Sunday, March 15, 2009

Die Verwandlung

Victor Carroon, the British astronaut in the Quatermass Experiment, endured his painful transformation into a malign extraterrestrial carpet with silent, stoic anguish. I am bearing my steady evolution into my own father with less dignity.

Readers of this web blog will know that I've long lamented the failure of the Antient Order of the Dad to lead me along the Path of the Hush Puppy. It looks like this impertinence has earned me an Ovidian punishment.

In my bachelor days I used to spend a few weeks at my parents' house each summer while they tramped around Bavaria in search of the Spear of Destiny. One year my father had abandoned his opposition to the video recorder ("Satan's trouser-press!" was his initial judgment) and filled a bookshelf with tapes for me to plunder.

To my New Statesmanly chagrin his video collection (pronounced "vie-deo" in Wales, by the way) consisted entirely of grim Brit war flicks like "Ice-Cold in Alex" and a couple of staid thrillers. After a comprehensive audit I found two films worth watching - "The Day of the Jackal" and another copy of the same.

I'd brought a worn tape of "Betty Blue" with me in lieu of human female company, otherwise I was at the mercy of Houseburner's Choice on the S4C Welsh channel. There was nothing for it but to go out and get bat-punching drunk down the Llawes Goch tavern every night and challenge the town's leading Gypsy artist to smoking competitions. Country ways.

Now, however, my dvd rental list is choked with offerings from Dirk Bogarde's khaki hetero phase and "Tora! Tora!Tora!", which I realised is not about exuberant Hasidim. There's certainly more Frederick than Bill in my Forsyth selection.

I shall pass over the Venn intersection with my father on politics and clothing with little comment. It is as much a question of age and affluence as of genes. Yes, both Lord Tebbit and Mr Netanyahu make a lot more sense to me now than they did in the 1980s, and my IRA funeral party chic has long been decommissioned in favour of sludgy tweeds and a tendency for my head to keep growing through the top of my hair.

Of more concern are major divergences from my previous philosophical theses on weighty matters. Film choices are one. Motor vehicles are another.

Keen Boyovians will recall the touching combination of reluctance and incompetence with which I approached learning to drive, while Mrs Boyo's cadres may prefer her more dialectical accounts.

Once I'd wrenched the certificate from the cold, hairless palm of the driving examiner, I swore to Mrs Boyo that our car would do no more than ferry her good self to that airstrip where she meets her Colombian chums near Dunwich and take our daughter Arianrhod on trips to the vet.

A few weeks passed and I'd become a sparking plug of chauvinist velocity, my right arm lobstered large from cabbie's elbow, my flecked eyes set on sneer alert for any signs of non-reverse parking or adherence to rural speed limits:

  • I have to be lured from the driving seat by offers of raw steak, rum and an evening's viewing of the Top Gear three-part special on Wankel engines;

  • On my frequent exiles from the Boyo bedroom I find solace in running my sac up and down the fan belt, which is warmer and more legal than hanging around that nurses' training college in the early hours; and

  • Mention the word "escort" and once I'd have obliged with my little black book of big black ladies. Now I whimper "The Mark III - why, Ford, why?!"

More precious pillars of my persona may now be bracing themselves for the blows of banality.

My taste in music is so exquisite that previous lady friends have cited it as unreasonable behaviour. So when will I buy my first brass band medley or compilation of "hits"? And is that Mireille Mathieu luring me onto the rocks - in German?

As Gyppo Byard has gallantly recalled, I like my ladies the way I like my lemons - bitter, jaundiced and unwaxed. So what signs of decay can I next expect? I think of my father's film collection, and the words "Joan Greenwood" toll like a leper's bell in my inner ear. A yearning for Felicity Kendal will mean I've got off lightly.

Like Dorian Gray, I peer queerly at the picture that hangs in my study. A pipe has appeared in the breast pocket, true, but is that a ballpoint pen that now nestles beside it? Has the hour struck when, like Zhatko before me, I murmur "mon semblable - mon père"?


Mrs Pouncer said...

Oh, Boyo! Mireille Mathieu, I spent every summer in the sixties at a Colonie de Vacances in Vaucluse, whilst my parents disported themselves with friends from Isle sur Sorgue. MM was the local heroine, and on one stultifyingly hot afternoon, when the pine trees were literally sweating, and we were playfully pelting each other with Perrier, she appeared, a tiny waif in pink cashmere. Helped up onto a trestle table by the lascivious Directeur, she sang C'est Ton Nom and we all cried for home. Then, in a magnificent tribute to the only Brit present, she serenaded me with Ragtime Cowboy Joe. Later on, I discovered she was a great fan of Pinky and Perky.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Good to hear you've taken to life behind the wheel, Boyo, but you've learned to late to be manly driver. Something about your hesitancy at one junction followed by your over-compensating recklessness at the next will give you away to the real daddies of the road.

Kevin Musgrove said...

It'll be the tweed trilby next. That's the thing to wear if you're mentally driving an Austin A40.

No Good Boyo said...

Mrs Pouncer, is there no end to your infamy? And I believe "Un/e amant/e de Pinky et Perky" is French theatrical argot for, er, a theatrical type.

A friend of mine once saw Bernard Manning perform his giddy canter through idées reçues atop a car in a traffic jam somewhere near Manchester. He may have sung "This Charming Man" too.

I trip at every step, GB. Sometimes I gaze at the vehicle stage right, willing it to combust. Othertimes I charge out ahead of it with the same intent.

Kevin, the trilby is where I draw the line. As I confessed to St Norman of the Geras, the only prejudices that I am willing to share concern BNP/SWP-type newspaper salespersons and drivers who wear hats.

About 65% of road-users between Tabor and Dinas Mawddwy wear either tweed trilbies, flat caps ("capiau stabal" as we locals have it) or peaked diadems that glisten whitely in the moonlight.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ah, it's a terrible moment, Boyo, when one realises that one is like ones father; best to discover it early and then have several decades to compensate/apologise/atone for it. My father always had to let my mother drive, and it is for this reason that I am not a car owner.

I knew that Boney M's German producer dubbed the vocals of their male band member, but I didn't know Spear of Destiny were actually from Bavaria.

No Good Boyo said...

It's true, Gadjo. When they were Theatre of Hate they came from France. A truly European outfit, although St John of the Peels noted on Top of the Pops that they were not Belgians.

The day I buy a Kirk Brandon LP is the point of no return.

Dr Maroon said...

God, I don’t know whether to tell you this. Soddit. A day will come, a day will come I say when your car will mean less to you than your next packet of fags. By then it’ll be a little clown’s car, popping and rumbling along and you won’t give a flying damn.
It gets worse. You may start to hanker after old cars like the Austin Cambridge shootingbrake with driver’s gloves, travel rugs and tinned sweets. You’ll find yourself outside Dunn & Co. eyeing up that car coat with the leather covered buttons, and you’ll say to yourself, “ I know it’s naff, but it’s so naff it’s good, and I could carry it off…” Hell mend you. Go for it Boyo. Go for it. Spread your wings.

Blognor Regis said...

"This Charming Man", containing a notable line from a Lawrence Olivier filum. Not sure where old Larry would fit in the collection Boyo as he was always a bit more thesp than your average John Mills defeats the boche solo feature.

Re Ms Kendal, Kay does the business for me. That trumpet in Genevieve gives me the horn.

xerxes said...

Christ, Maroon, I though that attitude to cars (sans tinned sweets) was the cool one, and you're telling me it's merely senile? Thanks a bunch.

Car coats OTOH are a symptom of impotence.

Where does your bobble hat fit into the tweed trilby scenario, Boyo? And what's in the bobble anyway? I shall summon a middle-aged bachelor to find out.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I can do the tinned sweets without the cars. I expect that's the closest to the Fountain of Youth I'll be getting to.

No Good Boyo said...

Maroon, I know perdition is just an elasticated waistband away. At my trial I'll plead that I just wanted to know what double-declutching meant.

Mr Regis: Fliss, as I'd call Miss Kendal if she should ever become my cinq-à-sept, heads the list of women whom I ought not to fancy for ideological reasons but nonetheless do. It's the way she says "Oh,Tom!", coupled with my imagining what she got up to out East.

Inky and Kevin, lay off the tinned sweets. They're boiled for a reason. And the bobble hat is a futile attempt to keep my head below the hairline, and therefore counts as medical.

Mrs Pouncer said...

I knew that if I languished here long enough, sucking on a Needler's barley sugar, some kind man would stop and fix my fan belt. For my 18th birthday, my dear old father bought me a car - and not just any car! No, it was a 1958 Ford Popular in Dairymaid Green; no synchromesh, so I had to double declutch from Maidenhead to Battersea (hall of residence hemhem). Of course, that is why I have the calves that have made me famous in the Thicket. These days I drive a Defender, but as I am the Yvonne Romain of the A4, no-one looks askance. Apart from Gyppo, actually. There was an occasion when I mounted the kerb sharply outside a primary school where small children were beswarming their mothers for lollipops, and he bared his teeth at me.

No Good Boyo said...

Mrs Pouncer, outside a primary school most parents are relieved that it's only the kerb that's being mounted before the pink eyes of their beloved tots.

In Wales things, all things, are very different.

Ms Scarlet said...

“ I know it’s naff, but it’s so naff it’s good, and I could carry it off…”

And I call the flying ducks on my wall 'ironic'... but they each have a button that makes them quack.
No Bruce in your Forsyth selection, Mr Boyo? Then there's still hope.

No Good Boyo said...

Brucie, the Sage of Virginia Water, always has a place on my list, Scarlet.

Greg Lewis said...

Considering that you were "blooded" in the Ways of Dad by 'The Day of the Jackal', NGB, I had expected the enigmatic Delphine Seyrig to make an appearance in your later wanderings - perhaps a page from Cahier du Cinema mounted lovingly on the shed wall?

kellie said...

Victor Caroon blogs here by the way.

No Good Boyo said...

Ah Greg, Delphine plays a major role in my all-time favourite film:

Kellie, Vic ought to take up Jeffrey Barnard's Spectator column.

Greg Lewis said...

Ah, Daughters of Darkness. What a film.
I always found it amazing that the actor at the centre of this erotic schlock masterpiece went on to play Harvey 'Harv' Lacey in Cagney & Lacey.
What a career.

Anonymous said...

Most disturbing. In my case it is not my father that I resemble more and more, but my mother's father (or The Old Pole as he is known).

Beetroot soup, anyone?

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