I’m a Bit Old for All That

Photo 12-08-2014 19 41 25

I am on the train home beside a woman who is texting, Fucking nose has been running all day. The text continues, but I seem to have been rumbled and now I am forced to angle my phone away from her because she is trying to join in this phone-filled fun. But. That was my idea. I feel protective of it. Of course there is a chap on the other side having a little peek. All I can do is hold my phone closer to my face. This is uncomfortable. Fucking Nose Woman is now reading a CV. No doubt this is a sign of her importance. It’s not a very good CV – she’s had to turn the page and there’s at least one more. Heavy Helvetica font, probably fourteen point, professional mug shot of girl on the front. Surely the signs of a beginner, who’s heard somewhere that Helvetica is cool. It’s use was popularized by waste-disposal lorries in New York, that wanted to give off a clean, clinical look. And now, hey presto, like badly fitting jeans, if you’re arty, you can’t be seen without it. I’m a Times New Roman man myself. Old reliable, doesn’t draw attention to itself. Serifs speeding reading, my luminous prose shining through the text as the sun shines majestically in the late afternoon through clouds, for example, or trees, or anything that magnifies its magnificence by obscuring it. Mind you, CV’s  – never in my life have I got a job using a CV. Once, maybe – I was a camera trainee, and mentioned on my CV that I had previously been a windsurfing instructor. The Loader was a surfer. But it was good enough for him. Not exactly sure what he was expecting – he was cool in the traditional sense of being a really centered, confident guy who tackled big waves at the weekends and was a lynchpin in pushing the story forward on the set, and just, fuggin… getting the film made. Windsurfers, by contrast, are almost entirely nerds, in the traditional sense of being awkward, curious, technical and furtively perplexed by the apparent ease with which cool people remain cool. We deal with our perplexity by going windsurfing, which is highly visible, in the hope that somebody is watching, somebody who can see how good we are at this ultimately obscure and useless activity, which is nonetheless enjoyable and healthy. So I had this neediness, which I further expressed by smoking cigarettes, and the Loader kind of managed me, and shared spliffs with me in the evenings. In fact I had previously spent my adolescence treating hash consumption as the well-worn escape route of my mind; actually that’s not quite accurate – it was more of a permanent and inescapable dwelling; and the prospect of getting high filled me with anxiety, as if I would be drawn back to a hell from which I had struggled to escape. So the Loader’s kind gesture kind of backfired, and despite my brave attempts just to get high and be cool, we ended up with these silences, and in general gravitated to other people around the set. One person I got to know was the Gaffer, head electrician and organizer of the lights. The whisper was that he was a criminal boss in Dublin. No surprise, since both electricians and film industry in Ireland are heavily unionized, so a gaffer would be a fairly powerful character regardless. He admitted it to me frankly over a sword-fight at the Oasis Nightclub Pissoir one morning in the wee-wee hours. Most people know I’m a bit of a gangster, he said. As if launching into something. How’s that going? I asked. Well, thanks, he said, and then he launched into something quite other. You don’t take criticism very well, he said. To be honest, I wouldn’t agree with that, is what I said. There you go, he said.  You’re deflecting it. But that’s not the way to deal with criticism. You need to let it hurt you. Thankfully we were still pissing, although at that point the group-hug type hug I would have felt compelled to advance might, possibly, have offered a decisive end to this rather uncomfortable line of argument. I don’t really see the connection between all this and being a gangster, I said. Looky, he said. I see a lot of people. I know how they work. Here’s what I’m seeing: You’re a good-looking lad. Thank you very much. Just shut the fuck up, for a minute, would you, please. You’re a good looking lad, and you’re well spoken. You seem to come from a good family. You’ve basically got it all. And what you don’t seem to realize is that everybody hates you. Before you’ve even opened your mouth. So there’s the Loader, breaking his fucking balls to get this thing made. And all he gets is you and your smart-arsed fucking remarks. Oh, I see, I said. I mean this in the spirit of friendship, he said, as I finished up my wee. What a fucken prick, I thought, conscious that what he said was, in actuality, justifiable. I think you’re a great guy, he said. I think you’re a fucken homo, I thought. I think you can do this thing, he said, I think you can do well in film, but you need to bring some emotion to the table, do you know what I mean? I did at that point feel a bit bewildered. Even doing the Video Assist, he patronized onward, oblivious to or ignoring or, possibly, thoroughly enjoying the uncertain movements of my lower lip which, and I was reaching a kind of inward incandescence, could only have signified the stream of livid curses calling from my very fibre. I know it’s boring. You’re standing around. But there’s an art to it. You can perform it. Everybody is watching you performing. You’re in this environment. At the moment you’re kind of sneering at it, aren’t you? The way you sneer at the Loader when he helps you out, always patient, always there to support you, when it’s you that is here to support him; and the way you’re sneering at me right now, the Gaffer said, peering at me with beady little eyes lodged in a baldy little head, and maintaining this self-righteous, unimpeachable demeanor throughout this Discourse on My Shortcomings. But we’re all rooting for you. I was towering over him, lanky and increasingly uncomfortable, and he looking up at me fixedly, like a mechanical up-braiding machine. We don’t want you to be a smart-arsed little prick. We want you to come down from your lofty, literary, over-educated stream of cynical bullshit. Give up the cigarettes. You’ve got it all and you’re smoking. Don’t be a fucking loser. Come down off your high horse, and put your shoulder into this thing we’re doing. You might find you like it down here. You can play a part, and I think you will be great in your role. You have the greatest role-model in the industry. You have the privilege of observing him day in day out, and not only that, but of having him coaching you. Something about being confronted with my great good fortune, and my great opportunity, was making me profoundly uncomfortable. I was also, or maybe for exactly that reason, distracted by the image of K in Franz Kafka’s The Castle at that particular moment, and was thinking that the Film Industry, which is if nothing else a cottage craft, was terribly Kafkaesque, and wondering if K in The Castle was a bit like Lemuel Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels; and if, and it’s not impossible, if in their unassailable intellectuality they were a bit like me; and also, another thing I was also simultaneously wondering was whether the Gaffer was broadly conscious of this obvious contradiction, where he held forth unimpeachably about my unimpeachable demeanor, and if so, did this signify a sickening bullying ignorance, or, also not impossible, a grand and enjoyable sense of humour? And if this was humor, should I follow the form and convey a similar mimicry of my own? Brighten things up a bit? At that moment, the Greatest Role Model in the Industry came in, looking a little bleary-eyed. Hey, he said, calmly, radiating happiness and acceptance, and making everything seem cool, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, making me feel a bit self-conscious in my current predicament. Anyway, Gaffer, I said, I think I get the idea. Let me get you a pint. The Gaffer shook his head sadly and said, I think you have a long road ahead of you, young man. I do, I said, and nobody else can walk it, and in addition I can’t be anyone else. Could you try? He said. Could you suck your own cock? I said. I was a bit scared of him, but I didn’t want to let on. Well. I’d need to lose a rib, he said, and I’m a bit old for all that.


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