Category Archives: Alan Rickman

Nigel is only a figment of a madwoman’s imagination …

When Rocco’s mother signed up to Facebook, it became apparent she would need friends. It is, after all, a social network. One needs to be social. And if, as in Rocco’s mother’s case, one isn’t particularly – it comes to pass that necessity must be the mother of invention.

Rocco’s mother’s friendless state wouldn’t have mattered a hoot if she hadn’t, in a fit of boredom and curiosity one random afternoon, started to play one of the online games. She was perfectly happy being insular and posting pithy status updates which nobody ever read or cared about. She could have continued this way ad infinitum – and indeed, should have done so with gay abandon.  After a while, however – or a few whiles, anyway – it also became apparent one needed friends and neighbours in order to progress in the games. And at that point, Rocco’s hapless mother lost the plot completely – which was the moment of madness resulting in Nigel’s birth.

There are probably rules and laws governing Facebook which state members have to be bona fide human beings, using their real names and identities and swearing blind they haven’t airbrushed their profile photograph in order to look like Alan Rickman or the female equivalent. Rocco’s mother normally would not break laws even as petty as these – in fact, she would sooner poke her eye out with a rolled up Food-o-rama junk mail catalogue – but because she was aware other people had signed up pets, favourite toys, deceased ancestors and aspidistras in order to appear popular and, most importantly, to progress in games, she decided an imaginary friend was equally as bona fide as anything or anyone else (except, perhaps, Alan Rickman). Which was the root of the problem, really.

For Nigel, who burst into the world as an alleged archaeology student with a wicked and flirtatious nature, quickly evolved as a life force unto himself. Before Rocco’s mother knew it, he was chatting up women old enough to be his grandmother,  making somewhat lewd and unecessary comments to Rocco’s sisters, and running virtually amok in cyberspace – untamed and untrammeled. Before very long, Rocco’s mother realised with desperation she had no idea how to trammel him –  even telling him he didn’t exist was met with loud har har hars and protestations from others, (who should have known better), that they much preferred Nige to Rocco’s mother anyway, and if anyone was to be banished and exterminated, it had better be she, rather than he. Rocco’s mother realised with horror she was actually carrying out online arguments with Nigel. If the first sign of madness is speaking to oneself, which sign of madness is speaking to someone else who is actually oneself? The line between insanity and idiocy was becoming alarmingly blurred. While Rocco’s mother dug herself deeper into a mire of unreality, Rocco flourished and grew, gaining momentum, friends and admirers by the minute. It seemed he could not put a foot wrong, while Rocco’s mother appeared more bitter and twisted by the day, harassing and taunting Nigel in order to make him disappear up his own fake curriculum vitae.

Maybe the cruelest cut of all was the fact Nigel was far better at the online Facebook games than Rocco’s mother. His cafe was flooded with happy customers even when his shambolic cooking efforts left his counters empty and his stoves dirty. His YoVille houses were quirky and disgustingly filthy and fun to drop in on. Strangers requested Nigel’s friendship and were happy to send him farm animals, scented candles for his spaceship and chicken pot pies for his cafe. Rocco’s mother has warned Nigel he is absolutely NOT permitted to engage in online dalliance of any type whatsoever with random strangers. He has been told he must be completely honest with anyone who asks – and must confess to being merely a figment of a middle-aged woman’s imagination. Rocco’s mother is frightened she might log in one morning and find Nige has spent the night behaving in a most laddish manner, leaving broken hearts and shattered reputations in his wake. It keeps her awake at night, wondering what he’s doing while she’s sleeping.

The moral of this story is that it’s far, far better to have no friends at all. And that evil having been done, cannot easily be undone. And Rocco’s mother is becoming disturbingly aware she might find Nigel is drawn in indelible ink – and that she herself might not exist at all …

.oOo.

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The small print is the most important ingredient on the label …

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should probably remember to take her reading glasses to Food-o-rama. Without them, she can just about drive the car there, negotiate her way across the carpark in a fairly basic manner and stumble through the sliding glass doors of the mall – and mostly, she can even tell which aisle she’s in. She knows her way around Food-o-rama well enough to almost locate the products she requires – and sometimes even gets it right. Last week however, she managed to get it wrong in rather an epic and spectacular display of misjudgement – and Rocco paid for it the next day. Indeed, Rocco’s hapless colleagues probably paid, too.

Rocco’s mother, who is definitely not renowned for Nigella-esque bursts of culinary activity (or mesmerising bosoms, even), decided to try a type of bottled coconut curry sauce in which to cook chicken. It looked delicious altogether and was – which is important – in an aesthetically pleasing jar. Obviously, there is far more to curry sauce than the illustration on the label – indeed, if Rocco’s mother was any kind of mother at all, she’d be making her own curry sauce with a million exotic spices ground lovingly with a pestle and mortar hewn from million-year-old volcanic rock. Rocco’s mother is not that kind of mother –  a fact which has been long established – and any foray into the kitchen is miraculous in itself. People are expected to show gratitude.

Rocco was prepared to show quite a bit of gratitude, because the curry smelt delicious as it simmered away – and Rocco was hungry.  He was happy his mother had made enough that there was some left over for him to take for lunch the next day. Goodo, and much anticipatory gnashing of teeth.

It became apparent to Rocco’s mother, as she sampled the first forkful, that she should not have gone there. The coconut curry was arsebreakingly evil – even the fumes entering the nostrils were ringing out a warning. Fumbling for her glasses, Rocco’s mother examined in detail the beautifully illustrated label on the jar, and discovered, in small print, ‘… with HOT peri peri’. Rocco’s mother did not have a clue of the meaning of peri peri. She did, however, have a working knowledge of the meaning of ‘hot’. It is a word she associates with water bottles, roast dinners and Alan Rickman. It is not a word she had ever considered in the same sentence as peri peri. Nevertheless, so it was written, and she felt it necessary to issue Rocco with a timid and somewhat embarrassed warning:

‘I don’t think we’re going to be able to eat this …’

Rocco and his mother sat with tears streaming down their faces and their nostrils twitching alarmingly. Rocco managed to finish his – though his mother was less enthusiastic about having her internal organs perforated, decimated and spat out at the other end. Both parties reached for tubs of fruche in order to put things to rights – and Rocco’s mother suggested Rocco may not wish, all things considered, to take the remains of the curry to work the next day.

Imagine her surprise the next morning on discovering the container of curry had been removed from the fridge and taken to Rocco’s place of employment – which, fortunately, is an open-walled timber mill. The thought of Rocco being cooped in a small, musty, air conditioned office was more than Rocco’s mother could bear thinking about. She thanked the Great Mother he was not performing brain surgery that day. She worried all morning about her son’s health – flinching each time she heard ambulance sirens, fire sirens – or even police sirens, as she considered excessive flatulence in the workplace could certainly constitute a crime against humanity.

In the middle of the afternoon, Rocco’s mother received a txt msg. ‘Thnx heaps – thr ws plastic in my lnch.’

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should wear her reading glasses whilst cooking. One of which is that, after snipping the plastic strip from the top of the noodle pouch, she would be able to ensure it went into the bin, rather than into the stir-fry. Rocco’s mother cannot comprehend how this happened – but consoled herself with the fact a strip of plastic probably would have done far less harm to her son’s digestive tract than the food in which it was lodged. As Rocco assured her his lunch was ‘nicer today than last night’, she saluted herself on having improved the recipe with her surprise ingredient inclusion. She may now patent a new range of curry sauces:

‘With HOT peri peri – and plastic strip.’

Rocco’s mother can almost hear Nigella wishing she’d thought of it first.

.oOo.

This time, Rocco’s mother doesn’t have any idea what to call it …

Lately, on just about every level, Rocco’s mother feels old age is creeping up on her. And it’s not Rocco’s father. Things in general are going downhill, dropping off and seizing up in an alarming fashion. And that’s before she gets out of bed, even.

The most worrying thing seems to be the problem with RM’s memory. What? Her MEMORY. Ah, yes. And it’s not just a matter of trying to figure out where the frozen peas are – or even whether she’d remembered to buy them in the first place – but finding the right word to describe something. Where the word should be – and indeed, once was – a blank space mockingly waits. But Rocco’s mother finds she is increasingly unable to fill it.

A few weeks ago while visiting one of Rocco’s sisters in Darwin, RM and Flygirl were wandering around a shopping mall and came upon one of RM’s favourite things. And no, it wasn’t a chocolate-covered Alan Rickman wrapped in gold foil. She would have remembered that. It was a book sale. Rocco’s mother, as was only to be expected, fell on it with rapture and frenzied excitement, calling out to Flygirl – ‘Oh look – they’ve got those … those … calendar books.’

Flygirl raised an eyebrow. ‘Diaries,’ she suggested. It hit Rocco’s mother that she hadn’t been able to retrieve that word. It hadn’t been there. A programming glitch had occurred at the vital moment. Diaries? Surely she used to know that? Even yesterday, it had been part of her everyday vocabulary – flung into conversations in a random and cavalier manner whenever the occasion called for it. Which happened to be often. Which happened to be often, because as sure as bears mess themselves in the woods, Rocco’s mother is going to make sure she doesn’t go starting conversations where she needs to use the word … the word … that word any time soon.

It is alarming to suppose there are other words in there, silently becoming fainter and fainter until they slip forever out of the memory bank. Tomorrow, will Rocco’s mother tentatively request ‘filled bread’ when asking for a sandwich? Will she come down for breakfast and not recognise anybody, like Rocco’s father on the day he first wore his new spectacles? It scares Rocco’s mother to know she’d be utterly useless if called upon to witness anything. After being served in a shop and walking outside again, she is aware she would not be able to describe the shop assistant – or recognise her in the police line-up. When the police officer demands, ‘Where were you on the night of September 23?’ in an accusatory manner, Rocco’s mother would not have a clue. She would not recall shoplifting from Food-o-rama or whether she’d eaten the legs of the chocolate-covered Alan Rickman. She would possibly not remember what September was.

Some people are blessed with extraordinary memories. Do they purposely focus on every minute detail before they file it away – or is it entirely accidental? Where is the fairness in that? The first time Rocco’s parents visited Flygirl in Darwin, they ambled downtown one morning to enjoy an alfresco breakfast under shady trees in the early morning warmth of the city. The menu was written on a huge blackboard outside the cafe, so Rocco’s father made his selection. At the counter, he said, ‘I’ll have the Full Monty, please – without mushrooms.’ The lad behind the counter – who happened to be bald and British – frowned.

‘Does it say it comes with mushrooms?’

‘Er … I don’t know,’ Rocco’s father admitted. There had been so many menu options and permutations of breakfasty ingredients.

‘Well if it doesn’t say it comes with mushrooms, it doesn’t come with mushrooms,’ the lad said patiently. Which was fair enough. The breakfast, sans mushrooms, was very good indeed and enjoyed enormously by Rocco’s father, who only eats breakfast when he’s on holidays anyway and then makes an absolute pig of himself. 

A whole year or more later, Rocco’s parents returned to Darwin – by which time Rocco’s father was dying to reacquaint himself with the excellent breakfast – so he and Rocco’s mother headed downtown on their first morning and were happy to discover the alfresco cafe was still there in all its glory, blackboards cheerfully chalked in anticipation.

‘I’ll have the Full Monty, please,’ Rocco’s father told the lad behind the counter. And the lad eyed him up over the top of the coffee machine and baskets of freshly baked muffins, and said,  ‘… it still doesn’t come with mushrooms …’

.oOo.

Omni, omnus, omnibus …

It’s marvellous how we have that clichéd little thought every time we do something unhealthy, isn’t it?  ‘Oh well … I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.’

Yep – that justifies everything. The miniscule square of chocolate that shortens our life by five hours –  the cigarette that robs us of two extra days – the sound of Alan Rickman’s voice stealing at least a week – blah, blah, blah. We’re not allowed to just enjoy anything anymore. And that’s a bad thang. A very bad thang altogether, because who wants to live a long life without ever hearing Alan Rickman inviting you into his boudoir for some choc-coated cherry numnums. Or even issuing you with a parking ticket, for that matter.  And yes, I’d pay it. Even if he was wearing the Professor Snape wig.

It’s getting so you can’t do anything without the naysayers telling you it’s bad for you. And to be honest, that makes me feel just a teensy bit rebellious and wanting to indulge in whatever they tell me not to. After all, if I added up the chocolates, cigarettes (which I gave up over 25 years ago anyway) and random invitations from AR to do various things both frisky and deluded, I should have died several years ago. And because I clearly didn’t, I’m thinking rampant buses are probably not the b-all and end-all of ways in which to be taken out.

A friend of a friend of a friend swears he stayed in a seedy motel room somewhere in America, and noticed the room had a particularly grim and mortuaresque odour. On pulling out the trundle bed in order to put his child to bed after a hurried meal of takeaway pizza throughout which the family pegged their noses closed, imagine his surprise on unearthing (tra-la!) a deceased prostitute. Whatever had happened to this unfortunate lady to have placed her in such a dire predicament was not made apparent  – but I’m betting she wished she’d eaten more chocolate.

A few years ago, a very strange thing happened in our town – and you’ll probably think I’m making it up. When I heard it, I thought the radio lad and the local paper were making it up – but not so. Read it and weep. A lady had her old cat put down at the vet, and because she wanted to bury him in her rose garden, placed him in a shoebox in order to take him home.  On her way back, she stopped in at Food-o-rama to return some tins of cat food and purchase several economy boxes of tissues and a bottle of medicinal gin – and on returning to the car, opened the boot and placed the shoebox’o’moggy carefully on the car roof whilst packing the shopping bags inside. As luck would (or indeed wouldn’t) have it, some lousy thieving chancer happened to spot the shoebox and, thinking her luck was in and she was about to score a brand new pair of Nikes (because yes, it was indeed a woman), swiped the box from the top of the car and took off across the carpark.

And this is where the old cliché comes into play, because karma being what it is, the thieving chancer was then very karmatically and thuddingly hit by a bus. The afternoon one to Jolly Havens Retirement Village, as it happened, which was full of pissed and randy pensioners high on bingo winnings and Mylanta after the prawn cocktail/chicken parmy two course luncheon special (and $2 extra for the rhubarb cheesecake, please).

But the story doesn’t quite finish there, because when the ambulance turned up, the paramedics tucked the shoebox carefully on to the stretcher next to the thieving chancer – and both were transported to the hospital where the shoebox was placed reverently in the bedside locker, from whence the police eventually recovered it after finally finishing their alleged Krispy Kremes and grudgingly deciding to turn up.

I have absolutely no idea what the moral to this story is – or whether there is one at all. But whatever Alan Rickman has in mind for the rest of the evening, that’s fine with me. I hope he brings chocolates, Danish pastries with walnut and maple filling, a couple of bottles of very sweet and fizzy champagne – and oh alright – he can wear the Professor Snape wig if he likes, too. If I lose another week because of it … whatever.

.oOo.