Saturday, March 14, 2009

Just do your thing, we'll see how it goes, but what if your thing isn't that good to begin with



When I lived in Mount Stuart - many years ago when Beaverloop still had hopes of being a huge band and I still had hopes of a bright intellectual future and it was a time when you couldn't openly say You're The Voice was a great song - we lived with this girl who turned out to be a fat robber. There was supposed to be a big cooking roster but essentially we lived off charity ice creams that never went to charity and KFC from the takeaway store down the bottom of the hill. One night, Ronnie Biggs decided that she was going to cook us tea, and she made a casserole that she slaved over for a long time. Given her questionable character, I suspect it was salted with the tears of orphans, but anyway, she made a big production about this casserole, even doing the chef thing where you whip the top off the tray with a dramatic flourish. Needless to say, while in cooking the first bite was with the eye, unfortunately the second bite was with the mouth, and it was bloody awful. It tasted like the food equivalent of a bands B Side collection, scraped together from off cuts and things found on the floor and, dare I say it, things she took for herself. We retreated to my bedroom, and since my bedroom backed onto a balcony, went outside into the cold and tried to throw it to birds and stray wolves, but even they didn't want it. To put that in context, we threw a Spiderman ball out the window once and went outside three seconds later and it was gone, so it wasn't an especially picky crowd of fossickers and gatherers. The birds flew away to feast on the scraps of KFC, and the wolves went back to howling outside Steves Kebab House. Naturally, since everyone went from the dinner table and came back with clean plates six seconds later - oh my hand written diary in 1997 was nothing if not time accurate - the girl realised her meal was awful, and was legitimately crushed. I sat and ruminated that night in my Arial Black handwriting that her problem, well, among her many problems including social psychosis and theft and the fact she nicked a copy of Jagged Little Pill was that she tried. It's there in black and white, the lazy ironists handwriting. How dare someone try. It seems jarring to me when I read it back now, but it was an awful casserole, but in the middle of a diary entirely with lists of favourite singles, and references I no longer get, to come up with something that sort of sums up that whole year, well, I wasn't expecting it. I didn't really try very hard at anything that year except keeping a diary and making sure I didn't get robbed again. It was that kind of house though...if the orphans had got their ice creams it could have been worse...

Last night we were drinking outside the once majestic Irish Murphys, which is now just this horrendous awful place with bullying bouncers and everyone standing around this one keg shaped table bumping into each other. I realise when I say this, were I 18een I'd probably find the place fascinating and charming, but I'm a bit jaded with the whole thing now. One of my friends just totally snobbed us out, and that got some discussion going. I've got this other friend who whenever he sees this one girl just goes into full on oh why didn't I ask her out damn it damn life weird mode, and it's just not edifying as a spectacle. He's talking about cards on the table - shouldn't it be cards on the Internet, with the amount of offices wasting time playing solitaire - and I'm the one who always ends up saying don't do it you crazy fool like some wizened old geezer in a western movie trying to tell the young kids not to, I don't know, tackle the black horsed posse. I swear some nights I'm this close to saying consarnit and growing an old mans beard like crazy old varmits of yore. The thing is, I've decided from now on to say go for it, because what the hell, it's going to be a complete debacle, but it's better than being unsure and bending my ear about it. There's a guy standing outside the pub in a Manchester shirt who looks like he's hoping to pick up entirely on the basis of some neatly trimmed eyebrows, and a woman the very definition of the phrase mutton dressed as mutton who's, and I will say I don't know the context, bawling and shouting all over the place that her son slept with her daughter, which I believe is some of the alternate wording to You're The Voice. I must admit, the start of every evening is my favourite part, when the night crackles with possibilities, and you are still sober enough to just be happy to see your friends. I feel like sometimes, just going out is a form of trying in itself, and you hope by having done so, the night doesn't end up being trying. My friend has moved the card analogy onto one about, I don't know, ships that sail in the night or bands that never reform or some such nonsense, while the well groomed eyebrows of Top Manc have moved on to some other bar to stand outside wistfully and with mystery. For him and mutton girl, the night is young, the drinks are cheap, and who knows what tonight will bring. I suspect hangovers, where as I, on current pace, will simply end up with a busted eardrum...

My sports team never seem to try - well they never seem to win, which may be a different thing, and once again fail miserably. I like, well, I guess tolerate, the association people have with me and my sports team. When they play, people think of me, which is nice, but it would be nicer if they were any good, and not awful and reduce a crowded bar to about 4our people with their awful efforts. Naturally, since sports are on, there's no girls in bar, which might account for the fact that everyone files out in orderly fashion, there were rumours that maybe girls were spotted in a direction near the taxi rank. Shirts and collars are turned up as the Males leave, the barmaids tired already of being hit on as they ferry undercooked chips hither and tither. There's a grim looking Maori undertaker type picking up stools and making sure that all fun is orderly and timely and not too rambunctious. I get a rum induced flashback whenever he walks around, to the way teachers used to police school discos at Kilwinning and make sure winching never got into anything more flagrant. His is a thankless job, but his personality and his perfectly round head which screams intimidation, at least from a technical standpoint, make him well suited to the task of bouncering. A band plays some cover versions no one is listening to. The lead singer has dreams of being a rock star, but all he got was this lousy gig. It doesn't stop him trying though, he throws shapes to the large crowd in his mind as he digs out, sigh, a Train cover, you know the one, the one all pub bands do. In the corner, two guys, one with a sleazy look on his face, the other a rather shifty looking wingman, are sizing up one of the barmaids. Our favourite barmaid, and it's for different reasons across the group, the hairdresser one with the zomg things are shiny outlook, isn't on tonight, but this duo are planning an all out whats your sign assault on some poor girl who isn't even aware they exist. I kind of like the effort going on all around me, people really trying, people really determined to make this cold Friday night a memorable evening. I can't shake the little flickering box in the corner though where my so called personal sports representatives are floundering aimlessly. How could they do this to me I wonder, for all of 5ive seconds. They didn't try, so why should I bother worrying. In fact, without any trace of irony, and with many traces of rum, I'm soon throwing myself around a dance floor, quite happily, the little embittered sports fan on my shoulder shut down by loud noise, pride in my own dance steps however misguided, and by natures natural emboldener, more rum than the human body can handle...

About 7even years ago, I was watching the same sports team in much the same manner, and while my friends were getting banned from Montgomeries for life for abuse of the karaoke system, I was on the phone to dad calling them the c word down the phone and missed the whole thing. Popular culture swept me up a long time ago, and I'm ready to move on from it, unless Lily Allen is after a date to the Brits. I feel sometimes like the victim of repetitive cycles and patterns. What I plan to do is change them, not put my life in the hands of sports teams and bands and self consciousness, but to try harder. Obviously, this means more aimless nights in Syrup, where I don't go last night, due not to sports but because, well, it's Syrup, it's not especially great, and I can't dance anyway. You see the trouble is, I come from the "aye we see you" country - Scotland isn't a country that encourages bold statements of individuality. What it is great at and why I love it because it's cynical and hard and tough and yet I hate it for the same reasons. It's probably because I'm Scottish that I tip the taxi driver entirely for not talking to me, and don't see much point in pretending the Syrup is a panacea or some sort of dancing emporium. My friend - having lost all his cards apparently, or put them back in his pocket - charges over there like a bull, he can't wait to shimmy the night away to Dave Dobbyn. As much as I'd like a more positive outlook on life, well one that was less everything is bloody awful, I still think I'm allowed to think Syrup really aint that great. The DJ in there who looks like he's about to jump out the window puts me off. There's just this contrary battle in my head when I'm in there - the DJ puts me off because he hates being there, the dancers annoy me because they are throwing massive shapes around a strippers pole and it looks frankly awful, and I'm somewhere in between doing the Tassie two step with not enough detached irony to make it work but not enough effort to make it worth even being there. That said, I am determined to make it work a bit more - the breadth of my experiences is getting wider, in the space of about 6ix months I've been to both the best thing and worst thing I've ever been to, and I'm not judgemental to the Syrup queue jostlers...I wish them well as my taxi speeds off home, in perfect, beautiful silence...

And later, I make myself a casserole, so that was good...I'm also not a thief...2-0 to me I'd say...

8 comments:

the projectivist said...

so, Miles
the friend with the girl of illgotten regret?
why does he moan about wishing he'd asked her out, as though all of his chances are blown?
can't he ask her out now?
say for example, the next time he sees her walking down the street?

i like your casserole story.
i once had to throw octopus over a balcony whilst in Greece. the pressure to eat it was unbearable, the eyes of the lothario-like chef were on us, but we somehow managed to toss the genetic mutant octopus over the balcony without being spotted and make a dash for it.

oh yeah
those were the days.
we have something in common
you should take me out sometime to a restaurant with a balcony.

Jannie Funster said...

Underdone chips are the worst. I could NOT abide those.

Soo.... started a beard yet? No, No, don't do it. Well, keep it trimmed at least, don[t go for the just brushing the shoulders look.

Charles Gramlich said...

Myhnnm, you make me want some casserole!

Or maybe not

squib said...

it was a time when you couldn't openly say You're The Voice was a great song

Has there ever been a time when you could say it was a great song? I mean because it has always sucked, right?

So did the wolves like your casserole any better?

Kath Lockett said...

The Tassie two step, busted ear drums and Syrup.... methinks you should try the internet!

Miles McClagan said...

Well she's got a boyfriend now, so it's all a bit over. He could, but she'd say no. I guess he could, we'd all enjoy the reaction. I hope the Octopus hit someone - and you are on, we'll have dinner and chuck it away, it'll like be the old episodes of Letterman.

Have I grown a beard? No, not yet - it'd be pretty rubbish if I did. I'd look like a scruffy pirate hobo.

Casseroles - don't do it. The poor mans stew. Not even students want it.

I missed the memo - apparently, judging by Fireaid yesterday, it's one of our most treasured songs. I didn't realise. I thought that was Horses. And no, the wolves stuck to munching our compost heap, plus ca change.

The Internet? For dating? But then you wouldn't get to experience the hilariously bored DJ! And I've seen a lot of episodes of Cops that seem very scammy...

Kettle said...

I really liked this, Miles.

New thought from today's piece: it's theoretically possible to pick up a laydee thanks to neatly trimmed eyebrows. Definitely an under-appreciated feature.

Miles McClagan said...

There used to be an English politician called Dennis Healy who always made who had mad bushy eyebrows. Maintenance is important! You have to look presentable! I'm all about the little features I feel!