Sunday, February 15, 2009

We are nowhere and it's now



My local shop may have changed owners again. To my eternal disappointment the brief experiment with outdoor dining, complete with baby powder tin to put the cigarettes out, has passed and the tables are back inside. Interestingly, there seems to be a lot more hardcore porn on sale just as you go in the door, without even the tasteful concession of contact style wrapping over the housewives, and I don't go into my local shop nearly often enough to be able to differentiate one Greek family from the other, but it has always seemed to me to be like a holiday home for one extended Greek Family where you can stay and cook mildly poisonous dim sims and see a bit of Big W, but clearly this particular family doesn't know how to run a business as the back door of the shop is wide open, a back door which backs onto the car park outside and no staff are inside the store, which makes the possibility of, well not a prison break, but certainly you could leg it back to your car before your Magnum melted. As I wander around listening to Chanel Cole on my IPOD and gathering up the single mans feast of crinkle cut chips and Red Eye, I do take a cheeky glance outside and there's no one in the car park and legging it without paying is certainly going to make for a great blogging adventure, but I am not built for thievery, and eventually a decent upbringing ensures I pay on EFTPOS like someone whos just discovered the 90s. The boy behind the counter never takes his eye off the Pascalls which are alligned neatly on a little rack across from where he is slumped. I begin to tell him the back door is open, but he continues to stare, patently uncaring as to what leaves the store and when. In fact, his entire disposition is Sunday in human form - lazy, sleepy, clock watching, slumped and desirous of a Clinker before he falls asleep. Being concerned even about something as basic as store security seems like a completely wasted emotion, a complete waste of energy in this environment, as behind me a man in a red cardigan and his bewilderingly manly girlfriend stare with lazy eyes at the specials board, hoping it would change into some sort of French cuisine experience. Were it not Sunday, were it not already clear that my presence was just getting in the way, I would point out that there used to be an outdoor dining experience and maybe they could ask the boy behind the counter to go and fetch the tin of baby powder, but his eyes are flickering with apathy, and asking him for a service seems beyond the remit of his powers. So there we all stand, trapped in mutual Sunday mode, and I'm at the whim of the boy behind a mask of low key hostility and a couple balefully staring at a specials board as if practicing some sort of trick where they can turn things to ash simply through desire. Time has no meaning in a shop like this, things have no value, and Red Eye, as delicious as a drink as it can be, doesn't feel especially worth it...

The wind in the car park is stirring, and the car park is already strangely assembled because there are traffic cones that don't seem to be isolating any roadworks or car park maintenance but which seem to be surrounding a sign for a Drumstick. I ponder the merits of a business which has gone to so much trouble to protect an ice cream sign but which doesn't seem to care if you lope out the store with arms full of groceries. At a certain point between getting into my car and emerging blinking into the grey, the wind hits my shoulder blade at a deceptively fast and aggressive pace, chilling me more than a film with a creepy clown. With no one else around, and such a bleak cold setting, not to mention the traffic cones dancing to their own tune as they begin to skid gently along the cracked concrete, it feels like the end of the world for a moment, like some terrible affliction has struck Kingston and only me and one casually staffed shop has survived. As I get into my car, a man emerges into the cold from round the corner, briefly making me huff that once again someone is in my way, holding me up - although deep down I'm fully aware he's not holding me up from anything in particular and that feels a little depressing. As he walks past my exhaust pipe, in an extravagant diamond covered hand knitted jumper and swaggering overconfidence that could be shattered with a single comment, I notice the wind is whipping through his wig, almost sending it flying into the drumstick sign. He clings to it desperately, and I do wonder whether or not there is anyone in Kingston he could legitimately be impressing, especially with his vanity almost fluttering down the road for him to chase. Eventually he more or less adjusts it on his head, shooting me a glance which could either be defiance or an attempt to see if it's on straight in my mirror, and then disappears as I drive off, listening to a tut tutting newsreader trying to tip toe his way around the Chris Brown story with 20ty uses of the word allegedly. He spits the word allegedly with a strange unprofessional hissing tone, as if the neatly typed script he is forced to read from betrays his real opinions. It seems strange to me to think that, given that later I'm on the phone, talking to a friend, and talking entirely in a blank monotone code, reading from my own prepared script just to get through the conversation. At this time, I could put the phone down the back of the couch, pick it up, say yes 6ix times and put it back down, and still be about as engaged in the conversation as I would be with full attention and all ears pressed to the phone. It's Sunday, and my brain has walked out on me like a disgruntled family member...shutting the door behind me, making sure that it's double bolted with a bar on it for good measure...

In Scotland, you wouldn't leave such a door open I suspect - if you did, goods would be flying out of the door - but I think Scotland is it's own worst enemy sometimes in exaggerating these tales of crime, until no one trusts anyone. In my Grans declining years, she would regularly spring out from behind her door like some elderly Scottish Kato to declare that she had heard gangs plotting against her in the laneway. An investigation would generally reveal at best a cheery postman and at worst absolutely nothing with the capability of plotting, unless the rocks had taken against her. I love my Gran, but her decline was depressing, although she wasn't alone in suspecting crime lurked around every corner. A suspicious glance at the bus stop was enough to keep an entire family in their house at night for a solid month. There was a place in Irvine called The Village, a shopping centre that long ago ceased to be properly funded and is now utterly gutted, that was the place I've talked about before with the mysterious blue video cassette in the middle of the video store that just had XXXX on it in black marker pen and no other details. After a while of living in Ayrshire, I was told that the Village was off limits to me, as bad things were going on there, drug deals and prostitutes and over priced loaves of bread at the Co-Op. All these stories did was make me want to go there even more, and it was to my profound disappointment that not only were there no hookers, no obvious drug deals outside of the confusingly placed snooker hall at the back of the video store and worst of all reasonably priced Pan loaves, but the real reason everyone was boycotting The Village was sadly because some Pakistani family had bought the newsagent and had the temerity to call in some tabs. My friend Martin stole some Chewits from out of the newsagents and justified it with racial attitudes that you wouldn't even find on old episodes of Love Thy Neighbour. Nothing has really changed though - people in Scotland still create the bogeyman, as soon as you get off the plane it's all gang this and drug dealer that. What do I say in return to people who come to Kingston to scare them, stay away from that pizza shop, there's a crazy girl dancing to Smashmouth? Mind you, this defiant stance meant that last time I went to a shopping centre which, oddly, has just one shop in it, owned by a Pakistani man with a petition who is holding up the demolition of the entire building simply through grit, determination and a willingness to sell pints of milk at 6 in the morning. I was by now immune to Scottish scare stories and refused to accept any warnings that I should stay from the condemned building - what was the worst that could happen, a stray dog would bail me up and tell some racial insults? When I saw the body curled up in the corner, the one with the head wound struggling to get up from it's puddle based resting place screaming the place down with royal screams, I figured some bogeymen were actually real. Of course, I didn't tell my Mum - I instead focused on the scandalous cost of bread these days, and waited for her cooing agreement...

24 hours later from this collection of musings, and I'm in Big W. I get more profoundly depressed by the day at the decline of my book store - they now have closing down sale signs taped to the bookracks, neatly typed, double spaced, utterly depressing. Panda Eyed girl is working on layby today, although she doesn't seem to do any work regardless of where she is. As I continue my daily search for the AFL Prospectus - and you thought I was looking for some fancy book with big words - Panda Eye Girl at the tail end of a story that she can't trust him, although whoever him is is lost to the winds of the air conditioning system. I didn't realise she was capable of mistrust, I didn't realise she was capable of thinking and walking upright most days, and I feel a bit like I would seeing a child discover there is no Santa Claus. I used to have this friend at school, a real misanthrope who you didn't want to be isolated next to at parties, a hater of men who wouldn't get close to anyone. Over a Boags he would espouse that eventually everyone would screw you over, and that everyone would let you down in the end. As one by one my school friends melted away, I used to think he had a point, but lord knows I never want to be that guy, the DTA guy, the guy at parties expecting that the pinata donkey doesn't contain tasty treats but the bitter taste of disappointment. If he owned a shop, the back door wouldn't just be locked, there'd be an armed guard standing there. The last time I saw him, he didn't even realise no one was listening to him as he sat on the back of a flat bed truck sipping a beer and running through bitterly familiar themes. He was on an unstoppable roll, oblivious to the fact that everyone else at the party was having a fantastic time dancing and pashing around flaming oil drums and listening to the latest tunes. In fact to prove his point he slept with the girlfriend of the partys resident optimist and brought him down to size, thus providing circuitious logic that only a North West Coast Tasmanian can truly grasp. I told a girl at Coles the next day about what had happened, but she didn't get it as it rattled around as an isolated thought in her bewildered brain, and was unwilling to fully engage with the story as we jousted about our weekend over a dirty tray that needed cleaning. Eventually she walked off to get a price check on a bottle of Fruitopia, clacking her Clarks shoes across the tiled floor, and I thought no more about it until I heard a familiar clacking noise as she returned, handed me a bottle of Fruitopia out of the kindness she couldn't express in words - but could express in Hippy brewed fruit drinks - and simply said that my friend was a fuckhead. If you live in Australia, you can imagine the accent the word fuckhead was delivered in, and then she was off again. No need to dissect the human condition in her blog and no real thoughts on life, just fuckheads and non fuckheads for her and sod the complexities of trust. Still, I liked her logic in some ways. Don't be a fuckhead seems as good a way to gain the trust of people as any I suppose...

Like the guy on Underbellys bewilderingly bad Scottish accent, complex issues and criticisms can simply be explained with simple swearing...

9 comments:

Young Ned of the Hill said...

'We are nowhere and it's now', Bright Eyes.

Thats not your normal listening choice is it, just a little less mainstream then Britney. I am impressed, or was it just a sad little co-incidence?

Speaking of bad Scottish accents, a work collegue was telling me the other day how he had heard David Tennant doing a really bad Scottish accent, and how it was almost as band as Ewen MacGregors.

Its moments like these that make me greatful for strong pelvic floor muscles.

Take Care

Ned

Charles Gramlich said...

"Don't be a fuckhead!" That's really good advice.

Kath Lockett said...

I wonder if the bloke with the wig was the Godfrey's guy on his holiday?

And you're right - sometimes describing someone as a 'fuckhead' is the perfect way to deal with things - even if she was wearing Clarks shoes.

I love your writing Miles but don't know how to describe it - hilariously black?

the projectivist said...

if sweets were supermarkets,
Clinkers would be your garden variety Iceland-slash-Aldi sweetlings
then you'd have your Fruit Tingles and Chiccos of a Woolworths type standard,
but at the very top of the food chain, there in all their Harrods-y glory would be your Pollywaffles, Jaffa's and Club Dark chocolate bars.


Miles let me know if you want to pull off a job or two and i might have an opening. i'm currently working on a little thing i've organised for over at Bowie's place, but as long as i've got the all in one black burglar outfit, might as well use it. do you think there'd be richer pickings than those Clinkers though? it would have to be worth my while.

the projectivist said...

also?
i heard a rumour you don't like Memes.
say it aint so!

Miles McClagan said...

Yes, it's a Bright Eyes reference - my church is broader than the divine La Spears. Q Music best of 2005 Volume 2...my Scottish accent probably wouldn't impress, it's a bit ragged these days. MacGregor can't do West Of Scotland in my opinion!

It is isn't it...should be on a bumper sticker...

Ah, Godfreys - soon it will swallow the world. Sometimes uncomplex people are awesome aren't they? Hilariously black, Richard Pryor trademarked than in the 70s? It was supposed to be the sequel to Dolemite...

I believe he has an alternate ending to Labyrinth in his safe, so I'll be up for stealing that. I'll do it for a Pollywaffle! A rumour? Did Panda Eye Girl tell you that passing by?

the projectivist said...

i was trying to convince Mme Squib to give you a letter for the Meme - i think you'd do a smashing job, but apparently you don't like Memes.
for shame!

i'm sniggering at your plan to steal the alternative ending to Labyrinth. excellent. i'm in it for some of the ziggy outfits, and to check the rumor that Bowie has a Dorian Gray type portrait stashed in his wardrobe. which would explain his peter pan like inability to age.

Georgie B said...

I feel it's always a bad thing when a favorite restaurant changes owners and the quality of the food/atmosphere takes a major nosedive.

Sorry to hear about your favorite bookstore closing as well. We're going through a lot that here, with small indies simply giving up the battle with the larger chains.

Miles McClagan said...

No, I'm a bit anti Meme, because I would be really awful at it, so I did it but sort of not...if nothing else, the letter M at least starts lots of words...and trust me, if I could get into Bowies house, this alleged ending to Labyrinth would be finally aired!

There's so many restaurants in Hobart that just change like pinball machines. I've lost my cheeseburger. The book store is so depressing. It's making me sad! It's video store collapse all over again!