Thursday, March 12, 2009

Did he realise how quick it had all been? Not at all, not until he saw the sign...



I've been a hostage to by shoes in the last few days - not that they've lead me to some special place via an enchanted spell, just that they are new, and painful, and make me shuffle awkwardly like a grumpy penguin until I need to sit down. They've been like wheel clamps these things, little leather wheel clamps clinging to my heels. Whats been interesting about these shoes - what wasn't interesting and unable to be paragraphed with proper phrasing was the weird hypnotically evil looking eyes of the girl who sold me the shoes in Harris Scarfe which twinkled with some kind of strange mischief like she was about to tell me the shoes opened up a magic portal - is that in my full on shuffle stage, I've become everything I hate, that is a slow walker holding everyone up. As I wandered through the midst of the single mothers and the cigarette stained shop girls, I couldn't help but notice that I was ambling at a pace that was well below my usual stride, and several groups of kids brushed past me as they excitedly discussed some girl named Sharon. Sharon seemed to have a hell of a weekend. Anyway, things got so bad today that I had to go and sit down opposite a sports shop. Most of the shops in Hobart these days have a depressing air about them, Harris Scarfe for instance has long faded from it's glory days when it was Fitzgeralds and hired creepy Santas by the dozen. Most shops I go into in Hobart have a warehouse feel, like the ones that cropped up in Ayrshire on the edge of town, the big shed ones where cordial was a gallon for a pound. Plastered all over the walls are signs with big percentages off, and shop girls mill around aimlessly. I swear my grey headed curly nemesis in KMart has been pricing the same book for the last 6ix months, just no one has noticed. My mate lost her photography shop, an achingly poignant thankyou note pinned to the window in one final act before it's swept to the history books. I'm considering telling her it would be ironic if she took a prize winning photo of a failed photography shop, but she totally wouldn't get it. Inside the sports shop, a woman haggles over the price of a hockey stick. I'd say from her size it's not for her, but it might be, I'm certainly not going to judge a woman entirely on her taste in big baggy pants. Maybe amidst Hobartian gloom, a larger lady is reclaiming her glory days through the power of hockey. Or she's planning to rob a bank. When I look, I notice an old man has sat next to me, and he's got his mouth half open as if he's about to speak. What's frightening is that I'm basically resting my feet just as he is, and it's a stimulus to leave the hockey stick question aside to a 3am moment when I'm sure it will come screaming back into my head, and move away, in what should be some sort of defiant get out of my way old age I'm not dead yet leap from the horrible vinyl seats, but instead becomes a terrible awkward shuffle and if the old guy really wanted to, he could catch me, and tell me all about how his grandson is far more successful than me - he just doesn't want to, because he's sitting in the old man squirrel pose...you don't me to tell you what he's fossicking for...

My time spent on the bench pondering just how stretchy some material is wasn't in vain though. I realised in those 5ive desperate minutes that not only is my entire week defined by tight leather clamps, and not only depressingly that there's probably no cobblers left in the world, but that this kind of thing - that I've got tight shoes - is somehow likely to affect me more than a terminal illness. There's no question in my mind that I could take a major inconvenience with a greater stride than something trivial. My main injury in life was a serious knee injury - it was the summer of 92, the sun was shining, the spunky band Girlfriend were inspiring the nation, and Collingwood obviously didn't win any games. Probably. I was playing cricket in the backyard with my Dad, a notorious competitive with a fine line in post match sledging, and our backyard was pretty pathetic. It was when we rented the house in Penguin, the depressing one next to the bakery that Vicki, my pash buddy, called quaint. We sometimes sat on the train tracks and just bagged it out, which was a little unfair. Anyway, I took a desperate spilling catch low to the ground to get Dad out, went to celebrate, then noticed I had gashed and smashed my knee into oblivion on a little hammered into the ground metal base for a garden shed. As I looked at it, I went, wow, that's going to smart, and I had a big needle ploughed into the middle of it, and then I went home. I had a limp, and Vicki dug the scar, but Mum was hysterical, and then thought that I all did was cope because the nurse was cute. The kicker in all this is this - I mashed my knee up good and proper, needed 16 stitches, and what do I remember about that day? The local milk bar was out of Banana Big Ms. I remember that really shook me out of stride. The shoes are like that - work is awful, the economy is crumbling, depression is everywhere, blue eye shadow girl looks incredibly stressed and it makes me sad, and the only DVD I can find is Friends, and yet, this week is a write off because I have horribly tight shoes. Are they excuses? If only I had long flowing hair instead of page 6ix of the army handbook, maybe things...I think I spend too much thinking about things I can't change, and a giant drama just is easier to cope with. If a world crumbles, I'll be the guy wondering why the liferaft isn't inflating and why the Chokitos taste different to how they did in the 80s...

The bookstore is the most depressing of all the stores around Eastlands, since the 50% off stores are in massively giant letters, and the bearded guy who has quite happy listening to his IPOD is now dressed in casual clothes, just waiting to push the boxes into the truck and shove off for the sunset. I can't even go in there anymore, it's just too poignant. The only two books left are the Popbitch book and some Manning Clark book that just seems to be the last book standing. I'd love for something illuminating and sparkling to just light up Tasmania - an event, some big development, anything, but it's just not happening. My home town in Scotland is now, if you'll let me invent a word, entirely rubbled - reduced to nothing but rubble and faded dreams and faded posters stuck to walls that no one came back and peeled off advertising much better events from the past. When I walked around Irvine, there were posters stuck to the walls advertising a big night of ladies wrestling, championship ice skating, Kim Wilde (yes!) live in concert, and just two steps away a shambling old jakie shuffled down the street and spat at the space where Woolworths used to be. Then again, I could do with a spark myself. I find it strange sometimes that I get a spark from sports, or from hearing Lily Allen on the radio - I question my own ambitions on days like this. There's a book on my floor by a sports star, all about how he wouldn't lose at marbles without a fight and how he held up a party once because something about him in the paper was wrong - I don't find this admirable. Should I? Should I be more like that? I don't have the time, I've got an IPOD to fill. There's a girl with a face like the proverbial bulldog chewing a wasp walks past me as I look at the IPOD trying to flick through the songs in a hurry, a hurry converse to my gait. I'm so stereotypical, I presume because she looks like Miss Warrane 2009 she has no ambition - her absolute resolute hurry to grab chips and then more chips seems to confirm this, but I musn't judge. My spark could come from an absolute moment of unpredictability, someone not being as they seem. You never know, this time next week Rodney, we could all be millionaires. Or at least, get some chips from the shop, before my new snarling friend gobbles them up in a frenzied assault...

Vicki and I had a conversation once about ambition. It was late in the day after she'd got off from the bakery - it was early in our pash based relationship, and we sat on the train tracks and had a conversation about Penguin. I was in my full on snobbery mode which was charming for a while, but ultimately if you carry on like that you end up with that whole stand for something or stand for nothing issue based conversation. I wish that I had been a bit more attentive, since it was an attempt at an adult conversation, but I don't even really remember it that well, but I know she was trying to think about the future and I was entirely caught in the present, devoid of energy and hope in a town foreign and alien - maybe I should have said what I thought, that I was just terrified of being so far away from my family, but I didn't, I said I hated that I had to wait until Monday morning to get the St Mirren score...I'm sure my Dad would want me to bowl in one day with a detailed plan to find a missus, a better job and not have to hear about Lily Allen and Megan Corkrey for once, but that part of my mind is a closed shop, the sign on the window very much thanking the past patrons. Can I change? Not sure - my mate is getting a tattoo of a hummingbird on her neck apparently. I have no idea why, but it'll pass the time - interestingly, in a major moment of status, the guy behind me at THAT party who said celebrities were only people was trying to shout to the minor celebrity about the size of his tattoo comparitive to the minor celebrities. Like a star struck child, he then chided himself in a one sided conversation that he wasn't impressed to be there at all. I smile at the memory of how much he was a tosser, and send my friend an e-mail with a shared private memory of the whole debacle. The surrounds aren't the best, but the people are good - that is something I value, and will when the world falls off the cliff, and people are huddled in Village Cinemas receiving crisis briefings. Trust me, some days if you squint just right, it can look like the car park is already preparing, such is it's horrible visage and lack of glamour...

I'll be the guy up the back of those crisis briefings saying the coffee is a little too cold...

9 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Your commentary about your town reminds me of what some of the Detroit folks have been writing about their city. At least my small community is still pretty vibrant, although the job economy isn't much.

Mad Cat Lady said...

I love the way you write numbers, dude. I think of things to say as I am reading, but then I keep reading and then I don't remember what I was going to say or what I was going to say it about. um?

Hockey sticks? Make me think of St Trinian Movies.

That's what I was thinking before. I remember now.

What was I going to say after? um?

Shoes? I never even try to wear shoes in anymore. I chuck up if they aren't comfortable the first time I wear them. I've not the patience to wait them out. In the never ending struggle between shoe and foot, I loose the battle, but I think win the war, cause they are in the bin and my foot is without bandaids - woot!

What else was I thinking? um? um? um? This is gettnig a bit long isn't it? um?

Did you see the program that was showing the tent cities springing up around California? All the people who lost jobs and homes in the recession? Surreal.

Kath Lockett said...

...and you'll be sitting down because your heels hurt. Bad shoes suck arse, they really do. If I could cut the heels out of every shoe and get by with wearing thongs, uggs or Crocs without public ridicule, I would.

Got a scar on your knee?

G said...

Cerebral as always, Miles.

Many thanks for the morning read that gives me something to think about.

Jannie Funster said...

Thanks for making me absolutly stark-raving hungry for chips.

Those shoes, jump in puddles to loosen, leather will eventually stretch. But something tells me shoes should be comfy from the git-go so maybe you need them professionally stretched. Sorry, not much of a breath of fresh air about the shoes, am I?

Googled Hobart - freaking gorgeous place, wot?

Miles McClagan said...

My home town in Scotland is just a train wreck - I checked the online paper and the top two stories were head lice and the closure of the leisure centre...sigh...not good...

I've been waiting so long for someone to mention how I write numbers! Hockey sticks and balls of steel, we are St Triniannnnnssss...great song. I remember in the Reagan era there were troll communities of people living under bridges...we're getting back there!

I've got a scar on both knees. A smaller one apart from that cut I got when we had a race down the hill and I cut my knee falling down. I'm advocating the return of walking around in socks, who's with me!

My numbers get praised and I got called cerebral - this is my best feedback day ever, thanks!

It's great for tourists, not that great to live in because of the lack of big events - Lily Allen isn't going to tour. The shoes I hope will get better...maybe...but I will jump in puddles! I love that...

sparsely kate said...

Miles, how come you don't ever ask blue eyeshadow girl out??

And I love your posts but just like Mad Cat Lady says, I keep thinking of stuff to say to you as I'm reading but then I forget by the time I get to the end!! Oh, but I DO remember thinking I used to listen to Girlfriend too. A Robyn girl was in there...and she's now starting up a solo music career or something. Trivia.

Baino said...

Miles you're very harsh on Hobart! I mean, it's not exactly bustling and cosmopolitan but there's a lot of charm there. It does suck that the big acts don't tour Tassie! Here's a spark for you. Get onto Triple J they're playing the fire relief concerts and it's not half bad! (take your shoes off before you bop!)

Miles McClagan said...

It's just because I only see her when she's working, and she's always dilligently working. I might ask her out just as a blogexperiment. I have Robyns lost album on an IPOD. There's a magic Girlfriend history somewhere on the Internet, which was just painfully poignant!

It is charming, but it's decaying. You can tell. I'd love if we got Lily Allen. I'm watching the concerts on Max. I love the drummer for H&C. He's so old and hilarious...