Saturday, 23 February 2013

Situationist comedy, on the rates

We’ve just come back from the most unlikely comedic experience, at the Northern Civic Amenity Centre.
Now this may sound like one of those genteel community arts centres where you can buy carrot cake and crap paintings by people with mental health issues. It is, in fact, the town rubbish dump, though I think they like to stress the potential recycling opportunities these days. So, it wasn’t a comedy gig –or at least not intentionally.
The thing is, we like a good mooch around junk – charity shops (of which, in a community overstocked with wealthy crinklies, there are many), antique fairs (tat with social pretensions offered for silly money by the klingons of anal banker families) and, of course the inimitable Jurby Junk – truly the world’s most astounding Aladdin’s Cave of urban trivia.
In my case, put it down to a teenage obsession with the Surrealist dérive – those amazing attempts to turn stream-of consciousness into urban exploration, such as the legendary time Andre Breton picked up an old gas mask in a Parisian flea-market and for some minutes thought he had discovered an ethnic African artefact, or maybe something left by a passing Martian. In the case of Management and Trainee Management – maybe they picked up the habit to indulge my odd whimsies, but having far more common sense continued it because they like a bargain…. or a free gift.
In the Isle of Man, it is more than that. The truth is, we are surrounded by dullards with shedloads of money and no taste, which has a devastating effect on the local shopping experience. It is, simply, impossible to buy anything new that is interesting and different, because both Manx shops and their marketing strategies are driven by what rich inbreeds with no imagination have decided to buy because they heard about it from magazines or TV shows staffed by equally dull, timid and socially conservative airheads. Factor into this that nobody with more than three braincells will be offered well paid Manx employment for fear that something interesting happens socially, and there is really no choice open to folk like us. We can, however, root happily forever around the abandoned treasures of colonial claptrap and find something free and marvellous almost daily, if only we can find the time.
…..but I digress.
There were the three of us, happily wandering around sheds full of old fridges, TVs, bikes, kitchen utensils and other urban leftovers from numpties who feel obliged to upgrade or die to the latest 52 inch flat-screen monstrosity. Shamelessly, we had not even bothered to bring our own leftovers to this potlatch for pillocks. We wanted a free lunch and no excuses. What we also got was situationist comedy, also for free.
After about two minutes a grumpy soul – the very spit of Blakey from On the Buses but in a high-visibility tabard instead of a dirty mac - approached and asked, politely enough, how old was Trainee Management. Well, she may be almost as tall as Management but it’s clear enough she’s still at Junior School, and I admitted that.
In that case, I was told, she had to wait in the car. Elfin Safety and all that. Apparently some Parent-of-the-Year candidate had let his feral sprog loose a few months back, and she’d run smack bang into a car. Both me and Management pointed out that TM was hardly rushing about like a Ritalin-wired ADD case, and even offered to walk hand-in-hand with her to avoid worry. But Captain Dayglo said his hands were tied, and that was that, back in the car and home, TM sobbing at yet another example of what passes for Manx adult responsibility.
And then it got even sillier.
As we pulled away, Captain Dayglo was throwing himself in front of some other kid’s dad, who was reckless enough to test out a rather nice old school Raleigh 10 speed bike I’d had my eye on. Apparently there was a one way system, and he was going against it. There weren’t actually any cars on the site (which is a mile outside the town and set apart from the main road by  a 100 metre approach road) apart from ours and the would-be Mark Cavendish’s.
Instinctive class solidarity means I don’t want to blame this on Captain Dayglo. Many is the time when in some dead-end job, over the years, I had to uphold a cretinous management policy against an innocent punter. You try your best to be sensible, but the dimmer the Boss Class the less wriggle room their inane policies allow. CD didn’t look like a barrel-of-laughs, let-it-all-hang-out kind of bloke, but maybe that’s what a lifetime of struggling with small town uncivil demeanity has brought him to.
But it was still a great afternoon out, and for the comedy alone yet again we thank the selfless (and witless) forces of local government.

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