Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't judge a man by his love of Euro Trance or the hotel bed he chooses



One of the major plus points Mum and I have in our familial relationship is that if she buys an item of clothing, I will give her an honest opinion. My Dad will just say anything looks great, where as I will step up to the mark and say whether something is good or not. I've done this since I saved her from buying a hideous Monkey style kimono in Fitzgeralds in 1995. As it turned out, Mum bought me a hideous pair of tracksuit trousers from Melbourne market as my gift, a gift given with so much build up I thought she'd lashed out the 129.99 and got me a Melbourne Victory top. Of course, it's Kingston, so the hideous tracksuit trousers are actually great, and will help me fit in more. I realise not everyone wants to think about what their parents do when they go away, but I know Mum spent at least part of her time thoughtfully outfitting her son in the latest Kingston fashions. There's such a strange undercurrent to Kingston at the moment, every time I walk around the place beautiful girls sparkle in the sun and then make the most depressingly racist or stupid comments just as I walk away. Mum hasn't noticed, although she did sign a petition for something while she was in Melbourne, which isn't like her. She's normally sharp enough to realise those things are just con jobs to get your information. She also describes the Internet as a load of liars all talking to each other, so you know, swings and roundabouts with her. As they came over last night to engage in conversation and the sharing of store bought chicken, and the neighbours endlessly played Cascada (yes...the neighbours...) Dad was moved to say that the hotel they stayed at wasn't up to, quote, my standards. Now he said this at a moment where I was kinda sorta choking on a rogue piece of pasta salad, sitting in my pyjamas and those pesky neighbours had moved onto Tina Cousins, so standards seemed to be quite a strange phrase to turn, but of course, I knew what they meant. I suspect the one thing they are truly proud of me about sometimes is my survival instinct. I can care for myself, and I think they like that about me. They know I devote my time to making sure that I am comfortable, and Dad once said son, you'd make it out of the desert without a problem. I think this might just be the best thing he ever said to me, as mostly it's childish insults for supporting Liverpool or me deflecting questions about my personal affairs (lucky he doesn't read this thing huh?) with grunts...it was, thus, as good as we could get...

On the notion of personal survival, when I go to Melbourne, I stay at a particularly posh hotel. Not that I can afford it of course, it's all credit card debt, but it's enough to make me feel above my station in life as I wander around the halls past the posh art works and the odd Big Brother winner or a sunken eyed Sudanese cleaner pushing a cart full of slop with deference on display to all guests, no matter how tracksuitted. I'm not one for chat, but there is definitely one case where I actually make an attempt to be nice, and thats to the cleaners at this particular hotel. Maybe I just feel uncomfortable being called Sir just because I don't mind wasting a few dollars on credit card. Besides which, even though you get yourself a comfortable bed and you don't get electric shocks off the nylon sheets, there's not a particular grandiosity to the hotel anyway, not at night anyway when you get into the lift with chinless yahoos in rugby shirts or tuxedos making inappropriate comments in loud booming voices and augmented girls spilling out of cocktail dresses with eyes rolling back in their head as they try and work out the complex key card slot interface. Not even listening to various Euro trance classics on the IPOD can shut out their excited cries. One morning, I went to negotiate my own complicated key swipe handle pull are the lights on experiment, stepping deftly over my moutainous copy of the Herald Sun, and just as I turned around, one of the cleaners was staring directly at a ripped up copy of one of the complimentary papers. There were bits of paper all over the hallway, scattered like little snowflakes, and the cleaner was staring at them with a sort of wistful minimum wage melancholy, and certainly she needed a dustbuster far more than any implied social commentary from me staring at the mess too long. What rendered the scene even more uncomfortable though was that as I battled with me key, she looked directly at me with all her trained in friendliness and said good morning Sir...I didn't feel especially good about this circumstance, so I nodded in a slightly embarrassed fashion and went back to kicking in my door, and just as I was about to sit down and write a long novel about haves and have nots, a fat bloke squeezing his way through life in a tight suit stormed out to confront the nearest staff member, that was obviously our friend trying to gather pieces of Andrew Bolts column from all ends of the corridor, about how the taps on his spa didn't work. The look she shot him, as powerful a look as a minimum wage cleaner has ever shot a fat bloke in a tuxedo, was enough to send him scurrying, and of course, for me to have to write a different ending to my novel...lousy cleaners, never conforming to type, now I need to go back to glamorous heroin addicts...again...

Interestingly, since I'm Scottish with the parents I have, theres a great emphasis on moral guilt when I stay at this hotel, and while it's mostly directed at the cleaning staff, I'm pleased to say that life has given me several reminders of my own station in life even in the midst of finery. The mini bus to the posh hotel has a particular swinging cadence, it drops a lot of people off at different hotels, people you will never see again, a jumpered and shirted Italian usually in charge of making sure everyone gets on the right bus, and I hope sometimes he isn't rabidly anti Collingwood, because sometimes when I wear my football jacket he stares right through me in a fit of football choice discrimination and I have to stand three inches from his sweat stain just to get noticed. This particular time, I had to get on the bus to the left, which for some reason seemed to contain nothing but backpackers, and me, heading off somewhere posh. Of course, I looked a lot scruffier than the backpackers, but I at least was more self aware than the backpackers up the front, who were on loan from Tasmania and harassing the bus driver with these exaggerated stories about how they stayed nowhere but six star hotels...one of them had thick green feral hair and a T-shirt which seemed to suggest the country should be run by Bob Brown, but of course, who was I to judge? Well, I was exactly the person to judge, since I was staying at a posh hotel con sarn it...knock me down a peg for saying corn sarn it I guess...and no one else on this bus was. As we pulled up outside it, I even allowed myself a moment of social superiority, as the hotel shimmered in the sun and a bevvy of porters lined up to assist me but luckily, I'm Scottish, and such moments are always accompanied by reality checks. For as I was basking, I didn't realise one of the zips in my bag was undone, and the bag was upside down and scattering bits of magazine and pair of socks into the bus aisle...any kind of superiority was lost in that moment, as I scrambled to pick up a pair of Pacman socks as quickly as I could and rush off the bus. Eventually after what felt like an hour, I had picked up all my belongings, and of course everyone not listening to Deep Forest on their IPOD was staring at me. All except the two girls up the front of the bus, who's conversation hadn't even trailed off in the interim of my embarrassment. The girl with the green hair was constructing for the bus driver an elongated narrative about Croatia, and was espousing how the trains never seemed to run on time. The bus driver, of course, with no frame of reference on Croatian trains, was more interested in staring out the window into a nearby pub, with all the longing and needing of a particularly bored alcoholic, and that is where I left them, driving off into the city, trapped in a traffic jam and a perpetually boring conversation, while I took a moment to watch them go, and distract myself from the possibility I might have left a pair of socks rolling on that bus forever more...

The restaurant at this particular hotel has what you can only describe as a ironic policy. My cousin, the Korean who thinks Melbourne is full of Asians, wasn't allowed into their restaurant with me for reasons my cousin believes were to do with suspecting she was Asian prostitute, and yet outside some of the denizens of the taxi rank pimp out far more outrageously attired hookers quite openly without anyone seemingly saying a word. I know this from a night out where I ended up walking back to the hotel eating pizza out of a box and telling myself it was pointless checking my e-mails at 3ree in the morning, because there wouldn't be any. Well maybe from that Russian lady who seems awfully keen. As I was chomping down on the last slice of ham and pineapple, one of the taxi drivers, an Arab fellow with an unshaven square head and jeans, who was a master in non verbal communication, made a non verbal gesture. It's wasn't so masterful, because at first I thought he was seeing if I wanted a taxi. It took a second gesture for him to, well, gesture, towards an emaciated middle aged woman in the distance, standing on the corner without much hope for her future or a coat to protect her from the cold. And there's that moment where you can be that guy - you know, that guy, I mean, who would ever know, you are on your own in the big city, no one need know...but of course, you'd know, you'd know you had more problems in your life than over use of the words you and know in a sentence. Maybe that's just me, but I don't want to be that guy. So I turned down the offer, and walked off with my IPOD turned up loudly, so as to shut out his suddenly quite verbal offer, and just as I got to the hotel entrance, where I believe a sympathetic porter gave me a look which either suggested he was pretty disgusted with the whole enterprise or cramp in his leg, a quite prominent former politician in a smart but overly tight suit (I guess that's hotel uniform) wandered up to the taxi driver, nodded his head, and was escorted in the direction of the distant corner. I left him to it while the porter kept his hands on his outraged hips. Some people can be that guy, but I couldn't, didn't want to be. Later the next morning, he was striding down the lobby, berating an underling. I was left only with the most basic summations of course, the nature of the people we admire being left bare as against those who work minimum wage, who are faceless and probably better peo...well, I'd like to say I had those thoughts, they were shut out in a blizzard of Eurotrance Fragma records, and the fact that I had a massive argument later that day about the quality of my coffee...

Eurotrance is easy, moral judgements and human nature, now that, that is difficult...

8 comments:

the projectivist said...

i used to love that show that Ray Mears did about survival. is that what your dad means when he says you have a great survival instinct? that you're some kind of Scottish Ray Mears, in tracksuit pants.

i don't think that Ray wears tracksuit pants to be honest. i don't think they'd be much protection against bears or leaches.

Miles McClagan said...

I think he's referring to my single minded ability to make sure I am comfortable and looked after at the expense of all others. Given my inability to camp in either the John Inman sense or the Ray Mears sense, I don't think it's literal...

The bears natural enemy is the tracksuit pant isn't it? I saw it on Nat Geo...

Kath Lockett said...

I thought the posh hotels' natural enemy was the tracksuit pant or Collingwood jumper but seeing as they let you in, clearly things are different here in Melbourne town.

Big M will resume very soon.....

Charles Gramlich said...

I guess I can forgive you for that video. It's going to be hard but I'm a tolerant kind of guy.

Going to go play some Danzig now to clear my head.

Miles McClagan said...

No, the way the financial crisis goes, I don't think they mind. I don't worry too much how I look when I fly, but I don't have a Collingwood jumper, that's a step too far. Then I have a delicious Big M to celebrate....

I stand by the video, I'm a big wrap for Cascada...it's my Ibiza phase...my musical tastes are all over the place, and not every band will start a party in a library for you...

squib said...

Damn, now I want to know who the politician was... but that would be defamation

Which party was he?

sparsely kate said...

You genius boy! Hey I'm proud of you for 'not being that guy' who shags emaciated hookers even though there are thousands that are.

And the backpackers on the mini bus, oh I just met that crowd while I was in Launceston! :)

Miles McClagan said...

Yes, it would be - 80s Labor is as far as I can possibly go...

No, I never want to be that guy - I had mates in Scotland who were that guy, and would say that the eh would say how great they were, it was just despairingly awful. Ah, Launceston, herpes riddled monkeys one day, bogans the next! Did you make it to Penguin? My beloved home town?