My cap would be glad of a copper or two

In my childhood, one of my fondest memories is the joy of popping into a Video Rental Store (ask your parents, children) and grabbing the VHS for Mary Poppins. Again. My adult self giggles in retrospect to be honest, because god knows we rented that goddamn tape from that little store so many times throughout the years that my mother may as well have bought me a tape of my own long ago. Maybe she simply liked the tradition and consistency of my grabbing the tape as she looked through the “boring adult” section of new releases.

And my favourite character? Bert. I mean, come on, who couldn’t love that chimney sweeping, art making, one man big band scallywag? I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the affect he had on my young life. He made me realize that you need not be ashamed of your work- as long as you’re passionate about it, that the process is the joy, to have a sense of humor about yourself, and probably most importantly- money matters little.

I’ve struggled with that in adult years, as I found out slowly but surely that Walt Disney had not engineered our lives, and that money in  fact matters  a lot. We need it to eat, we need it to keep warm, and, like it or not- it’s what people use to define you as a professional or amateur artist. Is he making a living or not?

Well- it depends what you mean by “living”, I suppose. I need art to live, like anybody; and my art cannot, could not, would not live without me. Is that enough?

Should it be enough?

I found myself wondering this as I came down from the stage of my first comedy show in Melbourne. I was excited just to be on the poster, and to get on stage, and I knew, if successful, money would come. Or not! It didn’t matter.

Well put simply? It was wonderful. I hadn’t practiced in months and it was my first time being a comedy show MC. I’m not going to lie, I felt I probably sucked a little, but made up for it enthusiasm. The acts were varied, strange, bouncy and quick as a whip, warm and dry… it was so wonderful being the ringmaster of that crazy circus… and I learned a lot.

I thanked the audience for coming, and pick up my bag to leave. All of a sudden, the host, Lawal, and the guy that brought me on board to the show, shoved some money into my hand. This was not expected. We had agreed this would be pro bono. An experiment… Yet there was the money, being placed into my hand.

“You did a wonderful job”, Lawal said. “Thank you.”
I was flabbergasted.
“Holy fuck mate, no, thank you” I said, putting the cash into my pocket without a word of protest.
“It really means a lot.”

He clapped my shoulder, smiled and went to talk to someone else. I could feel the cash burning in my pocket. Was I a professional now? What did it all mean?

Did I deserve this? Guilt began to rear it’s ugly head.

And then, my favourite worst cockney accent of all time popped into my head.

No remuneration do I ask of you, but me cap would be glad of a copper or two!”

Pride took its place as I made my way to my car. Who can say it better really?

 

Making It Work

(I wrote this as a gift for one of my closest friends in the world, Kerryn Taylor, an ex, a friend, an acquaintance, an irritation, and finally a confidante. She knows me like few do, and I wanted to use my new passion for writing to make her a birthday gift. I hope you like it, dearest).

The cold blue light of the computer monitor bathes me as I type away. I am angry. No, I am furious, in a way that only teenagers can be about matters that matter little to none in adulthood.

“Dear Kerryn, I hope you understand how much you’ve hurt me…”

We met in 2007, where my geek flag was just beginning to show in true form. I was awkward, gangly, and didn’t know the social dances. She was 14 (Shut up, I know it’s weird), a budding photographer, and cosplayed,  she loved anime to an obsessive degree, Kingdom Hearts and Dance Dance Revolution.

After a dose of long glances and my lack of courage in following through at Supanova 2007, where she dressed as Demyx-

I finally took the plunge on MSN messenger, before it became another nonfunctional backdrop in my past.

“Wanna go out sometime?”
“Aw! I’d love to!”

I still remember our first date. ‘My’ first date, ever. Butterflies does not cover it, when I saw her in her WWF t-shirt (fun fact kids, WWF was what wrestling used to be called!), jeans and checkered vans. It was perfect to me. We saw Kung Fu Panda, and  believe ir or not, we didn’t kiss until afterward. I snuck up behind her at the snack bar, and all of a sudden… there it was. It was tender, sweet… it felt right. Many more kisses later, we decided we would go steady, or if you like, the Australian equivalent, “Put the sheep in ya swag” or something.

A myriad of sushi, lying in the grass and smiling, reading manga, and discussing our “cosplays to come” flashes across my mind as I remember our 6 months together, where we were still figuring out who we were but were glad of the support of someone to watch us transition. I even had her as my date at my high school formal, in which she looked beautiful, I looked okay, and the whole event sucked. We spent the whole time listening to Muse on my CD player outside.

It was a happy, exciting, teenage interest.

But like most teenage interests, they will either last forever inside you, transform, or disappear completely. I was convinced for a time that our relationship would be the latter.

Our relationship was one of firsts: First kiss in the rain, first holding hands and walking through the city, other pedestrians be damned, (we were that annoying couple), first DNM over music Greenday and pop punk for her, and my passionate emo tendencies, and our first teenage like activities in dark movie theatres.

However, first relationships mean that, at least for me, it was the first time trying to grasp the concept that the world does not revolve around you, and that meant serious lack of empathy. There was tears, frustration, and our eyes rocketed towards our skulls so often towards the end of our relationship, that I’m surprised they’re not lodged in our skulls. It would take us both a long time before we were happy with who we saw in the mirror each day, and it showed.

I broke it off. It hurt, but not as much as I thought it would, for either of us… because I think we knew instinctually we didn’t fit like lovers should. Let me put it to you this way… When I asked her “What am I to you?” She responded “You’re my Edward.”

Yup. This Edward.

Not gonna lie, folks… Huge boner killer, for a teenager who “didn’t” want to be seen as an abusive badly written statue. In her defense, she was a teenager, and you’ve done some stupid stuff in teenage hood too I bet. But if I’m honest, I’ve never quite forgiven her for that slight.

I think I knew we wouldn’t last after that.

The relationship ended, but we didn’t lose touch. The pain, and fear of losing her forever came further down the line.

She had gotten a  new boyfriend. A boyfriend that I’m going to call Jerkface. This, unfortunately was the beginning of a long hiatus from each other.

A series of emails to each other read like this, mind you, I’m paraphrasing:

J:”YOU AND YOUR BOYFRIEND DITCHED ME.”

K: “FUCK YOU I’M ALLOWED TO HAVE MY OWN LIFE.”

6 months later.

J: YOU AND YOUR NEW BOYFRIEND DITCHED ME.”

K: “FUCK YOU HE’S WONDERFUL.”

3 months later:

K: I was an idiot, I miss you.

J: Please, stop shutting yourself out.

K: I’ll try.

3 months later.

K: REMOVE MY FUCKING PHOTOGRAPH FROM DEVIANTART. YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME CREDIT.

J: YES I DID.

K: NO, YOU DIDN’T FUCK YOU.

J: WELL FUCK YOU. DON’T TALK TO ME ANYMORE!

K: FUCK YOU MORE! AND GLADLY!

J: (dammit).

On and on it went, where we dug ourselves deeper into our respective holes, shouting at each other “Dig up, stupid!” But eventually, Teenage Pride and the relationships destroyed along the way led us back in to each others lives… But it wouldn’t happen for a few years yet.

My first memory that sticks out of our reunion period is at a Hog’s Breath cafe in maybe 2013. For those not in the know, they’re these ridiculous steak cafes which charge you an obscene amount for beef. Give me a Hard Rock Cafe any day.

I arrived early, and soon after she came and embraced me in a way only the truly close or emotionally inexperienced can (trust me, if you don’t know what a GLOMP is, look it up).

We were in our 20’s now, and it had been at least a few months since I had seen her. She had a new boyfriend, Matt, a man of resounding plaid cloth and bearded like the pard. Matt was awesome, a man I considered a friend straight out of the gate. We talked Batman and ended up cracking each other up within 5 minutes of  meeting each other… But it was more than that. They were happy. Happy to the point that I knew if they didn’t fuck it up, they’d be together forever.

She was so different. She had garnered a new love for comics, was more open, honest and was finally pursuing her dream to be a Forensic Photographer. She glowed. She seemed to finally have taken my advice to love herself as much as I once did. She had changed so much.

And I? I dunno. I’m the worst at self analysation, my own worst critic. I can only hope that I was on my way at that point from the selfish lazy prick I had been as a teenager, to just a lazy prick. I set achievable goals.

Come 2015, right before I left town for Melbourne, I knew that we’d be in each other’s lives forever when she and Matt stopped me and as a couple, after having a lovely goodbye dinner, and handed me $100 to help me with my transition into my strange new land.

I was blown away by the generosity. Little did I know how much that generosity would save my life.

November 18, 2015. The day of my big move to Melbourne Town. I pack my PS4 into my suitcase, thinking it would be just under the weight I’d paid for on the flight, and let’s face it, I wasn’t waiting 2 weeks to play my game. I get into the airport, put the suitcase on the weighing machine and… it was 10 kilos over.

$25 per kilo meant that it would cost me $300 extra just to get on the plane or abandon all my possessions. I had to  be at the gate in 15 minutes. SHITFUCKSHIT! I didn’t have that kind of money!

Except I did. The $100 they gave me made me just able to make up for my stupid mistake. That $100 saved my life, and I am so grateful that Kerryn, or as I call the couple-blob that is Kerryn and Matt- Mart- exist in my life. I love you guys.

Today, we live in separate states, but I talk to her quite regularly still. I’d be lying if I said I went to her with everything, but like family, I know I can always count on her, and she me.

We’re planning to get tattoos together next time I come to town. Matching Mary Poppins tattoos. It’s that internal “WTF?” reaction you felt as compared to our internal squeeing, that reminds me why our relationship is fucking awesome.

I love you loads, my friend. Thank you for being you.

-Jack