BIRTHDAYS AND A RAT ATTACK

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Above was actually at Christmas, but the birthday-vibe on my face is the same

Tonight I was just going to listen to some tunes — that amazing tune by Matthew E White (that Conan alerted me to) and muck around writing some more of that Custard tale or maybe a part 4 for the Ric’s epic — but instead I am compelled to write about what just happened.

It is another cat tale — which Red thinks my blog is 90% about — but fuck it.

BUT LET’S JUST SET THE SCENE

Today it’s getting very, very close to my birthday and I kinda get excited about that annual eventuality. Even though every year it gets just that little bit more disappointing, I think I have experienced some quite wondrous birthdays and so even if this year’s is only a fraction of what it felt like then when I was a kid — I will still be pretty damn happy.

And every birthday I do my bestest to regress — I devolve. I slide into my childhood history and live my life briefly just the way it was when I was 10. But crucially it is a mini-life of that 10 year old me — but (seemingly) with all the money in the world and no parentals to tell you otherwise and my own pad and exacerbated with the amazing revelation that is inebriation — which I definitely had no idea was so awesome in year 4. (In saying that I do remember having giggling fits which were pretty close — but random, infrequent and usually ended with my dad screaming at me to calm down.)

And although this might not surprise you — this regression is actually not that different to my everyday life.

Today I took my “big bag” to work. This bag can carry a shit load of stuff and today it needed to. So I went to Mr Toy’s Toyworld and bought 3 sets of LEGO. Admittedly one is for my nephew — but I get to build that for him and he likes to watch, encourage me to keep going and help me find the bits I need to keep building.

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These mini LEGO sets are pretty damn cute

BAD JOKE TO A SALESPERSON

Then I went to the ABC shop just across in that top floor of the Myer Centre and did something stupid. I was already looking stupid, carrying a massive plastic bag with the “Mr Toys” logo all over it and LEGO sets bursting out, but then I found a “THE BILL” DVD from 1989 which I absolutely needed and handed that bad boy to a very attractive young bookish woman at the counter — glasses included. Meanwhile I was feeling the opposite of embarrassed. I didn’t care that I was purchasing a $60 set of BILL DVDs that equated to almost 1600 minutes of awesomeness. I was all casual and “totally” but then she said, “You know — I had a friend in school who was obsessed with THE BILL. She would talk about it all the time, she even made herself homemade t-shirts and badges.”

And so I replied, “I think that was actually me.”

WTF?

See I meant it like — I was doing all that obsessive nonsense back in school too. She laughed, but in that, ‘I don’t get it and maybe I don’t get it cause you’re an idiot’ way. And to make matters worse I thought about it as I walked back to the Mall thinking I should have added, “You know — before ‘the operation'” which would have totally made it better. Not.

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THIS IS HOW MY DEADSHIT MIND WORKS.

Christ. Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen by just having a good look at how vast this THE BILL collection is. Yeah.

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GETTING BACK TO THE SCENE

So I went home lugging all that LEGO and the 8 DVDS in that BILL collection and plus Dee had given me some 2kg filofax to bring home too. And then I stopped at the shop to buy some tallies and then at the Milton Fruit Bowl to buy 2 bucks of unwashed potatoes.

My lungs felt empty as the straps around my chest sucked all the inflation out of my lungs.

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ASIDE

This bag has not got much use since this event back in 2010 when I was struck by a car who turned into me to undertake another car turning right and I immediately smashed into the bonnet and got thrown onto the footpath etc. And at the time and days later I couldn’t work out why the centre of my chest hurt so much and then it became clear that it was the buckle on my bag that had smashed into the car first and my chest had smacked in suit and that marriage was naturally not ideal. Seeing all the scratches on the buckle — I really hope that car got really scored-up too cause that driver refused to pay for all the medical bills and damage he did. A very, very weak human being.

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OK! TONIGHT

So I was on the couch. I was building some LEGO and my fried eggs and homemade potato chips (tonight’s regression meal) were safely consumed and I was deep into the BILL watching episode 2 and suddenly the cat came home and then instead of waltzing through the bedroom (where her cat door is) she became intrigued by something in the wardrobe there. She was sniffing around and climbing over stuff and being generally photogenic.

Check out my “Cook suck” adventure below:

Eventually Dee and I got curious and just thought the cat was exhibiting her usual random hilarity — and with my camera in tow I moved the clothes-basket she was enormously interested in and saw behind was a massive, wholly living rat. I screamed to Dee, “There’s a rat!” Before she could say, “Is it dead?” I said, “It’s ALIVE!” And she screamed and escaped into the living room slamming the bedroom door behind her.

So it was me, the cat and the rat. I was determined to free the animal, but how? I shouted to Dee to get me plastic bags and some socks (which I might use to protect my hands). I was already a bit wary of rabies — having had all those bat issues — so my mind just got grappled with the prospect of dealing with another scratchy, potentially rabid, wild animal. Yay.

And for once I tried to get the cat to help me. But in that process I think I might have accidentally knocked her nose. So she thought she was in trouble. I tried my best to re-assure her, but she just hid under the bed. Actually maybe she was frightened of this massive rodent.

Then I forced the rat out of its hide and it went behind a dresser. And the cat was suddenly in the game again and cutting it off at the other end and when I shifted the dresser — some flurry of movement happened. While I was thus distracted I assumed the rat had just found the way outside (that cat-door-gap under the bedroom window). And so Dee came in and we were all “phew” but then I saw the cat still a bit interested in what was behind that dresser and I got down on my side and looked a bit closer and realised there was a big fat space for the rat to hide in underneath.

More hilarity insured and involved me slashing a drum-stick around — but luckily it led to the cat chasing the rat off into the backyard — I knew this cause the crashing sounds in the front yard could only mean this one thing. When it seemed she had discovered the rat’s hiding place I tried to distract the cat with cheese so the rat could escape but I don’t know how successful I was. We shall see.

For once I think this animal made it’s own way into our house — apart from the many other times the cat has brought friends home.

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On the right is where the rat was hiding.
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Lego, and what it means to me

When I was in my late 20s, one Saturday I went to Myer at Chermside and bought and paid for my very first Lego set with my own money. It was the Millennium Falcon. At the cash register I was so embarrassed I pretended I was buying it as a present for a kid. The person behind the counter only half-believed me.

And so, as I brought the massive box home, I realised it was the very first Lego I had touched since I was 11. I spent the next few days building the fuck out of that bad-boy and just loving every second.

See up until that point, all the Lego I had owned had been given to me, usually as a Christmas or birthday surprise. Only once did I get to choose a lego set and it was the very last set I obtained in that period. And It was bought for me by my godmother. I am not a religious person – but – god, fucking, bless her. I was so happy I could have been overdosing on ecstacy. Not that I know what extacsy feels like – but I think I can half imagine.

So once upon a time – my sheer, brutal-love affair with lego started. Try as I might, I cannot remember my first lego set. It was just there – a lovable constant in my upbringing.

I must have adored those early blocks and miscellaneous bits, but only with the “love” a 4 or 5 year old can dismissively muster. So I would imagine those first lego bits would be prone to being lost – consumed by a sinister vacuum cleaner, buried somehow in the garden or just suddenly missing in the constant moving I experienced as a child.

It now occurs to me that this space ship I had constructed a day or so later after the “mobile rocket transport” outlined below. You can see how the satellite dish is exactly the same…

But then on Christmas Day 1983 I had an epiphany. It was at my Nanna’s house in Ipswich and my mum was visiting from Sydney (which was a big deal) and I was forced to open the smallest presents first. My parents seemed to understand the value of suspense.

See in those days the smallest presents were invariably the shitiest. Nowadays with the iPhones and the Garmins and other super-electronics stuff, the smallest gift just might be the best.

But sometimes my parents would just wrap up a set of batteries. And you would rip this present open and just go – “Wha? Are you guys on drugs?” And then suddenly your brain would start to work again and when they excitedly thrust another present in your hands you would realise something very special was about to be unveiled.

But getting back to Christmas 1983. So eventually I got through all the little forgettable or practical stuff – and soon enough I was unwrapping this box that shuffled and rumbled inside with the musical frequency I knew instinctively as “a shit load of lego”. Even before I opened the wrapping I could feel my bladder was a tiny bit compromised. This would be my very first major Lego set. And through the magic of the time-machine of the internet – below is the cover of the box. Something until today I had not seen in decades.

And when I gazed upon this box I saw it was from the newly established “Space” genre. And it was called “Mobile Rocket Transport” and I just shook like I had full-body Parkinson’s – with a happiness I will never experience again.

Holy moly. First of all the box was twice my width and almost half my height. And then it took me most of Christmas Day to assemble, a simply magical experience.

So Lego’s new “SPACE” theme became my ONLY theme. It was now my world. I would not accept any other bricks. Had someone bought me a big city set I would have first told them how disappointed I was, then cannibalized the set for anything useful to me building SPACE stuff. Then I would have chucked the rest of the bricks in the face of the person who had given me that trash in the first place. UGH!

A relative then gave me two plastic trays (avec handles) to stow my blossoming lego collection. I can remember digging through those trays looking for pieces I needed. The smallest pieces were always the most important. The one bit lights for instance.

This was the set my Godmother —  Kim — bought me. I cannot tell her much it meant to me at the time. Horribly awesome, but a bit horribly guilty that she had bought me the biggest gift I had ever received.  

When my dad was briefly and quite suddenly hospitalised I was literally dragged out of school and shoved on a train ultimately to be temporarily re-located to the country town of Wagga Wagga in NSW where my grandparents (both born and bred in Scotland/England) lived. It took 2 days to get there and the train actually caught fire on the way! (Only a little bit but it was so freakishly dramatic to an 8 year old!)

Once we got there it was established that my grandad was working at the airforce base as a mechanic. In the seconds I had before the trip I remember insisting I take the entirety of my lego collection with me. The train ride was so imminent no one had the strength to argue. So probably sans quite a bit of important clothing and other essentials we were suddenly on a train heading south.

And at the time it seemed such an adventure – but it soon became less of a Lego adventure, but more of a Dr Who one. See I was travelling back in time. I was now under the archaic rules of my grandmother. Indeed my grandad was not much better. Although he worked in the airforce and I wished so fucking hard he would tell me about it, he was effectively a zombie to me. The only time he was animated was when he chastised me for leaving an inner door open – something that would excise the demon known as “the draft”.

My grandmother was even more intense. She is a Baptist and seems to be forever atoning for very minor discretions (by today’s standards) as a youngster. At the time I was used to it. It seemed to be cool that she left a glass of milk next to my bed after I fell asleep just in case if perhaps I woke up in the dead of night and suddenly needed lactose I could drink it’s milky goodness…and it was a tiny bit endearing that she washed my hair in the bathroom sink, but everything else was just evil. So much religion, no laughs, and an inherent cynicism about the world and the people in it – unless they went to Church.

But thankfully I had my little plastic bricks and the imagination to transform them into a world I could escape to.

That time in Wagga was actually quite amazing. I was suddenly top of the class. I felt like a total braniac and thus I got an incredible amount of respect around the school-yard. No apparent interest from girls, which I was completely used to – but at least I was an intellectual celebrity which was inspiring I guess.

For a show-and-tell school spectacle, I built the most ambitious Lego space ship I had ever attempted. I used every brick I owned. It was so ridiculously long and fragile I needed my sister to help me carry it to school. I remember it being quite a scene as we waddled through the school gates — the ship waddling quite a bit more than us. I didn’t win any prizes, but I didn’t care. I had made the biggest lego ship ever. Exponentially so.

At least in Wagga.

The end of lego came quite suddenly again – almost as suddenly as that move to Wagga. Admittedly by the time I was 11 I had moved on a bit and Lego was now a bit “kids stuff”. My Grandma either sensed this or just decided this. Now I think about it – it was the latter.

After all she was that crazy-brutal Grandma from Wagga who was now back in my home-town of Ipswich and thus her Death-Star-tractor-beam of influence was even more intense. She, who had been raised during the war… she who had lived through bombs raining down and living (perhaps) perpetually on cardboard and rations not exactly unlike cardboard had just decided I needed to donate my totally indulgent Lego bricky magic to another kid. A less fortunate soul would now perhaps enjoy this intensely personal stuff. She was probably working through some charity she helped out with through her Church. Confronted with that logic, confronted with her history, her brutal soberness and her omnipresent seriousness, I had not choice but to agree it was the right thing to do – even though quite a bit of my heart thought maybe I would miss it one day. Maybe even perhaps the day after tomorrow.

But then it was gone.

And now, despite being a bit embarrassed at first, I am embracing it all again. And it is fucking awesome. Even the “intellectual” bricks of the “Architecture” series. Refreshing. Just a few weeks ago I saw a rather normal-looking-dude in his 20s buying a pretty awesome Star Wars set. Ans so now I have now come full circle. Totally.

That’s me as a baby in the frame in the background. Oh the irony.

Lego’s “Falling Water”