Friday, January 30, 2009

Stomach churning burgers, stomach churning bullying, and Regurgitator what was all that about



So my Dad isn't very happy with me at the moment - we were talking this morning about genealogy because my Mum is very into finding out stuff about the crazy Scottish relatives from yore who worked building ships or selling fruit or showing ankle based porn in dingy Glaswegian movie theatres. Dads family is intriguingly mental, and off hand, as a reasoning for this kind of madness I mentioned maybe at some point in his family history someone married a cat, and he's taken offense to this. Still, this is a family with a sister who claimed that her husbands brother was a doctor when in fact he was a clippie on a Glaswegian tram - a learned profession I'm sure, but punching a hole on a ticket requires less effort than doing it in my thorax - as was discovered when he had to make up a story on the run to one of Mums friends one day about part time work and a decline in the number of sick and infirm in Easterhouse being on the decline. Damn polio being cured, it knocked his stocks down. Mum and Dad were round, interrupting a particularly intense mid morning game of were Regurgitator any good or not, and some of my most wonderful self pity. I think they were just making sure I was going to work to be honest. They have this huge A Current Affair driven fear I might get sacked along with the rest of my generation and were laying quite a heavy trip on me in return for some flippant observational conversation about the decline of RC Cola. That's why I actively encouraged the discussion on Dads crazy family, just so I didn't feel imperilled or like I needed to pick up my hula hoop skills and move onto the professional circuit just to keep my house, and just to lift my morbid spirit. Like priests who used to visit peoples homes just to see a bit of Charlies Angels, Mum and Dad used to visit for these chats I suspect to catch a bit of AUSTAR but they have their own box now, so at least their motives are pure and nagging and nosey based, the way it should be. I've got this friend who lives in his own island within his own house, a basement flat, and he's not much younger than me, and he only talks to his parents like a flatmate would to a landlord. He's got Bananaphone as his ring tone, and he makes sure his punk music is on really loud all day when he's lying in the basement staring out the window, just as a big sign that no one should disturb him, least of all me. I used to wonder what he made of the world and the circumstances by which he spent every weekend grunting at his parents then essentially sleeping for two days, but he seems contented. My parents at least give me a sense of where I've come from, even if that is just telling me how crap people from Scotland who play sport are or just that they discovered Billy Connolly at about the same time they discovered The Zombies. If we hadn't all moved to Australia together, maybe I'd have adapted by now, and become fully Australian, I could understand why everyone goes mad about The Castle (I so don't get it, but you guys wouldn't get Absolutely where as I found Stoneybridges bid for the Olympics so amazing...ha, Maigret has a bicycle - class). And of course, they remind me, as Scottish parents do, of past failures. A 21 k an hour shot at the speed gun soccer tester at Hampden when my shoe fell off? Thanks Dad. Without them, I'd have no link to my past. I could make up my own past, one sexy and exciting with loads of chicks and drugs and less time being offered drugs by school kids in car parks...but I'm stuck with who I am, and 2wo permanent reminders. I cant even make anything up on here, the moral guilt would weigh on me far too much...

The bus stop where I used to get the bus to secondary school in Scotland - as you would obviously expect, if I was waiting at a bus stop for a train, that'd be a bit mental - was no place for the faint hearted. Opinions were a dangerous currency, a relatively simple expression of appreciation for the comedy stylings of Paramount City or a fondess for Jesus Jones could be a critical mis-step if the wrong people didn't like it or them. My opinions on Amy Grant were kept very much under wraps. We would stand quietly in snow, intermittent sunshine and what we hoped was rain, plastic bags billowing around our feet, the occasional suspiciously unsupervised child bouncing on the nearby swing, monobrow swinging in fierce moral judgement. The bus, on which, scandalous gossipy barrier crossing or hiding from bullies aside boys sat downstairs and girls sat upstairs, was an old converted tour bus, not for a band or anything, that would have been great, but for old dears to bus around places like Troon with their cameras learning about the fascinating local history of wee Willie MacPhee. Naturally as younger students, we had heard terrible stories about the bus pecking order, that we would be dragged up the back and have our pants removed by larger kids who were closer to the dole queue (this was early 90s Scotland, we still had poll tax and Thatcher and dem bastid English as convenient excuses to fail in life) than us. One had a massive pair of glasses and looked like someone the casting crew of Deliverance would reject for being a bit mental sat up the back, a big walloper in a multi coloured jumper with mad glasses and a conversely unthreatening squeaky teen voice, but just on reputation, he was pretty frightening. My next door neighbour, wary of these opinions, and not realising the threats were all implied and not backed up, got freaked and spent every day on the bus up the front standing next to the bus driver for protection, jumping up and down excitedly and asking the bus driver to go faster like a pure maddie (that's Scottish code for like someone a bit insane, not the missing child). He ended up quite picked on for this, some people threw straws at him in a hilarious implication that he was sucking up the bus drivers arse (I thought it was a Stevie Nicks reference, but that's libellous) and once someone, it would have been amusing if it was the multicoloured hypnomutant, tried to drag him physically away from the bus drivers side. As he was dragged away, against his will, he hit his head on the corner of one of the poles connecting the top of the bus to the bottom, and basically was knocked out. As the dragger distanced himself from the fray (not the band), someone up the back made some sort of MASH reference, like someone call Hawkeye, and was duly rounded on for his out of date reference, while my neighbour, by now ignored by the masses picking on the Klinger fan, stumbled around on the sparkly bus floor among the gum and the discarded tickets totally unaware of what was happening. Needless to say, ten seconds later, even with heavy concussion, he picked himself up, surveyed the situation of rampant taunting, and went straight back to talking to the bus driver as if nothing had happened. As a wise man would say, you have to admire his spirit...

My one and only problem on the bus - tedious minor bullying, once being driven past our stop by a Rangers supporter as a punishment for singing Celtic songs and dumped in Dreghorn, and once being thrown off for standing up in the bag rack aside - was a less than Frazier-Ali battle with a kid who sat in front of me called James. James was a nice enough kid - nice in that way were everyone thinks you are gay. All I can remember about him was that after a big wrestling show on Sky Sports, he would come into school with who won and who lost neatly written in his school book so he could remember who to talk about. He was about one year older than me, but he looked like someone in his 20s, he carried himself in that way, and I kind of think he was one of those people who ended up teaching drama. And he always wore a green jacket, even in summer. Like I say, really nice guy. One day he got into an argument with my best friend - lets say it was about wrestling - and they were about to start a quite girly slap fight. My best friend was a fellow doomed intellectual with far more personality and confidence than me, who my auntie just referred to as that wee fat smug hing. I didn't mean to get involved as we hurtled homeward through several poverty burdened Ayrshire towns, but I must have done something, maybe raised a hand or had a pop at Hulk Hogan or said green jackets were so 1988 - something happened. In what was surely the girliest move of the early 90s outside of Big Fun, he grabbed my finger, and my jabbing finger at that, and bent it backwards. I'd say he bent it like Beckham, but it was 1991, so I guess he bent it like, er, Dziekanowski? Taken aback by this sub nipple cripple disarming of my opinion, I slumped into my not sure what fabric it was seat, because it really did hurt, clutching my finger like an errant shoplifter in the Arabian justice system. To the surprise of anyone though, especially those who had expected my meek reaction would give them plenty of time to make a moral judgement, I got up swinging, landing punches so weak you could serve them at a Grade 8 social and giggle at how rebellious you were, but looking mighty impressive as I did. Especially because one connected. One out of 12eve isn't bad. Given I had a reputation as a Bananarama fan not a fighter, everyone was stunned, and had I followed it up with a knockout blow, I would have been marked as someone to mess with, but in the maelstrom of confusion, I let humanity settle in - or was I just shagged out, I can't remember - and when I looked, the primary look on James face wasn't hurt (my left cross has never recovered from such a slight) but confusion and dismay...

I think he spent about 3hree weeks getting slagged off for me beating him up, if landing one punch while he slap fended counts as a smackdown, until my lustre and moment faded when there was a cheating scandal in the girls card school and everyone had to take a side as to whethere 3hree Kings beat 2 Queens and 2 Jacks or something like that. I think proving my lack of killer instinct, I ended up apologizing to him, and he looked a bit wary, and since he never apologized for dipping into the pool of Grade 2wo tricks when he was on the attack, we never got back to the matey lets all talk about wrestling footing we were previously on. Bullying was never very me - I might not like a lot of people, but I can't bring myself to pick on them physically. Aw mooth and nae shell suit I am. When we did the tour of the Celtic Football Club stadium, Celtic Park, Dad and I wandering around through a big load of trophies and vaguely Catholic propaganda with, strangely, 2wo Port Adelaide fans. It was a belter of a day, pure dead brilliant as it says at Prestwick Airport. Two carers had brought along a Rainman like figure called Eddie. Eddie was a shuffing, shambling man who would loudly interject the tour guide not with references to his excellent driving but with the similarly repetitive drone that he wanted a cigarette. No matter what they showed Eddie, European trophies, old soccer jumpers, seats in the upper deck, it just wasn't as impressive to him as a Benson and Hedges cigarette next to a Bic lighter. Like the singing of Connie Talbot, what was cute at first rapidly became annoying after the 5ifth interruption, and his carers had to take him away. Eventually the tour ended with the exchanging of more vaguely Catholic propaganda, and Dad wandered off to get a dangerously undercooked hot dog from the British fat (it's different to American fat) lady in the van. As I looked around to try and hide from the Port Adelaide fans, I glanced over to a car to where, and this is speculative, it appeared as though one of the carers had just struck Eddie upside the head, and nobody had said oompala. Without absolute proof other than Eddie was holding his head and everyone staring like something major had just happened, I couldn't go and intervene, but his face, for whatever reason, reminded me of the look just after I'd hit James. Stunned bewilderment rather than pain, confusion, naivety and just a hint of embarrassment. I could have read this all wrong, it was hot, I was still recovering from the British fat lady calling me darling, Eddie might have been still looking for a cigarette, but he definitely looked upset. I appreciate it's why I can't be a bully - especially to the mentally infirm - the moral guilt gets to my stomach like an unwrapped Parkhead burger. They drove off in their little van, Eddie in the back, sadly not driving away given I suspect he's an excellent driver, to god knows where, leaving me to be tapped on the shoulder by my Dad who had a surprise for me - another hamburger...oh, terrific...

Naturally, given our relationship, I didn't speak to Dad about this, he was too busy saying I was a twat in that special way...at least no one in my family married a cat..oh, no, wait...

11 comments:

Jack Dorf said...

What's with the cat marriage stuff?

Miles McClagan said...

It's a Scottish reference for inbreeding...it's just a nicer way of saying it...it would explain the insanity in Pops family...

Mad Cat Lady said...

I think the cat marriage reference charming :)

A boy - he went to the special school - used to always save a seat for me and chat to me on the long bus ride home of an afternoon when I was at primary school and I still feel guilty for the verment way I agreed/denyed that I was his girlfriend in front of the other special school boys.

Baino said...

Ha. . thanks for the clarification. Out here we just count fingers and toes to make sure there are 10. I saw Quan last Saturday night, he was supporting Prodigy . . I like his old stuff better than his new stuff but he's surprisingly tall!

sparsely kate said...

I have my own opinions of amy grant as well and they are strictly underwraps.

But Jesus Jones! Oh that takes me back to driving around the winding roads of Nth Queensland with my Dad and brother playing 'right here right now' over and over again. Cool memories, thanks!


I'm glad your parents still come around to keep you honest and grounded. Mine live ten minutes away and they are always popping in and I am always somehow offending/shocking/disappointing or astounding them (not in a good way).
I'm sure we'd miss those special bonding opportunities if they weren't around.

?

Jannie Funster said...

Again, you are a fascinating writer. Your first lines alone could reel in the doubtiest of readers - but a whole loooong post of all these brain-leavings??

What a treat!

Loved the bus-stop scene. Must get me down to one of those soon and belt out some Amy Grant. See what happens.

Miles McClagan said...

It is good isn't it - so refined. It was less refined that we used to call the special school bus "the windae lickers bus"...there's something quite Ralph/Lisa about that, although honesty in that situation is for the best...

It is Tasmania down here, lot of cat admirers. Isn't Quan doing hardcore rap now or something? I went off them when they made the album in the bubble. I long ago went off Happyland...I'm just not sure about them anymore!

If you ever read a potted history of Blur, Jesus Jones were the future of music for a year, and Blur were supposed to be like them...Amy Grant, best to move on!...the parents are OK, if you think of all those Idol parents telling those kids they can sing, mines would be going, son yer pretty rotten, stay at hame...

That'd be so awesome if someone was just wandering around singing Every Heartbeat in the outfits she wore in the video clip, especially the big giant blue smock shirt...project and a 1/2!

Jack Dorf said...

Thanks Miles - I have some relatives in Ceduna - they have certain feline qualities.

Miles McClagan said...

If nothing else, I endeavour to explain all Scottish references. I come from a very, er, cat loving part of the world, Ayrshire can be very odd...

squib said...

I went through a genealogy phase last year. Ten million coal miners from Dunfermline later... and I found someone who was a bookseller's assistant. I was terribly excited, a bit like when Kate Ceberano found out one of her ancestors was a singing teacher on 'Who Do You Think You Are?'. Oh maybe you had to be there

Miles McClagan said...

The only episode of Who Do You Think You Are I saw was the David Baddiel one where his third cousin just happened to be walking down the street at the moment he was filming...

Mums summation? "Aye yer arse..."