Yesterday I was on a plane flying back into London. I wrote some bits and pieces in my journal and thought that it would be interesting, a la Cerno, to publish it as a handwritten post. But I forgot two things; that my handwriting is crap, unreadable to anyone bar me, and even I struggle sometimes and that I'd have to take a decent quality photo with a tripod and things and that's quite hard to do when I'm knackered.
Instead I'll type it out for you and leave you with the feeble attempt at a photograph above. It's only a page but the real journal entry lasts for three pages, several hours and several different Countries' airspace. It's word for word, complete with any grammatical or spelling errors made as I wrote. Here we go:
28/12/08 - 8.02PM Singapore time, 5.32 PM CMB time, 12.02 PM GMT (I think)
As I write this I've got Starlight by Muse blasting into my ears via my iPod and my mind is in one of those "overjoyed with life but amazed by the power of music (yet again!)" modes.
It's THE song that has felt like the soundtrack to my life for the last 2 years, not really what I was planning to write about here, but I'm on a tangent now and may as well explore it before abandoning ship or pushing forward on this tangential journey.
And, talking of journeys, this post comes to you from seat 36J of a Singapore Airlines A380, my now definite favourite plane. In a minute I might write a sentence from either 36H or 36K, not because I plan to jump in the lap of my next door neighbours while they're fast asleep, but because I've got three seats all to myself and that's the kind of guy I am. This post is being handwritten into my journal and I fully intend to copy it word for word into my blog and hit the "publish" button. That is, assuming I can think of some vaguely funny stuff to say, which would appear to be in the "not happening" mode right now.
I'll take a break now actually as a tray of aircraft food is on its way to me. The SQ menu calls it a "light meal" and I wonder if, like Joey in Friends, I might be using too many quotation marks as I write, or "as write" See, I knew I'd come up with something "funny".
After my light meal I'll resume the random writings. I wonder if this might be a highly interesting post, kind of like a live feed, though published a day or two after it all happened.
1.05 PM GMT - Somewhere over Turkmenistan.
The light meal is over and the aircraft's lights have been turned off for all of us to sleep, something that won;t occur easily for me, what with the pounding bassline and spectacular drumming of Hysteria, live at Wembley by Muse, blasting into the RD ears. I was at the gig at which this was recorded and have to learn the song for a rehearsal in about a fortnight's time. Very nice, but I'll be lucky to perform it at Wembley Station let alone the Stadium.
The recently consumed meal hit the spot, no more and no less. Noodles with pork and things was good, the cold meat with its salad of unidentifiable vegetables was tasty in the way a Britney Spears gig in which she mimed to everything so perfectly that you couldn't tell she was miming, but you knew it anyhow, sort of way.
The menu said "Chocolate delight" for the dessert. The "Chocolate delight" was actually a Snickers bar. Frankly that was a let down. I had expected one of those little rectangles with a texture like Wattalapam and a taste like a pudding that would be eaten on a space station, not a Sri Lankan one either, as that would just be Wattalapam or Chocolate Biscuit Pudding. So that was a disappointment.
Chocolate Delight! - A bar of Snickers. Yeah right.
And what is it about Asian bread? I just don't understand why Sri Lankan and Singaporean white bread has got a texture and feel just the same as British and European offerings yet the have a slightly sweet taste, like someone's spilled some sugar into the dough by mistake.
The music has kind of gone full circle, the live version of Starlight this time. Isn't it a bit mad how I've got about 7000 or more songs on my iTunes but I have such a small core of maybe 50 or 100 songs that I listen to with so much regularity.
Now, with just over 5 1/2 hours until London, I'm spoilt for choice for things to do. There are 2 books on the seat next to me to read, the iPod full of its charms, the SQ in flight entertainment system stuffed to the top with entertainment and some tiredness looming largely over me.
A vague plan is sitting in my head. It's along the lines of some sleep, a bit more rambling afterwards, but only until the end of the page, so I can photograph the 2 and put that in the post, (that bit didn't work) though you won't be able to read my writing anyway.
3.20 PM GMT - Somewhere over Russia.
Just under 4 hours until London now, this bit is accompanied by Natalie Imbruglia and my desire to listen to the album, the one with "torn" on it. Pure pop, nothing really to write home about, or blog about. I've read part 3 of the epic novel I'm reading; World without End by Ken Follett. It's pulled me in and captured and captivated me in that addictive way that good writing does. The name "Ken" doesn't sound like a novelist though does it? AA, JK, PG or JR are proper writers' names, or Salman or Ashok. Ken is a bloke who spends hour after hour making sense out of a spreadsheet.
I'll take my leave now. It's rare that I can listen and enjoy music, ironic I know, and I've moved to No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom, it demands my attention.
Laters x PS - Just a Girl - Absofuckinglutely fanfuckingtastic song!
And there it is. A word for word, error for error replica of exactly what I wrote in my journal. If nothing else it proves how much editing I have to do before I actually publish a post.
I wish you a happy and successful New Year and thank you for reading my blog so far.
Well those of you who are FB friends of me may know this already, but indeed I am that friend. The child concerned is K, which probably won't surprise you. The full letter to me went like this:
Dad, You Poo Poo.
Did You Have A Nice Christmas In Singaporian Land ?
Now Let's Cut To The Point...
I Made A New Bebo Because My Other One Was Boring And Had Fam Fam On It
And Then It Accidentally Got Deleted.
Therefore It Appeared We Were Not Friends.
But I Have A Few Conditions About Facebook:
1. You Cannot Add Any Of My Friends (Except For Family).
2. You Cannot Comment Me Anywhere But My Wall.
3. You Do NOT Tell Me What I Can And Can't Do On Facebook.
4. You Shall Call Me By 'K... Or Miss K' (You Seem To Enjoy That Nick Name) But Nothing Else Like 'Darling, Honey, Sweetheart Etc.' (Not That You Do Already?!), Oh And Kashunia Is An Acception.
If You Fail To Obey Those Rules I Will Delete You As A Friend.
Bye Daddy, xox I'm still wondering about the best way to respond to this. As a means of buying time and to establish some sort of opener I've told her that I'm not prepared to accept her conditions and haven't responded to her request for more information. And then I got stumped. What do you think?
As I lie in the London bed unable to sleep I think on things, mostly stupid ones. It's interesting when the mind takes those ponderings and turns them into dreams isn't it? Those light dreams that happen very quickly.
One of those things was about kissing, it didn't turn into a dream you'll be pleased to know. I though how amusing it is that my kissing, the greeting an aunt or a friend type of kissing, not the snogging variety, is a mixture of the Sri Lankan and British cultures.
You see, on greeting someone, when kissing is the required form of greeting, I always go in for a two cheeked approached. The recipient's right cheek first then a quick shift onto the left one. That's where the Sri Lankan approach comes in. Here people usually do a one cheeked version and express surprise when they realise I'm about to go in for the other cheek too. It can lead to some mildly embarrassing situation but, at that point, I usually crack a joke about "us foreigners" or "subcontinentals" and we all chuckle and get on with it.
The British side of me insists on going in for a proper kiss though. I purse my lips, the lips make contact with the other person's skin and I make that kissing noise, the one that sounds like a kiss. After many years of uncertainty and doubt I've decided that I just don't do the Sri Lankan sniffing kiss, the one where you brush cheeks and sniff, with no lip to skin contact whatsoever.
The only exceptions I make to this are when I'm greeting one of my more pious Muslim Aunts. Then I may be spotted doing a bit of a Sri Lankan sniff kiss, for fear of upsetting the Aunt involved in the equation at the time. I think it's a suitable compromise.
There are some people who might get a kiss on the lips, one who might get a snog. When I finally get to meet Dinidu I'll probably give him a snog too, in a manly way.
My first Christmas day in a tropical climate was an experience, a good one at that. It was spent with good friends, good food and good copious amounts of alcohol. What more can a fellow ask?
It's a funny place to be for the festivities though, perhaps I'll get more used to it, I don't know. The heat and the mix of Christmas atmosphere are the strange things. It's almost two AM as I type this and I can't sleep but it must be twenty something degrees, possibly a factor in the whole can't sleep issue, though I'd hardly call it an issue, even though I just did.
I sort of have to pinch myself to remember that it is Christmas. My point of reference is the UK and how the weather is there at this time of year. I mooch, stroll and float around here, Christmas lights, decorations, trees and songs coming at me from every angle and it's hard to take in until I think of the cold greyness and miserable weather that for sure will be happening in London. Then it hits me that it really is Christmas time.
I spoke to the girls earlier today and I was as pleased as a village idiot who's just come last in the village idiot of the year competition to find out that they were genuinely chuffed with my choice of presents. I should probably get some sort of medal for my carefully selected gifts and might tell you more about them in another post.
The other thing I'm taking in here is the way that many shops, businesses and restaurants are open and carrying on as normal. Cabs are scooting around as commonly as ever, the eating houses are all open and the twenty four hour bakery that I'm so fond of was doing brisk business at about 10 PM this (last) evening. I suppose it's because of the mixture of cultures, religions and nationalities here.
In the UK Christmas is everywhere, particularly at this time of year. The country more or less shuts down for it. It's one of the few times in the year when it happens but it certainly does. Here things are different and I could have taken a walk down Orchard Rd and done some shopping earlier had I been that way inclined.
I'll try sleeping again now. I must tell you about the new book I'm reading. It's got over twelve hundred pages and I've only read about seventy five but am already engrossed. I don't think I've ever read a novel with so many pages and the words aren't even written in a massive font.
I hope your day was a good one. It it was half as good as mine then I'm sure mine was twice as good as yours.
I was trusted with this information and I hope that 6 will understand my reasons for revealing it to the blogosphere.
In her life there's been heartache and pain, it's crazy but it's true. There's nothing more to say, no more ace to play. And after all the laughing like children, living like lovers and rolling like thunder under the covers, it's time to be a big girl now and big girls don't cry.
The fact and the reason the relationship didn't work out, something I'm sorry to have to reveal at this time of the year, is that the mystery man was......Father Christmas.
It was all going so well until 6 discovered that he only comes once a year and that's down the chimney.
The truth is out there.
6 - please forgive me but I had to tell them, they need to know what he's like.
It's 1.00 AM and I can't sleep. Off to Singapore in the morning and some zeds would be good now, Instead I'm wide awake. I've browsed all my favourite blogs, checked things in the Facebook world, had a glance at my email and eaten half a bar of chocolate. You know, all the things that normally help a chap to sleep.
I finished Twilight too. The end was good, as was the middle and the beginning. A has seen the film twice now and K's off to see ot tomorrow. I wonder it it will be showing on the plane, that would be good. But I better keep it quiet from Indyana's daughter of course.
Shopping with K yesterday was eventful as she called upon me to help her choose a book to read, more about that later. Suffice to say I was well out of my depth. I calmed myself by buying some new shoes. They're brown and pointy and so cool that I've contemplated taking a picture of them and putting it up here to show you.
I've decided not to. It's okay for girls to do that sort of thing and get other girls to coo over their new footwear but I reckon it's not a masculine road to venture down.
Ah well, perhaps some sleepiness is finally hitting me.
As I tidy up and get ready to go I've just been signing some cheques. It's something I do regularly, as I guess do many people who are involved in business.
But, it's a test of the old RD Christmas spirit to sign a cheque for £63,000 and a bit, made payable to HM Revenue and Customs. I can't recall exactly but I think it's possibly the largest cheque I've ever signed.
That Christmas feeling of excitment is growing. Tonight it's the last gig of the year, a Christmas party at a posh and exclusive west end club for some media types. It should be fun, festive and f...... Damn, I can't think of another f word, a clean one that is.
Tomorrow's my last day at work before my festive break. On Sunday I'll be flying off to warmer climes for the yuletide week. I'm soooo looking forward to a week of Christmas in the sun. I've never, in all my few years, spent Christmas in a hot climate so this will be a new experience for me.
That's it for now.
If we don't speak before I just wanted to wish the whole Sri Lankan blogosphere a very merry Christmas and a peaceful holiday time.
As my Facebook experiences grow I continue to both learn and get more confused by it.
The whole etiquette business of the great social networking tool is something that continually has me rather mindfucked, wary of committing FB faux pas on a minute by minute basis. That may well be the first time I've ever written the word, or is it words, "faux pas" and it's just my bloody luck that I'd like to use its plural form and I don't know what that is. Even the dictionary doesn't help.
I like Facebook, I should probably start out by saying that, lest you think this is going to be some sort of rant about how much I hate the thing and how it's ruining society and damaging the ozone layer. I used to think that it was a load of rubbish, that it was as evil as Dr No, with his cruel treatment towards Ursula Andress, but that was all before I was converted. These days I'm a firm fan and would probably happily start up a "we love Facebook" group on it if:
a) I had the faintest idea how to start up a group
b) The stupid but believable thing is that someone probably has already done so
d) Whatever happened to c?
c) ah, here it is.
e) ok, I've just had a quick search and there is one.
After some consideration (2 seconds' worth) I'm not going to join it because I actually think it's a bit stupid. It's like doing a survey at your local supermarket asking people to give information about why they never go to the supermarket, then wondering why there are no responses, except in reverse.
But it's also a bit scary. It makes me feel a bit like I used to feel when I was younger and getting to know my now ex Mother In Law. Any chap or woman who has ever had a Mother In Law will know how this feels. They may be a nice person, they may be warm, friendly and full of diplomacy, but you should never let your guard down. The important thing with MILs, not to be confused with MILFs, is to always tread warily, as if you're walking on jelly in your favourite shoes.
I've now got 74 "friends" on FB. This intrigues me, as in real life I actually have about 2 friends, that's if I'm allowed to include Theena, whom I've never actually met but have spoken to in every way except the one in which you're actually with each other, like in the same place. I've made contact with a lot of old friends whom I haven't seen for years and I've had a few friend requests from the most surprising of directions.
On the other side of the friends coin I've made friend requests to people who either hardly ever look at their FB account or have rejected my friendship. Can you imagine that?
I often sit at my desk with FB open in the background and will sometimes look at that thing that shows which of your friends are online. This bewilders me too. What's the accepted rule of behaviour about this? I'll often say a hello to someone but usually it's the men who respond. As I ponder on it I think the men always respond, it's the women who often don't and this is what I don't understand.
Maybe it's because many women go online and are instantly bombarded by men "friends" saying hello and they think they are being chatted up. Or perhaps it's because they have so many friends that they're always talking to someone else. I just don't know, I'd initially thought that FB was just that means for friends to keep in touch, but could it be that people use it for flirtatious things? My God, what is the world coming to?
I've decided to deal with this by not "approaching" women unless I know they're happy to chat. I don't want to get myself a pervy Uncle, or even a pervy friend, type of reputation after all.
Another thing I've discovered is that there's little consistency in different people's approach to FB. I mix with quite of lot of muso and creative types and fully expected every single one of them to be fully paid up FB devotees, but no, there's no pattern whatsoever. Some people whom I would think of as professional networkers don't even have a Facebook account but will be the first person to email everyone in the world the latest joke they've heard.
Others, the types who don't know the difference between a blackberry and a dingleberry, are on Facebook every hour and every minute of the day, with status updates that are as frequent as my own personal dingleberries. It's like all laws of logic have flown out of the window.
I'm enjoying watching the comments between some couples on their respective walls, little love notes and messages of affection one day followed by apologies and grovelling the next day after there has obviously been some sort of huge row. Perhaps about putting too much information on FB.
There's something very egotistical about some people's FB behaviour isn't there? Recognition, the evil thing that motivates so many of us to differing degrees, rears its very ugly head and finds somewhere to live on Facebook. If you're the type of person who does charity work purely because you want others to know how good you are then your FB wall is the perfect vehicle to shout from, not that a wall could be a vehicle, unless it was a lorry transporting bricks.
My relationship with A, my eldest daughter, has benefited from FB too. After the turmoil of being refused friendship by her, which hardly affected me at all, we're now "friends" and frequently chat online there. I've chosen to live with the fact that she overstates her age by a few years, that she and all her friends swear quite a lot on it and generally pretend they're far more mature and advanced in years than they actually are. It's amusing to watch, knowing that it won't be too long before they start to pretend they're younger than they actually are.
The fact is that it's a good way to have contact with A and for that I'm grateful.
On a whim, in a Tesco and browsing at the book section I bought myself a copy of Twilight. I don't know if you're aware of it but it's the book that's taking most of the western world by storm, most likely the eastern world too. More importantly it's taking the life of A, my fourteen year old, by storm. She's totally obsessed by the book at the moment.
All she wants for Christmas is anything to do with Twilight, all she wants to talk about are the characters from the book and all she wants to do is see the film as soon as it's out. So it seemed like a good thing to do, to buy the book and read it and see what all the fuss is about. In this time of awkwardness in my relationship with A I wasn't sure if she might be angry with me for reading it, in a sort of encroaching on her territory way, or chuffed that I was interested in it.
I deliberated on the very serious issue of whether I should tell her of my latest literary venture. Should I read it and slip a few references to it into the conversation just to test the water or maybe just blurt out "hey guess what I'm reading?" and risk the wrath of a teenage daughter?
As it turned out my deliberations, ruminations and ponderings were all academic. K saw it in my bag and shouted "hey guess what Dad's reading?" in such a loud voice that most of Teddington and some neighbouring areas like Sweden are now aware of it. My fears proved unfounded and A was as pleased as punch with the situation, which in turn has put me under some pressure, of the kind I secretly like.
Conversations with both the girls have ensued, about the book, the characters and my suitability to read the thing. They're okay, in fact they're chuffed that I'm reading it, A in particular. Our interactions are littered with questions about how far I've got in it, what I think of Edward and my mental activity regarding anything you can think of that's vaguely related to the story.
The three of us had a discussion about why I was reading it. My explanation was along the lines of the first paragraph in this post; that I was browsing Tesco's book section and it was number two in the bestseller's charts. I was unsure if this (and still am) is a girls' or teenager's or adult or everyone book but bought it anyhow. I truthfully told them that one of my reasons was because I wanted to see why A was so obsessed with it. K, in her dulcid but gifted tones replied casually
"I don't know why you're bothered Dad. You read girls' books anyhow."
We chuckled, it was something I could hardly argue with, as you may know if you've read this.
So I'm now engrossed in this story of teenagers, vampires and the life of an American High School. It's strangely captivating and I feel like one of those fully grown people who you see unashamedly reading Harry Potter books.
In the past, when I've found myself caught in a storyline involving glamorous women, money, sex and men who all look like film stars, I've felt a need to find out what happens but haven't wanted to show people my choice of reading matter. I've dealt with these matters by reading behind closed doors, hiding the book and keeping quiet about it.
In contrast I'm okay with being spotted with this book. The opening chapter tells of a smart and responsible teenage girl with divorced parents who, for several reasons, goes to live with her Dad after some time living with her mother. The mother's got idiosyncrasies and the father's a bit clueless but a responsible sort of fellow who tries hard to please his daughter, usually failing abysmally.
I don't see why A relates to this storyline yet, but am hoping things will become clear to me.
In the meantime I'm getting deeper and deeper into it. A has offered to take me to see the film when it comes out, though she is of course going with friends to see it first.
I don't really know Mr Tissera but I've been admiring his photography for some time. He has a way of using the light in his pictures that is different and frequently striking.
If you know a bit about photography you might be aware of the rule of thirds. As in any subject, knowing when to throw the rule book out of the window can often be the key to creating a memorable picture and that's what Yanik's done here. It's the perfect symmetry that hits the viewer bang smack between the eyes.
Rules, schmules. The fact is that this photograph gives me that butterfly feeling when I look at it.
The Sri Lankan blogosphere has its experts, all of whom we recognise and look to for guidance at various times.
If I want to know about politics, current affairs or a plethora of things I'll have a good look at Indi's blog. If it's advertising and creative things then I'm spoilt for choice, what with Viceunversa's place, TMS' and a few others. Photographic inspiration always comes from Dominic Sansoni's and Sebastian Posingis' blogs. Then, if I need to know about birds, of one kind, there's Amila's well known blog. If it's birds of the other variety I need to know about then, well let's face it, I'll go elsewhere, phone a friend or something.
And, though JP says we shouldn't start a sentence with "and", I'm going to throw caution to the wind and do it. That's the kind of guy I am. Sach, I do have a life, of sorts, it's mostly drum, kid and work related though. And, when I want to rebel, I sometimes start a sentence with an "and".
And, even if I say it myself, I think it's fair to call me the expert on toilet related matters in these parts. If you want to know a random fact about a number one or a number two a quick search on LLD will probably give you the information. I'm proud to be the first port of call for this important knowledge and its a responsibility I take seriously.
It's been too long since I wrote a fart or poo post, bless my pooing heart as she of any number of names would say. I like to think of myself as a chap who's in touch with his whole pooing and farting side. Most blokes are like me, we admire poo (if it's our own work), we sniff farts and generally laugh at anything related to toilet activity. The thing about men is that we accept this and get on with life.
Women, by and large, are different. They (or you) pretend that they're not interested in toilet related issues. You (or they) often don't talk about it even to each other, though I once overheard a little chat between Naz Sansoni and the Dancer about which one of them could fart the loudest. I didn't stick around to witness the shoot out though. I just placed my Rs 100 bet on the Dancer and went off to browse the book section.
The thing about women, farts and other toilet things is that they still do them. They fart, they probably have a good sniff of them and even glance into the bowl to have a look at their logs before dealing with the paperwork. They just don't talk about these things very often. It's a subtle but big difference. Women have periods, carry babies and give birth. We talk about toilet things to each other and know how painful it is to get kicked in the balls.
The first and most important one, unless you used to be in Wham, is that you never ever look at the weapon of the chap next to you. This is the rule that women can't understand and I've been asked many times how we do it, how we resist the urge to check out the size of the next man's tackle.
The answer is that it doesn't even cross our mind. We stare at the wall in front of us and very occasionally glance at the next door chap's face and nod politely. One of my best friends once found himself standing next to Patrick Stewart, or Jean - Luc Picard as he's better known, in a urinal. Not once did my friend glance at the Captain's willy. That's how strong we men are about the rule.
The second rule is that you have to fart as you pee, always at least twice. First at the beginning of the operation, often again in the middle and finally at the end as you're doing the final bits of straining. The middle farting is optional and can be any number but the opener and closer are laws of nature. If you don't do the opener then the pee won't begin and without the closer there'll be some pee left which could run down your leg.
It's not easy for us men, as we're straining and pushing in that groinal region things happen and can go pop, which is basically what a pee fart is. Additionally, the older we get the less control we have in the area, it's a sad fact of life. These days, at forty two I sometimes just get up from a chair and a little one can slip out without any effort on my part. Older fellows like DD and Java must get in some serious situations at times.
There you have it, those are the two most important rules for peeing as a man. There are more, but I'll come back to them at a later stage, I don't want to shoot too soon.
I'm not going to list them here but I was thinking about the happenings and events that have happened and, well evented, in my life since I started this blog. They're big and major and you, the anonymous or perhaps not so anonymous, reader have shared these things with me. I've told you things about me and my life and tried to do it with two premises; that things remain positive and that I only ever write things that I'd be okay with both my daughters reading in time to come.
Though they remain blissfully unaware of their Dad's blog they've both been key "characters" in my pimped up diary, as that Blacker fellow titled it. K in particular had achieved fame, or infamy, that would stun most but she would just take in her stride.
A couple of weeks ago I looked through some old posts, some of the first ones, and was intrigued by the change in me, or in the way I write. Fuck me, I think I might have developed some kind of style, I don't know where it came from, it certainly wasn't through some sort of conscious effort. Whoever would have thought that so many people would be so interested in toilet habits and stealth poos?
Writing with a humorous twist has developed seamlessly for me, but I don't want to give you the impression that I think of myself as some kind of comedic genius. I'm still scared of clowns so I guess that would never happen anyway. It's quite easy to think of a sentence in my head, then come up with a humorous metaphor or simile to put into it to make someone smile. I wish I was this funny in real life, but real life and real conversation have that annoying habit of taking place in real time. What a bummer.
I've also made some great friends through this blogging lark. The whole nerdy geeky blogging crowd thing is the biggest load of crap I've ever heard. Us bloggers are as diverse as a bag of different things and the only commonality is the fact that we all blog.
Cerno wrote about seven things he learned from blogging. My single biggest lesson is that I've learned a bit about writing, of the beauty of chaps and chapesses who paint with words. These days I can enjoy a book through the author's writing and language, even if the plot's as weak as a chicken korma in an English Indian restaurant.
Poetry however, remains one of life's mysteries to me, which is also a mystery. I study myself, as you know, and the other day I wondered exactly why it is that poetry by and large leaves me cold and bewildered yet it's so closely related to music, which I love so much. Maybe it's significant that the lyrics of a song rarely matter to me except as hooks for the drum part, maybe the answer is in the question.
As I write this it's Saturday evening. I dropped the girls back with their mother a few hours ago and I'm sitting in the sitting room with my parents, God love them. For all their good intentions they test one of my premise, the one about staying positive. I know DD is a wise one when he says that I should be grateful to have parents that give what they give, and he's right. But the lack of privacy at the moment is something that's driving me just that little bit mad.
I've got stories to tell you that I might not tell, but my plan to sort the issue in the short term involves a sort of parent swap with Mr Blacker. He can come and stay here with my ones, he can do whatever he wants in London and I'll even let him use my drums. In return I'll nip over to Colombo and stay with his parental unit. I think there may be lots of happy people.
January will see me flat hunting and you'll probably share it with me. I'm really excited at the prospect of getting a great place and the market here is ripe for that.
There we are, some random ponderings on a Saturday evening. I'll get back to preparations for the 2008 Blogging Awards now. They're coming soon, bigger and better.
Here's one of the songs I was playing last night. I love it, a bit of an eighties feel but something nicely chugging and rocky to it. Have a listen, if you desire to. It's by a woman called Ladyhawke and it's current, that's all I know. Kick it...
It's Friday, here in London it is anyhow. It's less than freezing out there and I've recently decided that I hate it when people say "Brrrr it's freezing out there" when, in actual fact, the temperature is way below freezing. Freezing means zero degrees, assuming you're referring to the freezing point of water, it doesn't mean minus five.
I'm in a jolly festive and bright mood. I've just had my regular morning conversation with K. She was on her way to school dressed as a turkey, the bird not the country. On Wednesday night we made a huge pair of wings for K to attach to her arms and today is the day when she utilises the costume. I'm not sure why, something to do with Christmas. She told me that she was wearing red tights with black shorts and a red hoody, with the wings and a hat thing with bits stuck to it. It doesn't sound very Turkish to me. Cute though.
Last night I had the first practice with the new band that has somehow formed. P, the rock chick singer and guitarist, is good and I always love playing behind a good girl singer. I don't know why, there's just something about backing females that I enjoy more than backing blokes. Perhaps, at the most basic level, it's just because the drummer spends most of his time staring at either a cymbal or the singer's arse.
Arses, in my humble opinion, look better on girls than on men, radical I know. But it's not really that, I just like the feeling of a woman's voice kicking out rocky songs. Last night was our first time playing together and I think it went well. I enjoyed and walked away with that buzzy sensation every muso gets after a fun band practice, when we enjoy the night in its own right.
You won't know this, in fact you probably won't care, but I can now tell whether it's a Poya day from the stats for my blog in the morning. It's hardly rocket science but I find it mildly fascinating, a two word phrase I should be shot for using.
I heard a fact that really was interesting this morning. Apparently the moon today is the biggest appearing one for fifteen years, so it will look supermassive tonight. This won't affect you lot over in Lanka as the one that you see is a different moon, but it'll be pretty spectacular here tonight.
My random outpouring of facts and what have you is done.
In a rash moment of vanity I've used my own picture. This means that I'm the only person ever to have won RD's Photo Of The Moment thing twice. It probably won't change my life.
If you've been to Singapore you might have seen old geezers like these ones. In HDBs, a council type of housing thing, but without the violence and smell of urine and cabbage that we have in English council estates, they build these communal areas, for people to enjoy and use. People hang around, often sleeping on benches, but not in a trampy way. You see them sitting quietly and reading or chatting to each other or just enjoying the moment.
Also, in this particular one, there are about five or six draught board table things. Most afternoons there's a group of random old blokes playing on them. The look of intensity on their faces is only matched by those on the faces of their audience. There's little conversation and the long spells of silence are punctuated by sudden outbursts of raucous laughter and the loud clicking when one player bangs his pieces on the board as he captures the other chap's men.
The thing that got me was how friendly and accepting they all were. People stroll up, sit down and watch for a while, then wander off without saying a word and no one bats an eye lid. I found the spectacle to be a spectacle in itself. Sometimes the crowd is more interesting than the sport.
I was a little bit nervous about taking pictures of them, thinking that I might get frowns of disapproval, lynched or something. But I didn't want to ask them for fear of upsetting the spontaneity of it all, I didn't want them to suddenly start posturing and posing because of a camera being pointed in their direction.
So I quietly stood on some stairs nearby and smiled at them in a confident way. I took some pictures and waved goodbye and thank you when I left.
If it was Carrom I would have stepped up to play. Draughts is a bit intellectual for me.
Ladies, this is about cars. Feel free to ignore it, maybe go off and do some ironing or something, as you won't understand most of the technical bits. In a few days' I'll write one about recipes and cats for you but, in the meantime us men have to talk.
As I was driving into work yesterday morning I thought about my car and how I've been lucky in that the last four or five cars I've had have been brand new ones.
After several years of driving around in company cars, each of which had done so many miles that the clocks looked as if they were saying long words that sounded like "oooooooooooo", when I finally got to the position of owning the company myself and being able to buy a car I wanted a new one.
Well, I wanted to be the person who picked up that brand new car, drove it out of the showroom and watched it depreciate as I did so. I wanted to be the person whose bum caused the driver's seat to sag just that little bit, the one whose fingerprints made little grimy marks around the steering wheel and gear lever. Then, when all this happened, I wanted to be the person who sold the car and bought a new and spangly better one. But, above all, I wanted to be the person who had months of driving a car with that delicious new car smell, the one that never comes back once it's gone.
Soem years ago I made one of those "I'll never walk on the cracks in the pavement" vows regarding my future car purchasing. As I tell you this you may, just may decide that I'm not quite the eco warrior you had thought I was. My vow was that I would always buy a car that is quicker than the previous one. It's a bit shallow I know, hardly up there with vows made by people who pray fervently to their God (s) or diligent craftsmen who train for years and don't eat cheese.
But it is my own little promise and by "quicker" I mean the 0 -60 time. The top speed matters, but not so much. If I lived in Germany I suspect I'd be far more concerned whether my car could hit 140 or 142 mph than I am now. As things are my current one is limited to 155 mph and the fastest I've ever driven is about 125 in it. Innit. At 125 everything becomes small, quick and a bit surreal. Also the people walking on Hounslow High St didn't seem too happy about it.
Making my acceleration vow was quite easy in those days because I drove a Citroen Xantia 2.0. It took about five weeks to hit 60 mph and had that mad suspension thing that made passengers feel seasick. You could raise the car by about 6 inches to drive through things that were 6 inches higher than normal roads. I guess, were I to drive through a field of men, each lying down with an erect average size willy, then it might have been useful. It never happened. Maybe these things happen in France all the time but over here they're infrequent. I think I've only seen it once actually.
The next few cars were all quicker than their predecessor. I went to the VW/Audi 1.8 turbo engine. It's a nice pokey engine with a lot of horses, but I prefer the smooth power across the whole rev range from a fuel injected engine to the sudden donkey kick in the pants feeling from a turbo.
Then it was the turn of the BMW 2.8 straight six. It was a beauty. I loved the smoothness of the six cylinders, the sheer power and feeling of excitement that could have easily seen me lying down in one of those French fields with a Citroen Xanti driving over me.
The current Rhythmic throbber is the BMW 3.0i straight six. It's hardly a supercar engine but it kicks out 230 horses and hits 60mph in just over 6 seconds, when driven by someone other than me. To me it's a little piece of engineering ingenuity, though quite big, particularly compared to a grain of rice or an atom. It's not vastly different to the previous engine, just a new and improved model. Faster, quicker and bigger. Also, I can balance a coin sideways on the engine block while it's idling. How cool is that?
And it's now almost 4 years old, which traditionally means that I should begin to think about the replacement. This is where the problem lies. I really like this car. The other day, when my parents were away, I jumped into my Dad's Audi A6 and took it for a spin around the block. It's a nice car, one that many would be chuffed to own, including me. Well I lie, I wouldn't be chuffed to own it, I was just being nice there.
My car, with its iDrive and minimalist interior of black and stainless steel, feels sleek and understated. The iDrive is something I think could do with a lot of improvements and I vaguely recollect that newer ones have been improved but, when I sit in it, I do feel that its simplicity and design are both good looking and functional. It's a bit like the automotive equivalent of a Mac.
By comparison, sitting in my Dad's A6 was like jumping into the reject department in a red LED factory in the dead of a particularly dark night. The centre console was a mass of red and orangy glowing things and confused me to buggery. I'm the 42 year old quick witted and smart thinking bloke that you've come to know and love, a bit of a car enthusiast at that. So, if these lights confused me, then it's no wonder my Dad always listens to the same radio station and never changes the temperature in the A6. It's hardly surprising that he thinks there's a radio station called Radio 29 degrees C (that would have been funnier if I knew how to get the little circle sign to denote degrees).
Also, being a drummer (I'm not sure if I've ever told you that before) means that I need to own a car that can fit a drumkit in and being a father means that I need to be able to fit the two girls in the car, even though it's not that often. This rules out the option of some fast and expensive 911 or similar, unless I could get one with a trailer of some sort.
At the traffic lights near Richmond Bridge this morning, you know the ones, I sat in my motor and thought that I rather like this one. It feels good and comfortable and familiar. Maybe I'll keep it for a while. Could it be that I've got to a stage in my life that doesn't mean I feel that need for something better, faster or newer?
By now introductions aren't necessary. So I won't introduce K, my twelve year old daughter with a brain as powerful and quick as a formula 1 car.
Picture the situation. It was Sunday afternoon and I called the girls for one of those divorced Dad and not living with your kids chats, the ones we're all so familiar with. K answered the phone and we went through the war dance. It's not so much a divorced Dad war dance, more one that many Dads with teenage girls go through, all about trying to engage them in conversation while they want to watch the Simpsons.
After some quickstepping, foxtrotting and other dance related metaphors, which actually meant me asking things and K answering with that teenage attitude, she suddenly remembered something that made her interested in our conversation.
"Ah Dad, you owe us our pocket money for December."
"Yes, I know K, I'll give it to you on Wednesday when I see you okay?"
"Ok. And can we have some spending money to buy Christmas presents too?"
I knew about this as she has touched on the subject before. No figures had been touted around but I felt, in principle at least, that it was a reasonable request. I knew that, in practice, there'd be haggling involved.
"Well that depends, how much are you after?"
I heard the cogs turning over in K's head. They turned loudly and quickly. Then she shouted to her sister.
"A, how much do we want from Dad for Christmas spending money?"
A thought for a couple of seconds and I heard her answer her younger sister.
"Thirty pounds" she said with slightly tentative tones.
I was pleased with this. I had expected the answer to be higher and some serious haggling to follow. Thirty quid each was a figure I could be happy about. It would have meant that I would have given them fifty pounds each including pocket money. It's a lot in some ways but you know, the whole divorce thing throws many things into confusion and changes things a bit.
I waited for a split second, and it was only that, for K to pass on her elder and wiser sister's figure. It came. Her voice was unwavering and confident.
"A hundred pounds please, plus our pocket money"
"What?" I said. Truly I was stunned.
"A hundred pounds, and our pocket money."
"Whoa, hold on, A just said thirty pounds, I heard her." I said, slightly high pitched.
"No, she said a hundred."
"NO! she said thirty, I heard it, clear as you like."
The conversation proceeded in a predictable manner. K was indignant about A's figure even though I knew she was lying. I didn't even enter into a negotiation and just said that a hundred pounds was way too much. The next time I see them I'll probably be firm and tough, perhaps settling on ninety or ninety five pounds. Plus their pocket money of course.
You've got to get up early to beat me, unless I oversleep of course.
David Blacker suggested it so don't go blaming me. Check out this post to see what you have to do. It's not hard and even Java should be able to do it without getting his knickers in a "oh fucking hell I've been tagged again" twist.
Here are the rules:
Write a short post about what you've done this year.
Saturday night was a gig night and we were playing at a fortieth birthday party in a seriously trendy venue to a seriously trendy crowd. They were a bunch of high flying and mega cool creatives, the kind of people who went to the toilet a lot and all had the sniffles when they came out.
Our first set was tough. People were warming up and chatting, getting loose and starting to relax. But, the second set was a bit fantastic. We played well, I played well and everyone fed off everyone. It reminded me, not that I needed it, how much I love playing the drums and how much I love being in a band, or two as the case often is.
Sometimes being the drummer has its downsides, but that's actually part of the role and I'm convinced that there are different personality types that are attracted to different instruments anyhow. There are times I feel that little twinge of "bugger it, I wish I was a lead singer" but overall I'm happy to sit behind the kit and overall I can't sing.
On Saturday it happened too. I played my heart out, watched people go radio rental (cockney rhyming slang for mental) as I drummed, I did my solo bit in Dakota and had the audience whooping and hollerring and cheering, all for me. Then, not fifteen minutes after we'd finished, as I walked out of the building, I passed a woman in red tights. Err, I mean she was wearing the read tights, not me. I was wearing the silver spangly tights that go with the little skirt.
Anyway, I walked passed her and she smiled at me, then said.
"Hello, that was great wasn't it. Were you in the band?"
I smiled demurely, thanked her and answered in the affirmative. In my head the conversation sounded very different. It went like this:
"Aaaargh, yes I was in the fucking band you stupid cow, I was the one behind the drumkit grooving like a groovy mother and playing so fucking brilliantly as you danced the night away to my funkiness."
But, enough ranting and raging. Sunday evening saw me at a thing that Theena, Java, Confab and a few others whose names I'm not sure of would have probably loved. It was an event put on by Zildjian, the cymbal company, to honour Ginger Baker. Mr Baker is the former Cream drummer, though has played in many other great bands. It was an event featuring more world class drummers than you could shake a stick at, unless you're a world class drummer, as then you'd be particularly good at shaking sticks.
Theena, Java - Jack Bruce was there on bass with Ginger Baker and it was stunning. At one point, during a drum solo, Jack had strolled off stage as he wasn't playing and I saw him standing there taking a photo, with his bass slung round his neck, of Ginger Baker playing. It was such a nice show of humility and mutual admiration and I only wish I could have taken a picture of the scene.
I went home quite late, ate noodles, then went to bed. I'm seriously into noodles at the moment, to the extent that I might even, were I interviewed for a magazine and asked what my hobbies are, say that eating noodles is one of them.
In the still of the night, at what felt like about 4 AM my mobile rang. I answered it, that's what I do when it rings. It was Jay, my right hand chap from work.
"Ah Rhythmic, are you coming in today?"
By now you'll probably know that I like to start work early, I'm normally at my desk by about 6.45 AM. The couple of hours before the phones start to ring and the people start to arrive are my most productive and I miss the rush hour traffic too.
I glanced at the alarm clock and saw the time. It said 7.09. I'll tell you something that has just made me laugh at myself. When I first typed that time, the one that I told you the alarm clock displayed, I hit the "8" by mistake to show "7.08". Then, before I could think about it much, I'd deleted the "8" and changed it to a "9", which was the actual time. Then, I thought and realised that I must be losing the plot. I mean, do you, the reader, actually care about that minute's difference? It hardly changes the fundamentals of my story or anything does it?
Now, to make matters worse, I've gone and written a paragraph about it. At least I didn't go on to a second paragraph. That would have been really mental.
"Fuck, bollocks, sorry Jay I've totally overslept, sorry about that, I'll be in in about half an hour." said I.
I sprang out of bed with all the speed and urgency of an airport porter at BIA heading towards a crowd of white people. I hate oversleeping, it messes me up and invariably makes me feel groggy for the whole day, sometimes the whole year. I knew that there was going to be a need for some drastic compromising in my getting ready for the day. Clothes were sorted, the pile from last night was still on the floor. Pants and socks had to be changed but that was easily done.
The bathroom business was the thing that needed thought, something I didn't really have the time to do. It was such a rush that I didn't even have time to think that there was no time. Now, before you judge me, please bear in mind that it's cold here. The temperature reading in my car said that it was -2 degrees when I got home last night. So I figured that not having a shower wasn't going to be disastrous. I also didn't have a poo, though it's a rare RD morning on which I do have one.
I brushed the teeth, and did just the essentials; some hydra energetic moisturiser on my face, some mouthwash and a liberal spraying of Lynx to most areas (it's irresistible to all women you know). The clothes were attached in the blink of an eye and I was ready to go, or good to go in American.
Just as I was about to scarper I looked in the mirror and had a last minute change of mind. No showering and no pooing was one thing, though it was actually two things I know. But a metrosexualish man like me has limits, standards, image to maintain and I almost crossed a dangerous line. Yes, I nearly left without putting hair product in. What the hell was I thinking?
I quickly opened the jar of the new product that I'm so pleased with. I bunged a bit in the hair and within about a minute my long flowing locks had that carefully crafted messy and dishevelled look, as if I'd just woken up and rushed into work without having time to do my hair.
I darted out of the house, jumped in the car and steamed into work.
It takes effort to look this rough you know. It would have been oh so easy for me to have left my hair alone.
But then it would have looked dishevelled and messy.
It's well documented around here that swimming isn't exactly high up on my list of strong points. It would probably scrape in somewhere in the high hundreds, near "sorting out the political situation in Sri Lanka" and a bit higher than "singing". I only learned to swim about three years ago but I'm full of optimism and hope for my prospects. Give me a pool and I'm fairly happy to splash about in it and practice my strokes, of which I have two.
It's a bit of a mystery to me how you lot swim so effortlessly. I watch my kids, both of whom are excellent at it, and I know that there's a dramatic difference between a good swimmer and one such as I. In fact, being honest, there's a dramatic difference between a crap swimmer and me. I yearn to be crap at swimming, it's a target for me.
There I was in Singapore last week, with a rather posh and flashy pool on the seventh floor of the building I was in. I've been up to the area before, checked it out and thought that it would be a superb practice ground for me, or practice water. At forty two I admit that it's a bit embarrassing to swim in a more public pool and get overtaken by little kids having their first ever swimming lesson. I imagine these kids going back to their mother and telling them about the man who's splashing about with the elegance of a chinaman in a bull shop.
So, a quiet pool with no one in it is just what I need. In Sri Lanka I can often get one with just a few people in it, which is good. In England I'm lucky to get one that's got less people in it than Majestic City has.
One day, whilst in Sing, I decided that a swim was in order. I caught the lift up to the seventh floor, despite the fact that they get their numbering wrong over there and it's actually the sixth floor. I exited the lift and walked to the pool. All was good. It's a long thin pool, called a lap pool I understand. There was no one around. Perfect, I thought quietly to myself. I could have thought it loudly to myself because I was the only sign of life, I could even have shouted it from the rooftop, quite literally, but I didn't. Shouting from a rooftop, in Singapore carries the death penalty.
Instead I scarpered back down to the apartment and grabbed my trunks, goggles and book and steamed it back to the pool. I got out of the lift, walked to the pool and spotted some breasts. It's a rare occasion when I'm disappointed to see some breasts and this was one of them. They were attached to a woman and she was sunbathing by the side of the pool. I had to proceed, for fear of letting down all men and looking stupid, but it meant that there would be only three people there; me, the double breasted woman and the pool.
I was angry with her. In the short time it had taken me to put on my trunks and get back there she had turned up, got into posish and was acting as if she had every right to do so. These people are just cruel sometimes.
I took a lounger and metaphorically peed on my territory. There may have been a little bit of real pee too, nerves I guess, these things happen and the important thing is not to tell anyone. Bitch remained in her lounger, pretending to ignore me. I retaliated by pretending to stare at her breasts for a while. Then I strolled towards the water with the air of confidence of Murali stepping up to bowl. Inside though, I felt as confident as the batsman playing for his country for the first time and facing the grinning fellow.
I stepped into the water, unsure of the depth. It came up to my waist, which was a good result. I did a few yards of breast stroke, then stopped as if I was just warming up, not because I'd reached my limit. If the woman wasn't there I would have felt free to experiment with my strokes, which sounds like a euphemism but is actually exactly what I mean. I desperately want to get to that state in which you normal people glide around the average swimming pool with the grace of a, well, a normal person swimming.
It's a good thing for me to be faced with a pool that didn't really have a deep end, as this one was. In fact it probably still is. It means that I can swim until I get that drowning sensation, then casually put my feet down and pretend I've spotted something interesting to look at or that I'm adjusting my goggles or willy or even both. So, after about three quarters of a length this is exactly what I did, though I struggle to recollect exactly what I adjusted. My vague suspicion is that it was the goggles, as willy adjustment, in Singapore with only one semi naked woman in the immediate surroundings, can only end in disaster. Or the death sentence.
After the rest I continued on my way towards the end of the pool. I know how people like Columbus must have felt when they heard some lowly crew member shout "land ahoy". For me, seeing the end of a swimming pool and knowing that I might just be able to swim to it is very similar. Neil Armstrong, Christopher Columbus and RD, we're men of adventure and discovery.
Then it happened. A few feet before the end I looked down and saw it. At first I just blinked and felt a little bit queasy. Then I felt more queasy and thought that perhaps I was going to die. Silly really, as we're all going to die, but you know how it is.
At this point it might help you to have a good look at the photograph above. You see that blueish bit at what looks like the top of the building? Well that's the last few feet of the swimming pool, jutting out over the street and seven, or six depending on your nationality, floors up. The floor's made of glass, probably with a little bit of drummer poo now also.
In my defence I have to say that I'm good with heights, not a mountain climber or anything but I tend to enjoy a nice high view with just that little bit of fear that is probably quite normal. Stick me on a ten storey building and I'll usually savour the vista far more than be scared of it.
This was different. I think it was the sensation of floating in water that did it. One second I was doing the breast stroke and looking down at concrete or cheese, or whatever they make swimming pools out of. The next second there were tiny little cars and Singaporeans there and it felt as if I was hovering, that to put my feet down would have made me plummet to the ground. I'm not ashamed to tell you that it scared me shitless.
Yet it was fascinating too, in the same way most people rubberneck a bad accident. I spent some seconds there but never planted my feet down. A chap, even a brave one like me, has limits.
Then, while the annoying woman carried on pretending to blank me, I almost did another length. She was lounging at the other end of the pool and I was forced to swim there as that's where the ladder was and I was sure I needed it to get out of the thing. Dragging myself out of the water just by holding on to the edge and using all my upper body strength was never a viable option.
I clambered out, sat, or lounged on my lounger and tried to look cool, calm and collected. I opened my book and flicked casually through a few pages but it was no use. I couldn't actually see the words and print. Someone had replaced them with images of tiny little cars and people, as if seen from seven storeys high, though some would say six storeys high.
Over on the other side of the pool the woman carried on ignoring me.
It's not on. I don't mind it when people decide they want to stop blogging, that's their right and I'm sure they all have their reasons. But this annoying thing about deleting all the previous posts is just that; annoying. Yes, yes I know there are ways and means of reading the old stuff, through Google Dreamcatcher or whatever, but that's not the same.
It's 8.52 on Saturday morning and I've just woken up. I type this little snippet of a post while lying in bed naked except for one of Barefoot's finest silky sarongs.
It's also a gig night, a fortieth birthday party for a high powered lawyer somewhere in central London tonight. I'm looking forward to this one, though we have a singer with the cold that everyone else in the country's got at the moment, so there will be challenging moments for sure.
I can hear my Dad upstairs bumbling around, making coffee and doing those Dad type things, he's probably writing a post on his blog, words about me and the things I've been up to lately, a paragraph or two about Academic and how well he's doing at Academia, that sort of thing. Hearing his morning chorus reminds me of when the girls were younger and their morning chorus at weekends.
Of the sounds they'd make as they rose and went downstairs, trying to be quiet and not wake the parents. Of the hushed voices, the muted TV and the muffled clanking of plates, cereal, milk and sugar. It seems so recent and yet also so long ago. Kids grow so fast and these days memories of them are more precious than they ever have been.
As I lie here I feel the stomach rumbles of hunger and there's only one thing I want to satisfy it. None of that English breakfast business, none of your cereal or croissants or toasted things will do.
No, I want white string hoppers, a white potato curry, some pol sambol and a good prawn curry. And I want loads of it.
The twelve year old, K, is well known to you, the reader by now. Some of you have even met her, though she remains blissfully unaware of her online fame.
The other night it was the parent teacher thing for K and I was the parent that had to do the attending, something that is always embarrassingly good when it's this particular child. I picked her up from their place and we drove to the school. We parked up and I received my instructions from her.
There were three particular teachers to see; the English teacher, the Maths teacher and the Science teacher. K had made appointments for me and was to accompany me on each of them, mostly to hear how great these bastions of learning and knowledge think she is.
We started with the Science teacher. She had a certain anaemic look to her, eyes popping out as if she had just taken some acid, but clothes and general demeanour that suggested that, to her, acid is something that people only experiment with in Science lessons. There was a startled expression in her face too, which startled me.
I've met her a few times before and each time I get the feeling that the parents' evening has taken her by surprise, which clearly it hasn't. She's all jittery movements and nervy words. She may be a Science teacher but I wouldn't want her to defuse a bomb for me.
Nevertheless she gave K a wholly expected glowing report. K, sitting next to me in her new skinny jeans and Converse (s), nearly succeeded in appearing nonchalent about it. I, sitting there in my slim jeans and Converse (s), also nearly succeeded in appearing nonchalent about it. You'll be pleased to know that I tried on and rejected some skinny jeans whilst in Singapore. Even I can't carry it off without looking like some kind of twat.
Then, purely to try to find something remotely bad or negative Miss Anaemic searched her mental database and said the one thing K could improve on was her concentration, as she had had to tell her about it recently, talking to others or some such thing. Afterwards K moaned about this in that sulky teenager way.
"Aaaah Dad, that's so unfair. This happened once about 4 months ago and she's going on about it now. Aaaah that's so harsh and out of order, uuuurgh."
I knew that it was nothing, that it was also slightly sad that Miss Anaemic had to try to find a baddish thing to say just to do what she thought was right. No big deal though.
Next up was her form tutor, also her Maths teacher. He was another big K fan. I feel guilty here, knowing that life is full of parents who rave about their own kids and see them through "my child is brilliant" tinted glasses. I assure you that I'm wearing no glasses here, ask Java or one of these people who've met K.
The Maths geezer told me more of the same, how her analytical thinking was brilliant and she could understand some advanced mathematical concepts quite easily. No surprises there. I won't bore you with the details.
Up next and last was the English mistress. She was English, which amused me in a way that only you, a regular, would appreciate. She was quite cute too. In that way that made me think of her as a "mistress" rather than a teacher. She was about ninety years younger than me. By the time you read this she'll be about ninety years and two days younger than me.
The list of good things about K continued. Miss English commented on the fact that K reads a lot and writes a lot. I don't know where she gets it from. She said that K reads some quite advanced things and that she's currently devouring "To kill a mocking bird" which is serious stuff. I had thought that she was reading it because she had been told to for English. Apparently not, it's just something K chose for some entertainment.
This amazed but didn't surprise me, rather like the specific daughter. I've never read the book, all I know is that it's about birds and and death, I guess it's something Gallicissa would use in the field.
That was it really. We left. I considered how I could report the reports to K's mother. I'm yet to decide.
In the car we argued. I wanted to listen to the Killers and K wanted to listen to Meet Me At Six, her newest discovery. Some of you younger people will probably know them. We settled on the Killers through the car stereo and Meet Me At Six on K's iPod.
It worked well until I had to ask her to stop singing. She did, but did that childish thing when she mimed without actually making any noise, just to frustrate me. I considered my tactics carefully, using all my guile, cunning and intelligence.
Finally I got her to stop the annoying and childish behaviour. My experience and sharpness of my mind was no match for her.
Well, to tell you the truth it's not just a Lankan thing, I've noticed it just as much in Singapore, so it would probably be more accurate to call it the Asian Slipper Walk. But I've never been big on accuracy around here, so what the hell?
Feet are a big thing for me, though I don't actually have a big set of the things. I can reject a member of the female species because of bad looking feet. I wouldn't want you to think that I have queues of women waiting to have their feet checked before being allowed to approach me. Well, I probably would want you to think that, but it's rubbish. More that if a woman ever did approach me, one that wasn't wielding some sort of deadly weapon, her feet would be one of the first things I'd check out, very possibly a dealbreaker.
Over the years I have, on those rare moments when I ponder on things, thought that perhaps there is some sort of inferiority complex about women going on in my head and that is why I so often look at their feet. That however, is for another post at another time, if that's okay with you women.
Gait and posture are important to many of us in the way we view others. I continually work on my own as I have a tendency to slouch at the shoulders. I figure that it's because of the extra penile weight I'm burdened with, but I don't want to complain. Many of my days are filled with constant reminders to stand straight as I walk and use all the tricks I have read about to appear upright rather than look like some kind of walking snail.
On my flight the other day there was girl, a pink haired one no less, though I suspect it wasn't natural. She must have been in her mid twenties and was sitting about six seats away from me on my row. I found my eyes drawn to her and not because she was particularly attractive. I realised I was looking at her but couldn't figure out why. After some time it dawned on me. She had an air of total confidence about her persona. Every thing she did, from eating to changing channel, was done with a sense of confident panache.
She was no oil painting in herself but the way she acted and her body language actually made her appear much better looking than physical appearance alone could do. Interesting, I thought. A reminder of the way so many of us judge people by their demeanour before we even know them.
I digress, as usual. The thing is I was watching the way people walk in Singapore and so many of them reminded me of people in Lanka. Why? I asked myself. Then, like the tiny little mango jelly things that I really really like, it hit me. It's all because of slippers, flip flops or whatever you want to call them.
People who wear slippers regularly develop that lazy, digging their heels into the rubber walk. It's a unique gait and it's all slipper based, all about throwing the foot out in front of you and keeping the flip flop on. So, we kind of keep the toes angled skywards and the heel down, with the result that the whole foot barely lifts off the ground. As the foot comes forward the heel often drags on the ground slightly and the weight of the body is on the inside of the foot rather than the outside edge as it would. This helps to keep the big toe pointing upwards which in turn helps to keep a flip flop positioned correctly.
The result of this walk is that people look as if they're ambling with a sense of lazy nonchalence, as if they're swinging their legs out casually and strolling, in a Huggy Bear was originally a Sri Lankan sort of way. As if they're walking because they just like walking around, not because they're going somewhere. Stick a pair of shoes on and we walk with purpose, the weight falls on the outside of the foot and we don't subconsciously fear that a shoe will fly off at the next awkward bit of pavement, causing mayhem and traffic chaos.
And that, my sweet and precious reader, is the Sri Lankan Slipper Walk.
I reckon I would be classed as a fairly frequent flyer. I'm not one of those business "if it's Monday it must be New York" type of geezers although I guess I do fly quite often and I've got airmiles oozing out of most of my pores, yet only of the Sri Lankan and Singaporean variety.
As the pauper I am I can't afford to fly business class either. I've been lucky enough to do it a few times, through usage of the accumulated airmiles and the occasional wad of cash, but generally you'll find me ensconced with the proletariat and smelling of cabbage and urine, as they tend to.
I rarely even bother with trying to get an upgrade when I check in either. It's only mythical people who manage to blag upgrades by smiling in the right way or having that knack. Life, or airline life, is full of stories about these chaps but they're always friends of friends, never people any of us know directly.
One of the funniest, and I mean this in a totally cruel way, things I have ever seen was Music Biz Bro trying to teach me how to get one a few years' ago. We were flying to Denmark together and he was trying to impress me with his ability to get us moved up to business class, as learned from a friend, who had learned from another fellow, that mythical chap. Music Biz Bro ended up having to give the checkout girl a 10 inch pile of CDs, as he'd promised them before he knew what was happening, then we traipsed off to our economy seats, as booked. The CDs weren't the problem, the teasing from me was, but that's what brothers do.
These regular flights, coupled with my ability to observe like an old Sri Lankan man standing in a doorway, as well as a lack of mobile phone and internet on a plane, mean that I invariably spend a large part of a long plane trip looking at my fellow passengers and studying their habits, almost as if I might write about them at some point.
Yesterday, while sitting there on a packed 747 in an economy section that had everything one would expect, if one expected things with a sense of reality and didn't believe what they said on TV adverts for aircraft, I realised that the average airline has made a big mistake in the way they divide up the passengers.
Business and first class are exempt from my plan. If people can or want to pay for those levels of comfort and luxury then that's fine with me. What is really needed is a system of dividing up us economy proles. If I had an airline I'd have two, maybe three, economy sections and they'd be based on knowledge. Knowledge on how to behave on a plane that is, not exams or degrees or anything.
As I people watched I noticed that there are us experienced chaps and girls and then there are the idiot novices. And quite frankly I'm sick of sitting next to, or even close to, these bloody fucking idiots. It's not really their fault I know, but they need their own section or at least some kind of mini training course before they get on the plane.
I get on a plane. I know where I want to sit, I know how much room I'll have, or won't have and I just get on with things. All around me I see people who have similar levels of knowledge. I think we have a certain level of confidence in our on plane behaviour. We don't bother watching the safety video or locating our nearest exits as we know that, in the event of a crash landing, we'll almost definitely die.
I don't spend ages trying to figure out how to use the handset for the "entertainment" centre and I know precisely which things to take out of my hand luggage for the flight. You won't catch me popping out of my seat every five minutes to grab a book or toothbrush from the overhead locker. And I know how to open the thing too. I won't be one of the twats who devotes several minutes to pressing the button that calls the stewards and wondering what it's for.
When they serve a meal I'm one of the efficient ones who know what I want because I've read the menu, I won't ask the aircrew to tell me my options. Just after dinner / lunch / breakfast I won't be found in the ten person queue for the toilet either. I know that it's best to excavate before then, ideally squeezing out of my seat when everyone else is trapped by the tray full of their finished meal.
I'll use my seatbelt, not half of my neighbour's and I know that the plane is unlikely to crash when it goes through a bit of turbulence. I also know that no plane has a falangee, not even the new A380 and if my neighbour initiates conversation with me very early in the flight it's a bad move to be too friendly. The last thing any traveller wants is twelve hours' of some Aussie backpacker regaling you with stories of how pissed he was last Wednesday or how great he thinks Goa is.
I know that, tucked into my seat, it's quite safe to drop a few silent but deadlies. No one will know exactly who the guilty party is, particularly if there are old people nearby. With the background noise of the engines I know that I can even get away with a few noisier ones if my face doesn't reveal the guilt.
These are the things I have learned and I want a little section for people with this level of knowledge. The novices, those who'll just annoy others, can have their own section and sit and ask each other all the innane questions. The aircrew can allow more time to serve them their meals as they know they'll be faced with a barrage of stupid enquiries. They can have their own toilets and easy to open overhead lockers and, the split second the plane lands, they'll be allowed to rush towards the doors foolishly thinking that their luggage will arrive quicker on the conveyor belt and they'll get out of the airport quicker than others.
The rest of us, in Advanced level economy, can sit quietly and enjoy the ride.
I'm back, at my desk after my sojourn to sunny Sing. I've got stories aplenty to share, of the scary swimming pool, the pink haired girl, Christmas decorations in the heat, not to mention deep and thoughtful ponderings about the "instant gratification" that seems to be so Singapore and how it compares with other countries.
But, for now I just thought I'd let you know that I'm here in London. An hour ago I scraped the ice off my windscreen and the in car thermometer told me it was zero degrees outside, yesterday morning at the same time I was in a cab on the way to Changi airport and the in cab thermometer indicated thirty degrees.
The week is going to be another mad one for me, filled with music and activity of all sorts. It started yesterday, as they tend to, unless of course you're the sort who starts a week on Sunday.