Friday, March 30, 2007

Testing Times

Life is a learning curve for me. I like to soak up knowledge and I like to gather information. More often than not the things I learn sit in my brain, probably somewhere near the right ear, waiting to be used at the appropriate moment.

Then, when that moment shows up, often a long time after said fact has been digested, my brain forgets that it ever knew the fact and sails on regardless, just when the little bit of knowledge would have come in useful. The following day, which may as well be the following year, that now useless bit of knowledge springs to the surface again and I think "Ah if only I'd said that".

But, I continue to learn. There are three drum magazines that arrive at Rhythmic Towers every month, there are shelves of those management theory books and there are magazines of every type on my desk. If there's an old management adage, like "mistakes are good as long as you learn from them" or "there are no problems, only opportunities", then you'll probably hear me spouting it at some point, if spouting can be heard, but I suspect it's silent.

So, as I go through a fairly big event in my life, it may come as little surprise to people who know me that I am treating it as a learning experience, a fuck of a massive one.

And one of the specific things I am learning in this is who my real friends are. In a short time I have made some surprising discoveries. Coves who I had thought were good buddies have surprised me with their inability to show empathy and chaps who I had thought were idiots have amazed me with their generosity of spirit and friendship.

That's what happens with friendships isn't it. You can have one for years, then a situation occurs that stretches it and it gets tested to its limits. I'm continually fascinated by friendships between colleagues. I've had many of these that have seemed to be real and strong but, when one of you leaves the Company at which you had both worked, the relationship fades into oblivion.

I've had seemingly strong ties with others when we have both been in the same band that have gone the same way into oblivion. Sometimes I have realised that our bond has been quite superficial. It's a bond based on a fragile bedrock. When that bond gets broken and there's no area of mutual interest left then problems arise.

On the other hand a true friendship can last through different periods and stages in a lifetime. Brothers can be good like that, they can be annoying at times but, in times of need they're always there.

So, I'm learning about friends, who my true ones are and who my flakey ones are. And, by a strange coincidence I have a plain chocolate Cadbury's Flake bar on my desk as I wrote that. Alanis would probably call that ironic. It's not.

Then, with this great mysterious happening in my life, I've ruminated at some length on whether I should blog about it. I know I've got some regular readers and still haven't decided on the issue.

It's deep, it's personal, it's got lots of happiness and lots of sadness, rather like the very last episode of Father Ted. On one hand I feel as if it could be quite good to chuck my innermost thoughts on a very personal issue out in this blog. Yet, on the other hand, I don't think it would be fair to many.

For now, I'll probably just continue to ramble on about random stuff, treat the whole thing as a massive learning experience and drum.

Have a good weekend all.

PS - The Flake has been eaten. Damn fine!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Help!

Can anyone out there give me a good explanation of when I should use the word "practice" and when it should be "practise".

I've habitually used the "practice" one when I'm talking about "drum practice" or "band practice", you know, the act of doing something to get better at it. But I looked both words up in the dictionary the other day and that has led to untold confusion.

Is it just the case that the "s" one is the Americanism or does one refer to a Doctor's practice etc and the other refer to mastering a skill and stuff?

Anyone?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Searching, looking for......??

Every once in a while I take a look at the search statisitcs for my blog; the words and phrase that some people have googled or maybe even used a different search engine to get to London, Lanka and drums.

It always throws up some hilarious thoughts in my head. I extrapolate their search words and try to think of exactly why someone might need, or want, to know about these things. Usually I don't know why people have ended up here on London, Lanka and drums but here are some of my recent favourites:

"Fuckmesilly" - Just strikes me as a strange phrase. Good, strange and a bit comedic.

"shit floats to the top" - Was this a plumber looking for the solution to a drainage problem?

"clippered ladies" - A strange fetish, someone looking for skinhead girls perhaps.

"London Man run down by steamroller" - OK, anyone who didn't think of a cartoon flattened man as he got stuck to the large wheel of a steamroller is just not normal, or as childish as me. But, how the hell could anyone really get run over by a steamroller, why would someone search for the phrase and what on earth brought them to my blog?

"Lankan Aunty hot" - The mind boggles!! This brought back memories of an old Aunty, only my brother will know who this is. She was very attractive in her day and a bit of a flirt. I must add that she was a Sri Lankan Aunty, not a real relative. Whenever she would kiss a young lad, she would always make it a lip to lip kiss, which none of us minded. There was always a competition between myself and my brothers and a friend of ours to see who would be the first one to be able to "get a bit of tongue". There was never a declared winner, I'm not sure that any of the participants achieved the objective, but it wasn't me for sure.

"What's the best Canon lens for Friday night football" - I laughed as I wondered why just Friday. Would brilliant sports photographers have a different lens for each night of the week?

"Sri Lankan sexy girls and aunties" - It still boggles!

"Shrinks you said Jade Goody to be locked away 6 months" - ??

"BMW does not start after standing in the sun" - I have spent many minutes chuckling over this. You see it was done by someone in Zambia. My mind, which often goes off on tangents and then some, couldn't help itself here. I pictured a puzzled Zambian bloke staring at a melted BMW after he had left it in the sun for too long. It still brings a smile to my face.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sarongs - How Do You Wear Yours?

I don't have vast experience of sleeping with men. So, my recent flippant comment about the fact that I always wake in the morning with my sarong wrapped around my ears, or anywhere except in its correct place has sparked a bit of discussion.

Child of 25 said that it's quite usual. Someone else said that she's never heard of another man that this happens to and I'm now left bewildered and flummoxed.

Here's my story; I go to bed, sarong clad, looking sexy. Like all men the first thing I do after getting into the bed is to adjust my balls and fart, then I untie my sarong and let it drift. I never, ever sleep with my sarong actually tied around my waist, it's uncomfortable and unpleasant.

During the night the Rhythmic sarong floats around the bed, I know not what it does, but I'm sure it has a life of its own. Well, I suppose I know it floats around the bed but other than that I'm lost. When I wake it can be anywhere in the Greater London area. Often I find it in some far corner of the bed or tucked away under a pillow. But usually it's wrapped around the upper regions of my body.

I had always thought that this was normal but now I'm not so sure. I'm wondering if other chaps sleep with the sarong tied so that it stays put, for them to wake up with the cloth in perfect position.

Sarong wearing at night men of the world tell me please.

How do you wear yours?

Friday, March 23, 2007

This identity thing......again!

I published this recently and it got a few comments. To be honest the comments from someone called JIT initially pissed me off, quite a bit. But then I thought about them and decided to write this post to try to put my views across. Perhaps JIT didn't intend to sound as aggressive as my first reactions suggested but the comments made me think. They made me think about what right I have to call myself both Sri Lankan and British.

It's a topic I've ruminated on before and I'm sure this won't be the last time. Academics have done PhDs and numerous intellectual pondering on it and it's something that I have a keen, strictly non academic, interest in.

JIT asks me in his (although it may well be a her) first comment which team I would support in a cricket match, England or Sri Lanka? Then JIT goes on to say, in response to my answer of "Sri Lanka":

"Isn't that a form of disloyalty to your nation, whose citizenship and you hold, given that you enjoy the benefits of such citizenship! "

I'd like to expand on my answer.

In terms of passport and citizenship I am British and have been since the day I was born. I was born in London to Sri Lankan parents. Since then I have lived all my life in London, and I'm proud to think of myself as a Londoner and a Brit. I've got one of those dreary South London accents, Hounslow is pronounced "Aaarnsler" and a geezer is a bloke, not one of those things that spurt water out of the ground, or out of Iceland, or any other supermarket. Most importantly I understand the offside rule.

Oh yes, I live in London, work in London and adore it.

On the other hand both my parents are of Sri Lankan origin, I've travelled regularly there since I was a small child. I can kiss people by doing the cheek sniffing thing without batting an eyelid. I can stand in a lift and listen to people doing the nose clearing, throat gurgling thing that would get you arrested in London, without even noticing it. I can pinch the cheek of a small child and say "my how you've grown" like the best of them and I can wake up every morning with my sarong mysteriously wrapped around my ears like I always do. Come to think of it I'm unsure whether the sarong movement thing is just me or all sarong at night wearing men.

I have more relatives than I can count in Sri Lanka, far more friends than I deserve and many are people I feel as if I grew up with, such was the amount of time we seemed to spend in each other's houses. The older I get the more often I travel to Sri Lanka and the more I discover of its people and its places. The more I discover the more I grow to appreciate my heritage.

Yet none of that changes my affinity for London, England or Great Britain. It's not an "either or" situation, it's an abundance situation. My fondness for one doesn't reduce my fondness for the other.

Parents will recognise this straight away but it's the best example I can think of; When you have your first child you think that it's impossible to love anything any more, that your love knows no bounds and has no limits. Then, when you have the next one you feel the same amount of love for that one too, without reducing the love for the first.

Well in a way that's how I feel for my two Countries. The UK is wonderful in so many ways and I have been lucky that my parents were able to settle here and give me the opportunities I have had, many of which I may not have had in Sri Lanka. But I also think I have, and do, contribute in many ways to the UK and its economy. I work, I pay taxes, I employ people and, above all, I spend a vast amount of money in its drum shops.

Sri Lanka is my heritage, of that I am proud. But it's deeper than just an affinity for it because I went there once on a holiday or because I've got an Aunt there somewhere.

I met someone recently who told me a theory on what she called "third culture" people, a new culture of which I am a member. Third culture people are those whose parents are of one culture but who then live and are brought up in a different one, resulting in them having a "third culture". I scraped in as an honourary third culture person even though I was actually born in the UK.

Now there is an interesting angle to this theory. Said friend told me she thought third culture men are "deeper" in many ways compared to others and that this appeals to some women. I think I proved her theory totally incorrect with my shallowness and lack of sex appeal but it made me think. If I could find women who shared her opinion and I could talk about deep things then I'd be a lady killer, if I was good looking.

Apparently there are loads of third culture kids out there, I'm guessing at least twenty or maybe twenty five. But, do we share the same opinions on identity? Do we all feel that we are of one common identity? Or does the fact we are all third culture kids give us an identity in its own right?

I can't see it. I can see that a third culture, by the definition given, does exist. I'm just not convinced that it exists with many similarities. I've got two brothers, both brought up in exactly the same circumstances as me, we even have the same parents. Yet two of us share a passion for Sri Lanka and the other one doesn't. I've got a close friend born to Sri Lankan parents and brought up in the UK who would probably prefer to be white and of English heritage if he could choose.

There are others who share my passion for Sri Lanka, who have been born to Sri Lankan parents and brought up all around the world. Sri Lanka is actually a very easy Country to feel passionate about isn't it? Sometimes people ask me why I feel the way I do about it. People who have the same passion never ask, they just know.

There are lots of possible reasons; the most obvious is that it's a Country that has an abundance of natural beauty and colour. I wonder how I would feel if my parents were from a less exotic place, like Belgium or Norway. They're both lovely places I'm sure, I just wouldn't want to be from one of them. I like chocolate but give me a good rice and curry any day, I've got nothing against fjords but really do prefer a good tri shaw.

I was in Colombo a few weeks ago and was talking with the Warrior Bee lady. She mentioned that she saw me as very British compared to herself. Yet she normally thinks of herself as quite British anyway. Java, when we were out and conversing in intellectual mode, said that I was less Sri Lankan than he had imagined me to be. When we tried to figure out why this was the only feasible explanation was that my accent was pure "sarf London". I didn't sound Sri Lankan enough, yet from reading my blog Java had expected me to be slightly different.

Even more confusing is the fact that, if I meet someone here in London with a strong Sri Lankan accent, I'll usually think of them as more Sri Lankan than myself. I'm easily confused though.

The most interesting aspect about these statements is the fact that we often look at two cultural identities as being mutually exclusive. So, in my case, there's often a mindset that the more Sri Lankan I am, the less British I am or vice versa.

It's actually a scarcity mentality. Taking the approach that there's a 100% nationality which is then divided into its components. That's all well and good when we're looking at bloodlines and heritage but I don't accept it for myself. I would class myself as 100% British and also almost 100% Sri Lankan. Why? Because I really feel that I'm very lucky to have been blessed with both cultures.

My overall conclusion is that cultural identity is a matter of personal choice, of individual feeling. I don't think it's about your passport or which cricket team you support.

It's about what's in your heart.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Boring, Boring Stuff!

We were having a conversation at work. Neil, a chap who has worked for me for many years, whose real name is Nick, but I don't want to reveal it, said:

"I went to M&S yesterday and they had some really great offers on half price pants"

I stopped him in his prime, I had no choice, no option and certainly no interest. Salespeople are trained to show interest in things that they aren't interested in, man managers are trained to demonstrate interest in their team and what's going on in their lives, but there are limits. A chap can only be pushed so far before he breaks. I had been pushed to that point.

Sometimes I can tell, call it a sixth sense or blogger's intuition, but I just felt that this was going nowhere, at a serious rate of slowness. His opening line was a tiny clue too.

"Neil" I said, although I actually said "Nick".

"Yes Rhythmic"

"I genuinely don't want to be involved in this conversation."

"What do you mean?" he asked, with a wounded tone.

"It's a conversation about Marks and Spencer and how you got some cheap pants there."

"Yes but they're very good quality" he replied.

"I just don't feel old enough to have this conversation. It's not remotely interesting. I'm just not capable of it yet."

His pride was hurt, I could tell. I didn't care though.

Sometimes these fellows have to be told.

Now if it had been cheap drumsticks that would have been different.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Colombo!




















My favourite junction.

I can't explain it, but something about Colombo has captured me.


The look, the feel, the musky smell, the slightly almondy taste, the sound of its mind ticking over.

It's fraught with danger and uncertainty but there's a feeling of promise too, of warmth and comfort, of intense excitement and thrilling adventure, of great times ahead, of anything can happen and it probably will.


The best thing?


Easy. It's filled with laughter and energy.


And I think I might be getting poetic.


Oh bollocks!

Magic moments

I was chatting with one of my business partners the other Monday. You may remember him from previous posts.

He's a salt of the earth English bloke, from a working class background. A "gift of the gab" bloke loved by ladies and adored by his friends. I've known him for about 20 years and during that time we've done just about everything together that normal alpha males do. From playing in the same football team to catching a credit card fraudster to starting a Company, we've done the lot.

As our Company has grown our relationship has developed in such a way that we don't often see each other socially, yet we're both comfortable with that. We spend a shitload of time together during the working day and have our own lives outside that. Rather like one of those long lasting and well worn in marriages we often turn to each other in times of need and will pretty much do anything for the other.

He's the sort of chap that, if I were on my deathbed, I'd ask through the mist of my teary eyes to look after my family after I'd gone. I would pass away peacefully knowing that they would be well cared for in every way.

On the other hand I could lend him vast amounts of money and know, with immense confidence, that I'd never see it again. Not because of dishonesty, just because he'd forget he owed to me or lose it on a horse or something.

So he was telling me about his weekend, how the party went and how he got very drunk very quickly. He's a seasoned hardened drinker so it's unusual for him to get very drunk quickly, although it's entirely usual for him to get very drunk.

"It was great thanks Rhythmic. One of the neighbours came and we got pissed really quickly. I think it was because he brought a nice bottle of RSVP and we steamed into it."

"Gaz" I said.

"Yep" he replied.

"You mean VSOP don't you? RSVP is what people put on invitations."

"Yeah, yeah, that's the stuff."

And then we carried on running our Company.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Audition

Mimosa, the funk band, is musically fulfilling and very interesting. Since we've been together I'm sure that my drumming has improved leaps and bounds, but more importantly, my skills at being a band member have improved too.

What I mean is that I have learnt so much about a side of being in a band that I wasn't at all familiar with, the whole songwriting side. We do our own material, with the exception of just a couple of covers. So I have picked up knowledge on developing a groove that is appropriate for the song, on coming up with fills that feel right and serve their purpose and, possibly most importantly, on interacting with a group of seven people who often all have different opinions.

On top of that we've done some great gigs, we've done a nice three track demo and we've got plenty more stuff lined up. But, I've always had the feeling that there was something missing. It's the "rocking out" thing, the fun that I get when I'm blasting out a Nirvana or Faith No More song. Funk is special, if I was told that I could only play one genre for the rest of my life then funk would be it. But rocking out is fun too. The sheer musical prostitution of playing some Chili Peppers songs to a pissed up audience at the local on a Saturday night is a blast.

So I've kept my eyes and ears open for a covers band that fits the bill. One that doesn't necessarily rehearse every week, one that consists of people that I think I'll get on with and whose company I'll enjoy. That does a few gigs, nothing too frequent, that plays for fun but also plays well.

I joined one band a few months ago and it was a case of nice from far but far from nice. The songs were decent, the bassist was great but other stuff didn't happen. From the first time I played with them I knew it wasn't a long term thing and, sure enough, the guitarist (and founder) had a wobbly and disbanded it after a while. Then, shortly before I went to Sri Lanka a few weeks ago, I got a phone call from a bloke that I sort of knew, who had seen me play a few times in MLC, the best covers band I have ever played in.

He told me that they were looking for a new drummer and was wondering if I was interested. Much of their material I knew and they didn't rehearse every week, they didn't gig too often and it all sounded highly interesting. I told him so and arranged to go along to an audition. I was given six songs to learn and learn them I did.

Now auditions here for drummers are a fascinating topic. Or at least I think they are, which might just be because I find most drum related things fascinating. I have had a few of them in my time. Some I've got, some I haven't, but they've all been interesting and good learning experiences. One, probably about a year ago, when I thought the band was crap, total shit, utter poo, yet I didn't get it, taught me a lot.

I was gutted. I had never thought that I'd be unsuccessful. I learned that sometimes the personalities aren't right, sometimes a person might be a great player but just not of the required style, or sometimes I might not be good enough. The important thing is to get positives from these experiences and use them to do better next time.

There was another memorable one about the same time. A bunch of nice people but the music was a bit too straight for me, just too rocky. And the guitarist's hair was too long. The memorable and funny thing was the singer. The band hadn't rehearsed for a while because the singer ( a lady) had had an operation. So, I arrived for the audition and went in. Every single audition I've attended has this same awkward period, which I'm sure must be the same for most drummers in most auditions in most bands.

You get there, go in and are then confronted with the minor task of setting up your equipment. For a guitarist or singer this is easy. They just plug something in, stick a pair of socks down the front of their trousers, forget the words to every song they know and bang - they're ready, not that guitarists ever go bang. (thanks C!)

For a drummer this is slightly different. Even on a studio kit we tend to use our own cymbals and snare drum and maybe bass pedal. So these things have to be swapped over and the height of stands on the kit has to be sorted out. None of this is fundamentally taxing. The bit I find awkward is that it has to be done whilst making idle chit chat with the other band members. They want to impress you, you want to impress them, but all anyone wants to do is get on and play. In a band in which you're alredy a member the set up time is enjoyable and a bit of a laugh. There's "how's it going?" type of conversation, there's usually a fart or two, some jokey things and general banter.

But, when you're being auditioned it's all a bit strained, uneasy on both sides. Necessary but uneasy nonetheless. Anyway, at this other one I was telling you about, while I was setting up, the guitarist and bassist were talking and I heard one of them say that he was looking forward to seeing Julie, the singer, to see "what they're like". Now it's probably quite obvious to you, as it was to me at the time but I couldn't resist and had to ask what he was referring to.

"Well don't say anything, but the actual reason we've haven't rehearsed for a while is because she's just had a boob job" he told me. "This will be the first time we've seen them."

This was exciting news, as any bloke will understand. I must confess that I've seen women on TV that have had boob jobs and I'm positive that I've met many in real life too but, until this point, I had never met anyone who I had known categorically to have had one. This was going to be a challenge. Like most men looking at breasts is one of my favourite pastimes, but here was an extra special reason to stare coupled with an extra reason not to (I was auditioning).

All was made worse by the fact that she didn't know that I knew. I kept catching her admiring her new breasts in the reflection when she thought no one was watching, she was obviously pleased with the results. I maintained my cool and my professionalism. Almost. At the end, as I was leaving, she was at the bar with a girlfriend having a smoke. I went in to say goodbye and thanks. As a last thought I said to her

"By the way Julie, they look great you know!"

She was shocked, pleased, embarassed and didn't know where to look. Unlike me. I didn't get the job either. I don't know exactly why!

The single hardest factor is that you usually don't know what you're up against. For the one this week I was told I was one of six drummers who the band were seeing. I didn't know who they were or how good or bad they might be. In one way that's irrelevant, as long as I do as well as I can then I can live with that.

Of course, that's the theoretical stuff. As it happened I turned up on Monday night feeling vastly underprepared. I had done a lot of practice but there were two songs that I didn't feel comfortable with. One of my first teachers used to say to me that, when learning a song, you have to "make it yours". He meant you have to know it so well that you can feel what's coming next, you don't have to think about it. This becomes more confusing too as the more experience I get the more I find I'm able to feel my way through an unknown song.

But, I really didn't feel as if I owned the two songs; Do you want by Franz Ferdinand and Golden Touch by Razorlight. We blasted through the following:


Vertigo - U2
Do you want? - Franz Ferdinand
She sells Sanctuary - The Cult
Spitting Games - Snow Patrol
Golden Touch - Razorlight
Rock 'n' Roll Star - Oasis
Brown Sugar - Stones
Dakota - Stereophonics
Chelsea Dagger - Fratellis

It's funny. I hate Snow Patrol, just can't stand their music. Sorry Jules and sorry Child of 25, but they just don't do it for me. But I love "Spitting Games". I used to play it in the last covers band and it's a song I've always liked. It's the dynamics, the way the it really kicks up in the choruses but is nice and mellow in the verses, yet it moves in a subtle way.

As soon as we started to play I felt good, there was an instantly good feeling with the bassist. Sometimes it happens. He struck me as good player and hopefully he thought I was a good player too, but it's not about that, it's just that there are some drum and bass partnerships that gel better than others. During "Sanctuary", a song that is technically easy, we were in a world of our own as his bass and my bass drum locked in nicely. I made some mistakes, which was good and expected. I always make mistakes, it's how we deal with them that matters.

Then we were done. I packed up and left them to talk. When I left I thought about it and came to two conclusions. The first was that I just knew, or felt, that I was going to either get it or to be the second choice. The second was that I enjoyed the audition in its own right. Rather than treating it as a test I had just enjoyed the moment and had a blast, as I think they had.

The following day I got a call to thank me and was told that they hadn't come to a decision but would decide between me and one other bloke. Then, the next day I got the call to say I got it.

Great. I'm pleased. Now I need to go and do some practice. And stop writing these huge long posts.

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Big Announcement!

Sometimes it's best to get these things off your chest. I'll tell you this as I announced it to my bandmates the other evening at a rehearsal.

We had set up, we were ready to do our thing. We had some new songs to work on and also wanted to run through a couple of old ones. We're a funk band, you may know that much. We're all quite into our music and take it seriously, but in a fun way. They are also now pretty good friends of mine, so I felt that they should be among the first to know.

I stood up from my drum stool, something that usually isn't noticed as I'm quite short.

"Guys" I said, as Debby, the female singer wasn't there.

"I've got something I need to tell you".

I knew that this was a brave thing, that my fellow bandmembers may even decide, after hearing the news, that they would be better off with a different drummer. I also knew that it was only right to tell them, that they'd probably back me through what would be a painful time.

I had their attention. There were some wisecracks about the possibility of me "coming out" at last and the like but one of my looks soon made them realise I was serious here, I wasn't messing about. If only the look would work on the girls I'd be laughing.

"I thought about whether I should tell you this but it's only fair and right that you should know. I'll understand if you want to get a new drummer, if you feel that you need someone more committed, but you need to know"

"What?" they said in unison. It is surprising how that's the first time that we've ever done anything in unison, being a band and all.

"Errm, well it's like this" I felt a bit sheepish.

"Earlier today"

"Yes" they said, although this time the brass section came in exactly three beats too late and the guitarist was too loud.

"I'm afraid I bought the latest album by Take That".

No one said anything, but there was horror on their faces and shock in their eyes. I suppose they must have hoped that I was going to say I was only joking or that I bought it as a present for a friend, obviously not a close friend, more an acquaintance, or a girl.

"And I like it, and I've been listening to it" I said, in my flow now. I felt liberated and energised, like Emily Pankhurst in a battery factory, which rhymes.

They exchanged glances shiftily. There was an uncomfortable silence. I apologised again, for my actions, but I didn't mean it.

You see it's actually a really good album. In a pure pop songs written well and performed by some brilliant musicians way. It's a lesson in songwriting and a masterclass in playing for the song. Singing isn't one of my skills but, if it were, then this album would be a bible in harmonies for me too.

They let me off with a warning, after we had a discussion on whether "Shine" sounds like the Beatles. Personally I think not but I think it sounds like a sixties type of production.

I've been listening to it solidly, but I must tell you one thing. When I arrived at the rehearsal studio and pulled into the car park I immediately and instinctively turned the volume down. I didn't want any musos there to find out my secret.

Please keep it to yourself!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

He's the Greatest Dancer!

There I was. Wednesday evening. In Colombo. Hot and excited. In a temperature and temperament way, not like a dog on heat.

Dominic Sansoni, whose family goes back a rather long way with mine, had agreed to take me out to the Castle Hotel in Slave Island. He picked me up from my hotel and we headed there with his cousin Ben from Hong Kong.

Now Dom had mentioned the Castle Hotel to me before but I had never realised it was this place, one that I go past many times every day when in Colombo, as it's near to my hotel. I wouldn't dare venture in there without a "known fellow" and what better "known fellow" than Mr S himself. But, the thing I always notice about many places like this in Sri Lanka, the places that aren't frequented by people with money, the places that aren't full of MP's sons and aren't jam packed with Sudhas (like me), is that the people are usually friendly and politely inquisitive. It's that one just by the railway station that looks rough yet strangely picturesque. Like one of those wild west taverns patronised by cowboys, prostitutes and bank robbers.

Instead of a row of horses outside there was a row of three wheelers, instead of cowboys there were tri shaw drivers, instead of bank robbers there were normal fellows and prostitutes were nowhere to be seen.

In the UK the wealthy type of chap would get seven shades of crap beaten out of him just for setting foot in this kind of place, but in the UK I'm not wealthy, nor do I go to the equivalent places very often, so it's not a real risk in my life. But here we got a lot of looks, just more out of warm interest than aggression or anger. People were nice and talked and smiled and Dom even took a few pictures of one chap at one point. Everything was relaxed and easy going with never the slightest hint of nastiness.

We found ourselves a table and started to drink, arrack and ginger beer. I still smile at the thought of the rubbish disposal system, or the floor. We ate fish in all forms, there was some beef stuff, there was more arrack, then we repeated it all many times over. Arrack is something I adore so the drinking thing wasn't too taxing at all. After a few bottles of the stuff I started to lose some of my British inhibitions and, at one stage, I almost threw some rubbish on the floor. Actually I did and it was strangely liberating.

It was one of those rather unreal occasions, we drank, we chatted about all sorts, I just can't recollect any of it. I lapsed into the nice merry state, probably the best type of drunkenness to experience, when you can talk, you can listen, you can keep drinking and crucially, you haven't "broken your seal".

Like a zookeeper I guard my seal as if my life depends on it. My best mate P gave me the whole "seal" metaphor and it's one that I've heard from other people since then. It's a man thing, although I met a woman once who claimed the same seal breaking feelings. I don't believe her, in my experience women often make up stuff like this for attention. But, she did pee a lot.

Breaking your seal is that first pee of the night, sometimes essential but always regretted. It's OK when you're out for a meal with the wife or when you're at home or something but, when you're out drinking with the lads, you should treasure it like a great snare drum. Because once it's broken you'll be peeing all night and the more you drink the weaker you will gets, as does your seal.

But, in every possible way I was in a nice setting. Ensconced in a good place, with some bloody pleasant chaps, drinking arrack, eating fish and things and all in a Country I am ever so slightly fond of. We had to leave though, dinner at the house was waiting and some wives and girlfriends were anxious to see their other halves, a somewhat alien concept to me but not to these chaps! Off we went to their house.

When we arrived there were women everywhere of many generations. There was (Aunty) Barbara and all the Sansoni children and Naz of course, officially Colombo's sexiest woman. I've got several rather hazy memories of this couple of hours.

One Sansoni daughter told me that she reads my blog. This blogging thing continues to astound and amaze me. I met a few people in Sri Lanka who said that they read it and were actually rather complimentary about it. A couple of people even mentioned a "writing style" that they thought I have. This genuinely, hand on heartedly touches yet bemuses me. Simply because I don't have a writing style, all I do is type the stuff as it comes into my head. I might take many things less seriously than other people do but that's about it. So every time I meet the odd person who says a nice word to me it just doesn't make sense, but it's also really nice to hear too.


There's a delicate issue going on in my mind here. You see, now I know that one of the Sansoni Juniors reads this, maybe only occasionally, I'm having big concerns about the whole "Colombo's sexiest woman" tag being put out, by me, into the Universe about her Mother. But, these things have to be said, compliments are nice things, but only if they're genuine and not dished out at every opportunity. I wonder how I'd feel if someone said the same about my Mother. Gobsmacked springs to mind.

I do remember making a phone call to my parents, then passing the phone to Aunty Barbara to talk to my Mum. I remember an exchange of text messages between my brother and Naz, on my phone of all things! I remember a rather surprising exchange of texts between myself and another friend, one of the rare times that evening when I got to use my phone. Good too.

The best phone bit was when mine rang and I answered it, as I often do. I was chatting to Naz at the time so, if you think I'm making this up just ask her.

"Rhythmic, where are you?" the voice said.

"Err hello Son I'm with some friends at the moment" I said to my brother, the other one, the one you don't know that well. He more or less runs the music business in the UK you know.

"OK, I'm just about to drive past your house and was wondering if you fancy going for an Indian or something"

"Actually I can't at the moment"

"No come on, I'll be there in about 5 minutes"

"Son, I can't" I said

"Why?"

"I'm in Colombo"

"Ah shit, sorry I totally forgot"

We continued. There was food and more drinks and good conversation and laughter and fun. It was one of those relaxed family dinner settings that are a great Sri Lankan thing. My family has it in England and every Sri Lankan family seems to have them, maybe it's an Asian thing. An atmosphere of laughter and family, of everyone wanting to be together and all feeling happy. I felt welcomed and comfortable and a tad under the influence.

Then, after all had eaten and the older and the younger generations retired to their beds, myself, Dom, Naz and Ben headed off to R + B, where I had agreed to meet some friends and we had been told a good time would be had by all. By this stage I was a lot more than "a tad under the influence" but all in a good way, I had been smart and hadn't mixed my drinks so life was peachy.

You know when you see pictures of the Beckhams going out to a club or something and there's some nondescript friend of their's lurking in the background, someone whose identity no one either knows or actually cares about? Well now I know what that bloke feels like, although I'm not sure Dom looks a lot like David Beckham. Then again, I'm not sure Becks is that good at photography. At least they both wear sarongs.

The Sansonis got rather swamped by people, the cousin was off playing pool so I concentrated on talking to the handful of people that I did know there and continuing in my plan to establish myself as the greatest dancer since Nureyev, or one of those other black guys. In my later years I have discovered the tremendous effect that alcohol has on my dancing abilities. It's not that I lose inhibitions or feel more relaxed or anything like that at all. No way. I am positive that I become a better dancer as I drink. So, in my rather advanced state of inebriatedness, I became a dance god, an idol of many, a figure of admiration. I could tell from the way people were laughing and pointing, always a clear sign.

This is all good. If Colombo wants me to dance, I shall dance. I just might need copious amounts of alcohol to "relax" my dancing muscles and to bring my hidden talents to the forefront of my conscious being. Or perhaps I'll stick to drumming.

But I have a problem. I can't hide it and I must share it with you. It's the problem of dodgy Colombo covers bands. Not that the bands are that bad, not that the musicians are bad, not that the presentation is bad. No, my problem is centred around two things; firstly I can't abide some of the songs that get played every night at each of the usual venues by each of the usual bands. Songs like "Wonderful Tonight", "La Bamba" and all that melodic stuff. If I hear "Knocking on Heaven's door" in a reggae style again I might just do something unBritish like complain.

My analysis of the problem is that many of these bands are like aggressive dogs. Ones that have had their balls removed. I'm going to do a whole separate post on the subject, so that's all I'm saying for now. Apart from the fact that I have seen some truly world class musicians and bands playing in Colombo, as well as some rubbish. My worst nightmare is these bands who are clearly very good, but sound crap.

I danced though, for hours and hours. Every song became an opportunity for me to show my prowess and natural flair for shaking bodily parts that I had forgotten even existed. At some stage Dom and Naz sloped off but I only realised this sometime afterwards. It was about the point that I noticed that I had started to have a hangover, always an enigmatic phenomenon when there has been no sleep involved. I went off with the friends and, at about 6AM, was in some part of the Cinnamon Grand watching them eat, feeling very tired and drinking more arrack and Diet Coke, only without the arrack side of things.

I got dumped back at my hotel, rolled into my bed, there was daylight streaming all over my room. Isn't funny how those thin shards of light that stream through cracks in curtains can be so painful yet you can't be bothered to shut the curtains properly. Or is it just me?

I slept like a baby. A very drunk baby. A very happy baby. I had one of those grins on my face. The type of grin a chap with an IQ of 50 has when he's told that they made a dreadful mistake and his IQ is actually 60.

It was a very memorable night and I loved all of it, the extremes were interesting and fun. The contrast between the Castle Hotel and R + B was massive, the contrast between the respective bills would have been massive too.

Dom, Naz and everyone else involved, thanks so, so much for a wicked evening. I hope there are more.

Guess what?

The next day was even better.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wow - A Birthday

So, I was looking through my archives the other day and noticed that London, Lanka and drums is one year old. This is a surprise.

The year has gone so quickly, yet in other ways it's taken a while. It's a bit of a milestone, but no big deal. The big deal is the list of things I've learned since I started this blog. Some are things I've learned directly through blogging, some are random things I've learned through other means. They're all good:

1. Not all bloggers are geeks, just most.

2. Everyone can have an opinion, that's cool but it can always be presented without being rude.

3. You're never too old to make new friends.

4. If you worry too much about comments, readers' opinions and that sort of stuff, then you won't write anything interesting.

5. If you don't worry enough about comments, readers' opinions and that sort of stuff, then you won't have any readers.

6. I never put a lot of thought into it but "London, Lanka and drums" is probably the perfect phrase to summarise me.

7. This writing thing is quite hard. The easiest way to approach it is to just jot down thoughts, then rearrange into a sentence. My admiration for proper writers increases on a daily basis.

8. People think they know you from the stuff you blog about.

9. If fear is the only thing holding you back from doing something, then you should do it. Or "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

10. Plan for tomorrow, enjoy today. Go with the flow.

Thanks All!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Smell Again

A few months ago Lady Luck told me about smell and I wrote a little thing about it without giving it much thought.

I had always thought of smell as an artificial stimulant, that natural smell was lurking below the artificialness of deodorant and perfume and stuff. But a friend of mine was telling me the other day about a girl he's keen on who seems to like him too. Turns out this girl had told him that not only does she like his smell but she thought it suited him too.

We chuckled in a boyish way about this but then I remembered Lady Luck's opinion on this, I recollected that a few people had commented and agreed with her and I appeared to be in a minority. Now I'm starting to change my opinion on this vitally important issue.

I've started to wonder if two people can be kind of balanced, chemically or physically or whatever. I met a nice couple when I was in Colombo, two tourists from the UK who I got talking to and kept bumping into everywhere. The very first time I saw them I thought that they looked like a honeymooning couple, I can't describe exactly what it was but they had a look about them. It was in their body language and their whole demeanour. It wasn't even that soppy romanticism that I've seen in many couples either, this was quite pleasant to watch. Little things like the way that they were lying on two deckchairs, she had her leg casually hanging over his leg, nothing rude, just affectionate.

He was in Sri Lanka on business and, on one occasion, asked me what the situation was for going to the airport to see his wife off, as he had to stay on when she left. I thought this was really nice; most couples I know would have just said goodbye at their hotel or whatever.

Then, when I got to know them I discovered that they have been together for about ten years and have two kids, the eldest is nine. To be honest this shocked me. I hadn't expected it.

As a strong believer in random acts of kindness I was quite gutted that I didn't get a chance to see them before I left, just to tell them how great I thought they looked together.

It's got me thinking though. I've never been one who believes in fate. My take is that we all have a certain amount of ability and it's up to us how much of that we make use of. I'm beginning to realise that it's unlikely I'll ever get signed up by a top band in need of a drummer, no matter how much practice I put in I just don't have that talent. All I can do is to make the most of the talent I do have. Some coves believe in fate, they are convinced that they are destined to be the next Pele or the next great inventor or whatever. Good luck to them I say.

But, the thing that I have been thinking about is this smell and deck chair thing. What if there is someone out there who is chemically balanced with you, who has your serial number as such? What if there's that person out there whose metaphorical leg is dangling over your side of the hypothetical deck chair? What if there's a man or woman out there who likes your smell, whether it's Jean Paul Gaultier or Diesel. And I meant the perfume and the fuel respectively there, not the chap and the perfume respectively, although a bit of chopping and changing could be done.

And I'm starting to think that the good Lady Luck may be right, that there may be these idyllic couples out there. Some of them may have not even met yet, some may have met and got married, some may never meet and others may even be married to other people. But, when these people do meet, when the smells match and one's leg dangles over the other's deckchair, when they know each other's serial numbers, well that's when their journey really begins.

If they want.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dichotomies Galore / Moments in Time

Yes I know, it sounds like a Greek Bond girl, but that wasn't what I meant. I couldn't decide on the half humourous "Bond Girl" pun title or to go with the slightly sentimental but also deep and meaningful title.

I chose both. It's my blog after all.

Yesterday I got involved in one of those fatherly incidents, one which I honestly thought I'll look back on in years to come with fondness and nostalgia. My girls are now ten and twelve, so they're growing fast. Their world consists of music, fashion and hormones. They're at that stage where parents are becoming a bit of a pain, handy for dropping them and picking them up from places, handy for money and material things but frankly not much good for anything else.

Although one of the big advantages of being in a band or two is that I'm in the "cool Dad" category. I can live with that, particularly as it will only last for a short while until I'm uncool for a load of other reasons too. But, these rather scary girls still have some of that sweet childishness in them, they're on the cusp and will still grab a parent's hand while walking along the road or do something affectionate without thinking.

So, there we were in the front room. The wife was prowling around the house somewhere and the girls and I were playing with Lego. This in itself was a bit sentimental, in a full circle sort of way, as the Lego that they have is mostly the old stuff that my brothers and I used to play with, it's even in the same attache case thing that it used to live in. I had been given the task of making a petrol station, quite an important task but one that they felt I was capable of too.

They were making things, I know not what, I was trying to find more of the two by two squares, an essential component for my petrol pumps, and all was jolly. At the start of our session we'd had a bit of disagreement about the background ambience and sounds. The twelve year old had wanted Spongebob Squarepants on TV but the ten year old and myself had wanted to listen to Muse on CD. We came to a decent compromise, not conventional but one that we could all live with; we played both at the same time. That was the first dichotomy, the contrast between the cartoon on TV, admittedly one that does have a large adult audience, and the rather "adult" music blasting out. We all enjoyed both.

Then, whilst building our Lego stuff, I found myself explaining to the two girls about the six or seven different types of intelligence. I went through each one and gave them examples of the kind of people who have high levels of each. (Java, Drac you may be shuddering at the thought, sorry about that). They were fascinated and uncharacteristically interested in my every word.

Then, I finished the lecture, they both said "Oh okay then" and we carried on with our Lego, with Muse blasting out from the speakers and Spongebob Squarepants living in his underwater world.

It really was a bucket load of dichotomies, it really was a moment in time.

Brief, because my next task was to build a furniture store.

And my level of spatial intelligence is rather low.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Aliya - The cat with a dog's life



We have a couple of cats at home. Don't get the wrong idea, we're not a house of animal lovers nor are we the types who treat pets as surrogate children. Just that these two cats that have been around for a while. I'm not overly attached to them, they're okay as cats go and, as pets go, they're good things to keep.

Maintenance is low key; they need feeding and watering and that's about it. When we moved into the house I had a cat flap put in, one with a magnetically operated door that is triggered by the magnetic collar worn by each cat. I may not win any prizes from the animal conservationists but I must tell you that it makes me chuckle heartily on a few rare occasions when I've heard a loud "bang" from the vicinity of the cat flap and I've investigated to find a dazed cat standing outside, its magnetic collar either missing or broken.

So no, I'm no great animal fan, but these cats, in the words of Basement Jaxx, do their thing. They mooch around, they eat, they drink and they go out and roam and wander back in when they feel like it. Sometimes they bring a mouse or two in and that has to be dealt with, but otherwise they're trouble free.

Except when they're ill.

The other day the wife asked me to call the vet to book an appointment for Aliya, the one in the picture. This cat, that does absolutely bugger all normally apart from going for the odd stroll and being fed, was looking "out of sorts" I was told.

I made the call, not without lots of smirks on my part, just couldn't help myself really, you know me.

The conversation was going well until I had to give the cat's name, it was already registered with the vet.

"Aliya" I said, and then had to spell it.

"And the surname?" the friendly receptionist asked.

"Eh?" I replied.

"The surname" she repeated.

"Of who?" I asked.

"The cat" came the response.

"Well it doesn't really have one, it's a cat" I said, perplexed.

"What's yours then?" she was obviously more used to this conversation than I was.

"Diaspora" came my reply, although I did use my real surname, which you probably know anyway by now.

"So it's Aliya Diaspora?"

"No, it's Rhythmic Diaspora" again I did use my real name there.

"I meant the cat is called Aliya Diaspora" she said, or more snarled, at me.

"Oh right, I get it" I lied. After successfully overcoming this hurdle the rest of the call was plain sailing. I booked Aliya in and answered her question about what seemed to be wrong with it.

"It's been run over?" she said.

"No I said it looks run down"

"So you didn't actually see it happen then?"

"See what happen?" I asked, wondering what I could do to stay calm.

"The accident".

"What accident?"

"The one when it got run down" she barked.

"There wasn't actually an accident, I said it looks run down, you know knackered, tired, not itself." I was deep breathing now. Not in a pervy way, just trying to keep my even temper.

"Oh okay then" she seemed disappointed at this, I assume flattened cats are more costly to fix than cat shaped ones.

The following day as I got in from work the wife was also pulling up with the twelve year old and a cage thing with Aliya inside it. They were returning from the vet's appointment.

We went into the house and I asked twelve year old what was wrong with Aliya.

"You better ask Mum" she told me, teenagerly.

"Well you won't believe this, and it cost £74 to find this out. It's got stress" she told me in rather pained tones.

"He said to give it these tablets for a couple of weeks and come back if it doesn't get any better."

I've heard it all now. A cat with stress.

Whatever next?

Counselling?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Just For You Mr Anon

Your comment has intrigued me and I decided to answer by means of a post, a short one, but a post nevertheless.

So here are the things I am discovering these days. I shan't explain them as I'll be interested to see how people will interpret them:

  1. Belief is a wonderful thing. It can appear out of nowhere, like one of those magician's rabbits. There are things I believed at 18 that I didn't believe in at 35, that I do believe in now.
  2. Gut feelings, first impresssions, split second decisions, whatever you call them, can be very good and accurate. Go with them. Trust your instincts. You're usually right.
  3. To disagree can be healthy and positive.
  4. Grey can be good. It doesn't always have to be black or white.
  5. Lots of stuff on energy.
  6. Good friends don't always tell you what you want to hear.
  7. When I think of Colombo I smile.
  8. Anything's possible if you want to make it happen.

Mr Anon - What are you discovering these days?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Visual, Aural or Oral?

Recently, in fact when I was in Colombo, someone asked me how I think of past incidents and which senses come to mind when I do. You may be as confused as I was at the time, but, as with so many things in my life, I bluffed my way through it and then thought about it afterwards, only to get more confused.

The conversation was about looking at good, bad and ugly memories and times in your life and analysing whether you would think of, say a bad memory, and recall the sights that you experienced, or whether your first thought would be the sounds you heard at the time or whatever. I think that was it. At the time I gave my answers but wasn't that sure I understood the question.

Now I do understand it. And it's made me think, a lot. This thinking thing can't be good for a bloke you know, it's all well and good for academics, writers, artistic types and intellectuals, but it's not healthy for people like me, people whose main love in life is hitting round wooden things and smiling.

I haven't yet come to a decent conclusion about bad experiences, although I suspect that I recollect those in a visual way. But, when I think of the best times of my life, the best moments and the best incidents, there's always a song there. All my good times have a soundtrack. Perhaps that's unsurprising to you, as you probably know I'm a musician (albeit only only drummer, not a proper musician of course!).

When I think of it there are so many songs, so many guitar solos, so many middle eights and so many intros that bring up great memories for me. I can listen to a snatch of a song and I'm instantly transported to a moment or a place.

There's a song called "Bliss" by Muse. It begins with a rolling arpeggio type of keyboard line that, for some reason, makes me peacefully excited. Within the first few listens I had associated the opening bars of it with watching the sunset at Galle Face Hotel. On my list of things to do (hardly any of which I actually achieved) when I was in Sri Lanka the other week was to go there and watch the sun go down with "Bliss" on the iPod. As it happens I never did it but it doesn't matter and may be a good thing. I did go there, I missed the sunset, didn't get a decent table and I didn't listen to "Bliss". Did it matter? No. The Galle Face Hotel is one of my favourite places in the world, it ranks right up there beside "sitting behind a drum kit".

The short couple of hours that I did get there, just me and just Colombo, are etched in my memory. Something about the beauty, the sounds, the sights and the feel that only Colombo can do for me. Isn't it a strange thing. I've lived in London all my life and it will always be home, yet Colombo has captured me totally. The LollyDJ wrote a post here that I can relate to. The more I get to know her idiosyncrasies the more I get attached and the more I yearn. I'm talking about Colombo, not the LollyDJ, nice as she is, although I've only met her the once.

Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Bliss.

Bliss.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Controller or Control Freak - Part 1

There I was, sitting in the chair with the delightful Holly tending to my every need. Well, in terms of hair at least.

I've settled on Holly since I started to cultivate my hair and she's become my preferred supplier of hairdressing services. The skimpy clothes, blonde hair and similarity to Britney Spears on a quiet night in have had no influence on my decision whatsoever.

I like to put a large amount of trust in people. This can have its problems but I don't see myself as a control freak. My definition of that is a person who wants to retain control over every aspect of something. So, for example, the control freak won't ask you to go to the shops and buy him a sandwich. The CF will ask you to go to that shop, to cross the road at that point, to buy that flavour sandwich, pay at that counter, to actually dictate every specific action so that they may as well have done the task themselves.

A controlling person, which I honestly see myself as, tries to deal with people who are trusted, whose judgement has been proved as sound, but decisions are left to the judgement of those people. My application of this mentality is exemplified by the way I treat Holly, the way I manage people I work with and hopefully my interaction with most people. Of course there are times when we all have to issue strict instructions, like when kids and roads or guitarists and amplifiers are involved.

Now that I have a Holly I go to her and, as we have built up a bit of a relationship, she is getting to know my tastes in hairdressing a bit and I'm getting confident in her judgement. So I usually just ask her to do what she thinks is needed. Our system works.

But, I was sitting in the chair this morning and another customer sat in the next door chair and gave his instructions to the guy working on him.

"I'd like a four and a half at the back and sides with about a two inch spike on the top, I normally put just a bit of gel or wax in it on the top" said the chap.

I was bemused. Firstly I didn't know that one could get a "half" in terms of clippers. I thought they came in whole numbers. Then I thought that it was such a specific set of instructions that the fellow must have been an incredibly controlling person. His hairdresser, some kind of chap from Jersey, seemed happy enough however and promptly bagan to carry out his orders.

I hadn't seen the customer even though he was at the next seat, I was busy looking straight ahead, trying to sneak glances at Holly's breast when she wasn't looking. That's always harder than usual in a hairdresser's chair because you have to wary of being caught in the mirror as well as in the true optical image. But I had already built up an image of a David Beckham lookalike, an epitome of trendiness, a style icon, maybe even someone like me.

I sneaked a sidewards glance. The chap nodded at me, I nodded at him, the standard men's greeting, with that grunt thing that sounds a bit like "alright" but isn't.

Shock of all shocks.

He was a dork. There was no style icon sitting there, no clothes horse and certainly no epitome of trendiness. Just a bloke, a slightly spotty bloke at that, he was maybe even someone's brother in law, that was how normal he looked.

How could a control freak look so normal? Why am I telling you all this? Because I've spent several hours today with a woman who I think I, and my partners, have put our trust in too soon, a furniture and office designer person. So the current position is that we're questioning every single judgement call she makes, as we discover that her judgement isn't actually as good as we thought it was. This is counter productive, annoying and a bit expensive. It also deserves a post in its own right, which I'll do soon.

But far more seriously and with much more major consequences is this bit of bad news. I gave her the reins, I let her use her judgement and I trusted her and what happened?

Holly's gone and fucked up my hair. It's all over the show and no amount of product will sort it.

It'll be a four and a half for me next time!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Story Part 5

Foolishly I put my name down to take part in the story baton idea of Yo's. A great idea, the story thing, but I have never written a story that didn't end with "they all lived happily ever after" or begin with "What I did at the weekend" so I find the pressure is on, the stakes are high and I will have to rely on my natural wit, my inherent humour and my ability to run fast.
The best bits are here:

Part 01

Part 02

Part 03

Part 04


Here is the continuation of that...

"Would you like some ice with that Sir?"

"No thanks"

He was on a plane heading to the US, unsure and confused. Confused because he didn't know which part of the US he was heading for, unsure because he wasn't sure. Questions flashed through his mind like a herd of cows running through a forest made of cheese. Questions like:

"Where would Catman and Bobbin fit in?
Why the hell did he put his name down for that story baton thing? It had seemed like a good idea at the time but, like Argentina or driving without using the horn, it was unknown territory to him.
Why was he so bad at similes? He could never quite understand them, like Michael Schumacher at fast driving or Murali at taking wickets. Damn!"

There were many other things he was certain about and, as the plane advanced on its journey, he became even more certain of them. He was sure that Keshini had hurt him too much, it wasn't necessarily her fault but it wasn't about blame and finger pointing. He'd been through love, he'd been through hate, they were opposite sides of the coin, one could easily turn into the other. Now he felt indifferent and that was a new currency. He'd listen to Keshini and try to let her find her peace, then he'd do what was right.

Zolena. She was a kindred spirit. When they met she had been on a journey. She had been enjoying the journey, admiring the scenery and soaking up the sun, but she had never decided on her destination. He had helped her choose one, she had helped him choose one too. Shan had been good for her and Zolena had been good for Shan. Some would have said they were good for each other, but they would have been people with more creativity, people who didn't have that need, the need to increase the word count.

Then, with that look that Joey from "Friends" has when he gets a slightly evil idea, Shan remembered something.

"Use quotations and new paragraphs to increase the spacing and apparent size"



He decided against it.

The other decision was made. He wanted to continue on his journey and find that island, that little part of paradise. He wanted to go with Zolena and he wanted her to want to go with him. It would take courage and fortitude and it might be painful. Not the kind of pain that all men know of, like when you get your balls caught in a chair or something but girly pain, like when Bambi's Mother died.

By now the effects of the twelve whiskies and four beers were beginning to kick in, Shan thought about having one more but he chose not to. He was a man of responsibility and even on a plane he liked to remain under the limit for driving in Sri Lanka. His mind wandered but he fought to keep it focussed. The pain was already there, it was searing through him and tearing into his soul. It got worse and he gasped for breath, he knew he had to wake up, he had to pull himself out of this.

He woke up with a start.

He twisted and moved his balls, they had got stuck in that aircraft seat crack again. Then he farted.

Ah, that felt better.

He looked to his left. His neighbour was a nun with a kind and godly face and glasses.

"Did you drop one?" she said.

"Yes, sorry about that Sister"

The nun had a deep voice and looked slightly unshaven. As nuns go this one was looking masculine and familiar. He thought he recognised her but just couldn't figure out where from.
In as relaxed a manner as possible Shan got his camera out. He needed to take a picture of the nun, he needed to show this to someone when he got back, to identify her.

But there was a problem and Shan couldn't solve it. How do you take a picture of a nun? Do you use black and white or colour? Some years ago Shan had been attacked by a herd of Zebra all reading newspapers. A passer by had taken pictures of the attack but the police had never caught the Zebra, they said the photographs didn't have enough colour.

While he was thinking on this everyday conundrum the nun turned to him

"I'd use colour, at about 800 ISO with around 1 stop of exposure compensation because of the light from the window, with maybe a bit of fill in flash just to brighten the shadows a bit"

"Thanks Sister"

This was clearly no ordinary nun, this was some kind of photonun. She smiled at Shan and again she appeared so familiar, so known to him. Just like the hunchback of Notre Dame, that time when he lost his grip on the rope, the face rang a bell.

"Hi I'm Shan" he said and extended his hand.

"Pleased to meet you, I'm Dominic, errm Sister Dominic, ah Sister Sansoni" she said, rather nervously.

Shan knew she looked so familiar but still couldn't place her..................

Part 6 is now here

Friday, March 2, 2007

Friday Night, Dressed to kill

Not really.

Just 5.10 in West London.

I've got pangs for this time last week and I've got some songs to learn for an audition:

Vertigo / U2
Do You Want To / Franz Ferdinand
Brown Sugar / Stones
Rock and Roll Star / Oasis

Nothing too complex but another little covers band that might keep me interested and just might want me. I like the auditioning thing, it's challenging and keeps things a little bit competitive. I've got to a stage where I think I can keep my attitude positive whether I get the job or not. There's always something to learn if I don't get it and it's often just as much about personality as it is about ability.

The week was one of being thrown back in at the deep end. Hence the lack of posts and the lack of emails to so many people who should have got one.

Now, I need a holiday.

Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Tarquin Diaspora

I arrived at my plush Colombo hotel last Saturday. I've now lost count of the number of times I have stayed there in the past few years and I tell you that not as a means of boasting but merely to set the scene.

When I have stayed there with the wimmin' they spend large amounts of time in the pool and so have got to know many of the staff and are pretty friendly with them all. The pool staff have got used to seeing me poolside with drumsticks and iPod and frankly I feel very comfortable to stay there.

On the other hand my brother, the academic one, Tarquin, has stayed there once, last year when we went together. He is taller than me, brighter than me, better looking than me and he can dance. Women throw themselves at his academic feet and he can hold a rivetting conversation with anyone from Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous to Stephen Hawkins. Not that I've got any sort of complex or anything though.

So I got to the hotel via a taxi from the airport. I had made my reservation over the net and walked up to the desk to check in. I went through the normal greetings with talk of "Is it just you this time Sir?" and the usual small talk about occupancy rates, the peace situation and what not. Then as the fellow was looking up my name he said

"Ah Mr Diaspora, that's Mr Tarquin Diaspora isn't it?"

"No, it's Mr Rhythmic Diaspora" I said, trying to remain calm. Easy after a fifteen hour flight sat next to a fat English bloke who felt it necessary to commentate on every aspect of the plane and its flight plan.

"You mean Mr Tarquin?"

"No I am Mr Rhythmic, my brother is Mr Tarquin and he only stayed here once last year." These buggers have to be told sometimes.

After some confusion, which, this being Sri Lanka, involved more members of staff than are employed by the NHS, I was found lurking in the computer system. I checked in, went to my room and did my things, foolishly thinking that was the end of it.

The next morning I walked passed the reception area on my way to breakfast.

"Good Morning Mr Tarquin" said the voice.

"Ah, morning" I said.

"Oh for fuck's fucking sake" I thought. But I let the matter rest.

The rest of the week was a pleasant mixture of all kinds of things. Some of them you may know about and some of them you may have been involved in. I did get blackguarded (what a great Sri Lankanism that is) by a cousin, the one who sniffs a lot, for not returning his calls. He claimed to have left me two messages and I later discovered that he was telling the truth. The red message light on my phone had stopped working. Well either that or the hotel had changed the system so that the light would come on when there were no messages. One never knows in Sri Lanka.

When I checked out and received my bill I saw that the hotel had come to its uniquely Sri Lankan way of solving the name issue.

The bill was made out to a Mr Tarquin Rhythmic Diaspora.

That's Sri Lanka for you.