Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Isn't It Ironic

Yesterday I published a snippet of a post about people ringing in sick. The reason?

One of my drivers had rung in sick the day before, or rather his girlfriend had done it for him.

Julesonline published this post about coincidence.

I came into work, did some things, read my regular blogs, one of which is Julesonline's. By 8.00 AM I received a phone call from another driver to say that he was sick as well. So I was faced with a small bit of crisis management. We're a small Company with six drivers employed so you can imagine that the effect of two being absent can be significant. The planning was done, all looked under control, then I got another call. From the wife of another driver!

Jay, the Baldrick type hero came into his own and did one driver's run as well as many other pick ups. The other driver, distinctly lacking in skill but full of enthusiasm, was me.

Like Julesonline I don't believe in fate or destiny. Unlike her I haven't got the faintest idea about Jungian Synchronicity. It sounds like an expensive watch to me.

So yesterday afternoon I could have been spotted whizzing around the streets of West London collecting stuff, thinking about coincidences, ringing in sick and divine retribution.

And Alanis Morissette.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You're Sick??

Yesterday I mentioned phone etiquette and it generated some interest, so it felt right to follow on with this.

Over the years I've built up a transient set of rules the I apply, or don't apply, in man management situations. One of these rules is to do with staff calling in sick.

It's my belief that, when someone calls to say they cannot come in to work because of illness, if they can't actually talk personally on the phone then it's because they are incredibly and seriously ill, or because they are lying through their teeth and don't have the guts to talk.

Occasionally I receive phone calls from wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and husbands to tell me that their partner is ill and won't be in. Invariably I think that they're lying as the chances that they are so ill they they can't talk on the phone are pretty remote. There have been a few occasions over the years when I've just known that a person is very, very ill or that I've believed the partner. When that's happened I've wished them well and trusted that they'll take as much time as they need to get better.

On the other hand, when I think they're lying, there's little I can do about it other than accept it and store it as knowledge for the future. With employment legislation being as strict as it is in the UK, there's little in practice that one can do to prevent this happening.

So if you want to swing a sicky tomorrow then call in yourself. Don't get someone else to do it for you.

It's too obvious.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I just can't help myself

When I'm standing at the queue for the "10 items or less" checkout I can't help but count the items in people's baskets. If I can't see them or if I try not to do it, I catch myself counting the number of "beeps" as the items are scanned. Then, in true Brit fashion, if they have more than 10 items, I say nothing anyway.

When I'm sitting at my desk working at my computer and I receive an email I get that beep sound to tell me. I can't hold out for longer than it takes to finish the line I'm typing, the calculation I'm doing or the immediate bit of data I'm handling. I'm just not one of those who can happily not look at their inbox for an hour or so. Even if I just look to get an overview of the email to decide whether to read further or not, then I can continue happily.

I start to feel physically uncomfortable if I hear a phone ringing more than three times before it's answered. It's just inside me that any business phone should be answered within three, sometimes four, rings.

I get really pissed off with people who park in the disabled or Mother and baby spaces in supermarkets.

If you can't talk then don't answer your phone. Turn it off, or at least put it on silent. True story - I was interviewing some chap for a sales job a few years ago and, mid interview, he said "excuse me" then answered the mobile that was ringing in his pocket. He finished the call and I chucked him out.

One more thing - Rhythmic gets strangely frustrated and puzzled by people who refer to themselves in the third person.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Rollercoaster week

Phew - what a yo yo of a week!

I like to think of myself as a person who likes a challenge, someone who isn't happy with keeping things as they are if they could be better. In fact one of my least favourite sayings is

"If it ain't broke don't fix it"

Most things can be improved continually, although there are hundreds of household objects in various nooks and crannies of Rhythmic Towers that are indeed broken and not fixed. That's a man thing though.

An introduction is often necessary, to set the scene and give an idea of what's to come, perhaps getting the reader in the mood or just to set the scene. That one was to illustrate that I think of myself as a chap who likes a challenge, one who enjoys the buzz of trying new things and exciting experiences.

But, my week was one of those exciting, adventurous and challenging ones that, if I saw heading towards me with a smile on its face and open arms at anytime in the near future, I'd happily and smilingly give a good few kicks in the bollocks to. Then I'd think again and hug the week, embracing it like and old friend and possibly indulge in a bit of sexual stuff.

For 'twas indeed a week of the tallest Himalayan highs and the deepest "look the bassist has fallen down that deep pit" lows.

I've had a debate with myself for a few days about whether or not to blog about this specific issue. Debates with myself are fun and enjoyable, not least because I usually win. Sadly the only right thing to do is to go for the "don't be so stupid you can't blog about that" option, because it could have repercussions that would be nasty.

What I can tell you is this;

I had a problem with two colleagues at work, two people who I had considered to be my most trusted employees, who have worked for me for a total of almost twenty years. One of those crises that made me think and wonder what kind of, if any, values and principles some people really do hold. It's still going on and I'm still trying to handle things. If it comes to a stage where I can reveal all then I'll happily tell all but, for now, I can only say that these thing things can have challenging and positive aspects to them. I'll be buggered if I can see them right now though.

It may come across as so vague that it's uninteresting, so intangible that it's impossible to portray my depth of feeling about without giving more details and, if that's the case, then I'm sorry. But trust me that I'm so, so upset by the actions of two people and there is no doubt in my mind that I'm correct to be that upset.

What else?

On the low side there was the matter of a death. A chap I know died unexpectedly. Forty five years old and suddenly found dead in his bed. As sorry as I feel for his family and friends he's not someone I knew well enough to actually miss in the way I'd miss a close friend but it's the shock that I feel. Don't think me as cruel or heartless but he was an acquaintance that I would have spoken to once every couple of weeks and had a tenuous business connection with. I suppose that sudden deaths make us all aware of our own immortality.

Let's get this party started. The positive stuff was so exciting that it makes me smile to think about, so much fun that I still haven't come down and so satisfying that I feel as if I've played the biggest gig of my life, which I did. So far.

For months the date January the 25th has been firmly engraved in my mind as the day of the big one, the day that we, Mimosa, play to a theatre full of people on our big funk show. There were three bands on the bill, we were quite clearly the second billed band. The first lot were more of an Indie affair, all angsty guitar riffs, beanie hats and fresh out of music college musicianship. A nice enough bunch of lads, a good drummer, a band name that I've forgotten and an audience consisting largely of their parents.

The last band on were a well known group of local funksters. They're maturer and much more refined. Very polished and slick as you like. I got a lot of valuable lessons from watching their drummer play. He's a top notch player with a great balance of nice groove and chops to match. We drummers refer to the flash bits, the fills, bumps and stops as chops you know. These guys, called Kaldera, gave me that excited "I just love live music" feeling even when I watched them soundcheck.

We were on second.

We were fucking great. That's all you need to know.
I'm going to write a separate post on the gig itself, it was such a big thing for me.

It was one of those huge experiences in my life. The atmosphere, the audience, the enjoyment and so much else all made it so. It deserves a post all of its own and that's coming soon.

That was the rollercoaster week for me. Up and down and fast and slow.

On reflection I'd take a week like that again quite happily. Yes, the lows were and are quite extreme. It's just that the highs were joyous and so exciting that they make the lows worth having. Sometimes we have to have the bad things in order to appreciate the good.

Does that make sense? Or maybe you prefer a middle of the road approach. Many do and they're happy with it. Types who prefer the coconut shy to the rollercoaster. It's not as much fun but you'll usually win a prize.

What about you?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Creme Egg Hopper anyone?

This post by Child of 25 and this post by Darwin have met up. They fell in love and they had sex (not necessarily in that order, and it actually doesn't matter about the love bit too much). The thing is they've produced a child, one which many will view as sickly and distasteful, rather warped. I think the child has promise and a future.

Either way I feel a need to present the child to you. Pictures aren't possible but you don't need them. There are two questions surrounding the child:

1. Would it be so sickly that it just won't work as a long term profitable and sustainable commercial venture.

2. What would you do with the chocolate?

Yes, it's the Creme Egg Hopper. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Latest from London


8.20 AM - I got in quite late last night after the last band practice before Mimosa's biggest gig ever on Thursday. All was flowing along nicely and I find myself excited in a slightly nervous way about playing to an audience of about 500 to 600 people. Actually it's not the 498 to 598 people that I'm nervous about playing to, it's the 2 specific ones, called my Parents. It'll be the first time they've seen the band and I'll be bollocksed if I can figure out why that makes me a bit nervy, they saw my last band many times and that never bothered me.
When I got up this morning I took a look out of the window, only to see snow everywhere. I made my toilet, then sat on it, then did all else and left the house. There's about 4 inches of snow settled everywhere. It even makes the rough housing estate in the back of Southall that I drive through look rather picturesque, although you won't see me standing around taking pictures there. Partly because I'm scared and partly because I forgot to grab my camera as I left the house.
That pleasant muffled ambience is roaming around on the streets too. All the usual background traffic noise is subdued and muted and it makes for a pleasant change in acoustics. I reckon I can tell if there is a lot of snow settled just by listening sometimes.
Driving the commute was fun, if slightly dangerous. All the main roads were good, the volume of traffic had cleared the snow and that was just like driving in rain. But the side roads are like driving on ice, and that'll be because I was driving on ice. So turning off a main road onto a side road is fun and exciting as one doesn't know whether the car will grip or slide. I actually saw some drivers going so slowly that there was no danger of their car sliding. Idiots!
That's it for now, just thought I'd let you lot know what the score is.
PS - I haven't got a clue why this post has turned out looking the way it does, I've tried to stick empty lines between the paragraphs but it's gone a bit mad and looks like one big chunk of text. Sorry.

New kid in Town - Julesonline

I've finally sussed out why this blog has grabbed my attention and won't let go. I first saw it about three or four weeks ago and thought it was worth visiting. Now, I just hope she continues with it, because she's got at least one loyal reader.

Why though? Aha, because she's going through the process of discovering two rather spectacular things;

Firstly, she's given up, or taken a leave of absence, from what looks to be high powered management consultancy role, to work for VSO in Sri Lanka. People that do VSO stuff gain my respect and admiration before I have even met them, for they're doing something that I wish I had had the bollocks to do when I was younger and had less commitments. Don't get the wrong idea, I love most of those commitments and wouldn't swap them for the world, but I'm not alone in thinking I'd like to fly a bit sometimes.

So she is discovering Sri Lanka and all that goes with it.

You people who have been brought up there will never know how it feels to learn about the people and beauty of Sri Lanka. I'm not saying that you don't appreciate it, just that you haven't gone through the learning experience that us Suddas have. Gazing with awe at the rich greenery, marvelling at the sounds and soaking in the atmosphere are all just a small part of it. A lot of the rest of it is centred around trying to marry the physical beauty with the ongoing war / peace / politics or whatever you want to call it. In my simple, yet uncluttered, mind, it doesn't seem right that such a colourful and idyllic island can be as trouble torn as it is. It's fine for a grey and cold European Country to have a civil war, it just shouldn't be there.

I continue to go through it. Every time I visit, which is quite often, I feel more of an affinity to my heritage, an ongoing journey of discovery for me to learn more about my background, to be proud of it and to try to pass it on to my children.

I've stumbled across a few blogs written by people who are working and discovering Serendipity, they've all been interesting and have captivated me.

My own views on Sri Lanka lie somewhere between those of a local and those of a tourist. I can get totally pissed off with the trishaw driver when he tries to charge me the full up tourist rate of 400 rupees for a journey that would cost a local a fraction of the price, but I can't argue with the fellow because I can't speak Sinhala. I can get in a car at BIA and travel to Colombo, still with my eyes wide open in awe at the scenery and the little snippets of streetlife you see on the way, I just don't spend the whole journey panicking about the driving. I can eat string hoppers and curry for breakfast and, if I try really hard, I can eat with my fingers without getting food up to my elbow, unlike the tourists.

The second thing our Jules is discovering is the whole blogging phenomenon, another journey I have undertaken and am still on. She's going through many of the same thought processes that I've been through in recent months, which I strongly suspect most bloggers have too. The ones about "Why do I blog", "What shall I write about", "I can't stop thinking about Britney's vajayjay" etc. Stuff that we have all gone through and all know.

What else?

She can write proper sentences.

I like that, there's no textspeak, no missing vowels or consonants and her commas and full stops are all in the write (sic) places. As far as writing goes I don't have particularly high standards, but I like stuff that is written properly. In sentences.

She has decent taste in music, apart from a penchant for Snow Patrol and Coldplay. They are minor blemishes that I feel sure could be worked on over time. There is a very obvious like of Pearl Jam in her make up and that's got to be good.

She climbs rocks and stuff, I must confess that I'm not sure about all that kind of thing.

Go on have a look at it here. You'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Heavy Metal

We had some major weather stuff over here on Thursday. Wind was gusting around with the ferocity and force rarely seen here and all hell broke loose. As is the case with any weather conditions, other than "grey and average" most of London, in fact much of the UK, more or less ground to a halt.

God alone knows how we would manage if there was ever a totally freaky weather day of very high temperatures combined with driving rain and fierce strong winds. What with Dubya's selfish and 'tarded attitude to reducing emmissions and global warming we'll probably have a spell of that next week. At least the weekend will be ok.

We had our own bit of localised adventure here at my office. A large sheet of metal got dislodged from somewhere and ended up dangling precariously over the edge of our roof. It got itself tangled in an aerial and was wobbling around profusely looking as if it could fall down at any time, rather like many people have described my dancing, apart from the aerial bit.











My Company Director, Health and safety conscious hat was firmly on my head as I got everyone to move their cars away from this thing and told them to stop looking at it and move out of the way. This was of course after I had already moved my car. Well the garage's car, but you know the gist of that story anyway, it's another courtesy car.

Then someone called our Landlord, there was some talk about whose responsibility these kind of things are and we got nowhere. Here I am, metal sheet is still dangling there, admittedly it doesn't look like it's going anywhere, but I'm not taking any chances. Someone, presumably some suited fellow, will be out to look at it today. He'll probably take one look at it and then agree that it needs to come down. We'll wait several days, maybe weeks, for some other subcontractor to come out and remove it. The vast cost will be added to our service charge in some way or other. It's the way these things work here.

Of course there's another way. My right hand man, Jay, and I have been looking at ways to get this thing down ourselves. You need to know some background about Jay before I give you the specifics; He's worked for me for years, he's a youngish and dedicated family chap, keen as mustard and will do anything I ask. Everyone needs someone like him, in a working capacity at least. If we have an emergency I know I can call him, even if he was on holiday and he'd do all he can to help. I'd trust him with most stuff.

Unless there was thinking involved.

You think I'm being harsh don't you? You probably think I'm just exaggerating for the sake of poetic licence and all that stuff don't you? Well I'll give you some examples of things Jay has done, you may not believe me but I assure you they're all true:

Some years ago I was walking back across our office car park when I heard a metallic thumping noise. I didn't think anything of it, until I walked past one of our vans and heard the noise again, together with a slightly muffled "Help". My investigations led me to the discovery of Jay, locked inside the back of his own van. He had been there for about twenty minutes. Another ten minutes and anything could have happened.

He once crashed his van and did a fairly decent amount of damage to it. He pulled out and didn't see the other vehicle overtaking him, ploughing into the side of the thing. It can happen to anyone I know, and our post accident interview went rather like this:

"Jay, what the fucking fuck were you thinking of, how could you not see it overtaking you?" said I calmly.

"I know Rhythmic, I'm sorry I just didn't see it".

"What? Was it going too fast or was it too small or what?"

"I know, I just didn't see it."

"But Jay, it was a fucking bloody milk float for fuck's sake!"

In reality my language wasn't quite as mild mannered as I've related but the rest is all true.

Then there was the time a couple of years ago when I despatched him to fill my old car up with petrol, a task he always enjoys. This is because he lives locally and can cruise around in a good looking car wearing my sunglasses and hoping to get spotted by one of his mates. He denies all this, but I have strategically placed spies in the locality and I know.

He returned, half an hour later, the car had a nice full tank of petrol. Jay had been kind enough to also do £4000 worth of damage to my car when he had driven into the car in front. He's kind like that.

That's enough about his previous. All else you need to know is that he's still here, I still let him drive my car, but I've banned him from wearing my sunglasses.

Knowing the stuff you now know about Jay is a good thing. This will help you to visualise my laughter, fear and exasperation at what happened on Friday morning. He came into my office with the look on his face, the one that tells me he is excited but I should be scared.

"Errrm Rhythmic, I've been having a look at the roof and I think we could get this thing down, can you come and have a look?"

We trotted off into the kitchen area. Now, if you have a quick glance at the photo you'll see a window below and to the right of the dangly thing. Next to the window is another window, just out of the picture, that's our kitchen window. As I approached this from inside the building, I started to laugh, quite nervously but also with an air of authority. Probably how that bomb disposal chap laughed when his mate burst the paper bag behind his head.

I had already seen enough to decide that Jay's plan wasn't going ahead. There's management training, there's constructive criticism, there's "all ideas are good ideas", there's "mistakes are good as long as you learn from them". Frankly they all fly out of the window when you see what I saw.

The microwave, the kettle and all else had been moved off the shelf by the window, the window was open and there was an office chair leaned up against the openness. On the shelf by the window was the "equipment" he proposed to use; a huge industrial sized ball of string with a heavy roll of shrink wrap (industrial strength cling film) tied to one end of it. It didn't require a fellow with the brain power of Jade Goody to figure out his plan but I let him outline the basic idea. And it was a basic idea.

"If you just hang out the window, don't look down though, I reckon we can throw the string up, if we can make a loop round the end of it. Then the weight of the other end will pull it down."

"Jay".

"Yes Rhythmic"

"NO. Even I don't want you killed doing this, you fucking big idiot" I said.

"Oh ok then".

We're still waiting for the Landlord.

Jay was touched by my thoughtfulness though.

EDIT - This post was written last week. Since the time of writing a fellow in a suit did indeed come out to look at it. Sure enough he was followed by two others who had a tall ladder and working class accents. They removed the thing and all has been declared safe in the vicinity.

Jay left the Company and is now working as a Bollywood stuntman.

The weather's still crap.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Place






Home alone for a few hours this afternoon. A good chance to tune and clean the kit and then annoy the neighbours.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The trials, tribulations and dilemnas of a blogger.

I've noticed that many bloggers tend to be very introspective, we devote a relatively high amount of our time, or at least a high proportion of our blogging time, to looking at our own self and why we blog, why we write about what we do and why we are as we are.

I'm no different. I reckon that I spend far more time than the average fellow does on pondering about myself. Sometimes I think so much it hurts, the way your tongue hurts when you accidentally staple it to a wall. I've got a few theories on why this is, as I have on most stuff. One of my simplest ones, and probably the most accurate is this:

We have got what non bloggers would call "too much time on our hands". This whole act of writing and having a blog can be time consuming, some manage to chuck a blog into their lifestyle and not actually spend a significant amount of time on it, but most of us devote a bit of effort, energy and brain power to it. Non bloggers can be caught thinking that bloggers need to "get a life" and that we write about everyday shit because we don't have much else to do.

That may be true of some, but I've yet to read blog written by such a person. The blogs I really like to read are the ones that are written by people who have "lived a little", people who I think have gone through the mill a bit and have some depth to what they've got to say. In my own case one of the reasons I began to blog was simply because I work long hours, but have long periods in which I can be at my desk with relatively little to do. I've got a life (of sorts) and I've found out that I quite like to write about it, wholly innacurately.

The blogging thing fits in nicely with my work patterns and I can write posts at will, save them and edit them as time goes on and publish them whenever I want to. In fact, this particular post was written long before I even had a blog, sometime in the 1980s. I was just waiting for the whole concept to develop before I published these thoughts.

Also the amount of time I have means that I have lots of time to think on things. That's the theory, that people who blog are able to devote more time to self rumination than people who don't blog. We choose to write a bit on our thoughts, in this computer age we don't need to find a publisher or an editor or incur any cost. Assuming we already have access to a computer with an internet connection the world is our potential audience.

Before I stumbled across Kottu, zSri and all the Sri Lankan blogs that are out there, my daily port of call to try to keep up with happenings in Sri Lanka was the online daily newspapers. Now, if I want to know anything about the latest events I know that a blogger will have posted on it, or I can write a post asking for more information. The information I get back is usually more reliable and timely than that I can read in the papers. Surely it won't be too long before online papers, or even paper papers, are a thing of the past. Maybe tomorrow's method of news gathering will be to look up a "news" blog, compiled by any number of people rather than just journalists.

Indyana's post here prompted me to jot down these thoughts. It would appear, assuming I understood her correctly, that she has had similar thoughts to me; I started this blog with no readers, no commenters and certainly no links to and from others. That's all changed now and I've built up a few "regulars", not truckloads of them but a few.

With increasing frequency I find myself writing a post and thinking "will Darwin like this?" or "will 1truecoolguy make a comment here?" or "will Java Jones chuckle away heartily at my wit?"

It's a catch 23. Like a catch 22 but much worse. I don't want to write something that alienates or upsets a regular, I don't want to lose a fellow who comments regularly because I tell him I think he's a twat.

Many songwriters will tell you, should you decide to ask them, that some of the most commercially successful songs were written purely for the composer. But, it's also true that many huge successes were written to a formula designed for no other reason than to sell loads. There's no right and there's no wrong. I just know which camp I want to be in.

Sometimes I can't help chasing readers, chasing comments, watching the statistics and wanting more readers. But I started blogging as an experiment. It's had several unexpected and pleasant consequences; I've made some good new friends and I've taking a positive interest in learning how those proper writers what write proper write properly.

That's all going to stop, I've decided there's only one way forward for me. It's the way of artisitc integrity, or whatever you call it. I'm going to make a concerted effort to carry on writing for myself. If you like it then that's great, but if not, life goes on.

It's only a blog after all.

By the way Indyana. Isn't it about time you had another daughter?

Darwin - I hope you liked this post.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Men are here. Multi tasking isn't.

They say we can't multi task.

Well I beg to agree.

I was cooking a few curries the other day. My limit at multi task is to cut enough onions for three curries and get out the spices and stuff for all of them. From then on I can only make one dish at a time. This stuff I see when people cook several dishes within the same time span is beyond me. I can get my feet and hands to do different things at the same time though, which comes in handy for the drums.

Whilst I was in the kitchen cooking one dish at a time, and rather enjoying myself with a good kicking rocky playlist going on in the background, I heard some singing. I glanced across at the ten year old who was sitting at the computer. She was on MSN messenger. She was also playing an online game. She was also playing a game on her Nintendo thing.

She was also happily singing along with Thom Yorke on "Just".

"You do it to yourself you do
And that's what really hurts is
You do it to yourself just you"

I looked at her with that look of love that all Fathers know. Proud but hurt.

Proud that my ten year old daughter can be so good at multi tasking at such a young age. Chatting on MSN, playing an online game and playing a Nintendo game, all while singing along to Radiohead in their good heavier days, before they went all weird and Kid A ish.

Hurt because I'd cut my finger on the knife while I was watching her and trying to cut the onions at the same time.

Q.E.D

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The ultimate funk songs?

I made this playlist on iTunes recently, burnt it onto a CD and it's now in my car blasting out of every speaker at every opportunity. My daily commute has rarely been as funky and my driving has rarely been as jerky, as my feet fly all over the pedals and my hands carve out the loose grooves on the steering wheel.

It's nearly all old school proper "greasy" funk. Most of the grooves could be written out on paper but the beauty is in the cracks, the way the notes are often played in between a swing and a straight feel. The older and wiser I get the more I realise that great musicians know it's not about what they play, it's about what they leave out.

Now I'm not like Mr Evil or one of these young techno chaps, I haven't got a Scooby how to put these songs up for you to listen to. But, if you can get them, then do it and have a listen to some masters at work.

There's one modern song on it but it's funky as hell and got onto the selection by merit alone.
If I managed to record or perform on just one song as good as any of these I'd be a happy little drummer. Check 'em out:



  1. Got to give it up (Part 1) - Marvin Gaye
  2. Foolish Man P2 - The Huck Daniels Co.
  3. Mesmerized - Faith Evans
  4. Live Wire - The Meters
  5. Chitlin' Street - The Backyard Heavies
  6. Kissing my Love - Cold Blood
  7. Brick House - Commodores
  8. Chug Chug Chug a lug (push and shove) - The Meters
  9. Clean Up Woman - Betty Wright
  10. Do The Popcorn - Andrew Williams
  11. I turn You On - The Latin Breed
  12. Right On Brother - (Part 1) - South Shore Commission


I don't know all the drummers but I'll tell you this.

They're some funky cats.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

You can't polish a turd

The other day I had social intercourse with someone who I don't like.

Said fellow is a "moneyed" type, somewhat rolling in the green stuff. That in itself is not an issue for me. As Rudyard Kipling almost said, in between baking cakes and stuff, rich, poor, smart, not so smart, it matters not to me. For I can treat them all with equal scorn when they're twats.

I've noticed an issue about true class and true style. Blindingly obvious and we all know it but I feel the need to repeat it. It's that fact, the indisputable truth that class and style are things some people have, they can learn them, but money won't buy them. As my good friend P often says

"You can't polish a turd"

Sometimes people have a need to try to assert their "superiority" over you. My interpretation of this is that they are people who are actually lacking in self confidence. A truly self confident person wouldn't say or do things that have the effect of enforcing, or trying to enforce, the hierarchy that they want to exist.

I can't remember where it was that I first read about the concept of the scarcity or abundance mentalities, I think it may have been Stephen Covey, but the ideology had a rather profound effect on me. My very brief summary is that people with an abundance mentality are those who believe that they can attain success or happiness without doing so at the expense of others. The people with a scarcity mentality are the ones who think

"in order for me to succeed you have to fail".

When I read about this I was in my early twenties, and I immediately thought that I wanted to be seen as a person with an abundance mentality. My measurements of my own success are based on my contentment, the contentment of those involved in my life and whether I feel I have done my best at something. There are some segments of my life in which a scarcity mentality does exist, like when competing for customers or in auditions, but I try to take the abundance mentality approach when given the choice. This post by Ian S touches on the subject in a tangential way, you may find it interesting.

So, if you earn a million pounds a week and I earn twenty pounds a year that's fine, as long as I am earning as much as I think I can. If I'm not the best drummer in the world, or even in my house, that's cool, as long I'm being the best I'm able to. If you employ three thousand people and I work for you as one of them, you've guessed it, that's fine too.

I keep my standards within myself.

Frankly, this post is turning out to be a bit more deep than I had intended it to be. I had only wanted it to be a brief narration of a snippet of conversation that rather pissed me off and now I've digressed into all kinds of psychological analysis, of which I know sweet FA about.

It all came about because, during this encounter, the person was looking at something I had done. He said (in as patronising a tone as is possible)

"Oh, you're pretty good at that. In fact you're so good that I could employ you to come and do it for me."

He's not involved in this subject at all. It's not as if he is a professional "doer" of it, nor does he own a Company that does it. It would be a bit like me saying to you

"Oh, you're pretty good at reading blogs, in fact I might employ you to come and do it for me."

It's a bit of a compliment, but it's meant to "show me my place" at the same time.

Do you know what?

Bollocks to you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

In My Place

How we see people is an interesting thing isn't it?

I was ruminating on the subject and started to think about how different people in my life see me, and how that may compare to my own image of myself.

In my life there are several groups of people that I interact with on a regular basis. There's my family, both nuclear and extended, there's my work colleagues, there's the people I play music with and then there's my friends. There's also people who know me from reading my blog.

Only life isn't that straightforward, because, within the groups, there are many overlaps and areas of pleasant confusion. There are colleagues who are friends, there are musicians who are friends and friends who are musicians but I don't play music with and there are some who read this blog and would count as friends.

For many years I have been keenly interested in the different types of intelligence and, since I started blogging, I have been meaning to jot a word or two about the various forms. I'll do it sometime, but it's interesting that one of the forms is "Intrapersonal" intelligence, or the ability to have an understanding of oneself, to know who and what you are. This is the whole thing that I am getting at. The fact that our self image can be very different to other people's image of us.

When I look at the groups of people in my life and forget about the many areas of overlap, I find it interesting to think on how these groups perceive me.

My close friends and family are the ones that have the most accurate view. Obviously they know me best so that helps, but they can still view me through a certain type of glasses at times. Take my parents as an example. To them I am their child first, that means that they continually feel the need to give me advice and pass on their wisdom. The other day I was taking my Dad somewhere and we pulled up at some traffic lights behind a fully marked up Police car. There were blue lights, orange stripes and uniforms all over this car and we stopped about half a millimetre behind it.

"Rhythmic" said the old man

"There's a Police car there"

"Yeah I know Dad"

We carried on.

Then there's my children. They see me as "Dad". That's it to them. In years to come I'll be the one pointing out the bleeding obvious to them and they'll be moaning about me. At the ages of ten and twelve they don't really see me in a work capacity. To them my work is a slightly mysterious place that they visit occasionally, full of fun nooks and crannies. They probably think of me more as a drummer than a business person, as they have more contact with that side of me.

At work most people see me as a colleague or manager or childish partner. They 're all correct. Some of them have worked for me for fifteen years and we have an almost Father / Son type of relationship, albeit one which doesn't involve me pointing out Police cars at traffic lights. I suppose I get some respect at work because of my position and the biggest element of my job is managing people, which I think I do good pretty well.

Part owning the Company that one works for is a situation that can be challenging and very rewarding at times as there are many different hats to be worn. "Helicopter vision" is one of my favourite business jargon wordy phrasey things; the canny ability to float at different levels above the ground, seeing a different amount of detail at each.

But, that work and Director stuff is all well and good but does it matter when I'm trying to tell a ten year old girl to stop playing her Nintendo thing and go to bed? Like fuck does it. To the girls I'm the bloke who locks doors, fixes things (badly) and makes toilets smell. Almost like a Father figure.

Then, in the various bands that I do and have played with, the situation is similar. Not the Father figure bit, but the way that I am seen as the drummer, not a business person, not a Father. One of the aspects I love about music is the way in which it levels people. If you're in a band you're usually judged primarily by your musical abilities, unless you're a bassist of course.

There are a few people who know me only by reading my blog. We have never met and maybe never will meet. They, or you, see me entirely as I have written about and presented myself. I have always tried to put across an honest portrayal of myself but, what if it was all a big fraud?
What if I was a fifty eight year old middle class white woman who had never played drums or been to Sri Lanka in her life. It's unlikely but it's remotely feasible. Although the lunch with Lady Luck would be a hard one to explain.

Ultimately the one persona the I feel is the real me is that of "drummer". I don't mean to boast, I'm not even that good a player. It's just where I feel the most relaxed. All my other roles; parent, business person, son, blogger, they are all the real me, but wearing a variety of hats. I spend a fair bit of time thinking and that's where the intrapersonal bit comes into play. Kids, colleagues, employees, parents and readers all see and think of me however their mind chooses to. My reality is my mind and how I see me.

Sitting at a drum kit, with band or without band, that's me without a hat on, unless I've got a hat on. It's the one place that makes me feel wholly and supremely confortable, as if that's my vocation. When the woman said "groove is in the heart" she knew what the score was. There's something primeval and deeply satisfying about playing the drums, you really do feel it rather than hear it.

A short while ago I was doing a bit of practice and, just for a blast, I thought I'd play along to some old songs that MLC, the best covers band I was ever in, used to do. It came to "Moving" by Supergrass, I don't know if you know it. There's a little fill in the chorus, it's a one bar fill played very simply with a splashed open high hat and a couple of tom hits. It's technically incredibly easy, but, every time I play it I feel a "whoop" of joy. That's the only accurate description of how I feel and I get that "whoop" so often when I'm sitting behind a drum kit.

That's me. In my place.

EDIT - Just saw this post, by Manshark. Very interesting and very relevant.

Let's make this interesting. I'm going to turn this post into a "tag". Electra has already told us about her place.

Java Jones, Mr E Ruminations. You're it. What's your place?

Tell us please.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

Top tips for jeans wearers

Today I'm wearing a new pair of jeans. Actually I've been wearing them for exactly seven days now, almost a week.

Whilst doing a bit of photocopying I happened to glance down, at a leg of mine, and I thought

"mmm (not in a sexy way), the new jeans have started to hang properly."

Now I'm quite into my denims. I'm not one of those chaps who goes out and buys super trendy baggy ones that don't have an arse on them and hang around my ankles, but I like jeans and try to buy decent fitting, staying away from Tesco's "value" ones and similar generic tat. So it will come as a shock to you to learn that it was only last year when this particular lightbulb in my head actually got switched on..

Like a flash of inspiration, an explosion of revelation and a surprise thing that takes you by surprise I realised that jeans need to be worn in.

It's one thing to go and buy a shirt or a decent suit. You can go home and wear them to work the next day and they'll never look better, providing you iron the shirt first. There's nothing worse than seeing one of these pillocks wearing a brand new shirt straight out of the packet. The fold lines are as visible as Britney's vajayjay on an decent night out, but the shirt will be a damn sight easier to get into.

Jeans are a different animal altogether. I used to get a new pair of jeans and often give up on them after a day or two, thinking that they looked crap. The fact is that jeans need at least a week of wear to even begin to hang properly. I believe that denim afficionados advocate that jeans should only be washed once in every 3.1415927 years. That's a bit extreme for my taste, but I like the way they're thinking.

It's just not good to wear a pair for a day or two, then wash them, then go through the process all over again. Wear them for a week or two, you can take them off at night if you must, let the rigidness go, let the big flappy straight bits of leg begin to hang as if they were made around you, let them soften up a bit, let the legs drag on the ground for a while and be proud.

Then, and only then, once you've been through this breaking in period, wear them and enjoy the feeling. Put them in your wardrobe without washing them and leave them there, to fester nicely, until the next time you want to wear them. If you are like me and are a fan of the button fly then you may have to let this wear in too. Button flys are a cool thing to have on jeans. They look better than the run of the mill zip and a pair of jeans with the adornment of a button fly always feels just that bit more "designer".

The downside is that button fly jeans need to soften up a bit around the willy area before the fly can be opened and closed with ease. Most blokes know that awkward feeling when you're stuck in a public toilet desperately trying to do up the very bottom button and the button is just too tight a fit to go in easily. It's the dilemna of whether you persevere, taking the chance that other men may think your actually playing with yourself, or leave whilst flying at half mast. My preferred course of action is to persevere and mutter something like

"fucking button flys - ha".

But, persevere at your own risk if there's a queue of blokes waiting for your urinal. Or if you spot a bloke behind you singing "Careless whisper" and looking rather excited.

The best solution is to let button flys get worn in and softened up properly before you encounter a social situation that may require the use of a public toilet. I expect chaps who are hung like the proverbial horse don't have the problem. Presumably the sheer force caused by the large male bratwurst is enough to loosen the fly anyway. For fellows like me, hung like a mosquito, it's a different matter. We could always buy normal zipped fly jeans but that would be simply mad, tantamount to buying shoes because they are comfortable.

One more thing; if you're a lover of Levi 501s please make sure you buy a size up from your usual fit. It's so important, unless you want to look like Nick Heyward going down to the lake I fear. Oh, and just one more thing; for the love of anything or anyone NEVER wear jeans with a crease ironed in them. That's just silly.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Texting is gr8 but convers8shun is better

I do try to keep my rants to a minimum but lately this thing has got on my nerves and I feel a need to blog about it.

When used appropriately I think text messaging is a great concept. I appreciate that each person may have a different opinion on what is appropriate but, for me, texting is best used when the spoken word is not practical.

Texting is useful as a step down from the spoken word. If you want to communicate with a person and they, or you, are unable to talk at the time then texting is a damn fine substitute. You send the message and they can respond when they get the chance. It's also handy for communicating with people in other countries, where time differences or high call costs may be a prohibiting factor to a voice call. Another valid use for it is to send very specific figures that the recipient may need to refer to at some time. It's easier and more practical to send a phone number of person B to person Y, if you are indeed person $.

It's also quite pleasant to receive a nice personal message from someone on a special occasion. A "Happy Birthday Rhythmic" on a birthday is always appreciated. That's if you send it to me, if you send it to just anyone they'll probably take it as a compliment to their rhythmical skills but otherwise be rather perplexed. Unless they're a drummer, in which case it would be a bit too coincidental for comfort.

But I get really fucking fucked off with these blanket messages that some people send out to all their phonebook, particularly at Christmas and the New Year. Over the festive period I received one which said:

"Happy Christmas from John, Sue, Neik and Ian".

The number didn't come up as a recognised one from my phone book, so the chances are that the sender didn't intend me to receive it, but, if they did, then I haven't got the faintest idea who these people are. On top of that is the added insult that they couldn't even be bothered to check it before they pressed "send" and the person whom I assume to be a son called "Neil" has now become known as "Neik".

I got about ten other messages over the holiday period that were clearly sent out to all the addresses in a person's phone book. I didn't reply to any of them. The messages I replied to were the ones that were personalised and showed that the sender had put a bit of thought into.

Personalisation - That's what matters to people, whether it's in direct mail (something I know a bit about) or in sending out text messages. It doesn't have to actually be personalised, the trick is to make the recipient feel wanted, to feel as if they have been chosen to receive your message.
If I opened a window in my house and shouted out "Happy Christmas" just once, that doesn't mean that I have said "Happy Christmas" to all my neighbours.

If I print off a load of Christmas cards, each with the same message inside, and I print out some address labels and then post the items out, it's not personalised and the message doesn't come across as meaningful.

But, if I knocked on the front door of each of my neighbours and wished them a merry Christmas or if I wrote a small greeting in each card, it makes all the difference. Even more so if I knocked on the door of the blonde two doors down and she invited me in for a Christmas cracker and a rummage in her stockings. That's true personalisation for you.

Rant over. I have a hunch that the older readers here will agree with me.

Texting is great, but real conversation is even better.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Just one look



Camden Town, London, 6th January 2007.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

A warning

What with the warnings about SMS scams here and the dreaded Chikengunya in Sri lanka I feel that's it's only decent to tell you of something that happened to a good friend of mine the other night. It might just save you from extreme pain or even death.

On the night of Wednesday 20th December, a mere five days before Christmas, my good friend B was sitting at home quietly watching TV. It was 11.30 PM and the rest of his household had gone to bed. I strongly suspect, knowing B as I do, he was watching porn, but that's not relevant.
He was watching TV and enjoying himself, lost in a world of Christmassy spirit and goodwill to all men, when he heard the doorbell ring, as they do when pressed. He got up from his pleasant semi conscious slumber and went to answer the door.

When he opened it he was confronted by something that looked just like a six foot tall stag beetle. It was in fact, a six foot tall stag beetle. The creature took one look at him and asked if his name was B. B answered in the affirmative and was faced with a barrage of verbal abuse. The Beetle called him every name under the sun and then some more names, presumably from other galaxies far, far away.

B didn't get any chance to answer back for, just as he was about to, the Beetle took a swing at him and knocked him out in the one punch. B is a big bloke and that was no easy feat. He awoke a few minutes later, he was lying on his doorstep, the front door was open and the Beetle had run off down the street.

Next morning B reported the incident to the Police and they told him that it wasn't the first incident of the sort in recent days.

So, if you find a six foot Beetle at your door late at night please be very, very careful.

There's a really nasty bug going around.

Friday, January 5, 2007

The rice issue

I've been thinking.

I'm sure that Salman Rushdie, PG Wodehouse or Captain WE Johns would have all thought of more imaginative and evocative ways in which to put their point across but I feel my choice of those three words is all that's needed to summarise things.

I've been thinking a lot about rice lately. Specifically I've been asking how and why?

How on Earth did anyone come up with the idea of cooking rice?

Virtually any food stuff that grows has quite an easy path to the table top.

Take an average tomato. It doesn't take a chap with the imagination of the Harry Potter woman to realise that, at some point in history, maybe even before iPods were invented, a primitive man would have stumbled across a tomato poking out of the supermarket vegetable aisle. He would have taken a bite out of it, thought "mmm that tastes ok", then chucked it in a fire and realised that it tastes good when cooked. From that point on the possibilities for the lowly tomato are endless. There's soup, there's errmm, other things too, you know what I'm getting at.

Or apply the same logic to the average meat dish. It doesn't take someone with the massive brain power of George W Bush to come up with the idea of chucking a chicken on a fire, then eating the results. Don't get this confused with "choking the chicken", an entirely different activity, and probably very dangerous if performed over a fire. The addition of flavourings and spices would have evolved just from an understandable desire to add variety and enjoyment to the food.

Look at spaghetti and other pasta. It's quite logical that those Italian fellows would see the spaghetti hanging off the trees and come up with the logical plan of boiling the stuff to see what it tasted like. The natural evolutionary path would have seen the spaghetti being made into other types of pasta which would all get cooked in the same way.

This cunning way of thinking can be applied to virtually any food I can think of.

Except rice.

What on Earth would have given someone the idea of jumping into a paddy field, which probably would have just been a waterlogged field in those days, and picking the bottom of the plant out?
Then doing whatever has to be done, which I believe is extremely labour intensive and complicated. Polishing and all kinds of stuff goes on before it's brought to boiling point in just the right amount of water, then kept simmering for about twenty minutes.

Frankly I don't understand how it came to be such a staple food stuff. I'm bloody glad that it did but mystified about it. I mentioned it to one of my partners the other day but he wasn't really interested, just saying

"Yeah and eggs, how did they think of cooking them too?"

"Yeah, but that's a bit different isn't it?" I said.

"S'pose so" he replied.

I asked the rice question to one of my brothers on Boxing day. He said he thought I was thinking too much about it.

And that's the good thing about having a blog. I can ruminate on stuff that many may think trivial and someone somewhere might think I've got a point. I wish I'd thought of "Ephemeral ruminations" as a blog name first.

But,try as I might, I can't think of a food stuff that goes through a process as complicated as rice does just to get to the table. Don't say bread, that's way too obvious.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Search me again

These are my absolute favourite referrals to London, Lanka and drums. Yes folks, someone has, or maybe some people have, actually typed these phrases into a search engine (usually Google) and arrived here.

Saddam Hussein's hanging on pay per view - Ok, there is at least one person out there who thinks that it actually might happen (the pay per view bit, not the hanging). Perhaps a programme called "The Execution Factor" would be a good idea. People on death row could compete to have their own execution televised. Edit - I wrote this before the execution. Since it took place you can imagine that the number of searches for this has ever so slightly gone through the roof and broken all kinds of records.

David Beckham wearing sarong - Have a look yourself, please. Just google the phrase and you'll see that I'm 11th on the list. It's an honour, but I really want to get to the first page for such a prestigious phrase. With your help I think I can do it.

How to wear sarong Sri Lanka - This is better. Google this and you should see that my post comes about 5th on the results. The thing that made me laugh out aloud about this was that fact that, whoever did this search, looked at the post and then clicked on my link to this, one of my all time favourite websites. Assuming that the searcher was looking for ways to wear a sarong I now have visions of some poor chap strolling around somewhere with a sarong tied to his head, thinking that's how it's done. I am at least partially responsible and I like that.

Number 4 fart - Wow!! For some obscure reason I am the proud number one result for this google search. I would like to thank my parents for their love and support, they always believed in me.
Who on earth, apart from you after reading this, would actually search for the phrase? And why?

Vagine woman photo - I really wouldn't encourage a search for this phrase. Yes, I have low standards at the best of times but, unless you're seeking some porn, don't google it. Needless to say someone did, and landed at my post about Borat not being funny anymore.

Sexy English slags - I'm number one again. Proud and a little disturbed about it. There's plenty of porn and all sorts of dodgy things but London, Lanka and drums is the number one match on google for this. Why, I don't know. Honoured? I probably am. Puzzled? Definitely.

Men opening trousers to pee in urinal - I've messed up a bit here. If you google the phrase you'll see that the first two results lead you to LLD, but it's only to the previous post where I tantalised you with the phrase. But it's a fact, please believe me on this. Someone, I know not who they are, actually typed in that phrase to google and ended up here. I have lost far too much time trying to figure out why anyone would do a search for the words. Is it a person seeking instructions? Maybe not used to wearing trousers and looking for advice on how to go to a public toilet. Or was it someone partial to "watersports" looking for some pictures of "foreplay"?

Is it a naive woman perhaps just curious as to how us men function? Or it might have been clothes designer seeking to improve upon the classic design of traditional men's trousers. Perhaps it was someone from Apple seeking to revolutionise clothing with the launch of the "iTrouser". Some kind of click wheel instead of the fly might work. Or a toilet, or should I say urinal designer? Looking to revolutionise the urinal with his latest piece of work.

Who know? Probably Mr "Men opening trousers to pee in urinal", but he's hardly likely to get in touch is he? If you are him, please get in touch. I'm dying to meet you.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

May I ask your opinion?

For several months I've caught myself wondering what it would be like, how it must feel, why women can experience it and most of us males never will.

Before I get carried away with smut and crude innuendo I'll just get to the point and tell you that I have found myself looking at man's handbags lately. Here in London "manbags" are a enigmatic phenomenon. Our continental cousins happily bound through the boulevards of Paris and the avenues of Amsterdam with manbags stuffed to the brim with Euros, deodorant and packets of Gitanes. They don't worry about looking camp or their friends mickey taking down the pub. Of course they don't have pubs and their friends are all permanently stoned but they've all got manbags.

If you care to venture into almost any menswear shop in London you'll see these bags everywhere. The issue of whether one would be practical for a bloke like me is beyond reasonable doubt. On an average night out I would normally carry car keys, wallet, phone, reading glasses and lots of downy fluff. It doesn't sound like much but it weighs down the old pockets and ruins the lines of suits, shirts and trousers. Up until a couple of years ago I also would have had my fags and lighter on me and that would always be two packets and a Zippo for one night. These days I am nicotine free, but the rest of the bulk goes with me.

Women never question why a man won't have a pen on him in the evening. Well it's because we don't have these bags. A pen in a pocket would just be a rarely used bit of bulk that would start to leak halfway through the night, only on the nights when a light coloured shirt was being worn. It's only Professors and life insurance salesman who carry pens all the time. And others who write a lot.

When I'm in Sri Lanka there's a whole host of further mens' essential items that I have to try to cram into my pockets. There's ID, iPod, sunglasses case, camera accessories, room keys and all kinds of stuff that wouldn't be needed back home. I usually end up carrying a rucksack around with me. It's an imperfect solution. The rucksack is invariably half empty and I have to hand it in to the security counter in most Colombo shops. That's not something I feel happy about when my camera and a decent lens or two are in it.

I know that it's inevitable. Once I start to look at things it's just a matter of time, a clock ticking away slowly, until I give in a buy one. The big question is whether I'll use it or chuck it in the back of a cupboard. It was like that with my first combine harvester. I spent months eyeing them up, questioning whether I'll really need one and if I was just following fashion without thinking of my true needs. Of course I was wrong and I now have one shoved in the back of a cupboard and hardly ever used.

So what should I do? Any "new" men out there who can advise me? Any women who can tell me your thoughts?

Please, I need the opinion of the blogosphere.

Should 2007 begin with a manbag?