Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And The Box Contained......

I battled bravely through the mental trials and tribulations and managed to take home the box without opening it and revealing its contents. I didn't even, as Rikaz had suggested, bung the barcode numbers into Amazon's website and deviously find out the answer. Nor did I go down the DQ route and open it using the old "this is all for the greater good, be a man" excuse.

Also, while we're on the subject, I'm not lying to you, I'm not using the widely utilised "write a post pretending I hadn't opened it" tactic when in actual fact I had. The truth is out there and it's in here, truth be told.

I found out the answer on Christmas day. I did a bit of unwrapping, something I'm fairly good at, and discovered one of the best presents I've ever received; an Amazon Kindle, one of these rather fantastical book reader things.

In case you don't know or haven't figured it out a book reader is not a bloke who follows you around reading books out aloud, or even silently. No, it's an electronic device that enables a fellow to buy and store up to about a thousand books or so. Then, that same fellow can read them on a screen, a clever and pin sharp screen that kind of has the solidity to it that the printed word does.

The screen's not like any screen I've viewed before. It's a tough thing to explain, what with my lack of descriptive powers, but it's got a total lack of flicker and movement to it. You know as you read this on a monitor there's a brightness and sense of animation and illumination to it, well the image on the Kindle screen justs sits there in a kind of high definition greyness. I mean that in a good way, it's really rather amazing.

You view a page, press a button to go to the next one and the image changes in an instant, to another page that stays totally and utterly still, stiller than a barman in a Colombo 5 star hotel tomorrow night.

This device has got its own wireless built in somehow, I'll be buggered if I know how it works. What I do know is that I buy a book from Amazon then it gets sent through the airwaves directly to my Kindle. There's no syncing with a computer like with iPods and iTunes and the like. According to the blurb the global wireless thing operates all over the world, probably why they call it "global wireless", so in theory I can even do it in Colombo.

I have to go to the site rather than the UK one, a bit of a bummer I must admit. These American readers lean towards self help, motivational how to beat everyone around you books and novels by chaps called Jack or Chuck. It's only a minor negative and I assume that, in time, Kindle books will be available on the UK Amazon site too. The price of books is about the same or less than the real thing, so I'm not forced into a situation where I have to pay through the nose for the things.

All in all it means I can take a shed load of books around with me in a smallish package wherever I go. This is exciting, good and fun. Of course coffee table books are nigh on impossible to reproduce in this format. Even if the scientists could make a screen that would be colourful and high enough in definition the smell, the feel and the sound of a real book would be missing. Not all books are currently available and most of my shelves full of books on or about Sri Lanka only exist on paper in ink.

At first I thought that reading text on a screen, pressing buttons to turn a page and generally moving around the Kindle would be a big change, perhaps too drastic a one, from reading paper books. I was wrong. After about a day of reading and feeling very conscious of the new medium I realised that I'd begun to do ita naturally and was as engrossed in my e book as I would have been if it were a book book. I've still got some things to get used to but I know that they'll follow.

For example there's no such thing as page numbers as we know them. Why would there be? I can change the size of the text to suit my liking and therefore the number of pages in any given book is a moveable feast. Instead of page numbers there are locations to each point in the book, like Stardates as used by the Captain of the USS Enterprise.

I've been buying books just for the fun of it, the need to chuck them on the Kindle will die I hope, though my bank manager and Mr Amazon are both quite happy about it. I've bought, for next to nothing I might add, the complete adventures of Sherlock Holmes and all the Jeeves and Wooster stories ever written. I'll probably never read the Holmes stuff and I more or less know all the Jeeves stories backwards anyway, but they seemed like good things to have.

Well there you have it, a truly stunning present. You know me, I love a good gadget.

See you in the next decade. May your celebrations be banging and your year be a fine one.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cous Cous - So Bad They Named It Twice

Hello all, welcome back on this, the first Monday after the season. It's been a good one over in these parts. C's here, A and K have been in and out, and things have been fun, festive and food filled.

Cooking has been a thread, and a pleasant one at that. I'm fond of attempting to do my thang in the kitchen and, even if I say it myself, I'm getting reasonably good at some dishes. Truth be told the dishes I'm better at tend to be the ones that have a second name that sounds like "curry", it must be something in the blood I reckon.

I'll tell you what though, cooking for one, as I usually do, is a pain in the arse. On Wednesdays and alternate Fridays I get to cook for the girls, which is nice though not conducive for stretching my culinary abilities.

The rest of the time, when it's only me hovering round, cooking a decent meal involves a lot of effort for the satisfaction of one person's enjoyment; me. And when it's only me around it doesn't really matter anyway. I could lie, just pretend that the meal was gorgeous and no one would know anyhow.

Having C floating around means that I get to try out new recipes, I can flaunt my prowess on the cooker, flex my culinary muscles and generally make attempts to tickle her taste buds with my delectable dishes. She can attempt to do the same to me, and has.

The other night she made a lamb thing, a tajine I believe it was called. It was seriously delicious, in one of those melt in the mouth sort of ways. But there was a problem. It came in the shape of cous cous, surely the most evil and unnecessary invention ever, second only to the service charge on a restaurant bill.

I can't stand cous cous. It tastes of nothing except the little flavouring that's sometimes added to it in the cooking process. It has the texture of sand and the succulence of feathers. You may be interested to know what it's made from and exactly how it's made, I'm not though.

I say all of this from my position as a general lover of all things carbohydrate. Rice, noodles, pasta, hoppers and string hoppers are some of my best buddies, some of the friends that accompanied me through my formative years. Cous cous is the old enemy, the class idiot that no one ever liked.

C cooked this tajine thing and asked me whether I'd eat cous cous with it. She'd smuggled a packet of the stuff into RD Towers earlier in the week. I felt as if my kitchen had been violated but, even now it lurks in a cupboard just behind me. Knowing my strong feelings C kindly offered to make me a separate portion of rice. That was cruel, I couldn't say yes to it, I know about these women traps. I gallantly said that I'd eat the cous cous, even though I hate it.

We served our food and the cous cous had that dry and dangerous look, as though it was teasing me with little whispered taunts.

"Look at me RD, I'm so nearly rice, but I'm not". I could hear hear it saying.

I put some on my plate, added butter, salt, pepper and sauce, then tasted it. I'd managed to persuade C to add some chicken stock to it in the cooking process so I did quite enjoy the sensation of chicken stock, salt, pepper and the sauce from the tajine, it was only the dry feathery nothingness of the cous cous that was the problem. So much so that I could only eat about two, perhaps three platefuls of it.

It was strangely satisfying. Strange because all the flavouring was delicious, it was just the substance that wasn't. I suppose it was like watching and enjoying a film when the lead role is played by the actor you most detest in the whole world. I couldn't help but enjoy it yet would so much have preferred the lead to have been played by Tommy Lee Jones, Miley Cyrus or one of those other thespians types.

Despite that I shan't be repeating the cous cous thing. When C does leave here I'll probably make her take the packet of cous cous with her, or give it to charity or something.

While I remember why on earth is it called "cous cous'? I mean why the same name twice? It's not New York, which in reality isn't so good they named it twice. Rice isn't called "rice rice", I can't think of any other food that's got a doubled up name. I suppose Reggae Reggae sauce might squeeze in but you're unlikely to have heard of that.

I'll leave you with that question. I've got a sublime beef and potato curry on the go, courtesy of Channa Dassanayaka, and I must go and put the rice on. Mmmmm....that's more like it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas To You

There we were, me and C, watching TV. I know that rhymes but it was coincidence.

In the middle of some documentary about flies or something, which I was paying next to no attention to as I was busily writing a blog post about old age farts, this advert showed up. For obvious reasons it grabbed my attention.

I felt proud, there were butterflies in my stomach and excitement and joy oozed out of me.


Sri Lanka, what a great country to come from.

A happy Christmas to you all, whatever your views, whatever your style, whatever you think of me I wish you the best and thank you for reading LLD this year.

I'll be back soon, with the Lankanosphere awards and more of the same. In fact I'll probably be back before the year is fully done.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's Happened To Humour In The Lankanosphere?


I've been doing a lot of browsing around the Lankanosphere as research and development for the forthcoming awards and, as far as sidesplittingly funny writing is concerned, there's a distinct lack of it.

The only single blog listed on Kottu that makes me smile, laugh and fart involuntarily is DramaQueen's, but she went and scooped all the awards last year and only writes a post on Thursdays when Halley's comet is clearly visible, occasionally Wednesdays.

There's no shortage of blogs and bloggers who can make me laugh. I've chuckled heartily, like Father Christmas after a night when he's smoked a few too many, at posts by Cerno, Indi, Java and others, but I wouldn't class their blogs as ones that are funny per se.

I've laughed like a demented Hyena leaving the dentist after having some fillings on that troublesome tooth at the back at some of Sittingnut's comments and posts, but something tells me he's not actually trying to be funny.

The "troll" type blogs, those HH Zoltan and Pada Show ones are hit and miss, usually the latter and I fundamentally think that to gain attention by piss taking is quite cheap anyway, far better to create something oneself than mock others.

I've found myself a new funny, no make that hilarious blog. I've been trawling through its archives and I wince and chuckle with equal and copious amounts at just about every sentence. Have a look at it here, I guarantee you'll find it funny. The problem with it is that it's about as Sri Lankan as one of those Great British dishes, like curry.

JCP has morphed into a purely political place and the once clever satire has been replaced by insults and name calling, not my thing really.

I think I'm going to end up with a funniest post award instead of the funniest blog one as I can't find a blog that fits.

So I ask you dear reader. Which Lankan blog posts have you read that made you laugh, that made you pee just a little bit and put a smile on your face in the morning?

Answers on a comment please.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Involuntary Emissions Of A Gaseous Nature

Good morning all on this, the Christmas week, the penultimate week of the decade, unless you're one of those new fangled fellows who believes a decade hasn't begun until the year is one with a one as the last digit in its name.

It's been a while, but events in my life dictate that the time has come. Yes, it's time for a fart post. You see, at the grand old age of forty three I've noticed that the muscles, those in the posterior region, are getting somewhat lazy. This has taken me by surprise for, as you probably know, they're quite well trained and well used, which may actually be part of the problem.

I've discussed the matter with some other chaps of a similar age and they've given firm indications that it's a common issue in us more mature types. Frankly, at the most unexpected and inopportune moments, my inner workings can get together and conjure up a fart out of nothing.

The first time I met C, at Barefoot actually, we were sitting in the garden and had a brief conversation. After some minutes I stood up, laughed at something, as a fellow does, and farted. I had no control over it whatsoever, it just slipped out like one of those phantoms; a ghostly and eerie experience indeed.

When this happens, particularly in front of a sexy piece, the man is left in a quandary. Do you confess to the crime before it's even been discovered, knowing full well that it may not get unearthed anyway? If the wind is in the right direction, quite literally, then there's every chance of committing one of those victimless crimes.

Or do you keep quiet, taking the chance that you might have unleashed a beast and in a matter of seconds all around you will be holding their nose and asking who's dropped one? There's no easy answer, it's a question of judgement that needs to be tackled on a job by job basis.

On this one, in the Barefoot Garden I chose to confess for a couple of reasons. It seemed to me that C would be the sort of woman to be impressed by some fart talk, she had that air of sophistication about her persona. Also I wasn't sure if she had heard the noise or not, so it was better to be upfront than to take the undercover approach. I was right. She laughed and is sitting next to me as I type this, feigning disinterest.

What I've noticed is that as I strain other parts of my body I can inadvertently let rip. Last night I was bending down to get a saucepan out of the cupboard and laughed at something. It was too much strain on my body and I popped out a little one.

The other day at work I was bounding up the stairs with the eagerness of a dog chasing a cat with a bone tied to its tail. As I hit the last but one step I coughed. It was like a car backfiring. The cough made the engine splutter just a bit and the exhaust popped one out. No one was around, I got away with it and continued my bounding happily. The next person on the stairs may have been in for a slightly unpleasant surprise though.

At this age the audibles aren't a worry. All the involuntaries tend to be silent, at worst there's only a small amount of noise and it's usually only heard by me. But what worries me is what might happen with advancing years.

Will I end up as one of those old blokes who strolls around the place farting loudly with every consonant? As I get even older I'm sure that the little muscle control I have in that region is going to reduce. Is this something I should just accept and deal with or can I fight it with muscle exercises or special tablets?

You young kids won't believe that this will happen to you, but it will, you just have to wait about twenty years.

Which reminds me, I must give DD and Java a call.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rhythmic Diaspora (C) - DO NOT TOUCH

The first line, the name on the address label says the above, without the "DO NOT TOUCH" bit. "DO NOT TOUCH" is the phrase in my head, most definitely in capital letters too.

The address label sits, stuck happily to a box about fourteen inches away from me on my desk. How do I know it's about fourteen inches I can hear you almost screaming in a mad frenzy. I know it because I have just measured it with a tape measure. Accuracy means everything in these parts.

The box is an one and it contains my Christmas present from C. I know this because she told me that she was going to get it delivered to my office. It was my smart idea to put her name in brackets on the delivery address label so that I would see it and realise that it was not for me.

"Just get it delivered to my work", "just put your name in brackets", "no, of course I won't open it, don't be silly", "I'll be so busy that I won't be tempted" were all the things I said to her.

Now, as I write this post, the little box is staring at me, daring me to do the only decent thing. Boxes are made to be opened aren't they? C would never know if I deftly opened it, examined the contents, then resealed it and proclaimed innocence and surprise on Christmas day.

I keep glancing to my right and it's there. If there was a huge big red button with "Do not press this button" written on it I'd have to press it eventually. It's not a question of whether I open it or not, more an issue of whether I can last long enough.

I've already interrogated the outside of the box at some length and extracted no information. If I were a machine, one who understood barcodes, I'd be pretty clued up. I'm no machine though, just a mere mortal. Well, I say mere, but I guess I'm blessed with good looks, intelligence and humour, but I don't like to brag.

The box is teasing me and sneering at me. It knows it's got the upper hand, that it's going to win the battle, that my willpower is about as strong and committed as HI!! Magazine's political column. But it also knows that I'm going to waver, I'll hover on the brink of doing the wrong thing and I'll eventually make the right decision.

What will it be though?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three Wicked Things

They're different, but here are three random phrases that I've read in recent weeks that have stuck with me.

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." - Charles Mingus.

"It's sort of like the fort railway station suddenly becoming an exclusive members only club." - Cerno

"You wouldn't know subtlety if it punched you in the face." - Someone on Twitter who I can't recall.

Words can be very beautiful, particularly if they're put in the right order.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ooooh Oooh This Sex Is On Fiyiyerrr

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but I play in a covers band, the drums you know.

It's quite a kick arse rock band, playing songs like The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary, The Foo's Learn to Fly, The Jam's A Town Called Malice and The Killers' When You Were Young. We also do some songs by bands whose first name isn't "The", but we keep them to a minimum. We don't do any songs by The The and, much to my dismay, there are often a couple of Snow Patrol songs in the set.

Since I joined we've done Kings of Leon's Molly's Chambers, one of their best songs I reckon, and it's always gone down well with people. And some months ago we decided to add in Sex On Fire to the set. I say "we decided" but it was more a case that if we didn't bung it in the set we'd be in severe danger of getting attacked by irate drunken revellers after each gig, well more attacked than is usual.

We had so many gigs in which people would be asking if we did Sex on Fire that it became a necessity, of course it was nothing to do with the fact that's it's dead easy and dead popular. Each time we play it we witness a crowd singing along to the chorus, waving arms, pointing fingers and generally at a point of euphoria that makes me understand how fellows like Hitler and the like could get so many people to follow them and hang onto their every word.

It's the epitome of great songwriting skill in a pure pop/rock genre, perhaps not up there with songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Paranoid Android and Lunu Dehi as all time greats but I'll guarantee you that, in years to come, it will be as popular as songs like Hi Ho Silver Lining and Summer of '69.

It's a short song with sexy verses and an anthemic chorus. The phrase "sex is on fire" is a memorable and catchy one too. I've never heard it used before as a way of describing sex, yet it's blatantly obvious that it means good things about the copulation concerned. Mr Leon could easily have used another phrase like "this sex is fantastic" or "this sex is outrageous" but they just wouldn't have had that same sense of edginess and kickarsity.

And the real beauty of the song is that, when we get to the chorus, every single fucker ( a word I choose most deliberately) in the house is standing up, singing along and doing that pointing with one arm thing in time with the s in sex, the i in is, the o in on, the f in fire and then the y in fire.

As I drum along I sometimes look at their faces and I can see and sense what's going on in their minds. Us drummers are renowned for our sensitivity to other people's feelings and thoughts you know. Yes, what I can pick up is that each punter, whether with a partner or not, thinks that the description is about what's it's like to have sex with them. They're fooled into believing that the song was written for them and that all the other people in the room are bad at sex.

How cool is that?

I would love, absolutely love, to write one song in my life that could be as memorable and impactful as that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 2009 Lankanosphere Awards Are Coming...

No, wait, it's not happening just yet but this is a little heads up to let you know about what's going to be happening oh so very, very soon.

It's that time of the year, the one of that bloke who comes once a year down the chimney. Here at my office we have a twelve inch high moving Father Christmas, not that unusual you might say, and I'd agree with you. The unusual thing is that he's black. I don't know how we got him but I like him and I'm quite proud to be the "keeper" of the chap. He dances too. Anyhow, just thought I'd share that snippet with you.

Things may be a bit quiet around here in the short term as I'm putting most of my effort into the forthcoming 2009 blogging awards. This will be the fourth year that I've done this and it's about as nepotistic and undemocratic as, well any Lankan election could be really. It's hopefully going to be a bit of fun, a chance perhaps to discover some Lankan related blogs that you may not have seen before, to catch up on some that you'd forgotten about.

Sadly I have to exclude blogs written in Sinhala or Tamil, simply because I cannot understand those great languages. It's not something I'm proud of but it is life, or current life. So we're limited to Lankan related blogs published in English. Don't ask me what Lankan related means, as the definition is as fuzzy and complicated as one of Sittingnut's better arguments.

The only other rule, which I might change if I fancy it, is that last year's winners don't win the same title this year. It's potentially a little bit unfair, but I hope that it makes things a bit more varietical (my own word).

This year's awards will see more guest judges and hopefully a little more input from you, which is where we start.

Last year the categories and winners were as follows:

Photoblog - Amila Salgado
I wish I hadn't written that - Dinidu (for his religion post)
Blog of the Year - TMS
Best Newcomer - Kalusudda
Best written blog - David Blacker
Shitloads of comments whenever they post - Voice In Colombo
Best Overseas blog - Dance In a Triangle
Funniest Blog - DramaQueen
Funniest Post - DramaQueen
Legend of the Lankanosphere - Indi

I'm not going to ask you for nominations, though you may want to send some in anyway. I am however, going to ask for your ideas for any new award categories. I've decided to get rid of a couple, namely the funniest post and the I wish I hadn't written that ones. The former gets the big boot because it's too related to the funniest blog awards, the latter goes the way of all previous presidential candidates' promise to abolish the executive presidency because so many people have deleted posts that it's almost impossible to judge.

I have to go now. There are some chaps trying to deliver a red carpet for some awards ceremony. Send your suggestions in please, if you want to nominate a blog for an award don't even think about it unless you write the nomination on the back of a large cheque made payable to me. Or I will accept payment in sex, though not from you Sanjana.

Have a fine week.


Friday, December 11, 2009

A Bit Of A Mystery

Can anyone give me an explanation about this? I was doing a bit of googling and came across it. It's the weirdest thing ever. My work, but not my work.

Please tell me what it is. One of you computerish nerdy types must know surely.

And have a good weekend out there, I'm gigging tonight if anyone wants to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sansoni Al Pacino

It's the time for a quick search term post. A sporadic glance through the stats for my blog always throws up some interesting, some puzzling and some fascinating bits of information. The things people have searched for to get here are no exception.

Here are some recent juicy gems:

1. Psychology for bum wiping.

2. Do people in London wear willies?

3. Audit chat up lines

4. How to do absofuckinglutely nothing forever

5. Are very tight flare jeans gay?

6. Sansoni Al Pacino

7. Mock Wattalapam

8. Sri Lankan Astronaut

And here are some of my thoughts about them:

1. There are people who look into the most everyday things to levels of mad detail. Somewhere there's probably an academic writing a paper on this.

2. Yes, mostly men though.

3. Was this an accountant looking for chat up lines? What would be the accountant's version of Joey's "How you doin?". Perhaps something like "Fancy a bit of double entry?" or "Can I put my column in your spreadsheet?"

4. Why?

5. No, but wear them and people will probably think you are. Though I know DD wears them quite often.

6. Finally they're making a Hollywood epic about the photographer and Al is playing the lead. About bloody time too. Morgan Freeman will be Java and Nimmi Harasgama will play herself.

7. Is this sometime who has a big bowl of wattalapam and wants to tease it mercilessly?

8. Frankly it just makes me smile. All the jokes about the spaceship pulling out in front without indicating, about it needing a horn, perhaps no lights, you get the gist, well they all spring to mind.

What's happening over your way then?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Women Are From Mars, Men Are Normal

C's here for the Christmas period, which fills me with feelings comfort and joy, comfort and joy, feelings of comfort and joy.

Yet there are going to be some complications. The girls will be with their mother and her family on Christmas day itself and so, after a wild moment of mad uttering, I find myself in the situation of having my parents over for the Christmas dinner. All well and good, I'm sure it will be nice and cosy, but I haven't got the faintest clue how on earth to cook a roast dinner, let alone a full Turkey and all the trimmings Christmas one.

Give me the job of conjuring up some rice and c and I'm up for it, ask me to cook a spaghetti bolognese or microwave a ready meal and I'll stand up and be counted. The Christmas dinner is going to be a challenge, one that I'll no doubt keep you, the reader in this saga, informed about.

That wasn't the thing I wanted to tell you about though. Today's topic is about women, presents and the tests we men have to face. C told me some weeks ago that one of the things she'd quite like for Christmas is a watch, "not an expensive one", she added. You'll understand if, by the time you come to read this, these words have been deleted, as I don't want C to read it and realise that I've told you all about it.

The younger, perhaps less experienced men among you, will wonder what the fuss is about. You're probably thinking right now that it's all quite simple and straightforward, just do what she says, buy her a watch, one that isn't expensive, and the job will be done and everyone will be happy. Frankly I shake my head and roll my eyes, which is easy for us drummers, at people who think like that.

You see, women do these things, they throw out challenges like this and it's never as easy to respond in the correct way as it may seem. Often there is no correct way to respond, making it slightly harder to do the right thing, a bit like an election in which neither candidate would be your choice and you end up voting for the one you think will do the least damage, an unlikely scenario I know.

In the world of the female predator I'm like an innocent grazing deer; enjoying myself and munching on some foliage whilst remaining in a state of receptiveness and awareness.

Now the very first important issue to be tackled in this situation is whether I should buy a watch at all or go for something totally different. No way am I going to fall arse over wallet at the first hurdle, this has to be pondered and cogitated on. On the one hand, I go out and buy a watch and gain kudos for doing what was requested. An easy win? Nope, for doing what was requested may in itself be a bad thing. Some women, you'll find this hard to believe but I assure you it's true, want men to think for themselves.

Then, if I go down the alternate route and get something other than a watch, it's a potentially risky situation that even Barrack Obama would steer clear of. My instincts tell me that buying C a nice snare drum instead of a watch would be a lovely and thoughtful present, using my imagination and courage to their limit. But no, my head tells me that she wouldn't want a snare drum, women are weird like that. As men our job is to deal with it.

So the snare drum option, or any other drum related present for I'm open minded about these things, is out and the watch is the favourite. What direction do I go in next?

"Inexpensive" she said. Well, what the Bejeezus does that mean exactly? And, before you even think about it, asking her is the second worst idea in the world, the worst being to ask my Mum. The only thing that the word "inexpensive" indicates is that I probably shouldn't go online spend many hours browsing in jewellers' shop windows and buy the most expensive top of the range Breitling, Rolex or Raymond Weil I can find, nor should I get the cheapest thing money can buy.

This leaves me with a large range in which to operate, particularly worsened by the fact that I'm not really sure about the whole not buying a Bretling, Rolex or Raymond Weil thing. The word inexpensive, I've decided, should be banned and sent off to the word graveyard, to be replaced by more man friendly words, ones like £200, £150 and £50 and similar.

I forgot to tell you the other "useful" bit of guidance C gave me. And, when I say useful, I mean useful in the same way that the button to call a member of the air crew on a Sri Lankan Airlines plane is useful, or in the way that a roundabout lurking on a Colombo road at night time is useful.

"You know the sort of thing I like, you choose" was the thing she said, when I asked what sort of watch she wants. I managed to bluff my way through, nodding with an air of wisdom as if all women are predictable and men know exactly how to read them, as if I had won an award for my ability in this highly scientific field.

I remain as confused as a tourist in House of Fashions mens' T shirt section.

Vut too doo?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Language And These Highly Intelligent Fellows

I know a few of them and these brainy coves are all well and good. I can often be found in the company of a gang or two of them, I'm the one saying very little and listening with all my ears fully open, trying to learn, but more importantly trying to understand. Thinking about it, it's impossible that the collective term for academics would be "gang", no it would have to be "school" wouldn't it?

But something I've noticed with these brainboxes is that they often talk and write in words and sentences that are beyond the level of comprehension of us regular and normal types. It's a phenom that genuinely perplexes me, one I've asked Academic Bro about quite a few times, the problem being that I've failed to understand his answer.

Academic Bro often writes papers and articles, books and things and I get to read them. The thing that has always struck me is that they're written in a language that is so different to my everyday speaking one, or my writing one. Yet it's language that many academics find familiar and comfortable, it's words, phrases and sentences that they really say to each other. Mad.

I wonder if this two tier liguistic approach is a way in which the brainy chaps try to keep themsleves separated from us lesser mortals, or is it the fact that the language happens and that's what separates us?

Why exactly did I start on this rather rambling introduction? Well it all came about when I read this review of The Travelling Circus on Groundviews. It's by Sanjana himself, a good pal of mine, but, fuck me, as we commoners say, it's hard to make sense of. It's well written, with grammar worthy of one of PG Wodehouse's better known characters, though not Bertram W himself, and, though I haven't analysed it mathematically, I feel sure that he's probably used at least eighteen, maybe even nineteen, of the letters in the alphabet.

There are words in English that I've never heard before, let alone the ones in obscure foreign languages, like Italian and French, that leave me with a puzzled frown and lines in my forehead. The first paragraph starts lightly, presumably to get the reader's interest and persuade him to pursue things. The only two controversial words are "juxtapose" and "highfalutin". Even I might use the former sometimes.

The second paragraph is where the big guns come out firing. As early as the second sentence Sanjana makes adroit use of the Italian "commedia dell'arte." I only use the word "adroit" in a vain attempt to prove my own intellectual credentials, the truth is that Sanjana uses it later on and that's where I got the idea. I know that "commedia dell'arte" is Italian purely because he helpfully wrote it in the language of the Italians; Italics.

As we progress muddily through the paragraph we encounter "inflorescence" and "insouciance", words I'll get around to looking up soon, with the benefit that they'll be within a few pages of each other in the dictionary. Mr H tells us that

"The Travelling Circus, in this respect, was a technical tour de force"

Now come on. I'm not totally stupid, I've read things, watched a bit of sport of TV and I've got a trendy green bike, one of those ones with brakes so good that I'm constantly in danger of flying over the handlebars. I know the Tour de Force is probably the hardest and most famous cycle race in the world, I know about the yellow jersey and all, I just don't think one can compare The Travelling Circus to it.

The review continues with complicated, confusing and mind boggling language, though it's spelled correctly and our Sanj, as I like to call him, puts all his apostrophes in the right places, never confusing an it's with an its. He uses the word "denouement" and even puts an accent above the first e. How clever is that? I can do an ê, but an e (with an accent) evades me. Mind you, I bet Sanjana can't play Sex On Fire on the drums, particularly the middle eight.

It took until I got to the very last line for me to figure out if he liked the play or not. Even I got the gist of it.

"This is theatre at its best".

He could have just said that really.

I must dash, I'm trying to cook beef with jus in bello, it's a recipe Sanjana mentioned to me the other day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Parody


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Presenting My Conditions For Political Support.

Dear Your Excellency,

With the forthcoming Presidential election looming larger than a huge thing hovering over a tiny thing, perhaps even larger, I think the time is right to outline my conditions for my support. According to Blogger I have the grand total of sixteen people who are now official followers, I feel that my support for any candidate could gain between ten and fourteen of those votes, a large sum by anyone's standards.

Here they are:

1. Embarkation cards - You know when Suddhas leave Sri Lanka, well there needs to be better signage to tell them / us that we need to fill out an embarkation card. Otherwise they queue up to get their passport checked, making the queues longer for all of us, only to be told to go over there and fill out the form.

2. Odel - Please sort out the mens' department. And also we could do with a down escalator. Why is there just the one, why does it go up, then get us to the wrong floor? These are important issues.

3. Freedom of speech - I reckon it's a good thing and should be encouraged. Dissent is usually constructive and helps people to formulate decent opinions and ideas. Violent protest, terrorism and hateful behaviour aren't good things, most people would agree, not that I've spoken to most people. Get rid of the "if you're not with us you're against us" mentality, start a "you can be with us and disagree" one.

4. Barefoot devilled King Prawns - Please get rid of this delectable dish from the specials menu. It's all well and good to enjoy when a fellow's there but dwelling on the taste and the aroma from my desk on a December morning in West London is quite painful and makes my mouth water. It's not as painful as nailing your balls to a wall but you probably get what I mean. Just ask DD, he'll no doubt agree with me.

5. A Sri Lankan passport - May I have one please? My parents are Sri Lankan, as were their parents. I feel Sri Lankan and love the place, for all its madness and sheer frustration, for its beauty and serendipity. I'd quite like to get one without the need for thousands of pounds to change hands and be verified by all sorts of people, most of whom we're all related to anyway.

6. Release the IDPs.

That's it really. I suppose some of these things are easier for you to do than others, but just imagine if you lost the election by ten votes or so. To be honest with you I'm not too fussed about the whole embarkation card signage business. I actually find it quite funny to watch the tourists get turned back after queuing up.

I'd be happy to come to your house sometime if you want to hear more, I think I know roughly where it is. I can't come on Friday though as I'm on a diabetes clinic thing.

Good luck and all.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Diabetes Diaries

Indi's post here reminded me that I haven't told you the state of play with my whole peeing in a test tube and diabetes thing. Well, basics, as my kids would say, because to say the word basically is just so time consuming, the results came back and are that I've got type 2 diabetes, something I take as good news.

It's good news because I now know the illness that's causing the symptoms and can get on with treating it and moving forwards, in my own little backwards way. I heard on the radio the other day that there has been a fifty per cent increase in people with type 2 diabetes in the last five years in the UK. I also heard that the chances of getting it if you're a South Asian male over forty are about as high as the chances of a lead singer, in a gig, forgetting to go to a chorus and then turning round and glaring at the rest of the band as if they've played the wrong thing. Which is to say, pretty much a dead cert.

So having this type 2 diabetes thing means that, and please forgive me if I get the technical stuff a bit wrong as I'm not Jennifer Aniston or one of those other scientific types, my body isn't particularly talented in the field of extracting sugar from my food and making it into energy. I think that's because the RD body in question isn't very good at producing insulin, which is what helps it to do all the converting sugar into energy stuff.

Apparently fellows can have it for months, maybe even years before the symptoms accumulate and they got to their Doctor's because they're concerned about them, exactly what happened in my case. If you know me then I think you'll agree that it's fair to say I'm not a fat bloater type of chap. I eat a reasonably balanced diet, I get a fair amount of exercise from drumming and I don't drink much alcohol.

So I'm now on drugs, to do stuff, and after about a month I'm getting a full night of sleep without a barrage of toilet trips. I'm not getting through an ocean of Evian water each night, bad news for the mineral water industry but good news for me, and I'm not getting cramps in my legs at the most inopportune moments; drum solos and the like.

I'll tell you what, sleeping through the night after months of nights feeling as if I've had a dozen short naps, is exhilarating, luxurious and a teeny bit of a mindfuck. It's much harder for me to wake up these days as the alarm clock has to do the job of raising me from deep instead of light, might need to get up and pee at any moment, sleep. Then, once I'm up and have done the whole scratching my balls, rubbing my eyes and farting ritual, I'm all bright eyed and bushy tailed. I hit the day with the enthusiasm of a forger who's just been asked to do a load of new Lankan Rs 1000 notes.

I have to eat breakfast, something I'm not used to and therefore a large change in the routine. Each morning, were you to be one of G's many sexual partners, you'd be able to witness me in my apartment munching furiously through a bowl of cereal, a couple of Ryvitas or some natural yoghurt.

Just in case you didn't know G is the bloke who lives in the apartment directly opposite me, with a boat, a 911 and more girlfriends than Hugh Heffner in a good year. I've discovered that he's also a captain of industry and sold one of his companies some time ago for many millions. Frankly I don't understand what these girls see in him.

Cereal, Ryvitas and natural yoghurt are somewhat girly breakfasts but this has to be done. I'm talking about cereal that doesn't even have a plastic toy in the box as well. No dinosaur or tiger anywhere to be seen. I've always liked ryvitas and natural yoghurt is just curd but made under hygienic conditions, so there's no big hardship there but I could kill for a big English brekkie or some strings though.

And that is the state of play. It's also been quite a good reminder to me of the many good things about the UK National Health Service. The treatment has been good and serious, though I do get a bit annoyed with some of the red tape and bureaucracy. On Friday I'm going to an all day thing where they teach us about diabetes, what to do, eat and all. It might be a bit boring but I reckon it will be useful information. I've been given a flu jab, a swin flu jab and I now get free prescription medication. How cool is that? The drugs are on me!

It sounds all good and it largely is.

Except for my Mum. You know her, the Sri Lankan mother who's also a Doctor.

I shake my head in despair, you can probably imagine what I'm going through.

By the way, did you know that the word "yoghurt" come up as an error when you run the spellcheck thing here? That's Americans for you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Passing Of Time

Taken in the hills of Kandy, same place only about ten years apart. The top one was this year. Interesting eh?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear 16 - The Final Shot

As at Friday afternoon this was the posish, as much as I could see. It will have mutated more by the time you read this, mostly because of rebellious rulebreakers, leaving open tags, multi tags and some who have even tagged merely one person.

I think the time has come for me to let go. It's been good, the tag has spread far and wide. I read about it in the Sunday Leader Kottu section, the online version of course, wondering if there might just be a flood of readers unfamiliar with Kottu and Sri Lankan blogs in general who'd email their letter in to Indi.

There have been bastardisations, such as Whacko's letter to his sixty year old self, a nice and different approach, and there have been funny as hell ones, like DQ's distinctly "that's worth another look at" one. We're still waiting on Indi's and Electra's versions, possibly they're too cool for school, maybe they just don't want to do it or are too busy with small things like plays and politics.

As we read this, well you read it and I write, there may well be some chap over in another blogosphere who has been tagged and is busily thinking about what he's going to write. Odds on he's thinking that it might be really funny if he tells the sixteen year old him a bit about sex, perhaps how he'll have it quite soon and never stop thinking about it.

That's been the best thing for me about this tag; discovering some blogs I hadn't heard of, "meeting" a few new people and seeing what we think we've learned since we were sixteen.

And no one has dared to tag Java. We're all too scared, including me. It would be like waking one of those ogres in a cave, good fun but dangerous and foolhardy. But, if anyone dares to tag him I reckon his letter might the most interesting one ever.

Sorry if you're missing from the chart, I've tried to keep track but it ain't easy.

Happy Monday out there all.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

You're Fired And You're Hired

I'm doing a bit of housekeeping here at LLD. I was thinking about changing the whole layout, the colour scheme and even the header, not because I don't like them as they are but just because I believe it's good to get a nice balance between familiarity and freshness. Where that balance lies is anyone's guess and the catch is that each person have different preferences anyway. But, I like my header so much that I can't bear to part with it right now, even temporarily, thanks be to that Mika Tenekoon and her artistic talents.

So the housekeeping has taken another form and is in the one of some new bloglinks and a few deleted ones. I always feel a little bit sad whenever I delete the link to a blog. Fellows tell me that they get a few hits when I chuck a link up and I take that as a nice compliment, a reflection of that fact that LLD is reasonably well read in the Lankanosphere. I don't mean to sound arrogant there, I'm very proud of my blog's popularity but also aware that these things can die overnight.

The sadness is not out of sympathy or anything, it's more that it means I'm less likely to read the blogs that have been sent off to the naughty corner, for the large majority of my regular reads are from the links over there on the left. Google reader and RSS Speedwagon and the like are way beyond me, more for the young bucks, which is basically all of you except Java and myself.

And conversely, which is not to do with basketball boots, the new blogs listed are ones that I've found myself reading regularly and also that are updated frequently.

Let's start with the blogs that are being sent off the field of play.

First there's Cynically yours, Sach's blog. It was one of the very first that I read and I've learned a lot about writing from observing Sach's journalistic endeavours and style, not to mention her piercings. The blog still exists, but it's like one of those ghost ships in Star Trek, maintaining a state of existence with no signs of life onboard. Actually, come to think of it all the blogs I'm deleting links to are in that situation.

We all know that Sach told us she was going to stop this blog and that she was going to start a new one, I can't find the new one for love nor money. If anyone can point me in the direction I'd be most grateful. Thanks for Cynically yours oh cynical Sach but the time has come.

Next is Ravana. Most of his posts are gems, precious ones at that, but there just aren't enough of them. I believe that he's too busy writing to write on his blog, which is ironic Alanis okay.

Lastly, for what I suspect and hope is going to be a temporary period, comes Kalusudda. I'm one of his many ardent fans but none of us know where he is, if he's okay or what's going on. The fact that his blog hasn't been touched for over four months is indisputable and makes it a wasted link. So, with a lot of regret Kalu, you're fired, hopefully only until you return from the sabbatical.

The new links, which you'll see over on the left, go like this.

At the front, much overdue as I've hung on his every word for as long as I can recall, is Mr D Blacker esq, with The Blacklight Arrow. His blog is eclectic, covering many aspects of his life, from the love side to the car side to the whole being a soldier side of things. I think it's the variety and the thoughtfulness of his words that make the Blacklight Arrow so well read. I wish he'd write more but he probably couldn't without churning out rubbish, like those fellows who publish posts every day and talk about poo and stuff.

Second in is N, whom we all know. He used to be called something else, but I'm unclear if I'm allowed to say that, so I won't.

Here's an uncanny story; the other day, about an hour after I'd started writing this post, a friend was telling me about a dream she'd had. She told me that she'd dreamt about a chap whose name was N, the same N as N, and his surname was X, the exact same surname as N has, though his real surname doesn't begin with X. I just assumed that she (the dreamer) actually knows N and he'd popped up in her dream, but no, she told me that she's never met him and never heard of him. Yet a fellow with the exact name had turned up in her dream. Weird.

So his blog is called In the confusion and aftermath and it's eminently readable. I hope I don't have a dream about him now. Chee!

The final addition is DBS Jeyaraj. I was first put onto this blog by David Blacker and I now find myself visiting it with increasing regularity. I admire his bravery, I respect his wisdom and I like his writing. More important than all of those is the fact that I learn a hell of a lot about Sri Lanka each time I read one of his posts and the hundreds of comments that they attract. Somehow I doubt that the esteemed Mr J has even heard of LLD but I'll forgive him for that as I'm such a fan of his.

There we are, out with some old, in with some old but new.

May the weekend be with you, may it be a spiffing one.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Burning Question Is......

....should I make an attempt to continue with the chart for the Dear 16 tag or not? Earlier in the week I tried to add connection onto a print of it with handwritten lines and the result looks like a web weaved by a drunken apprentice spider.

Will the satisfaction of the final achievement be worth the effort, will I get lost in a sea of blog titles, links and open tabs on my PC? Is anyone interested anyhow?


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Everybody Wants To Be A Cow

Lately I've become aware of a bit of a happening over here in Blighty. It's a happening to do with fashion, with leather specifically. Or without leather, to be even more specific.

As the biting chilly air and dark grey evenings of a London winter really start to set in, I've noticed that the shops are full to the brim of leather jackets. They're beautifully soft to the touch, some are given the worn and faded look and others and shiny and black. Some have those white fur collars, the ones that make your neck feel warm just by looking at them, others have built in hoodies to make it look as though you're wearing a hoodie underneath.

There are biker style jackets, bought by people who've never dreamed of riding a motorbike, there are world war two fighter pilot's ones, bought by people whose knowledge is gleaned entirely from watching Airplane and there are trench coats, worn by fellows who haven't even watched Blackadder goes forth.

And all these jackets, as different as they are, have one thing in common; they're all not made from leather, which kind of reminds me of the old joke, you know the one.

Chap A says: What have Attila the Hun, Winnie the Pooh and Henry VIII got in common?

Fellow M says: I don't know, what have they got in common?

Chap A: They've all got the same middle name. Badumtish.

Luckily I'm a drummer so I can chuck in the "badumtish" with relative ease.

It seems that fake leather has reached a new level of sophistication. In these days of iPhones, Satnav, ereaders and the tiniest of remote control helicopters, ( hard to believe I know but I own one for office use) one would think that fake leather would have been an easy thing to perfect some time ago.

But no, for so many years fake leather has looked as shiny as a black bin bag dipped in varnish, felt about as authentic as Celine Dion playing drums with James Brown's band and smelt like Jerry's underpants after the elephant incident. Around these parts the only people wearing them were fellows going to a fancy dress party dressed as the Fonz. Or poor people.

Then bang, the boffins went and perfected the stuff. They've probably got to a stage where everything else has been invented, apart from time travel and a PC operating system that actually works of course. I've heard that time travel is close though.

These current versions really do feel like leather, they look like leather and they cost about a quarter of the price. The odour isn't authentic just yet, but at least it's not as repugnant as it used to be (sorry Jerry). As I've been casually browsing through racks of the things more often than not I have to look at the label to figure out if they're real or fake.

Naturally, as the metrosexual man about town whom you know so well, I had to buy one. It's got that brown and faded look going on, is softer to the touch than a kitten wearing a velvet waistcoat and looks even better.

And it was so cheap inexpensive that, when it goes out of fashion in about four hours time, I can afford to get the latest thing. That's the problem with real leather jackets. You spend a fortune on one but, if you go for the highly trendy type, then it will be out of vogue before you can say "the fashion Police are coming". Only the minted, top business people, film stars, NGOs and the like can afford to live like this.

Normal people like us have to wear the latest thing for one season and then face about four or five years of wearing it and looking like a person who doesn't even know what ANTM stands for.

As far as I'm concerned fake leather is the new real.

And cows are happier too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ooops Dad Did It Again!

It was about eight forty five in the morning, that's quarter to nine for the less advanced amongst you, and I was busily pretending to do some work at my desk. My mobile rang, that's a cell for the Lankans among you. I glanced at the display and it said "A calling", A being the fifteen year old daughter, not A the carpet cleaner.

I had that momentary feeling of worry that most parents can probably relate to. Her class should have started so I wondered if she might be at home sick or if there might have been some sort of emergency going on. After some fumbling around with the new sexy phone, that old man's fumbling that involves staring at the thing and wondering how the hell I answer a call, I managed to figure which virtual button to press.

It was one of those calls that people make by mistake, those annoying but interesting ones when they've left their phone in a pocket or a bag and somehow they or the phone have managed to make a call that they're unaware of.

They're annoying because the receiver usually rolls an eye or two, makes that tutting noise and feels slightly angry at the interruption. They're not that annoying though are they? We always listen, realise what's happened and then keep listening for far longer than is really needed, just to satisfy our curiosity and be a bit of a peeping tom, perhaps an eavesdropping Dad in this case.

True to form I listened and heard a cacophony of voices. It was evident that A was in her class, probably with her phone in her bag. I could just about pick out her voice but the main sound was that horrible clutterred mix of schoolkids, girls at that. It sounded as if it was the class get together thing before the teacher had turned up, all excitedly showing off and laughing and shouting. I did that "Hello, hello, A are you there?" thing that we all do too. There was no response.

After the most brief of listens, perhaps only staying on the line for about ten minutes, I hung up and thought that it would be good to call her back, to let her know that she's left her phone on, which is a serious offence in her school. I did so.

The phone rang then was answered by A. But, before she said anything I heard another adult voice saying "you're year 11 now, you're now getting away with this".

I heard A say something quite meekly to the adult voice, along the lines of "sorry" and then the line went dead. As I write this post I'm waiting to hear the consequences. In all likelihood her phone has been confiscated and I'll be public enemy number one. My pleas of only calling her to tell her that the phone was on and such will be met with the wrath.

Vut too doo?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear 16 - The Audit Trail

The Dear 16 year old me has been, it's fair to say, quite a success. Of course success is relative and I mean that it's been a success if one judges it by the volume of posts that have resulted and the general "interest" factor.

If you'll let me be honest with you I'll inform you that I feel quite the proud father about this. I mean to say, I sort of started it. And, while there's a small dose of honesty going around here I should share the fact that I so nearly lied to you in that original post. You see I was so close to pretending that the topic itself was my idea when the truth was that I'd seen it on Jonathan Ross' Twitter. I'm not sure on the apostrophe situation with the name "Ross" either.

My initial post tagged the Gypsy and DD, some wise choices I had thought. If one wants a tag to take off and spread like wildfire (the fires that are wild not the band, who are no longer I think) then these two bloggers appeared perfect. The Gypsy, though prone to strange hand movements, can always be relied upon to come out with an eloquent and elegant bit of wordcraft. We waited for a few days and then she did her stuff. Ever the rebel though, she went and tagged three people, that's a whole fifty per cent more than was allowed in the rules. The cheek of the girl!

DD responded and tagged the Blacker Bros, a risky and dangerous move. These ad people are generally too cool for school and it was always a gamble as to whether the bros Blacker would respond. I played a gig the other night to a room full of ad people and they stood there, arms crossed, with a look on their faces as if we'd just told them that they could do with dressing a bit more trendily when they go to work. Yes, they're a tough crowd.

But TKRP responded pretty quickly with this post and, some days later DB kicked out this beauty. It started a minor spat about the exact period in which DD and DB actually met as well, always a bonus. The bros done well.

About this time I thought I might try and do a chart of sorts, just to see how things had, and would progress. After some deliberation I settled on Word as the software of choice. For a bloke with my knowledge there wasn't a lot of deliberation to be done and Word was the only I have a passing knowledge of that might have done the job. I proceeded and drew lines, arrows and added in links and all sorts of things that I hadn't the slightest clue could be done.

The chart is rapidly becoming an indecipherable scrawl of blue and black ink, but I hope, if you decide to click and enlarge it, that you'll be able to follow the story so far. So far up until Friday morning that is. I'm at home and it's Sunday evening as I write this, you'll most likely be reading the post on Monday and the chart outlines the position as at Friday morning. If your first name is Dr and your surname is Who then you might just understand that last sentence.

My last foray into the Lankanosphere showed that there have been a few more people writing their Dear 16 post. I wonder if it will continue or if it will get too boring soon. Surely there must come a point at which we all get bored of hearing how we were all desperately trying to have sex at 16, how none of us actually had done and how much wiser we are at this age. It's interesting to observe that we all think we've learned loads between 16 and now, whatever now is, yet we talk as if we know it all now.

I wonder if I'll write a letter to the 43 year old me when I'm 70 and think that I knew nothing when I was 43. It's also a damn scary thought that the gap between 16 and now is that same as that between now and being 70, if my maths is correct of course.

Many of the Dear 16s have been poignant, touching and quite revealing. Dinidu's is one such example, though he had the audacity to tag me. If he'd been within striking distance I'd have attempted to give him a cuff round the ear. Instead I sent him a copy of the chart with a note saying that I started it. Sometimes these kids have to be told.

I'm still waiting for Hissyfits' one, pretty much guaranteed to be funnier than a jar full of Stephen Fry's Tweets on acid, and I've discovered a bunch of blogs that I had never read before, always a good thing.

I'll keep on trying to update the chart but I fear it won't be long before I drown in the scrawl, or at least need to go on to a second page, which could be way beyond me. In the meantime if anyone wants an emailed copy of it just ask, leave a comment or whatever and I'll chuck it across.

Happy Monday all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Random Things I've Been Randomly Doing

1. Seeing Muse

2. Gigging

3. Trying to work out a drum solo for gigs using paradiddles and Kandyan rhythms.

4. Having quite a few headaches.

5. Pondering on why the steering wheel is one of my most important things in choosing a car.

6. Learning about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Not to be confused with a grandmother standing on a stepladder. That's a higher Archchi.

7. Hearing a slightly disconcerting noise coming from within the bowels of my MacBook.

8. Eating a breakfast, one a day actually.

9. Trying to keep track of the Dear 16 year old me tag.

Et vous?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some Rare RD Wisdom

Once in a while, I estimate it more accurately to be about once in every forty three years I come up with a piece of wisdom, a little nugget of wise behaviour. Yesterday such a thing happened. It took me by surprise. Here's the story.

We had a bit of a flood at work last week. It wasn't one of biblical proportions, there weren't fellows sailing around on arks with lots of animals on board, but in terms of my work and my office it was quite big. We had to find the source of the water leak, a job that's still ongoing, and deal with the aftermath. The biggest bit of damage was of the water type to the carpet in our meeting room. We needed to get a carpet cleaner out to, well carpet clean, not unsurprisingly for the more astute among you, those ones sitting at the front.

And, if I may take you back to when I was about DD's age, one of my very first jobs was to sell carpet cleaning services door to door for a chap, we'll call him A, who I'm still friendly with about twenty years later. I use the word "friendly" in quite a loose manner. He's a bit of a division four chum, someone who I see once in a while, go out for a beer or a meal with, then wonder why on earth I did that as he's such a pain.

To be fair, it's probably his longevity more than his intrinsic quality that gains him membership into the very exclusive club that is known as the RD circle of friends. In fact it's more of a dot than a circle.

These days he still cleans carpets. Frankly, from what he has told me his business doesn't appear to be doing very well and so, last week, when finding myself in need of a carpet cleaner I called him for what I thought was a quite urgent job. I left messages, I sent him texts and tried several different numbers, some of them his. After about thirty six hours he got back to me.

I was in meetings and explained to A that I needed some stuff done and while he was there would he clean another couple of offices and leave the invoice on my desk for me when he was done. As I know about the price of carpet cleaning, as I used to sell it for A, I felt that I had sufficient knowledge and also that I trusted him enough to just get the job done and charge accordingly. It was a job that most carpet cleaning companies would have charged about £200 for.

The morning after he'd done what was a superb job I came into work and saw his invoice on my desk. He had handwritten a box in which he said that he had to do lots of extra cleaning as the carpet was so dirty but, if there were any queries, just to call him. The invoice was for £450. I had fourteen heart attacks and farted quite a bit. £450 was extortionate and I knew what A had done, or tried to do. He'd looked around at the office, he thinks (wrongly) that I've got a few quid in my pocket and reckoned that we, as a company, could afford it and would pay the amount without question.

The "call me if you have a query" bit was also a clear indication that he was trying it on. Most people, if they're charging what they really think is a fair price, don't go into the scenario thinking that their customer is going to baulk, or fart. I did both.

I don't mind telling you, my reader, that I was extremely disappointed with the situation. Here was an old friend, someone who I've been kind to over the years, someone who I was trying to help by giving him the business, trying to rip me off. It wasn't on. I called him.

I started by thanking him for a job well done and telling him how pleased I was. Then, like a Leopard pouncing on a carpet cleaner who had tried to overcharge, I told him that I was a bit surprised and disappointed about the high bill.

What followed was a half hour comedy conversation. A tried to squirm his way out of it, but not in any way that satisfied me. He attempted to justify the high cost through logic that only a Sri Lankan personnel manager on an efficiency course would possibly understand. At every junction and each turn he contradicted himself and made things worse. He told me that it was because the square yardage he had cleaned was so great, then couldn't remember what the size of the area was. He told me that the job took such a long time, then said that it wasn't about the number of hours taken. I realised that he should have been employed as a digger of holes, big and deep ones.

The gist of it was that he continued to try to justify the price when I knew that he had come to a figure of "about £500" simply because he thought he could get away with it. All too early in the conversation he offered to reduce the bill by £100, which didn't really help. I still felt that the price was too high and that he'd attempted to take advantage of me. We ended in a stalemate.

A asked me what I wanted and what he could do. I told him that I didn't know, that in reality I just wished he hadn't tried to charge the amount in the first place and that now the damage was done. It was an awkwardly dodgy situation. He offered a reduced amount yet still claimed that the original price was fair. I said that I'd pay the £450 if he was so adamant that it was appropriate, though I knew that I'd never ask him to clean a carpet for me again.

We had a stifled "friend's" conversation after that and parted. Neither of us was happy but I knew in my heart that I was in the right and my conscience was clear. A clear conscience is one thing, but I was left with the invoice to pay. I sat on it, the matter not the invoice. The fact was that it was wrong to pay the amount and it would have been wrong not to.

Then, yesterday morning I had my flash of inspiration. It has made me smile and feel that, were someone writing a bible right now, they'd look at me and consider using this as a parable or a stable or whatever they're called.

I gave the invoice to the woman who never pays for her lunch and asked her to write a cheque made payable to A for £350. Then I also asked her to do another cheque for £100 but to leave the payee blank. I sent them both in the same envelope to A, with a compliment slip. I wrote a message on the compliment slip and asked him to do whatever he felt was correct with the £100 cheque, to make it payable to himself, give it to charity or rip it up.

I have a feeling that I'll never find out what A decides to do with the cheque. I'll let you know if I do.

I'm quite chuffed with myself though, just thought I'd tell you. I can't wait until I'm eighty six.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Phone Wars

I was at a meeting the other day, one of those meetings with quite a few high powered people. And me.

There were about twenty people there, all business types. Most of them were pretty well known and biggish players in my industry and around the table sat many large, well nourished and well trained brains and many more large and not so well trained egos.

I go to these meetings about four times a year as, in theory at least, I'm part of this business group. The truth is that I go because I want to learn from these fellows, I want to learn more about my industry and about running a company, all that serious stuff that I no doubt would have learned had I gone to university. Even though I'm about the same age as most of them I sit there and feel as if I'm a child in an adult world.

One of the chaps has an unusual appearance and demeanour. If you imagine Father Christmas on a day off, dressed in a business suit and with the beard packed away in a box, you'd have a decent image of him. That's the physical appearance taken care of, the demeanour is friendly but in a "I always stand up for my principles and take no shit" kind of way. In several meetings I've witnessed him push a point beyond the boundaries that most others would, seemingly because he digs his heels in and wants to win, more than his desire to really analyse a point.

I reckon he's in his late fifties or early sixties. He comes across as the sort of bloke who's been in the industry since he left school, who knows nothing else and has no desire to know anything else. The sort of bloke you want on your side not on the other side. Scary, and until some months ago I stayed fairly well clear of him. Then I overheard him chatting to another fellow. They were talking about drums and my drum radar went into overdrive. I scraped into the conversation and he's now my new best friend.

So, there I was in the meeting last week sitting next to my new mate. Before the meeting had formally begun we did some serious drum talk, of snares and cymbals, sticks and kits. It was good, if you're a drummer.

The meeting began and I observed something taking place. It was a phone war, slightly subtle but even more slightly unsubtle. Most people put their phone on the table in front of them. They then got involved in the meeting at the appropriate moments. But, at almost every other opportunity, they all checked their phones, replied to a text message (seemingly) and trying to portray an air of being busier and more important than they actually were.

The subtletly was signified by the fact that all the ringtones were turned off, the messages were silent and the actions were a bit hidden. The lack of subtlety was in the fact that it happened at all, a bit like an elephant trying to hide in the butter dish in the fridge.

All these fellows had flash phones. Blackberries, blueberries, iPhones and Star Wars phones were out in abundance. It was a bit of a competition to prove that each had the best phone, the one with the best flip out QWERTY keyboard. I must admit that's the first time I've ever typed out the word "qwerty" and strangely I was totally surprised at how easy it was to physically type out. That's a bit mad isn't it? It shouldn't really have such a shock to me. Try it and I bet you'll catch yourself looking for the keys.

And I've got a brand new phone, a flashy one without real buttons. It's got a keyboard that appears on screen and turns on its side when it eventually decides it wants to. The instructions say that the phone senses when it's turned and adjusts the display automatically. The instructions lie, the truth is that you turn the phone sideways, bang it a bit, give up on the whole display going horizontal thing and turn it back the other way. Then the display turns on its side and catches you unawares.

It's got wifi, a cubey thing that spins around and that general array of functions and applications that we've all been fooled into thinking are essential for us to exist in day to day life. I use it to make and receive phone calls, to send and receive texts and to look at the weather so I can decide which shirt I'm going wear the next day. As far as I'm concerned the best thing about it is the silicone rubber case that I bought with it, it's got a very sexy feel to it, a bit like writing with a ballpoint pen when you're on the conveyor belt at the supermarket.

After a while I thought I'd better get my new phone out. I went through a myriad of menus and a score of screens to put it on silent and plonked it on the table. For the next couple of hours, while the other chaps played their phone war, I checked my phone at the appropriate intervals. Nothing happened, not even my Mum called.

I pretended that I was important though. In the couple of hours I sent about thirty fake messages to about thirty fake people. I made a screwed up face several times as I pretended to read an email about some slightly puzzling topic. I smiled quietly to myself while making sure a few people caught sight of me as I read a pretend message about something amusing and I sighed with dismay as I pretended to receive one that was a pain.

Then I wondered if that's what all the others, with their sideways qwerty keyboards were doing too.

And later on I won six bottles of French wine.


Monday, November 16, 2009


So I spent way too much time drawing up a word doc to show the progress of the Dear 16 tag thing.

I thought it might be interesting to see who's tagged who and so on. After a hell of a lot of fumbling around in the darkness that is my knowledge of Word I did it. A slightly fancy looking charty thing, with lines, links and even an arrow. I'm proud of it, though I reckon one of my kids could have done a much better one on about half the time.

Then I discover that there appears to be no easy way to chuck the thing up within a blog post. I had assumed that I could just link to it, like I can with pictures and it would show up and people could click on the links I'd inserted and all.

Vut too dooo?

Any ideas?

Nothing To Say

It's Sunday night right now and I've got so much to tell you that I've ended up with nothing to say. Does that make any sense?

I've got a list of about ten subjects that I might write a post, or ten posts about.

There's the Muse gig on Friday night. I might write a post or I might just tell you that it was absofuckinglutely fanfuckingtastic. The latter method is probably far more descriptive than I could manage if I tried to get all reviewerish.

There's the tangential story about A and K's behaviour at the gig and how I wondered if I was a cool or an embarrassing Dad. But that's for another time, maybe when I've decided which one.

Or you might be interested in A and her purchase of the four inch high heels. If you're one of the female type who reads around in these parts I think you'll chuckle at and relate to my tale of watching her try to get used to her first pair of high heels, for a party on Saturday night, how I looked at her with that parental mix of horror, love, fear and pride.

My thoughts on watching the Sri Lankan woman on TV the other night, on "Come dine with me", might interest you. She won the competition yet made herself look like an idiot and I pondered on how an individual in a foreign country tends to represent their home territory, in a rather ambassadorial sort of way.

The Dear sixteen year old me thing seems to be tagging along quite nicely. I must admit I'm quite proud of it, though it wasn't my idea at all. It's proving interesting to see what we all think we've learned, the mistakes we've made and the good things we've done. I'm waiting for someone, just one person to announce that they'd actually had sex before they were sixteen. So far no one, not even a Blacker or a Point.

I drew up a chart this afternoon to see who's tagged who and how far it's spread. I might take a picture of it and chuck it up for all to see at some point.

But I'm just going to wish you a happy Monday and write about all this in more detail later.

So, there you go.

Happy Monday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lately Auf Das Lankanosphere...

Ja, fur zis veek ve vill in another language talk. And ze language is Cherman. Das idea vas gut ja?

Except for the fact that my German has now been exhausted. By that, I don't mean that I have a cute German girl under my desk who's now totally knackered. No, I mean I've run out of German phrases, words and umlauts and things. It's probably because I failed my German 'O' level all those years ago and, on top of that, I don't know if the Lankanosphere's male or female.

The past weeks in the Kottu world have been a hive of all sorts of activity and have certainly made for interesting reading. Even as I start this has the smell of a long post. I'd suggest that you grab yourself a cup of something, sit down, get comfortable and prepare for a longish read. Like a good asian family it's all relative and it's not a long read compared to one of Bill Shakespeare's shortest works or the average length of a Sittingnut comment.

The first thing is that the sad passing of Mohan Ariyaratne has caused many bloggers to tell of their feelings and thoughts, whether happy, sad or both. I didn't know him well, to me he was the chap at Barefoot who looked after many things, music in particular.

I don't think he knew my name but he'd always acknowledge me and we'd have a little chat, often about music. I once gave him a CD of my band with me drumming and, to my surprise, he put it on at Barefoot. It made me smile like a cheshire cat to get played there and I'd like to thank him for that.

Indi's post has got a really atmospheric and poignant picture, Dom's post is a beautifully crafted black and white portrait as only he can make with a poem to accompany and Electra's post is written in her uniquely thought provoking style. Java gives us all a bit of background and history in his particularly esoteric way.

It's been a couple of weeks but there was the perplexing story of the Lankan blogger who went and got himself arrested. Perplexing because things were hazy, facts were unclear and simply that perplexing is a word I haven't used for a while. It's unclear who the chap was, though a name has been bandied about, and exactly why and what charges have been brought, if any.

Indi tell us about it here and Aladdin, the slippered Lothario gives us some more detail here. As a blogger I find it a bit worrying, though any arrest on my person is more likely to be from the fashion Police (metrosexual division) than from a political squad.

Rajaratarala, yes him with all the As in his name, has decided to go into acting. Word has it that he's been seen busily auditioning for the latest Gillette commercial, involving a sarong clad sword wielding fiend and lots of shaving gel. He tells us a bit more about it on his captivating blog. It seems he also ran over a bloke in a garage, then pretended the chap was working under his vehicle without the aid of a jack.

Life in Taprobane is the name of the blog, Serendib Isle is the name of the blogger and Lebanon is the name of the Country, though not the Serendib one. Our S Isle has been perving travelling across Lebanon, telling us about his observations and ruminations and falling in love left, right and centre. The posts are good reading and made me want to see the place. Check them out. As an aside I wonder what they call lesbians in Lebanon.

Cerno kicked out two little nuggets that couldn't be more different yet share one thing; brilliance. Firstly we have this one about domestic bliss at home with the Cernos. It made all of us go all gushy and gooey and I even heard a rumour that it had prompted David Blacker to rush out and watch a batch of romantic comedies while eating a large bar of Swiss chocolate.

Secondly is his post on the People's republic of Dehiwala. I think he may have put the apostrophe in the wrong place but, other than that, it's an example of comedic and satirical writing at its best. I think, in reality I don't know what satirical means. As Obama would say, check it. The scariest place in the world must be inside Cerno's head. Well, after Belgium of course.

That girl, the Drama Queen, is back. If I tell you that this post mentions porn, fellatio, a Sri Lankan mother, Hi!! magazine and lines like "because only hookers dress like mums and go to Galle Face Green" I think you'll be interested. You'll laugh and laugh like a demented hyena in an interview for a million pounds a year job at the canned laughter factory. Which is to say, rather a lot. And Dinidu, Fellatio's not a Shakespearean character either. Or an Italian midfielder.

Our Gyppo has been on form lately too. This gem about her thoughts on the war, her attempts to understand and make sense of it certainly hit a home run with me, probably with many others too. Like I said in a comment I left, if more people displayed honesty like this instead of claiming to know all the answers the world would be a better place.

JapSach's gone underground, we know not why, we know not for how long nor how deep. But does anyone else ever has the strange thing happen when you read his blog? It's a thing where my internet browser keeps opening tabs for his blog. I have to do all sorts of task management things to get out of it and it only ever happens on his blog, though not all the time.

Talking of going underground, where on Earth is Kalusudda? The last we heard was July 1st when he published this post. Since then there's been nothing, no comments, no posts and no sightings. Give us a shout out KS, I for one hope you're okay and roaming around in your academic way.

To round off let's just mention the surplus of blogoversaries that has been doing the rounds. Everywhere I turn, every blog I read, every breath you take, I'll be... oops, sorry I went all Sting for a moment there. What I meant to say was that there are blogoversaries galore at the moment.

Gutterflower has passed the two year point. We like her.

Drama Queen's previously mentioned post, which I'll previously mention again, was her one hundredth, so congrats and all. She wins a night out with her Mother for that.

Then that hard hitting, courageous and ground breaking blog, the one that's helped formulate so many people's opinions and has tackled many key issues hit a nice clean one thousand posts. It's quite an achievement indeed.

Did I mention Groundviews?

That hit its thousandth post too. Nice one.

Well I'll be off then.

A merry weekend to you all. I'm going to see Muse tonight avec A and K. Can't wait.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Best Chat Up Line Ever?

I read the good Lady D's post here and was reminded of a chat up line, one that I reckon is the best one ever. Well, that's from a man's point of view, but it's well known how I'm able to virtually read the mind of almost any woman, except for the ones I've actually met of course.

It's a chat up line that I've never had the opportunity to use or try, but my feeling is that it could be the golden shower of all chat up lines, the holy grail, the one line to make all others look like the tri shaw occupying a corner in the Ferrari garage.

And frankly I don't know if I should tell you what it is. I don't know if you're up to the job, whether I can stand the thought of giving out this bit of stunningly lethal information and then sitting back with the knowledge that fellows will be out in public using it, bedding one beautiful woman after another.

It's a line that would take guts and courage for a man to use, not everyone would have the confidence to come out with it. It's the chat up line version of doing the most fantastic bungee jump; you'd just have to go for it, knowing that the rope would hold you and you'd have the best and most wonderful experience.

In fact, with some minor modification it could probably be used by men, women, gay or straight. It's so powerful that I reckon even some bloggers could use it to good effect.

What is it?

Not telling you. You can guess if you want though. Or bribe me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oi, You, The Blacker Bros

Come on, you've been tagged by DD. We're waiting for you, you're holding up the game.

And you too G12.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dear Sixteen Year Old RD - Let's Play Some Tag

I got this idea from Jonathan Ross. It's a letter to your sixteen year old self. What advice would you give, with what you know now, to the sixteen year old you?

It's also been a while since we had a good game of tag doing the rounds in the Lankanosphere, so I'll start and I'll make the rules.

They go like this:

Write a post, a letter to your sixteen year old self.

Tag two people, no more, none of the "I'll leave it as an open tag" or "I'll tag ten people because I love you all so much"

Run round your house naked.

Here's mine:

Dear sixteen year old RD,

Life is going to be quite an adventure for you. That much is for sure. The older you'll get the more you'll actually realise how much you don't know. Right now you think you know it all, at forty three you'll know a lot more and feel like you know nothing. You'll be amazed that you've got a fifteen, almost sixteen year old daughter who thinks she knows everything.

There's so much to tell you about what's to come but I don't want to give it all away. Let's start with the thing you think about for about ninety eight per cent of your waking hours; sex. You will have it eventually and it won't be with Debbie Harry. But that's okay, she's not going to age that well, nor will Pamela Ewing from Dallas.

You'll be surprised about sex. Right now it looks as though it's fun and something only other people do. Give it a few years and you'll be one of them and startled at the trouble people get into over it.

You may want to think about getting a haircut, some cleaner looking and less heavy rock clothes. All the other kids are into a more modern and new wave look and sound and you're hanging around with hippies. Get a bit trendy, it will help you with the whole sex thing for a start. And for heaven's sake shave that bloody pubic bumfluff off your face. That stuff your parents are saying about not shaving too soon is all rubbish and you'll look better for it.

You know the way you've always thought about playing the drums? Do it, do it now, go and get some lessons, it will be the one place in which you feel totally comfortable. Don't wait until you're thirty one to find that out. Do not even think about being a professional musician. You'll end up having lots of fun and making no money. Can there be anything worse?

Now let's talk about Sri Lanka. You like it now, you feel a certain affinity to it and want to go there more. That's nothing. Next year all hell's going to break loose in Lanka, lots of it whilst you're there. It will take over thirty years for peace to turn up and do its thing. Yet, during that thirty years, you're going to begin your affair with that little island. You're going to become connected to it in ways you can't imagine now. It will become more important to you than even those Debbie Harry posters on your ceiling. Seriously. Sinhala lessons might be a good idea too.

And while we're on the subject, you're going to have a blog and get quite interested in writing and reading. This may confuse you as you don't know what a blog is. It's a thing that people publish on the web. Ah yes, you don't know what the web is. Let's leave it for now, you'll find out.

Learn to cook RD, it will be useful.

Make mistakes, make lots and learn from them, that's the key. Perfection is only attained by people who don't push their boundaries.

Parents. Well your ones will get worse. You'll love them but they'll drive you mad. That's what parents do, Sri Lankan ones just do it even more. Then you'll observe yourself behaving towards your kids like your Dad does and did towards you. Let it go RD, that's what happens.

I think that's about it. Your life will be fun, you'll make it fun because of your choices and your actions and you'll go out and get things, not just from Tescos.

With my kindest regards

Your forty three year old friend


My two tagged people are:

The Gyppo.

Now I have to go, it's cold with no clothes on.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shall We?

"Love how Sri Lankans say "shall we?" when they want to make a move"

Wrote, or tweeted, a friend of mine the other day. It made me smile, in a bit of a Sri Lankan way.

You see I was brought up in English, but it was an English that was littered with Lankan phrases and "Api yamuda?" was one of them.

I remember being at those very Sri Lankan get togethers, the ones that happen in England. All the adults would be great friends and there'd be dancing, drinking and back slapping and a bunch of second generation young kids scattered around scowling at each other and trying to win the competition to be the most English kid in the house.

Winning was achieved by displaying the most contempt possible towards all things Sri Lankan. This meant insisting on the use of cutlery, never ever dancing to the baila and quite a lot of general skulking and attitude.

The really brave kids, the ones who probably went on to become NGOs, lead singers or overtly camp interior designers with unusual looking business cards, would claim a dislike of rice and curry or even, yes seriously, NOT refer to the adults as Uncle or Aunty. None of us were ever brave enough to do it overtly, there was always a slightly mumbled sound so that the adult would think that they had been addressed correctly, but the thought was there.

Then there'd be a couple of girls, invariably with those uniquely Lankan rhyming names, like Sonali and Ronali or Shahila and Ashila. All the rest of us hated these girls but in a slightly envious way. They were the teacher's pets of the group.

With only a hint of a request from one of their parents, usually the Father, these girls would break out into a song and dance routine that would make one of the songs from High School Musical, either one, two or three, you can choose, seem like a Stigmata gig when they've decided to try and sound a bit heavier than usual.

All the older generation would cheer and clap and commend the parents of the girls on having such talented and lovely daughters. The rest of us, the kids, would scowl and huff, pretending that the last thing on earth we wanted was to be like them.

After all the merriment, the eating, drinking and dancing, remember this was in the days when drinking and driving was positively encouraged, especially among Sri Lankans, there'd be a brave wife or husband who'd look at their spouse, do that very Lankan head twist, raise an eyebrow and say


Then people would leave. Obviously, what with most of the people being of Serendipitious origin, the leaving process would take about another three hours, but eventually it would be done.

These days, on the seemingly rare occasions me and C are in the same country, I find myself a bit of an expert at the "shall we?" The words are often unsaid, the body movements are barely perceptible to a passing suddha. It's a quick bit of eye contact, the slightest bit of facial rotation ( I reckon about 3 deg though that's not scientifically proven) , just the merest raising of an eyebrow and the message has been conveyed.

Sometimes there's a little bit of lip movement but it's more miming the words than anything.

And, three hours later, we go.

Turning into my Dad? Me? Never?

Happy Monday all.