Thursday, February 5, 2009

The intermittent nightmares and fears of the totally safe



For the first time in my life, I'm having a recurring nightmare. It's probably because I'm not drinking, or it's a lime spider hallucination. Not really sure. However the colours and notions in this dream are really terrifying. To support my lime spider hallucination notion however, I also had a dream where everyone was gathered around a Game Gear style console oohing at something amazing and I couldn't see it, which is not only weird but impractical since a Game Gear is of course so huge you can see it from space. The nightmare goes like this. I'm in a car, a pretty basic car, four door, gear stick prominent, I'm the passenger in the car, and the radio is playing some generic rock tunes, tinkly little things with guitars that outstrip their talent, and everything feels perfectly normal. It's then that I look out the window, as we pass some generic middle of Tasmania town like Oatlands where the sheep are looking disgusted with their station in life as if annoyed that their agent didn't cast them in an amusing Wallace and Gromit short. It's then that I look out the window and see that, roughly, there's 164 miles to go until I reach my destination, and my driver, who luckily is fictional and certainly not based on a real person no sirree bob, has begun a long and painful monologue on their problems. The doors on the car shut with an emphatic clang, the radio dims in sound, and all that is left is empty conversation, whistling through my ears. This can go up to 10en minutes, and there's nowhere to go. I try and think of my default happy positions - Jennifer Adams, Father Ted jokes, the singing of Megan Korkery - but all I can hear is problem speak, until the car gets smaller and smaller, and a four door car feels like a tiny cramped office cubicle. The air conditioning begins blasting a furnace like heat as I have to nod and smile and can't do anything but listen. By the time the conversation is onto relationship woes it can feel like an entire decade has gone by, sitting in this seat, stuck fast to the vinyl melting against my skin, unable to escape, change the radio station, do anything but listen to the endless problems of another, and just before I wake up, with all the complaining going on in my head, I'll see the car pull up to another sign, past some more confused and un equity registered sheep, and inevitably, the sign will still say 164 miles, the sky will bleed on the horizon into a nightmarish grey and sienna sky, the sheep will begin chuckling, and the problems will get more and more elaborate, until I wake up and have to try and find my water bottle (that's a proper Mount Franklin one, not a hot rubbery one) in the dark, due to dry mouth and what Lily Allen would call The Fear. I had a dream about Lily Allen once - she offered me a lollipop in Hyde Park and when I turned it down she called me a facist and said I worked for The Sun. Then she ran off and got her Dad, but it wasn't Keith, it was someone else. This was fine, I didn't mind being called a facist, but if she'd sat me down and wanted to talk about her problems, of which there are many, I'd have been running through that park like a bat out of Hyde...

It is funny though to think that this is my recurring, and quite vivid, nightmare that springs into my vision every day like a bouncer you didn't see in your blind spot rejecting you for your shoes when you thought you had charmed your way in, is the apex of my potential woes, the absolute depths of my inner torture, a car trip to Launceston listening to someone elses problems. It's not exactly the threat of starvation is it? When you are as I am, middle class, safely in a home, the only mental stimulation provided most nights a flickering television in the corner showing comedy that may or may not be entirely inspired by David Brent, all that seems to bug you is things like theres no juice in the fridge. My Mum though will often reference that I have a, I'm not sure if this is the right spelling, a sodie scone face, which is some sort of Scottish insult against someone who pulls a huffy face and rolls their eyes, but any attempts I have to have the origins of this insult explained to me, since I can't see the connection between a small delicious baked good and a child who didn't get a lolly. Anyway, they often say that I get upset over ridiculous nonsense - luckily my Mum doesn't reference as she could her abjectly poverty stricken childhood in some sort of you don't know you are living kind of way. She had to cover her books with wallpaper which I just thought was the depths of despair when I was younger. One of their favourite memories of me involved the first time I had to do the dishes when I was 9ine. My Mum and Dad brought me in from a particularly intense game of Wimbledon in the street (I was popular Czech sensation Milosav Mecir) just to make me do a domestic chore. In truth, contributing to the household good wasn't such a bad thing, but to me it was like a kitchen based death penalty handed down by two grinning Scottish jurors who broke into an enjoyable song and dance routine about me, the subject, getting stuck into those pots and pans. I completely lost all of my Mecir cool, and absolutely spat it, storming to my room and staring at my Texas poster in the most undignified huff. At that moment I had absolutely no perspective, no concept of over-reaction, no idea concerns for that world outside my window that was a world of bitter tears - no one was suffering like I was, faced with five mildly dirty china (in your hand) mugs and one slightly scoured and greasy frying pan. No sir, someone call the great emancipator, the dishes are the final straw. Unfortunately my parents, having laid the trap with their show tune, were smart enough not to indulge and pamper this mood - in fact my Dad now believes entirely that all my anger is spurious and will fade like the career of Steven Seagal if you leave me alone - and eventually, I had to break out of my Texas cell to get a Penguin (biscuit). When I did, my Mum was standing in the hallway, looking at her watch, tapping her foot, and she just said you twat, with extra emphasis on the last T. And of course, I had to do the dishes anyway. She was right of course - although you can throw any kind of problem of this nature under the bus by saying in a Scottish accent bloody weans starving in the world and ye are worried about...however, that pile stood between me and freedom, it was a trap, and worst of all, our kitchen faced out onto the street, so not only did I have to scrub a suspiciously large amount of extra pots and pans (as the song predicted) I had to watch my friends playing tennis and waving to me. It might not have been the most in perspective moment, you know, bloody weans are starving in the world, but at that moment, my soapy fingers and my tired brain genuinely thought life really, really couldn't get any worse...

The reason I've been thinking about this today - the abject concerns of those with nothing to be concerned about - came from a short two act play that took place today at the ABC shop, which of course is the perfect place to start your Allo Allo collection. I had briefly, before being caught in an e-mail triangle on the fading nature of Australian cricket, been considering sending Blue Eye Shadow Girl some sort of anonymous Valentines card, although that just sounds too much like my mate in Scotland who sent this girl at a travel agents a card and a copy of James Blunts You're Beautiful - I don't think anyone has written a song called You're Dilligent, which would be a great summation for Blue Eye Shadow Girl. I was in something of a mood - the blonde woman in the newsagents in the retro tracksuit served everyone in the whole shop before she got to me, including an old woman who got a 5ive minute set of directions to the Post Office, which left me standing there like a spare part as I held out my wrestling magazine for purchase. I eventually left in impotent fury, as if me depriving her of 8.95 would somehow teach her a solid lesson about customer service. That magazine got firmly placed back on the rack let me tell you. I don't know why I thought the ABC shop would be a good place to visit in my fog of mild disappointment. I think the good thing about Rosny is it's a great place to clear debt. There's not really any shops that scream go in and buy stuff. The ABC shop seemed like a pleasant place to wile away three minutes, and there didn't seem to be any staff there, so I could browse at my leisure. In fact the only staff member was off trying to flirt his way into a free Boost Juice. Good luck mate. The last time I was in even in the ABC shop was to get the autograph of Michael Palin - the old bloke who used to be on Monty Python who now climbs mountains and goes into deserts for a crust. A woman at the front of the queue was animatedly telling him about her grandson in expressive detail while the poor old bloke reached deeply into his bag of English reserve and charm and tried to fend her off and attend to the needs of his autograph seeking parishioners. By the time the woman had wrapped up what she wanted to say about how little Jeff, who's 1, wants to climb a mountain just like Michael - did he really say all that, or was is just Ga Goo sounded like K2 to you - all I could do to try and make the guys life a little more bearable was to see autograph, get autograph and fuck off quite quickly. That's exactly what I did, making no conversation and simply saying hello, then getting the autograph for Dad with the minimum of fuss. He then looked up from his signing and said thanks in such a...thankful way, it was quite surprising. It was a moment of mutual connection, a moment when I realised that for all his mildly humorous patter and nice guy chats, Michael Palin has the same fear of talking to strangers banging on that I do. I know this because three seconds after he spoke with a gratitudinal inflection to me as I moved on quickly, another old woman had brought him a Nepalese flag and was beginning a long winded tale about her own trek through the wilds. I would have looked back, not at the agitated growing queue of people, but at my new pal Michael, but I figured another mutual glance would have spoiled the game - he had to be professional, he had to stay focused...and he had to learn to spell Dads name, I think he spelled it wrong...is that a P? I have no idea...

So, act one of this play - this woman, in a black Millers top with a nose you could ski down, she's throwing her hands in the air (and she did care) because she cant find, like, a Top Gear DVD. No one had the heart to point out to her Top Gear was on SBS, and thus wouldn't be stocked in this shop. Least of all me, who didn't want to get involved. Her mate, a frail woman with a buzz cut and an orange hand knitted top on was picking up every DVD in sight in a vain attempt to placate her, and saying no a lot. I don't think the frail orange womans heart was entirely in the hunt, but she was trying to keep up. This was act one of the theatre, an overdramatic and frankly over the top attempt to try and find a DVD that wasn't there, to draw nothing but attention to themselves and maybe try and drag the staff member back from his juicy quest. I thought nothing more of this until later, having talked myself out of buying some sort of book about the rise of Airheads, I saw the pair of them sitting on a little bench, and although I only caught a small snippet of their conversation, the lady in the black Millers top said without a trace element of irony that their failure to find this DVD was, quote, the absolute worst nightmare she could imagine. She said this and left it hanging, and I looked and she was a reasonably well fed woman, fully clothed, safely ensconsed in middle class safety, and this, THIS, was her ultimate nightmare, all she had to trouble her. It put my day in perspective, although it did set off some alarmist thoughts in my head of abusive hulking teenagers waiting to bully her for her failure to provide Clarkson on a platter. There was so much wrong with her statement, that I had to just let it go, although her face looked like mine when I was confronted with an angry pot all those years ago. An entire world, hers, had crumbled in the face of such a minor product related setback, there was nothing anyone could do - and when I looked back one final time, orange friend had a bewildered look on her face, like she too had a comment to make or a lesson on perspective to impart, but she had a store bought Wendys hot dog to get through, and she simply didn't have the time, inclination or energy in the face of such bunly goodness...

My ultimate nightmare incidentally is still getting burned - actually, being burned, being in hospital, with a Patch Adams style clown trying to cheer me up...at that point, sign me up for the car ride, even Lily Allen can drive...

9 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Now I'm afraid I'm going to dream about Patch Adams. That would be a nightmare. I've had at least three recurring dreams in my life, one, about school, was pretty easy to explain. The other two still baffle me.

Kris said...

Oddly enough, the ABC shop is crammed full of Top Gear gear.

Apparently everybody is the stig, if you go by the t-shirts.

Kath Lockett said...

I'm exhausted. ....but entertained too, and love the way that a non-available SBS dvd is the root of all evil that happened to the woman in the Miller's top that day.

...for me it was finding that our corner shop only sells Big M iced coffee and even then she's only got three in the fridge.

sparsely kate said...

I love Michael Palin too.

And I saw those sheep in Oatlands as my redline bus went from Launceston to Hobart. Hi sheepers!

Miles McClagan said...

Wouldn't it - cheerful medical clowns, awful...I have never had a recurring dream. My dreams are proper mad, I remember them for about 5ive seconds then they go away. I've never had a dream about my school though...no underpants at assembly, that'd be too normal for me!

I THOUGHT that, but they seemed clincally unable to find it. I think they were bordering on deliberate mania in their futile search...Penelope Keith was almost The Stig in their search, lots of copies of To The Manor Born...

Is it more that Big M are stepping badly into the Iced Coffee market? They only do 3hree flavours now, it's a bit depressing. The loss of Egg Flip and Blue Heaven are heavy on my heart. If The Millers lady had a blog, she could write about a 30ty year old who mourns the decline of flavoured milk!

Those sheep have that EXACT face dont they? And Michael Palin was lovely - the standard setter though for Hobart autograph niceness? Frank Woodley, followed by Duncan from the Bill - Ross Noble, sadly, the worst...

Baino said...

I think I'm the opposite, I'd go beserk sitting next to someone silent. I have loads of recurring dreams but won't bore you with them here.

I'm with Kris, ours sells a shitload of SBS stuff. Plus there's the live version later this month at Acer Arena . .tempted I am.

I am a little concerned that you've been perusing Millers fashions (I use the term loosely!) and go the valentine with blue eye shadow girl. (Sorry the matchmaker in me made me do it)

Miles McClagan said...

Oh I don't mind some conversation, but when it's self centred and you can't get a word in, that's a nightmare! The ABC shop down here is an oasis of stillness in a chaotic (relatively) shopping world. My Mum shops almost exclusively at Millers, so I kinda know the style! I am thinking about a valentine, if for no other reason than it would be a good blog post!

sparsely kate said...

I watch Spick and Specks and I totally get that Woodley is a lovely bloke and Ross Noble is not.
Can just tell.

Miles McClagan said...

Ross Noble won't do autographs, when we met him he was a miserable old hornbug. Frank Woodley, he loves a chat, he signs anything...