Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dreams and songs to sing and alright jobs that aren't a career



Hobart Airport, which I touched on a long time ago, is not the worlds most exotic location. In the newsagents you can be guaranteed to be called darling, and your bags are checked with a level of thoroughness that entirely depends on whether the scanner is in mid conversation about his big night at Syrup. Hobart Airport is thus peoples escape - in the morning light of a weekend, it buzzes if you look the right away, people excitedly planning weekend trips, arms around each other, maybe dressed in football gear, maybe just lost in their comfortable silence, fetching coffee from the shop that owns the coffeeopoly in this place, and maybe you'll see a celebrity or 2wo stuck in transit, with no other option but to file out with the populace in some perfectly dreamt up socialist ideal where no one is in premium economy no matter how many times Fifi Box advertises it on the little in house monitor. However, today there was no charm - it was Sunday afternoon fading into evening, the coffee shop lady barely said a word never mind served up a darl as she stirred the coffee, and the staff of this particular budget airline - in Tassie, there's only 2wo options really - were downcast, explaining a delay with the minimum of customer service. They are getting fired you see, cut back by a credit crunch which seems to be a con, maybe outsourced onto a like it or lump it contract that makes working behind the desk less than palatable. My cousin - who is adopted from Korea and sees no irony in saying Melbournes problem is it's full of Asians - is standing there demanding vouchers or some sort of compensation for her plight, a ballsy move given the hissing cobra like hostility of the boy behind the counter. His future may be uncertain, but nothing stops the Barbie doll next to him from radiating as best she can. She never smiles, her hair is cut into a perfect short bob style do, and she stares directly ahead at all times. Her smile is fixed in place, but meaningless. I would suggest another career selling Bicardi in Ayrshire nightclubs, for we all know that smile, that professional grimace, those of us who schlepped around nightclubs named after Tunnels in the early part of the 00s. I turn away from the fight brewing over vouchers just as my phone crackles with a pile of txt msgs, all about football. It seems to just compliment the sadness around me, this pixellated stream of mockery as my football teams season, so they say, is over after just 1ne game. There's no spark to the place as the staff sigh and idly do paperwork, the people waiting to fly home slump into chairs with resignation, the coffee lady continues to stir and sometimes look like senility has crept in as she seems to struggle with where she is, and the fixed smile continues to un-nerve. Her lipstick seems to be a homicidal kind of pink, and the only kink in the composed facade is how she uses her sturdy blue biro to scribble down notes, with such intensity, it almost smashes through the paper, almost smashing it to well manicured shreds...

A day earlier, my mind is wandering all over the place. When I moved to Tasmania, I adopted a family, that wasn't really my family, but since I had no one else other than Mum and Dad, they sort of did in a crisis. Today the real family has re-unioned, and I'm invited, sort of a necessary presence without being a necessary presence. Time has past to such a degree that I no longer have to entertain the children, my old function at these gatherings, but now if I was running around with the kids and helping them find easter eggs it'd be a little creepy. I'm not good at small talk, and I'm quite happy and content now to simply sit and wait for conversational culdesacs to find me. It's probably my own fault I hate mingling, I take it as one of my many quirks now rather than perhaps challenging myself to be a bit better in situations like this. Alas, like Grandpa Simpson, I've found the only seat with padding, and I refuse to give it up to engage in small talk about the economy. About an hour in, having exhausted my stock conversation of work, sport and Big Ms, a black sports car pulls up some trendy post Presets tune thumping through the doof doof speakers, and a woman gets out, the Tasmanian equivalent of Glaswegian pub legend Wee 1690. That is, she looks 16teen from the back and 90ty from the front. From what I gather through whispered fingers she's a black sheep, loose of morals around football clubs, and the smiles around her are insincere, as she reclines against the fence in teenage garb sucking on a beer and twirling her dyed blonde hair around her fingers. Maybe her job is alright, but not it's a career. Whether the judgemental coven of superiority is accurately discussing her or not, and her spiky belt is certainly manna from heaven for those condemning, the distraction allows me to pass moments, nay, a solid 1/4 of an hour simply munching on Doritos, sending txt mgs and stuffing around with my feet up on the table. Just for a moment, I think 1690 is eyeing me up, which is disconcerting until I realise it's just a lazy eye, I think - but such considerations are swept up as someone, mingling like the groom at a wedding having drunk just as much, takes the seat next to me and asks what I think of football...my mind spins as I wonder how deep to go, should I really say what I think of my teams coach...I mean, it's a convivial evening, talk of public lynchings seems out of place...

I wonder sometimes about journeys and dreams and the changes that seem to pass through everyone. I mean, it doesn't feel that long ago I would run around on freshly cut grass with a cricket bat at these functions while waiting for a lard dripping sandwich to be passed my way, any male who helped themselves to coleslaw judged as more flaming than the steak, and smart arsed kid suddenly facing a pent up older male steaming in to hurl a cricket ball at his head, the women relegated to the kitchen to carve up the cheesecake. Now, as I stare over the edge of the balcony abyss, I'm no longer that little kid running around with the Swannee haircut that cost 2wo bucks and got me a musk stick. In fact, as i look down and one of the kids has loaded up an empty sprite bottle with rocks and is preparing to throw it at the head of another cherub, I wonder why I miss such times at all. Childhood is nothing if not the theatre of cruelty. The only thing with childhood to me was the possibility to write your own little place in the social order. I'm set in stone now, the person who reclines in a chair and watches and waits for the taxi home. I'm sure I had more options at one stage before I learned to read people and judge exactly when I was boring them. When I would sit in the rumpus room and throw darts at the wall and throw pool balls into the corner pocket and hope no one got Monopoly out because it would lead to violence, I don't remember being indulged though. I mean, I was a pretty spoiled child, but I was in the background at these events while the adults took centre stage. Now, it's the kids who rule the roost, a conversational outlet for the terminally silent. If in doubt, the kids are brought up from their violent struggles downstairs to pose, to say something cute, to just lie on the ground and gurgle. Since I don't have kids, I don't have this outlet, although it is by choice. I mean, I couldn't look after a goldfish from the Irvine fair, so ya know. I live a life of personal consumption, one as simple as possible. As kids run around my feet, stealing Cheetos from a bowl, I don't feel as though I've missed anything, but maybe one day I will. Someone talks to me about setting me up with one of her single friends, perhaps inspired by my lack of children to break the ice, but in a perfect summation of my priorities sometimes, I'm not listening because the Doritos are gone, replaced by cheese balls. Besides which, do any of her single friends wear blue eye shadow? I would think not...

Taxi drivers, they aren't as gregarious as they once were. Kahlua in the bloodstream is not condusive to me talking openly anyway, and after some mis-steps the taxi driver, a Wilford Brimley a like with a stern BBC mid 60s announcing voice, turns up the radio to sing along while I dream out the window. Kahlua, incidentally, I only drank in Paris. I was trying to impress a girl at the bar who liked silicon and poetry, but when I asked for a Kahlua and milk it caused such bafflement the barman got out a bottle of kahlua and a carton of milk and put them on the bar and shrugged as if to say well you show me. I'm thinking how did I get here as I pass the Southern Outlet, wondering if anyone ever found the ring I lost by the side of the road one night. Nice ring it was too. I feel a sense of survival by the time I get home, the explorer who got through the bush without being knifed by too many natives. Were I more relaxed, I could cope with such occasions with a certain panache, but there's still a Sunday drive to the airport to cope with, another round of hold the baby. I'm sure 1690 headed straight for Syrup - I'm sure she wrapped her aging limbs around the pole and hoped to find true love as Dave Dobbyn pulsated from the console of the plainly bored DJ. Or maybe I've just fallen for the whispers. I like that this is part of my life in some ways though - these little interactions were a lot harder when they were all I had, this group was all the people I knew in Hobart. I have friends now, really good ones, who get me through life, and this is an adjunct, a time to pass and pause and eat Doritos, and more importanly, a good reason to turn off Lily Allen for a change and get out of the house. On the television, there's a footballer who I hate, being criticised again, his fate sealed, his place in history set in concrete. I turn off the TV, slump into my bed, consider whether I'm too hard on people who are genuinely nice and happy to feed me all the spicy chip based snacks I want, and after the album finishes, Ihave a long, lingering dream about starting a small business, oblivious to the charms of Hobarts nightlife, oblivious to the dreams of those out in the world, trying hard, enjoying the music, maybe with a fixed smile and a resolute disposition...

Having survived the attack of the visitors though, I'm picking a nice nap as the finale of my Saturday...

8 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I had a nice nap yesterday myself.

Down here, the waitresses call you honey and baby all the time in the restruants. It's kinda surreal.

G said...

Kind of bites when you're visiting a store that's getting ready to permanently shut down.

You feel like you're intruding on a funeral or something.

Doc said...

Remind me to take a boat to Hobart, as the airport sounds like the kind of place that would just suck the life right out of you.

And as far as kids go, they aren't all they are cracked up to be. When the moms trot out their little darlings they are just bragging about the ubercute little rocks around their collective necks and how much of a burden they are under. If you change your mind about kids later, fine. As a guy, your biological clock has got a lot of years left in it. At 28, enjoy your football (even if the coach is an idiot), enjoy your Doritos & Kahlua, and muse about it as you go.

Or maybe I've just fallen for the whispers.

Doc

squib said...

Miles I love the recurring Presets motif in your writing

:-)

Kris said...

Someone should blow Fifi Box up.

Miles McClagan said...

I must admit, at this moment, I love a good nap. The darl and sweetheart is kind of dying out in Hobart, but it's still out there, especially in the Midlands...

I know, I hate closing down sales. I hate the way the staff seem so downcast, especially when people take the chance to haggle...

I can't vouch for the boat, I'm not a big fan of boats in general. Kids, well, I don't want one just to fill in a conversational gap, and it would take me a lot of persuading to get me to have one - they'd just steal my sleep and my Doritos. Trouble, trouble, trouble...

I think The Presets are a much bigger part of my life than I think! Not as much as Lily Allen, but anytime I think of tarted up doof doof music, they are my go to band!

Her ads for Premium Economy are so annoying...throw out the box!

Mrs Slocombe said...

I was watching Tim Minchin on the Comedy Gala last night. You aren't him are you?
40 is a good age to have a kid: take it from me. In fact we will be driving up and down your fair isle in a couple of weeks with some: I'll try not to go anywhere you have described so as not to break the smell.
Darl is still going strong in our house, but then so is grouse: and howdy cowdy. We speak a legwarmer language.

Miles McClagan said...

No, I'm not Tim Minchin - we went to see him, and felt like idiots because people were mad for him, and knew all the words to his songs, and we didn't know who he was. 40ty having a kid is an idea - promise me you'll go to Penguin. They'll call you darl there. For sure.