Friday, December 5, 2008

Finding a better place to play



The best way to write for me is usually in the morning, putting on a proper old school Cantaditas De Verano CD (I got about three novels done one summer listening to nothing but Tina Cousins), leaving a copy of the Herald Sun on the floor next to washing that isn't picked up and put away, with the TV flickering away in the background. Even though I live alone, I need noise, I always have. When I was living at home, I used to love when Mum and Dad would bugger off somewhere and leave me the house to myself, but within about five minutes the charm of silence and longer showers pretty much dried up (along with the hot water) and I'd have to put a CD on really loud. I was saying to someone the other day I once had to go down the car in the garage to listen to music on cassette because the only tape player we had was in the old Red Nissan but I realised I was being incredibly boring and speaking to someone who couldn't comprehend such generationally shifting horror, so I didn't push and mention the years Oasis were pretty good (Don't Look Back In Anger is good for writing as well since it reminds me of a girl I went to school with called Amber, and...you know). My room is a mess right now anyway, old Tracey Bonham discs, a poster of lost 80s band Fuzzbox, an unplugged DVD player, a slight sense of awkward mid morning confusion and self awareness, and a deck that could do with a good sweep. My collection of possessions continue to grow even in the midst of an economic crisis, a million little pop cultural references and fads or trends spread across the rumpus room floor. In quite a few ways I've never grown up, considering that I have not only a Hannah Montana advent calendar, but also because I'm still excited by sports, music, TV shows...it can feel like lazy shorthand at times, an easy way not to engage with your own life is to waste weekends watching Weeds S3 on DVD for instance, but it's comfortable. Someone who drove me into town yesterday was telling me that her mother, like, in the 1820s, used to walk up Mount Wellington for fun with her friends every Sunday to go to a pub up there. This should perhaps be some sort of positive moment where I take the wisdom of the 1820s, stop listening to T'Pau songs on the IPOD and go and do some...no, have ended up a visitor who's telling me an amusing anecdote about downtrodden poor people in crisis care trying to breed up their daughter for the baby bonus. Another lost indifferent weekend it is then, of afternoon naps, cups of tea and basketball games of no consequence. Part of being Scottish is being malcontented, so a peaceful safe healthy existence is boring and going out and getting drunk is just time you could have spent tidying up...we're a contrary people, we're not born to understand, and we've long since sacrificed our ability to invent in the face of dismissive put downs from others...I think my tea though is of royal standard, and on a quiet day, I revel in very, very small victories...

The Quarry, as I've mentioned before, remains Hobarts strangest pub - the only pub I know that has a gay bit which is the corridor between the lounge and the outside bit at the back where everyone freezes their arse off in heterosexual comfort. I don't know the sexuality assigned to people who sit outside the front in little tables that need packets of sugar put under the legs to keep them stable, but as we settle into a middling evening of pleasant conversation and cheapish drinks, a drunk is hurled, and I've very rarely seen a drunk hurled, I've seen them punched, I've seen them even kicked, but never hurled, right over our table, and by the owner of the Quarry no less. He's an unremarkable man in every way, plain T-shirt, plain jeans, unremarkable haircut, sensible trainers, but he's the most noticable man in Hobart at this point in time, no doubt soon to be the subject of some angry letters in the paper. He picks himself up and goes and punches someone at Irish Murphys for trying to get their hat back off him, the punch sadly not hitting a bouncer, and is evicted by a small elfin girl with a MacAuley Culkin haircut after resisted the flirtsuasion of a woman in a purple T-shirt. If walking around punching people gets you more chatted up than me, I'm doing something wrong. It's probably my sensible jumper. He comes over to us, and someone in our group tries to tell him where to buy drugs, and I realise this is not a conversation I want to be a part of, the meeting of two minds who believe in their heart that they are the physical embodiment of cool when in fact they are just Hobart middle classers who are about as dangerous as milk. I mean, since when can you buy drugs from Central anyway? I know you can get a tasty kebab on a stick. My eye is captured by one of the waitresses at the Quarry anyway, and he's disrupted our mutual glancings, although there is the possibility she's only glancing at the amount of empty glasses on my table or the striking resemblance of the guy at the next table to Mark Waugh. Eventually, our unremarkable remarkable drunken adversary tires of lurching his body to the right and leading with the left in a bid to get one of us to fight him, and is eventually after his fifteen minutes of fists are up taken away by Charlies Angels masquerading as Hobart police, which leads me to ponder over a cold beer the nature of a city where by a man in a football jumper is huckled away in shame with a sarcastic quip in his ear but a man walking like Igor challenging people to fights is able to wander around for ages with only the girlboy standing up to him and with nary an aggressive Maori bouncer in sight. However, philosophy is thin on the ground, and by the time we're back on how horrible Leigh Brown will be for Collingwood, we're on more comfortable ground...

The night is something of a success, violent movie scenes playing out in front of us notwithstanding. Once we ditched the braggers and the work chat and the people who tell us what they are making, it was a nice night. Eventually, as the night was winding down, and I was about to tell a fascinating anecdote about Yvonne Warfe, we're collectively hit on by a girl in a low cut yellow top with a drink that looks sickeningly coloured who thinks I'm Jo. I have no idea who Jo is, but I bet his blog is just delightful. It turns out I'm no Jo, which is given away by my lack of knowledge about accountancy. She's not a very good accountant though because her knowledge of tax laws is a little lax, as is her flimsy recollection of any part of a so called mutual friend, and to be honest, I think she's trying to help her friend pick up, which is difficult when her friend looks so much like the female equivalent of those guys in frat boy movies who have a milkshake poured over their head. How big a pair of glasses can be is a fairly scary proposition this close up. Eventually she isolates one of our group, and they begin a discussion about some TV show, which takes a frightening turn when she begins asking if he was a woman which person on the show he would marry if he was a female. Leading from the front so to speak, she asks us to list his main accomplishments (what, no one wants to play who's the most famous person you've met? I always win that) but somewhere between the third sip of the sickening coloured drink, the second verse of TI ft Rihanna and me finally finishing my half baked theory on the relative failure of sports teams, she decides he's arrogant. I love the little gaps in conversations that you miss, the way she's gone from full front chest attack to deciding that she'd take her television references and poor grasp of fiscal policy and her Millhouse like friend elsewhere, and she's gone from our lives as quickly as she came, falling for the alternate charms of a sickly pale school leaver in a distinctly horrendous black T-shirt who's all wandering hands, eyes that betray his excitement to be touching any kind of boob and limited sentences, but at least he's got opinions on the Unit. We leave them throwing a bizarre series of what we used to call shapes on the dancefloor, and head home, the night re-assuringly over by the safe bouncer free hour of 11...

However, we were one friend down last night. To the best of our knowledge, he was meeting us later having found a better place to play, hanging out with his other friend that to the best of my knowledge only he likes, and was meeting us out later. He never fronted, so his opinions on the Unit are unresolved, but after we asked where he was, he sent us a quite alarming text message, the tone of which was that he was in financial difficulties, wasn't ready to face us yet, and would get in touch later. We didn't know what that meant, we've been friends for 6ix years with him, and we're hardly judgemental people, nor the hardest people to face up to, after all, I just bought a Britney Spears album and I'm still facing the world. Hell, my most judgemental quality is on anyone who likes Powderfinger...so much...I was a little put out by this, I hope he hasn't lost his thumbs to the Yakuza or something, but my Glaswegian mother, forged in flint and ready one line quotes of Glaswegian social realism just thinks we doesn't want to hang around us anymore and we should take the hint. Fair enough, but it's kind of sad when you lose a friend, it's part of life though, and you don't expect it at 30irty. I am used to it though, after all, I moved countries three times in 8 years, it's just the way it is. In fairness he probably tired of my enthusiasm for Doll Domination. The first friend I lost was a kid who I only remember for having a brother called Tarford (no, really) who I kind of lost because I was sick in his house, not knowing about an early since passed allergy to eating eggs...that and he didn't get my Old Tarford joke...anyway, the point is, I've conditioned myself to the way life moves on, that nothing stays the same and if he has given us a hint, I wish him well. Of course, this philosophy doesn't get a chance to escape in the face of an indifferent head me off at the pass taxi driver who launches into a Meet Joe Black length rant about the social issues facing Hobart and how in his day you could chips for thruppence and still have change to get a unicycle home. For him, he's never moved on, failing to grasp the concept of time passing, and when he plays me a tape by Dave and The Crickets or some other 50s beat combo hipster fun fresh faced young kids, I'm left with the feeling that being comfortable that time is progressing, even if sometimes it sucks, is far better than being the 1992 version of me, and still talking about the expanding rap empire of Kris Kross...

Better to move on wishing everyone the best than look back at Amber I say...

9 comments:

Kris said...

I hope that your friend isn't the person whose position I made redundant on Thursday.

They seemed to be in financial difficulties before I made it worse for them...

Georgie B said...

Hmmmm....you lost me part of the way through the story.

Good segues though.

I would like to answer the first part of your post about needing noise in order to write.

I'm the complete opposite. I need relative peace and quiet in order to write. When I was writing my first novel, I was up at about 4 in the morning, bagging away on my notebook, because it was the only way I could get any writing done.

Still the same way today. I usually get some down either at work (not a writer by trade) or at the public library.

But whatever works for you in order to get those creative juices flowing is the important thing.

Miles McClagan said...

No, it definitely wasn't, as far as I know he's still gainfully employed...just needs more dough...unless there's summat else he aint telling us...

Sorry you hated it! I'm not doing very well lately! I need background noise in every single aspect of my life, I always have...if I don't have my IPOD wedged into my ears, it's all downhill...

Georgie B said...

I never said that I hated it.

I don't hate anything that anyone writes in a blog.

I was simply saying that you lost me part way through the story.

I'm sorry if you took my comment the wrong way, as it wasn't meant to be offensive.

Miles McClagan said...

No, I didn't mate, that's just my phraseology, I don't take offense, the cows get out...

Charles Gramlich said...

I adore silence, or at least the soft sounds of nature. When Lana leaves the house I turn everything off.

Miles McClagan said...

I'm not too bad with silence, but it only means I end up listening to my own thoughts, and it's not always a good thing...

Jannie said...

Really - you have a Hannah Montana advent calendar? Are ya pullin' me wee leg, ye lime spider guy?

Miles McClagan said...

No, someone bought it for me as a present, and in the absence of any other advent calendars, it's doing the job!