Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday To 2U

Java Jones.

He'll probably hate me for this but I just wanted to wish him in public.

You know, I've made many very genuine friends from blogging and Java is one of the best of them.

Happy birthday to you.

From the whole team at LLD.

AKA me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cars And Girls

Women worry and deal with things like raising families, running the world, running companies and other trivial bits.

Men, on the other hand, when we're not busily multi tasking, have to deal with real and important issues. Choosing a shaving gel is hard, what with so many being available. Choosing a razor is, my God it's complicated. Not only are there so many out there that we can get dizzy from looking but they're all the best in the world.

Then there are magazines to consider. The days of one mens' mag with a fold out centrespread are long gone. Every supermarket has a shelf or two of the things, each one promising us the best way of getting rock hard abs and features naked and sexy women, neither of which any of us will ever get. While most men in the media have a six pack, the rest of us eat our way through life with a one pack. The only time we stop eating is to buy a mens' mag.

We have to battle our way through a complicated minefield of gadgets, bottle opening belts and ball scratching. No way ladies, a man's life is tough. Never forget that. I think, if you read what follows you'll understand even more how hard our minds have to work.

There I was, being casual as I exited Tesco at lunchtime. In my two shopping bags I had these things:

Some lean minced beef

A bag of easy cook long grain rice

A jar of Uncle Ben's Chili con carne sauce

Tin of red kidney beans

These were the necessaries for the dinner for me and the girls that evening, though I planned to lie to them re use of the sauce

Also I had:

A chicken and bacon sandwich

Bag of Walker's Chilli and chocolate crisps

A birthday card for Lin at work

Bottle of Coke Zero.

These were my lunch things, except the card.

As I left the shop I saw something that made me smile. It was an arse, a female one and a rather nice one if truth be told. It was encased in some kind of trousered designer business suit and the cheeks had a most acceptable level of wobble combined with just the right degree of firmness.

The owner of the aforementioned arse was wearing the perfect choice of shoes to accompany the outfit, medium high heels. They gave that little lift to the cheeks without appearing too tarty and they weren't so high that she looked like a model dressed up as a businesswoman.

She left the shop and I was a few yards behind her. I hung back a bit. I've learned in my years that, when observing arses in this manner, it's important not to appear as some sort of perv, like someone who pays too much attention to the details and makes mental notes of everything, a blogger perhaps.

She walked off down one of the car park aisles, one of the two that I could have also chosen to get to the exit. I expected that I'd take the same route, observe dreamily for a bit, then go off and forget about things.

And then disaster struck.

Midway down the other car park aisle I saw one of the only things that could compete; a Ferrari.

It was parked there looking sexy. Okay it wasn't in Maranello red, which as far as I'm concerned is THE Ferarri colour, but it was in that Ferrari yellow, the only other colour that is vaguely acceptable. For those of you who are interested it was a F360 Spider, one of the meanest and most stunning looking cars ever.

It was mental torment, for about half a second.

Should I head in the direction of the gorgeous, expensive and mouth watering curves or should I follow the bird with the arse?

You'll be glad to know I did exactly the right thing.

The Ferrari it was.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Admire The Little Fucker



For posts like this.


Because if I owned a country I'd want people with his conviction and courage to help, guide and advise me.

Just a thought.


Pocket Money - The Negotiation

This is a follow up to this post, so many people have asked about how the negotiations went that I have to tell you, even though I'm still in recovery and not fully up to it yet.

I left work last Wednesday and headed over to collect K for our evening. A, the elder sibling, wasn't coming that evening as she had a sleepover. When I arrived the two of them went into a huddle, to decide on their final aims and objectives for K's negotiation.

A wrote down some figures and K listened intently to her instructions. Their Mother and I looked on with some strange divorced parents who both actually love their kids sort of atmosphere and we had a brief chat about the pocket money situation.

She told me that she was going to give A £15 a month and K £10 a month, so if I gave £35 and £30 respectively then this would work out well for all. I agreed. It was strange, agreement is something we rarely do, the last time being when we agreed to get divorced.

K and I set off in the car. We had Paramore on at not full blast, but loud enough for the image in my rear view mirror to vibrate, like when the dinosaurs approached in Jurassic Park. It was nice silent bonding, except it wasn't silent. There were no dinosaurs either. K had a plan. She was going to write a Powerpoint presentation to give to me on the pocket money scenario. She's 12, you know all about her by now so you'll understand why I was apprehensive. For apprehensive read "slightly shitting myself".

We arrived and K set to work on the PC. I feigned disinterest and pretended to do stuff in the background, all the while trying to see what was going on onscreen. I caught glimpses of animation, of things flying in and out of slides and of figures and zeros. Time ticked away.

Then, as I started to cook dinner, K disappeared. She reappeared some minutes later, wearing one of my suit jackets.

"Papa, I'm ready to present to you now" she announced. She's taking to calling me Papa lately, I don't know why or where from but it's kind of cute. I considered telling her that she'd have to wait a few minutes until I was ready for her, you know, not letting her take control in a negotiation, but I let it go and sat down, like a chicken to the slaughter. I don't like lamb.

The first slide appeared on screen. I did all I could not to show my admiration and parental desire to just give her whatever they were demanding. A "fight" was expected. The first slide, entitled "Introduction" said this:

A and I have been getting for pocket money, twenty pounds per month. This is the equivalent of five pounds per week, we would like a raise. With all the essentials we need we would have to have a raise, but we would also like luxuries, and I’m sure you would want us to have some too.
In this PowerPoint you are going to be viewing the average amount of pocket money and why we should have a raise etc.

Thank you.

It was very hard for me not to smile as this was presented to me, and that's how it was delivered. K has learned a hell of a lot from both her mother and I about selling, this much was obvious.

She didn't just read the slide, she presented it to me, ad libbing as necessary and not sounding scripted. If half the supposedly experienced salespeople I interview for jobs could present like this my Company would have a salesteam bigger and more successful than I could dream of, though I probably would have no time for blogging.

Another point that I was secretly impressed by was the fact that it wasn't just a slide with text on it, it was animated. Text flew in as if from nowhere and I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to do that sort of thing. Dinidu probably knows, so I'd ask him, if he hadn't broken his new phone by then.

K moved us on to slide two, called "What do we need pocket money for?" It went like this, only each point flew in separately as if they were landing on a small planet after heading in from different far off parts of the universe.

Clothes – AVERAGES: t-shirt = £20, trousers/jeans = £30, bags = £30, accessories = £10


Rare school equipment, £10

Outings with friends (cinema tickets, food etc.), tickets/travel/outing = £10, food = £10

She talked me through things, giving more detail and increasing the pressure. In a slightly cruel mode I probed the "Ladies Essentials" line. I got the answers I dreaded, in way too much detail.

The next slide was a compilation of data, the primary research that I had been promised. This listed friends of both my daughters, with their pocket money and the exact situation for each friend. If a particular friend was the child of divorced parents and received their pocket money from a specific parent then this was pointed out.

Good salespeople are taught to prehandle objections. It's self explanatory; the principle of dealing with the client's objections before he has even brought them out. K didn't just prehandle my objections, she kind of wiped the floor with them.

We moved on to the final and conclusive slide. It was called "Average". It was anything but average and went like this:

For the people with NES (never ending supplies (parents buy them everything)) we asked them how much approximately they get and they all said £60 or above. We found the average amount of pocket money by adding all the amounts up and dividing that answer by the amount of people. The mathematical term for this equation is the ‘mean’.

75+50+50+40+40+40+60+60= £415
415/8= £51.875
£51.875 rounded to the nearest ten = £51.90

A and I decided that we would like £50 pocket money. This is below average and you would be saving £1.90 each month, that may sound like a small amount of money but that would be £19 in ten months or £190 in one hundred months or £22.80 in one year!
Rhythmic Diaspora and O Diaspora (her mother) can discuss how they would like to pay that, as we do not mind.


It left me open mouthed, proud, shellshocked, dazed and happy. Yes, I am aware that they sound like a few dwarves that were rejected by Snow White, but it's true.

This final slide had it all. The first thing that both struck and impressed me was the way she had used the brackets correctly. The double set, the way she used two at the end to close the thing was good. I know many fully grown adults whose only understanding of brackets it that they're used to put shelves up.

Then there was the maths. Many adults I know would understand, though to be fair I do have a lot of very thick friends. The slightly condescending way in which she'd explained what a "mean" is made me chuckle. I've got an "O" level in statistics, but don't like to flaunt these things, I was going to be cruel, to point out to her that actually what she had done was to work out the median, not the mean, then realised that I was wrong, so shut up and felt pleased that I hadn't opened my mouth.

The final paragraph was the final straw, though paragraph shaped. To present it by telling me how much money I'd save was nothing short of genius, it makes me OLL or LOL or whatever you textspk kids call it when I think of it. Then, the way she'd multiplied the saving to make it seem bigger was taking genius into territory only the best salespeople venture into.

Referring to her mother by her former married name would have pissed her off too when she saw the presentation. That bit was a bonus, though inadvertent.

The very last line, the "Any questions?" one topped it all off nicely. I had none, it was all covered by K in the presentation.

Like any good salesperson she then tried to close me. I pretended to negotiate and haggle for a bit, like one of those Arab fellows who has to haggle but actually doesn't care what he pays. K went for the jugular, asking outright for £35 a month from me for each of them.

And, it's a funny and fortunate thing. K tells me that she knows when I'm lying as I have a certain expression to do with my mouth that I make. I won't tell you too much detail, as we may meet sometime and I'll lie to you, then you'd realise. But, I've noticed that K does it too. When she asked for £35 a month her mouth went into lie mode. This was good as I'd already decided I'd "settle" on £30 for her, with £10 from her mother and £35 for A with another £15 from her mother.

We agreed the figures with some conditions that I stipulated:

1. the presentation must be emailed to me and her mother. Otherwise I never would have been able to write this post. I had to promise that I wouldn't show anyone and I said I would only show it to family and good friends, but as a "look how smart my daughter is" thing. I think I've probably succeeded there.

2. That the agreed pocket money would be held for a period of one year.

3. That there would be no extra spending or NES money.

That was it.

K called her sister to report the outcome, she was really proud of herself.

To be fair, her father was even more proud of her. It was the probably the best negotiation I've been involved in.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And Here Comes Another One

Another nomination for the T100SLBPBP, as Kalu calls it with one of his roll off the tongue smoothly titles.

It's by someone whose blogging name tells us a lot. She's obviously a big Dandy Warhols fan and likes to crap in car parks. The rest is mysterious. This blog is relatively new but packed with emotionally filled writing and poignant pictures. Though these pictures aren't taken by the writer they accompany each post like rice goes with, well everything really.

What else?

Well, the identity of the blogger is a mystery to me. I picture some sort of sexy girl running on a sandy beach but who knows? It may be Dominic Sansoni, or someone equally ugly for all I know, though I did once have a dream about him running along a beach dressed in a bikini. I don't like to talk about it.

This post from only a few days ago makes me think and feel things. It's not, as I first thought, about Pinnochio but it probably is the longest metaphor I've ever read.

It's about love, it's about freedom, happiness and letting go, things I can relate to.

T mentioned somewhere that she often thinks carefully about each and every sentence she writes, making sure that they sounds just right in her head. Undoubtedly Gypsy B does the same.

Read it, tell the Gypsy that you like her writing too.

Cerno, please chuck it in the book.

Beauty Of Sri Lanka

My friend C says to me that one of the wonderful things about Serendib is that fact that you don't need to have money to enjoy its beauty and splendour.

This exemplifies it.

Over the wall at the Fortress in Koggala I saw this almost dusk scene. Local people enjoying the same warmth, the same sea and the same beach as the tourists were. There were romancing couples, fishermen and kids playing. I could have watched it for hours.

One side of the dividing wall was relatively expensive, the other was free.

Both were beautiful, both were Sri Lanka.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Quick Nomination

His Master's Voice, as it speaks with this brilliant post.

It's funny, on the extreme end of the funniness scale. It starts off and you think it's a serious one, well I did.

Every time I read it, which is often, I crack up (pun intended) and I say that as a man who has had rather a lot of expertise on all things flatulence related.

This post screams, shouts, begs and demands to be in the book.

Vote on it, as Cerno will get all modest and think that it shouldn't be there, you know what he's like.

Flattery, Rip Off Or Both?

You know when you were at school and someone tried to copy your work? No, nor do I, though I must confess I sort of nicked that line from DQ.

But I know lots about being the kid at school who was trying to peer over the shoulder of the boffin type chap who knew all the answers. I know all about taking someone's idea, trying to improve on it and then taking it forward. It's kind of what I, maybe most of us, do in life.

My Company was built on an idea that someone else had, my music these days is all covers; playing other people's songs, but the biggest expression of my copycat nature is the indisputable and unforgivable fact that I don't make my own clothes. No, I exclusively wear clothes that have been designed and made by other people.

Yet I'm a believer in the power of creativity. Edward de Bono believes that we spend too much time and effort concentrating on critical thinking and not enough on the creative side. He says, or has said, that it's wrong that we teach our kids to look at things, to analyse and criticise the (critical thinking) much more than we teach them how to come up with new ideas, thoughts and concepts (creative thinking).

K (the 12 yr old) had been put on this programme at her school for "gifted and talented" kids. It's something that hasn't surprised anyone who knows her, it probably doesn't surprise you if you believe everything you may have read about her. Part of this programme is a section called critical thinking, on which they assess, analyse and criticise things. I remain dubious of the value of this.

Well I'm with De Bono on the matter. I'm a fan of his and have read many of his books. Some might say it's unfair that he doesn't read my blog. Some might say that, had he read the posts on my blog about K, he'd think differently anyhow. I prefer to take the abundant approach and not be angry, or even critical of the esteemed thinker.

My view is that the effect of creating, the force of positive thought and ideas is massive and powerful. That's why I bleat on so much about positivity and get Darwin frustrated sometimes. Fundamentally I think it's much easier to take someone's idea and to critique it to death than it is to come up with the thing in the first place.

People who criticise the fuck out of things just piss me off. Then I get all confused. That Maharajah fellow is a prime example, though I'm unsure if he or she is still around. I genuinely thought he/she was very funny and very clever with words and humour. I also genuinely thought he/she has taken the easy option by merely mocking the people with the creativity. A dichotomy that seems to occur all too often in my mind.

My rambling introduction takes me, in a rambling way, to my point, which true to form, is more of a string hopper shaped point than a needle sharp one.

You see I've recently come across a few blogging related things that appear to me to be "influenced" by things I've done. One of them is an idea I had, though I didn't really have it, more adapted it. The other is a blog on which the blogger seems to be copying my writing style. This is a major issue for me as I never even thought I had a writing style until I caught myself reading the blog and wondering who it reminded me of.

I find myself torn between mindsets in this.

On the one mind I know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I was so shocked and surprised when I read Indi's post about the top 100 clicks on Kottu that I let out a couple of little involuntary clouds of flavour from the bottle opener area. But, one of the nice things about getting some readers is that some people may be a little bit influenced by my blog. I really, really don't want to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet here at all, largely because drums are my thing.

I read the Blackers (both of them), the Indicas, the Javas and the T's of the Sri Lankan blogging world and pick up tips from their writing and their styles. In music I think and I hope that my drumming comes through as a mixture of the great drummers whom I've been influenced by over the years. I wouldn't want to sound like just one drummer, though there are thousands of great drummers whose ability and talent I'd give my left arm for. (You'll notice how I've resisted the urge to chuck in a Def Leppard joke here)

I guess anything I write on my blog is a development of everything I've ever read in my life and is influenced by all that has gone before me. So I should, and I am, flattered if I see someone that looks as if they've been influenced by something I've done.

Then, on the other mind I get a bit Colonel Sanders over things and feel protective over my recipe. This other mind thinks things about the fact that I actually put in a lot of effort to my little chunk of the blogosphere, that being this funny is something I take very seriously and it's a bit out of order when someone blatantly copies something I've done.

The big question for me is the one that has the big answers;

Where does one draw the line between flattering imitation and plain old rip off copying?

Thoughts on this would be most welcome.

Monday, February 23, 2009

End Of A Relationship

'tis with a heavy heart, and on a Monday morning as well, that I bring you bad news. It's about the belt, the one with the built in bottle opener. If I didn't feel so pissed off about it I'd take a picture to show you its beauty, so you could fully appreciate my mental anguish and turmoil.

Last Saturday things seemed so full of promise, the future was bright and smelled of leather. Life, with the new bottle opening belt and all it entailed, was rosy. We started off the week together, everywhere I went the belt came too. By mid morning on Monday I had the first glimmer of uncertainty. Each time I got up from my desk I had to pull the belt tight, the brilliant belt that has no holes and no pokey sharp thing in the buckle to put in the holes, sorry if that was too technical. It barely registered with me that I had to do this pulling up thing.

On Monday night I spent about an hour too long trying to figure out if I'd been doing the belt up incorrectly. All the permutations I tried, all the googling to see pictures of the belt and all my brainpower indicated that I was doing everything correctly. I persevered though, the smell of brown leather, it blended in with the weather. I bet you don't know what song that line's from do you?

Okay it didn't blend in with the weather but I enjoyed it, almost as much as I was a bit too fond of the way the belt looked.

As the week progressed the relationship deteriorated. The five minute walk over to Tesco at lunchtime was fraught with stress and tension, or more accurately stress and no tension. I had to pull my trousers up and pull the belt tight at least three times in those minutes and not once did I find myself in desperate need of a bottle opener. Still I persisted. Soft leather might wear in and the belt might get better I hoped.

Each time I got out of the car, stood up from my desk or pretty much moved there was a quick shuffle as I pulled it tight and yanked up my jeans a bit. It still looked good but this was form over function, unless one considered the bottle opening function. Thank god there weren't little belts involved, thank god I wasn't sticking with the belt just for the sake of the little ones, that never works.

Friday was the final straw. Those viewings with the very nice estate agent. By this time I was so conscious of the belt that I could feel it loosening with each footstep. Each time I got out of her car I had to pull it tight and I caught her looking at me slightly weirdly. This wasn't good.

Still I persisted. I tried bending the metal a bit, I tried to take my mind off the issue as the day wore on. The bending did nothing and I found out that it's hard to take your mind off the fact that your trousers are falling down and the whole world can see your arse crack. Age, looks and ability aside this probably means I'll never make it as a male stripper. Or a metalworker.

Saturday saw me and K strolling around the shops and I picked out another belt. It's got similar leather to the previous one but it's got a proper buckle and a proper spike with real holes. It doesn't come undone, yet it seems like a pale imitation.

This means that in a week I've now spent £65 on getting one usable belt. The stylish, good looking form over function one sits abandoned by my bed waiting for a bottle that needs to be opened. If the need arises I think I'll take the bottle to it and open it with a different bottle opener while the belt looks on, just to torment it like it tormented me.

That'll teach the bastard thing to play with my emotions like that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

War In Real Time

It was Friday evening, about 4 PM and I sat at my desk. I was getting ready to greet the evening shift which turns up about 6 PM and things were quiet other than a few phone calls and bits and pieces.

I logged onto Facebook and saw a status update report thing from Indi. He said that all the lights were out in Colombo and there were gunshots and an LTTE air raid going on.

"Fuck" I thought. These days my first thought is often the same.

And for the next couple of hours I watched things happening on the net. Indi and other friends had regular updates on their facebook accounts as well as on the blogs. I assumed there was no mains power in Colombo, that it was off and generators are banned when these raids happen.

So the updates, the scrambled blog posts and the few text messages I got were from laptops, blackberries and mobiles and the networks they were connecting to could have been turned off at any time if the powers that be desired it.

It was both fascinating and scary to observe all this from afar. Scary because people I love, people I like and others I frankly can't stand were, and are, in Colombo. My parents are there and like so many of the diaspora my first thought was my family and their safety. It's not just the thought of an LTTE air raid that scares me, it's also the thoughts about what might go wrong in the counter attacking, stray bullets and people panicking can do damage.

Fascinating because it was unfolding before my eyes and I could picture it all so vividly.

As time ticked away I left work and went to collect the kids, all the while wondering how things were unfolding. Live updates told all the world that one plane had come down somewhere near or in the airport, I'd seen other less certain reports that another had come down on the Inland Revenue Office, an irony that wasn't lost on anyone I think.

Perhaps a sustained attack on the tax system would have been far more effective and gained more public support than the killing of so many innocent people over the years.

Later on as I cooked spaghetti bolognaise I read Sanjana's account of his trip to the airport and I'd seen others giving even more information. It became clear that there were two aircraft down, one at the tax place. My Mum sent a text to say they were fine and I replied telling her that there were two planes down and where they were. It was funny, but not in a funny way, to think that I was very possibly more informed about what was going on there than my parents were.

I saw FB friends saying that the air raid had disrupted their evening, that things were getting back to normal and the lights and power were back on and running. The girls and I ate our dinner, the bolognaise was good but I think I should have browned the mince for about five more minutes before I left it to simmer.

In the morning I saw the photographs of buildings, planes and wreckages.

Colombo felt so far away yet so close.

This modern war, thousands of miles away over land and only seconds away over the world wide web.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

How Is It For You?

The Birdman has informed me that he can't read my blog, that he can't see any posts, yet from here it looks fine, albeit with questionable content.

So just a quickie, Sri Lanka can you read me?

A far out part of my mind tells me that I'm unlikely to get any comments in the negative.

Any info would be helpful though.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Worst Friend Ever


It's the oh so familiar scenario. You're locked in a room and forced to rewrite Friends without one of the characters.

With her hippy clothes, her unrealistic background (of course the other characters have very believable backgrounds), and her Grandmother's cab I'd get rid of her quicker than you can say

"but what does Monica do?"

And, any woman who wears that many rings on that many fingers would just be called a chav over here.

Who would you choose?

What's Going On In The RD World

I'm starting to view flats so things these days are hectic in a very exciting way, though they're not made easier by dealing with estate agents. The whole property scenario, whether buying, selling, renting or letting would be much more simple and hassle free if estate agents could be cut out of the property chain.

I don't know what it's like over there in Serendib, perhaps your estate agents have a brain. Here in blighty they definitely DO have a brain, the problem is that they share it. In the US you have realtors and I have a vague hope that they might be more professional than their UK equivalents.

Over the years I've built up the opinion that estate agents are second only to recruitment consultants in their somethingness, I can't quite put a name to it. But, what is the point in telling any of them what my criteria are when they go and ignore them anyway? ( I never know if criteria is /are classed as singular or plural when I write of them / it) I have a list of things that are important to me:

1. Price - I shan't tell you what it is because you'll think I'm either skint or loaded. Then you'll just judge me.

2. Area - Within a certain radius of the kids, defined more by time than physical distance.

3. Ground floor or upper floors only if there's a lift, or a sidewalk as the Americans say;) - Because a drummer doesn't want to get back at 2 AM from a gig and have to trudge up flights of stairs with a drumkit. And because I'm a drummer.

4. Off street or at least good parking - see point 3.

5. Lots of light - You see, this will be a place that I really want to be in, that I enjoy hanging in. Let's face it, I spend a lot of time on my own so I'd like to do that in an environment I like. On reflection it's a reality you don't have to face, but I do.

6. At least 2 bedrooms.

That's it. And there is leeway with some of them. Price can move a bit, though I won't telling that to the parasites, particularly with the market being as it is here. Parking can be played around with as long as I can pull up outside and unload easily, but stairs is a no go. Light is subjective and bedrooms could be more but not less. The girls must have a room.

All my how to be a good divorced Dad books say that a classic mistake made by our ilk is to go out and move into a cool and stylish batchelor pad, as the need for a family home fades off into the distance, and have Britney Spears lookalikes around each night. Often the divorced Dad finds himself in a position to go out and buy or rent the type of place he could only dream about before he was married.

Then, post divorce, he does so and forgets that he also has to give his kids the message that he's still their Dad and part of their lives. This means that when they come to stay, they don't have to sleep on a foldout settee or be treated as if they're occasional guests. So my terrors will have a room in my new place, even though it will be used only occasionally.

I've tried to explain all of this to the agents but they continue to try to get me to view places that don't have the essential things I need. It wastes everyone's time, though my feelings for their time are somewhat limited.

I'm also recovering from Wednesday evening's pocket money negotiations with K. Honestly I wish there was a way I could have filmed the scene and stuck it up here for all to see. I don't know how it would have stood with privacy laws and the like, let alone how angry K might well have been with me when she eventually found out, but the thought crossed my mind.

Over the weekend I'll do a much more detailed post to tell you about it. You can get some idea when I tell you that she had prepared a powerpoint presentation with features I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to include, she wore a suit jacket while she presented and the final slide told me how much money I'd save, yes save, by giving her and A the proposed increase.

And I might write that post about the date I went on, the one with me.

As you have heard, the RD world is a nicely busy and buzzing one these days.

I'll leave you with wishes for a grand weekend and also break a leg best wishes things for the cast of Hamlet at Elsie's Bar. I feel like I've been standing in the sidelines watching the build up and would have loved to have seen it.

Next time maybe.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Delete, Publish Or Reject?

There are some types of comment I never publish.


Ones that get personal about other bloggers, namecalling etc. If it's about me that's okay as I can make a vague attempt to defend myself if I want.

Anything that might offend or upset my girls if and when they eventually read the blog.

Comments by either Prabakaran or Mahinda Rajapakse. I just don't want to get political, you'd be surprised how often I have to hit the reject icon when one of them decides to leave a witticism.

That's it really. Other than that it's a free for all.

However, I nearly broke my rules to publish this one just because it was so funny.

New York Restaurants has left a new comment on your post "Academic Intercontinental Woes":

Hi,I found your blog through Google and it having very good information on Chicago Restaurants, I am found too much things in your Restaurant Guide like online dining & Chicago Restaurant that committed to New York restaurant worldwide.

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

There were links in it but I've used my extensive knowledge of code and HTML and deleted them.

Why do they bother?

How do you decide on your blog?

Of TMS, Boys, Balls And Belts

TMS wrote an interesting post the other day about others peoples' perceptions of her. The theme of it is that she feels she is a tomboy, though it's written with her customary lilt, with much more detail and using words like "magnanimous". Class.

Now I've never met TMS in person, though I do feel as if I know her quite well. We communicate regularly by email, we're FB friends and she frequently sends me naked pictures of her, but I've never actually met her face to face so I can't really say whether she comes across as a tomboy or not.

She tells us in her post that she drinks more than many men, swears like a trooper and she smokes like a chimney. Also she's frequently the only girl out with men when they go out for a drink.

Our favourite spell casting thespian goes on to say:

"Because deep down all I really am and all I’ll ever really be… is one of the guys. A man with boobs."

Well TMS you inspired me to think, as you often do with your writing, and this time I contemplated and cogitated about what it meant to be a boy, apart from the obvious and old fashioned physical business about willies, vaginas, breasts, periods, babies and beards, all so last century.

Like everyone in the world today I spend a lot of time watching reruns of Friends. I often think that there must be African fellows, living in the remotest little villages in darkest Africa, who haven't the faintest idea who Barack Obama, or maybe even Mervyn Silva is, yet they know all the intricacies of Ross and Rachel's relationship and were as happy as the rest of us when they sailed off into the sunset at the end.

I can never remember which one it is but there's definitely one series that's no way near as funny as all the others isn't there? I think it's about series 7 or 8 and I should try to figure it out some time, but each time I see one of its episodes I groan a little. But, that's by the by, the thing is that the writing of Friends is one of its many strong points and each character contains elements of the ideal man and the ideal woman.

Every man wants to be a combination of Chandler's wit, Ross' intelligence and Joey's sheer boyishness and ability to bed women. Every woman wants their personal combination of the three girls. Though every man wonders what on earth a woman would want from Monica or Phoebe.

And boyishness is something that only true boys understand. It's well documented that I like shopping and use moisturiser but I still think I'm all man, perhaps with a couple of female strands floating around in my DNA.

Being a real man isn't about drinking with men, smoking or using bad language. No, being a real man is defined by two main things; understanding the joy in scratching your balls and getting joy out of a totally useless gadget.

I could write a post about scratching balls but frankly that would be easy. I could make you chuckle with humorous tales of gonad itching and the comments would flood in and I might get in Cerno's book. But I'm going to take the road less, er blogged about, and tell you about gadgets, one in particular. The one I bought on Saturday, the one that gives me a manly feeling each I look at it.

I went to Richmond for a mooch around the shops and to buy some mens' things; shampoo and cream for my nails. And, while mooching I looked at belts, brown leather ones. I'm not a label person these days, I tend to buy things that I think look good on me. Unless the label is Superdry of course, then I tend to love it because of the brand, but other than that I won't fall for all this "buy me because of my branding" stuff.

But for some months I've had my eye out for a nice brown leather casual belt. I've got one already and I wanted another, I like to live on the edge. In Sri Lanka I was disappointed in Otara's selection, that would have been my first option, so I just thought I'd keep looking in a non urgent way.

There I was, walking through a department store, we have more than one over here, and a brown leather belt caught my eye. It was thick dark tanned leather. There was no fancy stitching, no loud patterns and it had a simplistic buckle. I also noticed that it's made by Ted Baker, a label that's quite British and quite expensive. It had a price label on it, and it said £35, a shitload of money for a belt I thought.

I looked at the thing. I tried it on and was fascinated by its design. You see it had no holes and no spikey thing in the buckle to put through the holes. The buckle had a clever thing that held the long bit of the belt in place on its own, giving the belt a sleekness that I liked. But, the longer I looked, the more I deliberated, the longer the price remained at £35, a shitload of money for a belt I thought.

My staring at the belt, turning it in all directions and generally acting like a bride to be choosing a wedding dress, was making me a bit stressed. Am I turning into a girl? Maybe I am to TMS' man with boobs a woman with a willy. Maybe the shop assistant was looking at me thinking that I was a drag queen, a woman or a shoplifter. Or all three, or any two from the three.

And then I saw it, the clincher, the USP and I reacted in the way that banished my fears and made me realise I'm not a woman with a willy or anything like that, I'm a man, apart from the strands of female DNA. Yes, I'm all man, with a huge throbbing drumstick.

There was little label attached to the belt and it explained, in trendy marketeer's speak, that the buckle incorporated a....bottle opener. That was enough for me. I bought it and would have willingly paid twice the asking price, a shitload of money for a belt I thought, but not one with a bottle opener.

Not once in my 24 (plus a few) years have I been caught short without a bottle opener. I have a friend who can open a bottle top with his thumb and a disposable lighter and that's without using the flame, but it's just not something that has ever bothered me.

If I was stuck in the situation I'd just smash the neck of the bottle and drink away. I guess the only time this might be a major problem would be if I was stranded in a marshmallow factory with just bottled beer and no opener. Then smashing glass would be hard to do and I might die from thirst. The death would be even more painful if I had started to eat the marshmallows, which I would.

But I had to buy the belt. And now I know that I'd live if the whole marshmallow factory nightmare ever did happen to me. Unless I was wearing the old belt of course.

I spend a lot of time glancing at this belt and, as I look at the buckle with its built in opener, I feel a sense of joy that only another man would understand.

That's what being a man means. Joey would understand. Girls don't.

And scratching balls.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another Quick Nomination From Me

I'd also like to respectfully propose David Blacker's piece entitled Cologne Again for inclusion into the Cernobook.


Well it's pretty much the first thing that I read by the Blacker chap and I've been one of his fans ever since. That's not really your concern though. But, it's also provocative and powerful and reading it instantly takes the reader to the places he writes about. As we read it we smell the smoke and taste the beer, we hear the powerful cars he talks about as they purr down the street.

It's posts like this that make me want to learn how to write and use provocative language.

It's posts like this that make DD go bleary eyed too.

Nooooo...I'm A Man

Your Brain is 67% Female, 33% Male

Your brain leans female

You think with your heart, not your head

Sweet and considerate, you are a giver

But you're tough enough not to let anyone take advantage of you!

Tomorrow's post will present my argument against this rubbish.

Academic Intercontinental Woes

Even I, the cruel and heartless elder brother, felt sorry for Academic Bro last week.

He was due to go to Serendipity, I was jealous. I think that summarises things. I get my frequent but short trips, which I love, but Academic was going for a whole just under four week spell, though largely work based. He does academic stuff, handy really as it fits his pseudonym perfectly, and had to go to do research and take pictures of food, as that, as everyone knows, is what all academics do.

You can imagine my feelings of envy. I had only just returned after my sojourn and, if it had been a person other than my younger brother, I'm sure I would have been full of abundance and happiness. Bollocks to all that kind stuff, this was my little brother. Jealousy, envy and spite were the order of the day even more than normal.

I told him that I'd drop him at the airport last Wednesday and he had travelled down to London from Sheffield on Tuesday to get the Wednesday flight.

Wednesday evening saw me steam over to pick up the girls, then go to my (parents') place to chill for half an hour before departing to the airport. I asked the girls if they wanted to come with me to drop Uncle Academic at the airport and they expressed about as much interest as you'd expect. We set off on our own.

And on the way the bro told me that there was a chance that he'd have to shorten the trip by a week or so. He had a work type of problem, one that required him to go to New York to sort out and he needed to leave Lanka after a mere two and a bit weeks instead of the longer period. My heart bled profusely for the fellow as I drove the car through the freezing fog, snow and sleet.

I deposited him at the airport and headed back to be bullied by the girls.

On Thurday morning I sat at my desk, this very one, and thought about things I could blog about and the fact that I really hadn't done enough practice for that night's gig. It was okay though, they loved me, even after the drum solo.

Sometime during the thinking about blogging, the slight worrying about practice and the bass drum foot practice which accounted for the banging under my desk, I received a phone call. Then I received another one. The first one's none of your business really but the second was my Mum calling from Colombo. I did that sighing and holding my breath thing as she was put through.

She asked how I was then didn't listen to the answer, that's what they do, these Sri Lankan mothers. Even before she had stopped listening to my answer she started with what she wanted to ask me. That's also what they do.

"Has Academic spoken to you?"

It was a tough question that required lots of thought before I answered. I felt as if I knew what it must be like to do exams and things that they do at University. To you, if you're a normal European type with a normal Mother, it seems simple, requiring just a yes or a no as an answer. To us, as Sri Lankan children of Sri Lankan parents, it's an entirely different matter.

Vut to do? I thought to myself in a Cerno accent.

Of course I'd spoken to him. Was she trying to find out what was going on, as she had smelt, as her species usually do, that something was amiss but didn't know any more? Had Academic told her everything and she was was trying to tell me? Or, had the little Bro been held in immigration, perhaps for crimes against fashion, and she was looking for him?

The above, as I'm sure you realise, are only a few of the thoughts that were going through my head. I decided to be evasive and told her that I'd spoken to him the night before. She told me, proudly in that Mother knows more way, that things had changed and he was now trying to get a flight back in a week or so. My heart bled a bit more, but it was actually becoming a bit genuine.

Some hours later I managed to get hold of the intellectual. He was holed up in the Galle Face Hotel after some hours of rapid flight booking and feeling a bit narked and a bit happy.

The situation had got worse and he had decided that he needed to get to New York as quickly as possible. I mean his situation, not the general economic and political situation in Sri Lanka, even though some would argue that had got worse too.

He'd just booked a flight home for the following afternoon and was pleased that he'd be able to go and sort out the stuff, gutted to leave Lanka. I was getting close to sympathetic and told him I'd pick him up at the airport on the Friday evening.

"I can't believe it bruv, I've just watched the sunset and realised it's the only one I'll see while I'm here." he said, though he doesn't call me "bruv", he actually said "son", but I don't want to tell you too much about us. I was engulfed in pure sympathy.

The next evening, the Friday, I collected the incoming incontinent intercontinental traveller from Heathrow. As brothers go I reckon I'd been quite the decent one, and believe me brothers would like to go if we could. At lunchtime I had given thought to what I'd he'd like for dinner. I contemplated making some rice and curry but rejected this as I didn't know if there'd be time.

I decided on proper English sausages, mashed potato and baked beans. It would be quick, hearty, pretty delicious and also something he wouldn't have eaten in Sri Lanka nor would he be likely to have in the U.S. And I fancied it too.

The journey back home was funny really. I asked him how Sri Lanka was, but he'd only been there for a day and I probably knew more about the Country from reading the blogs that day than he had learned from being there. I was amused that, on the one evening he had had there, he had gone with the parents and some friends to......the German restaurant. I am also fully aware that that sentence has got a few too many "had"s in it.

I was astounded, as most people who I share this nugget with are. Cinnamon G, with all of its restaurants is just there, as is the rest of Colombo. Raja Bojun, with its delicious rice and curry is there too, but no, he ate German food. Gott in Himmel!

Then on Saturday morning I woke up at 4.30 AM to drop him back at Heathrow for his flight to New York. He arrived there some hours later.

So his week was like this:

Mon - Sheffield

Tuesday - London

Wednesday - Leave for Sri Lanka

Thursday - Arrive in Sri Lanka, dinner at German restaurant

Friday - Leave for London, sausages for dinner in London

Saturday - Leave for New York, arrive there.

Wow - and he got me another little tri shaw, a silver one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Hello Dad

how's it going"

Is what the text message from K, the 12 year old, said. It came through at about 4 PM on Friday afternoon and I was at work and on the phone.

"Hmmm... that's nice, that she's just asking how I am, very unlike her." I thought to myself. Stupidly. Do thoughts go inside speech marks? "I don't know". I think.

I thought I'd call her after I finished the phone call. Five minutes later I received another text from K. This one said:


Clearly K was getting impatient for an answer. Sweet, I thought.

I sent a one handed reply:

"On phone will call when done"

I left it and wouldn't have given it any further thought if, some minutes later, I hadn't received the next one.

"Dad I've been thinking. I think me and A (the elder sister) should get an increase in our pocket money."

Not so sweet, I thought, but negotiations would be fun and tough.

Some time later I called her. Her opener was straight to the previously raised point.

"Dad, I think me and A should get more pocket money."

Although there is two years between them they have always received the same amount, £20 a month. On top of that they get spending money on an ad hoc basis from me and their mother and I buy most of their clothes and things. In these traumatic teenage times they use the money for music, extra clothes and whatever else.

"Why?" I replied.

"Well because the £20 isn't enough for us now and we haven't had an increase for a few years."

I agreed with the second bit and thought over the first.

"What do you mean it's not enough? You've got loads of money and you get extra on top of that from me and your Mum, like when I gave you that extra £20 last week when we went shopping because you wanted to buy a birthday present for someone." I felt my case was watertight.

"Well that proves it, we need more." Clearly my case was watertight, about as much as one of those House of Fashion briefcases. My many years of selling, of negotiating with highly trained buyers and of buying from highly trained negotiators meant nothing to K, as she tore into me with the kindness and compassion of Simon Cowell trying to get rid of a Jehovah's Witness.

The parents among you will no doubt understand my predicament. You see, when faced with a smart arsed kid, one of your own, coming up with things that you're actually quite proud of, there's a huge temptation to give them what they're after just because they've presented it so cleverly.

K is eager, careful and cunning with her money. She gets that from her mother. She knows how much money she has at any stage of her life. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of her own financial matters and, in years to come, I'd hate to be the taxman who was chosen to investigate her financial matters.

"You've got loads of money, like "£130 or something in your room."I countered.

"£137.50 actually, but that's my credit crunch money."

"Your what?"

"My credit crunch money. I'm worried about the credit crunch so I'm saving it just in case."

Hmmm, or "hmmm" I thought, yet again. Another approach was required.

"Yes, but I haven't got any spare money at the moment, that's why I'm living with Archa and Appa these days, so I can save money."

"Exactly." she said.

"So think of all the money you're saving, surely you can give some of it to us."

"K", don't push it." I laughingly snarled at her, in a fake angry parent tone.

"I'm not, it's just your lack of anger management kicking in."

"No it's not." I shouted back.

"I'll tell you what." I said. "If you come back to me and tell me what all your friends get, then we'll look at it."

"So you want me to do some primary research then?"

I felt as though a bear must feel when he puts his foot in a snare and realises he's trapped, that instant feeling of wishing that you could go back a fraction of a second. Or "grrrr" as a bear might say.

"What do you mean? I asked.

"Is my smart language confusing your brain Dad? I mean do you want me to do some initial findings?" And, as she said it, I could have sworn I heard the sound of paper unfolding. I told her that I wanted some more information about the pocket money her friends got. That's where I discovered that it was paper unfolding; a list, a list of her friends and their pocket money figures. She read it out, though I have a feeling that she knew it by heart anyway. If the list was to be believed I was on a hiding to nothing.

I told her that I'd ask around myself, that I was hardly going to believe the figures she'd come up with, and that we'd talk about it on Wednesday when I have them next. She, like a true salesperson, has chased me up and tried to close me already.

Yesterday morning's phone conversation contained lines like

"So are you closer to a yes or to a no?"

"Did you speak to Mark (her friend's Dad) yet?"

What with both her parents being salespeople I shouldn't be at all surprised.

Wednesday will be fun.

In an expensive sort of way.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I Herby Nominate DramaQueen For...

.. Cerno's rather brilliant 100 best posts from the Sri Lankan Blogosphere to put in a book which will raise money for e villages, a snappy title I think. I formally propose the brilliantly witty post by DQ entitled "How To Annoy A Man."

It's an award winning hilarious post that also has won awards and is funny. If it's not in Cerno's book then, well, there might be trouble, maybe not though.

And, while we're here, I must admit I don't really know what exactly an e village is, unless it like that Kadjunut village only selling ecstacy tablets.

But, I'm all for anything that helps people in Sri Lanka, so it's got to be good.

There you go, that's my suggestion.

A Sarong Tale - Part 2

Continued from here......

These Sri Lankan hotels are weird with their breakfast rules. They display, with their rules about timekeeping, a lack of consistency that is most un Sri Lankan. Let's face it, by and large timekeeping isn't the strong point of many Sri Lankans.

We, or they, can be judged to be fine cricketers, damn good at producing tea and inventors of the best food in the world. Sri Lankans have the unenviable record of producing the best terrorists in the world and the enviable one of making some of the best garments in the best shops around the world.

Timekeeping isn't quite up there on the list.

Because of that I have often expected every Lankan hotel to exhibit, if that's what you do with the things, a very relaxed attitude about what time they stop serving breakfast. But no, that isn't the case.

Some hotels will say that breakfast is served until 10.30, but will take a very Sri Lankan approach to the policing of the issue. Which is to say that, although we say 10.30, if you turn up any time before dinner we'll serve breakfast to you. I like this approach.

Others take a very British approach. This is along the lines of "well we say 10.30 but we'll serve you up to 10.45, but you owe us one and we'll be quite shoddy when we serve you because, even though you're the customer, we're actually doing you one huge and massive favour." I'm not a fan of this mindset but it's one I am used to.

Then there's the French approach; we stop breakfast at 10.30, no exceptions. It's harsh but you know where you are with it and the waitresses are always sexy.

Lastly there's the German approach. This is when they say that breakfast goes on until 10.30 but they'd prefer it to finish even earlier. So, turn up at 10.29, and you're the enemy and will be treated as such. It probably works in hotels that have lots of Germans as they tend to eat at about 6 AM anyway so they can bung a towel on their deckchair early.

In my experience of Lankan hotels, which is relatively vast, I never can predict which policy the hotel will adopt. Of course this wouldn't be a problem in a European hotel where the breakfast might be croissant or two with some strong coffee, I can take or leave that. In a British hotel where I run the risk of losing out a full English breakfast it becomes a dilemna, one that can go either way depending on my mood.

But, a Sri Lankan hotel with string hoppers, hoppers, pol sambol and all the trimmings as its breakfast offering, well, need I say more? It's rare that I run the risk of missing out on these treats.

And that morning we were up a bit late. I jumped out of bed with my night hair and my un moisturised face. I did what all men do. I scratched my balls, hitched up the sarong and thought about breakfast, though I should add that all men scratch their own balls, not mine. There was only about 5 minutes before the bell tolled and I didn't know which country's breakfast approach was favoured by the Fortress.

There was only one thing for it. I grabbed a designer T shirt, brushed my teeth and tied my sarong as neatly as possible, for this was the occasion on which I'd wear a sarong in public, in front of white people no less, and eat breakfast. Only it wasn't that simple.

Before we'd stepped out I hit a hurdle. Pants. I thought. What was the procedure re pants?

I never really wear pants with a sarong, but that's in the comfort of my own bedroom or house. If a sarong falls down there's usually no stranger around to be startled or laugh and the sight of a Sri Lankan man hitching up and retying his sarong is something we're all familiar with.

The situation, like my image, was a delicate one. I pondered for some seconds.

This wearing a sarong to breakfast, unlike the willy that might have been unveiled to any number of white honeymooning couples as they whispered sweet nothings to each other over their egg hoppers with strawberry jam, was big. I had to pitch myself right.

You'll probably agree that there's nothing more cringeworthy than one of these tourists, who had never even heard of a sarong until hitting Lankan shores, deciding to buy one, usually from a beach boy who they then correspond with for many years, then wearing it all over the show and looking like some sort of pillock. Unless you're used to wearing the things you cannot walk properly in one. We, as chaps who have been wearing them for a lifetime, maybe more depending on your religious beliefs, know how to walk whilst sarong clad.

I wanted the waiters and the staff at the hotel to believe I was a proper Lankan, not one of the tourists going "native".

On the other hand, though it's not necessarily something I'm proud of, I didn't want the honeymooning Suddas to think I was a driver who had been invited to join breakfast with madam as he'd arrived a bit early. I believe Rudyard Kipling said it best with the immortal lines:

"If you can wear a sarong in public
And retain the common touch
But not look like a wanker
A bit too much.." (for TMS)

To get back to my point, the thing is that these tourists walk so badly when sarong clad because they're afraid of the sarong falling down. Now wearing a belt would have been too smart. I was going to rely on the power of my knot alone and my ability to walk in a natural and relaxed way without taking a big stride that might result in disaster.

But my confidence was not running on full. I decided that emergency pants were needed. I chose the pink striped Odel ones, figuring that's what the common Sri Lankan man, a fish seller or market trader (though not commodities) would wear under a sarong if he really needed to. This meant that, in the event of a fallout, my modesty would be saved and the breakfasting couples wouldn't be put off their sausage by the sight of my little chipolata. It might not have helped Otara's pants sales figures but I reckoned she'd be okay.

As we strolled to the dining area I was aware of waiters and staff looking at me with the "there goes another tourist in a sarong" look. I did my best to walk casually and to look as if this was an everyday thing for me. I suppose in a way it was. Eating in public is something I do almost every day and I'm relaxed about it, maybe even good at it, as long as there's no soup involved. Wearing a sarong I do every day as well, but in the company of family. Combining it all was the tricky bit but I think I managed the walk to breakfast with just the right swagger.

Then, when we arrived at the table area, I was could see the other breakfasters giving me a second glance. This is something I'm quite used to, what with my hot in a old sort of way looks. With the exception of one older couple who were, I think, Brazilian (not that I could tell from the lady's hairstyle) all the couples were European, in a white, we get all our meals and as much local alcohol as we can drink way.

As they looked at me I could see and hear their minds taking in the sarong at the breakfast table situation. As they took it in I attempted to appear casual and comfortable, neither of which I was really. I took my seat, then put it back and sat on it, ordered coffee and thought about the upcoming short stroll to the buffet area where my feast awaited.

Sitting down was one thing but there was a severe danger that I would get up from my chair and my sarong wouldn't, that a bit would get trapped under a leg or something and I'd be left standing there in the pink stripeys.

But, things were suprisingly drama free. I managed to get up and get some nosh without any problems. It would be inaccurate to say that I relaxed fully mentally. I enjoyed the company, the breakfast and the setting but this was with a backdrop of slight fear. Walking around was the toughest challenge, getting my stride just right, long enough to look normal, not like some geisha girl, short enough that the strength of my sarong's knot wasn't tested to its limits.

Eventually I made it back to the room. I then went through the rest of my getting ready routine, shortened to about an hour, perhaps two as I'd done some things before breakfast. Then we headed off to enjoy the rest of the day at the GLF.

I felt glad to savour the relative comfort and hassle free joy of my expensively tatty looking designer jeans, but I so enjoyed the sarong clad breakfast.

A couple of days later, when I flew back home, one of the tourist couples was on my flight. It was the slightly grungey looking pair, the girl with the armful of tattoos, you know them. Well I recognised them but they didn't recognised me. I found it quite amusing that they probably would have, had I worn my sarong instead of the very western attire I had radically chosen for the flight.

I'm an expert now.

There remains only one question.

Does Mahinda wear pants underneath his?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

RD is.....

Going out to see the Curious Case Of Benjamin Button in a minute.

Entirely on my own. Well, there'll probably be other people at the cinema but I'm going on my own. It's a test of my ability to enjoy my own company. If I have a crap time then I'll know what it feels like to go on a date with me.

I might even dump myself if the evening turns out badly. Or, I might pretend that I'll call and never actually do it.

Or I might get lucky and shag myself.

I'll let you know.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lately In The Sri Lankan Blogosphere...

It's my first one of these "lately in the.." posts for 2009 and so far the year has been highly active, as far as the SL blogosphere is concerned.

2008 tailed off with quietness and lullness, for any number of reasons, ranging from the Sri Lankan political / war / ethnic crisis / fight with the LTTE ( I really don't know how it should be termed) to Father Christmas suffering a bit from the credit crunch and having constipation on top of it all.

But 09 has seen a return to form from many of our top Sri Lankan bloggers. Here's my little take on the blogs, bloggers and total lack of involving me in the hot male bloggers business, not that I'm bitter or anything, not a bit.

Although the year is young one of Sri Lanka's biggest events so far has been the Galle Literary Festival (GLF) and there have been a load of posts on various blogs about it. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days there and had the time of my life. I met authors, bloggers (not that they're mutually exclusive), friends and family.

I've written a few posts so far but I guess, that if you're reading this, then you may have read my bits already. Ravana has published one of his all too rare but highly interesting posts on a few GLF participants here. By that, I don't mean it's rare for him to do an interesting post, just rare that he posts these days.

The photoblogs on the GLF have been plentiful. I saw these photographer chaps, and one chappess, going around with their sexy cameras and sexier lenses and it's been interesting to see the results. This Flickr site is the official GLF place to see the best ones, but many of the photographers have got them up on their own individual sites and blogs too. You know who they are.

I've alos noticed that, since the GLF, there has been a burst of writing and word related activity, I'm positive that this is no coincidence and is a direct result of the momentum and enthusiasm that the festival generated. One of the events spawned from the GLF was last night's open mic night at Barefoot. Indi tells us here of the thinking behind the event, then here he tells us, in a post that Kate Winslet would be proud of, how the evening went. I felt as if I missed the thing by a hair's breath, what with my parents and Academic Bro being in Lanka and the fact that I left there only last week. Gutted, as we say over here.

The thespians are rehearsing and fine tuning for Hamlet at Elsie's bar and their enthusiasm and feeling of energy is a bit infectious. Brandix tells us in many posts about what's going on, in between giving up smoking and wearing his kilt, and TMS gives us photos, background info and tales of slipper wearing over here. Dare I say it, but I wonder what would have happened if the slipper wearing people in her escapade were white. Hmmm...

Reluctantly I feel the need to mention this hot male bloggers tagging post that's been doing the rounds. It would appear to have been started by Scrumpulicious and it's spreading like that 25 random things about me on FB thing. Though not mentioned in any of the posts it's actually for hot male bloggers under the age of 35, so I haven't been mentioned apart from T's cruel and kind comment here on Sabby's blog. She says I'm hot, in an old man sort of way. I demand a recount.

After a spell of inactivity, in which he concentrated on some trivial things like work and retirement, Java's back with a bang. The posts are flying out faster than a Bob Marley tri shaw and range from the trippy poetic ones that only Java can do so well to the thought provoking intellectual items that he can turn his pen, or keyboard finger, to. Welcome back Java, we love you.

Kalusudda's back from his hols and is busily bullying his Grandmother into buying model tri shaws from Odel for him. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm just so into the fact that his blog is appreciated by many and it's all about being positive and constructive. It's vindication that good things can win and come out on top. If I was talking to Indi about it, then it would be Indication, something most Sri Lankan drivers might be unfamiliar with.

On the photographic side of the camera my favourite photographer and gin and tonic stirrer has been creating some black and white masterpieces. He told me recently that he has been, I suppose the term would be focussing, on black and white and his blog shows some of the results. I found this picture called The Moustache and the Turban to be particularly good, but they all are. Taking pictures and thinking in black and white is both challenging and different, it involves thinking in tones and shades rather than colour. Check them out.

There have been comments by the bucket load on Darwin's blog and I'd just like to send her my best wishes in what I'm sure are challenging times. I'm not a fan of these virtual hugs but I hope the wishes of everyone may help her in some small way.

DD has penned this rather poignant poem about thoughts in his head. Some who know me will know that I don't usually get poetry, it's a mystery to me, like women but occasionally I read a poem and like it. This is one of them. Is it just me or is DD's picture slightly creepy though?

The penultimate "lately" is about the Right Hon Man and his latest brainwave. Yes, Cerno's idea to create a book of Sri Lanka's top 100 blog posts is brilliant for a few reasons. First is the fact that the proceeds would benefit others, presumably those who need the help, hopefully not any of those very poor and struggling politicians. Secondly is the fact that we're all hoping to get a post or two included in the book. Us bloggers motivated by recognition? Never!

Lastly I come to my new favourite, well one of them, blogger, Dramaqueen herself. Though it's a few weeks old the post shouts for and deserves our attention. The Best Things In Life Are Me just cracked me up. "What was the last thing you ate?" the mystery interviewer asks her. "A toenail, it was delicious" she retorts. I wonder whose it was, and find myself a bit jealous of the lucky person with the missing toenail, unless it was still attached to the fellow.

There you are, the Sri Lankan blogosphere is buzzing and long may it continue.

Have a good weekend out there, but if you bump into my parents please don't mention my blog.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Sarong Tale

I don't know the history of the sarong but I have a feeling that it's not the most interesting one, as histories go.........

So, since typing that previous sentence I've googled "history of sarong" and learnt fuck all if I'm honest. It's a Malaysian word and it's a tube of material worn in a few countries including Sri Lanka according to Wikipedia.

There just isn't much history that's sarong related. I'm beginning to wish I'd decided to write a post about Henry VIII or Isaac Newton, who everyone knows invented divorce and gravity respectively, two things that coincidentally affect my life every day.

But, it was a sarong, not a dead King or a Physicist, that I chose to wear to breakfast in public the other day, and that's what I want to tell you about. Henry VIII with his wives, divorces, starting new branches of Christianity and Newton with his universal gravitation and calculus will have to wait.

Let me put my cards on the table; I'm a believer in the power of the sarong. To me they're the sartorial equivalent of a tri shaw, perfect attire for the warmer climate. I've worn one at night for as long as I can remember, not the same one of course, and I have a collection so big that it makes the rack of sarongs downstairs at Barefoot look like a small sample from the RD sarong drawer.

There's nothing that looks smarter on a man than a nice looking clean and ironed sarong, worn with a smart shirt, though footwear choice is a puzzler for me. I guess proper shoes are out and slippers of some kind are the correct things, I'm just never sure which type is best and, through my years of living here in the UK, I have a sort of ingrained feeling that slippers are casual. But it's best to go with the flow and not to dwell on these minor things.

Many years ago I was staying at the Triton with some good Sri Lankan friends. After an afternoon of relaxing we met up for dinner. The Triton, or whatever it's called these days, remains one of the best Lankan hotels for a decent buffet dinner. We had all "dressed" for dinner, not in a Bertie Wooster at the Glossops' way, but in a Sri Lankan we aren't tourists who have spent all day lying in the sun and want to look better than the trash way.

My good friend L sauntered down for the evening's troughing session and looked like a Sri Lankan James Bond. He wore a lovely Barefoot sarong, clean and ironed and positively glimmering with its lovely colours, smart slippers and a crisply ironed shirt. It should be noted that shirt selection is of vital importance in a situation like this, too much in the way of colour or pattern, as seen so often, just make the shirt and sarong clash, fight and vie for the attention of the casual observer.

God is in the details and God is a subtle chap, except when he causes disasters and ice ages.

He had worn a belt as well, L that is, not God, something I made a mental note of for future reference. It would be ironic if God wore a belt wouldn't it? You'd think he'd have made sure all his clothes fitted him perfectly. Unless he wore one of those combat type belts that are all the rage at the moment, to be trendy and cool.

I mentally noted the belt as it answered a question I have often pondered and I knew that one day I'd need the information for my own use.

Frankly, if I can be frank with you, L looked the business. Or, as we say in London, he looked the dog's bollocks. It must have been about fifteen years' ago but I can picture it today as if it was fourteen and a half years' ago. Ever since that night I've wanted to wear a sarong in a smart dress situation.

But living in England, though it has advantages like opportunity, the availability of Superdry clothes, decent roads and jeans in short leg lengths also has negatives, one of which is the fact that, should you choose to wear a sarong in public, people will stare at you, may beat you up and may laugh at you. On top of that you'll probably freeze your Sri Lankan bollocks off while it's all going on.

My battle has raged for all these years, the battle between wanting to wear a sarong and not wanting to cause Suddas to stare in amusement. All this time I've wanted to be able to wear a sarong somewhere other than in the comfort of my own house and yet have hurriedly changed from sarong into jeans whenever the doorbell has been rung by a postman or delivery of some kind early in the morning.

Some people, probably DD and other less cultured types, are probably happy in the knowledge that their postman has gone back to his depot and said to his colleagues

"here this bloke in Princes Road opened the door to me and he was wearing a skirt, all patterned and coloured."

Then the colleagues all mention that they've seen the guy too and that he must be some sort of poofter, David Beckham or one of these idiots. Look at them. My combat belt wearing God, they should be banned.

Well I prefer to avoid the attention. You know me, I like to keep myself to myself, I don't like people to know details about me.

So it came to be that, some years later, I found myself sitting at breakfast at the Fortress Hotel wearing a sarong, a T shirt and some early morning hair. I hadn't even moisturised my face.

I'll tell you about it in Part 2.

to be continued.......

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Probably My Proudest Achievement

Yes, yes there are the girls, there are some music things like bands, demos and gigs. There are work related bits. They pale, like one of those hint of peach paints that gets mixed with white paint by mistake.

Almost anyone can have kids, play the drums and do those things. Only one person can make this claim at any time.

Right up there, absolutely genuinely, among my proudest achievements is this fact that you probably didn't know.

If you google the words "Elephant House Cream Soda", have a look at the number one entry.

I don't know how or why, as is the case in many of the things in my life, but it feels good.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Praise Of The Tri Shaw

I'm coming to the conclusion that Tri Shaws, or Tuk Tuks as they're called by many, are probably the best form of transport ever invented. Ever. So, they're not as good as planes for crossing the planet, they're not as good as high performance cars for getting somewhere quickly and in poseur fashion, they're no way near as good as a normal and boring cars for getting you to your chosen destination in a dry, non dusty and non dirty way.

But, by and large, they're pretty damn perfect for day to day things in a country like Sri Lanka.

I'm a fan of the two stroke beauties and I'm proud to declare my, erm, fanness. They're not the best thing in the world for me, given a choice between a big pile of white string hoppers, a good session on a grand snare drum or a ride in a tri shaw I'd struggle.

I take them all over the show whenever possible, with limitations. I tend not to take them at night in Colombo, as the likelihood is that I'll get stopped every thirty seconds at a checkpoint and the chances of getting a dodgy driver are higher than during the day.

There's something about them that stimulates the senses and makes the passenger feel a part of the environment, rather than someone just travelling through it to get from A to B. Or, as is the case in Colombo; to get from A to B, passing B several times but having to double back because of the one way system and therefore taking nine times as long as anyone ever did before the traffic calming measures were cleverly introduced.

It's the openness of a tri shaw that creates this feeling of being involved with the world outside. A couple of weeks ago when I was in the motherland and at the GLF I stayed at the Fortress in Koggala, half an hour or so from Galle itself. Each morning we'd jump in a tri shaw to get to Galle Fort. Those journeys to and from the Fort are exciting memories for me.

Chugging along and watching the blueness and beauty of the sea on the left, thinking of the power contained within the water and the devastation and loss caused by the tsunami made me feel a sense of awe. Gazing at the glimpses of street life as we whisked through it was continually fascinating. It's a bit like watching snippets from lots of different plays acted out in front of me.

On one day I saw a funeral pyre being made in the morning, then saw the ceremony taking place in the evening, then saw it burning later in the evening on the final journey back to the hotel. But I didn't just see these stages of the event. I smelt them and heard them and felt the wind from them. It was all encompassing and all engrossing.

My last sight of the pyre was at about 11 PM and all that I could see was the remains, the last bits of what had been a big and imposing looking thing in the morning. The fire was burning itself out and a solitary man sat close by, watching and smoking a cigarette. In a car I would merely have seen all this, in the tri shaw, I felt it, heard it, smelled it and probably tasted it.

Some time ago Ford ran a series of TV adverts here in the UK in which they showed examples of the Ford Transit (a van) as being the "backbone of Britain". They showed how the van's used by every type of tradesman, from upper class antique dealers to dodgy builders. Well, if the Ford Transit is the backbone of Britain then the tri shaw has got to be the backbone of Sri Lanka.

Observing the various guises of the humble tri shaw never ceases to fascinate and amuse me. The traditional passenger carrying variant is the most common by far but what Sri Lankan hasn't seen them in every shape and colour. Coca Cola ones are my personal favourite, the ones that seem to shoot around Colombo delivering our favourite soft drink to all and sundry. There are Walls Ice Cream ones, Pizza Hut delivery types and a whole world of others out there. You probably have your own favourite.

The nature of a tri shaw dictates that it doesn't have the potential to act as the blank canvas that many buses are, as recorded by the Right Honourable one himself here, here and here. But there's still some of that uniquely Sri Lankan graphic design to be seen. One of the things that struck me week before last was a sudden burst of Bob Marley decorated three wheelers. Maybe they've been around forever and I just hadn't noticed, but they're everywhere now.

I saw one with "Bob" lettered to the left of the rear window the other day. I looked at it with my puzzled expression. I'd never make it as an actor because I only have two expressions; puzzled and interested, and they look quite similar anyway. But, I gazed at this one and wondered if there was a slim chance that the driver was called Bob, unlikely in Sri Lanka. As we say in England there were two hopes of this being the case; Bob Hope and no hope.

Then I saw a picture, resembling the face on the Turin Shroud and I guessed that this was another Bob Marley tribute shaw.

Why? I understand Mr Marley's impact and influence on music, I really do. But I haven't seen an Elvis shaw, or a Chuck Berry or a Beatles shaw. It's unfair and I'm thinking of starting a protest group about it on Facebook. Give it a short, as yet unspecified, while and there might be Mahinda shaws everywhere.

It would be lovely to see some vehicles decorated with pictures of famous Sri Lankans. A multi coloured tuk tuk with pictures of Dominic Sansoni plastered down one side would be brilliant. Perhaps, if they can be found, pictures of him sober down the other side would be good too.

The individual adornments on three wheelers are sheer class too. I suppose each vehicle is the equivalent of an office to its driver and he, or she, though rare, adds touches, charms and trinkets to make it personalised. From the fake aerial stuck on the rear window to the cheap and tacky religious icon resting on the dash board they're all there. Some have sound systems to make your ears bleed, though probably not my ears as I'm a drummer and therefore immune to many loud noises.

I'll leave you now, with apologies for the long and pointless post. The thing is that I really do have a soft spot for three wheelers. So much so that I'm now building my own little fleet of the chaps.

I'm toying with the devious plan of taking lots of photographs of them with captions. Things like yesterday's one and other amusing scenarios, none of which I can think of right now.

I saw them at Odel, on the ground floor, that section just before Delifrance, where the touristy souveniry things are. I'm going to buy some every time I go there and build up an army of them, perhaps even a fleet, maybe a herd of tri shaws,

Herd of tri shaws?

Yeah, of course I have. They're brilliant.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sup Bitches

"Sup Bitches. K is enjoying the snow, so should you. heart"

Is the line that my joyous bundle of twelve year old daughter has written underneath her profile picture on Facebook. She has a heart picture after it, but I don't know how to do that so I wrote the word instead.

Funny this FB thing.

I never thought that, in the world of the divorced and non custodial Dad, it would give me a bit of a window into the lives of my kids.

I see their latest pictures, the groups they've joined and the friends they make. I look at the things they write.

I roll my eyes and smile warmly.

It's okay to miss them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Bit Stilted?

Deepika Shetty At The GLF

I took this picture on the Friday evening at the Dead Men's Tales event.

This dead men's tales thing was an interesting event for sure. I turned up at Dick's bar in a trishaw with some merry women and walked into a new experience, as most things at the GLF were for me.

You know me, that I read lots and lots, but most of the things I read aren't exactly at the "classic" end of the literary rainbow. Okay I've read a lot of the works of Capt W.E Johns but most of my library is somewhat less serious. So an evening of famous authors and the like reading the works of other famous but dead authors was an exciting prospect yet I didn't know why.

As I walked into Dick's Bar I felt as if I'd walked into a pea souper of literary atmosphere. I could have cut it with a bookmark if I owned one but, much to the consternation of some, I always fold a little triangle in the corner of my page to mark my place. I didn't invent triangles though, that was someone else. The Dairylea bloke I think.

It was a buzzing and fun atmosphere and authors, poets and arty people were everywhere letting their hair down. It seemed as if many of the participants had been in an enjoyable work mode during the day but were now in an enjoyable enjoyment mode. Alcohol clearly aided this as well. Some of these literati were even drinking the stuff.

Maybe my "career" in literature is so virginal that I'll grow to understand these things but, right now at least, I don't get much enjoyment from hearing people read chunks, chunks from books. Hearing someone read a page or a paragraph from a book is the literary equivalent of a digital watch compared to an analogue one.

A digital watch tells the time, here and now. It displays the now time, you get a snapshot, with no idea of the time that has passed or the time that will come. It's very good at that and will generally display the now time with more accuracy than an analogue.

An analogue though paints a bigger picture. By looking at the hands you get a feel of the time that has passed and the time to come. When it's twenty past two and the minute hand is on the four you see the space between the twelve and the four and feel that twenty minutes. You see the second hand ticking away and you get that sense of time happening before your eyes.

For me, reading a book is the whole meal, hearing a person bung out a little paragraph is giving me a mouthful, then yanking it out of my mouth just as I start to savour the taste. So I didn't pay a whole bag of attention to the words being narrated to us by the famous authors. What I did do was to watch things going on around me. That was far more interesting. I also cranked up the ISO to 1600, whacked on my fast lens and took a few pictures too. God, I love digital, in the photography field that is, far more than in the watch one.

Germaine Greer, as she started to talk, was interrupted by someone in the crowd passing out drunkenly and noisily. It sounded like one of those pissed people falling over incidents that we're all quite familiar with. I'll tell you what, I wouldn't have wanted to be the drunk person if he'd bumped into the Aussie feminist the next day. She stopped almost mid sentence, waited for the person to get whatever aid was needed and carried on. A piece of dog poo on her shoe would have got more sympathy from her for the interruption. If looks could kill..

After her introduction she read her piece, though it wasn't her's. It was obviously by one of these great writers and, once she'd finished, she said that she didn't have to tell us who had written it, the implication being that all of us, the big reading crowd that we were, would have recognised the writer as soon as Prof Greer had utterred the first syllable.

The many heads, including my own one, nodded in unison, with that knowing nod, you know the one, the "omigod how stupid is anyone who doesn't know THAT?" one. I'd like to be the first person to admit that I didn't have the faintest fucking clue who had written the piece. It could have been Dennis the Menace for all I knew, but the nodding, the pretending that I was all literatured up, was good fun.

Romesh Gunasekara seemed like a nice, though intense, fellow. He was strolling around in a carefree nature, I think he'd done some reading out aloud before but I'd missed it, having what looked like a whale of a time. But he was reading a book of some sort. It looked like a small bible, a dictionary or a thesaurus, something I wish I could think of another name for. It all struck me as very intense and arty, as I slugged down my Lion Lager. Maybe he loves books so much that he listens to people narrating and reads something at the same time.

Moses Isegawa got up and made me think that he was a stand up comedian, a funny one too. His introduction, quips about Obama and racial observations, were on the far side of hilarious. He won my award for the funniest person in the event. He was nearly as funny as one of DQ's posts, that'll give you an idea of the high standard of his humour.

There's this tree or bush in the middle of the courtyard with seating around it and I was a bit startled to see that there were three or four people, oldish I'll admit, who had fallen fast asleep in situ. Their necks would probably be quite angry with them later but the mature father type in me wondered why they didn't scoot off to their hotels and let us have the seats.

The evening ended. We got a tri shaw back to the Fortress and just beat Moses Isegawa's van. It wasn't his van as such, just the one he was in. It was proof to me that tri shaws are probably the best form of transport ever. More on that another time.

More on Deepika Shetty another time too. But a different another time.

A damn good evening was had by all.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dinner At The Bayleaf


come here, I'd like to tell you a story and ask your opinion on something, but keep it quiet, I don't want the wrong people to know about this.

Last week I was in Lanka, as you're likely to be aware of if you lurk around here with any frequency. On Tuesday I went out for dinner with some friends. I'll give you some background and attempt to set the scene, maybe even trying some of that whole carrying rocks up a mountain in a rucksack thing, though as a first attempt I reckon the result might be a drummer shaped mess at the bottom of the mountain. With rocks.

First there was me. I'm an articulate good looking blogging drummer, with metrosexual tendencies and some rather confused ideas about my own national identity.

Then there was C, my good friend. You might know her.

We were due to meet a couple, friends of C. I'll call them A and S, partly to protect their identity, partly because his name actually begins with C, but that letter's taken. A is the man and S is the woman. The more intelligent among you will have sussed that bit already.

The Bayleaf, sorry but I'm unsure if it's one or two words, was our chosen venue. A and S had asked another couple, some Sudda friends who were travelling and in Sri Lanka. I've eaten at the Bayleaf a few times and there are things I like about it and things I don't.

I like the atmosphere and the setting. It's relaxed and easy going and it's rather a charming old house that somehow makes me feel as if I'm having dinner at a friend's place instead of a restaurant.

I suspect, if I were an Italian travelling through Asia and looking for some good home style just like Momma used to make type of food, that I might glance at the menu and think that it would do the job. Then, after ordering and eating, I'd wonder why the hell all the food was much more spicy than Momma's stuff and never go there again. But, that's Italians for you.

As a Sri Lankan Brit I think that the food is okay but only if I'm in the mood for Italian food. Frankly when in Lanka I'm never in the mood for Italian food. Give me rice, give me string hoppers, give me pol sambol, prawn curry and those things and I'm happy. Italian food, when there's such an abundance of Sri Lankan food available, is just a waste of stomach space.

Now I've put these rocks into my rucksack and I'm going to carry them.

You may remember last Tuesday evening if you're in Colombo. It's the evening that contained that massive rainstorm, the one that caused the tenty thing at the front of the Bayleaf to leak. These are things I know from experience. Four of us, me, C, A and S were sitting there getting soaked with water dripping on us from strategic points in the tent above our heads. The conversation and alcohol flowed pleasantly and we waited for the Suddas to arrive.

At this juncture I reckon I can name the Suddas. So we'll call them Q and Z. Bunging them at the other end of the alphabet makes things easier, giving them oddish letters, or names depending on how literally you want to take this, seems appropriate for reasons I'll come to. Q can be the man, Z can be the woman.

The way that Q and Z came to be invited was because Q was an old friend of A, they had gone to school together but hadn't seen each other for a few years. While we were chatting and loosening up A glanced at the entrance to the Bayleaf regularly to check for their arrival.

At some point two white people who looked like a Bollywood film director's idea of typical British tourists strolled through the gates. I looked at them and probably made a "chee" face. The others around the table had slightly similar reactions.

The chap was wearing green Kurta suit trousers, the sort that my cousins would wear, not the ones in Australia or Denmark. He had a blonde mohican haircut, piercings all over and that unwashed and travelled look. The woman with him looked similar. None of this really mattered to me until I noticed that A and S were looking at them intently. S asked A if that was them. A peered with open mouthed eyes as if he was Joey in Friends trying to not say something to Ross about being engaged to Rachel.

And fuck me it was them, though pretty obvious that A had never seen the fellow in fancy dress. Only it wasn't fancy dress, it was what these people wear in real life. The introductions were done. I was strategically placed next to Z for the evening. This enabled C to talk to S as they were old friends and A to chat to Q as they were the same.

We kicked off, I asked Z about her, about their travels and their lives. At one point I even listened to her answers. It was a momentary lapse in lapseness. I discovered that the hippy mohican green kurta wearing couple were estate agents before leaving England. This tickled me. It was a bit like finding out that Lewis Hamilton hasn't got a driving licence or David Blacker's tattoos are all stick on ones.

The evening continued in a jolly and happy manner, the details aren't important, it's what happened at the very end that flummoxed me. The hippies were nice enough, as hippies go and the food was nice enough, as Sri Lankan Italian food goes.

We came to getting the bill time. It arrived and someone did some calculations, probably a girl. I produced a card of some sort to pay for C and I. Then A turned to Q and said that he would pay for Q and Z, his treat. Even now I remain stumped and bemused by this. I think I have that old fashioned mindset about bill paying.

I go out and either I pay for me or someone pays for everything. It's simple. That thing when someone says that they didn't have a starter and should pay a bit less then the others isn't comfortable for me. Split the bill or someone pays the whole thing. Simple.

So, when A said that he'd pay for him, his wife and Q and Z, I was startled by the sort of message he sent; that Q and Z were good enough friends for him to pay their bill, but C and I weren't. Or perhaps Q and Z looked so skint that they warranted his charity and C and I didn't, which was definitely true.

And the more I dwell on this the more it bothers and vexes me. If I were in A's position I'd feel way too embarrassed to tell someone that I'll only pay for two people and not the other two. If I were Q I'd feel very uneasy about accepting the offer in front of others. We Sri Lankan men are brought up to have fist fights over who should pay the bill aren't we, not to split it and get all anal about it.

So I put it to you the Sri Lankan blogosphere.

Have you ever seen this kind of thing happen?

Was I right to be startled by it?

What would you do?

What do you think?

Damn, I think I've dropped a rucksack full of rocks somewhere.