Courage – Yes, I know, it’s another supermarket tale. The supermarket is about the only place we’re getting out to these days. It must have been so hard for someone so young to be confronted with something so huge, even beyond the experience of all who will read this missive, with all our decades. Yet she had the courage to rise above it.
She was of such tender years. I doubt if she had even left her secondary years at school. Yet she was carrying on as best she could. All those lines of people she was expected to marshal through her check out. All the new rules she had to adhere to, especially ones as potentially confronting as the product limits. As well, many of the people she’d be shepherding by her till would be as anxious about the whole thing as she was.
Our first experience of New Norfolk Woolies had been positive, so, as the numbers climbed and the plans for complete staying at home seemed to be coming closer, my lovely Leigh and I decided to do a big shop to set us up for the coming week and a fair way beyond. And it continued to be a far more pleasant experience than our regular go-to grocery venues. All seemed fine at the checkout after we had completed our rounds. But then I asked her the question. ‘How has your day been?’ She tried to be brave. She tried to keep it in. I don’t know why she told me and I could tell she was struggling, trying to hold it together. The lower lip quivered, ‘I was abused earlier on. He had too much milk. I tried to explain it to him but all I got was abused.’
She gave me a weak smile and I told her how sorry I was that that had happened to her. She was rattled, but she put her head down and ushered our goods through her scanner. A little later she asked Leigh for help with the customer behind her who was breaking the rules about loading her goods onto the conveyor without being instructed it was her turn. Leigh handled that with her usual poise.
Courage? Well I think so. She was still standing after some dick had given her a mouthful, doing her job in a world gone crazy. She’s at the front line, too, in a time of trouble that even us old fogeys get a tad wobbly in. They seem a lovely, lovely bunch at the NN branch when supermarkets are rising in the general esteem. I’m sure, when her colleagues found out, they would’ve gotten around her and been as supportive to her as they are to their community. She’s clearly brave, that girl – perhaps out of her depth, but doing what she feels is expected of her. And no, there was no toilet paper that day either.
At the time of writing, to put it all into perspective with how well we are off here in comparison, sixty Italian doctors have died as a result of the coronavirus bug. You can never counter that with a positive, but millions of Chinese, on the other hand, are staring up at blue skies in wonder. The planet will recover, but there are some things that are emerging that should not be let go of again. Neither should we let go of all that which allows us to de-stress.
Curmudgeonly – Jack Dee. I first came across the 58 year old UK stand-up comedian in ‘Lead Balloon’, but I’d probably had encountered him, as well, beforehand on numerous British panel shows without him actually registering. He even has hosted one himself – ‘Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’. ‘Lead Balloon’ lasted for four seasons up until 2011. In it Dee played Rick Spleen, a comedy writer for television. The name says it all. On it he vented his spleen at every opportunity. He was forever glass half empty; sarcastic to a fault. His world was full of annoyance and he’s a cynic as he battles to write laughs, with his partner, for his shows. Jack Dee was, in fact, a co-writer himself for ‘Lead Balloon’, as well as for his latest series. For me LB is one of the very best examples of Brit comedy.
His ‘Bad Move’ is not in the same league, but the half hour episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 on Stan are just what the doctor ordered to de-stress in a coronavirus world, particularly after the oft heavier fare we watch during our evenings. Steve (Dee) and Nicky Rawlings (Kerry Godliman – ‘Extras’) have moved away from the city to more bucolic surrounds, only to find life out in the sticks isn’t all it’s cut up to be. Their woebegone, tumble-down rural house is a nightmare. To make matters worse, on one side their neighbour is a crackpot rock god, whilst on the other is a new-age family with perfectly adorable kiddies. Steve gets on okay with the former, but barely tolerates the latter. It’s twee, it’s predictable, striving a bit too hard for laughs and Jack Dee just plays himself. But for someone who, like me. loves his persona, the series is gold; sugar on a stick.
Irreplaceable – the bastard virus has gotten hold of John Prine
The last check I did before scribing this, his wife reported that he is stable, after a much more dire prognosis a few days back. He’s a fighter, is Prine. He has battled cancer since 1998, but continues to perform when he can.
Some time after 1973 my brother lent me a bunch of vinyl. At the time I was stuck on the BeeGees, Johnny Cash and Dean Martin (still love them, mind) – the wildest I got was knowledgeably declaring that the Kinks were far superior to both the Beatles and the Stones. Kim was more up to date – ‘with it’, having broader tastes by far. In the little collection he gave me I spotted an album cover with a good looking, denim-clad rooster spread out languorously over some roadster type automobile. When I got around to playing the tracks within that one, being ‘blown away’ didn’t come close. I changed my musical direction in one stroke. It lead me on to other people such as Eric Anderson, Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt, Gram Parsons and Jerry Jeff Walker. I’d discovered, via Kim, Americana.
‘Sweet Revenge’ contained tunes like ‘Dear Abby’, ‘Christmas in Prison’, ‘Blue Umbrella’ and ‘Onomatopoeia’. It was Prine’s third album. I rushed out and purchased the previous two and have continued to collect him ever since. His voice is of the ‘love it’ or ‘loathe it’ type – you know which category I fall into – but it’s his songsmithery I love just as much. It’s what has made him a legend and multi-Grammy winner. ‘Sam Stone’, ‘Angel from Montgomery’, ‘Hello in There’, ‘Speed of the Sound of Loneliness’ and ‘Illegal Smile’ are just a few classics from his oeuvre.
Prine was ‘discovered’ by Kristofferson and Kim ‘discovered’ him for me. My thanks go to both and I’ll be listening to him over and over in the days and weeks that lie ahead. Hang in there JP.
Sultry – As Helena in ‘Hache’ she shimmers and pouts her way out of dire and tricky situations in the Barcelona of the 1960s – and she sure took my mind off the woes of the world. I first came across Adriana Ugarte in the Pedro Almodóvar film of four years ago, ‘Julieta’. In it she played the younger version of the female protagonist in a movie by the great director based on the short stories of Alice Munro. She also featured stunningly in the sensually tropical colonial epic ‘Palm Trees in the Snow’, available for you to feast your eyes on with Netflix, as is ‘Hache’. In the latter, the thirty-five year old dominates the small screen as a former prostitute, falling on hard times, then seizing the day by attaching herself to a heroin addicted crime-boss operating out of a nightclub. She wins his trust and he brands her as one of his female associates. But she doesn’t kowtow to anyone – she quickly becomes a devious force to be reckoned with as she connives her way to where the money is. Try not to be too put out by the quite, for my taste, confronting sex scenes in Episode 1.They lead to a rip-roaring story with more substance than steam. And it has been commissioned for a second series as Hache, Helena’s nick-name, continues to bend with the wind till the frenetic climax of the final episode of the first season. If you can bear sub-titles this will bear you away from thoughts that are far harder to bear – see what I did there?
Ghost Town – This week I fear I said goodbye to my city excursions for a while, most of my haunts being closed in any case. Whilst I was in there it was, well, deathly quiet. It seemed to me that all that was open were the two places I had to visit, a chemist and the post office. In reality I felt safer in there than any supermarket, although I must admit, even around the groceries, people seem to be getting the notion that this is serious.
We’ll wait it out, Leigh and I – careful, relatively content and positive that there’s always light amidst the gloom.
Trailer for ‘Bad Move’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmRBwaPB0Dc
Trailer for ‘Hache’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I27cgz2p-Xo
For more on John Prine = https://www.johnprine.com/