Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coming out of the flu (tentative blog steps in D Minor)

It's 2wo PM in Eastlands, and a lady so big it must be painful just to expose her cankles to the world is wobbling awkwardly up the path, her gigantic floral tent blowing in the wind as she walks with as much dignity as her daily grind will allow her. I'm fiddling with a copy of a coffee magazine, for I'm sitting in the middle of Gloria Jeans despite my dis-interest in franchised coffee these days, while a smug smiling sports star beams out from the cover, radiant, sipping coffee like all his tomorrows are smooth and luminous. The large lady meanwhile abandons her steps after a moment because the work of walking is too exhausting, and collapses against the window, making it shake and vibrate. The thrust of the cover story is that in his coffee shop that he owns, he will personally stand in the foyer, or the dining area, and just talk about sport. As I flick through I realise that all he wants to do of course is talk about himself in specific circumstances, answering the questions about his glory days, with the bad selectively edited, and the coffee overpriced. He seems happy enough though, while I find conversation of that kind, personal questioning and so on, as exhausting as simply walking can be for some people. My head is full of trivia, such as whatever happened to Carlos or The Tick Tock biscuit, but I'm not much chop at answering questions on my life direction. The large lady eventually regains her poise and in a fleshy flash she's off reasonably quickly while a soft soothing family approved track floats across the PA system, soothing the chaos behind me as a shop girl hops from foot to foot having burned her hand on some errant coffee. The sports star meanwhile finds all of this mirthful, his countenance unchanging as he thrust his mug, proverbial and literal, into my eyeline, the smile fixed and wan. Eventually, I had to thrust his espoused charms aside and stop staring at a girl far too young for me who might have been staring back, and no she didn't have cankles even though the word amused me and delivered in a funny accent would probably have the power to amuse and enchant a maiden if delivered in the prop...no, she's here, she's got coffee, and I must focus my energies on the sheer dread that is a conversation with no escape...

If only I'd played sport...

How I got here - by which I mean how I got out of bed at all this morning - is a rather strange mixture of cough medicine, DVDs of The Wire scattered around the living room while I tried to rush around and resist the temptation to watch 1ne more episode or read about 1ne more disease that rendered a man incapable of telling his wife from a hat...and a kerfuffle with a toaster that even in the most tedious of personal recaps with the best intended cute accent wouldn't get past the first sip of a girls Midori and Lemonade before she got bored and eyed off the drummer. I'm at the age where I can easily list 200ed things I loathe before I get to 6ix I like. I spent a fair portion of my weekend wondering how I could bulldoze Irish Murphys and it's loathsome bouncers, and then realised between that and waiting for football to pass I'd wasted an entire 2wo days, so I'd like to be more positive and do more things, but I don't have the time because I've kerfuffled with the toaster and I'm late for work. Barry Tosser, my neighbour, and his small, appropriately pleased with itself dog sit at the end of my driveway as if desirous of some morning entertainment, desirous of me ploughing into the gates of my driveway. I zoom past them with nary a glance, although I'm sure the dog gives me one final evil stare on the way past. At the petrol station, the lady behind the counter says hello with such vigour and such a level of intensity it's positively jarring. She emerges from behind a wall of overpriced chocolate, rising serpent like from a pile of KitKats with fangs bared. Her own intensity takes her aback, and she takes a step back as if she hasn't recognised her own voice. I don't know what it is about that petrol station - everyone behind the curtain seems prey to eccentricity, to strange personal foibles. I think it might be the petrol fumes...or being stuck all day listening to a tinny radio playing Leighton Meester at a low volume. Either way, I never stick around long enough to get to the bottom of it...there's more important kerfuffles to deal with throughout the day...

I had had an anxiously strange day wandering around before I had to make conversation, killing time in the cold grey afternoon, avoiding hooded top wearing wearing bogans clutching their tax cheques and hanging around outside Boost Juice trying to see if their names had been selected as Boost Juices lucky name of the day. It just seems to me as though everyone around today is trying to win something. Be it a free Boost Juice served in a cup by a grumpy promotions model, a free Dave Hughes DVD with the entrance from in the top pocket of a Dave Hughes cardboard standalone being ripped out in a frenzy by a bogan in a baseball cap with a frenzied grin of excitement, or the lady nervously gripping the skill tester, knuckles turning white as she purposely trains all her energy on trying to win a Cherry Ripe. There's an old man leaning with his elbow on the Dave Hughes cardboard standalone. He's buttoned his shirt up to the neck, he's combed the cornflakes out of his thick bushy beard and he's confidently speaking about a book he's reading. At the top of his voice, he begins to narrate a story about summer days and how good it is to sit on his porch and read a book and how the particular author has lost him with his latest work. Dave Hughes doesn't flicker an eyebrow ironically or otherwise, and it takes me a good 30ty seconds to realise the man with the beard actually isn't talking to anyone at all, just speaking out loud to passers by like a lonely and distracted town crier. Over at the skill tester, the woman thumps her hand angrily against the machine, and lets out a shriek of annoyance that even breaks the bewildered face of the Boost Juice head model, but not the flow of the book reviewer, who continues his epic rant as if nothing has happened, his shirt is freshly pressed to accomodate a major speech to a university, and Dave Hughes is hanging on his every word, kindly not even interrupting to plug his DVD even 1nce...

My boss has decided that today will be the day she takes us out for coffee and chat. I think she read it in a book or something, 1ne of those management books. The awkwardness is palpable, since I used most of my pop culture material up during my performance review, just to get out of there, to sprint through the rain and get away from the 1ne on 1ne bonding mandated and diarised by the management book. I've been dreading it all day, trying to get out of it, but now, I have to be nice, pass some time in the company of someone who's smile is as painted on as her lipstick. There's a tiny child next to me who's smile is sincere, clinging to the jeans of her jaded, puffy eyed mother, a woman old before her time with a macchiatio meandering lazily in her shaking grip, threatening to smash in a million pieces. The child has in her hands a drawing, but the mother barely stirs as she relates to her friend a tale of woe about her partner, Dean, a criminally cut adrift loser without much hope who seems incapable of replicating love or affection in anyway. As best as I can tell, there's not much anyone can do for Dean, and things are desperately bleak. I get a bit lost in the tale, especially since the poor child has failed to be depressed by any of the angst spilling over the edges of the conversation, and is defiantly and proudly grinning at the drawing of the pig/cow/dog/spaceman that's she's frantically waving and trying to get her Mum to smile at or even acknowledge. My boss, from the depths of her management book, tries to start a corporate approved amiable conversation when my gaze has been away from her painfully fixed smile for too long, but my mind is already home, where I can get away from poignantly aching family disputes, badly constructed conversations, and fudge brownies with just a hint of cigarette ash lurking deep within in the mix...

A CD and a cup of tea later, and the day is already long, long gone...

5 comments:

sparsely kate said...

Miles! I've missed you - sorry I haven't been over at your blog for a while... but it's good to be back ;)


You know, I always feel dreadfully sorry for those people who grow so large that walking is a chore. :(

How did the coffee go with the big boss?!

Baino said...

Hope you're perking up. Man flu is bad enough but real flu pretty debilitating. I hate some perky breasted little pimple farm calling my name out loudly above the noise of blenders . . they don't know me so they shouldn't be so familiar! Pisses me off frankly.

Jannie Funster said...

Please wash your hands 40 times a day. I may not have any skin left on my fingers but at least I haven't had a cold or a flu in 15 years.

:)

Kath Lockett said...

Ah but remember, that smug sports star on the cover of the coffee mag will soon be defecating in the corridor of a hotel - caffeine does that to you, you know....

Miles McClagan said...

I'm sorry I haven't visited for a while myself! I've been a bit unwell, and going to bed early, and watching The Wire...in America apparently they have carts to get round the supermarkets! Coffee was fine, I just drifted off and let the time float by...

I'm over my flu now, and you should know that at Boost Juice, they never call your name! Just a simple "OI!" is usually all you get!

I hadn't had a flu since the Laurence Olivier virus in 92...bloody awful thing!

If he did do that, I'm sure he'd be pleased with himself. You should see the grin on the mush! Loves himself!