Friday, January 21, 2005

Desperately Seeking Giddiness

The lovely Adrian off of the Life Itself board said "Oi Alyson - why don't you write about Giddiness" - "Giddiness" I said - is that how you spell it - and after watching a video clip of a girl in roller skates, I figured out just what was required...

Desperately Seeking Giddiness

There was at some point in the mid to late 1990s a public information character created called Giddy Goanna. He had a theme song that ran "Giddy...Giddy Goanna...what shall we do shall we run and play?"...frankly, he was a fraud. In much the same way we refused to be conned by Mister Cheese, real kids knew that if they went to "run and play" with Giddy Goanna, they'd be subjected to a tedious 3 hour lecture on road safety. Giddy Goanna would only be trusted if he'd lived up to his name, and had done a dizzy whizzy until he fell over, or at the very least, ushered the kids to a nearby roundabout, and said "go for it little ones."

In the summer between Grade 2 and Grade 3, our school prepared for us a special surprise. Some brand new, state of the art, prime model, 1987 top of the line kis playground equipment, Firstly, they invested in a big yellow caterpillar, that wound on for miles, that all the kids could climb on. Secondly, they spent up big on a metal disc they had nailed to the ground, with handles on it to grip on, a flimsy looking thing that looked unfinished, but which spun off it's axis whenever it was gently pushed. "I guess it's a roundabout" said Claire, before we were friends. "Give the girl a chocolate bar", said Amber Bennett, preening. We stood in magic awe, oblivious to the fact that the caterpillar was actually gleaming and finished. This thing in the ground, it looked sexy and dangerous, like the kind of thing that should have yellow tape around it. Then the bell rang. It pierced the silence. We trooped into class to meet our new class teacher, who wondered audibly why everyone was so quiet. We sat through two tedious hours of that thing you have to do sometimes where you stand up and say a fast fact about yourself ("Hi I'm Alyson - I'm on crystal meth" "Sit down Alyson, you're only 8!") and some pointless games, when all we wanted to do was go back outside into the sunshine and examine this new contraption. And when the bell rang, we, as a grade, sprinted back outside to examine it with quiet reverence and awe.

Kids naturally gravitate to anything that involves running or spinning or rolling or throwing themselves about. Some of my happiest memories involve sprinting down the hill, chasing a brightly painted easter egg, and falling on my bum about 20 times, laughing all the way. We were hardy kids though, no public liability insurance for us, oh no. We didn't need it, we had PC. I mentioned before that Paul "PC" Clark was our go to guy when we wanted "shit tried out". He was just earning that hard won reputation, having the year before tested whether it possible to jump from the top of the fort, not from the top of the ladder, but the other way, by leaping over one of the wooden walls (it was, but it wasn't easy). There seemed no doubt to us that if anyone was going to test whether our so called round a bout was magic or dodgy, it would be PC. He looked hard at it, and rubbed his hands together in a tense motion.

"Look PC, if it's too much for you, I don't mind having a go," said Adam Bastick, who luckily would later change his surname to avoid the nickname "Bastick the Spastick"

PC glared at him fiercely. You should never challenge the moral authority of the "try shit out" guy in Australia. "Let's spin," said PC, gripping on to one of the handles. The roundabout was so poorly constructed, even a 7 year old had trouble sitting on it to be spun, so PC had to stand up on it, holding onto a handle that wobbled unsteadily in his hand, a handle that more or less blu tacked into the ground. Worse, the handles were positioned as if the roundabout was to be spun clockwise, when in fact it spun anticlockwise. Still, he wasn't our try shit out guy for nothing, and he motioned it was time to go.

I can't remember who span the unfinished roundabout that day, but it was a tense moment. As girls, we had to stand back, this was no place for the weak of heart. Claire and Amber Bennett even bonded, wincing together as PC held on for dear life. He gripped on tightly as the rickety contraption span uncertainly off it's flimsy foundations, round and round, round and round, and even past the 7 second attention span we had at the time, we were still completely gripped, as PC went round and round...and suddenly, he was airborne, as a nail came out of the roundabout, landing on the ground with a plop in the mud. The roundabout wobbled like a see-saw, but it was too late, PC was going to fast, and had to grip on with one hand. Through the crowd, Kevin McKay and Kevin Patterson grabbed onto him, and managed to pull him away, just as the roundabout went completely mental and the handle PC had been holding onto seconds before came out of the hole it had never quite been in in the first place, and fell on top of the roundabout. The roundabout wouldn't stop spinning, wobbling unsteadily for most of the rest of the day. We looked at the roundabout, going completely crazy, and then at PC, who was being held up by the arms.

"I'm fine!" he said, in the manner that made him the go to guy. The Kevins let him go and for a moment, there was a beautiful calm in the air. Seagulls cawed their appreciation. It was then PC, in front of his appreciative audience, said something so profound, it's stuck with me to this day.

"I'm giddy," he said, with a demented smile, as he fell face down into the mud.

You spend your whole life chasing that feeling, the out of control magical moment of falling, of being giddy and off in another world. Forget drugs - the seagulls knew the score - it was still best when all it took was a cheap hunk of junk roundabout, and a quick, hard push...


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