Friday, June 29, 2007

Mr Diaspora, would you take my daughter ice skating?

I'd be delighted!

I find myself in a situation that will make many men laugh,with a feeling of cruel mocking and a sense of "it's funny but I wouldn't want to be him".

Tomorrow morning will see me driving a minibus full to the brim with fifteen 11 year old girls. It's the 11 year old's birthday thing and it involves me taking this small army of scary things ice skating, followed by swimming. From morning to early evening. I figure that it will involve lots of counting and shouting, lots of buying food and plenty of good humour.

11 year old girls are one of the most dangerous species known to man. They're young enough to need looking after but old enough to be stroppy, sarcastic and disobedient. At 11 most boys are still bumping into furniture and trying to figure out the best way of eating mud. Whoever wrote that sugar and spice thing was just talking rubbish.

Ice skating and swimming aren't high up on the list of skills I possess. If I had to do a CV and came to the bit about hobbies and interests, the bit where most people write some rubbish about reading and going to the theatre, ice skating and swimming would appear just below Morris dancing and eating wattalapam. The only thing falling lower on the list would probably be driving a minibus full of 11 year old girls.

Am I being stupidly naive, wildly optimistic or just plain dumb in planning on taking my iPod and a book to relax with?

Is there even the slightest possibility that this will be calm and stress free?

If anyone wants to fly over and help you'll be most welcome.

Or just wish me luck. This may be my last ever post.

Tigers smashed??!!

I opened up my home page and saw this headline. It somewhat startled me. Not that I clam to know everything but I'd only been asleep for a few hours. How could so much happen so quickly?

Perhaps they should choose their wording a tad more carefully next time!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Betraying my Heritage

I feel bad. I feel dirty and ashamed of my actions. There is nothing I can do that will erase this incident from my memory, there are no words I can say to express my regret, my sense of woe.

I'll probably be delisted from Kottu for this, I just know that Drac will be removing my blog from the hallowed walls of Achcharu and whoever runs that zSri will pop in to the office in a few months' time and remove me from there too, not that they do much around there.

Life is full of learning experiences, full of positives and negatives but this thing will scar me for a long time. I can't see that there are any positives to it, I can't even see what made me do it. It was like one of those accidents, that happen in slow motion and you just can't do anything about, all caused by a foolish mistake that can't be undone.

When I think of my family's history, my Grandparents and all my Sri Lankan friends I feel so ashamed. The Sri Lankan men in particular will never forgive me for this, maybe the women will find it easier to forgive but they won't forget, not for a long time. It's a slippery slope that I've stepped onto. I could try some counselling or an anonymous society.

"My name is Rhythmic and I........."

No it's too painful to say so soon after the event. The memories are too unpleasant, the taste still lingers. It's a taste of some kind of dressing, lots of green things and Tuna, some potatoes and a bit of egg. There were hardly any carbohydrates involved at all, yes, hardly any carbs, you read that correctly. There was no rice, no noodles, no roti or no parippu.

Yes - My name is Rhythmic and yesterday I ate a SALAD for lunch.

It was horrible. Never again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Muse - Part 1 (everything but the Muse)

Sunday before last was a day of firsts. It was my first time at the new Wembley Stadium, my first time seeing Muse live and it was the first proper gig that my two daughters had been to. Big and good.

I had been a bit disconcerted to find that Wembley is a "Public transport stadium", which in English means that there are minimal parking places and you're meant to go by train or something that poor people go on.

But, to be fair, getting there was easy, just a matter of a short train trip to Waterloo and a tube ride from Waterloo to Wembley Park station. Muse were due on about 8 PM and that there were at least two supporting bands, Biffy Clyro and My Chemical Romance so I knew we had time to get there at our ease. The tube journey was interesting. As we got to the last stages it was evident that most of the people on our train were actually destined for the gig too. The Muse T shirts and the general look and smell of the people was quite the giveaway. I love music, I love going to gigs, but I still wash. I don't know why some of these others just don't.

We arrived and looked around with some awe at the new national stadium. It truly is a masterpiece, albeit one that was late, over budget and what not. It's obvious from the second you enter the place that this is a national stadium to be proud of. It had an air of cleanliness and efficiency about it, but not in a German way, not in a way that made it feel clinical. It really did feel to me as if it retained much of the feel of the old place but had also been dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era.

I felt a bit annoyed as we went in. My bag was searched, fair enough. The chap asked me to remove the caps from the four little plastic bottles of Evian water I had in the bag. I thought he wanted me to taste them to prove that they were really water, a strange illogical thought I know. But no, he said that we had to carry the water in without the lids on the bottles, as lids on the bottles could make them airtight and therefore a potential danger if they were thrown.

I know there are health and safety laws and all but I did think this was just outrightly ridiculous. Ban glass bottles for sure, but this is just getting silly now. But, we went in, complete with four open bottles of water.

Girls of almost 11 and 13 are always hungry, it's some kind of law of nature I think. So on arrival, despite the fact that we had only eaten a short while before, the 13 year old made some noises about being fed. We bought some food. I must confess to a dichotomous feeling here. There is something in me that totally objects to paying £7 for a chicken and chips (it may have been £6 or£8 but it was about that). But I don't mind it that much if I don't have to queue for hours and if it's served quickly and properly. That seems to be what they've done at the new Wembley. There are food stalls all over the stadium, they're properly staffed and they have only a few things on offer, but those few things, whilst expensive, are served decently and cleanly.

Frankly I can live with paying more and getting more. Not that I actually got more of course.

As we walked through to the seats we were all bowled over by the vastness and splendour of the new place. It is breathtaking and stunning. Then we sat. We were at about the halfway line, in seats about 10 rows back. The stage was to our right and our view was good, well as good as it can get bearing in mind the sheer distance between us and the stage. There was some sort of DJ playing and the atmosphere was warm and exciting. Everyone knew that this was the first proper band to play at the new stadium, I say proper because George Michael had played there a few days ago, but he doesn't count. This was pure stadium rock 'n' roll at its finest and we all knew what was coming.

After about only fifteen minutes My Chemical Romance hit the stage, it became apparent that we had missed Biffy Clyro, the first support act. I was in for some surprises. My experience of stadium gigs is limited, in fact I've only ever been to one before and that was about 20 years ago. I knew that we wouldn't see the band in any detail. Gigs I go to tend to be at smaller venues, primarily so that I can actually watch the drummer playing and see what he's doing and how he's doing it. I knew that my view of Dom Howard, Muse's drummer, and the chap in My Chemical Romance, wouldn't be so distant that I wouldn't be able to see any detail in their playing with the naked eye. I also knew that, with the big video screens, I'd get very good filmed views of them, although I'd be at the mercy of the editor or producer in terms of exactly what I saw and when I saw it.

The bit that I hadn't foreseen was that there'd be a time delay between the "live" footage and what was actually going on onstage. I estimated it to be about half a second. The sound through the PA was effectively perfectly synched with the vision on the big screens, so there was no problem there. The problem was that the sound and the vision ran slightly behind the activity on stage. The delay wasn't much but it too much for me to watch the drummer live and listen to what he was playing and out the two together. This was a bummer. It meant that I couldn't watch a fill or a groove being played unless the producer chose to put it up on the screens.

So, after a bit, I admitted defeat and just watched the screens. It wasn't such an issue while watching MCR, but I harboured a hope that when Muse played the time lag wouldn't be there. My hope, like the meat counter at Tesco, was fruitless though, the lag was there for the whole evening. I'm not sure if this is normal for a stadium or whether it was more specific for that gig, venue or PA.

I received a few text messages from a few friends who were at the gig too. It made me more aware of what a big occasion this actually was. I got one text from a friend who told me where he was in the stadium. We tried to establish visual contact but it proved impossible as we were too far apart, so we gave up on that plan. I then got another from someone at work. We spoke and figured out where each of us were. But our view of each other was obstructed by a Carlsberg lorry parked on the pitch. Probably the best lager in the world! Now I think back I wonder exactly why we had spent so much time trying to spot each other through crowds of people. We may have made visual contact, waved, smiled and been rather thrilled. But this is someone I have known for about 10 years, who I work with and see about 3 times a week. What would have been the big deal about waving to her at Wembley?

Then I sent one to my best mate's son, who I knew to be there. He's a drummer, therefore he's a good chap. We actually managed to meet and have a chat. I pretended to be younger than I am and he pretended to be older than he is. I asked him about youthful type of things, he asked me about older types of things. Both of us failed to carry it off as we didn't have a clue what the other one's answer meant. Cool, as the kids say.

We watched MCR. They were good, but a bit too American. The girls recognised some of their songs, me and academic bro didn't have a clue, but we were content with that.

After the first song the singer, who is way too good looking to be anything but American, introduced themselves:

"We're My Chemical fucking Romance" He said.

He was a good singer and a good musician but these Americans don't understand that us Brits are allowed to swear in public. We can watch TV and hear a swearword, we can buy alcohol if we're over 7, or whatever the age is these days. Ok we can't take bottles into Wembley with lids on them but we have some degree of freedom.

At one point the singer started to ramble on to us about suicide and depression, how violence wasn't the answer to your problems and that it was always best to talk to someone.

I glanced at the 13 year old child, the one I had brought with me. She was staring at the singer with a look of exasperation on her face. It was a look of wonder, wonder that Americans like that do exist in real life. At that moment I could understand totally. I glanced to the other side towards the 11 year old. She stood there in her Converse All Stars, the ones that she had coloured in and added skater girl touches to, or should I say sk8er girl? She looked amazed too, as if some dreams had been shattered. She caught my eye and, as we exchanged glances, she tutted and rolled her eyes at the singer. The wisdom of an older person and the attitude of British kid who didn't want to be American were apparent. And I was pleased. We Brits don't go to gigs to hear lectures about the perils of suicide and violence. Unless we're hippies or Sting fans of course. But my girls think Sting is the bloke from that band who copied that Puff Daddy song; I'll be Missing you.

All American cheese aside, My Chemical Romance were pretty good. I'll probably buy an album of their's now to investigate them a bit more. And American cheese? That doesn't exist does it?
They played well, they had a certain amount of stage presence that can't be easy to project to an audience that is so massive and is mostly watching on video screens. They did a couple of encores and went off. We had a wait, the girls were intensely excited at the thought of Muse playing soon and even the academic Bro had a sense of anticipation about him.

And we waited.........

to be continued

Monday, June 25, 2007

The First Flat One

After the highs and thrills of several brilliant gigs with Mimosa in the last few months I had that first "not so good" one on Saturday. It was at a music festival in the expected sunshine and warmth of an English June in Ascot. But, this is Glastonbury weekend so everyone knows that sunshine will be nowhere to be seen and warmth will be hanging around tropical islands and watching the sunshine.

We were one of about 10 bands due to play and we were billed as the third band on, at about 2 in the afternoon, hardly a headlining slot but one with potential. We had arranged to meet there for about 1PM so, as I have an obsessive fear of being late, I arrived sometime in April. There are some characteristics in me that are definitely British rather than Sri Lankan, fear of being late and a total disinclination to say "my how you've put on" when I meet someone who's been eating a few too many portions of Chocolate Biscuit Pudding are merely a couple of them.

As I got there and took in the surroundings all looked pleasant and promising. It was a kind of old mansion house place with picturesque grounds and a lovely English atmosphere. I pulled up to the sight and sound of another band soundchecking, always a slight thrill for any musician. The stage looked professionally set up as I had been told it would be. There were decent sound engineers and a top quality drum kit had been hired and provided for the drummers to use. This is both a blessing and a predicament. A blessing as we drummers don't have to cart our whole drum kit around, set it up, then take it down and do the reverse, nor do we have the worry of other drummers using our kit. A predicament because we'll still take our cymbals, snare, pedals etc and they take up a bit of space anyway. And we have to try to set up an alien kit in a very tiny space of time. In this case I had to sit at a totally strange kit and be ready to ply in about ten minutes, not easy.

I listened to the soundcheck with enthusiasm. The band sounded good, the sun was out and the afternoon had potential. The drummer was some flash kid who looked about 12. His playing was about 63 times better than mine. I wasn't bothered though. I can't do all the flash stuff, all the flying around the kit with arms flailing, making me look like an NGO dancing at R+B at about 3 AM on Saturday morning. But I realised a while back that I didn't want to do all that, I just want to carve out a nice feeling groove, that's my holy grail. I gave the little fucker a small kick in the back of the calf as he walked past me though. A chap can only be so understanding.

They finished their soundcheck, the other Mimosians arrived and the heavens promptly opened. I had only sent a text to someone a couple of minutes before, to say how great it was looking and how excited I was when grey skies opened up and English music festival weather ensued.

This was at the time that the first act hit the stage too. One of the good things about being a muso is that we tend to appreciate other musicians even if we don't like their stuff. This chap was a David Gray type of act. I've got little time for these depressing tunes, they're not the music of choice on my iPod, but I watched and clapped and cheered along with the other brave few of us who got soaked.

Then the band with the 12 year old drummer went on. The sun made an appearance, a few of the student crowd began to dance and I felt as if we, the next band on, could easily wow this crowd with some funky toons. I was wrong. The dancing lot were all friends of the band, enthusiastic ones who were pissed and interested in swaying to rockabilly stuff and a few slightly jerky cover versions.

They finished, we did the setting up thing and launched into our set. It was as if we were a proper band after watching the previous one, but it was as if we were too polished. We played our set to a crowd of people who mostly sat and watched and listened. There was a small huddle of dancers but it was largely watchers. They clapped, they smiled and they listened, but they were a hard lot to play to. I never knew whether they were actually enjoying us and just didn't fancy getting up and boogieing or if they hated us and were clapping politely.

We played okay, that's the most accurate analysis. Personally I felt a bit mechanical, I was playing but without much passion. I made a couple of mistakes, only one which totally took me by surprise. I missed a fill on Summertime, my favourite of our songs. It didn't cause a train crash as we're tight enough for any one of us to make a mistake and the rest to still know their parts, but it did surprise me and I learned a lesson from it. The lesson that I need to pay attention to the songs that I think I know as well as the less well known ones. We're not home to Mr Complacency in these parts.

But it's such a different and unusual scenario to play to a crowd that appears impassive. The only feedback was coming through the PA and the only dancing was happening onstage. As our set progressed and we all felt that we weren't winning the crowd over we just began to want to finish. Well, I did anyway. We came to our last song, there were no cries for an encore, which we took as a telltale sign that they didn't want an encore. So we buggered off. The first gig I've ever played that didn't have at least one encore.

The organiser, who is also a guitarist and whose band was due to play later on, was very complimentary to us. A few others also said nice things, but it was an unfamiliar sensation that sat next to me in the car as I drove home a while later. A sensation of flatness, not bad gigness, I've had gigs in which I've played badly or the band has been below par, or both. I just haven't had one like this before, one that left me nonplussed and puzzled.

The good stuff was good. I learned things and I benefitted from playing. Any practice is a good thing and any chance to play with others is a joy. But as George Orwell said, when he played in his funk band.

"All joys are equal, but some are bit more equal than others".

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Confidence and Accents

I read this post and the comments it generated with lots of interest, then this one turned up too. It's a subject I was talking about recently with a friend and one in which I am fascinated.

I have come to a conclusion that people of all sorts DO change their voice and accent in order to blend in with their surroundings and environment. But the amount that a person will change their voice or accent is a direct reflection of the amount of self confidence the person has. It's something I have concluded after some, although hardly statistically significant, observation of people who do a lot of public speaking and presentations.

The people who have a large dose of self confidence are the ones whose accent remains largely unchanged wherever they are. The ones who lack self confidence, at least in some areas, are the ones who try to change their voice to suit the environment. It makes perfect sense to me, it's a reflection of a person's security in themselves.

Accents are also key to a person's identity aren't they? How often do we judge a person becase of their accent? Most of us will continually judge people we meet from their voice. Let's face it, if you heard David Beckhams's voice and didn't know that it was him you probably wouldn't conclude that he was a teacher or a Doctor would you? You wouldn't take a listen to Stephen Fry and think that he's a footballer.

When I was in Sri Lanka a while ago I had dinner with Java Jones. It was the first time we had met face to face. Whilst we were chatting he mentioned that he had expected me to be "more Sri Lankan" than I appeared. It was an interesting comment and when we discussed it further we figured that he had expected me to have a Sri Lankan accent, something I don't even borrow on Sundays. It was interesting how Mr Jones had built up an impression of me almost solely from reading my blog, how he had expected one accent and I had turned up with a different one, but also how we all make these assumptions. If I heard my own voice, with its dreary South London tones, then compared it with Java's sultry Sri Lankan lilt, I'd totally assume that he is Sri Lankan and I'm British. Technically true, yet I also consider myself as Sri Lankan.

But, I do find that my voice and accent changes a bit when I am talking to certain people in Sri Lanka, specifically people whose English isn't as good as others may be. The older I have got the less my voice shifts, a reflection of my inner confidence I think. But I still catch myself when talking to an old Aunt or someone and I notice that many words take on a "Singlish" sound to them.

I was discussing this accent thing with someone the other day and she said that she thinks the phenomenon is also a sign of adaptibilty, that people who shift their voice and accent in order to make themselves understood are simply attempting to blend in with their companions. This must be true too, we all crave acceptance by our peers although we have different ways of showing that craving.

The whole issue of people putting on "false" accents and returning to Sri Lanka after a couple of months in England with an accent like Vinnie Jones' one is just laughable for two reasons. First is the fact that it is clearly put on for effect. I can't understand why many people often hold Western culture with such high regard, perhaps it's largely because of the influence of TV and music and the MTV generation. But secondly it's the fact that these accents don't sound anywhere near genuine to a Londoner. If you think that Dick van Dyke's cockney accent was a good one then you may fall for the charms of a Colombo boy trying to sound all "gansgta" but that's about the only type of person you'll impress.

So, this is a big moment for me. For about the first time since I started to blog I have reached a conclusion in a post. Normally I start off with good intentions and then ramble to a point that is so far removed from the start that I finish in mid air. This time I have a conclusion of sorts, the first I have had since chemistry lessons at school.

It's this; the amount that a person changes their accent and voice in the company of others is a direct reflection of that person's self confidence. So the more you change the less self confidence you have. But, the important point is that it's self confidence in relation to the people we are interracting with, it's not absolute.


Friday, June 22, 2007

You'd sleep with...

We were chatting in (the) office today about strategic issues, the impact of a possible interest rate rise on our cost base and Tony Blair's position on the EU issues. But, after a while we moved on to some serious topics, the type which every man will understand.

Who would you choose:

1. Beyonce or Shakira

2. Shakira or Fergie

3. Britney or Christina

4. Courtney or Jennifer

5. Dawn or Carly (from Eastenders)

6. Madonna or Catherine Zeta Jones

7. Angelina or Jen

8. Pamela or Uma

My answers are:

1. Shakira

2. Fergie

3. Britney

4. Jennifer

5. Carly

6. Madonna

7. Jen

8. Pamela.

Any thoughts?

PS - Sometimes doing research for a post is tough going.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ugly People Shouldn't have Tattoos?

About a year ago I got one done. It's one that I reckon could be put in the "tasteful" class. A Polynesian pattern in a circle at the top of my left arm, at least that's how it was described in the book.

I'd wanted one for a while and was keen to get one that I wouldn't regret when I hit 35 or so! I was also keen that I didn't get something done that would show up whenever I walked out of the house, not some massive pattern in blue ink sliding down my arm and oozing onto my hand, nor a piece of body art that all can see whenever I wear anything that isn't a nun's habit.

Here in the UK I've noticed that everyone's got one done. If I were a tattooist I'd be pleased about this. I'm not, I'm a drummer so it doesn't really matter to me, particularly as I'm not a drummer who owns a tattoo parlour. But it does appear to be the latest thing, the height of being in vogue and what all the kids are doing. I'm not against that, fashion is good as far as I'm concerned. What I struggle with is the alarming thing I've observed lately, it's something that, were I Prime Minister, King or even vaguely important, I'd ban with immediate effect.

Yes, it's the sheer vast quantity of wholly untrendy people sporting tattoos. They've always been a bit "working class" here, going back many years. Those old sailors and tradesmen used to get them done, presumably because it was a bit of a macho and manly thing to do. Think of Popeye and that old plumber that your parents used to use. Or any builder, or Winston Churchill.

Many of these working class heroes got old, fat and unkempt. When I was a kid it was quite normal to see these older types sporting their faded tats as they did the shopping or waded into the beach at Brighton with a knotted handkerchief on top of their head. Middle class people just didn't have a tat, unles they were army officers or something.

Nowadays it's all changed. Tattoos have been made available for the masses. The average tattoo parlour is frequented by the same demographic mix that can be found at the local Gap. A crowd that wears khaki trousers with a pleated front, a blue and white stripey shirt and sports a small tattoo on its right shoulder.

Actually I can live comfortably with the tattooed Gap crowd, particularly as I'm a member of that club. The blue and white stripey shirt is actually one of my favourites. But it's the sight of these totally square, dowdy and frumpy looking people, dressed like my old school physics teacher (sorry Mr Duke) with a little tattoo on their upper arm. Or these ugly and old fashioned women with a tiny little devil tattoo on their ankle. I see them everywhere in London and even in other parts of the world. I think the American ones are the worst. Jen or Britney with a cute little ink pattern on their right breast is simply the stuff of one of my dreams, but not Roseanne Barr or one of those tourists wandering around Victoria looking for the Queen.

Women and men who look as if they're models for a page straight out of the Saga Holidays catalogue, the epitome of squarely dressed people, stroll around sunny streets showing off their body art. The clothes are more normal and conservative than the stuff the members of the local parish council wear to their monthly meetings. It's all Jesus boots, Fruit of the Loom T shirts and Marks & Spencer shorts, or maybe even the dreaded "slacks". The whole look is set off by a tattoo of a little devil on a fat ankle somewhere, or a heart on the right shoulder blade.
It's as if a single tattoo can make a totally untrendy person into an Angelina type without anything else, no makeover and no millions in the bank.

I went to see Muse (as you probably know) the other day and the sun was out and all were in T shirts and general summery clothes. And everyone wore their tattoos with pride. There were arms full of ink everywhere, there were wrists with those band things, shoulders with little red shapes and necks with names all around. It's interesting to look at and, in the setting of a stadium gig by arguably the UK's biggest rock band, T shirts and tattoos appeared the perfect dress code.

My attitude towards my own one is one of understatement. The view and attitude that it's a bit personal, something I didn't get done so much for others to see as for myself and that select band of people to view. I don't strut my stuff in a vest top and I don't go around shouting

"look at my whacky artwork"

It's nice that a few people see it occasionally, or if I go swimming or do naked rude things then it will get seen, maybe even admired. It's just not a huge big public statement of my "trendiness" that I want all to be aware of.

But, enough about uglies.

I also find that there's something just so sexy about a beautiful woman, dressed stylishly with a subtle tattoo in one of the right places, one of the "beauty spots". Actually, the more I dwell on it, the more I think that a beauty spot could be pretty much anywhere as long as the tattoo is subtle and the person looks good in other ways too.

And subtle for me is something indefinable. It's all about the whole picture, the sense of style about the person and how they carry themselves.

But the ultimate beauty spot has got to be that lower back area, just above the bum.Maybe it's a sort of pointer to forbidden fruit or a suggestion of things to come, maybe it's a kind of pure vanity on the part of the woman, that's it's done wholly for the pleasure of someone who is approaching from that angle.

They're usually in some kind of shape that "points" downwards towards the bum too. That's not fair is it? Show me a man who doesn't catch themselves staring at one of those "above the bum" tattoos when they see a beautiful woman bending down and getting something off the bottom shelf in a supermarket and I'll show you a weirdo or someone who never goes to a supermarket. We can't resist.

Simple pleasures!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Can Men Wear Sarongs In England?

If you're a regular around these parts you'll know that I sometimes take a peek at the statistics for this blog. You'll perhaps know that I get many hours of amusement from looking at the words people have searched for in order to arrive at my blog. Perhaps you'll also know that sarongs are, in my view, one of the best inventions of all time.

If I had been around in Edwardian times, or whenever it was that the wheel and the sarong were invented, and I had appeared on one of those technology shows in which "experts" have to judge new inventions and say "Hit" or "miss", and if the sarong came up against the wheel, I would have kicked the wheel off the programme and kept the sarong.

Of course kicking a wheel off a programme is a bit stupid, as I would have been better off just to have rolled it away, but I may not have been fully debriefed on how wheels work. Frankly though, I think sarongs are a much more useful invention. How stupid would the average Sri Lankan male feel and look if we woke in the night and had to rummage around the bed to try and find our wheel before we got up to pee? Or what if you saw one of those toddy tapping fellows climbing a tree with just a wheel wrapped around his arse? What if Barefoot sold a range of wheels designed by Barbara Sansoni in a range of colours and patterns?

No, it just wouldn't be the same. Some people (stupid ones) may say that cars wouldn't move as easily with sarongs wrapped around the end of their axles instead of wheels. They might say that machinery wouldn't run as efficiently if all the wheels were replaced with sarongs, that planes would look comical as they landed with fourteen different sarongs dangling from their undercarriage. They'd put up an argument that the average car would look laughable with a "steering sarong" instead of a steering wheel.

Well bollocks to those stupid people. They're just negative and unimaginative. I've got no time for them at all. They're the sort of people who think that pyjamas are good nightwear for men and that shops only need to have one person to facilitate a small transaction. Any Sri Lankan knows that pyjamas are fundamentally flawed and any good shop must have at least four members of staff to facilitate even the simplest of transactions. Such are the laws of nature.

Back to my title though. I was captivated by the fact that someone had arrived at my blog after searching for the phrase

"Can men wear sarongs in England"

I though I'd whack out a quick post to help you, whoever you are. The short answer is no.

Under normal circumstances.

Here are the accepted exceptions:

At night in bed, preferably if you're Sri Lankan or Asian
If your name is David Beckham
If you're an old Indian or Asian chap with no regard to the fact that people will laugh at you.
Going to a fancy dress party.
If you want to look like a pillock. See here for further information. (one of my absolute favourite websites)

I hope the information proves useful to you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What makes a Sri Lankan Blogger?

In blogging terms I feel like a bit of an elder statesman these days. Not that I'm wise or have a readership of millions, or even hundreds to be honest, just that I've been doing these posts on and off for about fifteen months now. I have always fancied Hillary Clinton too, but I'll keep that to myself.

And fifteen months in the blogosphere, particularly the Sri Lankan blogosphere, feels like about ten years in the outside world. I'm one of those types who tries to look at most things as learning experiences, I do firmly believe that there are positives in everything we go through and those positives are the things we should actively seek out. A great big whopper of a positive, maybe even a double whopper with cheese, that I have got from blogging is that I think about things that I previously wouldn't have.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned from the whole blogging thing is that there are a million different types of people who write a blog, even amongst this relatively small Sri Lankan blogosphere. I was talking to a friend only today about the whole blogging phenomenon, I was talking to my academic brother the other day about it too. They have two quite different viewpoints, yet with similarities.

The thing I have come across a lot is so many people who view blogging as a sort of "saddo" activity, something that geeks do, as opposed to Greeks, fat ones with too much make up. I guess it's true that some geeks blog, but that doesn't mean that all bloggers are geeks. Those school Venn diagrams are useful at last! There's a common perception that us bloggers don't really have lives, we just write about them.

During my blog time I've met some people who I'd happily consider as great friends, who would hopefully think of me as a friend of sorts. I shan't give names as I don't want to embarass him, sorry them. In reality all these people are different with a vast array of personalities and characteristics. As the late Robert Palmer would have said there's every kind of people there. There are exceptions though.

I've noticed a distinct lack of bloggers who are wholly computer illiterate, there are only a few who don't own a computer and none at all who have no access to a computer whatsoever. Other than that we're all out there. There are young up and coming medical types who'll go on to run the world, at least the medical side of it. There are successful businesspeople, failing musicians, successful musicians and failed businesspeople. There are NGOs, MBEs, VSOs and UTIs. The more astute will know that a UTI is actually the acronym for a urinary tract infection, but I couldn't think of another three letter one for a type of person. I so nearly got away with it too.

But I wonder what the common characteristics are. What are those factors shared by the members of the Sri Lankan blogosphere?

Clearly nationality isn't one. There are people of all nations who I would consider to be part of the SL blogging community. But I wonder if you feel the same, perhaps you think that one must be Sri Lankan to be a Sri Lankan blogger. My view on it is that the SL bloggers share an interest in Sri Lanka, whether that is because of nationality or location or heritage it doesn't matter. To get listed on Kottu a blog must class as

"Being ‘Sri Lankan’, as in based in or covering Sri Lankan experiences".

There are some other technical things about feeding and the like but the main thing I assume is the Sri Lankan side.

To get on Achcharu there's actually a load of criteria but the one that I consider as relevant in this context is:

"You must either reside in Sri Lanka, be Sri Lankan or have some other means of connecting with Sri Lankan audiences - Very vague and ultimately not an important requirement but it's worth saying."

So it would appear that both Drac and Indi, the indisputed overlords of the SL blogosphere share the opinion that a Sri Lankan blog isn't strictly about nationality.

Age, race, religion and sexuality don't even enter the equation. But, I've observed an interesting thing here.

The SL blogosphere and its blogs is quite open about age, race and religion. Bloggers are happy to talk about their life and relate their age or say things that would give people an idea of their age. People like Indyana, Java and myself are quite happy to talk about the experiences we have had, of kids, marriage and other grown up stuff. One of my favourite posts of all time was the one when Java related his feelings and thoughts about the invention of the wheel and how it changed his life. Up until that point his car had always felt a bit bumpy, slow and crap round corners.

Other fellows happily talk and discuss their race or their religion without any attempt to keep them from public view. There are Tamils, Sinhalese, Christians and Buddhists and Muslims out there, most of whom are content to talk about the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka or aspects of their faith.

But I have yet to read a Sri Lankan blog written by a gay person. Now, I realise that there may be many and I just don't know that the blogger is gay, I know that Sri Lanka has laws and attitudes about homosexuality that wouldn't exactly go down well in the Netherlands. That in itself may be a big reason why the average gay SL blogger doesn't want to write about it. And, also if you leave a comment on this post saying that "so and so, the blogger, is gay" I won't publish it. I really don't care and I don't want to out anyone. It just intrigues me that there aren't any SL bloggers who talk about their homeosexual lifestyle in the way I ramble on about drumming or Child of 25 chats about photography.

So age, race, religion and sexuality aren't common characteristics. I say that with the assumption that there are SL bloggers of all fifteen sexualities out there, even though I don't know for sure.

The only single characteristic I can see that we have in common is some sort of need for recognition. Perhaps we're all personality types who would class recognition high on our list of motivators. Perhaps we are attention seekers, more so than the average person. Do we all have a narcissistic side?

And is there a type of person who really does have a blog but who doesn't care at all about readership levels? I often say that I'm not bothered about my volume of readers, that I just do it for myself, but it defies logic and reason. If that were the case then surely I'd just write stuff and never publish it. If strikes me as an oxymoron. A blogger who has no regard for readership surely can't exist.

What thinkest du?

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Very Public Apology to Mr Java Jones of Colombo

I like to think of myself as a big man, in all but physical stature. I want to be recognised as a fellow who can acknowledge and learn from mistakes, who can take those things that others regret and use them as positive experiences to help and grow from.

Mistakes are good, fear is good and nerves are good. As long as we use them in positive ways.

Last week I published this post. In it I alluded to the fact that Java Jones, that Godfather of Sri Lankan bloggers, the man that taught me so much, including the difference between a low country and a Kandyan drum, may be partial to a bit of dodgy porn. I actually said:

"To think of those two having sex is a terrible, terrible vision. If there was a porno film showing it I don't think even someone like Java Jones would watch it. That's the only way I can attempt to portray their ugliness."

Pretty strong words huh? This week I must apologise profusely and genuinely for the hurtful words. With the benefit of hindsight I feel ashamed and disgusted with myself. Java is a Father figure to me, a fellow with the highest morals, who has only ever sent me the best quality pornographic emails. As he pointed out in his comment:

"Hey maan RD,I don be watchin no porn sheet maan. Yo be givin dese folk a wrong idea. My taste be in Fellini,Inarittu, Bergmann, Trufaut, Scorcese,Ozon, Spacey, Lubitsch, Welles and dem sort. So yo take dat back or I be gettin some fat broad dat smells of rotting fish to sort yo ass out."

He did forget to mention Fellatio and Beckham amongst his favourites but it's no big deal. I get the point. No man wants his taste in porn questioned, it's a matter of pride, man's pride, which is second only to women's pride.

So hear ye. In all the time I have known him Mr Java Jones of Colombo has only ever sent me the best quality porn, never anything dodgy featuring a fat Greek woman and a South Indian who smells of dead bodies.

His taste in porn is refined and elegant and his subtitles are never blurred. He is a gentleman of the highest order. As my Dad would say he's the sort of bloke who gets out of the shower to have a pee. They are about the same age too.

Now Java, will you call off that fish woman?

PS - The low country one is straight and cylindrical whereas the Kandyan has that taper to it, the bulge in the middle.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday Morning, 8.30 AM

Here I am. Lying in bed, sarong floating somewhere around my bed, I know not where. It's a Barefoot sarong, which is the important thing, I wouldn't want you to think I was one of those fellows who wears a House of Fashion one or something even worse.

The old Sri Lankan blogosphere always takes on a slightly different air at weekends. I've noticed less activity in terms of frequent new posts but there's a different mix of people that do post. Natural I guess, the one who do all their posts while sitting at their desks are now busily having fun and way too tied up to blog.

Me? Well I'm excited, which is par for the course.

Why? Because in a few hours' time I'm off with the girls to see Muse at Wembley Stadium. The sun is out, a rarity here, the reviews for last night's gig say that it was spectacular and mindblowing and I can't wait. It's also the first proper gig that the girls have been to. They've seen me play a few times but this is a real band, one with albums, T shirts and DVDs and the like.

Not only that but they'll be supported by Biffy Clyro and My Chemical Romance, the perfect support bands for my 10, but almost 11, year old's emo tendencies. Apparently she's not actually an emo because "they slit their own wrists".

No, I haven't got the faintest either. The 13 year old is more cool, more sarcastic and more worldly wise. She spent half an hour yesterday trying to convince me that she could be a "goth" and that it was okay.

I don't actually know what the hell a goth is to be honest. I know they wear black and look like the Munsters, I know they all like Marilyn Manson and have white streaks in their hair, but that's the extent of my knowledge. Oh, and I know that no daughter of mine is going to be one, no way Jose. As I said to 13 year old:

"But you can't be a goth, you're a rock chick"

And I meant it.

Turns out she was having a laugh about the whole goth thing, no way would she be a goth and what exactly did I think she was like?

Ah well, I better get up, there's lots of showering to be done and Muse to go and see.

Now where exactly is that sarong?

Happy Sunday all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's Friday, I'm Excited About...



The refurbishment at work is virtually finished. There's just a few minor touches to be added. We spent a lot of money on this and it was quite speculative. We (that's myself and my partners) knew that it needed doing, we knew that people would be positively affected by a much nicer and cleaner working environment. What we didn't know is how much of an effect it would have. It's not something that's measurable. We could never tell whether the money spent would give us a return, or if it would just be an expense with no profit.

We still don't know. What I do know is that everyone, including me, is much happier in the office. There's a feeling amongst the staff that we have visibly demonstrated we care for them by doing it. There's a huge amount more pride in the workplace. Everyone wants to keep things tidy and wants to keep it looking clean and neat. This man management thing is a tricky business isn't it?

With all things there's a balance to be struck between continual investment and spoiling people. Spoiling occurs frequently here, I often think we err on the side of treating people too well. The result is that, instead of being pleased to receive something, many are disappointed when they don't. The little extras become "givens" and are not appreciated, just missed if absent.

Currently all are happy with the refurb. Now we need to keep the enthusiasm that it has kicked off and build on it.

This Sunday sees me and the girls heading off to the new Wembley Stadium to see Muse live. They're the first live band to play there, although George Michael played a few days ago there. I think perhaps he doesn't count because he's crap or something.

The academic brother is coming too. The girls are excited as am I. I've wanted to see Muse live for a few years and this should be an occasion to remember. I'll keep you posted.

One thing that pisses me off about the nice weather we get here for a couple of hours every year; it's that fucking song "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley. What a load of shite. The only song on a par with it is "Summer of '69" and I believe it's illegal to not like that if you are under 35 and live in Sri Lanka.

Rant over. The rest of the stuff is all good and exciting. I've bought myself a little ticket to visit the motherland too. That's always enough to make a simple bloke like me highly excited.

Have fun all.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Psssst....keep this to yourself but...

I've got these two people who work for me who've been having an ongoing battle. First there's M. He's a 52 year old South Indian Tamil chap. He's as hardworking as an ox and as keen as mustard. He is honestly one of the best people I have here in terms of workload and eagerness to get on with things and do as much as possible. If there's extra work that needs doing he's always first in the queue. If I was the type of chap with occasional scant regard for employment law I'd get him to work 18 hours or even 20 a day. Of course I'm not like that though.

He has downsides though. He's not exactly a master of the English language and he's deaf as a post. This makes communicating with him a bit of a problem. He does speak English and understand it, the problem is that most things have to be said about 237 times before he hears the words, then they have to be repeated a few times whilst he gets to grips with the comprehension side of things. I think it would be a nice stroke of English understatement to describe a chat with M as interesting and challenging, a bit like a chat with my Dad actually. He's also got a way in which he winds people up the wrong way. I don't think he means it but it just happens. Partly to do with his lack of English and partly to do with his slightly antagonistic nature, it's a dangerous mix.

I'm not a necrophiliac or anything like that, I don't want to sound ambiguous here. In fact I've never had a desire to write with both hands anyway. But M has a peculiar smell to his persona too. And it's the smell of dead bodies, not that I have had significant experience of dead body odour. It's just that he has this sort of ghostly smell, like I would imagine you'd get from an old caretaker in an episode of Scooby Doo. The old caretaker who turns out to be the baddie, you know the story. M has that whiff and it kind of exists as a cloud that travels everywhere with him. I have a strong feeling that he may be a ghost, or a Scooby Doo character.

Then there's the other party in this. I'll call her A, because that's one of the letters in the alphabet. A is Greek, very large, with very bleached blonde hair. She has a pleasant demeanour and is quite religious. She wears far too much make up, has little sense of style about her and is one of those types who could benefit by going on one of those TV makeover programmes but wouldn't, because she thinks she's way too stylish. Frankly I find her as scary as fuck. If I met her in a dark alley, even though she knows me and works for me, I'd run. I'd run as fast and as far as my little Sri Lankan drummer's legs could carry me. Then I'd shit myself.

She's a genuinely kind person too. Last year she went to Lourdes and brought me back a bottle of holy water. It's one of the most tacky looking things I have ever seen, a dodgy plastic bottle painted badly by hand in a blue crayon looking effort. But the thought was nice and I appreciated it. Frankly I hadn't even realised beforehand that she was remotely interested in cricket.

A is also a good worker, but with a slightly lazy attitude. She has made a bit of a niche for herself in that she takes care of one of our sorting frames (we process mail). Her frame is a bit like her living room, not that I have any intention of ever seeing her living room. There are pictures up in this work area, it's all quite homely and welcoming. I have been surprised that she doesn't have a real fire burning in the corner there during the winter months. But I've tolerated the behaviour as I think that people who assume ownership of a role are often ones who take that role seriously and do their job with pride, which she does. So it's a bit of a win win, just with some losses on both sides.

For several months this feud has been simmering. M, our South Indian smelling of dead bodies chap and A, our big fat Greek scary woman, have been on the verge of a big fight. There's been a few shouting matches, not helped by M's deafness, A's Greekness and their fiery tempers. Things appeared to calm down some weeks ago as they came to a ceasefire agreement. I'm not sure how familiar you are with these ceasfire agreements but, in my opinion, they are about as strong as one of those stripey blue and white carrier bags, the ones that split at soon as they are touched. Just waiting to be broken.

Broke it did. Last week I got a text message (an SMS to you lot) from one of my partners to say that it had all kicked off in the warehouse between the two of them. They were both there working the evening shift and something had taken place. It was Friday night, I was happy to sit back, wait for the sparks on Monday, which may have just dissipated into the night over the weekend. I'm not sure if sparks do dissipate but you get my drift.

Well they didn't. On Monday morning M came to me to complain about A. All sorts of accusations were flying around my office. I felt like one of those chaps who has to keep ducking and moving his head out of the way as he tries desperately to avoid some bees that have been attacked by a lizard and are on the warpath. I listened to M, there's little point in saying stuff to him as the deafness and comprehension issues are always present. I let him sound off and get things out of his system. Then I told him I'd speak to the Greek woman before I made a decision on what to do next. He wanted her sacked because of all her "unreasonable" behaviour. He hadn't mentioned his alleged threat to kill her, which I had been told about. Fun and games.

Then, on Monday evening, I was sitting quietly in my newly decorated and refurbished office and A came up the stairs and headed in my direction. When a large mammal like that charges I know exactly what to do. I sat totally still, I didn't even move my eyes, I could hardly feel myself breathing as I waited for her to retreat. Had she been an elephant my plan would have worked, but she's a fat Greek woman with decent eyeseight so she saw me and headed for me.

"Mr Rhythmic I don't know what to do" she said.

There was a hint of tears in those big, overly made up with that blue stuff that women use on their eyes that looks like crayon, eyes. I'm not good with women who cry, or men for that matter. I think crying is an evil invention, made to stop a fellow in his tracks and to feel sympathy. If you're a woman reading this and you want to get something from me then just turn up at my doorstep whilst crying. That'll do the trick. If you're the sarongtroubleshooter woman just turn up, there's no need for tears.

She told me her "story" how M had threatened to kill her, how they used to be friendly but she "doesn't know what happened but it all changed", how she is at her wit's end and how she wants him to be fired. I had a very brief thought that perhaps they had had a fling and things hadn't worked out, causing bad feeling and death threats. These brief thoughts are a nightmare aren't they? To think of those two having sex is a terrible, terrible vision. If there was a porno film showing it I don't think even someone like Java Jones would watch it. That's the only way I can attempt to portray their ugliness.

I tried to put the thought away, to park it and move on. I knew that it would haunt me, and I was right.

I continued to listen to A's story. I made a point of not letting her sit down on the chair in my office. It had some stuff on it which I consciously left there to keep her standing up. I figured that it would prevent the thing taking too long and she could do with the exercise. I'm kind like that.

So, having heard her out, resisted her crying and not being moved by her pleas for M's dismissal and having heard out M and resisted his pleas for A's dismissal, I pondered and tried to figure out a course of action. I wasn't going to fire either of them, they're both good workers, I need them and they have employment rights. The UK has some good things, like peace, Ed's Diner, Apple stores and smooth roads. Employment rights are not one of them though.

I had a flash of inspiration and remembered that story from that book, The Bible. It was that story about a King or a wise man, not one of those three wise men, but a different one. There was a baby in this story and 2 possible mothers. My memory goes quite hazy at that point but I recollected something about said wise chap threatening to chop the child in half to see if one of the mothers would back down, thereby giving a clue that she was the real one.

But, I wasn't sure if A actually had any kids, nor was I sure on the whole "threatening to chop a child in half" thing. The threat may not have worked, then I would have had to do it. There was only one mother involved here too, and I wasn't sure on that. So I thought laterally. I decided to get them together, leave them in the new posh meeting room and tell them that they are both adults and need to sort things out. I would refuse to be a middle man and go up to my office leaving them to fight, argue, kill or just possibly find a solution. Either way I'd tell the fuckers that they couldn't come out of the room until they had sorted things.

I also decided that I wouldn't tell them about my plan until getting them together, it would give them minimal opportunity to prepare a defence as such. Tuesday evening came and I grabbed them, put them in the meeting room and sat down with them. I told them that we needed to sort this out, no one would be fired but that we had to work together and behave like adults. Every time I stopped to breathe on of them would interrupt me and try to say something, to get a point across. I wasn't having any of it. I told them that I wasn't a teacher in a school acting as the middle man and that they needed to talk to each other. I didn't expect them to become best friends but that I knew they'd sort it out. Then I left, telling them I'd check back in 10 minutes.

About 10 minutes later I returned to them, half expecting to find M's body lying on the meeting room floor. As I walked into the room I smelt dead bodies, a good sign as it made me realise he was very much alive. They were arguing, it looked a bit hostile and clearly hadn't been sorted but I told them I'd return in a while. About half an hour later I returned again. Peace had been declared. I didn't ask for the details, I didn't care actually. I was just pleased that the plan had worked.

Things are happy on the warehouse floor now. They may well have decided that they both hate me, that I am the cause of their problems, but that's ok, I'll live with that.

As Mr T would say; I love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chocolate Biscuit Pudding and Fornication

After my brief foray into writing about important things I'm moving back to the trivial stuff you expect from me. Politics is fascinating and interesting but I think I'm better to leave it to the experts like Voice in Colombo. Until next time of course.

These serious issues aren't for me, in recent days I've felt like a rabbit in the headlights as I've been accused of all sorts of things, most of which are true. And, did you know this? I had to look up the word "foray" in the dictionary as I wasn't sure if if had one or two "R's". There isn't actually a single word in the dictionary that starts with the letters "forr", except "Forrest" but that's the name of the first premier of Western Australia, which doesn't count. I was slightly amazed by this.

And, whilst I'm on the subject of words beginning with "for", did you know that "fornication" is defined as "voluntary sexual intercourse outside marriage"? I had always thought it was just a term for sex. I live and learn.

Lady Luck, in her usual eloquent and witty manner, wrote a little post here about the perils and problems, the lack of imagination in the average South Asian dessert. Now I'm not a chap with a big sweet tooth and as one of my best friends always says

"a pudding is just a waste of stomach space"

Give me a plate of rice and curry or a good old full English any day over a tub of Haagen Daaz and some chocolate sauce, although the belgian chocolate flavour stuff is pretty fine. But I can still appreciate a nice British trifle or a good light French Chocolate Mousse, and fine French tarts are a particular favourite of mine. It's the accent I think.

Most European desserts are far less rich and less sweet than their Asian counterparts. A trifle served in England will certainly have about half the sugar content of a Sri Lankan one, only Sri Lankan hotels make a feature of a dessert section in their restaurant in which there is that vast array of multi coloured bouncy blancmange type of puddings which no one can identify. It's not important as they all taste the same, of sugar and fruit, or fruits.

There is one Sri Lankan dessert that takes the biscuit, a bit too literally.

That old Sri Lankan favourite.

Chocolate biscuit pudding.

What's the fuck is it all about? I don't mind the odd mouthful of the stuff but, unless you have some kind of deathwish, it doesn't make sense.

Chocolate biscuits are good, we all know that. I have heard stories of people who can only eat one chocolate biscuit at a time, unverified though. I would even go so far as saying that a dessert can be good, as I mentioned above. But, turning a packet of chocolate biscuits into a pudding just goes against the grain doesn't it?

I have a friend in Sri Lanka who can't cook anything, in all the years I have known him I have never witnessed him cook. Now I'm no expert myself but I can knock up a tin of baked beans or a fry up if pushed. But this chap proudly boasts that he can make a good chocolate biscuit pudding and people gaze at him with a sense of admiration. They look at him as if nothing else matters but his ability to knock up a respectable CBP.

Chocolate biscuit pudding is a sticky concoction that consists of chocolate biscuits (unsurprisingly), cream, sugar, anything sweet that can be found in the average Sri Lankan kitchen and then lots more sugar. The more refined palette can add some nuts to taste. There's probably some condensed milk chucked in for good measure too.

It exists because it can, a bit like one of those celebrities who are famous for being famous. Like that Hilton woman. It's the Michael Jackson of desserts isn't it. It's got mostly decent raw materials, talent and some qualities, but it's been mixed up together and made into the one of the most sickly things known to man, or child. Yet many people like it.

How on Earth did someone invent it and why?

These things puzzle me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

What Do You Think Then?

Let's see if we can be a bit mature about this shall we?

I ask because I am genuinely interested, not because I want to start some kind of name calling competition.

So the Government of Sri Lanka has issued an apology for the eviction of the 376 Tamils from Colombo last week. There were blog posts all over the Sri Lankan blogosphere talking about it, including mine here.

Java made probably the most mature post I read here.

Voice in Colombo was his usual vociferous self about it here. Personally I disagree with most of his points, but differing opinions are interesting and stimulating.

The one thing that struck me about the whole episode, and the criticism of it, was that many took the approach that one could only be patriotic by backing the GOSL, that there is a war going on and all is fair in love and war. There was an air, from some not all, that any negative opinion of the actions of the GOSL was an act of disloyalty, that it made you "un Sri Lankan".

So what I'd like to know is what people feel about the apology. If you were a person who expressed support for the evictions and felt that it was unpatriotic to criticise the actions of the GOSL do you now feel that you should back the apology?

If you don't agree with the apology then does that make you unpatriotic?

What do you reckon?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Boys, Girls and Instruction Manuals

The temporary office i'm in has a real window, a luxury for me. Instead of the window I'm used to which merely overlooks some women, now I've got one that looks over a car park, with forty foot lorries loading and unloading at regular intervals. There are forklift trucks doing their thing and activity of all kinds is continually going on.

There are certain boyish things that still capture me, as if were a youngster playing with my toy cars and planes and things. Aiports and planes are a constant source of fascination. My office is about five minutes from Heathrow, I spend far more time than the average person does collecting and dropping people at the airport. Yet I still love the airport. It's got an atmosphere and a feel, a buzz to it, as do all airports for me. There's something about the smell of aircraft fuel, the constant feeling of movement and the pure excitement of seeing the aircraft take off and land that never ceases to impress me.

Cars are one of my loves. I still get that butterfly feeling when I see a Ferrari Dino or hear the unique twin carbed sound of the engine in an old MGB as it trundles past me. I can recognise the tones of an old VW Beetle engine from about four miles and a glance at an Aston Martin Vantage, even though they are an essential accessory for most professional footballers here, can get me just that little bit horny, well a bit more actually.

Ships, now there's another interesting one. I think it's something about the size of them that I marvel at. The way in which these massive iron monstrosities (or whatever they're made of) are little cities in their own right. Is it only me who's constantly in awe at the way in which the containers are managed, how they are stacked and loaded and how they're moved around as if they're tiny little boxes made from cardboard. Whenever I see a forty foot container lorry I look at its size, think that it's a pretty large vehicle, then realize it's tiny in comparision to an ocean going freighter with hundreds of these containers stacked on board.

Instructions manuals are the one men's dilemna I do have though. I'm never sure what the norm is for us men. Are we the ones who are supposed to read them or are we the ones who are supposed to ignore them, only to glance through them at the very last minute, when we have tried all and are just about to give up?

My approach on the instruction manual issue is to generally read the little things before I approach the new item. Of course I don't read all the girl's stuff like where the batteries go and how to operate the power button, but I read the "how to set up and use the new universal remote control" bit before steaming ahead with useage. I wouldn't dream of reading the manual from cover to cover, of digesting every word, but I'll glance through it to get the basics sorted. But what exactly is the trend here? Do most men do this or is it the fairer and lovelier sex ( that's women to you, Java) who read manuals?

But instruction manuals, planes, trains and automobiles are all well and good. Airports, cranes and constructions sites may well be measurements of a man. Whether you read instructions or not just might give some indication. Shaving, periods, childbirth and farting might just be crucial differences between the sexes.

Ultimately there's only one foolproof way, one accurate gauge for differentiating the sexes. It's the only surefire way to tell the men from the women. I've studied it for a few years and concluded that it's true the world over, with a possible exception being Chatham in Kent.

Yes people, it's how you throw a ball. Simple, but true. Women throw like girls, men throw like boys. If you have the action of some kind of demented shotputter, where there is no backswing involved, a little grunt and a tiny distance cleared, then you're a girl. If you casually throw a cricket or tennis ball with the action of Andy Roddick serving an ace then you're a boy, complete with backspin, distance and nonchalence.

You may or may not have a willy, you may or may not be able to give birth. These things are mere details, just minor technicalities.

How you throw is the real measurement.

Friday, June 8, 2007


It's ethnic cleansing, it's barbaric, it's simple.

When I started blogging I had no intention of ever posting about the Sri Lankan political situation.

This is terrible though. Whether it's 376 people or not, whatever is going on in the Country, this is simply a gross violation of Human rights.

Comment, post, blog, talk, just voice your opinion about it.


Never too old to Fart

I may be slightly over my teen years, I may have kids that are actually in their teens, I may be a highly regarded captain of industry and a world renowned drummer. I may be all of these things, in my own mind at least, but I'm childish enough to enjoy a good farting situation when I see one.

I was strolling round our office with Ken, one of my partners. We were checking off things that had been done in the ofice refurbishment, making sure that everything on the list had been completed to our satisfaction. Were the doors painted, were the walls moved slightly to the left, that sort of thing.

There we were, just the two of us in the new canteen / kitchen area that we've had done at considerable expense for all to enjoy. We were having a laugh and, as blokes are prone to do, I farted, a good quality loud one, one of those boastful ones that all men like to do and all women pretend to be disgusted about but then practice at home when no one's around.

Ken made the usual men's fake being disgusted sounds and we continued with our checklist. Minutes later we were both suprised by the smell, this had been an unexpectedly smelly one. He did the "uuurghh that's fucking disgusting" thing and I wallowed in both the smell and my achievement.

Just at that point one of the guys doing the building work strolled into the kitchen, Steve the electrician. He's a nice chap is Steve and, over the past few weeks, we've got to know him and his colleagues quite well. He walked in and smelt the odour.

Ken looked at me, I looked at Ken, Steve looked at both of us. There was only one thing I could do, one honourable path to take. So I stepped up, never one to shirk my responsibilities, always one to own up to my shortcomings. I swallowed my pride and behaved like a man:

"Urgh Ken you dirty bastard, did you drop one?" I asked.

"No it was you, you wanker." came the reply.

It was too late. Steve just knew it was Ken, from the embarassed look on his face and the way he denied it immediately. I just went with it. I could only look on with pleasure and satisfaction as Steve blamed Ken for the smell, his fervent denials merely made him appear even more guilty.

We may not have breasts but sometimes it's good to be a man, it's good to fart and it's even better to blame your mate.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

We need them...I just wouldn't want to be one.


A crucial element to success in modern day business. They record things, they take a snapshot view of things as they are now and have been in the past. Figures are compiled, overheads are measured and costed, revenue is added up, (although no accountant can ever do mental arithmetic) and profit or loss is declared.

Then these chaps tell us about all the problems we will face if everything that could possibly go wrong actually does go wrong. I wonder about this whole accountant / finance person phenomenon. Us businesspeople need them, we need measurements and benchmarks, we need to know how we're doing on an ongoing basis. Most people involved in business are quite driven, we want to succeed, we want to make money and we want to develop and grow our little seedlings of Companies.

Therefore we must have people to tell us how we're doing. If we don't know where we are then we can't know how to get to our destination, or something deep like that.
But I also get totally fucked off with my finance director sometimes, who's also one of my partners. He'll present the monthly management accounts and accompany it with a list of potential problems. Along the lines of:

"If we don't have any revenue next month we'll make a big loss"

or "We need to reduce our overheads to make more money".

All valid and true statements, yet all totally obvious to the most stupid of people. Even some of the people on "The Apprentice" would grasp these basics. My eleven year old daughter knows this stuff. Mind you she does know most things, such is the power of the internet mixed with attitude.

For me though it comes back to that old statement, that adage that you see on posters in offices like mine:

"Don't come to me with problems, come to me with solutions".

I want to be one of the creative ones, the type who thinks of things, who deals with stuff and moves on. I really don't want to dwell on what might go wrong, what did go wrong and what will go wrong if everything else goes wrong. There's a balance too though. It's vitally important to look at previous experiences in order to learn from them, to learn good and bad things. How to do things in the future and how not to do things.

But, if you ever catch me criticising things to the nth degree and moaning about stuff, give me a good slap will you.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

What's Occurring in These Parts

Well the gigs last Friday and Saturday were both spiffingly excellent. Friday's Mimosa outing was the highlight. We played as if our lives depended on it, we grooved like the bunch of groovy mothers we can be and the whole club was dancing to our tunes and screaming for more.

It was the most exciting gig I've played so far, I've started a separate post on it, I may just finish that and put it up sometime. The gig was recorded and I'm excited about getting the recording, which should be sometime this week. If anyone wants a copy let me know and I'll figure out a way of getting it to you. Of course you may have to sleep with me though.

The covers band gig, my first one with them, was also good. I played well, the band played well and all was received with enthusiasm and vigour. It feels a bit flat in comparison to Friday night, on reflection it's because it's relatively easy to go out and play "I Predict a Riot" and the like to some pissed up 40 somethings and to get a good reaction. Still enjoyable, still a buzz, just not as satisfying as playing originals and getting the same reaction. Big fish, small pond, large mushy peas, you know the metaphors.

The refurbishment at work is progressing nicely. I'm not happy with the carpet though. This is a bit of a bummer as I chose it. Fuck!

In a weak moment about a month ago I started smoking again, almost three years since I stopped. When I stopped previously I had done it by going on one of those Allen Carr clinics. I can't recommend them highly enough. Even when I started again I never felt as if I had failed, just that I had succeeded for a good few years and that I wanted to stop again. So I did. I smoked myself silly for a number of weeks, booked myself back on an Allen Carr clinic, went along, sat there for five hours and stopped. It cost me about £200, money that I would have spent on cigarettes in a matter of months. Bargain. The best thing about it is that I left the clinic and got on with life, no pangs, no being on the verge of a nervous breakdown, no feeling as if I'm missing out on anything.

I've added a new link in the list of blogs I read. Check it out. It's called Outstation Life. It's about Outstation Life. She's a friend of Jules. She's interesting.

And that's about all I can reveal to you now.

Oh yes, I'm trying to learn to cook. It's slow and steady, quite hard to do too.

And I got my Muse tickets the other day. Weekend after next will see me and the girls in the new Wembley stadium rocking along to Bliss and Starlight.

Excited about life.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Not Too Bad - Not Sri Lankan then!

I've blogged about this before, but it's sooo been getting on my nerves in recent months. It's the answer to the "How are you?" question, the answer that goes:

"I'm not too bad"

I think it's a common response in England, or the UK, to being asked how we are. I really can't imagine that there are many simple statements that actually portray more of a negative feeling than this one. As the song goes, please don't let me be misunderstood. I wouldn't want you to think I'm some kind of white toothed, grinning infectiously and motivating everyone type of chap, or worse still, an American. But it's such a negative statement, it's as if the utterrer of the words normally lives a crap life but, on this rare occasion, their life is just about bearable. Normally on a different day they would be on the verge of suicide but today, things are just that little bit better.

Why so negative? Why so despondent? Or is it just a stock answer to a stock question, neither of which requires any semblance of thought to be said, or asked.

Whenever I ask someone how they are I actually mean it I'd rather get a genuine response, one that tells me about the chap's latest woes and how the boil on his right arse cheek still hasn't cleared up, or even better, I like to hear that life is pretty peachy, that things are great because his business is doing particularly well or his cat has just won the lottery. In return, when a fellow asks me how I am I invariably say that I'm good, that things are bright and positive. Or, on a bad day I might actually say that I'm feeling a bit down, that I'm a bit tired or whatever the truth is. I figure that most people would prefer to hear that kind of truthfulness than "not bad thanks, how are you?"

But tell me please. Is it the English or is it just people in general?

I sometimes feel so weighed down when people sigh about their life, they are oh so busy, oh so tired, oh so carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. And it seems to be here, in the UK. When I meet people in Sri Lanka, or in many other parts of the world, they just don't have that air of doom about them.

Is it my imagination? Or do Sri Lankans say this "not too bad" thing too?

Friday, June 1, 2007

HI !!

In between Christmas and the New Year a copy of Hi!! Magazine arrived on my desk addressed to me. This caused confusion and bewilderment, rather like the ending of a new song we're doing in Mimosa.

It was addressed to me personally at my work address and I hadn't been expecting it. But I had a faint shimmer of a thought lurking in the deepest recesses of my mind. One of those thoughts that goes like this:

"Ah, I think I may have bought myself a subscription to this a while ago, it does sound familiar actually, ah yeah shit I did do it."

So I read it. Then I gave it to my Mum and Dad so they could pick out their friends and relatives in it.

Sometime in March the next issue arrived. After several read throughs I felt disappointment and dismay. There was not a single mention, not even a double page spread, of my week in Sri Lanka. There were however, plenty of the usual friends and relatives featured in their prominence there. Photos of people at parties, openings and lunches, festivals and weddings. People who were mostly pretending they didn't want to be featured in there, but still made sure their best side was showing.

Now this HI!! magazine phenomenon amazes, intrigues and puzzles me in a way that it shouldn't. The amount of time I spend thinking on it is not warranted, it's just a magazine after all. It's the apparent contrast between what people say about it (in Sri Lanka) and what they actually think of it that makes me ponder.

I believe it was Oscar Goldman who once said something about it being a bore to be invited but even worse not to be (massive prizes available here for anyone who knows who Oscar Goldman was, without the aid of a search engine). That's it with HI!! too.

I've seen so many who moan about it, rant about it and mock the people who are in it, then pore through its pages looking for a picture of themselves. I find it fun, to look through its glossy, badly taken on someone's compact camera because there was no one around with a decent camera pictures.

Peering at pictures of some distant cousin's wedding to see if there's a picture of my Mum and Dad there, scrutinising the photos taken at the launch of a car that only Sri Lankan cricketers and sons of MPs will be able to buy. Of course half the population of Sri Lanka is the son of an MP so it's a lucrative market anyway.

There's usually some double page spread of a fancy dress party at one of the usual haunts. If I were a god I'd like to be the god of fancy dress. I'd make a law, or whatever it is that gods make, and it would dictate that people can only appear in fancy dress that matches their skin colour. Us brown skinned darkies really shouldn't go to a fancy dress party dressed as Marilyn Monroe or the blonde haired bloke from The Dukes Of Hazzard. It doesn't work, we just look scary.

The best thing about HI!! mag?? It's ever so slightly similar to another well known magazine with a similar name. I can't quite remember the name but it'll come to me.

I'm off now to do some gigs this weekend. The sun is out, the sky is blue, I'm sure I'll forget a chorus or two!

If you are the editor of HI!! I am still available for that "At home with Rhythmic Diaspora" double page spread that you're thinking about too.