Morning. It is 34. Old war stories.

Over half way to 66.6. Importantly. Very.

Turns out I ain’t half a bad dad. Have been reading a bit lately, sometimes struggling to just concentrate on one book at a time and stop myself going from “NeuroScience and Religion” to books on ADhD and, of course, Tank Girl comics. I ain’t half a bad dad.

I guess by having a dad that always criticises me (he still does by the way) and a mum who could just switch off (and still does by the way) I learnt the hard way what not to do as a parent.

Dad calls me ugly (he is kind of right, but come on Dad!!! Holy mutherfucking God!) and nothing I’ve ever done is good enough. Doesn’t matter how much I do, how well I do, I could score straight A’s on everything. My sister (not adopted) would get the praise and the attention for getting mainly A’s, but with a B+ in there somewhere.

Mum always listens to my, non adopted, sister. But she is dead now (my sister). So would you expect her to listen a bit now? No, not really to be honest…

From the age of three or four I was acutely aware of this. She kicked me once, full force, into the fridge “as I was being annoying” whilst she was on the phone. But I started to talk to her BEFORE she made the phone call and she just made the call anyway. So I was jumping up and down waving my arms or something. I only wanted to know something trivial like where she had moved the paints and paper to. To this day she doesn’t listen. This was last week…

“Hey Mum”

Yes Dear?

“The other day I saw this new design for a sewing machine. It lets you sew right around corners just by pushing a button. Cheap too, only $250. You could get one. I can see you are struggling with your old age fingers there….”

“Mum? Mummm… MUM!?

Oh, what? (slightly annoyed tone)

“For fucksake mum. The other day I saw this new design for a sewing machine. It lets you sew right around corners just by pushing a button. Cheap too, only $250. You could get one. I can see you are struggling with your old age fingers there….”

My fingers what?

“Oh, don’t worry.”

Okay

This happens with every single conversation I have. She says that she tunes out to things that aren’t relevant to her. 

This shows me that I am not relevant to her.

Not complicated. Somewhat shit. But not complicated.

At the age of 8 or 9 I started getting in fights. I tried really hard at age 10-11 to straighten up. I did break my best friends skull by punching him in the cheek so hard he spent days in hospital having plastic surgery and his cheek removed from his upper palate. But that was only one minor incident over those two years. I had quit smoking (started when six or seven) quit for three years from tenth birthday) but started a little bit of cannabis now and then.

And then hit High School, fights, trouble… Didn’t bother bringing a pen or paper to classes most of the time. If I really had to write something down there was always this nice girl with a big pencil case full of pens. There was me, my best mate, this HUGE Samoan guy who is the strongest and most hilarious and talented waste of high school you are ever likely to meet and this other guy. The other guy always wanted to be a panel beater (he is now a panel beater by the way) and was a bully. He was odd actually. He would pick on me and my best mate, but all the girls loved him. He was a big white guy. Not too bright. One day at metal work he splashed molten alloy at my general direction so I went to the toilet area to use the cold water in the sink. He followed me in laughing. I smashed his head into the urinal about six times in two seconds. He laughed again, but it wasn’t really a bully laugh anymore. It was a face saving “that didn’t hurt” laugh. So I bent him over and pretended to butt fuck him in front of the cool Samoan kids (whom I had done similar to previously come to think of it!). Hahahahaahah. That shut him up for all of a week.

So, heaps of fights, no learning… Learning was for idiots. Somehow amongst all that I got A+’s for design and workshop and some art bits. And that very important 90% for physics when I didn’t pay any attention, sat down the back, and had more than my fair share of involvement in getting the class kicked out for leaving the gas burners turned on, with no flame for an hour lesson and then throwing a match in as we walked out. Ooops. That classroom was trashed for a while. But the science block found us a new home. Deputy principal and head science man (who took science very seriously and took shit just as seriously).

He happened to be the schools football coach. He was very proud of my goal scoring ability and, as such, he showed me no favours in class, but would not draw attention to the fact that I was drawing pictures of naked chicks on the chemistry exam paper. I can draw stuff okay. You can see a naked chick drawing of mine in the banner of this blog. He marked me as “absent” during most tests. Which, I guess I was, really. Absent.  Other than that one physics test, above. I was 13 and had tattoos on my back and shoulders and was going on the schools football tour around New Zealand as part of the first 11. That is playing against 17 year olds, the odd 18 year old and some huge 19 year old goal keepers. I am still the only person to score on every football tour game to my knowledge. Some beauties actually.

I am not a skillful player, but sometimes the ball seems as large as a car and the goal as big as a huge warehouse. It doesn’t matter that the keeper is King Kong at those moments of clarity.

Time slows….

As the ball approaches it is a split second from hitting your face, knee, chest… Whatever. You see the ball coming, you see the keeper, you see the goal, you see the defenders, you think, that defender is going for my knees, so you hop in the air and use your stomach to slap the ball down behind him and he slides past. Sure, not many footy players use their stomachs, but needs must. You land just in time to try and get a foot onto the ball before your  ankle is broken by the defender sliding towards me. You think “I can use the outside of my right boot on the left side of the ball and curve it around the keeper into the left hand top corner, no wait.. That defenders foot is going to break your ankle if you manage that… I will hop in the air and use the top of my left foot to drive it straight and low to the bottom right corner, thus avoiding this big stupid defender so as to be able to play the second half…. Yeah”. And then you hop in the air with your right foot just in time as a big burly idiot of a defenders foot and studs take their rightful place in the worlds atomic structure where your ankle occupied less than a micro second ago and, whilst in the air, you look incredibly ungainly and complicated as you use the top of the bridge of your foot to put top spin on the ball and drive it straight as an arrow. You land on top of defender whom is still sliding through beneath you and get the wind knock out of you, but you have one eye open no matter what following the ball until as it brushes the keepers gloves at the same time as it brushes the goal post and slams into the side netting. Job done, you pick yourself up, go get the ball from the back of the net as you are behind 2-1 and want play to hurry up before half time as you sense your team is getting on a bit of a high.

You jog passed the keeper. He just looks confused. “How did this unco-ordinated little red head kid do that?” is written all over his face. The defender is still laying on the ground from where your elbow smashed his sternum as you landing (he did try and take out your ankle mate. Of course you smash his sternum with your elbow on the way back down. Jeezus……) you step over him, smiling. “Try that again and I’ll fuck you up mate” you say grinning. You may be 13 and playing against bigger, older and tougher people, but that’s just the way it is. Score the goal and stand up for yourself or get smashed and the rest of the game will be a nightmare. You may even get taken off. There is no point having a goal scorer who cannot get close to the ball….

You jog back up the field… Most of your own team mates don’t celebrate, they just turn around shaking their heads. The ref still hasn’t blown the whistle for a goal. The keeper has to look at the ref. The ref looks back. GOAL he says. Everything is silent.

Noises start coming back. Faces start coming into focus. You put the ball down on the spot for their kick off and go to the edge of the circle where you stand still and feel a bit of pain. Maybe that guy actually did hit your ankle? Bugger, that hurts a bit. At least you got your foot off the ground, otherwise it would have broken.

Your Mum looks over, you look back. She says “fluke“. You think, “whatever mum, you just saw a great goal. If you came and watched every game I played you would see me do this every weekend. But you don’t so fuck off”.

Dad was a little different. He would come and watch a lot of games. You scored some great goals and had some good battles with some excellent players whom all went on to Europe and Aussie leagues following the likes of Wynton Rufer to Germany etc etc etc. He would clap when your shot from halfway fooled the keeper by swirling right out to the left (the keeper thought it would miss) and then came back at him like a boomerang. The keeper dove, almost embarrassed, as he knew he would never reach it. The ball misses the post by about six inches on its way into the outside of the netting behind the goal. Dad claps.

The next shot you get wins the game in the last minute and two defenders hit you so hard at the same time as you getting the shot off from thirty metres that you don’t go and get the ball. You just lie there watching the keeper, hoping you’ve got it high enough. The finger tips brush the ball, the ball brushes the top cross bar on it’s way to the back of the net. The ref blows full time. You’re team has one 3-2 in a game that it should have lost 2-1. You scored all three goals. Two absolute “miracles” and a sitter that you really should have let someone else score, but you’re a greedy fucker who has to win at all costs. Your team does what you tell them as they are simply not up to arguing with you. They learnt quickly not to make a big deal of you scoring. Your Dad doesn’t, you don’t, so they don’t. Occasionally the odd knowing look would pass between us, a nod here or a “fucken hell mate, I thought your leg was broken for sure that time… You’re a fucken idiot….”

… Dad came up after a game once and said “Hey, that guy over there (pointing) was here to watch this senior team. Turns out he’s a talent scout for some English club. The game was boring and so he started watching you guys. He saw your last two goals and the first goal he said to me – I have never seen such a cooly taken goal. Unreal. No emotion at all, just went and picked the ball up. Shrugged off the one person who gave him the pass and … Well… I don’t know, what’s up with that kid?” Don’t think Dad told him he was your Dad. That would have meant he had to be a bit proud or something. He can’t do proud. Not for his son. According to Dad the talent scout guy then said “Sir, I am sorry. I take it back. I have now seen a more cooly taken goal.” in relation to the second (and match winner) that he saw. Cheers for sharing that other people were impressed, if not proud, Dad. Maybe I should go home with that talent scout guy?

It was a good goal. One I am very proud of actually. It was one those perfect shots that I will remember for ever. One of those ones from  fourty metres. That go straight. Not up, not down, not left, not right. Just straight. The whole way. Past keepers fingers, inches inside the goal and….. Well… Again, the keeper just stood there. The defenders lay there (they slid in from left and right and smashed each other really good…. With me in the middle.)… It was a great finish to a hard game. We won the league (again). Then I hopped up, hobbled off. The coach was jumping up and down, slapping everyone on the back and celebrating like a school kid. The school kid, me, slid off the the changing sheds for a cigerette and to see if anyone had any ice. The senior first 11 team game started in one hour on the other side of town and I hadn’t told Dad I was in the team so I was riding my bike there. I got there a bit late for warm up so the coach told me off and made me start from the bench. I was never late to senior games again. It got easier in later years. In New Zealand you could get your motorbike license at age 15. I was booked for the test before my 15th birthday months in advance and was already riding on the road whenever I could. I passed the test and then had to wait until turning 15 for the license to become legal. And I was off.

They force you to wear shin pads in football, but you always wore the minimum ones that go down the front of the sock so you could “lose” them within ten seconds of the game starting. Shin pads just slow you down. Some refs used to spot the socks down and no shins and would complain. You’d find the silly things, put them in, show the ref and the first time he wasn’t looking, throw them away again. And yes, you do have plenty of big ugly scars and time spent on crutches to prove it.

And, two years later, you are playing in the “under 16 competition or whatever it is and the first 11 which is now in youth division one (plenty of 19 year olds back then…) And you’re shooting opiates in the changing sheds and then firing up a cigarette so everyone thinks you’re just in the changing room smoking. Not shooting smack.

Thankfully no one is interested in your old war stories about football and motorbikes, so you just tell them all about your drug dealing days instead.

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