Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shoving away from my ethnicity to talk on e-mail about Anthony Rocca



My Mum currently has her friend over - tomorrow they are going to Sydney, and today they are sitting in the living room of Mums house eating 2wo dollar coconut and jam biscuits and talking about things like operations, death - Mums friend is the Scottish one I wrote about before who lost her husband, and in the sad way, not the way my own father gets lost sometimes trying to find the light bulbs in Woolworths. She still isn't over it and no doubt at some point an "auld" record will go in the CD player as rememberance. Anyway they rang me up today to discuss a load of old nonsense and remind me that in these dire economic times the purchase of the AFL Prospectus for 29.95 is false economy, but interestingly they had a conversation about Scotland. Mum isn't going to Scotland anymore, maybe never again, after she had a hugeish fight with her sister about, well, the correct way to turn off a lightswitch, and now considers jaunts to Sydney to be a preferable way to pass the holiday times. The phrase naebody wants ye seems to come up all the time at the moment. I've spent most of the post phone call moments today trying to work out how this happened. When we first moved here, we didn't leave the house for 1ne week because of homesickness, and I found just the act of, I don't know, opening the fridge to be depressing. The fridge, and I'm serious about this, had a different type of bread in it, and I was almost inconsolable. I remember it vividly, like some horrible war wound, just because the John Marshall driven food van didn't come round Penguin. On account of he was Scottish and probably oblivious to our plight. It's strange to me that a man with his Tom Selleck moustache and friendly demeanour didn't use his loaves and chat up lines to pick up more. Maybe he did, and our street was full of mingers. Anyway, I remember going to bed that night, afflicted with the residue of jet lag, and just crying, crying for hours because I wanted to go home. If I had known that my Dad has been on Radio 4our spruiking the benefits of living in a safe place like Penguin instead of an Ayrshire bear bit, I would have ripped his neatly trimmed beard off. And yet here we are, not even wanting to spend 6ix weeks in the place, and Mums friends sisters are basically telling Mums friend they don't want her under the guise of, oh, Paisleys a bit ropey and no one can face the place. Reconciling the join between not being able to face the world because how dare the good people at Penguin bakery not have a Pan loaf. Incidentally, I told Vicki this once, but she was a bit stoned, and went on a rant about bread that seemed to last about 5ive hours - I was drunk on Blue Heaven Big M, so forgive any time related exaggeration...

I may have mentioned before, and if I have I apologize, there's a leisure centre - which makes it sound quite Gordon Brittas, but go with it - called The Magnum in my home town. Now, I believe it's closing down due to funding problems, but in its late 80s hey day it was a majestic beacon of North Ayrshire prosperity. It had everything a late 80s Ayrshire male could want. Big water slides, girls in swim suits, an ice skating rink, girls in swim suits, and a ball swamp which allowed your friends to giggle because they could ask Sharon behind the counter when the ball swamp was open and be really immature. When they couldn't inflate the big pink elephant one day, that was the greatest moment ever, people were buying mobile phones just to let everyone know 6ix really pissed off people from Girdle Toll were kicking a lump of pink vinyl on the ground and cursing every kind of elephant ever made. As they did so, and we all watched, someone put on What A Wonderful World faintly in the background and they just absolutely spat it. What they won't put on the plaque though when they tear it down is that it was where I lost my desire to move back to Scotland and raise a brood of wee weans with a girl from Girvan who worked in a travel agents until she got her chartered accountants degree. That's the good thing about Ayrshire, our goals are admirably specific. Anyway, it was 5ive a side soccer, Friday night, a badly carpeted pitch, rain on the ground, chill in the air, and my friends had invited me along - and they were chatting in the corner about something, I don't know, a girl they knew from school or something, and they made this incredibly specific reference to her, some really in nickname, and they all laughed, and I thought, huh, why don't I know about that. It was no big revelation, I wasn't jogging through Broomlands and got mugged, no one said go home foreigner, it was just a simple moment, and 3hree seconds later, nothing was the same. They did nothing wrong, I did nothing wrong - well, there was that whole I didn't drink thing they found a bit 1993, but I remember just feeling really awkward. At that moment, I thought about fleeing back to Burnie for the news with Steve Titmus and the security of the tennis courts in Burnie, where I could hit a ball off a wall in perfect solitude. It obviously got a lot worse by the time I was left alone in a house where I had to look after my paranoid Grandma who would vacuum at precisely the moments the opening credits of the TV shows I wanted to watch would start. She never vaccummed when The Cows with Eddie Izzard was on - sadist. That, though, was the big problem, and long after the Dyson was turned on, it was the little problem that still rankled...

My favourite thing about going home now has not become seeing everyone, or rather seeing everyone and having them point out on the way up the road how shit everything is, it's that I don't have to go to work. That I can sleep and get the bus into town when I want and stroll around ASDA for ages watching everyone go about their day, that sense of exploration that comes with the freedom of being a tourist. My patriotism really no longer goes any further than sporting events - I can't claim I argue the Proclaimers are better than the Veronicas, but on the tram through Sydney to the World Cup rugby about 5ive years ago a group of Scottish fans, including me, sang an awful lot of songs about the Yenglish, a rousing chorus of we only drink Irn Bru, and other such like nonsense that was hilarious at the time, only punctuated by someone sort of saying we should go back home - he said it in a friendly way, but I of course took it as I don't have a clue where home is supposed to be. The last time I was out in Glasgow, I sounded more Ayrshire than ever, or so I thought, and everyone kept asking me about Rolf Harris, and bizarrely, Reggie from Big Brother. Some guy just kept saying once he found out I was visiting from Hobart that Reggie was the most amazing chick in the world and everyone he was with was looking at him like he was mental. He then began telling me how shit Glasgow was, and we had an argument for ages because I was telling him that not everything in Hobart was great, and used Syrup as my example, and he refused to accept a club that played Dave Dobbyn 6ix times a night could be anything but wonderful, and continued the argument while I was awestruck in a giant warehouse style club looking around going this is fantastic. I guess no one is ever happy. And even more than that, after millions of people telling me that a night out in Glasgow was tantamount to walking around to walking around demanding to be stabbed, I had a fantastically pleasant evening. My cousins mate than invited me up to a pub in Govan to watch the Celtic vs Rangers game, and instantly, my auntie said if I went up there I'd get stabbed. The main problem with Scotland is everyone has convinced themselves walking down the road will get them stabbed. We don't have that problem in Tasmania. Sure, there's an annoying woman in a white T-shirt who is trying to sell me herbal supplements every time I walk through Eastlands and who calls me mate a bit too much. If she's concealing a weapon, she's concealing it very well I must say...

Dad told me tonight that when he was teaching, he smashed through two people and scored this glorious try and I said he was talking nonsense and he sort of clammed up as if he'd just sold nude photos of a prominent politician and then realised it was a check out girl. Given that I'd spent my day having a 200ed e-mail conversation about mid 00s Collingwood players, made a bet with my friend that I could get more signed celebrity photos than her, then txted my friend to tell him Gruen was back on, which was a very Australian kind of day, sitting with Scottish people was the other side of the coin. It's sort of the same, we just use the word eedjit a lot more. When I left, they were sitting with some home made whisky talking about Ferguslie Park and old teachers. I wasn't in the mood for Scottish nostalgia though - especially since it was going down a path where what was going to be trotted out was the story about me trying to throw a javelin. I jump in my hammock when I get home and put Lily Allen and Nelly Furtado on the IPOD and enjoy the solitude. A world away, my auntie is sitting in her own solitude - self imposed, but somewhat sad, for the sake of a million petty arguments about light switches and recycling and fridges, she's desperately lonely, and no one really wants to visit her except her weird friend who swears all the time and wears big Nana Mouskouri glasses and who has OCD about whether people - ie me - liked her lasagne. Whether I liked the lasagne became a 3hree act play. It's all such a drama. So maybe I won't go back next time, and I'm a bit sad about that, as the disconnect between the kid who stood in the kitchen and cried and the person in the hammock now trying to work out whether the liking of Lily Allen is fancying or musical appreciation is irreconcilable. Incidentally, my cousin, the one I don't like, has sent me a lovely thankyou card because I sent him a present for his new baby. In the photo, the new baby looks so innocent and playful, that such questions as where do I fit in, well, you hope he figures it out better than I did. Because it took me ages to realise this is actually my home now, and if I'd done it a bit quicker, it would have saved a lot of grief...

I think it's musical by the way...I think...

8 comments:

Mad Cat Lady said...

my best friend
she would only eat
specific brands of staples
like brumbies unsliced bread
and Paul's milk
and when we moved to sydney
it was a big change for her
cause she had to find
new brands to find acceptable
and in the end
no delivered pizza was good enough for her
because something they had gotten
just perfect once
was never repeated
and she just couldn't
stand eating
something that wasn't quite as good
as the best they had every managed
i don't know why I mentioned that
only that
the beginning bit of your post
reminded me of it

I got to explain to my niece
that eejet was idiot
last weekend, did I mention?

I found tonight difficult to follow
an excellent post though
I think I am maybe a little tipsy

but... um
can't remember wot I was going to say?!>
I am sure it was dreadfully intelligent and involved the words actually andthough, since I think I am using them alot and ... um ....
what i really wanted to say was
i am a little boggled
that you have holly valance on your ipod
i am not judgeing !!!!!(probably yes i am)
i should perhaps not be suprised
but you got me on that one.

I am still fully supportive of your reluctance to paragraph
though
actually
(word verification: whaminet)
(only because it looks like it SHOULD be a word)

Miles McClagan said...

It's the little tiny differences that wreck you. Having to ring up a 1800-Soccer line just to get a score killed me...Ricochets by Holly Valance is a lovely song. I stand by it! Eedjit is a lovely word, though I bow to the Irish pronounciation. And I will never paragraph! Why be restricted! It's a blog! Creative it is!

the projectivist said...

i don't for one teeny tiny second believe that you like anything about Holly BedValance other than her cleavage and tiny ears.

excuse me, for now i must dash
i have to chair my Annual General Whaminet meeting.

(that's for lovers of Wham, and the 80's in general)

Miles McClagan said...

I only like one song of Ms Valance (of the poem fame) - one less than Wham songs I like!

At the 80s meeting, show some big ups for Bananarama?

Jannie Funster said...

Yes, they only ever vacuum over the good parts, or annoying phone calls come in then.

oi-vay

Miles McClagan said...

She was a master - soon as the opening credits to the Simpsons came on, out came the Dyson...

Baino said...

I guess I was a lot younger when we emigrated so just went with the flow but I missed Balm Cakes and nice bacon. We've sort of caught up now and I think our culinary choices are way better than back 'home'. I'm with you on returning as a 'tourist' though it's pretty cool.

Miles McClagan said...

My main experience was going into the "UK" shop in Hobart. Oh what joys! Proper Aeros! Irn Bru! Frys 5ive Fruits!

I stocked my basket and then got absolutely hosed on the price...

After that, I was happy to eat Chokitos!