Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't cry, it just ricochets, into another day, another decade, another piece of paper stuck to the wall



My cousin - the one I don't get on with - and I had this fight when I was 5ive, I was watching an imaginary TV and he turned it off. The fight was pretty intense for 5ive year olds and as a result, we began a lifetime of mutual anipathy and distrust. Or so people tell me anyway, since I don't remember this intoxicating argument and usually yawn when it's trotted out over a cask of Coolabah wine late in the evening when the older relatives have gone to bed. He, on the other hand, takes it personally when it is brought up, as a sore point so sore no cream could salve it, not even the big grey jar that sat in our family bathroom cupboard for years which ended up being so mythologised I was going to take it to show and tell and say it could cure alzheimers. They are flying down in 2wo weeks for a family re-union I'm expected to go to, and I'm not sure I can be bothered. It's one of those occasions I'm certain I'll dread - and late in the evening, someone, maybe his wife, will poke the issue of why we don't get on with a stick. I think not getting on with people though is perfectly fine. Once, in a Troon bowling alley, one of my other cousins gloated so triumphantly about knocking down a set of pins with a black ball that I temporarily felt like fleeing to another family. He's not himself these days though my cousin, rattled by being in a relationship that doesn't seem to be all that fantastic so the moral responsibility falls on me not to cause trouble - his wife, a princess on a throne, depriving the relationship of fun in an OCD like drive to the top, the child they have already burdened with being a burden. He used to do nothing but grin and stroll around in an intoxicated mix of superiority and confidence, but the grin is long gone, or so they tell me. And over a beer in the back garden in 2wo weeks, I'll be sure not to acknowledge it, because what is the point of a family re-union but to pretend everything is fine. Actually, I'm quite looking forward to it. Turn off my imaginary TV will you. And at some point, we'll look at each other and make a vague kind of see you later no really motion, and it won't mean anything, it will be as unmemorable as the coleslaw on offer. I wonder sometimes where I fit into my own family - but I won't mention it. I'll leave the message behind, be good, and talk about sports...like always, if I mention obscure cricketers and keep my head down, I'll be OK...

The reason I bring this is up is because I'm really wary of easy nostalgia, so at least in this case with my cousin I don't need to look back on some sort of magical golden age where we were bestest buds. It's staggering to me to look at photos of, say, my first real love Sarah or that girl I never asked out Pippa that I really liked, and see that they were just kids and I had no teeth and a big gummy innocent smile, or that the fort I used to jump off was tiny and low to the ground. In my mind, there's this stridently wonderful memory of jumping around Kilwinning discos to thumping rave music like Altern 8, off my head on what was probably Tic Tacs, but I suspect it was nothing like that. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I didn't dance because I can't, and that the music was actually tinny and unfathomable. I've got this friend who just sends me e-mails all day with 80s celebrities in them, and that's how we communicate. She sends me the words Darryl and Braithwaite and 6ix e-mails later that's that subject covered. In the case of my cousin, there's no golden summer where we magically bonded. What I do have though is a home movie where at least we both look happy. It's a grainy tape where I've got this bad haircut and am cutting a message for my Grandma and everything looks fantastically 80s like it's been recreated for a TV show. He was the closest thing I had to a friend, as much from location as anything else, since he was the only relation I had that lived with me in Penguin and yet I can't remember a positive thing about our time together. There must be something, I said today to my friend, attempting a bit of a pour my heart out e-mail. She e-mailed back whatever happened to Tony Barber. Thanks. There must be something though, I even flicked through the pages of 4our4our2wo at lunch not really reading the glossy article about Robinho, just letting time slip through my mind as I tried to come up with something, anything, and believe me, I'm normally an ace when it comes to conjuring up a positive memory or 2wo. I mean, I've convinced myself the world would be a better place of Kim Wilde was still hot, and the Egg Flip Big M was still the nations favourite drink. It was a bit sad that I had absolutely nothing from our relationship to fall back on - then I got distracted by Holly Valance on my IPOD, and I had to let the moment fall to the floor, fully aware that I'd get back to thinking about it one day. Or maybe not. Certainly Egg Flip Big Ms, now that's a subject I'm passionate about, you are probably lucky I don't blog about it every day...

The book shop, by the way, closed today, a little printed out note stuck to the shutter doors. It was apparently open for 20nine years, which is my whole lifetime, some little ambitious thriving turn of the 80s business man with raw powerful corporate plans set up shop one day and now they've been driven out by something as basic and crappy as high rent. It's just a little piece of social history in an otherwise unremarkable setting, although in the dash for powdered milk, muffins and hockey sticks, I think I'm the only person to notice. There's a screaming kid in a blue Kangaroos beanie who definitely doesn't notice, he's screaming his head off about football over and over again. What I find interesting is when he says to his Mum something about something that happened on Saturday - I can't decode hyperbole at this decibel with an IPOD on at this background - and realise that he's basically indulging in nostalgia at a young age. OK, it's nostalgia for 2wo days ago, but still. His mother looks terribly aged, and she doesn't seem to share the enthusiasm for all our yesteryears as she patiently pushes a trolley around. My Mum has this big thing at the moment for saving, and when she came round for tea the other day she used a book I bought for 29.95 as some sort of conversational jumping point about the economic crisis - my mother will sometimes drop buzzwords in over tea and biscuits, although I still haven't heard her say bromance and Twitter - and I was able to nudge her out the door...sorry, parlay her conversational thrust by pointing out the decline of the bookstore. I even got up to the poor Classical music loving IPOD man reduced to the indignity of casual clothes, but she's on a diet, so her eyes were dancing around the array of chocolate biscuits in my cupboard. I find it interesting that this is where my mind takes me - straight to nostalgia from 2wo days ago. I had a hangover, remember that, what a great day, Mum wanted a Tim Tam...this amuses me endlessly that me and Mum unwittingly acted out a similar conversation to the Mum and kid in the mall, except I was the weary and tired one and she was the excited chattering child munching on something she shouldn't. Who can I share this with? My cousin? My friend who will e-mail me the words Jo Beth Taylor? The kid obviously doesn't care, and he charges off into the distance, screaming something about Corey Jones as his mother trudges off one ugh boot step at a time...

When I get home, I flick through my diaries to see if there was a time where me and my cousin - and I say diaries, I have 2wo, one from 97 which is so detailed and benny, and a 1/2 arsed one from 99 which was supposed to be the memoirs of a failed relationship but didn't get beyond wasn't ATARI great, so no change there - got on. I have this wonderful memory of a girl in Girvan - and I will say about Girvan, it's more renowed for chibbings than poetic sepia toned memories - who I talked to on a roundabout when I was about 11ven. There was a big private joke about something in Girvan called Auld Stumpy, a jail I think from memory, and when we saw a guy with a wooden leg walk past, even a joke writer on Friends could come up with something amusing about his sense of comic timing to walk by at that moment. I don't know her name, and it wasn't even a flirtacious conversation, but it was a good day, and I know she got the bus home to Dreghorn because she said the bus driver was an old perve, and when she got on the bus she rolled her eyes as if to say see I told you as a toothless hai...and obviously, I don't need my diary to remember all this, and yet I can't think of one positive moment with one of my closest relatives. I close my diary at this point, for it is a little sad. Still, I can't take it back now, and while I'm sure the logical and mature end to this would be to create some magical moment for the ages at the family re-union, but it simply can't be done. Back in the present, one of my other friends sounds grumpy on the phone as be gets upset about the story that on Friday night he burned everyone and snobbed them on the way past the table. I want to tell him not to lose friends over something so trivial, and I almost go to say something about not getting so worked up about turning off an imaginary TV, but of course, I don't. I'm too busy laughing at several jokes about Auld Stumpy, and his fury dissipates down the phone line, until it's a distant buzz in my ear...

Now, the Egg Flip Big M...

7 comments:

Kettle said...

He turned off your imaginary tv? Man, he's got it coming. Make sure you take your imaginary hockey stick to the reunion.

Mad Cat Lady said...

my dad's mother's side of the family went all out with the family history research and took it back to some chick from cork - all enthused - printed out a 60 page booklet - organised a family reunion

they had three big tents set up and a television set in each one cause the state of orgin was on and sat about with these hundreds of people from all round australia watching football all day.

Charles Gramlich said...

So Pippa was sort of your "red haired girl?"

Miles McClagan said...

I know, I totally agree - he has no sense of humour about it either, so obviously, I'll be sure to bring it up constantly. My own form of revenge...

I have to now - you've reminded me - get to our own family reunion, Mums 40th, when Dad arranged the party on the same day Scotland played Sweden in the World Cup. There wasn't much bonding or conversation.

Pippa, well, it's interesting with her. If I hadn't moved to Scotland, who knows. Then there would have been no Debbie though, and no stories about robots.

Baino said...

Nah, you can't go back. The memories are always bigger than the reality. I have a family reunion every year . . old ladies spitting water crackers and remarking 'oh my haven't they grown' about my kids who are now in their 20's and haven't grown much for 5 years. . .it used to be so much fun when they were little, now it's just sad watching them all disappear . . onward and upward Miley . .onward and upward!

the projectivist said...

The Egg Flip Big M?
oh, Miles!
c'mon.
wasn't it a massive flop?
egg nog gone wrong? (no alcohol for one)
Iced Coffee was the best flavour.

is there likely to be Twister at this family reunion?
a bracing game of Charades perhaps?
Trivial Persuit? i bet you'd rock at that.
there's nothing like beating someone you don't much like at a boardgame or challenge to make yourself feel good.

Miles McClagan said...

I believe it was the wonderful Derek Trotter who used to say this time next year Rodney we'll all be millionaires! Plus, I'm sure Irvine in the late 80s, even in spite of the wonderful music, was quite grim and I've supressed all the bad things to remember Debbie and the KLF...

The Egg Flip Big M was an accquired taste, yes. Blue Heaven, that was better. I drew a line at Choc Pine. I use Sporcle a lot now to play games to keep the mind sharp for Triv. However, charades, my Mum at a game of charades once mimed "Get my hat and get my coat I'm going home" - genius.