Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monster Trucks, Obligations, Bono and Lenka



I don't know what the dictionary definition of a rut is, but I'd like to think that if you pull up at the traffic lights behind exactly the same car two days in a row, that's a pretty big sign. In consecutive days, just as Lenka was finishing up on my IPOD, about to segue into a bit of Steve Burns, I've pulled up at a red light behind a white Suzuki Swift with a What Would Buffy Do sticker on the back of it. It was kind of odd to see such a culturally dated reference two days in a row, and how much it made me consider the rapid passing of time, considering how much I loved Buffy, was a moment of self reflection in itself. Not to mention the fact that the Suzuki Swift driver never seems to be able to find second. My Mother sent me a text message today, which I read in the seemingly never ending wait for the SS driver to work out how to do a hill start and Sofia Essaidi to get to the chorus, to say that my Dad and her have had a fight, basically because Mum told him to flush the toilet and he said, and I quote, that she was just picking on him because of how well we'd been getting on lately. I love my Dad, but sometimes, he's a little bit too much in love with feeling bad about himself. It's a family trait, given his sister has a living room you can't get in and his family don't talk to each other anyway. I could have gone like that, but luckily I turned it around just about in time. Tomorrow, I have to go out drinking with someone who's going through a lot of personal turmoil, but he's not letting it get him down. He's got community standing, so I imagine it's not going to be fun for him the next few months, but the biggest problem is not letting anything to do with it slip out in the course of drunken conversation, so it will be flippant sports and pop culture conversations all the way - the opposite to my Dad, who would be telling everyone his problems. If the sticker said what would My Dad do, he'd be bailing up the neighbours until they ran away in terror with his stories, which undoes my theory that Scottish people keep their problems to themselves, which I was working on when a guy walked up the street on his mobile phone today bawling all over the place about his groinal rash and the test results. At that point, I'd have given anything to have had Sofia Essaidi on the IPOD, someone to talk to, been stuck behind a Suzuki Swift for an hour, be stuck in KMart with just my grey curly headed nemesis for company, even been in a meeting...well, maybe not that...

One of my great obsessions in life, and certainly whenever I see it I can pick it, is absolute loneliness. If I'm honest, I've never been that lonely in my life that I have had absolutely no-one, even when I didn't have any friends for three years I had my Mum and Dad, and sure, they made me get a job and do any part time gardening that was going, but they were there for me. What reminded me of it was something strange today - I decided since the regulatory automon that runs our workplace had the day off that I would go and buy a cake, you know, cos I wanted cake, and I thought I could probably doss for 1/2 an hour waiting. The Rosny Cheesecake shop is next to Cash Convertors so I figured I might have to wade through some Martin/Molloy CD selling muggers to get into the shop, or be pulled up by the over efficious security staff (there are more security guards in CCs than Harrods I swear) but I didn't, and if you have a Cheesecake shop in your local area, I'm sure you'll appreciate the quality of the cakes on offer, which here in Kingston have been known to make cardigan wearing grandmas literally explode in delight as they pick between caramel or caramel choc treats. Anyway, when I got into the shop, to the quite wonderful strains of some horrible sub Carolina Liar muzak over the radio, there was no one there. No customers, no staff, in fact, not much cheesecake. It was like when I went into Lou Macaris Fish and Chip Shop in Old Trafford Way in Manchestah and was told by the woman that they had just run out of fish and chips and could we leave. I stood there for ten minutes, quite lonely, just me and a mid priced flan or too. My mind began to wander, to all kinds of scenarios from hostage situation to could I steal a bottle of water in a fit of illicit middle class gangster rampaging? It really was that eerie, especially when the same song began over again on the PA, and it wasn't about cheesecake...eventually a harried, sweating and slightly plump Indian girl came out, muttering, and I genuinely think she was getting shouted out out the back, and I felt so bad that I only ordered 1/2 a cheesecake...it was quite strange to stand there in perfect silence all alone in the shop for ten minutes, once I shut out the muzak, it gave me a lot of thinking time. It felt like an absolute age I was stood there, staring at flans, getting weirded out, remembering all the other times I had stood on my own in a quite uncomfortable manner. The Indian girl was overly apologetic to the point to ridiculousness, but I don't know if a blog is perhaps the quite perfect way to capture the sense of ennui, collapse and despair that came from her when, having apologized profusely and offered to get me a bag to put the cheesecake in, couldn't find a bag...someone call Ken Loach, the disenfranchised local working class have to apologize for not having a bag, and it's breaking my heart...

Whenever I think of loneliness, I think oddly I feel most lonely in large crowds, particularly if the large crowds are all enjoying something and I'm not - when I went to a festival and Wolfmother were playing, I was so bored and lonely I counted the stars in the sky. Anyway, when I was about, oh, 11, my best friend was the next door neighbours kid, a funny kid with a spikey hair cut who would just do stupid things for attention. His Mum and my Mum were friends, because she could talk and Mum could listen, and we became best friends, although ultimately this was torn asunder when he spent all summer telling me that when we went back to school we weren't going to talk to this other kid and then he did and ooh you should have seen my face, pure fizzing it was. His Dad is a lovely man, a frustrated MySpace musician with a Rod Stewart haircut and a fine line in wind up patter. So when his Dad told me he had got me tickets to a monster truck show my reaction was yeah, good one, what's next, Decca have decided to release your song about the pup...oh, he has actually got tickets for a monster truck show. This was a dilemma to me because anything up until that point of my life I had done with my friends had been a mutual decision - go and pull a girls hair, you know your friend has your back, you know how it is - but this, gulp, was an obligation friendship date, because we had paid for him for go and see Trevor and Simon (comedians, probably not funny now) at the Magnum. What could I do? Fake a hamstring tear? Debbie was always good at that - to make matters a lot worse, it was the night England played Cameroon in the World Cup, and I really wanted to watch it, and my Mum wasn't buying my limp, and so there I was, Kilmarnock racecourse or some bloody place, in the freezing cold, in my little shell suit, on a little wooden bench, while one truck drove over a much smaller truck at a less then breakneck speed, for around four hours of my life, all the while I was educated by a man with a megaphone on when to cheer and when not to cheer (I think I can work that out tiges). I must admit, given the pre-ponderance of tartan, wee ned families with thermoses, and the sheer delight that the meer mention of the Rockettes would bring, I barely recognised my own country, and I was incredibly lonely and out of my depth when my friend began to point out, just as the drizzle came down, the critical parts and systems found in a truck, and their amplifications in a monster truck and all I could do was nod in the direction of the tyres and say, well, they are big...not even making mutually bored eye contact with a Rockette with no pep at all (my kinda girl) could illuminate the night...suffice to say that if that quote is true, pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, that it certainly won't be amplified tyres on a monster truck...

However, the true essence of loneliness to me has always been amplified (no tyre stories) when you don't realise anyone cares. Case in point, about twenty years ago, I was in Glasgow Airport. I like Glasgow Airport, the people are no nonsense, the coffee shots are overpriced and the staff in the newsagents let you browse any magazine without recourse. Mainly because they can't be arsed stopping you. I went off for a wander, I must have been about ten or something, and of course in British lounges on domestic flights, you are generally stuck with the riff raff no matter who you are. When I was about 8 I saw Kenny Everitt pashing a girl at a luggage concourse in a bid to be outrageous but everyone just thought he was a twat so he stopped. This time though, I looked across the lounge past the preponderance of now priceless late 80s puggie machines and sitting on a chair looking pretty fed up was Bono. There were some families milling about the place but he was pretty much undisturbed by the patrons. Now, keep in mind this was 1988, U2 were getting a kicking in the press, so he didn't have the Jesus complex, and as far I knew, everyone in my social circle hated them (we preferred bands built to last like Brother Beyond and T'Pau). So I wasn't that impressed, and it seemed no one else was. He was complaining to his manager (I think) about all kinds of things, but the best thing was he was in disguise, well, he had a big hat on, and he was complaining to his manager that no one recognised him. Now, I was only ten, but I knew a eedjit when I saw one, but I felt a bit sorry for him. He was, after all, as famous as Carol Dekker and Luke Goss and no one was giving him any adulation on this Tuesday morning in Glasgow. So, I decided to adulate, and asked for an autograph. He signed it without saying anything particularly profound or asking me to clear the debt of the black cleaning lady who was sweeping up the cigarettes behind us, but he was pleasant enough. As I walked away with his autograph just above that of popular St Mirren striker Paul Chalmers in my little book, he let out this deeply mournful sigh and said something akin to I'm so fed up and alone...I looked back at him sitting in his little chair, while over his shoulder, the little black cleaner had a look on her face like she was ready to bash him over the head with her bag of rubbish. So I wandered back to my Mum, made some points on the exestential nature of loneliness and the way celebrities have worries like the rest of us, she said if I shut up for ten minutes I could have a Galaxy, and I spent the rest of the day looking at my autograph, thinking Bono had no friends, and then thinking, well, I guess he'll be retiring soon if that's his attitude...

Still, it did win me a who's the most famous person you've met competition at Customs...on a night when, unlike Bono, I felt like the whole world loved me...but that's for another time, when I'm not full of cheesecake...

14 comments:

the projectivist said...

i saw one of those, What Would Buffy Do stickers on a car recently too.
maybe there's a Buffy retrospective that we don't know about?

have you put that Bono autograph up on ebay yet?

Charles Gramlich said...

I like being alone, but not being lonely. I've pretty much always had someone I could talk to. I don't typically feel lonely from being alone, but I would if there was NO ONE.

Miladysa said...

Whatever fate befell Trevor and Simon... and their trouser legs?

Lou Macari - that's a blast from the past... my friend used to date him... fish and chip shop eh? Well I never...

Loved the Ken Loach reference - the one out of Corrie right? ;D

Maybe Bono was inspired that night - maybe - I still haven't found what I was looking for - came form your encounter. Things may have been different if you had been prepared to share your Galaxy - we will never know.

Thank you for yet another fabdabbydozzy post!

Jannie said...

Do you still have the autograph?

My husband would've called the cops at the cheesecake shop after 3 minutes. He did once -- at a small gas station where aliens or axe-murderers had abducted the owners. But my hubby's like that, overactive imagination, sensing inrigue and crimes 'round every corner.

Miles McClagan said...

There may be, god knows Gellar isn't doing any work at the moment, but when Buffy passes into retro TV irony, I'll know I'm old...the autograph is still in my book somewhere...it's surrounded by St Mirren autographs...

I agree with you, it's loneliness when there's no one, I've always had at least my parents. Not that I love talking to them because they have great memories, but I feel lonely when I'm in big crowds and no one talks to me...kinda funny that...

I remember when T&S left Going Live, I was so gutted...no more Sister Brothers...when they told Yvette Fielding she'd won a Blue Peter Badger...yeah, fish and chip shop in Old Trafford, no fish and chips! My Mum hated him...Ken Loach, married to Deidre? That's a show! Bono I think used the moment to write Stuck in A Moment you can't get out of, and he was eyeing my Galaxy, the cheeky minx!

Yeah, still got it, it's in my book somewhere. Your husband sounds like a man of action, he'd love this Cheesecake shop, summat is definitely going on...I feel like going back there tomorrow, just to make sure there's no hostage situation!

Quickroute said...

I think U2 have always been pissed off the Irish pay them little attention - Bono still has my tent - fu(ker! - link

Megan said...

Now I've got Eleanor Rigby stuck in my head.

squib said...

I stood there for ten minutes, quite lonely, just me and a mid priced flan or too.

For some unknown reason that line cracked me up. Maybe cos I used to work in a bakery

Bono? Wow that is so cool. The only people I've got in my autograph book is all my old school "friends" in highly inverted commas, you know with ditties like 'You ought to smile, you ought to laugh, but most of all, you autograph'

In social situations like parent 'afternoon teas' and book launches and so on I have this amazing ability to end up on the fringes completely alone while everyone else is in tight knit circles talking madly away. This always makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and depressed

cube said...

T'Pau? Cool.

Kath Lockett said...

I have to admit that I went to see a 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' tribute show at the Adelaide Comedy Fringe festival earlier this year, and was given a 'What Would Ferris Do?' badge.

And HALF a cheesecake - what's up with that? It looks so stingy as though the person you're taking it to just isn't worth a whole circle. Surely even you could eat one on your lonesome, Miles, over a weekend?

Helen said...

I'm pretty used to being alone (as in nobody within a 30 minle radius of me) and it really doesn't bother me. I feel a lot more lonely when I'm back in the city and I realise that my friends carried on living while I was away.

But it's selfish to be miserable because they weren't...

Kris said...

Always good to see my mum's cousin Lou Macari get a run. He is far more impressive than Bono, about the same height though, the wee get.

Ken Loach, making the same film since 1966! That said, Kes is a ripper and Brian Glover as the PE teacher is one of my all time favourite film characters.

JahTeh said...

I got lost in the rest of this post after I realized the rut you were talking about and the rut I had in my mind (oh the cesspit that is) wasn't the same.

Miles McClagan said...

Bono is a bit of an eedjit in my eyes...doubly so now he won't return a tent...what's all that about!

The only Beatles song I give house room too is A Day In The Life Of...no more, no less..

My favourite line in the Office is when Brent is trying to slag off Neils cake and eventually blurts out "I prefer a flan!"...great bit...out of everyone I know, I'm the least impressed by having Bonos autograp, I'm not a big rap for U2...and I know what you mean, I was told today I had to go to a family Xmas party...social lonely nightmare!

China In Your Hand represent y'all...

I haven't seen FBDO in a long, long time...maybe since 1991? I know a lot of people who tell me it's great, I can't remember! It was 1/2 a cheesecake because when I was going to get it everyone was yelling at me to just get 1/2...I do what I'm told! A full one, apparently, is false economy!

I think that was my main source of loneliness, I rang up one of my mates from school one day and she was so indifferent, I realised she'd totally moved on from me...it was a sad day. We've got a family friend who when he was 14 was told by his Dad "I've got a bed tonight, fuck knows where you are going"...I think that's misery...

I love KES, but again, it's a film I haven't seen in years...plus it's a Ken Loach film without Ricky Tomlinson so it feels inauthentic. Lou Macaris fish and chip shop is definitely worth a visit, summat weird is going on there. Mum hates him, she want to a Celtic game when he was captain and spent the whole game bagging him out...

No, there was no rutting in this post of that kind...maybe in the next one?