Monday, July 6, 2009

Cafes and walkways and sculptured weekdays



I knew it was cold today - if for no other reason than the people around me stopped coming up with ways of describing how cold it was, much to the relief of mother-in-laws and witches everywhere. Instead they simply swore, or blew smoke, or puffed out their cheeks or started whinging. Further examination of this trend might end up being a bad stand up comedy routine, but it was still noticable. I spent most of my day lurking around the local shopping centre, an extra in a rich tapestry of life going around me, most of it clad in scowls and flannel, texting Facebook updates and swearing into the grey sky. Obviously about how cold it was. I ended up huddling around the DVD section in K-Mart simply because they had the biggest heater turned on, and because who could resist the 5ive dollar charm of a Rodney Dangerfield section? There was a slightly dorky guy in a black T-shirt armed to the gills with bargains, with a perfectly pleasant girlfriend to his left basking in the bargainy goodness, but in an instant she'd found a chink in his reliable boyfriend armour, the fact that he never got up and joined her in games of Singstar. With an expression reminiscent of Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel he turns to me and grins, stopping one step short of inviting me around to the family home such is his bonhomie and desire to include me. I'm entirely the wrong person to rope into the game of cheerful reciprocated mutual glances, and I bury myself visually in the nearest pile of DVDs at the expense of inclusion. I certainly have no opinion on the merits of Singstar, nor do I really want to engage in conversation with a man who's T-shirt is so in thrall to the wrestler John Cena. A girl with a hard to pin down hair colour sweeps past with a trolley full of discounted toys and the Cena clan are so enthralled they stare at it leeringly like a cheerleader has just walked into Syrup and the accountants can't contain themselves. They turn and chase the trolley like the Bratz dolls are calling a siren song of bargains, and I'm left huddled under the warmth of the air conditioner, whistling a happy tune and hoping the curly haired nemesis of mine won't interrupt and offer to help...or ask me how cold it is...I'd really hate that...

Cold, ah, so cold...Troon train station, 1995ive. A winter chill from the east sweeping across the train platform, freezing the Twixes as they lay comatose in the vending machines. I can't say I had an especially grand time on this particular vacation. The snow lay on the ground for a whole month, my friends had aged and moved on without having the courtesy to tell me, I had become apparently a clumsy non drinker with no idea what the cover of a magazine was telling me to do, and certainly no idea as to which Gallagher was which. So I was left on my own to forage and fossick in small Scottish towns in an endless winter of traipsing and shuffling. It wasn't so bad I guess, finding tiny little shops, tiny little pubs with log fires and unfriendly locals. It was a very independent holiday simply by mutual agreement and the passing of time, an unfussy holiday with no one obligated to pitch in or take me anywhere special. Across from me on the train station platform was a bearded father with an burly arm around his son - his face seemingly scarred and cracked from the miners strike - a small elfin child clutching a rather fetching pair of Canadian Ice Hockey skates from the very top of the line. I admired their mutual support of one another in the midst of this horrible unending winter, at least until they realised they were entirely on the wrong train platform and begun a long and violent argument that involved words you just don't hear from your average elfin child. After a while when it seemed as though they were going to begin using their skates as a weapon, they both turned and looked at me as if I was some sort of vagrant adjudicator, swooping over from Hobart just to fix family disputes. My homeless look and patchy ungrown in beard and warm coat must have scared them off, and after a pointless moment where we all stared at each other, in a race to see who could look the toughest, or at least who would strike first and I was ready to use my rolled up copy of the Guardian as best I could, until their train came, and I last saw them getting onto a train in the snow, in complete and utter family misery, and as they did the little boy turned and waved a cheerful wave to me, as if my silence had been some kind of signifier I was really on his side. I probably was, after all, he clearly said Platform 1ne...

Debbie, my summer romance of 1990, was really into winter. It made our romance slightly awkward because in the midst of an strangely warm Indian summer she would talk about snowmen and frozen lakes and children singing if we were listening. Mind you she was just trying to rush the years along so she could be older, live a more ambitious lifestyle and have the government finally get around to building some of those robots she was obsessed with. When the relative heatwave was punctured by a bout of Ayrshire rain and cool breezes flowed through the air as a gift from nature, she seemed a lot more happy. In fact when it rained or was cold she seemed to want to do more things, like show me cafes with fancy coffees on the menu and cakes that didn't come in packets of 6ix for a pound. I wasn't really prepared for dating, nor a girlfriend who was so seasonally affected. She took me into a bakery 1ne day in the midst of a downpour so strong even Irvines hardiest drug dealers were forced inside phone boxes if they wanted to sell their wares. We met her cousin Mary, a string bean girl with a sickly face, and I wasn't in the mood to meet family. I must have really rude to Mary, speaking in no more than the approved Twitter length of 140ty characters and a selection of my own finest grunts. I wasn't really in the mood to talk I must admit - I was young, I was cold, I was wet and the conversation was keeping me from selecting cakes. And it was 1ne of those conversations that was going nowhere anyway, about how it was raining and what was I doing on the weekend...pure hairdresser talk. And for some reason, when I got back to our dating palace, the little circular brick construction where we would go and hang out, Debbie kissed me harder than she ever had or would again. Turns out she hated Mary with an incredible violence. I could never quite figure out Debbie at all, the complexities of a girl with such specific and clear likes and dislikes when mines were dependent on what VJs and style icons told me they liked, but if it rains in a certain way or is just the right degree of cold, I know I'm 11even again, and having my face pashed vigorously for reasons that aren't quite clear, but thinking what the hell, at least I won't have to hear about robots again today...

It's cold in the present day as well - so cold there's only 2wo people in the queue at the supermarket, an idle nail filing blonde too young to remember the early 90tys or ever have wondered what Sir Mixxalot was knighted for, holding us up as she pretends to put a paper roll on the cash register. It certainly doesn't take that long, I should know, I have overcomplicated fingers that make most things a lot more complex, that operate independently of my ideas like rowdy red cordial drinking children, and even I could change the receipt roll on the till. The only other person in the queue is a short grey haired lady with alarmingly thick black glasses, that do nothing but make her seem overly aggressive, the sharp pointy corners seeming to frame a face that wouldn't mind getting out the mace at any point. It's then that the PA system plays a particular song about a special 2wo, and I can't help laughing, since me and old granny Mace are the only 2wo people around, and we couldn't be any less of a special 2wo since she's buying the Jodi Gordon weekly magazine and a tub of butter, and I'm buying a chupa chup and a heaping helping of pasta for 1ne, and neither of us are dressed in what you would call finery. Even if we were in a relationship, our pooled resources wouldn't be enough to provide any kind of nutritional system for us to enjoy. It's just one of those things that I find amusing, songs tinkling away on PA systems that don't fit the clientele or the moment. Of course, that leaves me inanely grinning in my rugged up clothes to no one in particular without means of explaining the ironies inherent in the song relative to our standing in life...and when they, the shopkeep with the angled nails and the woman with the hotline to suspicion tattooed on her face, when they both turn to me and stare blankly as if to ponder what I'm grinning at, the articulation required from me melts like the 6ix year old me did around Pippa, and all I can do is stare into the light and mutter something inane to pass the time...

Something like boy it's cold today, that oughta do it...

11 comments:

the projectivist said...

i bet i must have played 'Come Monday Night' two billion times over the past few months.

i like the lyrics:
Come monday night the day of work is done,
Tuesday morning lose the grey of ordinariness,
Start by putting off your chores,
And all the crushing bores..."


don't you hate those crashing bores? i'd like to use that term in polite conversation more often.

i bet that Debbie kissed you that way because she liked your bad-boy attitude. your flagrant disregard for polite, hairdresser talk with her cousin.

do you think she's living in Alaska now?

Miles McClagan said...

Oh I talk to a steady stream of very dull people...don't you love how people don't know they are boring you! I find that odd. I have an acute Scottish knowledge of my own boring inflictions...

I think she's probably still in Ayrshire...either that or working for NASA...there's probably a blog out there she's got going with me in it...

Samantha said...

I can't talk sensibly at the moment Miles - I am seeing my favourite band saturday and I have nothing to wear - also I have been eating at my laptop and my 'o' and 'q' don't want to work.

eep eep eep eep - I am so EXCITED!

too excited - i've been mouthy on the forum already. Somebody said if I wanted to get in good with the bass player to mention love for the Bureau of Meterology website and I replied that my relationship with the BOM was more along the lines of F--k Buddies, cause I only go there when I need to.

It's going to be the 'nipple' post again all over if I am not careful.

Helen said...

It's pretty chilly here at the moment, so you can't walk three feet without some variation on: "Good heaven's it's cold today! It wasn't this cold last year! What's this nonsense about global warming? ha ha ha"

Because nobody ahs ever said anything like that before!

Bimbimbie said...

Yep I picked up on that extra attention Debbie gave you. She probably sensed your moody way was making Mary very interested in you ... but you missed all that due to the cakes*!*

Miles McClagan said...

I'm excited for you mate! I don't think my favourite band are so meterogically inclined, and sadly are unlikely to ever tour Australia...maybe if I went to favourite singer...and remember, it's not stalking, it's just selective walking...

In Hobart it's basically all "how cold does it want to be!" - it being some abstract force of nature...and then they hold their hands up in a comical pose. What am I meant to do with that! Give them a pat on the back for their observation...

The problem is, I was young and naive and distracted by pastries...it's not right, big or clever...if I was older and wiser, I'd have been more clued in! I didn't realise Mary was interested in me? That's got me thinking...

Jannie Funster said...

So nice to be back in Miles World.

And hey, Im not dressed in finery either. Tho I wish we were having winter too. Enjoy it!

Baino said...

Pashing at 11! You started early or did I start late? If I hear "What's all this about global warming . ." one more time I swear I'll break into a tyrade ... well the 'inner me' anyway. The outer me will probably take on your silly grin

Miles McClagan said...

You should see the "I've got a cold and I'm sulking" finery I've got on at the moment...it wouldn't win a single style award...let me tell you!

I was initially more pashed than pashed back - she was hungrier than me to be honest. By the time I caught up I think she'd moved on mentally. Global Warming? Don't think we have it in Tassie - anyone who mentions it gets a silly grin, believe me!

Kath Lockett said...

I must have really rude to Mary, speaking in no more than the approved Twitter length of 140ty characters and a selection of my own finest grunts.

THe above, and the second-to-last paragraph, Miles, are gold. GOLD!

PS - hope the old lady didn't mace you...?

Miles McClagan said...

No, luckily I wasn't maced...I've never been maced, I have a good sense when to back off...as I said, it's not stalking, it's just selective walking...mace or no mace...