Friday, November 30, 2007

Things Women Can't Do....

As a man I can say with the utmost of honesty that I do like women. I have daughters, admittedly scary ones, I have a mother, also scary and there are many of them that I work with. I mean that I work with women, not daughters and mothers, well they are but they're not my ones.

But over the years in which I've observed the fairer sex and studied their behaviour there are a few things I've noticed that women can't do. Rules of nature so to speak, things that are laws and always happen, except when they don't happen of course.

The first one is about throwing. Women can't throw. You know the way a fielder can pick up a ball and casually throw it overarm towards the wicket. Well that's just something that's in our blood as boys isn't it? We can do it with ease and applomb, even chaps like me for whom cricket is frankly a bit of a mystery. We manage to throw a ball, a coaster or whatever our weapon of choice, with a natural sense of comfort. It's all in the act of releasing the missile, it has to be done with a "snap" in the wrist as you let go. Easy for us, hard for them.

The other thing I've noticed is a rule that I've yet to see broken and it's about Ansafones, voicemail or whichever terminology you choose.

It's this; men (that's us) will ring up a friend and get their voicemail. Sometimes we leave a message, it will be like this:

"Hello Steve it's Rhythmic. Give me a call when you get a chance, bye".

That's all we need to do. We're functional about these things. Now you girls are a different breed, almost like an entirely different sex. Your message will sound something like this:

"Hello Sarah it's me, Susan. Give me a call when you get a chance, I was just calling to tell you that I bumped into Kate the other day and she told me that we're all going out next Thursday. You'll never guess what happened though. Apparently she was talking to Jack and mentioned that there was a possibility of getting a new........"

I think you've got the drift. Susan will have the whole conversation, at least her side of it, with the voicemail thing. Exactly thirty six minutes later Sarah will return to her pad, retrieve her messages and call Susan back. Susan will then have the conversation again, only this time it will be two sided, like a triangle with one side missing. My research and observation strongly suggest that this scenario also applies to women who have names other than Susan or Sarah.

And, while I'm on a roll, one more thing. Women just don't understand exactly what it's like to have balls and stuff. We have to adjust them, we have to scratch them and we have to admire them now and again.

Because we can.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh Lanka

Sinhala, Tamil, resident or diasporic, we're all linked by Sri Lanka, by that strange way she calls and pulls us in. I'm sure other countries can attract people but there's something special about Sri Lanka, its people and its beauty, its diversity and its serenity, its chaos and its madness.

Growing up in the seventies and eighties in London meant that I was used to and familiar with the far too frequent newsflashes of bombs going off, of people being killed and of those of us who weren't directly affected trying to steam on with their everyday lives. As a young salesperson in central London I was often indirectly, luckily never directly, affected by terrorism.

Then July '83 came. I was in Sri Lanka at the time and I saw and experienced things that so many have documented and so many also witnessed. Since then my passion, my feelings and my pull towards Sri Lanka have multiplied and increased and I'm fascinated and captivated by everything Lankan.

I've watched Presidents come and go, I've seen politicians assasinated, civilians killed, soldiers killed and terrorists killed. I've watched people prosper from this "war" and I've watched others suffer, I've seen leaders get fatter, richer, uglier and greedier and I've seen the man in the street get thinner, poorer, more hungry and less hungry.

Every time I hear, from the luxury of my desk or home in London, of a bomb or an incident, I go through the thing so many of us are used to, that emailing, texting, calling and surfing to find out exactly what's happened and whether all our "known" people are ok. The sad truth is that the man in the street doesn't matter to most of us unless he's a man we know. That's war I guess.

So we're not patriotic if we don't support the government? So to be Tamil means you're a terrorist? To be a Sinhalese means you hate the Tamils? To be overseas means you're a coward? To be an NGO means you're evil? To be white means you've got no rhythm? Ok, one of those is true.

Yet I'm one of the lucky ones. I knew a peaceful Sri Lanka, I can remember peace, a peace that lasted for more than a couple of tense years.

Yesterday I felt and noticed something that seemed new and different. As news of the two bomb blasts started to filter out and the flurry of activity began, it felt to me as if everyone, me included, had an air of apathy.

This post by DDM recently struck a big chord with me recently. Today it's my cousin, my relative, tomorrow it's your's. It matters not.

Peace is a choice, war just kills.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spam

Joan, Wife of Noah.

I don't like to rant but occasionally I feel the need to.

You know there's one big personality type that I've always found it hard to deal with; the martyr.

That very specific type of person who usually works quite hard, but talks about it, goes on and on about it and makes sure everyone that even comes within spitting distance knows about their hard work and dedication.

One of the women at work broke her elbow the other day, on her predominant arm, if that's the term. So it really is a handicap, both for her and for us, and I and most others are genuinely sympathetic towards her.

Aah but she fucking well goes on and on about it, and I say that with a huge sigh in my voice, as you may have read. It's as if she's the first person in the world to break an arm, or elbow (I'm unsure if it's the same thing). For the last couple of days all around her have been bombarded with talk of how it happened, how she might be in tomorrow or might not, or might come in for a few hours "depending on how it feels".

It's all presented with an air of martyrdom and a "what a great big hero am I" attitude and I find my sympathy running out quicker than the only rice and curry option on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight. I so prefer to see people just knuckle down, crack on and get on with stuff quietly. If you're going to be a hero and work through an illness or something then please just do it quietly and I promise I'll notice.

What is it with these people?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Masterpiece Of Music

Now and again an album grabs me as a complete body of music. One will come along and make me sit up and take notice, that demands my attention and captivates me.

Embarassingly the last one to do this was Lily Allen's "Alright, Still", one which I thought would stand the test of time for me, but it just gets the odd spin on my iTunes these days, and that's only a few of the songs at that. Muse's "Black Holes and Revelations" came and is still hanging around. It's been in my car solidly for about the last ten months and will stay there as a fallback for some time to come. But it's got a few duff tracks on it, like the slow whiney one and the very first one.

A few weeks ago I bought the Foo Fighters latest offering. The Foos are a band I've been just a little bit mad on since they first appeared on the scene. You're probably aware that I'm a drummer so it won't surprise you that I can love a band that has not one, but two of my favourite drummers of all time in it.

But their last couple of albums disappointed me, I thought they'd got a little bit formulaic, that they had found something that works, albeit with commercial success most bands would kill for, and they were using the formula to keep on creating more of the same. Of course I bought the albums anyway.

I nearly didn't buy the newest one, " Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace", I'd previewed a few of the tracks on iTunes and hadn't been that impressed. In fact the snippets I had listened to just backed up my whole theory about the formulaic thing. But I'm a music fan and some years ago I made one of those silly vows to myself, the sort we all make but never tell anyone about. This one was that I'd always err on the side of buying an album if I was doubtful. It's an expensive silly vow, but it's one that has uncovered many a secret and previously hidden joy for me. It has also meant that, over the years, I've spent a load of money on buying some total pieces of crap albums, but I've enjoyed finding out they were crap.

And there I was a week or so ago, on a plane to Singapore with two new albums sitting on my iTunes library to listen to. The first was the new one by Orson. Now I can't really pass judgement on this yet, what I've heard sounds pleasant enough in a very poppy way, but I need to listen to some more before I give or make an opinion. The second was this one, the Foos finest hour I think.

It would be churlish for me to attempt to describe each track and to try to give you a feel for them. Music is subjective and my descriptions would be largely drum based, aka fuck all use to anyone other than a drummer. The thing that caught my attention most was the way that each track sounds like a complete song, many of their songs in the past have sounded a bit half baked to me. Some have had great choruses, some had had verses to die for, some have had a middle eight that makes me want to poo, but only a few of them feel like the finished article.

This album is different. The Foos have come of age. Each song feels like a self contained unit but, once strung together, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace is a modern day symphony. Unlike so many albums it doesn't tail off towards the end, it doesn't use up the good stuff and then have a few "not quite ready but we can use them at the end of the next album" songs. I can start it from any point and I seriously like what I hear. There are no songs that I skip.

As I write this, I find myself wondering who, out of the people who read this and I know, would like the album. Lady Luck would, but she likes anything that's Foo Fighter related. Theena may well do too as I know he's a Grohl fan. Java, nope, I strongly suspect it's not his bag of cheese. I'd put money on Confab liking it but my jury's out on the opinion of the respected Mr Cerno.

Take my advice, if you only buy one album this year, you really should buy more.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Boy's Stuff

In a rare moment at the office the other day Gaz, one of my partners, and myself found ourselves alone. Gaz is the one that I've worked with since I was about 21, we're a bit like a married couple, well longer lasting in my case, in that we have ups and downs and have been through a lot but are still together. Ok, to be fair we're nothing like a married couple that I've got any experience of, but I live with hope.

These moments don't happen often but, instead of the usual 4 or 5 other people in the office with us, we were alone. They had all pranced off to lunch or were doing things elsewhere in the building. There were people downstairs in the warehouse but they were doing their thing, which involves lifting, manual labour and physical stuff, so Gaz and I stay away from there whenever possible.

We could have talked about budgets, revenue, profit or loss. We could have persused the latest developments in our industry or perhaps had a little chinwag about the future of the Company. There was the option of talking a bit about the Christmas bonuses, an ever emotive topic that never gets to any sort of consensus. Or we could even have talked about football, page 3 of The Sun or porn.

But no. All those options were very important, very pressing and quite challenging, but with virtually no discussion, with that almost telepathic level of communication we've built up over the 20 years, we settled into a brief exercise in teamwork, managerial expertise and intellectual dexterity.

You've guessed it. We started to do the well known management training exercise, often used in Harvard Business School and other such institutions; throwing a coaster to try to knock off the teddy bear that we had carefully balanced on the upright bit of a chair.

It's a game of mental and physical prowess that can be played by any number of people of almost any age. Of course girls can't play it because they throw like well, girls, but anyone else can. Girls just can't get that proper flicking action in their arm to throw correctly can they? I think it must be to do with breasts or something but they always end up with a movement like a camp shot putter and a little gasp as they exhale.

And most girls would definitely worry about the welfare of the teddy bear too. It was a new white one, a sort of polar / Xmas bear, one that is involved in a raffle of some kind and was wearing a bear scarf. Why a polar bear needs to wear a scarf is beyond me. You don't see elephants bathing in Yala with swimming costumes on or leopards wearing the latest Nikes for a bit of extra grip around corners.

To make the game challenging we had to stand inside my office and throw the coaster through my door. This limited our swing a bit and meant that neither of us could get as much power behind our throws as we would have liked. Gaz went first. The first one's always a bit of a "peeing on your territory" kind of move. If you hit the target it will be mostly a fluke but it's good to get a feel for the prevailing conditions and also to instill a bit of fear into your opponent.

His effort sailed past the ear of the bear and I readied myself for my first attempt. Unfortunately I got my angles totally wrong and the coaster just made it through my office door and spun off towards the stereo, which was about 10 feet away from bear. Clearly Gaz had done some peeing and unnerved me. We continued taking turns, some efforts came close and some were about as far away from the target as a American trying to find WMDs in Iraq. Or should that be WsMD?

I can't explain how tense these games can become. Not only is there a a massive anount of male pride at stake but, at any point, one of the staff could have walked back into the office and we would have had to pretend to be working, as well as think of an explanation for bear's new position on the back of the chair. The people who have been with us for a longer time are more used to the sight of one or both of us doing something childish but there are some newer ones who might still think of us with a modicum of respect.

Then it happened. Gaz took his turn, we'd been getting progressively closer over the last few throws but this one had "dead bear" written all over it. The coaster zipped threw the air, not that coasters go "zip". It hit the polar bear smack on the side of the head and the nameless fellow crumpled onto the floor. I felt a bit dejected as I knew I'd lost, but then came out with an act of sportsmanship. I cleverly pointed out that, as Gaz had gone first, I still had another turn and could pull off a draw if I hit bear on this go.

I lined up, like a potentially match winning shot in Carrom, it's important not to over concentrate, not to think too much and start to panic. So I did exactly that. I concentrated too hard, I thought too much and I panicked. I took a few seconds to calm myself and regain my composure. The coaster left my hand, it fairly sailed towards bear, who had been rebalanced on the upright bit of the chair, which rhymes.

And then, I kid you not, the missile skimmed bear's ear, it actually touched the little bastard's fake white fur. He wobbled and contemplated falling off the chair. I felt as if he looked over at me and took a snap judgement on whether he liked me or Gaz the most. Perhaps he was a bear with a computer, well not just a computer but access to the net too, and he reads my blog. Perhaps he likes it, maybe he hates it.

Well if he was a internet surfing bear then he doesn't like my blog. Because, after two or perhaps three nanoseconds of pondering and deliberating the bear opted to stay put. It wobbled and stayed on the chair. Gaz celebrated, I sulked for a bit and tried to think of an obscure rule that may have been breached or something I could appeal. Sadly there aren't really any rules so I was at a dead end.

We went back to our desks and continued with the whole running a business thing. It can be fun but it's not as much fun as knocking bears off chairs.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This Mornng I decided...

To start jogging. A bit Darwinesque but Academic bro was going on about it the other day, about joining a gym and so forth. But whilst lying in bed, which may be ironic if I understood exactly what irony is, I suddenly got hit by a brainwave; a fellow doesn't have to join a gym to start doing some running.

All I need are some shorts, some trainers and some determination and I can just ponce off and jog. I've developed a bit of a cunning plan though. I'll make sure I do it in a circular route, centred around my house. That way I'll never get too enthusiastic and head off at the speed of well, a drummer who's got a million pairs of trainers yet not a single pair that are suitable for exercise, and suddenly find myself miles from home but too knackered to come back. No, I'm not going to take the "head off in a straight line" approach.

And the more I run, the more rice I can eat. Mmmm....

Friday, November 23, 2007

Recently In The Sri Lankan Blogosphere...

The delicious mixture of ingredients and herbs and spices that is the SL blogosphere continues to captivate and mesmerise many of us. It's a veritable mixture of tasty things, like a Kottu or an Achcharu.

It must be the festive season kicking into place but there have been a few posts about food and shoes in the past weeks. I'm not sure that shoes have much to do with Christmas but I suppose Santa, or Secret Snow Person as he's now known, does put the presents in a stocking.

T, over at Midnight Margaritas has been stuffing herself silly with Sri Lankan cutlets, bagels and iced coffee. Everyone's favourite domestic Goddess, who needs no introduction has been baking chocolate things that have been making all of us hungry. She's been using ramekins, which I thought was the name of that German industrial punk band, but turns out they're those little crinkly dish things.

Lady Luck has been doing exams, watching TV and getting disappointed by Iranian comedians. I shared her disappointment at Omid Djalili but still find myself laughing at one joke in which he compared British humour to the Iranian variety

"To you an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman is the start of a joke, to us it's a hostage situation."

It's old, I've heard it before but it made me laugh.

There was a big fight that I heard about too. Not the one that everyone is aware of between Sittingnut and Indi, which Indi hasn't really got involved in. Frankly I think Mr Sittingnut should put up or shut up, preferably the latter. No the fight I'm referring to is the big one that took place somewhere up in the hills. It involved one Mr Java Jones, a Leech, some Mosquitos and some dogs.

Java had got a little bit lost and was trying to find his bearings when, as if from nowhere, a menacing gang approached him. Our hero didn't get time to count the number of assailants but he identified at least one Leech and one Mosquito in the throng. He fought bravely though, aided by his trusty canine companions and the gang fled, almost empty handed. If you do see a Leech and a Mozzie, one wearing a Barefoot sarong and the other carrying a packet of king size Rizlas please contact your local Police. You can read more about it here.

What else? Ah yes. Cerno's captivating series on the signs, grafitti and street graphics on display in Sri Lanka continues with this, a prime candidate for the best and funniest restaurant sign and name in the Country. I have to confess that I drove past this place a few months ago and really did look at it and think that it was a restaurant that only sold casserole. Little did I realise it was the name of the place. I imagined that I'd walk in and see a multitude of varieties of the dish, to be able to take my pick.

A couple of posts related to identity and accents caught my eye, as they're subjects that always interest me. Confab's one about accents cand be read here and T's one about being Sri Lankan looked to have got a few people debating en mass. Confab's made me think how much I admire these fellows who can actually write accents, so that the reader suddenly finds himself reading with a Northern accent, or whatever is chosen. It's a talent I'd like to learn but the best I can come up with is merely a good Sri Lankan "Vut to dooo?", which I learnt from Cerno anyway.

Over at West Country Life the missing Sri Lanka continues as our Bea pines for Parippu. I should start a list of the many different spelling of "Dhal" that I've seen, none of which I know as the definitive and correct version. So far there is dhal, dhall, dahl and dahll. I bet the young Roald had so many problems at school. Let me know if you have any extra ones. Either way we all love the stuff.

Temple Trees saw El Pres celebrating his birthday in his usual reserved style. A quiet and hilarious reflection on his many achievements was all that was needed and then he got on with life and building peace.

Indyana has very sadly said goodbye to blogging for personal reasons. With my hand on my heart I wish her well and hope she can sort out whatever things she needs to and can return to telling us about it.

That's about it for now. If I've forgotten you, well tough.

RD

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Mincident - Part 2

There I was, my meat was on the counter, so to speak. If I was Darwin or Pradeep Jeganathan I'd have had my camera and laptop at the ready for the full online experience. Of course I'm not, so I didn't. It was just me, some frozen mince and a cupboard full of spices, as supplied by my Mother, Gawd bless her.

I've knocked up a mince curry before but not with the frozen stuff, so I figured this wouldn't be too much of a challenge. I did the usual; fried up some onions, garlic, chilli powder, mustard seed, curry leaves, curry powder and anything else that would make my whole house smell like a Sri Lankan restaurant. It's a good smell too, really reminds me of all sorts of good flavours.

Then I added in my frozen mince. You may well be wincing at this point, a kind of mince wince. If you happen to be called Vince please comment as I reckon we could be onto something. It said on the packet that this frozen mince should be cooked from frozen, I know that frozen prawns can be cooked without defrosting and I figured that mince is small and therefore easy to cook from the bag. My plan was simple; make the curry mix, add in the mince, brown it, then let it simmer for a while until cooked. Then throw it on some rice and proceed to fill my face with the feast. As for vegetables, pah! I laugh in the face of those healthy types who scoff down salad and cabbage and greenery like it's good for them or something.

I kept it on a high fire and browned it nicely, a phrase that just sounds dirty doesn't it? Then I threw in some water, a bit of soya sauce, just becauseI like it, and left it to simmer on a low heat. It smelt a bit strange. I put on the rice and went to do some drum practice. At regular intervals I checked it and tasted it, which is when I noticed the strange thing.

The sauce had a nice flavour to it but the meat itself had a weird and rather sickening aroma and taste, some might say a sort of raw flavour, even though it was nicely brown on the outside. I persisted, thinking that the flavour would disappear after some good simmering. I let it simmer for about 25 minutes, by this time the whole house had been permeated by this rather unpleasant smell. I continued with the sporadic tasting but it wasn't getting much better.

Now if there's one thing I've learnt in the business world it's that you have to know when to cut your losses. Sometimes you have to stop investing time and energy into something and move on. Draw a line underneath it, try to learn from the experience and move on.

So I did. I turned off the cooker, walked the 100 yards down to the end of my road and bought an Indian takeaway. Chicken vindaloo, Bombay potatoes and a naan, to go with the already cooked rice.

I let the mince cool down, then chucked it away. The smell lingered in the house for about a day, then wandered off down the street, probably looking for a home where it would feel a bit more welcome.

Since the "mincident" I've cooked the same thing with fresh mince and the endings have been happy and tasty. I'm perplexed about exactly what I did wrong though. Was it because I didn't brown it for long enough or was it because these bags of frozen mince are just crap, made from bollocks and tails and stuff?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Little Response To Brandon

I read this post by Brandon over on the Black Lullaby today and it made me feel all old and mature, the mature thing doesn't happen very often but the old thing is an increasingly frequent occurrence. I don't really know him, we've bumped into each other a couple of times but I'm not even aware if he reads here.

His post touched a chord with me and I wanted to pass on my thoughts.

Mr Lullaby, or perhaps I can call him Brandon, asks if he's vicious enough for life in the corporate world, more specifically in the Sri Lankan advertising world. He continues:

"How much more manipulative do we need to be to keep hanging?
How much more absurd to we need to get to defend ourselves?
How much more vicious do we need to be to make sure we stay alive?"

I wanted to tell Mr L that I'm a firm, many would say naive, believer in the power of good over evil, of the "what goes around comes around" thing.

Many people enter the business world with preconceptions that they have to be a bastard to succeed, that nice guys finish last, that looking after number one is the way to be the best. Well, if that works for them then so be it. But it doesn't work for me, I'm comfortable with that.

Anyone in a business environment has to do things that they don't feel comfortable with, that can be challenging and is often part of the fun and excitement. If I wanted a comfortable job I'd certainly not be doing what I currently do. We all have to sack people, discipline them and often argue with them, but we can do it with a clear conscience if we believe in the end goal and that we're doing things for the right reasons.

I've lost count of the number of people I've had to dismiss over the years but I can honestly say that there was only one sacking that I ever enjoyed and that was one too many. It was childish ego in me that enjoyed it, that immature thing that pokes its head out sometimes. The chap started to shout at me across the warehouse floor, questioning something and sounding aggressive, so I just told him to go. It was the right thing to do but I couldn't resist the temptation to do it in front of all the others and make a bit of a example of him.

I digress, but my point is that we all have to do things that we don't enjoy now and again. My answer to Brandon, for what it's worth, is that my choice was to hang on to my values and principles, to behave as I wanted and want, to live by my standards, not the standards of others.

None of us "need" to be manipulative or absurd or vicious to succeed.

We only have to make a choice.

The cream ALWAYS rises to the top, sometimes it just takes a long time.

I humbly apologise for the sermon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Converses or Converse?

Friday night was my night to have the girls around.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this whole divorce thing one of the hardest things is getting used to not being with the girls every day; after 11 and13 years of being with them more or less every day of their lives suddenly I've become a "weekend Dad". And, whenever it gets to me a bit, I know that it must be so much harder for them to deal with than it is for me. They're kids, I'm not.

We had a nice Friday evening, with my culinary skills tested to the limit yet again. I made a chicken curry for them and a separate one for me, with chilli and far more spicy. I've still not got the hang of this cooking and having it all ready at the same time thing, no that's way beyond me, dishes at Rhythmic Towers are ready when they're ready, not a moment before and not a moment after.

I have been told many times recently that there aren't enough vegetables in my diet. It's true and, as Java would say, I'm definitely a bit of a salad dodger. So I thought it would be good to try and knock up an attempt at a vegetable dish for all of us. I'd been to Tesco earlier that day and bought a couple of microwave ready vegetable things, with peas, brocolli and butter all ready to be flung into the microwave.

But, as a purist I'd decided to try to cook the stuff properly and make some kind of concoction. I fried up my usual mixture of spices with a lot less chilli than usual, then I added the veg and some chopped up tomatoes for a bit of moisture and extra flavour.

Dinner was served. It was at this point that I found out that neither of the girls like tomatoes, they proceeded to pick out the tomatoes from the veg dish and I was left with more tomato than a chap who is addicted to tomatoes at the Pizza Hut all you can eat salad thing, when they've run out of everything except tomatoes.

The 11 year old is more or less addicted to rice as well, she can eat plain rice, albeit it with tons of butter, as if it's going out of fashion, which of course it is. After we finished they watched Children in Need and I cleared up, it was all very nice and domesticated until they raided the chocolate cupboard.

I put them to bed, there's a pleasant feeling that I'm sure all parents get when we watch our kids sleep. Whatever the trials and tribulations in their life, whatever moods and tantrums, strops and arguments we have to deal with when they're up, once they're asleep they all look like little angels don't they? As if butter wouldn't melt in their mouth and they're not even remotely capable of being sarcastic, moody and argumentative.

After a hard week of work and early mornings I'd been looking forward to a lie in on Saturday but volleyball club saw that one put to bed, unlike me, who had to drop the 13 year old at her school for aforementioned volleyball. We had a few words about a jumper, as they reach the age at which they want to "borrow" clothes from me and I fight the requests with fake anger, all the while being secretly pleased that I'm trendy enough to have my clothes considered fit to be seen on a teenager. The conversation went something like this:

"Dad can I borrow one of your jumpers?"

I returned with one.

"Urggh, not that, have you got a plain black one?"

I return with one of my favoured plain black ones.

"You can borrow this but I want it back and you're not wearing it for too long as you'll get boob marks on it."

"Urrghh, urrghh, urrghh, how can you talk about things like that?" she said, as obviously it's not allowed for a Dad to mention these things.

"Because that's what happens when girls wear men's jumpers". I know how to deal with this stuff.

She trotted off to try it on, returning a few minutes later wearing my almost favourite black jumper that fitted her perfectly.

"It's ok, but is it cashmere?" she asked, with no shame or embarassment whatsoever.

"What?" came my response. There was aggression in my tone and my nose was screwed up at this point, as you can probably tell.

"Have you got one in cashmere?"

I lied and replied in the negative, hoping she wouldn't go and look in my wardrobe.

She was feeling considerate and opted to "make do" with a non cashmere item and I, with bewilderment and pride, found myself feeling grateful for her kindness and consideration. When a child can go off and play volleyball in a jumper that isn't made from cashmere it's an indicator that you've brought them up with a good sense of values, that they're grounded and know about the important things in life.

After volleyball we ventured in the direction of Kingston to buy some baseball boots as I had promised them I would. 13 year old dithered and ended up deciding to wait until another time, 11 year old approached the idea with the enthusiasm she would eat a large bowl of rice with, before I knew what was going on we were in a trendy shoe shop with all sorts of size 4s (ladies') scattered everywhere. She chose a black pair of "Lo" ones, genuine All Stars with laces along the side rather than down the middle. T, you might be interested in these.

Then we went back home, to do more stuff before I dropped them back to their mother. We hung for a bit, ate some lunch and then I delivered them back to their home.

But, when I was talking to academic Bro later I told him about the baseball boots, or shoes. I said

"We bought 11 year old some Converses"

He laughed, in that cruel mocking way that academics so often do. Come to think of it, it was in that way that little brothers often do too. He told me that the plural of the word "Converse" is "Converse" not "Converses".

Latin lesson were used as examples "I converse, he converses" and whatever. I'm not sure.

So just what is the plural for Converse?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Run And Tell All Of The Angels....

It's early evening on a wintry English Sunday. The rain is making the sounds and patterns that feel cold as I watch it fall on my window. Every now and then a stranger wanders past my house, huddled up with cold, umbrella battling against the wind. It's very England, very winter, very London.

But that's what's happening outside, inside all is sunny and warm. Yesterday I bought a new speaker/amp system to plug my iPod into. Good quality sound is something I've missed since I moved into this house and its appearance has increased my feelings of comfort beyond description. If you read my posts you'll know how important music is to me and it's now blasting around the house at whatever level I choose.

As I sit writing this I'm listening to "Learn To Fly' and absorbing the beauties of a playlist that consists of one setlist from a gig that I did with MLC, the best covers band I've been a part of. We've now advanced to "Are you gonna be my girl?" by Jet. Each song brings back a myriad of memories for me.

Like all great bands MLC never formally split up, we just imploded really, in a car crash full of affairs, musical differences, life changes and former best friends starting to hate the site of each other. When things were good we were great and, when things were bad, we were, well, not so great. Each song takes me back a few years, to the band practices, to the gigs and to the fun we had.

Being in a good band can feel like a privilege, it can be an honour just to play with a group of people, whether it's a gig to a huge audience or merely a rehearsal to a couple of people. The joy can be found in the sensation of making music with others, of coming together and being far better as a sum than as an individual.

And now it's "Wide open space" by Mansun, a fantastic band that also imploded, albeit with a load more success than MLC. As I listen to the guitar solo and the song ends I can visualise Mark, our keyboardist, finishing the song.

"Hard to handle" is up next, the Black Crowes version. At our last ever gig I let a friend play the drums to this and I hit the dance floor. It was the first time I'd ever heard the band play with someone else drumming. Singers, guitarists and the others cna sometimes stroll out into the crowd and hear what their own band sounds like whilst playing, us drummers don't normally have that pleasure. We never know how similar a different drummer sounds to ourself either. Catch 22.

It's a great thing, this whole music lark.

Just a random post really, it feels good to sign off as Reef play "Place your hands on me", damn that feels good!

FMBs.

I'm a bit worried about me. I think I'm developing a shoe fetish, not a pervy sexual type of fetish, more like one of those normal ones that people have, like a compulsion to eat lots of rice or to smear mashed banana all over my willy, you know, everyday stuff.

Lately I've been buying lots of shoes, always in even numbers I've noticed too. I know that lots of women do this, that Marcos woman is probably to blame, but I don't think it's a very "manly" thing to do. I certainly wouldn't admit to it, or tell lots of people by way of writing about it or something.

For many years I've thought that there's not much sexier than a good looking woman wearing jeans and a nice pair of brown leather boots. Apart from the same woman not wearing the jeans or boots I guess, though many find clothing sexier than pure nakedness. Perverts, they can't be normal.

In Sri Lanka, for obvious climatic reasons I don't often see women in boots but, here in the UK, particularly at this time of year, there are boots everywhere. And I reckon just about every woman over a certain age owns at least one pair of FMBs, or just in case you don't know what that is, Fuck Me Boots. They can be any colour, they can be almost any style but are almost always leather. They can be high heeled, low heeled or anything in between, but they always have a strange effect on us men. They turn dodgy looking women into stunners that we all want to do very rude things to, although beer can do the same and costs far less.

They can make a beautiful and already sexy woman into an embodiment of perfection. I once saw a scene in "Friends" with Jennifer A in brown leather boots and couldn't walk properly for a few days afterwards.

But ladies, please tell me what the reverse situation is, or feel free to answer if you're a gay man too, I don't like to discriminate around here.

Can men have FMBs?

Do you ever see a man wearing a pair of boots and think that he looks downright sexy just because of the boots?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Where Are You From?

Cerno's "Are you Indian?" post reminded me of something that still frustrates me. It used to annoy me but I've calmed down about it and now just feel that bit of frustration.

It's something that happens about several times a day whenever I'm in Sri Lanka. Now, you may be aware of how I look or you may not be. I could go off on a diatribe here about my good looks and all that but I'm making a concerted effort to resist the temptation. It's enough to say that both my parents are Sri Lankan, I was born and brought up in London, I wear clothes that have a London look to them, whatever that means, and I feel as if I'm both Sri Lankan and British.

And, probably vital to the story, is the fact that my accent is about as London as you can imagine, somewhere between David Beckham and Ali G, with a hint of drummer thrown in for good measure, and, to my chagrin, I can't speak or understand a word of Sinhala, except "machang".

So my main mode of transport when in Sri Lanka is three wheelers. I jump in them and do the usual haggling, eventually settling on a price somewhere in the region of four times the local rate. There's a strange line to be drawn between the knowledge that the money I'm haggling about is so little compared to my cost of living and the fact that there are principles involved and I'm not just another suddha, which incidentally is another Sinhala word I know.

After the price has been agreed I sit happily and wait for the offer of a herbal massage and all the "add ons" that these tri shaw chaps can supply, or take me to. I know that they have to do some sort of ice breaker in the conversation too, it usually goes like this:

"Where are you from Sir?"

"I'm from London" I say.

It's funny how I always answer that, yet if I'm asked the same question here in London, which is very rare, I'll always say I'm Sri Lankan but brought up in the UK.

Then the chap will look at me in his mirror with a look of bewilderment, at which point I offer explanation by saying that my parents are Sri Lankan but I was born and brought up in the UK. The chap normally goes on to say that I don't look Sri Lankan, that he thought I was from Thailand or Malaysia or somewhere like that.

All my life I've never expected anyone to look at me and think I'm British. After some thought on why I've realised that it's because of colour, nothing more, nothing less. I don't think I look British because I'm not white. Is that wrong?

But these days cultural identity isn't about colour. It's not about parentage and it's not about language. My humble opinion is that it's about how we feel, with some limitations.

And I'm definitely not a Thai or a Malaysian ok!

Here's Wot I Played

I had a spectacularly enjoyable gig with the covers band last night. It was a charity bash and we were the only band on the bill. Always nice!

The set was all out rocky stuff and I hope I never tire of the fun and adrenelain rush I get from seeing a crowd dance to the movement of my right foot. If they knew that it had cramp towards the end they may have been a bit more wary about the dance moves they were attempting.

One set, no breaks other than the ones between songs and those bits where someone made a mistake and all went quiet. It's a long time since I've done a gig that tested my fitness, it used to be a regular occurence with MLC, my favourite covers band, but now my technique has got much better and funking out with Mimosa isn't as strenuous as balls out rock. So, by the end of last night's set, I was ready to drop.

Here it is:

You're all I have
Do You Want to?
Last Nite
Golden Touch
Vertigo
Suffragette City
Take Me Out
Molly's Chambers
You Get What You Give
Town Called Malice
I predict a Riot
When You Were Young
Holiday (Green Day)
Chelsea Dagger
She Sells Sanctuary
Times Like These
Dakota

Creep
Play That Funky Music
Brown Sugar
Rock 'n' Roll Star

My personal fave - Times Like These, Damn, It was fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You May Say I'm a Dreamer...

Java published this post about the days when insults were a classy bit of wordplay, when the great wordsmiths would take time and effort in coming up with good quality ways of putting each other down.

I can honestly say that I lose sleep over this kind of stuff. Many people say that I'm too sensitive but insults and negative things often get to me and I'm ok with that.

I was watching MTV the other day and stumbled across an American programme that astounded me. It involved a load of people on the street and they had to come up with the "best" ways of insulting each other.

It was a sort of head to head thing, with the members of the "audience" cheering and jeering according to the "quality" of the insulting words or phrases. There was all manner of stuff like

"Your Mother is so slow she got run over by a parked car" usually with a load of bleeped out swear words, ones which wouldn't even be classed as swear words here in England of course.

I watched a few minutes of this programme with a sense of amazement, disappointment and wonder.

It occurred to me that it's exactly the sort of programme my kids would watch and, judging by some of the insults, they'd probably walk away as champions if they were on it. What on earth are we teaching and putting across to the younger generation?

It's becoming not just normal but admirable to be able to insult someone and talk down to them, to invalidate them and to make them feel bad. I think it's a rather sad reflection of society today and it's also an easy option than to say good things to someone. I often look at the tags on Achcharu and they make me frown. I rarely put a tag on there but, whenever I do, I try to make it positive or witty, invariably failing but the effort's there.

But most of the tags are basically ones which poke fun or run down either the post or the author. And I always think that's it's cheap and easy to take something that someone has come up with and then to criticise it, or make fun or just be negative about it. The hard bit, the creative bit and the thing that takes imagination is coming up with it in the first place.

That, to me at least, is what I'd like to be remembered for. For being a person who did things and started things, not one who could throw insults around with all the ease of a politician.

Constructive is good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Travelator Issues

So I've just returned from a small trip, one which involved some airports. I've got a squillion posts to write about the many thoughts I've developed about Singapore, where I was, but I feel that I should start with this. It's about those travelator things, the escalators without a slope, the ones that just go in a straight line and seem to be only in airports.

Does anyone else find them awkward, or is it just me?

They're quite easy to get on, walking along them is a bit of a joy, what with the strangely satisfying sensation of the bouncy rubber and that "walking on the moon" feeling, but I'm not sure about the getting off side of things.

As I approach the end of one I find my mind deliberating about what to do, or when to do it. At what point should I stop walking and get ready to dismount. As the dangerous crunching metal teeth approach me I wonder if I should take another few steps but risk my expensive trainers getting caught in the metal, or whether I should slow down to a halt to the displeasure of the people behind me, but ensuring the safety of my Converse.

For an adult, a drummer no less, one would think I'd have no such issues with my timing, but I do. These things bother me.

What to do?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

iPod Tales

For some unknown reason I woke up on Sunday morning and my mind had decided that I needed a new iPod. I've known for the last few months that I'd get one at any time and, when I tried out my Dad's new one and thought, very definitely, that the sound quality was much better than on my older model, my mind was made up.

I've noticed over the course of recent history that iPods are more like consumables than like the pieces of hardware that they were when they first came out. It's as if iTunes, the music and video libraries that people keep on their hard drives are the hardware and the iPod itself is just a temporary device. New ones are brought out every 3 minutes and 2 years in normal Human time is the equivalent of about 50 years in Apple time. It's a bit like the thing about dog years and Human years, just different and without dogs.

A consequence of all this is that my old iPod, which is about 2 years old, is about as outdated as the hair style on that longhaired but bald chap who's some sort of manager at House Of Fashions.

So off I went on Sunday morning and bought myself one, an iPod that is, not a 70s hairstyle. The cost and specification of iPods have lowered and risen respectively at crazy rates. It cost me about £160 for an 80 gig one. I looked at the new touch ones but I need more storage than 16gb for all my music so went for the old fashioned "classic".

Syncing was seamless and rather satisfying, a bit like a pair of trousers I once owned. I plugged the thing into my laptop and iTunes took care of the rest. It asked me to give the new baby a name so I did. After some thought and imaginative thinking, a lot of crazy ideas and witty names had come and gone and I settled on "Rhythmic's 3rd iPod", it just felt so right.

Now I'm the proud owner of a new video iPod. I can watch the handful of music videos I've bought over the last couple of years and only been able to watch on my laptop with a new found sense of freedom and fine sound quality. I don't know why or what the Apple chaps have done but the sound quality is way better than on my old model and that's using the same headphones. The high frequencies are much clearer, easier to pick out and the bass frequencies have got that bit more balls to them. I like.

The video thing is interesting and has me enraptured, even if you take into account the fact i'm a drummer and easily pleased. I must buy the videos for Slave 4 U, just to be true to form and please Sach, and also for Kylie's Can't get you outta my head, just to perv over the Aussie beauty in all her lack of clothes.

But, the really big thing, the one I'm most pleased about, is the way that the software on the iPod now makes it pleasant and enjoyable to browse through the music. My biggest bone of contention on the old iPod used to be that I could never choose what to listen to without deciding to change the album after a couple of songs. It never seemed right to scroll through an alphabetical list of artists or albums or songs.

I grew up with records, tapes and CDs and I'm tactile about my music. I associate album covers, the artwork and the photographs on them, with the songs on the album. Most people of my age or older are probably of the same background. We browse through the visuals, we're not great at reading a long lifeless list of names of albums.

And now the iPod software can do this pretty well. It holds the artwork for all the things I've bought at the iTunes store and last night I clicked on something on iTunes which meant that it went off and searched somewhere and downloaded the artwork for most of the ones that were missing for me.

Now I can turn on my iPod and go into something called "coverflow". It's like flicking through album covers. I get to see Phil Lynott's leather trousers and balls on the cover of Live and Dangerous, possibly the best live rock album ever. I can look at the floating baby on the cover of Nevermind and remember how that album seemed to launch Nirvana and grunge into the 90s. I can gaze with confusion at the cover of Coltrane's A Love Supreme and wonder I've just never been able to share the joy that so many get from it. It's all there and I've been happily looking at the covers and listening to albums because the cover brings up a load of thoughts and memories.

Hats off to the Apple chaps. They've managed to change what was a totally handy device for storing and listening to music on into something that makes me want to browse and feel and look and listen to.

I can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Don't It Make You Feel Good....

This thing happened to me the recently and it gave me a warm sense of satisfaction, 'twas a nice little affirmation, which I'm sure you'll agree we all need sometimes.

Allow me to give you some background info first.

About 15 years ago I, and two other chaps, started our Company. The Company exists now and two of us still work for it and own it, along with another fellow.

I won't go into detail about exactly what we do, mainly because it's not relevant but also because you'll get bored, well more bored.

But, we are a service related Company. We offer a service to other Companies, one that can be bought from many of our competitors, some of whom are great and reputable and some of whom are as dodgy as one of those Nike T shirts from House Of Fashion. Probably not as long lasting though.

When we started the Company we decided that we'd market ourselves as a "quality" provider of our services, as a Company that gave levels of customer service and personalised service that many of our much bigger competitors just couldn't, and still can't do. We don't sell on price yet we know we have to offer things at competitive prices. But that doesn't mean we're ever going to be the cheapest provider in our market place.

We're quite happy with that approach. It has meant that we've often lost, or failed to gain, business because of price. That's ok. We're honest with customers, we tell them if we can't do a job rather than bullshit them and then fail to deliver what has been promised. It has meant that we've built up a reasonably solid and loyal customer base over the 15 years. We still lose customers and we still get new customers, like all businesses we know we have to run fast sometimes just to keep still. Complacency is a 4 letter word.

Sometimes we lose a customer because another Company has offered the seemingly same services for a cheaper price. It can hurt and we often get said customer back after the competitor has cocked up, or just not matched expectations.

That's our chosen path, it may not be right for any Company, I don't actually think there's any definitive strategy, only ones that work. Ours works for us. That's the background. Here's the story.

I answered the phone and it was a customer, as it very often is. He said that he'd sent out a mailing through us a few weeks ago and only about half of it had arrived. It was a customer whose name I knew as we have regular clients, many of whom trade on an as and when basis. I was puzzled by the customer's complaint as I know that we do everything properly and the likelihood of mail not arriving is near on impossible.

I listened and explained how we do things and why the scenario seemed unlikely. The customer, who was quite friendly and amicable, said

"Hold on I've got your invoice downstairs, shall I just go and get it?"

Obviously I said stuff in the affirmative, like "yes". Off he trotted. Back he came and said.

"Ermm you're not _______ (insert name of dodgy competitor here) are you?"

I tried to hide my pure glee, not to be confused with that essential ingredient in buriyani, pure ghee, as I told him we were not ________ (insert that same name here).

"Ah, sorry about that" he said in laughing but also embarassed tones.

"That's quite ok, but perhaps you'd be better off using us next time" I said, in laughing but also getting my point across that price is not the same as value tones.

"Yes, I definitely will" said the customer.

We finished the call.

I felt good.

But sometimes I'm easily pleased.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

An Incident With Some Mince - The Intro

My adventures in learning to cook are being reasonably well documented, I'm quite pleased with my progress and am genuinely enjoying the journey of discovery that is cooking.

The Rhythmic repertoire is growing and the best thing is that I've started to learn about tastes, about what herbs and spices actually do to a dish, what flavours they bring out and which things go well with each other.

But last week I had an episode that severely dented my cooking confidence, it rocked me to my very foundations and it made me question the whole culinary experience. To be fair, the denting, rocking and questioning only lasted for about 15 minutes but I think it's appropriate to set the scene for you, my reader.

You see I've decided that mince is a good invention and a packet of the stuff should be lurking in every batchelor's fridge, if practical, which it isn't. It cooks quickly, can be used to make a bolognese, a chilli and of course a quick mince curry. Frankly, I'm a firm mince fan and will argue in its favour against anyone of those NGO peacenik types who go around shouting that it should be banned.

One thing I'm getting to grips with is the whole food shopping and stocking up issue. In the last few months I've got in the habit of going out every few weeks and buying a load of groceries. There's no grand plan, I occasionally make a list of the essentials that I need to buy, things like toilet rolls and milk. My planning consists of thinking about the essentials for me and the things I'll need for the girls when they're with me.

But, for the most part, I wander aimlessly around Tesco, sometimes Sainsburys, grabbing whatever takes my fancy. I'm a natural rebel and sometimes I'll even walk against the flow of the traffic in the aisles, I just don't. Obviously I don't do it at busy times, that would be downright irresponsible.

This shopping plan, if it can be called that, is turning out to be wasteful and expensive. I come back and load up my fridge with all the delicious goodies that have taken my fancy. And these are invariably those expensive things that only get bought by singletons. Stuff like gourmet sausages, mushrooms already sliced, loads of differently flavoured packets of microwave rice (a luxury but easily worth every penny) and usually some sort of useless gadget like a knife or an electronically timed bread bin or something. If you've ever wondered exactly who buys all that useless stuff that supermarkets have in those aisles that most women don't venture down, then you've found the answer.

And a few weeks later I end up throwing most of it away because the sell by dates have come and gone and I've bunged everything in my fridge. A friend suggested to me that I should start freezing things and I probably will, but for now my freezer's got some ice cubes and about 37 loose frozen peas in it. My problem with freezing food is the planning and advanced thinking required. I know that I'll end up with a freezer full of even more stuff that I'll never take out because that would mean I'd have to decide in the morning what I feel like eating in the evening. My God, it's complicated.

Normally I do have some ice cream of several flavours in there but, at the weekend, the 11 year old polished that off with all the ease, applomb and speed of a Pinnawala mahout asking for a tip and it's even more bare than usual.

Some weeks ago I did one of those impulse buy things, that I'm expert in. I was in my local grocery, open 29 hours a day, sells everything shop and I saw packets of frozen mince in the freezer. I bought one. It seemed sensible, what with my feelings for mince. I took it home and put it in the freezer, knowing that it might come in handy one day.

Last week the day came. I took the mince out of the freezer.

That's when the problems started.....

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fuck Off I'm With The Band

Saturday night saw the covers band doing a gig. It was about my fifth or sixth outing with them and it was one I had been looking forward to with excitement. I felt well rehearsed and on top of the set and this was a fortieth birthday party which was expected to be full of glamorous media types, or to use the technical term; sexy birds.

I arived at the venue and looked around. A feeling that can only be described as "Oh fuck" enveloped me. I was there in jeans, a T shirt and converse allstars. Even if I say it myself I looked pretty fine, but in a "is that the Dad of one of the Libertines?" kind of way. The jeans were not a Tesco value pair, the baseball boots were real and the T shirt was one that I knew suited my incredibly muscular but toned body.

This would have been great were it not for the fact that the tables were being set for the evening and I looked around and realised that I had dressed for the occasion with all the good judgement and common sense of George Dubya and Prince Philip making a joint speech at a school of political correctness in which the students are all gay and black, perhaps with a few Indians thrown in.

There was fancy cutlery, white table cloths and frankly it had that air of a Sri Lankan old school dinner dance about it without the Sri Lankans. Skinny jeans, albeit on a slightly fat bloke, and baseball boots probably weren't going to help me to blend in. I took comfort in the knowledge that it was odds on I'd be the only darkie around for the evening and that gave me a certain feeling of comfort in being different. You know, the whole "representing my people" thing. The days of being at one with the waiting staff because we're all coloured are long gone since the Eastern Europeans invaded.

The rest of the band and then the husband of the birthday girl arrived. He was a nice chap, jovial, rounded, English and clearly had married someone a good few years younger than himself. If he'd had a grey beard I would have suspected him of being Father Christmas, but I'm unsure if Mr Christmas is married.

He'd made a bucket load of effort for the party. It was a surprise party and he'd done up a powerpoint presentation with backing music for his wife. All sweet stuff and no expense had been spared. But the general feel of the place, the atmosphere and the look of things demanded one of those functions bands, one that would kick out "no woman no cry" and "have you ever seen the rain?" without breaking into a sweat. Our set was full to the brim with Franz Ferdinand, the Foo Fighters and The Killers.

As the guests started to arrive our fears became greater. It may have been a fortieth but the invites must have stipulated that guests had to be over about fifty. They sat at their tables and had dinner as we, the band, sat in a corner of the bar section and brooded. It was all very Spinal Tap. We decided that we'd play our two sets as planned, treating it a a good band practice. Our concession was to play the sets back to back, in the vague hope that, if there was anyone on the dance floor, they wouldn't be able to escape during the break.

Dinner finished and the presentation came and went and we took our places on stage. Confab and any other gigging musos will know the things that go on in our heads at that time. All of us musos try desperately to tune and warm our instruments up whilst still looking cool to the eagerly anticipating audience. We have to portray the right balance of concentration, nanchalence and Rock 'n' Roll, whatever that may be.

Then we kicked off, with "Take me out" the Franz Ferdinand song. I'm not a fan of the Scottish band, but I enjoy playing the songs of theirs' that we do. They're quirky and fun to play.

Within about 4 bars of the song the dance floor was packed. I was flabbergasted and intrigued by this. As we worked our way through the set playing a slightly eclectic mix of rocky stuff, with the only common thread being the fact that no self respecting non white person would have been seen dead dancing to any of them, the crowd went mad, and I mean that in a good way.

Women who looked as if they hadn't danced since they left school, men who looked as if they last danced on a night out with Bertie Wooster all boogied on down. For about an hour and a half. They even danced to "Times like These" the Foo Fighters one with the two sections in7/8 and some in 4/4. Unlike the Foo Fighters we managed to play it in one of those sections with the guitarist playing in 7/8 and me playing in 4/4. I don't know what the rest of the band were doing but eventually we all got back together and found the 1.

Then it came to an end. We did a three song encore and they danced some more.

After taking our stuff down and all the dismantling I left with a smile on my face.

I had been reminded that I must NEVER prejudge an audience. And also that jeans, baseball boots and a T shirt are fine if you're in the band!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Everyone's Having Orgies

Ravana and Darwin have both put up posts about orgies in recent days. I'm feeling hard done by and sorry for myself.

There are several reasons for this;

The first one is the fact that I haven't got a clue how to do that thing where you type some text in and then make it look as if you've crossed it out. Maybe my blogger thing can't do it, I can do italics, bold even both together, but the crossing out thing is out of my depth. The result is that it closes an avenue of slightly slapstick humour, one that I'd love to use.

I can't say things like "come across" then put a line through it, I can't do the whole Freudian slip in my writing thing. All the other boys can do it, why can't I?

Next is this university malarkey. I never went to university, it was entirely my choice and it's one that I'm very happy with. I will advise my daughters strongly that they should go to Uni, but it wasn't right for me. The formal education side of not going doesn't bother me. My line of work is one that should hopefully mean I'll never have to prove my qualifications on paper and my experience has given me a lot of business knowledge, with so much more to learn too.

But, occasionally I look at university bods and their social life specifically and wish I hadn't missed out on that. Darwin's post, Lady Luck's comment on it and Ravana's post clearly lead me to believe that the average university is a hotbed of orgies. They're not the usual orgies that chaps, not me of course, might see in 70s porn films, the ones with dodgy music, flowery clothes and big moustaches that go on in living rooms. Living rooms that are big enough for about 40 naked people.

No, these modern university ones occur in kitchens and forests and halls of residence. Apparently there's often a Sri Lankan chap standing on the sidelines watching interestedly but intent on not joining in. I must ask academic bro about this, it may well explain his career choice.

The whole orgy thing mystifies me. Like Ravana I've never really had any desires to be involved in one, but unlike Ravana, Darwin (or Darwin's friend) and Lady Luck I've never been within spitting distance of one. You see my first point in practice there. How I wish I could put a line through "spitting distance" and replace the words with something like "range".

But, as Oscar Goldman said "it's a bore to be invited blah blah blah". I'd love to be invited to an orgy or two. I wouldn't go, but would just like to be asked.

Unless it was an orgy with a drum kit in the room. Then I could sit at the kit and quietly bash away in the corner.

Mmmm....

Testing The Ego

I read something recently that made me think and ponder. It was in one of those little book of affirmation type books, a rather nifty one that I'm browsing through at the moment. It was about doing good to others and suggested that so many of us do things, favours and good deeds but we then tell people, or someone about it.

I've been guilty of that in the past for sure. I've done a pretty good favour to someone but then told a few people about it. I honestly don't think that I've ever done a good deed purely to tell others afterwards but I know that I've quite liked to spread the word.

The theory is that, by telling others, we dilute or share out the very goodness that we feel ourselves after doing something nice. It's only by keeping totally quiet about things that we retain all the positive and good feelings within ourselves. Simple to understand, simple to explain, but bloody hard to do.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

If Sri Lanka Was A Company

Or should that say "If Sri Lanka Were a Company"?

I'm unsure.

But, a friend said this to me recently and it's got me thinking. If Sri Lanka was a Company it would be on the brink of going bust.

It would be run by a megalomaniac purely for the benefit of himself and his family, even its shareholders would be struggling for any sort of control.

Other Companies would be wary of doing business with it unless they could make a quick killing. It would have massive union problems and the management would pretend that the unions are nearly fully under control. It would have some fiercely loyal staff, some of the most brilliantly beautiful buildings and offices imaginable, often visited and admired by many.

Most of the management, and there'd be more of them than in virtually any other Company, would be self serving and corrupt anyway. The few good and honest ones would get ousted by the unions or sacked by the dishonest ones.

The really good quality staff would be leaving the Company in droves, to head for other corporations in which their talents and intelligence would be appreciated and rewarded. Many of the high quality people would remain there out of loyalty and commitment but the amount would continually reduce.

Talented workers from other Companies would turn up now and again, full of good intentions. Some would hang around and continue to try to help the Company, often receiving hatred and scorn from the existing employees. Many of these workers would be opportunistic and greedy and would only serve their time there to have fun and to benefit themselves.

If things carried on as they were then the Company would go bust or get swallowed up by a bigger concern. The existing management might, just might, manage to salvage the Company through its crude and unpopular methods. But the Company would be barely worth saving, its assets will have been stripped and most of its good people will be gone.

Yet underneath it all would lie a Company that has inspired people over the years, a Company that has some kind of intrinsic beauty and calls out to many. Despite all of its problems it would have the inexplicable ability to draw people in, to make them fall in love with it and yet hate the fact they love it so much.

Everyone knows all this though, the question is what can be done to fix it before it's too late?

Oh, and the canteen would serve the very best food in the world too.