Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Right outside my living room window is a marina of sorts, I guess a mini marina. Though there are no minis in it, just boats. Innit.
It's at right angles to the river Thames, with a little water channel thing with a bridge that goes up and down to let the bigger boats in and out. Please accept my apologies if my choice of advanced nautical and marine terms has left you lagging behind.
One of my main objectives when hunting for a place was to find somewhere that I'd be happy to hang around on my own in. Us divorced types do spend a fair percentage of our time alone so this was important.
RD Towers has been good in this respect and I spend many evenings and weekends happily gazing out of the window at boats, people strolling on the towpath and all manner of riverlife. At other times I practice drumming and take casual breaks and look out of the window at goings on. It's all rather enjoyable.
There are geese, swans, ducks and all manner of other creatures. and there's nesting, swimming, catching food and all sorts of interesting sights to see.
I'm no Amila Salgado though, so don't have the faintest clue what the things are. I can just about taste the difference between duck and goose but spotting it with my eyes is way beyond me. I've been told that the marina, the bit outside my window, is only about three feet deep. It matters little to me, my ability to swim is about as bad in three feet of water as in thirty feet of the stuff. Truth be told, it's not that I'm scared of swimming, it's more that I'm scared of drowning.
On Sunday morning, on what was a boiling hot, let's all stroll by the river day, I woke up, something I do most days. I did some ablutions, then had a poo and stuff as well, and wandered into the sitting room to grab a bit of brekky and, well, sort of do nothing. I opened the windows and looked out at the boats and the water.
As I peered at the water I was astounded to see movement, huge big movement. There were about four or five big black fish swimming around casually, the first time I've ever seen fish in there. I watched them for a while as they did their thing. Their thing consisted mostly of swimming around near the surface, sticking their mouths out of the water at fairly frequent intervals and making an "O" shape. They all looked to be quite good at their thing.
After around ten minutes they seemed to disappear and I assumed they'd exited out into the river. I didn't think too much of it, merely wondering if these things are lurking there all the time and this just happened to be the first time I'd noticed them. I got on with my day.
My 'rents popped round later on and, in conversation, I told my Dad about the fish whilst simultaneously having an argument with my Mum, who was sitting next to him. Anyone who thinks men can't multi task would have been gobsmacked with my ability. I know I was. I even managed to win the argument, not that anyone ever wins an argument with a Sri Lankan mother.
My Dad laughed at me when I told him about the fish, joking that I was like one of those fisherman telling their mate about the one that got away. He evidently thought I was exaggerating and I began to think that I might have been. Perhaps I'd dreamt it or something. I left the matter, chucking it firmly to the back of my mind. Things are quite crowded there at the back of my mind but I was able to squeeze it in, just behind the idea about building an underground system in Colombo and next to that one about discovering Jennifer Aniston living in the flat above me.
Life went on and on Monday I was back at work. I wasn't even thinking about fish, more about meat to be honest. It was another scorcher of a day and I had to pop home for some reason at about lunchtime. I walked into the apartment, paid a cursory glance at the view out of the window and the marina was full, I mean really full, of these big fish.
It was the most amazing sight, like the gathering at Minneriya but the vegetarian version, featuring fish. The marina was teeming with them, too many to count. It looked like a regular garden fish pond with regular size fish that had been put in the teleporter on the USS Enterprise. But there had been a problem and the pond and fish had arrived at the destination about ten times bigger than they should have been.
The fish were all at least a foot in length but the biggest ones were up to about three feet long. I took the pictures to show you, so you wouldn't be like my Dad and accuse me of exaggerating. I saw a bloke who had been walking past and seen them and was ringing friends to tell them about these things. Clearly it was an unusual sight and I could hear him talking in fishermen's terms about thirty pounders and "I wish you could see them", that sort of thing.
I also heard him counting aloud to his mate on the phone as he tried to work out how many there were. He got to twenty four and then gave up. There is a slim chance that it was because he was bad at counting (he looked the type) but in reality it was simply because there were too many.
A few minutes later two fishermen turned up, looking as though they'd been tipped off by someone. They set up, one chap with a rod or line and the other ready with a huge big sturdy looking net to help when the first fellow got a bite. I couldn't hang around for long enough to see if they caught anything.
I remain stunned by the fish. They weren't there when I got home on Monday night and weren't there this morning but I hope they'll return, perhaps aware of their new found fame among the Lankanosphere.
Anyone know what they are though?
Monday, June 28, 2010
You eat rice about 5 times a week and have slept with 2.8 women in your lifetime. You've also had 1.3 "experiences" of a sexual nature with men, but that was when you were at school and everyone was doing it anyhow so it doesn't count.
Oh, as for the 2.8 women, well one of them was a servant when you were 15, one you married and the 0.8 was from that night you got so pissed that you've never been sure what exactly happened.
And, as a regular reader, you know enough about me to know that I have some strangely abundant views on identity, specifically on my own identity.
When I was younger I had a scarce approach to identity, thinking that I was both British and Sri Lankan but that the sum of my identity could only add up to 100%. I think many people hold similar views now. The result, among chaps with mixed identity, is that things become a situation of either / or, of being more of one and less of the other.
The scarcity approach is centred around the idea that one's identity is held within a container, one of fixed size. It can only hold so much identity, but can have as many mixtures of identity as you can think of, just a finite quantity.
The thing is, the more of one you are, by definition (albeit my definition), the less of the others you are. I spent probably the first thirty or more years of my life with this mindset. I knew my make up was British and Sri Lankan but would always struggle to balance the two. As I connected more and more with Sri Lanka I felt as though I was betraying my country of birth and physical home and vice versa.
I suppose that would all have been well and good were I happy about things, but I wasn't. Then I read a wise man's academic thesis on identity, specifically on being Sri Lankan, and I had a paradigm shift. The conclusion in this thesis was that identity is personal, that it's actually defined only by what is within the person's mind. It's not actually about passports, physical geography, heritage and whether you wear a sarong or not. It's about what each chaps feels and believes.
I took this and ran with it, applying it to my own circumstances.
"It's about what you feel, what you believe".
Hmmm.... I thought.
So there are, in my mind, some prerequisites, some rough rules. Rules like the fact that I probably couldn't decide to be a Belgian. Don't get me wrong, I like a good episode of Poirot and a plate of mussels as much as the next man, but even by the loosest criteria I don't have much to connect me with our Belgian neighbours, not even a pointy moustache. On top of that I think Belgian chocolate is nice but overrated, give me a good slab of Cadbury's Dairy Milk any day.
I decided that life, in as far as identity was concerned, would work better for me if I adopted what I call an abundance mentality towards it. Which is to say that, instead of my identity container being of a fixed size and only holding 100%, I'd picture it as something that could expand to whatever size I wanted.
The result was that I felt content and peaceful to take any view on my own identity. I could be 100% British as well as 100% Lankan. The truth is that I feel as if I'm about 90% British and about 90% per cent Sri Lankan. That is today and things fluctuate on a day to day basis, the main point is that I'm at ease when I adopt this mindset.
The girls, A and K, have three mixtures in their pot. Their mother is Polish British, then they have me and the fact that they've been born and brought up here in the UK. I feel very proud that they've grown up with the attitude that they're Polish, British and Sri Lankan.
Those are my views on identity then, formulated and evolved over the last forty four years. They're views that I'm actually rather keen on, but I figure that it's up to the individual to decide upon.
Sometimes I have a little bit of internal conflict. Cricket is never a problem, I always support Sri Lanka. Football is a hypothetical problem. I've always supported England and there's never been an England v Sri Lanka match. If there was I'd have to cheer on Lanka, just because they'd be such underdogs, but it would be a bit of a wrench.
When I hear a lot of the political views that are quite anti the UK I sometimes struggle, feeling a bit loyal to the country but also trying my best to filter out the good information from the bad and formulating decent opinions of my own.
If Sri Lanka were a footballing nation and were in this World Cup I'd definitely sport a St George's flag as well as a Lankan flag on my car. One of my ongoing projects is to find a tattoo design that will be able to combine my feelings for Sri Lanka with those for Britain and also my passion for drumming. The search is ongoing and making slow progress.
It's all abundant, all good, happy and smiley, you may think.
But the other day I saw something that threw all of this upside down. It messed with my head and has left me in some turmoil and anguish.
It was lunchtime, I strolled over to Tesco at my work to get a sandwich and some fruit to nibble on. As I crossed the road a car drove passed me. Said car was flying a St George's flag, something that just about every car here seems to be doing.
It also had another flag. No biggie, lots of cars have been flying two flags and, as I mentioned, I'd fly a Lankan one with a St George's cross if possible.
Then I looked at the other flag. I blinked, cleared my vision and looked again, to check I hadn't made a mistake. I hadn't. It was the real thing and it was just so......wrong.
This car, a Merc, was flying a St George's flag and a, I struggle to even type this, a German flag. Yes a bloody German flag. I mean, there's mixed identity, there's abundance and world citizenship and all sorts but a German and English flag together. Gott in Himmel. Can you believe this?
My head, full of its theories was overpowered by my irrational heart.
It was just so wrong.
And now the match is over and England were well and truly thrashed, beaten by a German team that outclassed us in just about every department. Okay that ref's decision didn't help but I can't complain.
I drove back from watching the match at my friend's, took the St George's flag off my car and threw it in the bin. It's like losing so much more than just a game of football, it wouldn't have been so bad it we'd played better.
The worst thing? I've lost some serious money in a bet with David Blacker. Yes, in a fit of madness I bet 100 Sri Lankan Rupees on England. God knows what I was thinking, throwing money away like that.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It's just that everyone seems to be writing posts about their blog, how it's alive and still in existence. I like a good bandwagon and I like jumping too.
Here are a few random jottings about things going on in the RD life.
Tomorrow (Thursday 24th June) a group I'm involved with called SL2G is hosting a screening of a fantastic documentary called "Do we really want to live like this?".
It's in central London at 7 PM and will be followed by a (hopefully) stimulating discussion and social intercourse. ( I said "social") If you want an invite let me know, numbers are limited but we'll do our best to squeeze you in as long as you tell us you're coming.
If the screening and the discussion isn't enough to get you interested then let me tell you that you'll get to meet the legendary man of architecture, photography and general intelligence. The man that James Bond, Geoffrey Bawa, Dominic Sansoni and Stephen Hawkins all cite as a major influence. Yes, The Auf will be there, signing autographs and breasts.
Here in Londinium things are in a different reality mode. We're all getting ready for the match this afternoon, the usual England playing football and needing to win thing. It's going to be one of the hottest days of the year in temperature and in atmosphere. Which is cool.
I'll be picking up the girls and rushing to my apartment to get there for the kick off. Tomorrow morning the nation will be in a spiffing mood or a terrible mood, like a country with PMS. I know which one I want.
I've found these buckets of small cheeseburgers at Tesco. You chuck them in the microwave and end up with rather delicious burgers. I'm going to buy bucketloads of these buckets to accompany us in the match.
Last week I played what was almost definitely the worst gig I've ever played, only beaten by the one a week before. Lack of audience, lack of involvement and lack of England being able to score against Algeria contributed to the badness. Do I regret the gigs? No. That's the thing, we didn't know beforehand that's how they'd turn out.
It's K's fourteenth birthday on Friday. I asked her what she wants and, after a bit of thought, she's settled on money. Funny really, it seems like she's been fourteen for ages. In just over a month I'll be taking the two of them to the motherland for what I've realised will likely be our last holiday together, until they get much older and it all comes round again. That makes me a bit sad and a bit happy. The cashiers at Odel should get ready for them though.
I've been asked to be a guest on Ashok Ferrey's new chat show. We're at a bit of a stalemate because of a couple of my demands on my rider. They've told my people that a couple of drum lesson with Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins is okay but they can't stretch to supplying so many string hoppers (white).
I have a story to tell you about some Dad envy too. A has a friend, a boy, which alarms me as there's lots of chatting to him and all, and his Dad is in a band. Can you believe that?
I'm trying to find out what type of band, what he plays, whether he's any good and all the relevant details, will keep you posted on that.
That's it for now.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We finished the call and I sat and did some pondering. I like pondering and I'm quite good at it, not world class but I think I'm a decent club level ponderer. I'm sometimes criticised for being too right sided but can hold my own. In fact I often do hold my own when pondering.
I figured that Old Mrs Z was probably only saying she wanted to speak to me as a bit of a threat, to keep her son on his toes and make him and K aware that it was a possibility. I reckoned my panic was a bit stupid. I'm nearly an adult myself after all, what was there to feel nervous about, why should I feel as if I might be on trial? It wasn't like I was going to be talking to Lady D's Mum or something.
Yes, I placated myself, calmed down and sat there watching Geese on the river. "Geese on the river" was actually what I was watching, it's not a crap film with Samuel L Jackson about some Geese running riot on the river and killing people with terrorists and stuff, just so you know.
Then, about thirty seconds later, my phone rang with a call from an unknown number. I paused Geese on the river, well I would have if I could, and readied myself to answer the call. By readying myself I meant I got serious.
So Old Mrs Z really wanted some did she?
Well any daughter of mine is good enough for any son of hers, I figured. If she wants to interrogate me then I'm up to the job.
"Hello" I said. Then thought that I should sound a bit lower in tone, a bit more commanding. So I did. This time I said
"Hello" It did the trick.
"Hello, this is S, Z's mother. I understand that Z and K are quite good friends and I just wanted to introduce myself and say hello."
She'd hesitated when she got to the "quite good friends" bit, something I understood totally. What do you do when they're fourteen? It seems wholly inappropriate to refer to them as boyfriend and girlfriend, or a couple, but it's also inaccurate to just talk about them as friends. My observations, which could be wrong or carefully planned, are that they hang and mess around, but they do a hell of a lot of it.
In the recesses of my mind lurked the suspicion that it might not be so good for Z if I mentioned to his Mum that I'd already met him a few times. It seemed as though he must have just told her of K's existence as a "special" friend and that it would be best if I made out I was in the same boat.
While we're on that subject I'd also suggest that, should you ever meet Old Mrs Z, you don't mention that you read about her son on my blog some months before she'd been told about things. Thanks.
Then she told me that he was planning to come round that evening and asked if I was happy with that. I replied in the affirmative, asking her what time she wanted him to leave and if he was okay in getting a train home. It all went quite smoothly. I tried my utmost to sound respectable and mature, told her to call me anytime if she needed, now she has my number, resisted the temptation to say miscellaneous things about the Z I've met already, then that was it.
It's bloody weird and I can't help chuckling. One week there am I trying my best to impress C's parents, then the next week I'm hastily trying to impress Z's Mum, whilst Z's doing his best to impress me. Mental.
I went to collect the girls, had to tell K every minute detail about the phone conversation, then the evening hit us, along with Z.
A and myself watched the England v USA match while K and Z flitted between the sitting room and the girls' bedroom, where they seemed to be hanging, chatting and monitoring Facebook. Obviously it's important that kids of that age check the book around every forty seconds just in case any friends have changed their status or left a witty comment somewhere.
I'd bought a good selection of crisps and chocolate things and K and Z raided my newly formed chocolate drawer at regular intervals. I made pizza for them, which they devoured as if they hadn't eaten for a couple of years. RD Towers isn't the hugest of places, with rooms and wings which people can disappear to and not get found for some hours, so we have to do a lot of living in each other's space.
Each time I encountered Z at the kitchen island there'd be the briefest of interchanges, getting briefer each time as I used up my methods of extracting words out of him. Once I'd asked him how his drumming was going and established he wasn't that interested in football the conversation went back to sporadic grunting.
He was starting to annoy me too, with drumming. I noticed he'd be at the island doing various rolls and paradiddles things with his hands and feet and it was getting on my nerves. Until I was hit with a revelation. I didn't find God or anything, but suddenly realised that the little oink was trying to impress me, yes me. He was doing all his best and most impressive drum moves and, while I'd been getting annoyed, he was busily trying to show me his chops. (that's a drum term)
Wow, cool and fab, I thought to myself. I've had weeks of trying to impress parents all over the show and suddenly there's a child attempting it on me. I wasn't sure what to do with this new found knowledge so observed, smirked a bit and did nothing. It seemed wise. Probably not as wise as Stephen Fry but wise by my standards.
Some hours later, as I'd promised to Old Mrs Z, I made sure he went off to get his train at the allotted time.
This was a dodgy call. He'd been allowed to leave at ten, then we discovered the train was at ten thirty so he planned to go to the station at about ten twenty, all of which had been okayed by the mother via a text message that I'd been shown.
I told K that I'd walk with them to the station, a five minute walk from RD Towers, and she'd been predictably unhappy with that plan, but no way was I going to let her walk back from the station on her own. I settled on letting them go on their own but with A, the elder sister, accompanying them.
They set off, with A walking some paces behind K and Z, listening to her iPod and doing her best at playing the disinterested and reluctantly dutiful elder sister. I waved to them and did my best to play the cool and nonchalant Dad, pretending I was watching TV when I was far more worried about their ten minute walk at just after darkness on a Saturday night.
Twenty minutes later and there was no sign of them. I left it another five minutes and still there was nothing. I called a mobile and K answered, to tell me that they were still at the station waiting for the replacement bus to arrive as the trains weren't running for some reason. I did the only thing a parent could do, particularly one who'd just promised Old Mrs Z that he'd look after her son.
"Well you'd better come back, you can't have Z getting a bus on his own at this time of night. I'll drop him home" I said in my kindest, slightly victim but general good father tones.
What can a fellow do? I couldn't stand, or sit, and watch the chap go by bus and get home at God knows what time. A, K and Z arrived back at RD Towers in a few minutes and we piled into the car. The journey itself was uneventful. I kept on eye on K and Z in the rear view mirror but all seemed calm there, everyone was tired including me.
Once we got to the house of Z he sort of spilled out of the car, grunted a thank you for the lift and then was gone. I knew that the mother was out at work that night so I waited to see that he'd got into the house and we left.
As we drove back, it was around midnight by then, both the girls fell fast asleep and I had one of those parent's moments; when you look at your kids and see them as gentle and angelic butter wouldn't melt in their mouth beauties instead of the horrible things they really are. I dropped A back at her mothers and went back to RD Towers with K, who was allowed to sleep in her own bed.
Shortly after getting back I got a text. It was from Old Mrs Z.
"Thank you very much for dropping Z back. I always have my doubts about weekend trains."
It was nice of her.
"No problem, anytime."
Friday, June 18, 2010
Do you call it "Sri Lunkah" or Sree Lanker?
I was brought up to believe that "Sri Lunkah" is the correct pronunciation and that "Sree Lanker" is wrong. That was it, black and white, well more brown and white. Grey didn't exist, there was the correct way and the incorrect way. Suddhas say it incorrectly, Lankans say it correctly and Kalu Suddhas just mess things up.
As a kid, in Richmond at school, I'd call it "Sree Lanker" when talking to my British friends. I felt cheap and prostituted, like I was betraying my roots, but it made sense and I managed to live with the guilt. I'd mention the name at school using the Brit way then go home and chat with my parents and use the "proper" pronunciation.
There was rarely an overlap, an occasion when I'd be with a Suddha friend and one or both of my parents and get caught in a position of not knowing which way to turn, so there was never any real conflict. The thing that was definite in my mind, the banker, or bunker, was the right way to say it and the wrong way.
As I got older I maintained the view but, as I felt a stronger sense of identity, perhaps more confidence in my Sri Lankanness, I'd use the "correct" Sri Lunkah more and more, with Western people. I can't really explain the set of rules that I'd come up with to help me decide which pronunciation to use, but they were continually evolving anyhow and loosely based on how close I was to the Western person concerned.
Then, about ten years ago, something happened that messed up my mental equilibrium. I had a really close friend with me, a Lankan who was on holiday here in London, a fellow who's as Sri Lankan as can be and one of my oldest and best buddies. We were browsing in a local camera shop and for some reason he gave the shop assistant his name and address.
When he got to the country bit, you've guessed it, he told the guy that he lived in "Sree Lanker". I was cor blimey gobsmacked guvnor, I tell you Machang. I've never mentioned it to L, my friend, but it was evident that he'd chosen the Suddha way on that occasion as a means of communicating more easily with the very white and very British shop assistant.
Since then I've observed people and their choice of phonetics when saying the hallowed words. The results have surprised me. There's a large chunk of people who'll say "Sri Lunkah" all the time. Stick them with a group of whiter than white people who've never been outside the UK and they'll say it "correctly". Chuck them in the remotest village in the motherland and their pronunciation will be exactly the same.
There's another group of people, mostly western who'll say it "incorrectly" wherever they are.
But what has perplexed me is the number of people I'd consider Lankans, many with Lankan parents who are born here in the UK, some even in Sri Lanka, who'll use the Suddha way all or some of the time. These people have messed up my mindset and forced me to reevaluate. I've met people, brown ones no less, the sort who I'd always say Sri Lunkah to, who'll talk to me, or talk to people that I'd think of as fully Sri Lankan, who'll use the Western way all the time.
My reevaluation is a bit of a reflection on what I feel is my changing attitude towards many things in life anyhow, the fact that there is no right way and no wrong way, just different ways.
What is language? It's communication isn't it? A means of relating to each other to make ourselves understood. It has its limitations but it can also be very effective. So, when we succeed in making other people understand what we mean, it's working. When a person says Sri Lanka and gets it "wrong", it's me who's being wrong in judging them.
It also means that when I say "Sree Lanker" to someone I needn't feel bad or guilty. It's not actually a sign of how Sri Lankan I am, it's just a means of communicating.
What about you though? Which way do you say it and do you alter your choice depending on who you're with or where you are?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I couldn't locate A, or she saw me calling on her mobile and decided not to answer, probably the more realistic scenario. I tried K and got her voicemail too. So I remained in my car listening to my newest funky CD and soaking up the atmosphere of the car park of an old English period house. It probably wasn't a car park when they'd built the house though.
Minutes later my phone rang. It was K. I answered.
"Hi K. What's going on? What are you up to?" I asked, trying to recollect everything I've been taught about using detail to talk to my kids, to encourage good quality conversation with them, and failing.
K was talkative, something that imparts upon a father a feeling of apprehension and alertness. I'd imagine that a politician or VIP would feel the same way when being interviewed by Stephen Sackur for Hardtalk and finding him to be friendly, amiable and pleasant as pie. It's tempting to just go with the flow and enjoy the moment but you know that's what a Lion, the king of the jungle, does just before he's surprised and taken from behind by a couple of hairdressers.
We talked about this and that, as one does. I was due to have the girls with me the next night, to watch the England match and have dinner and things. Once K had relaxed me she asked
"Can Z come round tomorrow?"
It was no big deal, he shows up quite a lot now and seems harmless, almost quite nice, as nice as a fourteen year old who can only communicate by grunting can be that is.
"Yeah sure, but I'm definitely watching the football" I answered. I was pleased. I'd been alert enough to know that she was going to ask me that and it was no big deal anyhow. My results for the day in the development as a father, the quest to continually be one step ahead of them were going to be good.
"And is is okay if he stays the night?" she asked.
Still riding on the crest of my success I casually replied.
"Yes of course it is K"
She thanked my, bid goodbye and we ended the call.
Two, perhaps three milliseconds later, something hit me in the face. It was the obvious, many kilograms of it, and it was travelling at quite a high speed. I called K back.
"K, listen" I said rather stupidly. I mean, we were on the phone so why did I tell her to listen? If she wasn't listening she wouldn't have heard the instruction anyhow so wouldn't have been able to obey it, not that she ever obeys me anyway. Dads can be so stupid sometimes.
"When I said Z could stay the night, well it's okay but you two can't sleep in the same room, and it's only okay if his Mum's okay with it and knows about it alright?" Z's parents are divorced, he lives with his Pakistani Mum and she's quite pious I've been told. On the other hand Z is seemingly about as likely to be caught by a huge bout of religion as Barack Obama is to be seen fronting BP's next advertising campaign.
I'd also been told that Old Mrs Z was only vaguely aware of K's presence, that she "sort of" knew she was a friend of the son, but not so much that they're "going out", whatever that means these days.
K made vain attempts to negotiate with me, but I held a steady and certain course. Z could stay but K would have to sleep in my bed. Or I'd drop Z home later in the evening if he wanted that. There was no way they were going to sleep in the separate beds in one room. K skulked off, knowing exactly where I stood on this issue. I went off to set up, play my gig and do drummer's things. The gig was crap, I might write a post and tell you about it another time.
Saturday morning arrived, as it does and K called me to discuss arrangements. She told me, somewhat hoftily, that she'd decided to sleep on the sofa. I told her that she hadn't and that she wasn't. I've just invented the word "hoftily", it seems accurate. When things like this happen I'm like a very heavy jelly; wobbly and shakey but staying in the same place, except when I move of course.
I told her I'd see her about one o'clock as planned, hung up and said goodbye. I made a mental note to say goodbye before I hang up next time, just to make things easier.
Ten minutes before I was due to leave to collect them K called again, sounding shifty.
"Erm Dad, Z's not going to be staying the night now, his Mum says he has to go home" I was told.
"Ok no worries, so we'll drop him back then shall we?"
"No, that's okay, he'll get a train, his Mum says he has to leave by about ten"
"Okay fine" I said.
"Erm, but, erm, the thing is" she said, exceedingly nervously.
"His Mum wants to talk to you, to check you're alright with it" she added.
I smirked inwardly. That was why she was nervous. I, her Dad, was in a position of power. I did my Joey Tribbiani smirking look, but no one was there to see me.
"So is that okay?" she asked.
"Yeah sure it is, when does she want to call me?"
"In a few minutes" came the reply.
And then I panicked, but not as much as I knew K was panicking.
to be continued...............
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sarah Louise is one of the most beautiful and lovable children anyone has ever met. Whenever there are visitors to the house they fall for her beauty and personality, invariably wanting to visit her time and time again. Some people have even bought property nearby just to be able to see more of her.
Strangers pass her in the street and are instantly captivated by her air of serendipity and friendliness. Most people who get to know her have a strange feeling that she could take on the world and probably beat it if only there were a few changes to her environment. Some admire her clothes, others swoon over her mind, many fall for her smile and others just love the complete package.
There's something about her. Really. Yet she has her problems.
One of them is her spine. Where many able bodied people have a strong and good backbone Sarah Louise has one that is sadly quite weak and failing at its very core. Sometimes it's hard for anyone else to see this. It can be covered up very easily by clothes and pretence.
Some Doctors reckon they could fix this. It wouldn't be easy and it might be painful for some time. Parts of Sarah Louise's life have actually benefitted for many years because of the bad spine. These elements would lose the benefits but the cure would enable the rest of her life to return to normal. And of course there are no guarantees.
The single biggest problem is the attitude and behaviour of her foster parents. When they first adopted her they embarked on an intensive and risky programme to try to defeat the infection in Sarah Louise's body. They succeeded, when many other people said they wouldn't. The others tried to help, many even hindered and were seen by her parents as interfering. The reality is that it was her parents who did defeat the infections. Other foster parents had tried, all had failed.
Since then other people have been questioning the methods used. They've been asking if perhaps the methods will turn out to be bad for Sarah Louise in the long term, whether the parents have been successful in treating the symptoms but have failed to deal with the cause.
The parents and their group of loyal friends have been happily accepting donations and help from neighbours and even total strangers, as long as those people haven't queried the methods used. As soon as a donor has asked any probing questions the parents have stuck two fingers up to them and told them where to go, accusing them of having ulterior motives, saying that they should take care of their own offspring first, before they criticise others.
Each time they say this they isolate themselves from the rest of society that little bit more.
And now, when things look as if they're better, some people outside the family are trying to help and yet are being branded as enemies. The parents act as if Sarah Louise is fully able bodied and totally refute any suggestion that underneath what looks to be a healed skin there might still be health issues. They won't let any Doctors look at her except the ones who'll tell them what they want to hear.
Even more people love Sarah Louise now that she looks so perfect. They come to see her, they court her and they tell their friends about her.
The parents feel and act as if the job is done. They're talking about Sarah Louise entering the Olympics, competing with able bodied people. Who knows? She might just do it, in years to come. I reckon it would be better for her parents to listen to other Doctors, to take advice and help Sarah Louise to take small steps first, then look at the bigger ones.
I suppose the crux of the problem is that they label her as handicapped when it suits them, then tell everyone she's able bodied when they don't like what they hear.
In the meantime Sarah Louise sits and suffers.
Or does she?
Friday, June 11, 2010
Each time, when England qualify that is, there's an air of optimism, a feeling that this could be the one, well the second I suppose. But this year there's something different about the optimism. It's an optimism that's more tangible and realistic than ever before. England go into the finals as one of the leading contenders and, with Fabio Capello in charge, there's a confidence in the team that the nation has lacked for so long.
Second generation types like myself must feel a zillion different ways, perhaps even two zillion. For me there's an immense pride in my Britishness and my support of England. I never consider myself English but Sri Lankan and British. My feeling is that the Enlish thing is about the bloodline and heritage and that's where I'm Sri Lankan.
Will I be supporting Engand?
Too fucking right will I.
Yesterday I bought my St George's flag which is now proudly flying from my car. Every other car here, whether driven by black, white, brown or yellow sports a St George's flag, with the occasional stray vehicle flying a dodgy foreign one.
There's something about the whole thing that makes me proud of the cosmopolitan nature of England. Hardly anyone looks at a person's colour and questions their credentials, their right to support the team and fly the flag. I heard a rumour that there's some brown fellow in Borehamwood wondering the streets wearing a sarong with the St George's cross on it!
I've been wondering how it would work if someone printed up a load of dual flags, Sri Lankan on one side and St George's on the other. I'd buy one immediately and fly it with one hundred per cent pride. Let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes shall we?
Good luck England!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Technically two in the morning is actually on Sunday, but it was Saturday night that I left. Tell people you're leaving on Sunday and things get mad. In fact when I told you in the first sentence of this post that I left a couple of Saturdays ago it was, in fact, wrong. I've always liked to live dangerously though. And of course these days they have a two o'clock in the morning both on Saturdays and Sundays, in fact almost one a day. It's a total headspin it is.
On that Saturday morning I did some net perusing, reading tweets, facebook status (should that be statii?) and the like. I saw some of them written by that girl, the Bohemian Gypsy one, and she mentioned that she was flying out of the country that day. Hmmm... I thought to myself. Perhaps this was an opportunity to try to finally meet her.
I rang a few friends and managed to get hold of a number for her, no mean feat as she values her privacy and we'd never made contact before apart from comments on blogs and the like. I sent her a text, or to say it in Singlish, I sent her an SMS. It went like this:
"Hi Gypsy this is RD. Are you going to be at the airport tonight. Perhaps we could meet for a drink or something?"
"Hi RD. Sorry but I'm very protective of my privacy, as you'll write in your blog, and don't want to meet face to face. Besides I've heard you're very charming and good looking and I'm afraid I'll fall for you."
What can a chap do? Far be it from me to argue about my charm and good looks so I sent a polite response to say that it was a shame but I understood. Then I headed off with C for lunch at the Gallery Cafe. I had the prawn curry with the kankun but had been hovering dangerously on the precipice between that and the black pork curry.
In the evening, after that fairly normal Lankan confusion in finding my good friend's driver when he came to collect me from my hotel (you can imagine it; he knew my name, I knew his but we'd never met before), I found myself on route to the airport. It was about nine and things were a bit sleepy on the road.
I felt sad. I was leaving C, leaving Colombo, leaving Sri Lanka and so many friends. The journey is a long one and yet I always wish it was longer, for the moment the car turns off the airport road into the airport part I feel as if my time in Sri Lanka is over. After that it becomes just another air trip, punctuated by a few random bits of Sri Lankanness, like laughing at the Suddas who get to the passport bit to find out they need to fill out an embarkation form thing and have to go back and do one, or watching them get pissed off with the natives' lack of ability to queue properly when entering the baggage screening bit.
Once I arrived at BIA I did all the usual things, barging my way past queues of lobster pink people with rectangular Kuoni boxes of flowers and locally made brown leather bags that I knew they would have paid handsomely for, and checked in. I'm Lankan enough to jump in front of a person or two at the queue but British enough to still feel a bit bad about it, invariably apologising profusely afterwards and offering them my place.
I went through immigration and up the escalator and realised I had a lot of time to kill, even by my own anal standards I was incredibly early. I'd allowed lots of extra time because of the possibility of floods and the journey had been as clear as a bell. The result was that I was there, checked in and airside and had about three hours to kill. There was a seat outside Coffee Bean so I took it and stole some of their WiFi.
With a serious measure of reluctance I ambled into the restaurant bit, the Palm Leaf I think it's called. I hate that place, first from previous years when they'd only take foreign currency and secondly because it is just so bloody expensive that's it almost criminal. I'd seen a German eating chips near the Coffee Bean, not Sebastian Posingis though, and the ensuing hunger had got the better of me.
It almost cost me about four hundred and fifty rupees for the chips. I tell you it's exorbitant. Lady Luck was on my side and the fellow behind the till, in some moment of madness, totally messed up the whole giving me my change thing. The price was four hundred and thirty or so, I gave him a five hundred and he kindly gave me about four hundred and thirty as change. I grabbed the change and took my seat, all the time expecting to hear "Excuse me Sir".
In a twist of fate, one that almost made me believe in God, the chips then had so much salt on them that they were virtually inedible. And I say that as someone with a Sri Lankan taste in food. Had I paid the correct price I would have complained, but felt that there'd be something morally wrong in doing that. I managed to eat all except about three chips.
As I walked out of the Palm Leaf, replete with salt, I walked towards the dodgy BMW five series and the Odel with its pricing in US Dollars and I heard a loud flapping sound from behind me. I stopped, turned round and looked and saw nothing. Nothing except a really tall bird with massive feet, probably about size eleven. She was wearing a T shirt with some writing on it. The writing was in pink and a font bigger than the one containing all of human wisdom. It said:
"I am the Bohemian Gypsy. I like my privacy so stay away."
Two things went through my mind: first was that I'd never seen a T shirt with a clickable link on it before, secondly who was this mysterious girl? I felt as if I knew her. I turned back round and continued walking, the flapping sound returned and I realised it was the huge feet that were the cause.
I felt a tap on my shoulder. I spun round quickly, then noticed I'd gone too far and had spun three hundred and sixty degrees. I turned again, this time doing it much better and facing behind me, well the direction that was behind me before.
The big footed girl with the T shirt was looking at me. In a voice that was curiously deep and squeeky, sounding like she'd just swallowed a helium balloon and a bass guitarist she said:
" Excuse me, is your name RD?"
to be continued......
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I might as well take a chance. This is Solskala, the fantastically groovy collective that I'm involved with. It's a rough as buggery recording, made without most of our knowledge (or I would have done my hair!), most of us had only just learned the song and both the sound and visual quality are rough, to say the least.
Still, have a look, filter out the bad points and tell me what you think.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I'll be doing my best to make Solskala sound fantastic and it promises to be a chilled and sway your hips seductively to the beat type of night.
Get down, you know you want to.
Even that Gypsy will be coming, she'll be wearing a Chinese hat.