Saturday, March 7, 2009

The cyclone and the Capp (Robert Tepper remix)



My house, apart from the lack of two cats in the yard, is connected to the city by a road called The Southern Outlet. Hardly evocative in name, it is a depressing stretch of road, especially at night where it's just long enough so you can't sneak home easily but just short enough so all those thoughts that gather in your brain don't really have time to develop before you are thrown out at your own doorstep. There's no beautiful scenery to take your mind off things, no glamorous end point to the road, nothing you could write a poem about, unless you have a rhyme for roundabout. When a night out proves to be utterly disappointing, like last night though, you can feel some poignancy. After all, you have to drive down the road, with spirits high and then drive back up the same road blinking into the less than bright lights and wondering what happened to your sense of adventure. Don't put your hands in the life of a rock and roll band? Don't put it in the hands of two minor celebrities. I knew I shouldn't have stopped watching Rocky IV to go out anyway, but I was taken in by a lure, the lure of having a ticket no one else did. Like some horribly grim socialist fairytale, the other side of the fence was horrible, disappointing, and the only reward for this so called privilege was a free packet of lime and cracked pepper chips, and having a minor perve on someone, but then regressing because she doesn't have blue eye shadow. Large boobs, but not blue eye shadow. What I do like about her though is her sense of importance - I like watching people, receptionists say, rewarded with a night out, a freebie, the joy as they get a moment of appreciation, even though this appreciation is tempered by the fact she still has to give away free chips from a box, and make small talk with patrons, mostly about the chips, but sometimes bitingly scathing little bites of cynicism, which seem out of tune with her pregnant companion, who couldn't be more gleeful if she wasn't pregnant and could leap around to Dave Dobbyn at Syrup like it was 1999...

It's cold in Hobart at the moment, it's biting a bit more, right into the skin, the wind it's clamping teeth, the rain it's dispiritingly soggy gums. As I stand in the cold, when spirits were still high, a man in a skin tight T-shirt a shade of browny green you only see on serial killers and army men is holding court. His ticket - more valuable than mine since it's spare - is his weapon of choice, and he's using it to, well, lure young girls into the party with him. I'm decidedly uncomfortable with this, seriously uncomfortable by the time one young girl with stringy blonde hair and a purple top all shades of Cadbury is offering a hundred dollars for the ticket. He begins lording this spare ticket over a gaggle of disappointed and shivering youngsters, raffling it off via a quiz question about rugby league. Of course, when he selects his vic...I'm sorry, the lucky girl who gets his ticket, a plumpish girl in grey who reacts as if she's won the lottery, he enters and begins a process of bemoaning the entire event, from start to finish. After all, he thunders, famous people are just people too, they just have advantaged circumstances, and better taste in T-shirts...OK, I made that bit up. Which doesn't preclude him from some excited whooping at the appropriate moment. He quickly loses his intended and frankly illegal date with his witless wonderings, since the novelty of a guy who finds everything shit can be culturally cute at first but loses lustre. Down three metres in front of me, a little kid is seriously body popping to John Mayer. He's throwing shapes at such a mad rate, he comprehensively qualifies as serving somebody. The kid has no comprehension of what's supposed to be cool and what's supposed to be in, he's just enjoying the music and letting himself go, even if it is John Mayer. I hope that kid never turns into the guy behind me, who's complaining about the pizza now, making sure everyone can hear him, the centre of the crust. His date stares outside the fence, down towards where her friends are sitting outside the fence, and although her face is a mix of contempt and loathing and indifference and little chipmunk cheeks from eating far too many mallows, as she perches high above them sending them text messages, she looks like she feels she made the right choice. Meanwhile, my friend and I, taking on board the lessons of the man behind us, loudly to annoy him declare things like why are people so excited about the Pyramids, they are only buildings, no better than the Hobart Silos...his confidence as fragile as pick up tactics are illegal, he eventually quiets, munching on a chip as the little kid takes centre stage again, dancing up a storm to some 80s tune he couldn't possibly know, just, you know, cos...

The party is dull, lifeless, people are beginning to feel a bit disappointed, so they flick everyone a drink and hope no one notices that the promises on the tickets aren't being lived up to. The party hosts are congenial, but they don't mean it, it's work for them, another crowd to work and then leave. It distracts me that a long time ago I learned to read eyes, learned to study people, or did I just become Scottish and not trust anyone? I was reassured that when spirits were still high, the lone voice of dissention was this Scottish bloke complaining all the roads were closed. Bored, I begin humming various movie themes to myself as the cold continues to bite. They film a TV segment right through us - delighting receptionists everywhere but leaving me massively non plussed. Nothing much happens, time passes slowly, uncomfortable glances are being shared, and so they turn the music up to drown out independent thought, move some lights around to ramp up the feeling of excitement like when my Mum used to put on a record at my early birthday parties whenever the excitement of pin the tail on the donkey lapsed or some kid was chewing lego. In the midst of this alleged minor celebrity induced thump thump tsh tsh excitement, it's no surprise two middle age women begin a conversation that seems to be entirely about knitting needles. As The Presets thump ever more poundingly, they retreat even more into domestic tedium, covering scones and jam as desperation sets in on the ground floor. A big TV screen tries to hum into life, but then cuts out about the same time my interest does. Strangely, even after the receptionist with the big boos has gone bored and the John Mayer kid has long ceased to be Youtube friendly, our cynical mate behind us is still screaming out affectionately to be noticed, trying to engage the minor celebrity in conversation, and then claiming it to be horribly shit that he bothered to reply. His date has long since abandoned her pretence, and is shuffling to the left, as subtly as her weighty self possibly can, enjoying a lolly snake and using all her hearing to listen to the Presets, making sure she doesn't catch our hero getting onto the topics of how lolly snakes aren't as good as Chokitos...

Eventually, our so called party hosts leave, without saying goodbye, simply turning tail and leaving. They promised us their heaven to hold on the invitation, and then made us feel uncomfortable for hoping for something more. One poorly constructed video later, and it's all over, leaving everyone to shuffle around like livestock in danger until we all leave and go our seperate ways. For some, this disappointing evening is ruinous and instead of triumphant post party drinks at the Observatory as Rihanna thumps on the big screen, it's straight to the car and a drive home. Others are more sanguine, although the guy behind me of course has an opinion on it all, a very loud opinion. I'm patently not cut out for this alleged VIP treatment. Last year, I took Dad to a reception at St Mirren, and we sat around a table talking to two businessmen who were very nice, but it was networking for them, they were there to hand out cards and try and win the bingo. By the time I get home, I'm over the disappointment, a flickering film and a jam sandwich enough to make sure that the night isn't a total wash. There's no way I should have expected anything else, but they sure bumped up the party on the ticket as thumpingly good, and then delivered a packet of chips. It won't stop me though - disappointing as it was, no matter how the minor celebrities behaved, there were still things to be learned, experiences to gather, girls to fancy, people not to emulate...famous and not so famous. Charm, the it factor, well, close up, it's not there. If you get out your highschool yearbook, it's surprising how lame people you aspired to be can look, how the hot girl just seems utterly ordinary and, well, Burnie. Charming smiles, and then, they just left, back to their own lives without a thought. Well, my thoughts mostly revolve around a receptionist, about a kid who lived for the moment and a skeezy guy who lived to criticise, and just exactly how lime became a chip flavour but tomato sauce isn't...it won't be about how the other half live, because tonight, I saw how the other half live, and it was horrendously disappointing...the last I saw the receptionist, her smile had faded, and she was lugging a box, head down, talking to the pregnant girl, nudging her gently and shaking her head, a mass of non verbal communication, much better than me at direct emotions...

Peoples show my ass...

15 comments:

Baino said...

So what was it all in aid of then? I think I'm one of those people who gets a little delight out of a moment of appreciation, even if I do have to hand out the chips! Sorry it wasn't all it was promoted to be

Mad Cat Lady said...

Awwwwwwwww
poor Miles

lol - Word Verification is 'Cones'

Miles McClagan said...

It was apparently to promote the delicious new lime and Black pepper flavoured chips, because it wasn't to meet any celebrities and drink wine that's for sure! It's all good though, the jam sandwich was delicious...appreciation is good though, I always value it...

Cones? I could have done with a cornetto after that debacle...or other cones, if I lived in Burnie...

the projectivist said...

your rss hates me and doesn't tell me when you write anymore.

i tried for ages to think of something that rhymes with roundabout, and apart from smoundabout (which i'm kind of sure doesn't count) i couldn't come up with anything.

sorry to hear that your outing didn't live up to expectations, Miles. better luck this weekend when there might be a glut of blue-eyeshadowed girls of medium chested perfection in your vicinity.

Charles Gramlich said...

there are a lot of our environments that, unfortunately, merely have to be endured. They don't add much to our life per se.

Miles McClagan said...

My war on RSS continues...if there's a place with blue eye shadowed girls, I'd be more than happy. I deserve it after finding out minor celebrities really suck...

That was definitely nothing but endurance...although the chips were good...when you are pining to get home for Rocky, it's not working out...

Mrs Slocombe said...

Not that I don't love you Miles, but you could have stopped after the first sentence. Or as the Americans would say: you had me at Southern Outlet.
Er, whoops Matron.

Jannie Funster said...

pound-a-trout? On the roundabout.

:)

Jannie Funster said...

found a trout!!

Miladysa said...

What a roller coaster of a post!

Loved the bit about the road and the young man dancing.

My favourite line? Well there were two,

"having a minor perve on someone, but then regressing because she doesn't have blue eye shadow. Large boobs, but not blue eye shadow."

It's the wanting that's the hardest.

The Man at the Pub said...

You write well. Its quite dark actually. Southern outlet? Sounds like something to do with sewerage.

Kettle said...

Sounds pretty awful, Miles, but hurrah for jam toast and the couch rounding out the evening.

I've got a pact with myself to never acknowledge a celebrity if I ever meet one... unless of course they know who I am.

Miles McClagan said...

Ah, the Southern Outlet, the worlds least romantic road - the poetic equivalent of Funniest Home Videos I'm afraid...not good...

I guess ground a shout out to a trout will work in a crisis! It's really difficult!

Everyone loves a minor perve...it's a lot of fun! I think it's OK in most situations, although obviously I'm true to my major perve!

I hadn't thought about that, you are quite right...the Eastern Outlet I think polluted my local beach in Scotland...

After this meeting with THOSE two, I'm quite happy to settle for jam sangers and the couch and watching Rocky, although Adam Hills was very nice. And it was truly awful, not good at all...

Baino said...

Just had to revisit this one to tell you that my Recent Irish Visitor, had never eaten JAM . .can you imagine! Never . . .

Miles McClagan said...

Never eaten Jam? Seriously? That could be a disaster in Ireland, they lost potatoes once and they fell apart!