Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It was expected I would be bigger but my heaven wasn't what I wanted and my stories weren't cool enough



I've mentioned a couple of times that midday at Rosny isn't neccesarily a time when the poet - and if I'm not a poet, it's only because I get distracted somewhere around Nantucket - will find their inspiration. The surf shop is now closed, and the book store has closed, been stripped of fittings and even it's sign, so now it looks like one of those dodgy lock up garages from my youth in Ayrshire. If I peer in the slots will I see unsold piles of Monster Munch (a sort of Cheeto like snack) and Vimto piled up to the the ceiling? Perhaps, although no one seems keen to break in and find out, which makes it a lot less like the garages in Ayrshire, which were just hives of activity. For some reason today, I'm trapped in quite the contrasting pincer movement. The left pincer has an old man and woman - he in thrall to the cardigan, she in a pair of very Colbertesque glasses (that's Stephen, not Leigh) - simply walking down the stairs towards the taxi rank just holding hands. I don't know why I find this really sweet, but for some reason, it's just really lovely, especially since I just presumed she was helping the old boy down the stairs but then they throw in a bit of arm swinging and it's just really sweet. The right pincer has a gaggle of mid teen kids, trendy, superior, swearing loudly, 3hree boys not a drop of hair gel wasted, one girl, one of the boys behind her miming to punch her in the head as she begins berating her boyfriend about his physio appointment. Ah, implied violence, always a rich source of comedy, according to the boy who did it, because he's cracking up laughing. She has a Kathy Bates vibe to her, she seems determined to turn a relatively minor incident into a screeching, berating drama, and he's not helping, because he's alternately limping and then not limping, so perhaps her suspicions about the validity of his physiotherapy are telling. I leave them swearing, just as an old woman debates in her immaculately made up brain whether to step in and tell them off for their bad language, but decides to get a can of Red Bull instead. I can't see this girl and this boy walking around holding hands even 6ix months from now, and as they disappear from my view, the boy who mimed the punch tries to flip his sunglasses onto his face, loses all composure as he fails and they tumble to the ground, and then picks them up desperately to try and look cool as the girl from the make up counter - always happy to sell you all the make up the MAC can make - looks at him and smiles a sympathy smile. The old man and woman meanwhile walk serenly to Big W, without needing to say a word, and quite happily stare at the piles of Ryan Reynolds DVDs without a care in the world - well, apart from the fact they are buying Ryan Reynolds DVDs. Or maybe it's just me that cares...

Those garage forecourts in Ayrshire are my real childhood incidentally - the big one in Irvine was a big BP where my Auntie of fighting about the light switch fame would fill up with petrol. It had a big locked bit of it with piles of Monster Munch and Twix-s and Twirls and all the cool kids would claim that on a weekend they'd break into it with their girlfriends - who suspiciously they couldn't name - and sit stand have a feast and totally pash on. I dismissed this as conjecture and nonsense instantly, although I think it was disappointing to Debbie that we never did this break and munch on a dreary Sunday. Sundays were a hard day to kill in our relationship sometimes, and she'd get restless. I think my distinct lack of ambition was always disappointing Debbie, and maybe if I'd kicked a few doors down and just handed her a Turkey Twizzler once in a while, who knows where we'd all be? It was also the first place I saw a pornographic magazine, that particular garage. With my 10en year old brain I did used to wonder why the boobs were on display so prominently, but the Monster Munch needed a triple combination lock to get at. Debbie thought it was an E lab they had out the back. I suspected this was nonsense, but maybe she was right. On the way to see St Mirren, in the post 1990 era when we had a car that actually went, the post banana era as our family called it because we bought a big yellow car that never left our garage due to a variety of faults, we would pull into this garage, and as my Dad filled up the petrol, I would scan the forecourt for stories, for interesting families, even someone with cheeks like a baboon to pull faces at. Every so often, just as the clouds were starting to swoop dangerously close to me and that curious Ayrshire smell would roll in, you would see 2wo people just starting a relationship. You could tell, they were inevitably young, he had a nice car, and when he would leave to get Petrol and Irn Bru, she would adjust her bra and check her teeth. For a while, I thought that's all relationships were like that. As long as she kept her teeth clean and he kept the supplies of fizzy drinks up, everything would be OK. And sometimes, just as the camera pulled back to reveal her true identity, she would smile and wave and you'd wave back, and they'd drive away in some dramatic high speed way while you went with your Dad to watch poor quality soccer in dreary old Paisley. At least, you would if Dad had got the orange juice, he wasn't the most reliable shopper, and I was staring into the distance, or intently at the padlocked store of treats with a little voice in my head chanting go for it, so what chance did I have? It felt like that was my weekend, and that I'd just be in that cycle for the rest of my life, but what did I know...one day, we pulled out of that garage forecourt, and the view over my shoulder got smaller and smaller, the Monster Munch never viewed again...

Not that I was any better at holding hands mind you. I went to schools where holding hands was considered suspicious and because I moved countries, the leap to such things was never obvious. I went from Burnie and girl germs to oral sex discussions from Ayrshire 10en year olds, and then back to Burnie where everyone had caught up to Ayrshire levels of filth. Almost. I never got the gradual step. I can't remember whether I held hands in any of my relationships and certainly never went so far as to swing arms. Debbie was too much of a chatterbox to believe in comfortable silences, and my own parents are too hyperactive for that as well. They are silent during, like, The Bill on ABC, but they'll generally have a Saturday night argument. I used to think they were on the verge of getting divorced all the time, especially when we had to get Mum from outside Mitre 10en that time, but it's just them. They just had a big argument because they were talking about if they were re-incarnated where would they want to be born and Dad claimed he wanted to be American and Mum said he hates Americans which is true apart from Muhammad Ali and John McEnroe. No Scottish couple I know exists truly in comfortable silence. If there's silence in a Scottish relationship, it gives you time to think of grievances. About as close as I got to being in a hand holding comfortable silence relationship was with my netball playing girlfriend although it was really difficult to discern when the silences were comfortable and when they were uncomfortable. The most comfortable silence, oddly, was whenever one of her bogan netball team-mates would fight or scratch with their life partner - it was a netball team, so I couldn't definitively say boyfriend - in the Creek Road carpark. They would screech and holler and skirts would blow in the wind, and there would be noise and sound and fury and all of it was just skywriting that blew away in the wind as soon as a gust came. So we'd stand, maybe 60m away, pausing before we got in her car at the Putters Golf Centre, and we'd just watch and shoot each other these really lovely glances as if to say, phew, thank God we aren't like that, and it was quite sweet - until we got in the car, then we'd tear each other to pieces over who ate the last piece of chicken. Incidentally, I told her about the Monster Munch one day, and she said she would have broken in...I'm beginning to think that when I find a girl who will finally tell me that she wouldn't have kicked the door down and deprived a local business of it's chippy goodness, maybe that's when all those verses in the Valentines cards might finally make sense. Ah, but I'm always attracted to criminals. And blue eye shadow. So many strange elements...

In my mailbox, there's a membership pack from my football team - it's most striking feature is a chirpy over the top letter which promises endless glory and determination from the team. It's nonsense, they've been rubbish since people knew what Monster Munch was. There's that little part of you that always wonders if you could have played elite sport if you'd tried, but by the time I was about 12elve, I knew I wouldn't manage it. As I put the letter up on top of my little wooden table structure on which my laptop sits, I find an old photo from the Cross in Irvine from the 1920s or something. It looks quite sparse and tatty, there's Rangers scarfs in every shop window, and a little girl shooting the 20s equivalent of the finger, but it looks distinctly like the Cross I knew growing up. I love old photos, and I'd love to know where they all hung out, not that they look like an especially fun crowd. Everything about the photo just looks it came from incredibly tough times, while my boss today, the automon, was trying to quote from a book about resillience and teach us about hardship while we ploughed into hot cross buns, and she did it without irony. I know nothing at all about hardship - I think a failed relationship and not getting a Twirl counts as a setback. If I could, I would stopped her, grabbed the old man and woman, and let them speak at the meeting. They seemed to have coped with whatever hardships they had and just kept on walking, holding hands, with nary an argument about physiotherapy or a mimed punch. That said, I quite like arguing, and once, at one of those Ayrshire garages, my Mum drove off and left me, and I stood there in the cold for about an hour. I thought that this was it, and I thought she wasn't coming back, and I shivered for ages in my little pacamac, wondering what would become of me, as a couple smirked and laughed at me as they got into their late 80s super car, and drove off for a dirty weekend to Largs. And filled with angst, I went straight up to the stock room, I kicked the door open, and...there was nothing inside but pornography and swimsuit magazines in box after box. I was young, I only wanted Monster Munch, and turned around to see a horrified guy in a business suit looking at me. I tried to look cool and said something like wrong door. Eventually I walked home, trying to come up with a story where I sounded cool and I never quite around to it. Tonight when I got home, and turn up Those Dancing Days really loudly, there's Bridget from Gruen Transfer back on TV, which is always lovely, and my wind wanders off not just because she's on, but because I find it strange that I've found loveliness from such simplicity as hand holding, but also confused my mind with regrets from 20ty years ago, and yet, at no point today did I think about my own life, or what the hell I'm meant to be do...oh sorry, Bridget is talking...

Oh well, off to sleep, where I've never been a viking...yet...

PS. Sorry, but Bridget is lovely. And big thankyou to Doc for my 3hird ever award, and since it's for charm, I refused to swear in this post. In fact, the word poppycock hit the cutting room floor, just in case...

14 comments:

Mad Cat Lady said...

I haven't read you yet - I am saving you for morning coffee and first read - I like to start the day with favourite bloggers if possible - I just wanted to say that is an excellent title.

Charles Gramlich said...

In "the thrall of a Cardigan." What a great phrase and description.

squib said...

I love the bit about the netball fight & skywriting

I'm still not sure what Monster Munch is

And I still can't get used to people calling petrol stations 'garages'

Miles McClagan said...

This one could be all tip and no iceberg then! It is a good title, but the rest...I dunno!

It is good isn't it - she really was, she was clinging to it, she was proud of that cardigan!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Munch

I only call it garage when I'm talking about the UK. The pre-ponderance of locked doors and stacks of boxes make it a garage, and it feels completely different to our petrol stations...

Vince said...

Groovy tune; cool writing streaming outta ya as well

sparsely kate said...

I think poppycock is not really a swear word but only because its got poppy at the front and we all know that cancels out what comes next.

And I love you for putting mum in front of mitre 10 again. I love that image, it cracks me up! and I don't even know your Mum :)

Miles McClagan said...

Thanks mate - Those Dancing Days are a great little band. Hope they make it! I do what I can when I write!

If they had blogs in the 20ties, poppycock would have caused a scandal. That and bollocks. Sorry I forgot to mention Willessee...my apologies! It was a traumatic night, Penguin was a sea of emotion! And hardware.

Jannie Funster said...

I'm wondering what the middle finger equivalent of the 20s was? Pulling a moon?

Miles McClagan said...

I think simply a lady showing her ankle was enough to cause front page headlines in the 20tys...2wo ankles was akin to spitting at the Queen...

Mrs Slocombe said...

Don't you mean a garridge?
Oh bard of bathos: how art thou not the poet?
You could rearrange the title of this post almost endlessly to great effect.
Middle finger in the twenties? Becoming a fascist, surely.

Doc said...

As for the award Miles, you've earned it. You've got more charm left over than most folks start out with.

And yes, the appeal of the criminal girl is strong but she isn't the kind of girl you hold hands with in your golden years. And no, the stupid Valentines will never make a lick of sense.

Doc

Miles McClagan said...

Glengarry Garridge? I struggle with so called real poetry. I could probably do it, but I'm not sure I could get something as good as unsold baby shoes...the 20tys don't sound much fun do they! Polio, mineshafts...great blog material though!

I appreciate the award mate, I really do. I don't feel charming right now, just hungover! Blue eye shadow girl doesn't seem like the criminal type. I must admit it does surprise me how many girls would love a valentine, but then say why didn't you kick the door down and steal Debbie some chips!

Baino said...

I think there's a closet romantic in there waiting to break out frankly! I have friends who hold hands when they're bushwalking which I frankly find rather weird.

Miles McClagan said...

I saw 2wo hand holding bushwalkers who were chippy at the start of a camping trip break up by the end of the weekend...it was a sobering and somewhat sad moment...I wish I knew what happened inbetween...