Friday, December 12, 2008

Hop Swiss Part 5ive - The Dancing Coke Can Debacle

Manchester airport isn't the place to be at 3 in the morning regardless of your mental state, never mind if you are gathered as a tired and sarcastic group of travellers who had been plied with vending machine coke and powdered toast in the never ending interim while a replacement vehicle for the broken down pick up bus was allegedly on it's way from the planet Venus to pick us up, and we stood around kicking and punching each other just to alleviate the boredom. There was a cold frosty atmosphere amongst everyone, never mind having to wait around in the drizzle for a bus that, when it did turn up, was driven by a massive cockney bloke who seemed to personally blame us for not only the bus breaking down but for the existence of the plague, racism and the decline of communism. As we waited munching on whatever mid priced snacks we could find or steal around the airport, and at one point had to change our holding pen because they turned all the lights off on us, a Chilean vagrant came by huddled over begging for scraps. As he begged in our general direction without looking directly at us, two burly security guards to my eyes jumped out from behind a bin (they were undercover, or asleep, either or) and, without putting too fine a point on it, kicked the shit of him and dragged him away. It barely registered on anyone though, least of all me, since I was thoroughly distracted by one of ourparty, a girl who's name is lost to history, standing on a plastic bucket seat eating Coco Pops out of a bowl and taking photos of the homeless man being frogmarched into what George Bush might call a conversation room. There were so many questions, and none of them involved her lack of humanity towards the dispossessed and none of them were where she had managed to get a bowl, spoon, milk and napkin as a bib while the rest of us were eating bits of gristle (or a Galaxy Milk, which was even worse). My main question was where did she get her Sinitta T-shirt, it was really nice. Bright colours. Anyway, she then Mariah Carey put the bowl in the bin, but kept the spoon just in case. She had lost my interest by then anyway, not just because of her subtle but frightening moustache, but because she had a single coco pop on her face hanging there like a Cindy Crawford mole, and by then it had started pouring, so we as a group peered despairingly into an abyss of poorly illuminated airport forecourts, questionable policies towards immigrants and loud noisy angry drizzle that smacked off the ground violently, certain that we would never see our beds again, and this was eternity, Manchester Airport, the last resting place of the terminally spoiled...

From my own point of view, my mood was now one of deep anxiety and melancholy. Not just in the absence of Gaby, and in that teenage years surety laden way that love lasts forever and is a sonnet of beauty, I was sure I was meant to be with her based on just an intense 17 minute conversation and now it was gone, and not just because I was beginning to feel deep pain in my arm, and not just because I had got a melted Twix out of the vending machine all over my Joe Bloggs jacket. It had been a terse and tense flight for me, as anyone who has been flying with a busted ear would know. Take off and landing had been particularly difficult, and I'm hardly stoic at the best of times. I had requested a magazine but was rebuffed by an indifferent stewardess who appeared to be more interested in flirting with the guy the row in front of me and then watching the movie than getting a customer something they wanted. She had nice hips but a surly attitude and it was somewhat amusing when a sudden jolt of turbulence cause a sudden loss of dignity. Still that didn't help me as we sailed effortlessly over the channel with my ear sounding like a Trent Reznor out-take. And the movie with My Blue Heaven, a film I had already seen with Steve Martin that when I saw it had so few jokes that when it got a laugh some bloke ran down the front and dropped to his knees and yelled out thank god we finally got a joke. One of the male stewards decided that in light of the indifferent efforts of the butterface towards customer service, that he would endeavour to give everyone a free individual fruit cup to make up for her, but sadly for him he woke me up when I was in the middle of a beautiful dream about morphine...lovely, lovely morphine. With my ear on the verge of a strike, being woken up by a camp man with a Dave Grohl moustache and an over pronunciation of the word cup that stretched it beyond five syllables wasn't my idea of a good time. It took all my efforts not hit him with an equally camp and tired punch to the moustache. My punches are certainly threatening in type, but not in actuality, so it was lucky that I stuck to a disdainful glare. As he swished off down the aisle, having to round the butterface who was in the aisle yucking along to Rick Moranis, I suddenly realised that he was heading in Colins direction. Colin having been long ago sedated due to his mid Swiss meltdown was sound asleep, with his feet spread either side of the chair in quite the spread, and there was our camp fella, heading in Colins direction swishing gamely in his direction with a fruit cup held between thumb and forefinger and an absolute determination to inflict his customer service on passengers. I went back to sleep more out of terror as much out of terror as to what was coming as any desire to dream again, and that was lucky since I had a weird Ally Sheedy dream, but I'm told that had I been awake, it fairly likely that I'd have lost hearing in my other ear...it was apparently an interesting suggestion as to what you could do with a fruit cup, one that I hadn't considered...such imaginative use of the pineapple...

Of course, the bus trip home was immensely tense, as a combination of imitation brand chocolate (it was more of a Twixt) and lack of sleep ensured that as our bus rode through the night and morning and was held up by several non moving milk floats, something was always going to happen. I didn't expect it to be my fault was all. As it happened, I had invested some of my CHF in a dancing coke can from the airport, figuring that at a relatively cheap price, I could pass it off as a present to one of my lesser cousins (I'm thinking Madeleine, she was always a stuck up pain) and get some brownie points from the pares. I wouldn't have thought a dancing coke can would cause trouble, but given everything that had happened, I shouldn't have been surprised. The Gene Hackman had seen my dancing coke can in a previous life when I had espoused my inferior cousin theory, and had decided to try and impress a girl called Mary with it, so I got it out of my Super Saver Squirrel backpack and gave him it. I did consider as I drifted off the sleep that if it was so easy to see boob with a dancing coke can I'd have taken with me to the swimming pool and got Gabys opinion on it, but I thought nothing more of it. I never find out how that Ally Sheedy dream ended though, because I was woken up by the distinct sound of what is quaintly referred to in Tasmania as a scrag fight. Apparently one of the girls had been so jealous of Mary being wooed by the magic of the dancing coke can (or she was more of a fan of the dancing sunflower, and fair enough) that she decided to ark up and after words were exchanged, things descended into fisticuffs, torn jumpers and pulled hair, not to mention even more harsh words from the gutter to my one ear. Eventually, as the bus veered sharply to the right and they rolled down the aisle like a bag pushed by a bully, they were torn apart by a mutual realisation of their ridiculousness (who fights over the Gene Hackman?), a bus driver who threatened to turn the bus right back round to Switzerland (oh God no) and a teacher who took a little bit too long to seperate them. I presume this to this day explains The Gene Hackmans love of womens wrestling. The teacher sat back down in his comfortable chair of moral judgement, the bus driver rolled akwardly down the motorway, and the girls had to shake hands...at least until Mary slipped in a violent rabbit punch, and the whole thing began again...to my eternal amusement, the coke can was continuing to dance along to the violence, illuminated by the bus flouro, with it's opinions and moral judgements on the battles of two girls from Dalry over a boy from Beith luckily, like the cows, unrecorded...

Eventually, we parted as a group, clambering off the bus into a Kilwinning garage forecourt mid morning to be picked up by our parents. I got into a car pooled car with my Mum and Dad, their rosy cheeks aglow that their prodigy (not Keith Fl...oh, done that joke) had made it home, safe, but hardly sound. Dads hug strayed suspiciously close to the horrific war wound on my arm, but luckily, that was a secret to share in the mornings to come. Given that my parents, who weren't flush with cash but who always provided above and beyond for me, had shelled out a fair snack on the holiday, so I gave them a break and at least for the morning nodded politely and said everything was great - my travelling companion was a lot less subtle and complimentary. She, the daughter of the teacher who didn't give my Dad a job, sat with arms folded in the front of her less than ample boyish chest (she looked like Jim from Eastenders as a boy) and stared down the sun with an increasingly fevered and demented rant on what a lousy and terrible holiday she had, that bordered on fascist and racist against the Swiss and seemed to be particularly offensive against the very notion that another country would have a culture evolved beyond shell suits and opinions on Wet Wet Wet. We let her go, sitting in uncomfortable silence and certainly not wishing to subscribe to her newsletter, until eventually her Dad asked her, quite gently and wondering about how easily an adoption certificate could be gathered, if she had enjoyed anything about her holiday. She thought for a full minute, and then said, quite quietly but with full determination that she liked the toast. Her Dad put the radio at that point, thinking he could have saved his moolah and just locked her in the basement with a toaster, while my Mum and Dad exchanged knowing glances, and eventually, we arrived at our house, and eventually I would start my own rant, I would exchange disappointing and mediocre presents, and I would roll up my sleeve in a special lounge room game of what looks dodgy to show them my infection, but for now, I gave my parents a hug, and went to my room to unpack my case, finally let out the agonising god my ear hurts scream that I'd been holding in since Tuesday and have the more traditional Scottish holiday of TV and chips...

And that's when things...no, actually, that's when I went straight to sleep, and didn't wake for four blissful beautiful days, without a single stress that my eyebrows would leave my body...

6 comments:

Jannie said...

"hardly stoic at the best of times" funny.

Miles, do you really remember all the details, like the stewardess' fine hips and such, the girl's cocoa puff mole, etc. or just recreate and fictionalize things like that?

squib said...

*claps* fabulous, I loved the bit about the coco pop

Charles Gramlich said...

A good long sleep will cure a variety of ills.

Miles McClagan said...

It's true, I'm short on stoicism...and no, this was all true and easily remembers, the only thing I make up some times is the odd casual punchline, but this one was easy to remember specific details, as I was on incredibly attentive medication...er...

I still want to know where she got the bowl...

It did in this case, although when I woke up, my arm was still a horrendous mess...that didn't go away for a year...

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Kicking the homeless guy on the shins seems a bit unreasonable, surely dragging him away would have been enough.

I'm all for good long sleeps for curing all and everything!

Miles McClagan said...

Ah, but it was Manchestah crack security, no boot was left unused, and they had to do it, lest anyone else get bad ideas. That's their way!