Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Multiculturalism comes to Burnie

Even though today was largely boring and uneventful, and to be honest some days lately it's felt like a greatest hits compilation of the rest of my year (pram in the ankles, overbearing staff, too few sandwiches, Barry Tosser outside the house mincing) there was at least some mental stimulation. I realised today that without knowing it I've made up a complete story about the silver rings I wear on my hand. I caught myself telling someone today that I'd got them in Ireland, which is just complete nonsense. I've never been to Ireland I don't think, but I must just have got sick with people liking my rings and asking where I got them and I've invented a rigorous back story. It's far more interesting how drunk I got when I lost half of them vomiting over a railing at the side of the Southern Outlet road, while my Tasmanian Auntie (that is we just call her Auntie) was talking joyfully to a hitch hiker. Good times. It's stupid because I am impeccably truthful otherwise, so I guess my lying gene comes out through my rings. Matron. The automon let out a strangely human whimper today that her husband (the one who looks like Mark Ridgeway) lost his job, which was quite bewildering that she would let the Sharleen 3000 robotic persona drop to drop that into conversation. I didn't know what to say after several battles of paragraph subsection C regulatory debate melted away to human Xmas sympathy. I moved the conversation on to my stand by conversation position today, that kid they called Adolf Hitler. Like I said, I'm awkwardly inept at polite conversation, never mind dealing with a man telling me his legs had shut down due to fluid build up, and I couldn't quite see Blue Eye Shadow Girl because some boof headed newcomer was in the way. Most if not of all though of my mental stimulation came though from my Dad, who used our daily phone call to not just talk about how terrible his workplace is (budget cuts means all he can do all day is read his book) but to give me a potted history of the number of times he's tried to shatter my illusions and tell me things aren't real - Santa Claus, wrestling, reality TV shows. It was like a potted history of my life, the number of times my Dad has taken me aside to tell me things aren't true...I guess you could do worse for a Dad, for even though he hugs with his shoulder charged (he's not big on affection) he's a fairly faithful companion...and you could have a worse Dad...for instance, his Dad, who told him at 5ive years old that there would be no more hugs because he was too old for them...and he never tried to give me a religious text for Xmas...good Dad...very good Dad...

I've mentioned before that my holiday back to Penguin from the lovely wilderness of Ayrshire (no hooker too ugly, no bus on time) at Xmas 89 was a complete disaster. My friends and I didn't manage to co-ordinate a single outing that wasn't just bumping into each other at K-Mart so I spent a month sitting on a wooden floor eating Rice Bubbles and watching cricket and sulking around the house. However just like the invented story about my rings, when I went back to Scotland I was honor bound to tell my roughly three friends that I'd had a great time, and had done all kinds of crazy and fun things in a series of crazy locales. If a wooden room with a single bed, a slightly risque copy of People Magazine (like Ralph Magazine but with a Maurie Fields column) with my first magazine girl crush on the front and a TV which was all Craig McDermott all the time kinds as a crazy locale and Rice Bubbles loaded with sugar counts as partying fun, then I guess it was accurate. It was especially disappointing that I never made it up to Burnie to join in the school activities because I still had a massive crush on a particular girl, however there was a quite distressing feeling that no one came to me (and in light of what happened, the mountain Mohammed analogy seems appropriate) and of course, story of my life, had completely moved on in the 18 months I'd been away, and some other kid probably took my place in the social calendar (probably even had a stopwatch and was good at Footy Maths). This realisation came I sat and watched Rage baffled by the hot new acts Collette and Indecent Obsession and the hot new show The Comedy Company, and was baffled as to what was going on. The only person who hadn't moved on was the local hairdresser Swanny, who still had pink musk sticks in the window and still played horrifically stereotypical Scottish records when I went in to get my bowl cut. Eleven is far too old to feel so dis-spiritingly old and depressed and like life is rapidly fading before my eyes, let alone do it while sitting cross legged on a carpet confused as to why Kylie Mole is getting big yucks, waiting for the phone to ring and feeling incredibly discontented that I was lost between countries and didn't seem to fit in anywhere. Mind you, I had a whole tortured poet thing going on that I feel I may have loved a little bit too much, and by the end, even the girl in the People bikini got sick of me, and turned away from the cover of the magazine to watch the cricket. Frankly, given my limited conversation, it was better that since I loved her, I set her free...and let her run into the arms of Craig McDermott...

That was all before me though, as the holiday actually started quite well. On the first weekend I was there, I was taken by my uncle to the Tioxide (a company dedicated to pollution and smoke I mostly remember) Childrens Xmas party at West Park, the football oval which I always remember as being incredibly freezing apart from this one day when it was a three jumper day (tops), which was a tops as old time. The sun was beating down on my newly pasty complexion, we were just old enough to impress girls with cynicism and weary comments but still young enough to get lollies and freebies from Santa. Girls who it should be noted were using Kylie Moles Comedy Company hilarious character catchphrases like ya reckon and twirling bubble gum but doing it with just enough of a flirtacious smile to let you think you had a chance. Tiger Dowling, our local hero, was on the microphone making jokes an 11 year old couldn't understand, I mean I didn't understand what a cowgrip was supposed to be. However, most of the hilarity came from a terrifically drunk Santa controversy. There was a Samoan Santa on a throne with a giant beer gut who was emerging from the land of mass confusion and twenty eight Fosters to terrify the kiddies who had found him slumped against a round green bin swearing and mouthing off while other kids poked him with sticks. There was some debate among some of the portlier gentlemen as to whether of not Samoa KO was the official Santa or just an indistinct and unrequired intruder. None of the kids believed he was an interloper, and our suspicions that Santa had let everyone down came when a suddenly much jollier and much whiter Santa appeared out of nowhere in a Red Santa Top and jeans. Denim Santa really loved children, and was far too pleased to be spreading Xmas cheer, while being completely unaware that Samoa Santa was giving him the finger before a curtain was closed and he vanished from view. Denim Santa even got a kick in the shins at one point from a bratty girl and didn't even miss a beat as he tousled her hair and ho ho hoed (a commentary on her mother in fairness) and due to his lack of moodiness, drunkiness and his high quotient of creepiness, we ended up running around the middle of West Park playing a terrible game of Catch and Kiss (there wasn't a lot of catching) in the muddy middle of West Park, gleefully sinking into the mud while Tiger Dowling moved, Max Miller style, from his red book of jokes to his blue book of jokes...it was time to shut our ears to the ribald material that was eminating from the PA, and focus on the fact that if we sunk to the bottom of the bog, we might never come back to the top...compared to that, the lack of bored blonde girls chasing me to try and kiss me was the least of my problems...

The highlight of the Xmas party, as you might imagine, was lining up in the mud (it was drying mud, so that was familiar) to get a present from denim Santa, who continued his dazzling eyes and teeth smile. The queues were re-assuringly 1950s, as the girls queued up for a doll and we queued up for a torch. The dolls were flimsy and plastic and sub Barbie quality (Cindy?) but the torches were sensational, sturdy orange strong technical models that I think were just rounded up from the Tioxide storage basement. It was definitely quite a magnificent present. However, there was one boy who wasn't getting a torch, a Muslim kid called Imran who was dolled up the nines like I was at my Communion when I virtually married Jenny. Even though it was a cultural mish mash nightmare, Imran was lining up to see Santa to get a copy of the Koran as a sort of wonderful moment of significance for him. However, even though you'd think it was physically impossible to not be able to differentiate between a gift wrapped torch and a gift wrapped book, Denim Santa had given the Koran that was in the sack out to some other white kid, who was culturally dissing it as a stupid book and bemoaning the fact that he hadn't got a torch. There was a flurry of desperate activity to not only get Imran his Koran, apologize for the horrifically upsetting mix up, and to try and convince Imran he should have got a torch, while all the while the other kids in the line were trying to blind each other with their torch and the girls were finding out their dolls had legs that snapped off a bit too easily. Imran eventually got his Koran after plenty of haggling to try and convince all parties that this was a good transaction, and I last saw him looking quite morosely at it while the kid who got his torch was gleefully trying to hit his brother over the head with it. I didn't quite get the multicultural significance of what had happened, I just enjoyed Imrans dad chewing out the Denim clad Santa for his infidelic foolhardiness. However, just as I was about to contemplate the sheer majesty of such a scene and Tiger Dowling was working up to his three nuns and a donkey joke, I looked across the West Park slush, and Pippa, my Grade Two crush, was hand in hand with a boy with a spikey haircut and a pair of fearsomely blue boots. She looked at me, appeared to acknowledge faint recognition as if she was a coma patient awakening, and then continued her conversation while her dainty ballerina style slippers got more and more encased in mud...the first sign of many in the next few weeks that things had changed, and it wasn't subtle...

Einstein said life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving, however, I can't ride a bike, and to learn at 11 that life is a continually moving process without you in it, well, it was time to load up on the Rice Krispies...

8 comments:

Kath Lockett said...

1) lovely wilderness of Ayrshire (no hooker too ugly, no bus on time)

2) ...he ho ho hoed (a commentary on her mother in fairness).

3) the entire Koran incident is/was BRILLIANT!

Charles Gramlich said...

It's very tempting to make up such stories. As the one about the rings. I've done it once when I'd picked up a hitchhiker. I told them a completely invented life for myself. says something about me I suppose.

Miladysa said...

You know these posts are like the Burnie Wonder Years!

I LOVE 'em :D

squib said...

Poor Imran. lol At callanetics (I didn't know that's how you spell it, I've always called it calesthenics) when I was a kid everyone else got a little golden book that featured Disney characters or something remotely fun and I got a Golden book called 'What I want to be when I grow up'. That still upsets me

Kylie Mole! God I remember her

sparsely kate said...

I remember Kylie Mole..I was about 14 when she came out so I totally 'got' all her nonsense. Good times.

Ah, reading you is like sitting in a booth listening to somebody talk a bit too fast but just enjoying the rise and flow of the conversation and all the entertaining jolts in the middle, like smarties falling down. :)

Miles McClagan said...

Ah, the Koran, such a priceless gift to be wasted being given to a kid called Jamie with a mullet...

I don't understand it at all, I have no idea why I made up this completely long involved story, I guess it's better than just saying I bought them at a market for 5.99...it's strange though!

Am I Fred Savage? Or Jason Hervey? Or Winnie? Who can tell...I guess I'm Daniel Stern doing the narration!

You are lucky I didn't post a Youtube video of Kylies Moles hit single So Excellent...my Golden Books were always about dressing myself or trains trying to get up hills...complicated tales of morality...

Kylie Mole and the 20 minute Ian McFadyen intros, I was in Scotland so I missed a lot of them...I like that review, wherever there are booths with people talking, I will think of this blog now!

Baino said...

I got a copy of the Koran last Christmas . . .I would have rather had a torch! Great yarn there Miley brought back all the memories of 'works' Christmas parties and sweaty santas. There is a 'Santa' standing outside a local Christmas shop not far from where I live. One day it was so hot he just stood there in a singlet and santa pants, holding a multicoloured golf umbrella . ..it didn't look quite right!

Miles McClagan said...

The torch was great, no wonder Imran was mardy...Santas have never looked right to me, they always looked very ordinary, not quite right and like truck drivers in a suit...just enough magic and mystery...no golf umbrellas though...some singlets though, all to the good...