legs, to the point he almost became some sort of electronic tagging device. His mother was of course completely entangled in the social dilemma we all face - a copy of the Parky book or a copy of the Dawn French book - while the world spun on a plaintively boring axis around me. Even the dregs of society being served by the dynamic muffin selling duo of strange eyebrow girl and girl who's shirt is too small didn't seem to conjure up enough domestic dramas to keep me interested in the world around me. At least I've managed to conjure up a grudge against one of my friends for taking too many photos of me, since I hate having my photo taken. I can nurse that to keep me warm. Why people feel the need to take the most photos of the most reluctant confuses me. Just as I come to the end of my mental rope, I realise I've ended up with a copy of Rolling Stone in my hand, and I'm quite unaware how I ended up in the newsagents at all. As I go to move away from the magazine rack and purchase my item I realise I've been impeding the progress of an old man. Patronisingly, I presume he's going to make a dash for Debussy or one of the Great Composers magazines, at which point I notice he has bought the most hardcore pornographic magazine in the shop, and is now about to buy the heavy metal magazine Kerrang. This is an old huddled over man with a flat cap, and the whole thing throws me for a minute, until I realise that either he's been given fifty bucks by lousy punk kids to get things for them, or he's just quite content to be himself and couldn't care less. I consider for a moment engaging him for a bit in conversation, possibly to thank him for being in my anecdote for the day, but having seen the cover of the magazine he bought, he doesn't seem like the kind of man you would wish to befriend, whether you were desperate for an anecdote or not...

The friends I have at the moment, my group as it were, have been my friends for more than six years now - time for a trade up? Well, possibly, but since awkward and stumbling beginnings at a proper Irish pub called The New Sydney (I say proper because unlike it's worst pub in Hobart counterpart with the horrible bouncers, it positively encourages drinking and the band in true Irish pub spirit have a permagrudge against The English for stealing their ceildh drum in 1582) round about Mothers day 2002, when I went out clutching my Mothers present in a plastic bag, a steam cleaner in a box, thus continuing my tradition of doing something really dumb on my nights out, we've been through a lot as a social group. It was a much simpler time of course, bouncers were thinner on the ground, Collingwood weren't a complete embarrassment, Shakaya and Las Ketchup were entertaining us all, and most of all we were still unsure of exactly what each other would say and weren't bored with each other yet. It was a sizing up process, and we've shed a few along the way out of maturity, changing fashions, poor opinions about Britney Spears and potential prison sentences (I kid). I was positively excited to just have friends again after the abyss of the late 90s amateur relationship and part time gardening scene. I threw myself into the Hobart party scene like it was 1996. My previous time out in Hobart, when I wasn't attending netball dinners with my girlfriend, was a quite forgettable trip to Hobart with Young Achievers (ah, I must get to that one day) where we couldn't get into a single club because my friend, the one who was going to invent the perpetual motion machine, had decided the best point of ID to present to the bouncers was a photocopied passport with an altered age in black marker pen. Tamer as the 96 model bouncers were, they didn't fall for it. Thus released from my black and solitary world of Kazaa and television, I began a heavy drinking schedule just about every weekend, just to make up for lost time, which culminated in a somewhat bizarre evening where I lost all my friends at 3am in a nightclub I can't remember, and ended up hugging a girl I did a drama class with for, oh, an hour? Did it go any further? I don't think so, the next thing I remember was dying on a brown high chair the next morning watching the Sunday Footy Show, unable to peel myself off the vinyl to summon up the sufficient will to keep on living anymore. Maybe that was just Garry Lyons fault. And then as I died a little rolling over onto my back I realised I had committed the cardinal sin of social overreaching, because not only had I transformed what was supposed to be a quiet night of Keno, snacks from a tray and quiet contemplation into Sunday at Keith Richards house, but I had also committed to a quiz night at the Grand Chancellor Hotel...in three hours...

Outside of poorly prepared catering students breakfasts being devoured in weird circumstances, I haven't been to the Grand Chancellor other than this one magical quiz night. I can't remember who organised the quiz night - maybe it was me - but suddenly it was inappropriately timed. Everyone at our table had a quite spectacular hangover, and a girl we knew who was inordinately proud of her own cleavage was still drunk, and would answer every single question with the word chicken, which I'm sure was hilarious in her world. Incidentally, she also brought a friend called, I don't know, Barry, who proudly told he went to three quizzes a week. Sadly, judging by his dimensions and his intellect it was because his Mum couldn't afford a babysitter or he just loved quiz show ramaki. I should point out at this point my youth was spent being something of a school quiz prodigy (if this was 1996 I'd be making a Liam Howlett joke right now ). Our school in Scotland on the back of my answer to "where is Ayers Rock?" made nationals, although I should also point out my answer to what is the scouts motto was "Dib Dib Dob Dob", which slayed them in Troon. Anyway, at least this time I hadn't talked myself up, and was thus free to answer as I saw fit. My friends knew me well enough to simply hand me the music round to fill in...no, Powderfingers lead singer is not a chicken, you silly large cleavaged woman...and in turn we handed the geography round to our friend who had told us in great detail the problems with the Romanian rail system...so in short we were able to cobble together a reasonable showing through tremendous teamwork, that is, we all had a hungover nap at the table until it was our turn to shine. Across from us were a professional team of nerdy quiz a holics who to my complete delight had no idea which band sang The Ketchup Song. It sustained me through a quite beautiful nap during the middle of the musicals round, in which not only was the entire fate of mankind dependent on some handsome Scot knowing the individual members of Las Ketchup, but no one, absolutely no one, answered a question by saying chicken and then laughing like a hyena thats just been told a really funny joke about corn and ducks...ah, such a beautiful, sweet sleep...

Apart from Barry scampi, there was another guy at our table called Nick. Nick seemed like a tough guy, he had a Dennis Lillee moustache and a shaved head and a bikers jacket, and that's all you need to convince me of your hardcore credentials...he had turned up with his wife, who's name I can't remember but for any Tasmanians out there all I remember her for was her ability to get from Launceston to Hobart in 65 minutes...of course, as we later found out, their marriage was as they quite quaintly say on the rocks, so their discourse to each other was absolutely minimal, never mind contributions to a debate on the capital of The Ivory Coast (I told them it wasn't Abidja anymore). She was at least slightly convivial, answering some questions through gritted braces and with the aid of several shots of tequila, but he was a rock, a literal stone in a chair staring doggedly at the menu and mentally ticking off the rounds until he could go back to sleep. I had tried at least briefly to engage him in conversation, but asking Barry what the capital of Belgium was (scampi?) was easier going, so I went back to my dream. I woke up from my sleep just as they got to nature, and yes, she was still saying chicken, and I somehow plucked something from my fundament in guessing the answer to one of the questions would be David Attenborough. It always is. My head was pounding like the girls from Las Ketchup were in there shimmying, and I realised one question had everyone stumped, what do you call a group of monkeys? My answer, hilarious, was instantly rejected, and by now you are probably as sick of what Mama Juggs answered as I was, and no one knew until a small, ocker Aussie voice defiant of tone and sounding like the surest thing in the world has piped up with "troupe"...just a single word, no fuss, no ego, just the word "troupe"...we looked over at Nick as for the first time all night he had even looked remotely awake and interested, his eyes flashing inspired underneath his chrome dome, as he stepped into the sun, nodded his head, and said write it down, troupe...and of course, he was right, and after that, he brightened up considerably...well, he didn't say anymore, but he had a quiet smile of satisfaction as he necked his Boags from the bottle, the kind of smile that said he had contributed and didn't need to contribute any more or waste any more words than necessary to impress the assembled masses...

And the kind of smile that said dickheads who say they go to a quiz every week really better be able to answer a question...

9 comments:

Jannie said...

So I guess we won't get to see any photos of you, Camera Shy Boy?

Oh well, your words paint 5000 of them daily, those'll do jsu tfine.

Charles Gramlich said...

"Necked his boags?"

squib said...

I was going to say what could be worse than going to a quiz with a hangover but then I remembered quite a few early Saturday morning children's parties in lurid playgyms and fastfood outlets

Fabulous writing yet again you fabulous writer you

Miles McClagan said...

Definitely not, that's the last thing I need, anyone to see what I look like...and yes, I believe a 1000 words paint a picture!

It's a drinking term...Boags Beers...Tassies own special brew, keeping the birthrate up since 1874...

I've been in fastfood outlets with a hangover...those clowns doing birthday parties are REALLY annoying at such times...

the projectivist said...

I don't know any men who are embarrassed by the purchasing of porn. They're all very blase about it, handing over the cash for the latest copy of Big Knockers on Patrol or Arse About Town without blinking an eye.

I'd be a nervous, sweaty, shifty-eyed mess.

ps. i made those mag names up.
sorry if you got excited for no reason.

Miles McClagan said...

The only time I ever bought a Playboy, the lady behind the counter groaned...I like to think it was a professional sign I wasn't cut out for the dirty old man life...Arse About Town, wasn't that a Gene Kelly film?

The Man at the Pub said...

No, your'e thinking about Mad about Knockers with Sid James.

Kath Lockett said...

I'm sure Nick is a highly paid billionaire CEO these days....

Miles McClagan said...

I love any British sitcom from the 70s - did you ever hear Frankie Howards version of J'Taime? Gold...I do a wonderful Sid James dirty laugh, but it means more in England...

I like to think he's taken his one skill around the world, that he patiently sits at quizzes bored until the one question he knows comes up...it's like a party trick...