Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back to saying nothing, but the location is different

(You'll have to forgive my long 3 month absence sans explanation. I'd love to be enigmatic about it, I just lost my way, began to think all my writing was awful and repetitive, and er...discovered Sporcle. Nothing too fancy, no time, plus tedium of the brain. Just the need for a break as a result of paucity of ideas. Oh and I'm in the UK right now...so saga, begin...)



I have no idea sometimes how to articulate the ideas in my head. It's 3pm on a Manchester street corner. It's cold, it's bitter, a porter at a 5ive star hotel is kindly looking past my sloppy combination of Bangles T-shirt and black Adidas trackpants to sycophantically wish me a good day. My head hurts, and even more complexly, my ribs do too, although how that happened I don't know. I'm expecting tension, maybe that's why. The cold seeps into my tired eyes, forcing them open like some Clockwork Orange stunt double showing Mal McDowall how it's going to be done. The porter is looking at me like I'm an idiot with a fixed rictus grin on his face, wondering why he's been holding the door open for 5ive minutes without me going through it. I shrug, and exit anyway. I'm dreading the beggars. I'm dreading the self serve Mancunian supermarket counters. Last night I'd stood bewildered for a good 10en minutes while a burka wearing shop assistant and her aggressive boss, moustache twirled, draped and luxuriated across his face, tried to figure out how to process an 89p Brownie, and not even the animated Sainsbury JPEG women with no thumbs on the display screen could help. I thought when I got back to my hotel about my obsession with nothing, with strangeness in life at the expense of meaning. I can notice an animated woman repetitively showing shoppers over and over again on a computer screen how to process Vimto and random Murdoch newspapers doesn't have thumbs, and yet, beggars, I pretend they don't exist, especially given their cruel homeless juxtaposition with my 5ive star hotel. I walked past one last night of course, a proper homeless person, not a Manchester scally with a flash watch trying to hit you up for change. I was eating my aforementioned brownie - it was unwrapped, and probably a health risk, but watching a fight in Arabic for the sake of 89p became peversely entertaining after 5ive pints of Guinness - heading for a room roughly the size of Monaco, and on the way had to bypass a shivering homeless man, with a nary a care for the personal difficulties he must be able to articulate in HIS blog. Not only that, I had walked past the same porter with nary an acknowledgement of how crappy it must be to open the door for someone so clearly drunk he can't put a brownie in his mouth for love or money, and past a cleaner overloaded with vacuum cleaners to point of comic impossibility who still had to stop and say in broken English good evening Si...like I said, I can't articulate the ideas in my head all too well, but it must all add up to something...

My breakfast in this hotel had been both invigorating and clumpy. They had poured all their ideas into the bacon but failed horrifically on the toast. I like to think the chef in charge of foods A-M had been great but his N-Z sidekick couldn't cut the mustard, which starts with M so he'd have to...across from me is a portly businessman and his shorter, thinner haired, jowly cheeked companion. They both look like the kind of men who sit in hotels all across the United Kingdom lamenting a culture where you can't pinch the bums of secretaries or call them darl anymore. The more portly man doesn't mind the horrendous toast. In an instant, a curly haired girl will sweep at a million miles an hour across the breakfast bar, picking everyones toast up whether they want it or not, a juggernaut, a go-getter, if what's she's going to get is toast. I don't know if she's the expert on all things bread, if rolls is a step too far. Pre that moment, I suspect the jowly cheeked man, between sloppy, ugly attempts to devour his egg without making his mess, is about to discuss his previous nights adventures, given the way he is leaning forward, desperate to speak. I sense from my own hardbacked chair that this adventure is going to be exaggerated, and the black bags under the eyes of the portly gentleman have been gained from years of sitting awake having to listen to these overwrought stories. Instead though, the jowly man lets his face sink a bit and says his wife might be leaving him. There's no build up to this statement, it just comes out, hangs in the air, bounces off the ceiling fan whirring over enthusiastically above all our heads, and lingers like the smell of last nights garlic bread still coming from the kitchen. The portly gentleman sits up in his chair, is about to offer something...sympathy? Indifference? Coldness? Warmth? He puts his hands to the side of the table, puts down his paper with the latest scare about killer drugs on it to 1ne side, and takes a deep breath...only to be saved from an uncomfortable conversation by the clearing of toast and the sound of desperate apologies that grown men in a 5ive star hotel couldn't bake bread. The 2wo men don't mention it again, and leave in typically English uncomfortable silence puncuated by bouts of strained breathing. They even leave before the 2nd bout of toast. It's not just me, then that can't articulate the thoughts in my head...

My brownie, by the way, was delicious, well worth the 89p. I had spent most of my drinking - not in a problematic get me on Jeremy Kyle type way of course. In fact, I'd mostly drunk chocolate milk to be honest, but what the hell. I stood outside some trendy record shop clutching a bag full of vinyl and trying to chat up some girl from Northern Ireland with my knowledge of Sky Ferreira songs. She in turn began to articulate a tedious series of problems within the advertising industry that made my mind wander free and over imagined hills far away. Across from me was a small child, no more than 6ix years old. She had on a white dress, white tights, and wore the smile of the perpetually bewildered. She held in her hand a small snow dome, the kind exchanged between relatives who hate each other. She's looking at it with contempt as she shakes it, and holds it up to my eyeline, clearly disgruntled by this gift she's been given when up until now, she had been relatively gruntled, all the while her over burdened mother struggles with shopping bags and her inability to smoke and txt at the same time, not to mention her struggle to carry off the same haircut Lindsay Buckingham had in the Holiday Road video clip. I shrug in the direction of the kid, as if to say we all got problems, since in my lughole I'm hearing things about the advertising industry even Wil Anderson would say were trite and boring. We exchange glances and move on, returning to our respective tedious worlds, and while I would ponder the benefits or disadvantages of discussing life non verbally with a 6ix year old, I don't have time to get thoughts in while I'm being assaulted verbally with advertising pitches and tales of Dave the Religious bigot in her office. The only way out - to be fair, she looked cute, she had a smile that could light up a room, but sadly communication skills that could black out New Jersey - of her web of advertising conversation is to say something thats been on my mind for quite some time. Have you ever noticed, I say while she pauses for a drink of Volvic, the lady from the Sainsburys demo cartoon doesn't have any thumbs...

I hacked all these thoughts, conflicts and ideas into a hashed up mixed up e-mail that I wasn't happy with, and then slept the sleep of a restless man surrounded by pretty things who would trade them all for respite from ribache, old man ribache. Back in the present, the cold is agonizing. I've eventually negotiated the tricky man holding door open - exit the hotel matrix without too much difficulty on my end. I still feel as though my sunglasses are an un-necessary extragavance though. My taxi provides a swirling addition to my hangover, festooned with spots, bright colours and an out of sorts cockney taxi driver who ends every sentence with the word proper, even when the original sentence had ended with proper to begin with. His head is shaved to the bone - his face a strange mash up of other faces I've seen before, resembling several people but looking like none, and his shirt has 1ne sleeve longer than the other, as if to cover some crass back alley shoulder tattoo it's best not to talk about. After we dine out on the conversational snacks of immigration talk, he loses interest in me and begins to talk on his phone to another cab driver I presume, stopping only to adjust the volume up and down on the radios Tinie Tempah song and - as with all cockneys - discuss the price of fruit and ask hows yer favvah? Eventually as we pull toward the scrap iron garage that passes for my cousins house, he begins to soften, shrink in size, begin to speak in a poetic articulate voice that sounds as if he's had a Cockneyectomy. All he says softly is I've put myself out, don't let me down. No more, no less, but it's said in a voice of such genuine poignancy, it's strangely hypnotic. Of course, it passes in an instant, the moment he bumps over the latest piece of scrap iron accumulated by my cousins gypsy village, but I wonder why a gruff poorly shirted Cockney taxi driver is able to take 8eight words to say something meaningful, when I'd take all night. When I get out, a guy working on his car hisses in the direction of the taxi driver, the taxi driver hisses back, and all beauty is lost under a grey sky. I scurry off to my cousins, stepping in a puddle of what I pray is rain water, and leave them to it. It's time to turn my brain off, eat curried sausages, and watch bad DVDs without ever telling them I truly hate wine, please stop pouring it...

It's a privilege I feel I may have earned...

6 comments:

Baino said...

Well I for one am relieved you're OK. There's no email link on your page so next time don't disappear without as much as a 'ta ta for now!'
Ha I'm a secretary although we prefer "Executive Assistant" and trust me, nobody's ever pinched my bum but my boss does call me 'darls'. I think you do pretty well at articulating actually. Nothing that can't be improved by the insertion of a paragraph here and there. What did he mean "I've put myself out, don't let me down"?

Enjoy your stay or are you there permanently?

G said...

Welcome back. Thought you had fallen off the face of the earth.

I'm more than ready for the unique slice of life that only you can fulfill.

Hope you're doing well.

Rita said...

Welcome back to the fold MM. Let me assure you you've been missed.
Are you discovering/rediscovering your roots?

Miles McClagan said...

Yeah I am sorry everyone I buggered off...like I said, those quiz websites are addictive...

I don't know what the taxi driver meant either, the conversation took an odd poignant turn at some point...it was weird...I'm here on holidays. Back in May...weird times!

Thanks for the wb mate...I'm good, doing OK thanks...just needed a rest...

Thanks also mate...yeah, kinda. My roots being the local ASDA Supermarket! Not much to see around here, but it's all good! Good break, good rest!

Kettle said...

Hey Miles, good to hear from you. Great observations on life, as always.

Safe travels.

Miles McClagan said...

Thanks mate - the travel is going well...so far, so good!