Friday, March 27, 2009

Porky The Puppy and Bandits at 12 O'Clock

Cyber Hair in Kingston - where I get my hair cut, and when I say cut, I mean shorn like page 6ix of the army handbook and when I say hair, I mean my own singular hair and when I type like this I feel like I'm doing a Foghorn Leghorn impression - is a vacuum of intellectual thought. The people in there are very nice, very pleasant, but speak in strange hairdresser formed sentences, all about weekends and travel and weekend travel. I think it's just page one of the hairdresser handbook, until you can form a question which will lead to leisure time discussions, no scissors for you. I must admit, I keep myself from laughing - much like yesterday when I was having a serious conversation with someone while She Bangs by Ricky Martin was on in the background - every time a difficult conversation tangent, say, football, is fobbed off with oh my boyfriend knows all about it and then silence. Should I say hows your boyfriend? Is that weird? I never know what to do when the boyfriends love of Essendon is brought up. So many handbooks apparently, army, hairdresser, the reactive...I miss the good old days of Swannie in Penguin, a good old fashioned hairdresser. Actually, what am I talking about, he nearly cut my ear off once and used to play old Scottish records from the 50tys, it was shit in there. The musk sticks weren't that great. I've mentioned before the heady winter of 1996 when I thought I had an intellectual soulmate in my hippy hairdresser in Burnie until she buggered off to live in a caravan with her boyfriend and suddenly sounded like the kind of person impressed with a souped up Rav 4 and her Tolstoy quotations were suddenly less impressive and felt like shtick taken from the back of a book in the library. Oh fickle fate, how you mock me as the tram lines are shorn into my head. It's why my conversation is less than animated with the hairdressers, I don't want to get involved, I don't want to lose my heart, or my ear. However, my own mother has the last word on interactive snipping. Once she got caught up in a conversation about family - the family of my Mother made up more or less of 13teen redoubtable Glaswegian children, all brooded over by my quite fearsome Granny, and my Grandad, auditioning successfully for the role of most drunken Glasgow stereotype of 1954. Times were tough, in fact so tough I used to ask my Mum why she never wrote one of those poor is me books, and the reason is her family would say she was soft, and she was the youngest of the kids and the most spoiled, at least comparitively. The last broken biscuit in the tin made you a spoiled wee brat in 1963. Having brought up her family, the blonde in the hairdressers - I should point out, one of my best friends types, if you can have a type, because he couldn't care less about conversation while I would just despair I suspect - let the wind whistle through her head and asked if it was a problem having so many brothers and sisters running into her room and pinching all her stuff. She didn't have the heart to tell her that to pinch her stuff would have required simply rolling over in bed and reaching out and grabbing it since the "weans" were all pushed into one room. Such a revelation of a spoiled only child might inspire a head to the hand, a mock swoon and some sort of oh my god the deprivation motion, but to the hairdresser, it took several minutes to process the logic of such conditions, and even then, Mum said it didn't really sink in that Mums family didn't live like Von Trapps in some fabulous mock tudor mansion, but in a tenement in Pollok, crammed together, trying not to get on each other nerves - unless it was on purpose, and they wanted to tell Mums sister that on her first day at school, she was going to be left at the school and collected by the parental unit after 14 years continuous hard labor...

So as you can imagine, in moments where time is passing and no one is speaking, this story is sometimes trotted for a good laugh. However, it dawned on me recently that I was also guilty of such a faux pas. In fact, mines was far worse. It was the electrifying summer of 1991 - our nation was gripped by anti English feeling, Debbie had left me to pursue more ambitious boyfriends, the sensational anti English band Foolish Hit was peddling their single Smash The English Way down the mall, and I was gripped by the idea that I could, if encouraged, become a film maker and asked, nay, demanded that I be bought a video camera. My mother, having seen my enthusiasm for becoming a keyboard player wane decided not to spend any money on something I was only going to use to film men being hit in the groin with footballs. In all seriousness, I asked her if her life had ever been as difficult as mines was. Yes, poor cockney urchin you, with your pockets out-turned to the world. Now, I suspect there was a subtext to this, that even after 3hree years I felt alienated in the land of Ayrshire, that I was single and alone and...there was no subtext, I was just spoiled. Indulged in fact by parents struggling to keep their heads above the financial mess they were in while Dad scrubbed around Ayrshires lowest schools teaching Maths on short term contracts. That said, ambition such as wanting to be a film maker or, as I suspect was really the ambition, filming man being hit with football in groin to win prizes from Jeremy Beadle on You've Been Framed, tended to die on the vine one way or another in early 90s Ayrshire. Kilwinning did tend to thrive on exaggeration, everyone was having sex and hanging around the Horden Pavillion and listening to Altern 8 at fabulous illegal raves - no one was at home scared and alone or fitfully standing outside Tescos waiting for a date that never came. So it's strange to me that all this illuminated thought and creative thinking was never put on paper. Had someone been sat in the lunch room while we drank our Coke and ate our polo mints with a notepad, they'd have got a hell of a script for a teen movie, as kids from Beith made themselves weekend superstars and hardened criminals when all they had done was watch TV and hide from the world. I could have shot it on my JVC. Oh wait, I don't have one....Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

There's a guy in Rosny who works I think in the phone store. He's the one I wrote about before, the one who smokes outside the shopping centre with his girlfriend, too cool for his environment, looking scathing of contemporary culture, nary a centimetre of quiff out of place. It'd be a great photo if I could take a photo of them both pouting and looking like they loathe everything about their environment underneath the big sign that touts how fabulous the place is. At least that's what I thought, but now I wonder. The other morning they were both all hands and touchy feely with each other, and when someone, I don't think it was me, walked past, he instantly stopped and stood like a nervous teenager being busted by his Mum. It was strange - and now they've put him in this big corporate T-shirt that he has to walk around in, it's neon and has a big question about phones it, and yesterday he had a jacket on over it and was walking around with his head down looking pretty forlorn. So now, he just seems less cool - about as nervy and fitful and dorky as I feel most days, just with better hair. The thing is, most of my secondary school years in Ayrshire were like that - you could only get away with people thinking you were cool for moments, a week at the most, before the mob would tear you down, challenge your exaggerated stories, and leave you sat at the edge of the lunch table wondering what just happened. Such ruthlesness would not only apply to people like me who were claiming to be part of some horrific urban decay while clad head to toe in designer clothes, but also those who claimed voracious and constant sex lives and then crumbled in the face of girls they liked. This was the most ruthless of all our torments, and as much as the boy we were tormenting would claim it was different because he liked her and she wasn't cheap like all those other girls, the illusion would drop to the floor and shatter. I never got used to this kind of banter, or outright slander, I never learned to lie particularly well in these situations. I came from a school in Burnie which was run by hippies more or less - you were encouraged to paint, to draw, to eat Saveloys and drink Big Ms when you felt like it, and to spend afternoons staring at the clouds. My imagination could conjure up what a could looked like - look Sarah, it's a sheep...again - but not a convincing story where I had sex with a slapper fae Kilbirnie who sold me E outside a rave while The Shamen played in the background...but I didn't have a video camera, does anyone want to hear that story...

I told my Dad once that I had made up a disease called suitcase syndrome, that I was going to use it, the fact we moved countries 3hree times in 10en years as my excuse for failing in life. I can't remember what he said, because we were in London and he more interested in perving on a jogger. My Mum wouldn't buy this though - she came from probably the last hardy generation, and any time Billy Connolly comes on talking about his difficult childhood she pulls this disgusted face and shakes her head. As much as we would talk around our lunch table at school about how tough our lives were, all we were doing was whinging on and on and making sure no one got the last whinge in. There were no illusions in 60s Glasgow, everything was just shite, and that was how it was, and you just got on with it. Of course, what sounds shite to me - 13teen in a room for gods sake - Mum shrugs off as just life. I could have got multiple whinges out of that one alone. Outside Big W today, there was an old man and woman arguing - I know what about, because while I was idly flicking through Porky The Puppy and sending my friend a txt about Britney this old boy with thick glasses and an accent that could command a reich of indeterminate number was yelling at this girl about the price of textas. He was vicious, cruel, cutting...while his wife stood, lip trembling, eyebrow raised to heavens. The girl didn't give a toss of course, maybe she was thinking about Britney as well. However he seems very pleased with sticking to the man...via yelling at a girl about textas. Outside the store, the wife, a sort of Lillian Frank type with more make up, is giving him both barrels. She has him pinned up against the skill tester telling him to go and apologize and she'll show him what tough is and yelling at a little girl like that how could he. Like he's been sentenced to wear an orange T, the man shuffles from foot to foot awkwardly and sulks, and I laugh at his plight as my IPOD fades to a dull hiss. The trouble with all illusions is they fade - illusions of hardness, coolness, toughness, that you live in horrible times, virility, being a film maker, that one country is a panacea to anothers woes...and all that's left is gritty Scottish realism...lifes shite, business as usual...

I might even make a film about it one day...

5 comments:

sparsely kate said...

I do believe you said 'sex' twice in this post and I am blushing a little because Miles said 'sex'. Tee-hee. Tee-hee.

I love that you wanted to be a film maker but your Mum wasn't entirely convinced since you obviously didn't follow up on the keyboard player pursuit. That sounds just like what a Mum would think.

Yes, hairdressers are funny things. They speak in sound bites and must get really sick of trying to be friendly to some many strangers per day.

Miles McClagan said...

No, I'm afraid she suspected my film making abilities were going to be used to film men being hit in the groin with footballs...and after the lack of commitment shown to keyboarding and ice skating (that was her fault telling me I was shit) I don't blame her...

Unless the hairdresser is a hippy of course, then the conversations are good...until...

Baino said...

Why on earth were you reading Porky the Puppy . .don't answer that! I like the Scottish stoicism actually. Everyone seems working class and hard done by but just take it as their 'lot'. I think you'd be a good movie maker or at least a decent script writer, you've certainly got the material! Oh and my hairdresser (who I see rarely) has magazines about cosmetic surgery to fill the pregnant pauses . .they start out harmless enough with facelifts and boob jobs but by the end . . .man, there's nothing you can't get nipped or tucked . .left me speechless!

Jannie Funster said...

He said sex THRICE! Yes, I was surprised the first time, baffled the second and absolultly blown away the third time it came around.

Wot gives in the land of Big W?

Very interesting a spoiled only child be the progeny of the last tinned biscuit of 13 - quite the differece.

But interesting!

Guess I will trade in my souped up Rav4, like a.s.a.p.

Miles McClagan said...

Ok then, I won't answer it! It is pretty good, although the people now aren't as stoic as they once were. My cousin had bad pain once and her Mum went "ach get a grip!" which was delivered with SUCH venom...our mags at Cyber Hair are pretty much Tom this and Katie that...

Do I not normally mention it! I will once every 6ix months, to keep everyone on their toes! Big W is a strange place, cavernous and strange...it was a big difference, without question. 60s Glasgow and 80s Penguin is quite the difference as well...