Thursday, November 30, 2006

Music Quiz

This tag thing is fun! Thanks Theena.

1. CD or vinyl - CD. Easy peasy. Vinyl and hiss and scratches - no way.

2. An album you've been meaning to listen to - The last Foo Fighters one, the double album, I can't remember what it's called but I need to listen properly to it.

3. Grammys - Important or a load of bollocks - Bollocks - I refer you to Theena's Nickelback statement QED

4. Your favourite album is - variable all the time, currently "Love" by the Beatles or "Live and Dangerous" by Thin Lizzy

5. Invite 10 Music people for dinner. Who will it be? John Bonham, Buddy Rich, Bernard Purdie, Ringo Starr, Phil Lynott, John and Paul and Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze. Lastly there would be Theena.

6. Appropriate punishment for those who play Celine Dion's "My heart will go on" while pretending that it's still 1998 - Plastic surgery to make them look like her.

7. Choose your favourite instrument and its best player from your point of view. After much deliberation I'll go for drums and Bernard Purdie

8. The one piece of music that can move you to tears - Nothing has so far but "Funky Gibbon" by the Goodies comes close.

9. You are an executive at a major label and have the power to green light one album a year. What would you do? - I'd sign Mimosa.

I'll tag Childof25, Ian and Savi.

The Movie Quiz

I was tagged by Electra (damn I'm having fun with this linking thing!!) and I have to post my answers to the movie quiz. Here we go. I'm not a film buff and I think you may just guess that from my answers:

1. Popcorn or Candy - Salted Popcorn

2. Name a movie you've been meaning to see forever - The Usual Suspects.

3. You are given the power to recall one Oscar: who loses theirs and to whom - Michael Douglas loses his for Wall Street and Ben Kingsley gets one for Sexy Beast.

4. Steal one costume from a movie for your wardrobe. Which will it be? - John Travolta's white suit from Sat Night Fever.

5. Invite 5 movie people over for dinner, who are they? What would you feed them? - Jennifer Aniston, I think you know why! Peter Sellers, I think he would have been funny and fascinating. Barbara Windsor, a living legend who I'd love to meet. Phil Silvers (Sgt Bilko) - not known for it but he did act in a few films too and one of my all time heroes. Stephen Fry, not strictly a movie person but always seems fascinatingly funny.

I'd cook them a rice and curry as it's the only thing I can cook almost well!

6. Your favourite film franchise is: James Bond

7. What is the appropriate punishment for people who answer cell phones in the movie theatre? - An interesting one as here in England they'd probably get thrown out anyway, which is fine by me.

8. Choose a female bodyguard - Uma Thurman. No doubt, no hesitation.

9. What's the scariest thing you've ever seen in a movie? - I can't think of one scary thing that stands out in my mind. One of the most memorable is the ending of The Italian Job. I still puzzle over what the "great idea" was.

10. Your favourite genre (excluding comedy and drama) - God knows, it would have been comedy. I'll pick car films, if the genre exists.

11. You are given the power to greenlight movies at a major studio for one year. How do you wield this power? - An easy one. I would spend the year giving the go ahead to the corniest films I see. Ones like Top Gun and Under Siege. Sheer class. Don't tell me that the scene in Top Gun when Maverick walks through the throng of people on the aircraft carrier and Ice tells him he can be his wingman any time doesn't make you very emotional. Or when Erika Eleniak pops out of the cake, acting doesn't get much better than that and needs to be encouraged.

12. Bonnie or Clyde - Haven't the faintest idea which is which. I'll choose Clyde as that was the name of one of James Brown's drummers.

Those are my answers. I'll tag Naz and Darwin.

It made me chuckle

We're doing some kind of change with our work mobiles so one of my business partners sent me a text message. He's also one of my oldest mates and we share a sense of humour. Sometimes he has it and sometimes I have it!

It went like this:

"Test - did you get this?"

There was only one possible answer from someone with my maturity, level headedness and vast personal and business responsibilities, I replied:

"No"

He replied:

"It must be fucked then"

It's one of those incidents that just makes me smile. I'm easily pleased though!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Your help is requested

I know this is a bit stupid and a man of my wisdom should know better but how do you do that thing?

You know when you write the title of a post or someone's name and, if the reader clicks on that bit of text, the link is contained within the text. Yeah, that thing, how does one do it?

Don't tell anyone I asked, I don't want anyone thinking I'm an idiot or something, particularly any other bloggers.

Thanks

For Darwin and Ian

Here you are then:

It's about 2 o'clock in the morning and things are quieting down in the bar. There's a Panda bear and a prostitute sitting together, and the woman asks if he would like to go home with her.. the Panda bear looks her over and says yes.

They go to her place. first they have something to eat, a nice meal of rice and prawn curry. (feel free to use whatever meal you like here)

After some small talk they have some seriously passionate and dirty sex. They finish and the Panda lies in bed smoking a cigarette. He finishes that and gets out of bed and gets dressed, presumably in a black and white suit.

The bear gets up to leave, when the prostitute yells ,"where do you think you're going?"

Mr Panda bear answers that he is going home. The woman then explains that she is a prostitute and must be paid for her services. The bear says that he knows that but he is a Panda bear and doesn't have to pay. They can't see eye to eye on it so they decide that the only way to settle the argument is to look up their respective names in the dictionary. They look up prostitute and the book says:

"a woman that gets paid for sexual favours",

"See, you can't go before you pay me the money", says the brass.

"Ok, and now look up Panda bear", says Panda.

She reads the following:

"Panda - A black and white bear. Eats, shoots and leaves."

There you go. It's all in the punctuation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

RA 15042699

Do you know what this number is.

Here's a small competition. There's no prize apart from the huge amount of satisfaction you'll get from knowing that you were not beaten by my challenge.

To some people this number represents genius, some pure unadulterated bliss. I am one of those people.

The number again is:

RA 15042699

Can you tell me what it means?

Try not to google it, you'd only be cheating yourself now!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Parental situations!

I was sitting with the two girls relaxing and watching TV. The twelve year old turned to myself and her ten year old sister and said

"I've got a joke"

"OK, let's hear it then", said I, only slightly worried. Twelve year old girls are dangerous, as are girls of all ages.

"OK, a Panda bear walks into a pub."

"A ha" we replied.

"So it eats, shoots and leaves". She said.

I laughed, trying not to sound too enthusiastic but also keen to make it sound genuine and thus avoid any type of inquisition. My knowledge of that joke involves prostitutes, bears, cigarettes, dictionaries and sex. I didn't really want to know whether my daughter actually knew what the joke means. I sure as hell didn't want to have to explain it.

In times and situations like this a smaller sibling can be relied upon to come out with something unexpected. She did.

"I don't get it"

I contemplated jumping out of the window but opted not to. I like to confront and face any challenging situations like the alpha male that I am.

So I kept dead quiet.

Twelve year old said,

"You don't get it?"

"No" says younger sis.

"Well a Panda bear eats shoots and leaves doesn't it?"

"Oh no" I'm now thinking.

"Yes it does" says younger sis.

"So the Panda goes into a pub right?" says twelve yo.

"Yes" replies younger sis

"And it eats, shoots and then leaves."

The smaller, but more menacing sister still looked confused. I was thinking that either myself or the elder daughter would have to explain "shoots". I didn't want this to happen. But it did.

Elder sister said to the younger one,

"You know, the panda's got a gun. It goes into a pub and eats, shoots (she makes a firing gun action with her hand) and then leaves the pub."

"Oh I get it. Yeah good one" said ten year old.

We carried on watching TV.

I breathed a loud sigh of relief.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A hard day's night

Last night I had my first rehearsal with the new singer I told you about before.

I was heading to a rehearsal studio that I hadn't been to before, not far and in theory it was about half an hour from work. Everyone knows that studios have the worst drum kits in the world, it's one of the laws of music, a bit like the one about singers being late. Drummers will also jump at the chance to not have to lug our drumkit around and we usually will use a studio kit if it exists. I'm no exception and went armed with just a snare, a load of cymbals, a bag full of sticks, my double bass pedal and some refreshments. You know, just the basics.

While strolling around Tesco at lunchtime I had bought myself a copy of the new Beatles' album "Love". Apparently it's an album of their songs that have been remixed by George Martin and his son for some special performance of Cirque du Soleil. I read that Ringo and Paul had given George Martin their blessing to do whatever he desired with their songs.

Now I've always struggled with the Beatles to be honest. I'm not one who slags them off and disagrees with the huge impact they had on modern music by any means. I think they wrote some of the best songs of all time both lyrically and musically. I also think Ringo Starr is one of the best drummers of all time. He gets a very unfair press does old Ringo. He is held in almost God like status by most drummers and that is because he was the perfect drummer for those songs.

Never complicating matters to show off, he always played for the song. Think of "Come Together" and the way his drum part compliments the melody, think of his fills on "Help". If any drummer ever wants to know how to play for a song all they need to do is listen to a Beatles album.

My problem with the Beatles is that I've always found that sixties sound very hard to listen to. Lost of treble and mid range frequencies are just not that pleasing to my ears.

Well this album is a different matter. It's a masterpiece. Every song has been remixed and brought up to date yet they all retain that classic feel. There are bits cut from one song and pasted into others but it's all the original stuff, with a fresh feel. I'm sure there are purists who will hate this body of music but that's life. I love it. It will be in my car for a long while before I change that CD.

So John, Paul, Ringo, George and BMW satellite navigation were factors in a rather enjoyable half hour to find this studio. I got to the road in question seamlessly, then promptly got lost. It was a country road packed with very expensive houses. I turned off it at one point and followed what turned out to be a dirt track. It was raining and muddy and the track was full of potholes. It was a little bit unnerving as my 5 series, with its lowered sports suspension and low profile wheels, is not exactly built for these conditions. Let's face it a BMW X5 isn't built for these things, let alone a normal 5.

All of a sudden I found myself outside a farmhouse. There were two farmhouse looking women standing in front of it with a pack of about ten thousand dogs. It was only about half an hour outside London but I felt as if I had entered a different rural zone completely. I had no choice but to get out and ask these rather scary looking women if they knew where the studio was. The darkness was both good and bad for me.

Bad because I wasn't sure exactly where they were hiding the shotguns on their person. It's a known fact that all farmer's wife types carry shotguns to shoot strangers with. Good, because at first glance they couldn't tell that I was dark skinned, which would obviously have got me shot, then they would have asked the questions.

I got out of the car and walked towards them. I was careful to avoid trampling on the dogs. They came at me from all directions. One of the women said something like "Don't mind the dogs". Yeah right, that's what they do to lull you into a false sense of security. I headed purposefully towards the women, knowing that confidence is the key to not getting shot in these situations. I think I saw a couple of the dogs caught in my wheels, I must have run them over as I pulled in, no big deal.

"Excuse me" I said in my most polite butter wouldn't melt in my mouth voice.

"Do you know where this music studio is?"

I was close enough for her to see my non white status, I had asked about a music studio, I had a London accent. I just knew my time was up. Surely the gun would be brought out, I'd see a flash of light and that would be it.

"No, I don't know of a studio around here". She replied. Her voice was so upper class that the Queen would have probably heard it and gone straight off to get some elocution lessons. She was rather polite too. She turned to her friend and they had little chinwag only to conclude that they didn't know of one around these parts.

We all had a chat and a laugh, I thanked them and turned back around and headed back to where I had started. They were, in fact, rather nice and rather polite. I am fairly sure that, at some point, after a bit of recalculation, my mind contemplated how things would have been if they had kidnapped me and used me as some kind of sex slave. I would have missed the rehearsal though, unless I could have arranged that they would wait to kidnap me after it.

You'll be surprised but there was no kidnap attempt so I drove off. Not without some effort I finally found the studio tucked between two houses, each of which was one of those supermassive English country house things, worth more than the Sultan of Brunei's toothpick collection.

These "first dates" are strange things. Various permutations of the musicians present had already played together but it was our first time as a group and we had a large list of "possible" songs but no "definites". There was the usual messing about; guitarist trying to sort his levels out, me hitting things loudly, the singer whacking out some arpeggios and the keyboardist boogie woogieing.

Once we got started it was blindingly good. I think it's safe to say that it was resounding success all round. They were a nice bunch of people and we made some sweet music. A lot of Basement Jaxx, some Mas Que Nada, some Scissor Sisters and some brilliantly mellow reggae songs like "No, no, no". Good things will come from this I am sure. We've got a gig lined up in January, a fairly high profile affair, and things look rosy.

The thing is, I just love to play. Whether it's with idiots or nice people who are good players, like last night, I just enjoy it.

Have good weekend all!

R

Women in boots.

There is a look that just does it for me. It's a woman, preferably blonde, wearing nicely fitting jeans and brown (not too dark) boots.

Ideally the jeans should be slightly faded and the boots should be leather and a light tan. Nice plain ones, a bit like cowboy boots but without the pointy toes and patterns.

It's not a look that's highly fashionable nor is it everyone's cup of tea, but give me a woman in that outfit and I melt. It's a timeless, elegant and stylish one and it's just damn sexy.

What look in a man or woman does it for you?

PS - Kottu looks a bit weird at the moment, what's occurring there then?

Update - Kottu seems back to normal now. Did anyone else see it or was it just me?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

You can take a horse to water but...

.........you can't stop a guitarist throwing his toys out of the pram.

The little covers band has imploded. These things happen and life goes on but it's still frustrating. The bassist is a nice guy and one of the best I have ever played with, but the other two were frankly a couple of cans short of a two pack. The guitarist, who was the kind of owner of the band had some kind of strop and decided, as he said "to call time on the band". He was one of those types who would say that it was a democracy and we should all have a say on stuff. This only applied as long as the majority agreed with him. When I was younger I'd be bothered about these things, now I just chuckle patronisingly. Some people just don't know the definition af an autocrat.

The dilemna for me was the fact that I was really into some of the music that they did, even badly. Smooth Criminal and the heavier rocky stuff were good to learn but not that much up my alley, but the Chili Peppers songs, Golden Years and the funkier ones were great songs, fun to play and challenging to learn.

I did about 4 or 5 gigs with them and the audience reaction had been enthusiastic all the time. It's hardly a benchmark by which one can judge the quality of a pub covers band but it's still a good feeling when a crowd likes you. I realised some time ago that the standards used by the average non muso pissed up pub punter to judge a covers band are very different from the standards used by us musos.

We tend to look at things like individual musicianship and tightness as a unit but Mr P Punter doesn't analyse that deeply. It's more about whether he likes the songs and whether he can dance or singalong to them. How well or how badly they are played rarely figures in his mental calculations, nor whether the drummer can do a paradiddle whilst scratching his arse. ( for your info I can do both, just not at the same time).

Of course the most important criterion by which any band at any level can be judged is whether the guitarist, or guitarists if numbers permit, can put one foot up on a monitor, play a solo and chat to each other and laugh all at the same time.

Playing originals, as I do in Mimosa, is a different ball game. The music, as much as I adore it, is more mellow than rocky and kicking and the satisfaction is of a different variety. The joy of knowing that people are appreciating music that I have had a hand in writing is rather exciting, as is witnessing us develop and gel as a band. The standard of musicianship is higher than anything I have ever been involved in and it's a continual learning experience for me.

Before long I'll start to miss the sheer fun and laughter of rocking out to some covers and I'll be back down your local on a Saturday night. Not your local if you're a Colomboite, more if you're in the South West London neck of the woods mind.

I've got my first rehearsal tonight with someone who is putting something new together. I tried to be cool and calm and collected about it but it's no use and I must tell you I am so, so excited about it. It's new and exciting with some great covers to play. It might lead to nothing, I might not be up to it, we all might not get on or we may do one gig and implode, but it's got potential. I'll keep you posted.

Many people frequently ask me if I would have liked to have done the drumming thing professionally. It's a weird mindset to be in. I would be delighted if I was good enough to play at that level but, as a professional musician, the pressures are very different. I would be continually trying to make enough money to support my standard of living. That would mean that I would often have to "prostitute" myself just for the money. As things stand now I never have to do that. Sure there are occasions when I have to play a song I don't like but that's no big deal. The way things are I can pick and choose who I play with and, as long as they want me, we are all happy. I can more than happily live with that and it means that my passion stays exactly that, never becoming a chore.

Having said all that, if Dave Grohl rings me up this afternoon because Taylor has retired and joined a local funk band and the Foos need a replacement, I'll be off before you can say "Should I pack a sarong?"

That's my thinking aloud done for today.

What's your passion then?

Help me make it through the night.

Yesterday one of the girls at work brought in a three disc compilation full of 70s reggae hits.

I spent the much of yesterday bopping to "help me make it through the night".

And my oh my, what a bloody great brilliant piece of genius music. I've just discovered that it was written by Kris Kristofferson, covered by Gladys Knight and also by Elvis. I knew none of that until 5 minutes ago, all I knew was that it had been performed by John Holt as a reggaeish song.

It's one of those "brings back memories" songs for me. I can remember my parents and their great friends, Uncle A and Aunty A, all dancing to it, when I was a kid in our front room. I must have been about 8 or 10 at the time. It's one of those few songs that I can't imagine anyone not liking. I know music is supposed to be subjective and all about taste and all that stuff, but when a song is as good as this, you'd have to be some kind of mad fool not to like it.

I don't care who's right or wrong.

Check it out, it's a great little choon. If music be the food of love and all that........

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A very British scene.


Taken a couple of weeks ago in the Isle of Man. There's something about the detail in this that I love. Probably best viewed large.
Oh and I just got band from a band practice and I played rather well. We finished (nearly) off a new song, ran through some older ones and I was grooving.
I'm happy and now waiting for my Porkinsons sausages to be done.
Laters!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What's sarong about that then?

The Sarong.

I've mentioned it in my blog before but, for those who didn't read it, let me refresh your memory. When David Beckham got all that publicity a few years ago for going out in the evening, I believe to a restaurant in France, I was delighted.

Why?

Simple. Because I thought it might herald the dawn of an era of "sarong acceptance" in the UK. Actually I don't mean acceptance, more fashion and haute couture. I have always wanted sarongs (on men) to become the latest trend, the thing that the stylish man around London is wearing. For a brief moment those couple of years ago I really thought Becks was the man to do the job. I was wrong, he wasn't up to it, just like he wasn't up to leading England in the last World Cup.

I have worn a sarong since I was a small child. Not the same one mind you. As a child who was brought up here in the UK sarong wearing was always a delicate subject that had to be approached with caution. I never wanted my British friends to witness the spectacle of me, their mate, wearing what they would see as some kind of skirt but, even at the tender age of about 10, I had the wisdom and superior intellect, coupled with my immense charm, to realise that there was no better type of nightwear. So, on occasions where a friend might have seen me in my bedclothes I'd make damn sure I was wearing pyjamas. To be honest the immense charm has nothing to do with anything, I just felt like adding it in there. The wisdom and superior intellect are somewhat questionable too, unless you're my Mother.

As I grew older I struggled with the concept of wearing pyjamas even more. They really are strange things and I can't figure out how people sleep in them. There's just too much restriction and bollocks must get caught and trapped all over the show. Even now, on rare mornings when I might wander around the house in a sarong, if the doorbell rings, I'm always a bit wary of getting caught by a Sudda and I'll try to bung some jeans on or something. I suppose the proactive way to handle such occurences would be to have a pair of trousers hidden near the front door just in case.

Sarongs have to be worn with the right attitude. They can be the nightwear type, the working men's type or the smart "national dress worn with pride" type and they all look good.

Some years ago I was staying at the Triton with some good Sri Lankan friends. When we met up to go for dinner one of our party, a bloke who is normally seen wearing jeans and very traditional western attire, had chosen to wear a sarong. I swear to you that it is a memory etched into my mind. Although something that is "etched into my mind" is more than likely to be the actual definition of a memory I think you know what I mean.

He had on a pristine and freshly ironed designer sarong, smart leather slippers and a tidy and pressed shirt. He genuinely looked the dog's. I think of him and cannot believe that sarongs haven't crossed over into western men's accepted dress at all.

The nightwear application of a sarong makes perfect sense. All of us Sri Lankans know that sleeping is easier and more comfortable in one. You put it on, go to bed and immediately undo the knot to let everything breathe and hang freely. Women don't understand the concept, it's not surprising as they have so little to adjust down there. They think they've got a raw deal with childbirth and periods and stuff but they've never had to deal with adjusting balls and talking to large breasted women without being caught staring. Except lesbians.

As I've got older I've become more blase about who sees me in a sarong. Most of my close friends know that I wear one in bed. Both my business partners, who I have spent many nights in hotels with, have got used to seeing me in one.

A while ago me and my 2 daughters held a competition to see if I could wear the same sarong every night for a year without my wife realising that it needed washing. To succeed in this mammoth task meant that I had to hide it every morning before I went to work to stop her spotting it and deciding it needed a wash. The smell of a good used sarong is great isn't it. Obviously it has to be one's own smell and one's own sarong but it's strangely comforting and reassuringly Sri Lankan. We got to six months in the "long wearing sarong" competition but then the wife found out and cruelly washed it.

It was a Barefoot one, of which I have many, I must apologise to all the Sansonis for the cruel mistreatment of their ware. I just couldn't bear the thought of wearing a sarong that I didn't like for near on a year. House of Fashion and all those places are ok for "working" sarongs but you can't get better than one of Barefoot's finest. I'm not the only one who thinks so either:

http://gooddays-baddays.blogspot.com/2006/11/barefoot.html

It's a strange thing this blogging and writing. Often I set out on a particular road, with a firm idea of where I want to go and what route I want to take, then I get distracted and digress, go off on tangent and babble. If I was one of those really creative types who write books and do very arty stuff I'd more than likely be in touch with that side of me and welcome and embrace the diversions. As it is I tend to feel rather guilty and embarassed that I have led you, the reader, astray.

Let me take you by the hand and guide you back to the path then.

Sarongs are great, just not accepted menswear in the UK yet. David Beckham couldn't do the trick. I have a feeling that James Bond is about the only man who could do it.

This lot certainly can't :

http://math.berkeley.edu/~ari/sarong/

There are a couple of blokes here who have even got the things on their head! Fair play to them, whoever came up with the idea of a website full of pictures of scientists proving theories whilst wearing a sarong has got my vote every time.

I've got nothing against western blokes wearing them, but it has to be in the correct setting and done with the right attitude. I've seen many a tourist wearing one in Sri Lanka and look almost ok about it, but stick the same chap on a plane back to London and let him go out in a sarong, which they often want to do, and the fellow just looks like a twat. One who went to Sri Lanka once and bought a sarong.

The minute sarongs become trendy or acceptable here in England I'll be one of the first blokes out in the street with one on. Until then, I'll have to make do with jeans and k swiss trainers. I've written to the makers of the James Bond films just to let them know that I might be available for the next one if they need me.

They haven't responded yet, must be playing hard to get.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wimmin'!!

Fact 1: I am surrounded by girls.

Fact 2: They are a nightmare.

Fact 3: I had to take two of them shopping yesterday.

Let me tell you about it:

I have two daughters aged ten and twelve. The parents among you have probably heard enough already, you know the gist of what's coming. Those of you who are parents of girls know what it's like. We love 'em to bits but it's a hellish existence for a Father. Even more so when their Mother is mad. My house is bulging at the seams with female hormones, they lurk in every room and every cupboard and jump out at me when I least expect it.

Thank God I have a drum room and some bathrooms where refuge and sanctuary can be sought in times of need. Even they are not as safe as they used to be. I can be happily grooving away to the latest song from Lily Allen one second only to find my headphones snapped off my head and myself caught in the latest argument about some girl related stuff the next.

Therefore, when I was dispatched to Kingston yesterday with the two daughters and instructions to buy each of them a pair of boots and a pair of trainers for one, it was with trepidation, apprehension and a feeling of doom for my wallet. I listened very, very carefully and concentrated hard on the wife's sergeant majorly instructions:

"Kingston..........boots..........mmmmmmmmmmm.......black (or was it brown?).....blah, blah.....buckles....."


Off we went, with a trumpety trump. Trump trump trump.

If you know Kingston you'll know that it's rather full of shops. In late November, on a Sunday, it's also full of people and not easy to stroll around with two kids while browsing for things like boots. Particularly when, between the three of you, no one has the slightest idea what they are looking for. Kingston has about ten thousand shoe shops and we went into each of them. In my experience women possess a strange and fuzzy kind of logic and it's not often used, but ten years old ones possess it in abundance.

I am a rare type of man. I like shopping. Yet I still shop in the man's way. You know how it works for us men; see it, maybe try it on, then decide within 2 seconds whether or not to buy it.

As simple as that. No looking at the price, no "will it match that shirt I wore last Saturday?", no "shall I buy that other one I tried on instead?" (we just buy both) and definitely no "What do you think dear?"

A few months ago I was standing in the checkout at M+ S, in the food section. I had some chicken and various stuff in my basket and the woman in front of me in the queue turned to me, pointing at my basket and said:

"Excuse me, do you know how much that chicken costs?"

I looked startled and blank and gave her the only correct reply:

"I'm sorry I haven't got a clue. I'm a man. We don't look at prices."

She nodded knowingly and apologised. Clearly, in a momentary lapse of concentration, she had forgotten the basics. Or she was chatting me up, but that is very unlikely.

We continued our browsing. Some pairs of boots were tried on, most were rejected at first sight for strange and illogical reasons. For the ten year old the most important thing was that the boots had buckles and any without such metallic adornments weren't even considered. I didn't understand why but I went along with it, remembering that the wife had said something about buckles too.

Finally we found a pair. It was in a shop staffed by halfwit students. The type who are more interested in chatting to each other about what they did last night than anything else. I felt rude and guilty but I managed to interrupt one such conversation to get served. After some trying on, some walking up and down the shop and some discussion with the 12 year old sister, the boots were finally approved. Phew. One down and two to go I thought.

The older sister then announced that she liked the boots in the very first shop we had gone into. So we traipsed back there, tried on boots, had the usual conflab and bought them. It was quicker and less painful than I had envisaged but it did involve walking the length of Kingston to get to the shop we had started in.

By now the girls were hungry so, being the health conscious type of Father, I bought them each a massive ice cream sundae and a Diet Coke. They ate happily while I looked in a shoe shop. I was talking to someone last week about how, as we get older, many of us get a far better idea of exactly what we like and dislike. For the last year I have been looking for a very specific pair of boots for myself and yesterday I found them. I tried them on, bought them, left the shop, all in about five minutes. Ok, I had spent a year looking for them but that's just detail.

That was it, job done. We decided to forget about the trainers and headed home. Me, my two girls, many large bags of shopping and a wallet that was a few hundred quid lighter than it was earlier. All was sweet.

Until we got home and their purchases were shown to their Mother.

"I told you NOT to get buckles, she's not allowed them at school." she bellowed in my general direction.

"Umm, I thought you said to get buckles and she was looking everywhere for some WITH buckles." I said, feebly.

No use, she wasn't convinced. Of course it wasn't my daughter's fault, it was all mine. Something about not listening or some other rubbish. Now we have to buy some more boots without buckles for her to wear to school or risk the wrath of her teacher.

Wimmin eh - can't live with 'em and can't live with 'em.

And that was my Sunday.

Kids eh - love them to bits.

Wimmin' - A different matter altogether!

All that Jazz

11.15 PM, Sunday night. Outside here in West London we have a temperature of about 5 C and a windchill factor to accompany it. I've just got in after seeing some rather good Jazz at a local pub. Luckily scarves are all the rage here this year so I got to field test my newest one. You'll be pleased to know that it works.

In my more recent years I've started to appreciate Jazz. I still don't really understand it and I can't play it for love or money but I can see that some of these guys just ooze musicianship.

To see and hear great musicians in action never ceases to inspire and motivate me to sit at my kit and practice until I'm brown in the face. Great players make it look easy but I know the effort they have put in to get to that level.

We're lucky here in London, we have almost any kind of live music available at the drop of a hat, except Baila, you guys in Colombo have the edge on that!

Domestic chores are calling me, the dishwasher needs to be emptied so I shall wish you all the best for the week and will talk later.

R

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The week was one of my not quite so good ones

My car got severely damaged and I wasn't even driving it.

The little covers band imploded and the guitarist threw his toys out of the pram (I'll tell you about it another time).

I had a band practice with Mimosa and played like an idiot. Speeding up and slowing down like Meg White and with about as much groove too. These things happen and it was my first bad one for a while but I'd been looking forward to a good jam to take my mind off stuff.

I had a customer problem hanging over my head which I wasn't sure how to handle. It looks to be sorted now but these things often play on my mind until they are dealt with.

Then I found this:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=lqbt6X4ZgEI

It made me smile and laugh. Theena, I am a million per cent sure you'll love this.

Music is a great thing isn't it

Life's damn good really.

Have a good weekend all! What's left of it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sri Lankanisms - Number 4

I probably shouldn't tell you this but I was standing in our work computer room the other day and I farted. Farts are generally a boy thing aren't they?

We all do them, just some people don't like to admit to it. I bet they're the worst ones. In a quiet room, all alone with no chance of being caught, they'll be the one dropping the loudest and smelliest ones and revelling in the solitary glory.

The rest of us are content to gloat, only in the appropriate company of course, about particularly memorable ones, whether that's because of noise or smell, or the ideal combination of both.

Familiarity breeds contempt they say. It also breeds acceptance of other people's bottom emissions and I'm all for that. A friend is someone you can fart in front of. A great friend is someone who appreciates your farts as if they are his own. My use of the word "his" was very deliberate there.

In my whole office the computer room is probably the worst place in which to get the urge. It's small and hot and noise and smell are amplified by its natural characteristics. It's the perfect place to fart and run out of, leaving your enemy or little brother or business partner in there to suffer. It's about the worst place in the world in which to fart and try to conceal the matter.

That traditional man's dilemna of whether to escape quickly and risk taking the smell with you or to stay in the room thereby risking the very real chance that someone will walk in and realise your crime and your guilt. Does anyone have a policy on this?

I asked my brother about this and he thinks that it takes roughly 4.63 seconds for the smell to dissipate from your trousers before you can leave the room, safe in the knowledge that the smell won't travel with you. The worst thing to do is to make an exit from the room in less than 4.63 seconds, this will result in the odour travelling with you for all to smell. My brother is very intelligent and I can safely assume that he knows scientists or brainy coves who have done experiments at huge cost to the taxpayer on this. I can see it now. Men in white coats with stopwatches and farts. Who said academics are boring?

So there I was, in the computer room and I slipped one out. First let me tell you that I didn't get caught, so panic ye not. What did happen was that I uttered a Sri Lankanism. It's another phrase or word that I have not heard used by any other nation. My earliest memory of it is my maternal grandmother using it when dealing with mess, usually caused by grandchildren.

A few years ago I saw it used as part of an ad campaign in Sri Lanka. I wish I could remember which Company it was but my only recollection is that it was a retailer. I'm certain I saw it as part of a window sign on a shop in Majestic City.

One of my more recent but suprising hearings of it was when I proudly showed my newish tattoo to a good friend while in SL a few months ago. I had expected her to gasp with wonder at my daring and my artistic flair, swoon a bit and generally admire me. Instead she just looked at me, screwed up her nose and mouth and said, or more growled:


CHEE !!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oooh that stings!



Especially when the other bloke says it's not his fault because he didn't see the car.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Things are changing around this here place.

Birds do it, bees do it
Even uneducated bloggers do it...

I've made the switch to beta. What does it mean?

I don't know, I'm still investigating. Sach has done it and says it's fine, so it must be ok.

But, if you happen to click on a link and my blog has vanished, gone a funny colour or turned into something you don't recognise, then you'll know I've been playing and it's gone a bit wrong.

In the meantime please tell me what you think of my new image. I'm going for a classic and adventurous without being too hard on the eyes look.

And also let me know what you think of the blog!

I've finally done one

For years I've admired the photographic abilities of many of these famous chaps. The way some of them can take a scene that you and I wouldn't even glance twice at and make it into a piece of art always amazes me.

It's a talent I wish I had and I spend many an hour trying to develop that visual sense. I can't objectively describe the qualities that make a magnificent photograph for me, all I know is that sometimes I look at one and I honestly feel as if my heart skips a beat.

In my whole life (all 22 years of it!!!) I have probably only taken one photograph that I really think is a good one. It was taken on 35mm film and I've lost the negative so the only copy I have is a massive poster sized enlargement of it hanging in my sitting room. So I can't show it to you. Unless you want to come round, in which case you'll be very welcome.

But, a couple of weeks ago I took another one that I am truly proud of. This is it. I tried it in black and white too but it's the colour one that works for me.

There was absolutely no manipulation of the image done other than anything the camera chose to do of its own accord.

I hope you like it too.

And do you know what? The Isle of Man is an ok place. It has its idiosyncrasies but all places do don't they? It was very. very photogenic in parts and I enjoyed getting out and snapping away.

So there!

And Hot Chocolate is back. http://hotchocolate.blogsome.com/2006/11/14/uhmm-so/

The cheer of the bloggers must be brought out and used to celebrate this good news:

Yay!

We like her.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

FECK!!

Today will be a better day.

Yesterday one of my business partners borrowed my car for a 15 minute journey.

While he was reversing out of the space on our office car park a van reversed into the side of him. The van, which was here to do a pick up from us, had a broken tail light. My car has got about £2000 worth of damage to the wing.

It clearly wasn't my partner's fault. He was stopped and the van reversed into the side of him. The van driver said that he didn't see the car. That was his defence, honestly.

He says that he is going to deny liability. This really pisses me off. Insurance companies here usually can't be bothered to fight with each other. If both parties say that the other is at fault then the insurers invariably end up saying it's a fifty / fifty scenario. So the likelihood is that the cost of this will get added on to my insurance premium over the next few years.

I'll try and stick a picture up of the damage in the next few days.

Sometimes it's hard to find a positive. I suppose at least no one was injured, my car still works and I wasn't driving it.

If I had been driving, whether it was my fault or not, I would have had about 6 months of piss taking here, just for having an accident in my car park.

Smile.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who do you work for?

People often say to me that I am lucky because I work for myself. I don't see it like that. Lucky yes, work for myself no.

The way I look at it is that I work for a Company of which I am also a major shareholder. I work for the shareholders of the company and I work for the Company's customers and I work for the Company's staff. In management jargon I could be said to work for my internal and my external customers.

In fact, I don't think there are any people who can truly say that they work for themselves.


Doctor, Academic, entrepreneur, salesperson or management consultant. Domestic engineer, photographer or student.

Who's your customer? Who's your boss?

Autumn Colours


I tried to capture some of those gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows that seem to be all the rage with trees and bushes at the moment. There's more on my flickr account if you're interested.

Once in a while we have nice colours here too!

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm sorry but I have to confess....

Last night I went out for one of those"quiet" evenings with my best mate P. It was just a few beers at our lively local pub. At least that was the plan.

We had a pleasant and enjoyable night just shooting the shit, eyeing up girls, wishing we were younger and singler and all that sort of thing. We talked extensively about the Powerizers that I mentioned here.

http://londonlanka.blogspot.com/2006/11/boys-toys.html

and are very seriously thinking about getting these babies. It could be fun and dangerous!

I staggered home well after midnight with rather too much Stella Artois inside me. I had one of those incredibly good drunken meals, the type when you are hungry and pissed, but not so drunk that you aren't bothered about food. I had made a chicken curry on Sunday night, as all good Asians do when we return from a holiday that is free of spicy food. I had the leftover chicken curry and about half a ton of mixed fried rice. Bargain!

It is true that some wisdom comes with age and I have learnt that mixing my drinks is the best way to have an evil hangover. So I try not to.

This morning I woke up feeling groggy, but not disastrously so. I showered, shaved and made my toilet. Then I sat on it.

Then I woke the wife, who had left our bed at some point in the night and gone to another room to sleep in a spare bed. I have a vague recollection of her shouting at me in the night, something to do with snoring. Then I woke the kids, said goodbye and left. All in all it was my fairly usual morning routine.

The drive into work was the special bit. It's a frosty, sharp and icy morning here. The temperature, courtesy of BMW in car electronics, was 2 degrees C. Everything looked gorgeous.

For the last few days I have been observing the autumn colours and thinking, or trying to think, of photographic opportunities. It has felt as if all the ingredients have been just not quite there. Suddenly this morning it all fell into place.

All the trees looked stunning, the shades of reds, oranges and yellows combined with the frosty morning light made me feel as if I was driving through a painting. A nice one too. I had no hangover and it was one of those "glad to be alive" half hours.

On the CD player I was listening to the setlist that I have to learn for a gig. Theena, if you're reading this I can only apologise. I know that many will never take me seriously as a musician ever again but I'm going to stick my head above the parapet. I have to confess that........

I really, really, really like............................."Hole in the Head", by the Sugarbabes.

It's out now. I feel better for it.
It's a song that I have to learn, not very challenging from a drum angle, but I just think it's a great kicking grooving little pop song.

Also, for anyone interested, I bought two of those Cubeworld things for the girls yesterday. They're brilliant things. Go get some and you'll thank me for the recommendation.

Also I must admit I felt a pang of woe when I read this:

http://landlikenoother.blogspot.com/2006/11/top-20-blogs-of-sri-lanka.html

and discovered that my blog wasn't mentioned. Then I realised that I wasn't listed on Technorati. I am now. I don't know what effect it will have but it seems to be the done thing.

Like one of the nominees who claps the winner at an awards ceremony I'd like to pass my congratulations on to the top 20. Most of them are blogs I read regularly and clearly others do too.

I'm off now. Have a good Friday and a good weekend all.

And please don't tell anyone about the Sugarbabes thing.





Thursday, November 9, 2006

Boys' toys

I'm an unashamed gadget freak. I adore useless toys, in fact they're almost as good as useful toys.

From iPods to G shocks, from credit card shaped multi function tools to multi device LCD remote control units I've got them all. Rhythmic Towers is so full of gadgets that I have to hide them at work to stop the wife seeing them. Women object to these things you know, something to do with wasting money.

Now that I've told you that you can imagine the damage that one of these "gadget" magazines can inflict on a person like me. There I was, sailing along happily and thinking that I had the almost latest of everything, when this magazine found its way into my Tesco's basket. What have I discovered?

Well I'm ok on the camera front. After buying three of the babies in the last year even I think I've got that area covered. Although these new Samsung cameras with the innovative cross hair menu system do look appealing.

I need a new iPod as a matter of urgency. My one is now 2 generations old. It doesn't even have video. It's got a so yesterday 60gb drive, which means that, with 5000 odd songs on it, I've only got about 35gb of free space. I need that extra 55gb of free disk space and of course I am in desperate need of the brighter and bigger screen to view all the photographs which are on my iPod and I never view anyhow. The battery life on my current one is a paltry 10 hours too.

The new iPod shuffle, the world's smallest MP3 player, will have to be bought too. Just look at it.

Then there's the matter of my phone. The old Motorola RAZR thing is a sexy beast but it's a bit, you know, last week. There's this new one coming out by Xcute, whoever they are, with a 6 megapixel camera. It's got MP3, 20MB internal memory, 30 frames per second video and a TV out thing to view on your TV. It makes phone calls too.

What better way to tell the time than on the new Casio "24" range of watches? The red one looks like the one for me, it's probably got all sorts of functions but the only ones I'll ever use are the time, date and the world time zone thing, so I know the time in CMB. 100m and 200m water resistance is handy, but if it will work in the shower and the average hotel swimming pool, then that's fine for me. Does anyone else play the game when you try to make the stopwatch stop so the hundredths of a second bit says "00"? After some trial attempts I can usually do this and accurately stop within about 5 - 10 hundredths of my target.

Another thing that I was taken by is these big feet stilty springy robocop type things. Personally I think my description says it all, but they're a pair of scaffolding looking things that you strap to the bottom half of the leg. The blurb says you can "jump u to 2m, leap 3m for every stride and run at speeds of up to 20 mph." I really seriously need some of these. They're called Powerizers. As far as I'm concerned they are an essential for modern day life.

The new Logitech "Entertamer" multi device remote control looks damn sexy. Apparently you can tell it to do something like "watch a DVD" and it will automatically turn on the TV, DVD player and set the channels and all the other settings for you. How many times have you been caught short, trying to watch a DVD but you can't find the remote for one device, or you can't quite remember which button to press to get the TV on the AV channel? Well, this baby could solve all your problems.

The digital photo frame looks like a handy object too. I could download pictures straight from my camera and they'll be displayed on this nice looking silver edged device. I could put it on my desk right next to the binary clock with its blue blinking lights.

The best things I have seen, the things I am going to buy ASAFP, the little beauties I know my children will love and I'll have to pretend to like too, just to join in you know, are called "Cube World".

They're little coloured boxes with a kind of LCD screen on them. Each screen then has a LCD stickman character inside it. Apparently as you tip or roll the cube the character inside it reacts by falling around the cube. The piece de resistance is that, when you place the cubes next to each other, the little men interact and visit each other's homes. How great is that?

Here's a small teaser for you. Not a chocolate coated honeycombed centred confectionary piece, that's a Malteser, just a little question.

Out of all the items I have mentioned there is only one that I really wouldn't buy.

Which one is it?

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Saddam on pay per view?

If, just if, Saddam Hussein's hanging was to be broadcast on pay per view TV it would easily be the biggest pay per view event ever, of that I have no doubt.

But would you watch it?

I'll tell you now. I would. I'm against capital punishment but my curiosity would get the better of me. I don't know whether I'd watch it all or if I'd be too disgusted and would turn off.

What about you?

Let me know.

Americans, kids, sushi and sandwiches.

I set off last Thursday morning with my two lovely daughters to Gatwick airport for our big adventure to the Isle of Man. The jourmey to Gatwick was uneventful, we listened to a combination of Lily Allen and Nelly Furtado, it was all the "lys" really and a good time was had by all.

After we had checked in and gone through to airside both my daughters decided they were on the verge of death due to hunger. As a parent I should have realised that this happens, it was about 65 minutes since they had last eaten so things were pretty desperate. Another few minutes and there could have been a phone call to one of these child helpline things to report the cruel and heartless treatment by their Father.

As we only had around 20 minutes before we were due to board I told them that we wouldn't have time to have a proper meal and would have to grab a sandwich or something else quick.

"Dad, I don't like sandwiches", the 10 year old said.

"What do you mean you don't like sandwiches?"

"I don't like them" she said.

"What, you don't like any sandwiches?"

"No, none at all."

"But you have them in your packed lunch at school". I had spotted a weakness in her plan.

"That's different" she replied.

"Oh, well we'll have something else then shall we? I was defeated, but not beaten. Or beaten but not defeated. Or both. I blame Joey Tribbiani.

We spotted a Yo! Sushi place and decided to give it a try. I've actually never been to one before, which is remarkable for a Londoner, and the girls were keen on the novelty factor too.

Sushi is a food that I'm trying to get to know. So far I have found some likes and some dislikes but overall it's a food that I can live with. Apart from these sticky and tiny squares of rice, they are not meant for me.

If any of you aren't familiar with Yo! Sushi it's basically just a load of stools placed around a semi circular counter and serving area. Just inside the counter is a conveyor belt which goes around, as these things do. All the food is placed in different coloured dishes and whizzed round the belt. Each dish has a transparent plastic cover on it so you can see what's inside. You grab a dish that takes your fancy and the colour of the dish dictates the price of said dish. Simple and enjoyable.

We sat there for a bit, ate some prawns noodles and sticky squares of rice and then left. It was all uneventful but enjoyable. Oh, apart from the American tourist.

I feel a need to thank Theena for his post:

http://poetlost.wordpress.com/2006/11/01/allo-allo/

He published it a day or two before this happened and it got me thinking about the differences between British and American humour, how those Yanks may well be good at, errm, but they just can't do irony or sarcasm.

Whilst sitting at Yo! Sushi watchng the conveyor belt and thinking about what I would listen to on the iPod on the plane (nothing because I lent it to the 10 year old as it happened) an American tourist came and sat next to me. I knew she was American from her accent and I added the tourist bit in for effect. She may have been living in England for all I know. She looked at me and said:

"Do you know how this thing works?"

The question was presented to me in a tone that pissed me off. There was no smile, no "excuse me", no warmth and certainly no "sorry", which is an essential requirement for any intercourse with a stranger in England.

Politely I told her that one just picks the dishes one requires and pays at the end, with the dishes priced according to their colour. She listened to my answer and then turned away and continued conversing with her companion. Again there was no "thanks" or anything, barely even an acknowledgement that I had spoken. It was one of those moments we have all had when you are treated like a servant, for no apparent reason.

So I turned back to her and said:

"Unless of course you meant how did the conveyor work?, because that's just a belt with a system of pulleys and wheels. I assume they're all electrically driven and that's what makes it all go round."

She just looked at me with an open mouthed goldfish look. Any thoughts I had that she may have actually lived in England and learnt a bit about British humour evaporated at this point. She clearly thought I was being totally serious. She turned to the friend, it was probably George Bush, said something and off they went, muttering.

And that's why Alan Partridge will never be big in the US.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Tried some Black and White


IMG_0400
Originally uploaded by rhythmicdiaspora.
I might eventually get the hang of it!

I'm back and I'm bad. Well quite good really.

Got back this afternoon from the Isle of Man. I had a rather enjoyable time.

I got to put the new (ish) camera through its paces a bit and I'm fairly pleased with the results. The decenter ones are on my flickr account, feel free to peruse and comment if you desire.

I survived a long weekend with my Mother in Law!

Yay!

What's been happening here?

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Island of Serendipity. I don't think so!

I'm talking about the Isle of Man. The place where my Mother in Law lives.

I've been there a few times and, as small islands go, it's not up in my top 10. Come to think of it, it's not even up in my top 50, and I probably couldn't even name 50.

Tomorrow I am heading there with the kids for 3 days. No wife, which is good. She is staying at home because of work. I'll be there with the Mother in Law, Sister in Law and niece, who all live there, and the kids.

I'm looking forward to spending the time with the kids. If any of you are working Fathers then you'll probably understand how nice this break will be for me, not for the kids of course, they'll hate me by the end of it!

There are many places I would rather go but the Isle of Man is the place where my Mother in Law chose to emigrate to. There was a potential silver lining in this dark looming cloud. I realised the other day that it would be a good chance for me to give my new camera a good run out. New scenery, different conditions and, most importantly, the time to go out and take some pictures.

So I did a quick google to see what kind of photo opportunites can be found in the landscape and scenery.

Try it yourself, it's depressing. Not if you are sitting in Sri Lanka surrounded by beauty and greenery and Rambutans. Nor if you're sitting in London with photo opportunities aplenty on your doorstep.

If you're sitting at your desk swathed in a dull artificial light, surrounded by paperwork and dreaming of sitting at the Galle Face watching the sunset, with your next break being a 3 day event in the Isle of Man, then you'll know how I feel. Oh, and my bro is enjoying himself in NY at the moment.

Spending time with the kids, a bit of fatherly and daughterly bonding will be great.

Even the Mother in Law isn't too bad. As Mother in Laws go.

The Isle of Man.

No drums.

Not!

At least I won't have to pay tourist rates! ;)

I'll be back in a few days' time to regale you with details of my adventures maybe even have some photographs to show. I bet you can't wait.

Yes, you. Sitting in the warmth and tropical humidity of Sri Lanka, eating rice and curry, drinking arrack and soaking up the atmosphere in the Barefoot Garden.

Don't you worry about me will you. I even had to buy a cashmere jumper today. I am told that they're all the rage. It's very soft, very warm and will get very used on the Isle of Man.

AAAAARGH!!

Bye. Back soon.