Wednesday, April 22, 2009

People who have no proof their superstitions work



The foilament shop, I don't know why, but when I was walking past it today with a mouthful of muffin - I'm not sure why I feel so unkempt and mockit and chunky at the moment but it's annoying me and takes away the joy of chomping on a muffin - but it looked so dingy and poetic, I began to doubt my ability to convey it to anyone else. It looked positively Dickensian because the back walls of the shop they currently squat in are unpainted and have strange stains creeping up the brickwork. I had to move on in the end, because I spent so long looking at how awful it all seemed - white walls screaming for a touch up, middle aged women gossiping about you can get such ornaments in any part of the world which must be re-assuring to the Afghans, piles of boxes loaded up against the wall ripped 1/2 open with packing foam all over the floor, the painted sign in the window with the date they have to move out by changed in felt tip pen - that I think the woman in there thought I was going to buy the washbasin cat and I had move on before I was sales pressured. It looked so amazing to me though, so old school squalor, I really doubted that I could explain my thoughts to anyone. I would have taken a picture if I could, but I'm not good at taking pictures. Well, that's not true, I'm not good at being in pictures, I could probably take them OK. In fact, when I was very younger, I took great pictures. My technique was that I would take the picture on the first syllable of cheese, not the post cheese seconds, because I thought it was more realistic. Once people fixed their grins to their faces with apparenty conviction I didn't think it seemed anywhere near as good. It seems such an odd thing to remember as a 5ive year old handed a camera - surely the simple ability to point and click should have been enough to inspire wonder - but it seemed to me as though I was quite a nihilistic child sometimes. My memories are of how great Penguin is, but then something like that pops into my head, like I was wandering around when everyone else was spraying people with hoses and making up songs about boogers trying to find out what everything meant, and questions of reality and unreality. No wonder I didn't have any friends, I must have been loping around the playground trying to work out the mathematical possibility of Santa Claus existing. That's not true, I did have some friends, a cabal of like minded Prep aged dreamers who would talk of the world outside and what would happen when we left the playground confines of the big yellow caterpillar structure we would huddle under. I'm not sure I thought I'd be shoulder to shoulder with a toothless old man pondering aloud to his wife just how dirty the walls in a shop would be, but then again, I think most of us thought we'd be teachers, as it was our most adult frame of reference, and when Dad has to slog through a weekend of marking, I'm glad I didn't go down that path...

Someone tried to blow up my local ATM the other day. I haven't been down to have a look at it, but apparently it took some of Kingstons finest minds to put it all back together. They huddled around it, discussed it, painted it and then decided that yes, it was damaged. My Gran would no doubt have admired them for their efforts, she was always appreciative of the workers. When my Auntie wanted me to audition for the role of the Milky Bar Kid, such was my Grans vehement disdain for anyone keen to pursue a career in any kind of artistic profession I'm surprised she didn't sign me up for a Glenbuck coal mining job on the spot. It's a shame, not that I didn't become the Milky Bar Kid, as I had the haircut for it, an albino bowl cut of some repute, but that I didn't pursue acting as a career. Not that I had the looks for it, but after my star turn as Joseph and several Grade 9ine improvisational skits that made Katie giggle, I never kept it up. I couldn't imagine walking up the London Road in Glasgow with my uncle as an actor, a thespian or any other profession that wouldn't be described without a swear word in front of it - as with his son, a used car salesman with a suspicious reputation based on the fixing of raffles. He's got nothing on Vanessa, a minxy minx eating a Twirl in the library today. I know her name is Vanessa because when me and the fat bloke were on different computers looking at the Internet same as any other day, except I don't have the melancholy air of man with nowhere to go except the bakery like he does, someone came screaming into the library screaming in a bogan scrag fight kind of way looking for Vanessa, and Vanessa cared not a jot, flicking through her periodical without a single raise of her pierced eyebrow and without any of her spotty white face moving one inch. Eventually, harassed library security, a little old lady and a passing visitor move the screamer on, pushing her our sternly by the stretchmarks as she swears vengenance for Vanessas crime, which apparently is conning the screamer and disappearing up her own arse. Quite the trick. Vanessa obviously in addition to taking up dying her hair poorly must have been quite the actress, and was more than happy to live in a world of untruths and betrayals. When I look, she's flipping quite undisturbed through a copy of Inside Sport, with all the time in the world. I think she might have blown up my ATM such is calm criminal mind that seems to be at work, but her evil genius is disturbed by her mobile phone ringing and scaring her. Like a sitcom, it invokes a stern shushing from the busiest bodiest librarian, and a filthy glare from the perennial fat computer user - oddly, I relate to him, I remember those melancholy weekdays in the library aimlessly surfing the Internet. As far as I can tell, he doesn't have a single mother to flirt with, nor an Aboriginal trying to kick him off every 5ive minutes to read his e-mails. Some people would say having more computers and less interaction in the library, it's progress, but not me people, not me...

I sweep past a little display case in Eastlands today, a mystifying maanequin in a glass case with balloons at the base of it, good quality ones like you get at posh kids birthday parties. I was never able to tell if I was at a posh kids birthday party when I was a kid though, it seemed to me as though everyone really pushed the boat out. Even when I had to hide in the cupboard when Ex Daddy wanted to chop up Mummy with an axe at my friends house, they still had nice cake. The mannequin, minding it's own business and refusing to judge anyone, is part of a strange new display in the middle of the sock district, a salute - and who doesn't love a salute - to workplace safety, although I don't know what anyone is supposed to ask the men behind the desk. How to be safer at work I suppose, but the sock district does a much better trade. They look utterly bored and utterly fed up, to the point that the man with the George Graham slicked back bald spot and over abundance of pens is positively reclining in his seat, staring vaguely out into the world with a thousand yard stare. It is by some gentle notion of irony that he is leaning in his chair in such a way that, frankly, he looks incredibly unsafe at work as his chair dangles in the point between tipping over and a giggle for everyone else. He might impale himself on his chunkiest pen, one of those multi coloured ones stand up comedians used to always take about that would run out of black and blue in term 1ne so you had to write in purple or puce, but such is the expression on his face I suspect it would liven up his day. This is not the time or place to pass to explain irony to passers by, who hustle and bustle by in a blur of poorly chosen outfits and lost bouncy balls their kids have thrown away that they have to chase. In the jewellers shop, a gossipy woman is explaining economic reality to her co-worker, about how she had to sack someone, and she explains it in flowery indirect language, explaining how it wasn't me and it wasn't her - must have been snooker professional Bill Werbeniuk I guess - it was just, and she said it with a hair swish, it was just reality. It's only when I look closer that I notice her face is frozen desperately with the power of Botox, her shiny forehead glinting in the spotlight. Confronted with another reality, aging, she didn't confront it with a hair swish and a defiant speech, but with a big injection. In the shine of her forehead, I can see the man in the chair edge ever closer to tipping over, it's only a matter of time, as he stares at the ceiling with lip curled and eyes entirely on the ceiling, blowing bubbles into the air and forgetting entirely the point of the mannequin, which as always sits in an entirely non judgemental fashion...

Everywhere I go at the moment that stupid Taylor Swift song is playing - it chases me out of KMart and out of Big W like a haunting murderous refrain, a Pavlovian response to flee stirring within every time I hear about that bloody Prince and Princess...things are depressing in the taxi rank - unemployment row is one thing, but the taxi rank and smoking section where I work is endlessly depressing, a fight is usually breaking up and the whole thing has an embittered grudge filled tone as people bicker over who's taxi got there first. When I walk past Humble Pie, a man eating soup is saying grace, rather than saying the usual word around here, and blessing the soup. It seems out of character for where he is, and I hope my slight staring didn't offend. Knowing the soup they serve at Humble Pie, you probably need to pray a fair bit in the hope you don't get poisoned. I feel like joining him in a silent prayer - I have a work meeting in the afternoon where they want me to write on a piece of paper what I love about working where I work, and I don't want to go back. If someone took a picture of me now before I had time to pose, I'd look sullen, like an outcast hanging around the fringes of society with my head down and my collar up, wandering around bored from shop to shop without anywhere to really go. Maybe I could join a queue at the post office and kill time talking to old people about the perils of society. I could hang around outside the travel agent shuffling nervously in a will I won't I kind of way, looking at brochures and then forgetting to book. I could badger passers by with tales about my weekend trip to Melbourne and the aceness of my tickets to the football but my Dad will tell me I'm being boring. That's his parental style - lots of eedjit name calling. Or I could do what the laws of commerce tell me to do. Grab a marker pen and a smile and come up with enough ideas to fill a piece of butchers paper until they let me get out of there. Once the bell, or in this case, the alarm on my watch sounds, lunch is over, time is up, and behind the closed door I go...

Sometimes I don't think I've left school at all...we just need a caterpillar...

6 comments:

the projectivist said...

what sort of muffin was it, Miles?
tell me so that i might judge you harshly based on your choice.

but then i'll love you again
because of your Vanessa story.
the girl with bad taste in magazines, facial jewelery and hair dye. it was magical.

i'm pleased you had an ace time in Melbourne, my delightful little ingicat.


(fyi. ingicat is my word verification.)

Miles McClagan said...

It was a delicious chocolate chip kind of muffin. Is there a muffin psychology site? Ingicat sounds like a delicious taste...someone should got onto it!

sparsely kate said...

I'm sorry I haven't commented on the last few posts..I just read them then. I was too busy whinging about my own lack of commentators (HAHA)

I like how you find the unrequited dreams sort of character in each of your stories...including yourself. Like, if things had of just been that bit different they all would have shined and had their moment in the sun.
I'm a bit like that myself except I still tell myself there is time to be that fabulous person I know I can be, and not just another sheep from the suburbs. Another mum in the Big W line with her bratty kids and shoplifting daughter. :)

Kath Lockett said...

"she explains it in flowery indirect language, explaining how it wasn't me and it wasn't her - must have been snooker professional Bill Werbeniuk I guess."

Gorgeous. I reckon you should set her up with the safework pen guy!

Baino said...

"Nor an Aboriginal trying to kick him off every 5ive minutes to read his e-mails." I thought you lot dispensed with them after Truganinni. I wish someone would give me a piece of paper so I could tell them what I think of my job . . .then again, I'd need a notebook!

Miles McClagan said...

I thought I'd lost everyone! I thought everyone was sick of me! But damn it, I post more then, ha ha...I have many unrequited dreams, if I wasn't quite so sleepy I'd have woken up in a different house with a different mindset...would I be happy? Never know...still time to find out!

I love a Bill Werbeniuk reference...top bloke, had to choose between playing snooker but never drinking and beer...chose beer obviously. Truly though, if it's not you and it's not me...who is it??? Penguy wasn't around today...more vibey!

No, the guy in the library around 99 was my arch enemy. He used to sprint to get an Internet before me...make sure you write it in marker pen...apparently it's what all the kids are doing!