Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Codril Files (tales of self and only self)

My newsagent where I work is a very interesting man. He has slicked back hair, a weirdly trimmed little pirate moustache and is perpetually on the look out for naughty kids reading his magazines. He puts signs up to discourage the handling of the merchandise, backed up with intense and moody glances in the direction of anyone even looking at Tractor monthly without the skillz to pay the billz, and when his wife, a miserable looking woman who wears an 80s style tracksuit even on 40ty degree days, is in the shop staring blankly into the distance, the place for some reason fills up with naughty kids like it's recess. What's interesting about him though is his niceties are entirely based around how much money you spend in his store. Having spent a moment reading my paper and seeing how many discreet ways they could describe a female tennis player as fat without saying it - sturdy seems to get a work out - he goes to engage in basic social chat until he realises I've bought an import magazine at an expensive price at which point we're brothers in arms, and he's asking about my long weekend. Because I'm sick - a cold on top of hay fever on top of natural male pity - these minor annoyances pile up on me today. Not just the overfriendliness of the businessman who can put a 20enty in his till, but a girl at a different bakers who corrects what I call a ham and cheese square, holding her hand up and calling them a Danish with a self correcting tip of the hat. I should walk away, but every step today hurts, lacerated with the feeling that no one is suffering like I am, the problems of the world paling into comparison with mildly tingling sinuses. So meekly, I hold my own hands up and say, oh yeah, a Danish, silly me. How could I not know my pastries? And this is all it takes - after all, I had started the year with a feeling of maturation, a self reliance and assurance, dare I say, a new resolution. And all it's taken to unravel it today, to turn me into the petulant nervy kid who wouldn't look out of place on the Wiggles car in the centre is a cold and a dismissive going nowhere in her life baker. So caught up am I in lifes tiny quarrels, I nearly hip and shoulder a parent with a teething child on her shoulder who's gotten too close to me in a searching examination of the apple strudels. As I apologize, the kid shoots me a look - and far be it for me to assign emotions to small children - which seems to be the kind of look that I imagine one wounded soldier shoots another wounded soldier in a war hospital. The kind of look that says, I know your face is indicating you have troubles, but buddy, let me tell you, unless you are teething, you don't know that half of it. Either that or the kid had gas. I was loaded up on Codral, for all I know I was trying to order a jam donut...

A long time ago, maybe 1994, like I say though a long time ago - after all 2009 is to 1994 as 94 was to 1979 - I was loaded with self pity, and worse, self absorption, the kind of teenager who blamed a failure to do maths homework on some anti me cosmic plan rather than, you know, the fact that I didn't lift it out of my sparkly Adidas bag and do it. In fact, Dad had a hernia that year, and I bemoaned having to go to hospital with him - although our relationship wasn't exactly a sparkling Adidas grab bag of delights that year anyway. Still, he deserved better than his only son and heir, having established that he wasn't going to die, going down two floors of Burnie hospital to watch golf with a nurse just because there was nothing else to say. The nurse, an Alisa Kleybanova lookalike in an ill fitting skirt called Cheryl with huge beefy arms bulging in her uniform, was probably assigned to do some counselling in these situations, to seek out the perpetually bewildered and talk to them in case they were nervous or upset - and at a distance, I did look concerned and as someone who needed a pep talk but none of that had to do with the patient, more my divorce from my AMIGA - but I don't think she truly believed in her spiel. In fact, I believe I ended up counselling her, for she seemed to not believe in her vocation, that what she said would make any kind of difference. Her eyes were deeply troubled, the kind of eyes you see on an aging stripper which suggest that life has an ultimate futility to it, and I believe at the end of our talk she disappeared into a cancer ward with a little bit of reluctance, and it didn't seem like good news. Of course, I wasn't listening, after all I was the only one with problems wasn't I, so I don't think I did her any good. About as supportive as I got with anyone during that whole period was making some kind of joke akin to my Dad was being hauled off the cruxification as we carried him down the corridor to his bed, his arms around Mum and Is shoulders. We laughed so much he nearly split his stitches, a very Scottish form of re-assurance. Of course, it was a rare joyless moment in an otherwise mirthless year - I mean, I know it was a joyless year, I was watching golf, how low can you sink? - and in the end was almost had a massive fist fight based entirely on my ownership of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and using it as evidence of an unfocused morally decaying and you didn't stick to picking up your bricks mind. It seemed as good a way as any I suppose for him to try and get through to me, picking up a possession at random and using it as some sort of metaphorical and emotional weapon. And all I could do in my tiny room that afternoon, as we stood cheek to jowl exchanging opinions on a newly varnished floor, was hysterically, manically laugh. If I had stitches, they would have well and truly burst and there wasn't a sacreligious joke in earshot. It was mostly because had he just reached to the left instead of the right - zigged instead of zagged - he'd have picked up and been waving a Garfield compendium and using it as reasoning as to why I was a bad son. I'm not sure he would have had the empirical evidence to back this up, although there were times I didn't eat all my Lasagne, and I know I didn't like Mondays...

I've got a friend who recently picked up on Facebook. Either that, or she just posted a lot of updates about it, and her concern that a stranger was wandering around her kitchen in the morning picking at her muesli (not a euphemism). My Mum - when she isn't referencing Myface as a social networking tool - calls the Internet a load of liars all talking to each other, so this is mere conjecture that she actually did, and certainly I have no issue with people picking up. I'm glad I haven't picked up in such a blatant Syrup way though since I got this house, mostly because I suspect the ardour that would last in the back of a taxi may be cooled by my giant Britney poster that plays a tune when you push a button. I also don't much fancy that sense of awkwardness the next morning, the oh you still here North West Coast charm that we weave so well. I got into a big debate about how strange it is that you can now broadcast such concerns on the Internet for a worldwide audience. Of course, I sat quietly, since I had abandoned Myface a long time ago simply because of a horrible picture, and also because I didn't want to be all, hey, I've got a blog, I'm quite 2004! I know there was a girl at school called Jennifer, the one who tried to save me, who in her attempts to save everyone would leave no story untold, with an especially strident tale of a hobo who turned up to their door, and how her family had let him in, dusted him off and let him start his life all over again. We largely suspected this was nonsense, especially when the story began getting more and more elaborate, until it was a leper and a serial killer that she had saved and not the original homeless man with a scruffy beard and a pocket full of miracles. The story obviously had nothing to do with the littlest leper, and everything to do with how wonderful she was, just as posting coy I picked up what do I do posts on Myface is telling people you got some without the need for explanation. I know in my experience, there aren't many people who genuinely keep themselves to themselves, their world is theirs to tell everyone about, unique and exciting entirely to them. I know that when I next see the girl who picked up on Myface, there will be an awkward and meaningless conversation until I ask her about it. It's what she wants, the chance to espouse all about it, the chance to be the most important person in the pub. All I will have in response is some tedious work stories and a recap of the evenings TV. Maybe I should take in a hobo, that would ensure all eyes, very much, on me...

At 3am, I'm up and marching down my hall, embitterred that I can't get to sleep. On television a perky American is marching up and down on a treadmill, as full of life as I am of cold and pain. When I check my e-mail - to make sure that I don't hurt anymore through the power of active movement and to drown out, hopefully, the drums pounding in my head (and they are real drums, there's a party next door). The world continues to move on. Dads sister for instance, is missing. This isn't unique for Dads family, they don't talk to each other after all, but we haven't heard from her for about 3hree years, when she ran off with Rangers reserve goalkeeper. She goes to nightclubs at 50ty and still has no sense of maturity, partying and picking up, which is fair enough. Out of boredom, I try and find her on Google, but can't, only finding that my old school in Kilwinning has been knocked down. I don't take it personally. I just wonder where all the drug dealers went. When I went to school there, there weren't many moments where I was alone, as it was always overcrowded and strangers could more or less walk through the canteen as they pleased. One of the few times I was on my own, I was sitting eating gruel through a straw, and a man I didn't recognise holding a large plank of wood asked me where Chris was. Maths I said, for such occurences, grudge wielding wood holders looking to inflict damage on passers by. When I look at the website, dedicated to remembering the school, they make it sound like a wonderland, a magical palace of learning. Of course, the website has nothing to do with the school, it's teachers broadcasting to the world how wonderful they are for making the website and for teaching their with such wonderful attitudes. They give themselves touching little quotes about how wonderful they are, and in the end, I switch the computer off. They have their own little world to construct and I have mine. Mines mostly involves at this point in time lying stock still on the carpet, complaining and whinging, waiting for the pills to kick in, feeling like the last person on earth, and fully aware that all of my senses are dimmed, including my ability to come up with a cogent sentence or two...

At least I didn't buy a treadmill though, I wasn't that bad...

10 comments:

sparsely kate said...

I am sorry that my poopsie-woopsie is not feeling very well.
Me and my piles are sending you a quick recovery. (That joke has to get old soon)

Hey my Dad had a hernia operation once and I remember going to the hospital to visit him. We weren't allowed to make him laugh but I managed to and he let out a kind of groan "oooooooh my stitches"
In a perverse way I was kind of pleased I had that effect.

Anyway. Feel better soon. x

Kath Lockett said...

hey hey HEY, don't knock treadmills, Miles...! Put one next to your hammock and you can roll right onto it!

Sorry to hear that you're a walking, talking Phelgm Factory right now. It'll pass, my son, it'll pass....

squib said...

In my single days, my litmus test question was, 'Do like golf?'

If they said yes then it was all over

What is yours Miles? 'Do you like Bob Dylan?'

Megan said...

I hope you feel better soon.

I can't decide if the wounded soldier look or the crucified dad is my favorite bit...

Baino said...

Trust me, feeling sorry for yourself isn't a male bastion . .I'm pathetic when I'm sick. My husband was once chased out of a newsagency with a baseball bat in Gerringong because he was 'browsing' the Sunday papers!

Miles McClagan said...

I'm getting piles of recovery well wishes. Which is great. For some reason, the hernia is one of the great comedy surgeries. If you are told not to make someone laugh, it's mandatory to do it...

I completely forgot in my drug induced coma I already have one (a treadmill) which is a bit duh...told you I was sick...

Bob Dylan is a REALLY good shout - but it'd definitely be Creed. If I went out with a girl who was a massive Creed fan, and they spoke about how important Creed was to their life, that'd be it...

I love as a family remembering crucifiying Dad...such a touching moment in the messy 1994...

I'm one of the most awful patients in the world. I'm so pathetic with a hangover...and here in Tassie, they just basically shuffle the magazines near you, I don't know that a baseball bat is reasonable! A joke! Stuff that!

Doc said...

I never thought of it that way, but a hobo is the ultimate "Look At Me" accesory. You would be the center of attention at any social gathering.

"Who brought the hobo?"

"Miles, isn't he just darling?"

Now I need one.
Doc

Stilettos and Nostalgia said...

Me? Mature?

I'm flattered, truly. And this compliment from a respectable male writer! You may be my first male blogger friend. :)

Miladysa said...

Poorly poppet - hope you are feeling much better.

You know that Britney poster that plays a tune? Just tell the girl in the pub about it and the attention will definitely be ALL yours ;D

Miles McClagan said...

I always used to think the best accessory to have was a Peruvian Inca Chief with a CD in his lip, like Sting in the late 80s, til I found out he was actually a crazy mad shagging demanding drunk...a hobo brings it's own set of problems, but you are right, you'd be the talk of Customs...

Yes, your new years resolutions, next to my harmonican dreams, were proper mature! I'm glad to be your first mbf - although I can only just change a tyre, so my blokiness is a bit suspect allegedly...

Well the thing is, I stuck by La Spears in the bad times, so now, amazingly, I have a certain hip cachet. I bought In The Zone, it's inspiring some amazing respect...