Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Oliviertrilogy Part 1ne (TAFE killing time writing exercise, Jazzy Jims Hip-Hop Remix)

I was having an e-mail conversation today as the clock ticked towards my nightly parole from work about my pet hate for comedians who don't finish their jokes with a punchline but rely on intrinsic familiar whimsy to make a point - for instance the stand up comedian who holds up a copy of a toy magazine from the 80tys, point to say an ad for Wuzzles and can't come up with a more coherent joke than some sort of cor weren't they great Josie Long style fizzler. It's a strange hatred of mine because essentially I'm a bit lazy like that myself, I'm not always through with my thoughts bar I'm crowbarring a story about VHS tracking tapes in the middle of it. I don't always sum up with a pearler, sometimes it's just easier to throw in a reference to Orko and be done with it. I have basically followed the stringent comedy parabola of my time on earth though - where as now whimsy is the new comedy style, when I first moved back to Penguin I was able to thrive through a series of ripped off sub Hicksian routines which basically involved me finding fault in everything and walking around cloaked in misery. Not that I was living the part quite like Bill Hicks, as my main item of clothing was a rather rockingly bright Swedish soccer top with mad orange panels that made everyone go cool top. Yeah, but how many people died making it casual friendly passer by I would think. I was it. It was the searingly cold winter of 1992, and I wasn't really sure of my place in this strange Tasmanian town with it's obsession with overloading you with chips - 50c was enough to feed a family of 28ight - and I certainly wasn't going to try. In keeping with all of my inconsistent approaches over the year to personal presentation, the less I tried to be cool the cooler people found me and then I would think I was cool and then I'd not be cool because I was trying to hard and I'd tell everyone to F off and they'd like me again. And the more that I was unhappy the more things fell into place and became a lot easier for me, because I had a girlfriend, I had places to go, I had a social life and I was free of the weekly humiliation of trying to climb bars and ropes in an Ayrshire gym time and time again while the blue sky outside was engulfed in a horrible grey camoflauge. I was happy but unhappy, lonely but content. I would walk along a street miserable, grunt at passers by wishing me well, and they would like me more. Sadly I couldn't use my position to enlighten people to think themselves, as I really couldn't even manage basic thinking for myself, I just didn't let anyone in on the joke. One day, I was trying to distance myself from popular culture through a dismissive speech while dressed like the drummer from EMF and eating a Push Pop - I mean, who was I thinking I was? Clever? Adulthood only exists to reflect on the folly of youth I think, and if nothing else I've done a lot of reflecting, and most of it just involves me yelling what was I thinking at bemused passing seagulls until they too feel my pain...or want a chip, 1ne of the 2wo...

My Mum, she knew that my poses where no truthful representation of teenage disaffection, has a catchphrase of do you believe that? She uses it all the time, to the point it sticks in my head anytime someone tells me a story, and my natural reaction is to think it's untrue lest I be lead into a folly of belief and be as silly as someone trying to prove their intelligence by hitting their head to dislodge a coin. 1ne day she came to collect me from school because I was ill, and as I stumblebummed my way across the courtyard to her welcoming motherly arms she nudged the person she was standing next to and said in her typical Glaswegian way oh look out here comes fucking Laurence Olivier. Which requires only a brief dissection - she clearly thought I was acting up, like the great thespian of yore, pretending to be ill to get out of school because school was for corporate losers or something. If I had been living the Hicksian doctrine of life she didn't even believe I was Denis Leary. Those cynical Glaswegians, always with their finger on the pulse. And boy when my heart nearly stopped and I collapsed on the pavement was her face red. Ah there's nothing like a near death experience to sharpen the mind. Yes, her wolf crying radar was astray, and I was taken to hospital to confront an early question of mortality. I didn't have a lot of mental strength or indeed physical strength to cope with this sudden shift of events, and to be honest the nurses were a little bit too concerned with filling in charts to listen to flimsily consttructed routines about the corporate society I was forced into by society. I mean they had bedpans to deconstruct. And that was literal deconstruction not....you don't know what true reflection is until you are attached to some machine you were too zonked out on morphine to fully take in the inner workings of. It was only 1ne night, 1ne long night in a ward with a disorientated old grandpa who kept asking for Margaret. Due to my lack of sleep, and my hatred of beeping machines, not to mention brightly painted Burnie hospitals, I had a lot of time to reflect...meandering musings for Margaret had motivated a migraine in any event, so what chance did I have...

4teen, 4teen years of age I was, stuck on a couch at home, sipping soup from a straw watching midday television with celebrities dancing on the screen, somehow less famous than I remembered them when I had moved out of Penguin to the Ayrshire wilderness in the 1st place. No one in the house, hell, no one in the town really, since Mum had decided to make up for her lack of motherly faith by buying me something nice from Burnie. I don't know what could have made up for it really - a walkman would have been a good start. I was under strict bed rest for my illness, although the cheeky nurse who was cheeky in that Benny Hill kind of way before no doubt all the cheeky nurses were rounded up and given a lesson on political correctness seemed to imply my illness was all in my head. I believe her phrase was I was medically perfect. Saucy minx. Lazy eyed bitch more like. 14teen though...I had almost passed on, with nothing to show for my life. I had no more possessions after being stripped of my room in the move than a troll doll and a slightly and oddly homo-erotic photo in 2wo frames my best mate in Scotland had given me of him and me side by side as a farewell present. The morphine had just added to my medicated sense of panic, and I didn't think I could make it off the couch, and this could be my life, a series of lost days and nights on the couch distinguishable only by the variation of the blankets and shawls my Mum would cover me with. To say I was scared was an understatement, and I did't even a cool scar to show for it, just a band aid that may or may not have had a dinosaur on it, the soothing effect of his cheeky grin somehow re-assuring. I was not a resillient boy, I was pampered, an only child, my traumas were things like doing the dishes and not getting kissed at parties. Not this, not the Shawlshank depression. Not a faint humming in my ears, not a virus so strong it had rendered my arms as useless as an Ab King Pro. I spent an entire day watching a bug crawl up a wall, then back down, then back up again...I was tremendously depressed when that bug took a break from it's crawl up the wall to avoid a hard fall onto the shawl...well it was funny on morphine...

It took me a while to get better - oh sure, I got off the couch after a week, but people would tell me things and they'd go straight out of my head, and I couldn't really come to grips with basic requirements of my day to day tasks, like comebacks to insults and things like that. I was definitely shorn of my attitude, my sass, vim, and indeed my vigour. I missed my vigour most of all, that was my trusty sidekick. I was too new at school to get real sympathy about my collapse, though a girl at the window said I fell like an f'n something or other, and I think she did a good impression of me doing so. Besides which I think someone showed their underpants on the monkey bars or someone liked someone so my story didn't gain neither grip nor traction within the circles of influence. I was just some benny who fell over really. It was a little different in Penguin though, where I had acolytes, followers of my story. After all, when the leader topples, the followers can get restless. Which is a massive overstated way of saying some people who thought I was cool were worried about me, but I had not shown these people vulnerability yet. Least of all supercool cynical Vicki my pash buddy, or my stalker who used to watch me get off the bus all the time with rapt awe. Luckily most people were too kind to bring it up, so either they really didn't give a toss or my first theory was right and good old fashioned Penguin reserve kicked it, as we gathered at our 2wo am meeting point in Hiscutt Park to heckle the Milkman, and it was only as we dispersed after 2wo hours of psuedo-intellectual bollocks that Vicki asked if I was scared. Scared? I was terrified woman, I couldn't move, and the nurses...and I'm miles from home, and I have accomplished nothing yet, and...if you guessed that I shrugged and pretended with a curled lip that everything was fine, you'd be absolutely right. She smiled brightly, squeezed my hand, and said she was glad I was better. She then rolled her eyes and shook her head and said she didn't believe me for a minute that I wasn't scared...we parted as the sun came up over Penguin, and a new day began with me sneaking back in through the window trying to pretend I'd had a relapse and getting my arse booted onto the school bus quick smart...

Laurence Olivier? I couldn't manage it...I was fooling no-one...

5 comments:

Kath Lockett said...

This is a superb memoir, Miles. What ailment did you have, exactly?

LOVED this: "Shawlshank depression"

Miles McClagan said...

I don't know that they ever really got to the bottom of it that well, it seemed to be some sort of scary fatigue type virus, but it was a bit "oh his heart was a bit mad, but he'll be fine...whistles idly..."

We just say "he had a virus..."

Could happen again! Fun!

Baino said...

Wow, I go away and you begin true confessions! Must admit, I've been so like your mum on occasion but then I did live with Laurence Olivier!

Samantha said...

you are a worry

Miles McClagan said...

Mum would demand X-rays to confirm I broke my ankle...this is a woman who broke her own ankle, and put herself on a stretcher...takes a lot to convince her!

In what way? The music tastes?