Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gigs, Dogs, Pink Tights and Very High Heels

Three days and two gigs, it was almost like a proper band except the day in between saw all of us go to work rather than wreck our hotel rooms and sleep with groupies.

Both of the gigs were in venues that were new to us, something that always presents a few challenges in figuring out where and how to set up, where the plug points are and which bits of furniture we can move. I've got a feeling that these are details guys like the Foo Fighters don't have to worry about.

I bet Dave Grohl doesn't turn up at the venue and have to think about where he can park without getting a ticket. Hell, I bet he even has a bloke to help him unload the stuff from his car. I bet famous bands like that even get free drinks at a gig, maybe not spirits but beer and soft drinks at least.

So after we'd got through all this fussy stuff Thursday's gig turned out to be fun, but in a strange way. It was a fundraising thing for a childrens' charity and most of the people there were out to have a good and sociable night while raising money. This meant that our first set was mostly irrelevant, it was just background music while the audience chatted to each other, loosened up and generally got in the mood.

That was fine but it's always a bit demotivating to play to people who appear indifferent. Playing to a crowd that likes you, or even one that doesn't like you, at least gives an idea of where you are. When it's a bunch of people not reacting it's harder. After each song there'd be a few clapping hands, usually an even number of the things, something I though was uncannily weird.

When we got to our new extended bit in Molly's Chambers, something we've worked out carefully that involves me playing a rather funky sixteenth note snare and hi hat groove, no one really gave a flying fuck. I would have rolled my eyes if I hadn't been concentrating so hard on my other limbs at the time. Such is life.

By the time the second set came we'd got more attention from more people, but the gig finished with good reactions from most people and wild applause from a select few. It was hard work in every way you can imagine. The day had been a long one and then the performance was arduous but I find these type of gigs are best treated as positive and look at them as good practice, particularly with another one in two days' time.

Saturday came. In an unusual twist it fell bang in the middle of Friday and Sunday, again I tried not to read too much into it, but there are evidently forces at work. The venue was a rather rough looking and well known music pub in Central (in a slightly Westerly direction) London, another virgin venue, though from the looks of things that was the only thing vaguely virginal about it.

According to legend this pub has played host to such acts as Jeff Beck, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, the Chemical Brothers, Oasis and, wait for it, The Corrs. Even though once we turned up it was just like any other small pub, it's one of the brilliant things about playing in a band in London. I'm sure I'll never share a stage with those guys but at least I can say I've shared a stage with them!

While we were setting up there were a few groups of locals in the pub. One of them was a friendly but hard looking bunch of "youngsters" as my Mum would call them. There were a few women in this bunch and a few men. And a dog.

The dog unnerved me a little I must say. As I set up my drums, each time I hit a drum or a cymbal, the chap would start barking and straining at its leash. I wasn't keen on playing a gig in front of a dog that was only being prevented from attacking me by a thin piece of leather and an owner who looked likely to let go at any moment.

It was one of those bull terrier flavoured ones too, I don't know the exact brand and though small, this was no calm and harmless sausage dog. It might have been bred to hate drummers, Sri Lankans or both. I cared not, for it clearly hated me however it had arrived at the conclusion, and Chris Dhason or Shiraaz Nooramith weren't there to help me figure out the dog logic.

After set up I went for a pee. As I opened the door to gents I heard a bark and the little bastard was standing there, with its owner doing that laughing thing that dog owners do when their dog is about to maim someone. I know enough about not showing fear so cracked a joke and attempted to pee. It was then that I found a skill that I never knew I had; the ability to urinate quite normally while a scary dog sniffs around your ankles.

If this ever becomes an Olympic sport I reckon you'd be wise to put a few quid, or rupees, on me for the gold medal. I'm not sure how I'll cope with taller dogs, ones that may be able to actually do damage in that crown jewels area, but let's just say that everything flowed quite nicely while this fellow was there. It took a lot of willpower to resist the urge to pee on its head just a tiny bit too.

We got to our soundcheck part of the evening. Their were about ten people in the pub, a few scattered couples and the group that the dog was part of.

I counted in and we kicked off. The song was Don't Believe A Word, one that I love by a band I love; Thin Lizzy. Within about four bars of the intro, before the vocals had even started, there was a girl, one of the dog's group, standing at the railing just in front of us trying to get the attention of anyone in the band.

She was wearing pink tights, a mini skirt and those high heels that are all the rage over here, the ones that make even a fashion conscious and liberal bloke like me wonder how a girl can walk in them without falling over. Of course I'd never be able to tell her that unless I stood on a bus or something.

Her frantic handwaving looked as if something was urgent, so urgent that she couldn't wait until the end of the song. We stopped to see what the problem was and expected to hear about someone needing immediate medical attention or a car about to be towed away. Instead we got this

"Sorry to interrupt you, it sounds great. The thing is, it's my birthday today and I was wondering if you'd turn it down a bit so we can hear ourselves talk."

We were all stunned, we were all lost for words. What on earth do you say to a request like that?

There we were on a Saturday night at a pub in which we'd been booked to play a gig being asked to turn things down so a birthday girl could have a conversation. We didn't want to upset regulars and there was still the Sri Lankan drummer hating dog to consider but this was unbelievable.

We decided to ignore the request and started the song again at the same levels. It seemed the only viable option. The birthday girl said no more and I think we might have scared the dog, for it went quiet.

The pub filled up and once it got to the start time the atmosphere looked buzzing and promising. Things went well, then got better in the second set. C, our singer, started to get a bit moany about being too close to my left side crash cymbal, muttering things about not being able to hear, so obviously that spurred me on to play it more and louder, but otherwise all was good.

We had to drop Creep and Starlight from the second set because things were running late. I was a bit gutted about the second one as it's one of my favourites, but the rest felt and sounded good. By the time we'd finished, played an encore and got off stage even the birthday girl was asking for contact details and saying how much she'd enjoyed it. The dog was nowhere to be seen and I'm unsure if that was good or bad.

The crowd dispersed, we packed away and gratefully received the adulation and adoration, mostly from each other.

I drove home with a song or two in my head and a feeling of gratitude, gratitude for being in a band and gratitude for being able to do it in London.

Nice.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thank You

I've just noticed that I have nine whole followers.

Thanks guys.

Dad Stuff

Sitting there a few nights ago I asked my Dad if he fancied a quick game of Carrom. He agreed, and minutes later we were setting up the pieces.

As we played the first game it looked like he was going to win, something that surprised both of us. He'd pocketed and covered the Queen and had one seed left on the board compared to my four. I think the excitement must have got to him though, for I managed to pocket all four and snatch the game by 1-0. We decided to play on to 29.

I continued my winning form, getting higher scores in each game. In one game, when the score was 18 -0 and things were looking quite one sided I said:

"Dad, it's about now that you start to complain about the board normally isn't it?"

The board in particular is my high tech "air hockey" type that is as smooth as Jennifer Aniston's facial hair. My Dad's reply was one of those scoffs, the type that I'm now quite the expert at when dealing with my kids. It's a word, but it's a cross between a word and an exhalation, it sounds like a mix of "pfft" and "pah" and it's only ever used by Fathers on their kids.

Two or three shots later the old man, displaying memory strength that many a goldfish would think was a bit crap, said:

"See, the disk always sticks there, on that bit."

I laughed, both outwardly and inwardly, which is hard to do without choking, and muttered something about both of us having to play on the same board anyhow. We carried on and I continued to morph into the Carrom playing equivalent of Dev Patel answering the questions on Who Want to Be A Millun Air".

At 28 - 0 things became a formality, the last game gave me 11 points and it finished at 39 - 0. I was pleased with the result and he was petulant. I strolled downstairs to my living quarters, for a pre dinner poo.

Just as I hit the last stair I heard my Mum ask him.

"Well, who won?"

"Rhythmic did, he thrashed me actually."

That was unusually gallant of him. Normally there'd be some line about him being injured, the board being bad or about how he thought I'd cheated. Then he added:

"But he was very lucky you know."

I continued to the bathroom and did my pre dinner poo, though it wasn't a particularly good one.

When I went up for dinner I tackled him on it. He hadn't realised that I'd overheard their exchange.

"Oi Dad, what do you mean I was very lucky?" I asked.

"If I'd beaten you by one or two points that might have been lucky. I thrashed you, it was 39 - 0."

I added.

He considered his answer carefully for a second or two, then said all he needed.

"Well, you know."

I had to laugh.

Have a good Monday all.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Easy On A Friday Morning

It's Friday so I'll make this post a lighthearted and easy to read one. I know how it is; you sit there thinking about the weekend and just can't be bothered to read a long post about angst, love, politics or religion.

So, in order to demonstrate my level of empathy and understanding, let's relax.

Here are ten simple pleasures I enjoy in life:

1. Eating rice and curry on a ripped sofa, chatting about life

2. Playing the drums

3. Losing at Guess The Intro to my kids

4. The smell of freshly cooked rice

5. Watching a sunset in Sri Lanka

6. The rare but highly charged moments when I can put my foot down in my car and enjoy some BHP

7. Getting through my to do list early in the day

8. Potting the Queen in Carrom straight from the centre spot

9. A real belly laugh

10. Waking up with a start, thinking I've overslept, then realising it's the weekend and I haven't.

How about you?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tonight's Set

Tonight I have a gig, with another one on Saturday night.

The setlist goes like this:

Set 1

Take Back The City

Golden Touch

Take Me Out

Last Night

Suffragette City

Vertigo

Molly's Chambers

Holiday

Don't Believe A Word

Tempted

When You Were Young

Set 2

Creep

Starlight

A Town Called Malice

Country House

Pump It Up

Do You Want To?

Sex On Fire

Dakota

Rebel Yell

Are You Gonna My Way?

Chelsea Dagger

Common People

Somebody Told Me

I Predict A Riot

She Sells Sanctuary

Encore

Play That Funky Music
Brown Sugar

It's a tough set for us drummers, I wouldn't want to be in a car with me tonight with all the sweat and smells, but it's a very high energy and fun set too.

What do you reckon?

Can you name all the original artistes?

Apples And Drums, Girls And Dads

I must admit to you that I think I'm a pretty good Dad, not perfect, not crap, just somewhere in the "good" ranks.

There are people who would say that a father who leaves his kids isn't good, there are others who might say the opposite and I've faced them all in the last couple of years. It's okay, I know what's in my heart and I bumble my way through life, fatherhood and blogdom with a clear, maybe slightly misty at times, conscience.

But, deep stuff aside, I also admit there are times when I wish I had one of those really smart brains, the kind that can understand science, maths and other complex subjects. Perhaps, as Bertram would have said of Jeeves, had I eaten more fish as a child, I would have become the brainbox I often yearn to be. This would also explain why I don't like fish now.

If any child of mine wants to know how to get her right foot powerful and strong on the bass drum then I'll step up and be able to help. If a child wants to know how to play the drum intro to Smells Like Teen Spirit then I reckon I'm in with a shout. And, if a child wants to know how to look at things with a smile and a chuckle then I also think I'm well placed to help.

Then we have the, ahem, cough cough, areas that require improvement. If a child wanted to know about how to start up and run a blog aggregator thing or how to write some really good hard hitting journalism I'd send it in Indi's direction. Dinidu would be a consideration too, but naturally, as I have daughters, I'd worry for them. Come to think of it I'd worry for Dinidu too. I think I'm not allowed to link to his new blog but you know where it is!

If an offspring wanted to know about advertising (God forbid) I have a whole agency's worth of people to choose from. There's DD, TMS and David Blacker from the Lankanosphere alone and I have four of the creative advertising fellows in my band as well.

The list goes on, I'm sure you get the idea. I've got Academic Bro for whatever it is he does and Musicbiz Bro for advice on the latest sunglasses. In general I'm lucky to have this huge list of people who I'd happily send my kids off to for learning. I think I'm quite secure with all this stuff.

On Saturday K and I were walking through Kingston. By now she needs little introduction and I think it's probably fair to say you understand her better than I do. We'd had an eventful morning already. I'd bought her a jumper, that one that was essential for her to maintain her quality of life, but I'd also done something that I feel was very positively educational for her, more about that in another post. I'd bought myself that new red polo shirt that I told you about, so we were merrily content with things.

One of the great things about watching your kids grow is to also observe how the conversations progress through the years. These days the chats I have with both daughters are often lively, funny and stimulating. It's nice, though sometimes I get caught out.

"Dad" she said.

"Yes K" I replied

"So what do you think is the next thing that Apple will invent then?"

It may surprise you but I'm not an inventor. I once won first prize in the Petersham Flower Show for the under ten handicraft section with my balsa wood model ship, but even then I hadn't really invented the idea of ships or balsa wood models. There was only one other entrant, my friend Greg, but he'd tried to paint his model and made a mess of it. I cunningly observed his poor execution of the painting idea and opted to leave mine unpainted.

Other than that I don't think I've ever been the inventing kind, which I realised very abruptly is quite a barrier to being able to answer such a question. I wracked my brain, thinking about the things that chaps have invented in the past. This was part of my problem; all those things have already been invented and knowing about them doesn't really help in trying to predict the future.

I spluttered a bit and attempted to give some kind of response, one that said nothing and also left K feeling that her Dad was still that fount of all wisdom, the one that she probably never thought existed in the first place. It seemed like a good plan, only it wasn't. K pushed me further and I felt like I was stuck in quicksand. The more she pushed the more I struggled, the more I struggled the deeper I sank.

Finally I came up with a spurious answer that she accepted. I said that Apple would make something more seamless and more all in one than they had already, that they'd come up with a product that would blend the music player, phone, camera and all in a package that was of great quality.

My plan worked. I'd basically told K what we've all been reading for a few years anyway, what all the techno companies claim to have launched anyway. Or maybe she just got bored with my faffing about and her mind moved onto other things.

I still don't know the real answer either.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

News

Yesterday I viewed a pad. Yesterday I made an offer on said pad and it was accepted.

This means that, when all the Is are crossed and the Ts are dotted, I'll be moving, shifting as you lot say, into my new place. It should be around April 6th.

I'm very excited, if not a little nervous. It's not a stopgap, it's really going to be a new home for me. If you're in Kingston please pop by, or in true Sri Lankan fashion, just drop in.

I even bought one of those magazines to give me ideas about furniture and shelving units.

I'll keep you posted, I might have a kind of blogged moving in thing going on with photos and all.

Just thought I'd tell you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oh Music, How I love Thee!

I had a great band practice last night and we've got two gigs this week. Then, someone showed me this and it made me feel even better.

It has to be shared. I'm sure it will make you feel good.


Never In Sri Lanka - The One About The Vicious Circle

I get into work early, about 6 - 6.15 AM normally. I do it for a number of reasons.

One is the fact that I can get in and get through a lot of things in those early hours that would take much longer to do later in the day, what with interruptions from phones, people and natural disasters.

Another is that the journey takes me about fifteen minutes at that early hour and would take almost an hour if I did it in the rush hour, thirty to forty minutes in non rush hour but with some traffic conditions.

And also because I like the feeling of being in control, of being in charge of my day, rather than my day controlling me. It all feels a bit more calm and collected when I get a nice head start, cruising in and watching the early morning people, the delivery men and the road sweepers start their day.

Yesterday I left the house and began my journey listening to my usual radio show. I rarely listen to a CD on the way to work, always preferring the radio in case anything major in the world has happened overnight, on the way home it's usually music of my choice. Disappointingly for you, my reader, nothing eventful or untoward happened. There were no big dramas and no major incidents to report.

Until I got to that mini roundabout, you know, that one about half a mile from my office, the one where Bob got his car stolen a couple of years ago (It's a long story featuring cars, violence, Police and criminals, I'm certain you wouldn't be interested!). Now I'm not sure of you have mini roundabouts over in Lanka, I can't recall seeing any but that doesn't mean anything. However, it cannot be disputed, to the casual observing Sudda in Sri Lanka, roundabout etiquette is an oxymoron. It's only when you get familiar with Lankan driving that you understand the first rule of the road:

1. There are no rules.

Then, with that principle in mind, you begin to understand the oh so subtle rules of negotiating your way around a Sri Lankan roundabout. I won't attempt to explain as you probably know them anyway. Let's just say that the crucial elements are horning, edging, daring and bravery.

Here in the land of hope and glory, of rice in small portions, food with barely any salt and chilli sauce being something you have to ask for when you eat chips, things are very different. For people give way to drivers on their right when they approach a roundabout. They even do this without a Policeman being present and, if there was a Policeman around, he wouldn't let them get away with mass murder for Rs 1000.

Yes, Britain is quite mad and crazy with its law abiding and regulated society, there are even some politicians who want to put the Country before themselves.

The more I think on it, the more I reckon you don't have mini roundabouts in Lanka. The concept doesn't make sense and any attempt to put one on a Lankan intersection would just turn it into a crossroads, one with a tiny raised bit in the middle. But you probably know what one is; simply a tiny round thing in the middle of some roads, where all the rules of roundabouts apply.

So I approached the one near work, it's one with three roads that join it. There was my car and two others, one on each of the other approach roads. We arrived at the roundabout at the same time and all of us stopped as we each had a car to our right. Unbelievable I know, but that's what we do here. There wasn't a horn to be heard or an open palmed hand signal to be seen.

What's more astounding is that this situation crops up quite regularly here, ask DD, he'll back me up on this, it's something that happens every few months or so, though not with the exact same drivers.

For a few seconds there was a lot of head turning and confused glances. Interestingly not one of us swivelled our head right round through 360 degrees. I reckon that might mean something. There was hesitating, creeping, smiling and edging. Then I broke the deadlock and went for it. Of course after I'd done that the car to my left would have been able to go, as there was nothing on their right, and all would have been happy.

As I proceeded merrily on my way I thought of Sri Lanka, of how the situation would have panned out if it could have been replicated. Instead of each person stopping, each would have gone, then stopped, resulting in that very Sri Lankan driving thing where each party's trying to go forward at the same time, when it would just have been easier if one had stopped to let the other go.

Then I wondered about personalities and characters. Many will think I'm reading far too much into this, in fact even I think I might be, but it's this. From memory I reckon more often than not, when I get caught in a "roundabout deadlock", I'm the driver who breaks it.

I like to think of myself as a person who does things, one of my main mantras is that I want to be a fellow who has tried stuff rather than one who looks back and wonders what might have happened. In my head, when one of these roundabout things occurs, I see myself as the split second decision maker, the one who has the guts to think quickly and act, while the other chaps dither and wait for someone to do something. I'm also slightly wary of my use of the word "mantra" in that earlier sentence. I don't I've ever used it before, so it might be wrong. I've never been a huge Opel fan anyway.

Was it the Sri Lankan in me that just went, while the Brits were busy being polite?

Or was it some bigger reflection on life, on personalities and on the way people think?

Do you like Opels?

You know how to answer.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Photo Of The Moment

















It's by Sebastian Posingis, it's very brilliant and makes me feel excited.

Smells Like Teen Designer Label Perfume

Being the father of girls presents challenges, being the divorced father of girls makes those challenges a bit more concentrated. One mistake and I have to wait until the next Wednesday or alternate Friday to try to make amends, that whole thing of kids going to bed in a sulk with a parent only to wake up having forgotten everything is something that doesn't happen in my life.

And it has meant that I've learned to understand my daughters better since the divorce, which is good. We've built ourselves a kind of mini world in which everything happens more intensely when we're together, then slower when we're apart, though things carry on in all our individual lives and I try to be a part of their day to day lives as much as possible.

That most vital of issues remains a tough one; present buying, specifically me buying presents for them. They're at the age when money or iTunes cards are always welcome, but I like to give proper gifts, something that is a hard thing to so with any level of success.

I'm banned, categorically just not allowed, to buy clothes for them. This upsets me on one hand, I mean I'm a cool Dad after all, just not cool enough to pick out clothes for them. However, picking an item of clothing in terms of style is something I feel I could achieve, but getting the right size might be disastrous, so avoidance could be wise. To be fair my choices haven't actually succeeded even in the style stakes, though I think they should have.

Avoidance means that I'm deprived of a huge potential area for present buying and what Dad doesn't like to buy presents for his kids?

Last week, in Singapore, I wanted to buy a couple of presents to bring back for the girls, I was stuck and didn't fancy the thought of browsing around a mall or two waiting for the right thing to jump out in front of me. I was with C and the one time we went to a mall the only thing that jumped out was an electronic drumkit. I played it, impressed the people in the shop and pissed off C, but that's another post for another time.

Vut to doo?

Books are always a possibility, they both read voraciously, but knowing what they're currently into and what they've got is dodgy. Music creates the same issue.

Then, bang, like that inflated bag the chap in the email is about to explode behind the back of the bomb disposal expert, it hit me. It was an idea, not that ideas go bang, and it was one that could have been brilliant and could have been crap. I know how J Edgar Hoover must have felt when he invented the vacuum cleaner, that hit or miss thing.

No, it wasn't vacuum cleaners, even though K had given me a mini one for my birthday, it was perfume, well the idea of giving some, not the concept of the stuff.

Hmmm....I thought to myself. They're at that age when all things designer are looked at with great favour, they're also looking after their appearances and image matters. A couple of trendy perfumes could be good, obviously not the same thing to each of them, I learned that lesson many years ago.

There I was, at Changi airport after being accosted by one of those duty free perfume girls. She was a slim girl but somehow she still managed to make me feel surrounded. Women's perfume shops are second only to ladies' lingerie departments for men, we need to make a quick choice and get out. The perfume girl would stand on my left and her over the top smell would be on my right.

There were trendy bottles and sampler things everywhere and there were female customers who knew exactly what they wanted. I didn't. Nor did I know what I wanted. I tried to explain to the woman, we'll call her Eau, exactly what was needed.

"I've got two daughters, 12 and 14, and I want a trendy something for each of them, I don't know what though."

To you and I that seems like a perfectly sensible proposition, to Eau it wasn't. At one point I even suspected that she doesn't read my blog. She gave me that look, that Sri Lankan mother look. Then she waved a nonchalant arm around to indicate that there was a whole shop to choose from, as if I didn't know that already.

I asked her what she might recommend, she answered by asking me what they liked.

By Jesu, I thought to myself. If I knew what they liked I wouldn't be talking to you now, I'd have bought my things and would be sitting in the Krissflyer lounge place and stuffing my face with rice based Singaporean food, very probably with pineapple on it. I didn't say that to her though, I just meekly uttered a no.

I spotted some Diesel and remembered that it might be suitable for K. It's got that rugged, not too girly thing going on and I felt that it would suit her personality. Sorry, I've just realised I sound a bit like a perfume ad there. Who writes them? If it's you then please get in touch, I want to ask you a hundred questions about how you think of all that stuff.

The packaging and look of the Diesel made it a must buy for K proposition. The glass bottle that looked like something the heroine in an Indiana Jones film would use and the pouch around it were just K's type of thing. Eau offerred me a sample whiff on one of those sample whiff pieces of paper they carry around. It smelled okay, but it mattered not really. I said yes and that meant that Eau would now follow me around the shop whilst carrying the box. Here in England a yes would have meant, if I was really lucky, that Eau would have put it in a basket for me, after I'd found myself one.

Choosing the right, rather something I thought would be right, item for A was going to be a harder task. She's one of those fussy and never satisfied types, particularly when it comes to clothes and all things that have anything to do with appearance. I strolled around the perfume emporium and Eau followed me, like a bad smell only she smelled nice, in that smells of every perfume under the sun way.

I looked at everything, these days you can't tell the difference between men's and women's perfume without looking at the advertising to see which sex features in it. Those days when the bottle would look like a part of a car engine for men's perfume and a cat or a kitchen appliance for women's are sadly no longer, probably down to Germaine Greer.

The Dolce and Gabbana section caught my eye and something deep in my memory banks stirred, it was a memory, always handy. Specifically it was a memory of A being delighted with her new Dolce and Gabbana glasses. Eau noticed me paying attention to the area and jumped in with another attempt at a sample smell. It was good that she'd noticed my interest but frankly poor that she hadn't learned by now that the smell didn't matter to me.

In sterotypical man shopping manner I looked at the bottle and weighed up the factors in less time than it takes for a Hollywood celebrity to adopt an African orphan. I queued and paid with and was out of the shop on my way, the only interruption occurring when Eau stupidly asked me if I wanted anything for myself.

I got on the plane, did all that long distance flying business that you've read about already, then landed.

The following night I picked up the girls, I felt wary and apprehensive. The perfume might be anything as a present choice from total genius to total Mervyn Silva, I knew not where things might land, though had a feeling that the reaction from both daughters would be the same.

Guess what?

I'm a total genius, with tendencies towards smugness.

Oh yes, they love their little bottles. Everywhere we go I'm now accompanied by a slightly overpowering mix of Diesel and D + G. It's okay though, I've gone up about four rungs on the cool Dad ladder.

Happy Monday all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Up Or Down - The Sunday Morning Dilemna

I bought myself one of these beauties yesterday and all with it is good and fetching, with one little exception.

Polo shirts, over here in the metropolis, are all the thing and have surged back into the fashion charts in the lat couple of years, with a couple of new touches. The first is the slim fit. No longer are they baggy and bulky and suitable for a man with a beer or rice belly to hide his wares in. No, slim is the thing, or fitted as it's called. The slender and muscular look is with us.

The second is the collar. You kids are wearing it folded up, pointing skywards, something I'm uncomfortable with. It's not been an issue for me on the two other new trendy ones I've bought recently, the collar's looked okay worn folded down, as a good shirt is meant to be used.

But, this new Superdry one has a collar that feels stiffened, it's evidently designed to be worn folded up. Worn in "normal" mode it looks and feels a bit clunky, it just doesn't feel quite right.

Worn up it looks right but feels wrong, as if I'm trying too hard to be cool.

Vut to dooo?

I'm going out in a minute too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Little Property Update - Women Are Good

I haven't finished a post for you to read today. Please accept my humblest apologies as I type this one rapidly.

One of the reasons is that the property viewing continues with the pace of a random 12 year old child preparing a presentation about why she should get an increase in pocket money. This eats into my day, though I'm lucky that I can take time out from my work to incorporate these kind of things.

I've been contemplating putting up a Facebook status message, or whatever they're now called, saying something like "RD thinks all estate agents are tossers".

Why? Because until about ten minutes ago I really did think that. Dealing with them has jolted my mind into remembering everything that they fail to do. The average estate agent is to a good salesperson what a particularly bad tri shaw driver is to Lewis Hamilton. The basics of good salesmanship don't seem to apply to them, something that's particularly ironic considering property deals are usually the biggest thing going on in a person's life at the time.

We sail through our life not having to deal with EAs, then, when we do, they act like turds. So far I've had to deal with broken promises, outright lying and negotiation tactics Sittingnut would think were a bit strong.

What happened ten minutes ago RD? I hear you asking.

I spoke to a woman EA, not just a woman either, a divorced one, and she instantly seemed to understand my needs. She got it.

Straight away, after a brief chat, she knew what I wanted; somewhere I'd feel comfortable hanging around in, by myself and with the people in my life. She just seemed to know, in that very knowing woman's way. She talked about places having light and being bright in a way that male estate agents have made me believe they understand only to show me dingy and dark places that might be great for Norwegian fellows working as management consultants here for a year, but aren't for me.

I've now narrowed down my search criteria to one specific development, with another one that's in the frame but only partly, kind of in brackets.

This afternoon I'll be viewing three apartments with H, the woman EA. They're in the number one place and I feel very, very positive about things.

That's what's happening.

The FB status should say something about all male EAs being tossers, divorced female ones are brilliant. Hopefully.

Good weekend all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Are We But Prostitutes?

An attention grabbing title I know, but necessary I feel.

I was reading Mr Bawa's post here and looking at the comments. Now I'm no advertising or creative type but I do have some experience of dealing with them and maintain a fascination for the ad and media related side of things.

The specifics aren't actually relevant to my post, though they'll probably interest others. What struck my eye was the comment by thekillromeoproject, who I hope will allow me to address him as TKRP, and the subsequent response by Mr Bawa, who I hope I may address as NB, despite the fact I'm not a friend, though I do come in peace. I don't possess the technical knowledge that enables other bloggers to link to comments so I'll just paste NB's reply here:

"Kill Romeo, Really ???? If so it is unfortunate. But in that case the agency concerned should have fired the client? Did they ? Why did they give into client's unfair, unethical demand? Why did they endorse the mockery of the client then? Why didn't they walk out ????"

It sent my mind off on a not very tangential tangent, of business and music, of the prostitution that I and many have to do in our everyday lives.

As a co owner of what is now a medium sized company I report to several sets of people. The old adage that you don't answer to anyone when you work for yourself is a total fallacy, just ask anyone who runs their own show and they'll agree. I'd give this advice to any person starting up a business today; you will report to many people and, if Lalith Kotelalwala wants to borrow any money from you, then think very carefully.

I report to the shareholders, of which I am one, the staff, my fellow directors and our customers.

This means that I'm often at the mercy of all of them, it means that frequently I have to put practical considerations before my pride. It's a bummer, yet it's just business life.

NB's comment reminded me of the many times I've had to bite my lip when talking to a client, the occasions when I know that the customer is being wholly unreasonable, but to say no would be to the short term detriment of my business.

On the other hand there have been many times when I, or my fellow Directors, have said no to unreasonable demands because we feel that the client has pushed too far and that our business can withstand the negative financial consequences of the decision. We entered 2008 having lost our largest client for exactly that reason, we had refused to give the customer a credit for something that we knew wasn't down to us. It was a big and painful choice but we thought it was the right one. The result? We lost the client and most of our efforts to gain new business in 2008 went towards getting us to the position in which we finished 2007.

Would I do the same again? Too right would I, but it hurts.

There are other times when we have to prostitute ourselves, when we know that the customer is wrong, but that other old adage that you never win an argument with a customer comes into play. While I'm thinking about it I wonder if there's such a thing as a new adage. Maybe I'll make one.

I don't know what the reasoning and logic behind the specific case mentioned by TKRP was but surely all business people have been in the situation when you want to bin a client because of unreasonable and / or unethical demands but have quite simply needed the revenue.

We have one customer who's so quick to get on the phone and rant and rave at the slightest hint of a problem, no matter where it's come from, that I wonder how on earth she actually makes it into work in the morning without getting beaten up by someone she's been rude to. At least one other person in my company as well as myself have actually asked her not to swear to us on the phone. It's unacceptable and I know that sooner or later we'll tell her that we're no longer prepared to deal with her under the circumstances. The problem for us is that one of our competitors will.

That's the business side. Over in my other life, the music side, there's a parallel, one that I reckon all musicians will relate to, maybe even us drummers. It's simple and it's dichotomous. It's the fact that we, the band, usually have to make continual choices between playing what we like and playing what the audience like. Of course this doesn't apply to the world famous artistes that normal folks like us pay fortunes to go and see. No, it applies to lowly covers bands playing in pubs on a Friday night to an audience who want to sing along and just have fun.

You know something, I hate I Predict A Riot, I can't stand Brown Sugar and if I see another forty something person pretending they're in the video for Teen Spirit I think I might even contemplate, quite seriously, knocking over one of my cymbal stands, not so it would fall down, just to make it wobble a bit. But we often have to play these songs, because we're there to try to help people have a good couple of hours.

The perfect scenarios for me would be to own a Company that could do exactly as I wanted and to be a musician that only ever played the songs I wanted to.

But it won't happen. I bet even Bill Gates has to play a song now and again that he hates and I'm sure Dave Grohl occasionally has to grovel to a customer he hates.

Or something like that.

Thoughts please people?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheap Blogging For Attention

Like many I read Kanabona fairly frequently. But this post smells of desperation. It tells us of a small asteroid that's going to "buzz Earth tonight" and all sounds quite interesting and worrying.

But, if you're the scientific and investigative type like myself and Darwin you may well have looked at the facts and questioned things a bit more deeply. The passage quoted tells us that this is only the second time an asteroid has passed so close to Earth, that the other "close call" was in March.

I was about to hide under my desk with a sandwich to avoid damage and hunger, then saw the small print.

Oh yeah Shehal, we're onto you over here at LLD.

85,000 km!!

It's hardly close is it.

I flew about 6000 miles yesterday and that took me about 13 hours.

These people. They'll write anything for cheap viewings sometimes!

My Second Handwritten Post

















Well I'm back in London. There are stories to regale you with aplenty, but there's also a large pile of paperwork that I need to get through. So, for now I'll type in the post I wrote in my journal on yesterday's flight.

It's part stream of consciousness, part journal entry and part blog post. Like before, if I had better handwriting I'd just chuck the photo up on its own. Sadly my scrawl is something that even Doctors can't read. I'll type typos, I'll include any crappy sentences and dodgy metaphors that I normally would edit out (hopefully). Here we go:

"17th March - 1.23 PM (London Time) My 2nd Handwritten Post

The London bit is relevant as I'm onboard an aircraft, an A380, on the way back to London from Singapore. At the moment we're over Turkmenistan and close to the Caspian Sea, five hours and seventeen minutes away from Heathrow. You'll no doubt be surprised to know that I know thsoe things from the Krisworld travel centre in the onboard entertainment system, not from careful scrutiny with the stopwatch and my great geographical knowledge.

This is another one of those handwritten posts, again my plan is to take a photograph of the pages tonight, to chuck the photo on my blog, then type it word for word into the body of the post. I wonder if there is anyone who would bother reading the typed text and comparing it with the handwritten text to see if they're identical.

The time in Singapore was great and I have a list of several blog posts I may write, many of which were inspired by things that happened around and to me during that time.

I've noticed how long haul air travel is becoming my friend. It's not that I'm highly experienced in many different long haul routes but, by anyone's standards, I reckon I've got to be a bit of an expert when it comes to two specific routes; the Sri Lankan airlines flight from LHR to CMB and the SQ one from LHR to SIN.

Leaving London last week and sitting in the departure lounge I watched many excited middle aged tourists looking at the spectacular sight of the A380 parked outside waiting for us to board. They took photographs of the beast, stared at the big floor plan on display and all had childish grins and expressions of excitement on their old faces. I could work it out but I've honestly lost count of the number of times I've flown on one now and I may well be the air travel version of a spoilt child. The last voyage to and from Lanka, on the Sri Lankan A340, left me feeling like I was Jeremy Clarkson after being forced to go and front a programme about bicycles in Sri Lanka.

It's not just the joy of the plane itself either. I've become accustomed to sitting in a whole row of seats with no other occupants too. After I finish this piece of handwritten blogdom I'll stretch out on my three seats and get a bit more sleep before landing. It's only a small step down from flying Business Class. I'm one of thier Gold card members now so my luggage gets a nice Business Class Priority label and is normally on the belt at the other end quicker than the time it takes for the flowers in one of those white Kuoni "Bon Voyage" boxes to wither and wilt.

There are some exciting and stimulating things to come in the next couple of weeks in London. It's a very criss crossing and small global village that I'm living in these days. The last time I saw my parents was at the CR + FC at Jazz Unlimited on that first Sunday in February. I left Lanka that night to arrive back home in the cold and snow, since then they've travelled around the island and also been to Singapore. There'll be much catching up to do and, from a plane which is now above the Caspian Sea, it feels like it will be fun. The reality is that, within about twenty minutes, I'll want out. That is the reality because I think it will be so, perhaps if I changed my mindset then things might turn out differently. Hmmmm...... interesting.

We're flying with the daylight now, going West so the night is chasing us but probably won't catch up until after we land. I'll be tired and the constant pace of a constant life means that I'll be sat at my desk at about 6.30 in the morning with that ritualistic first cup of PG Tips tea. In the evening I'll be seeing the girls and I find myself already looking forward to that. To them it's just a normal evening of hanging out with Dad. to me it's a huge event I anticipate eagerly, just being with them. I sometimes wonder if they'll ever understand how painful it is sometimes that I'm not with them.

The apartment viewings must be kicked up into another gear in the coming days too. I intend for a big burst of activity and hope to find the perfect pad in the next week or two. The market knowledge I have learned in recent weeks has been plentiful and I sense that I'll attacking the situation from a powerful position of strength.

And there are two gigs and a band practice next week with the Breaks. Here's the timetable for the next 10 ish days:

Weds (tomorow) - Girls Fri - Girls Mon - Band practice Weds - Girls Thurs - Gig

Sat - Gig

So it's good, it's busy and it'll be fun. That's it for now. Hopefully a photo of these 2 pages will come out okay.

Will anyone actually try to read my appalling handwriting?"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fuck!

From Singapore thanks again, I'm gobsmacked, overwhelmed and astounded. Dinidu, that is not the name of a posh British solicitors either.

But now the pressure's got to me. All this talk of daily dose of wit and what have you has taken its toll on my normally almost endless reserves of humour. I've got little to narrate to you that I can think of.

There are seeds of posts hopping around in my mind like rabbits, which is probably good. I went to a launch party for Asia Uncut, a new TV chat show last night, that was an experience and a half that I might regale you with at some time too.

In a minute I'm off to see that film, The Reader.The review said it's got an intricate plot, that it's so complicated that's it's beyond the average viewer.

They didn't even mention the below average viewer.

It's nerve wracking.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Absofuckinglutely Astounded

Greetings and thank yous, millions or at least hundreds of thousands of them, for the posts and the wishes.

I'm sure to write more tomorrow but have to change and go for a party soon.

I'll just tell you this. About an hour ago I was in a hawker market on Orchard (in Singapore). I rejected the numerous types of noodles on offer, the fish testicles and the strangely looking rubbery things that looked like rejects from a condom factory.

Yes, it was all rejected in favour of mutton buryani.

I sat, I ate and I thought of you lot in Sri Lanka, who read my blog and whose blogs I read, whose photo blogs I admire so much.

This can only be a quickie as, I'm sure you'll understand, I have to ring K in London and tell her off for bullying A on Facebook.

Thank you. I am truly a little bit emotional. Not like a girl mind.


RD

Well I'll Be Quite Frankly A Little Bit Astounded!

It was three years ago to this very day that I wrote these words:

Greetings to anyone who may have the slightest interest in this!

I have been contmplating the idea of my own blog for the last few weeks and it seems that I have finally done it.

The dilemnas of a new blogger are many. What elements of my life will I write about? What will I leave out? How often will I update? Whose identity will I reveal?

I guess the experienced bloggers already know their answers to my questions, but they are exactly that - my questions - and they require my answers.

Give me time - and we'll see what comes of this!

What an unspectacular start, with a typo too! And so much has happened since then.

Some good, some excellent, some sad and some surprising.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

RD is.....

In Singapore

Up, nay, wide awake at about 4.30 AM

Hot and enjoying the warmth

Very, very mellow

Stealing a wireless connection from someone called J. Thanks J!

Not going to post anything for a while.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sri Lankan Mothers - Part Oh God Not Another One

Picture the situation.

Tonight (Tuesday) I'll be flying to Singapore for a week. I had a band practice last night (Monday) and I'm now at my desk. I'll be going straight from work here tonight to the airport then will fly out. Things have been pleasantly busy for me, well quite mentally busy to be honest.

And I'm currently living with my parents, who are in Colombo at the moment. So, for the sake of accuracy, I'm not currently living with them as they're not there, but I would be if they were there. It's their house. Confused? I'm trying to paint the background for you, but I won't be offended if, by now, you've buggered off somewhere else because RD has gone too far.

Sunday was a busy day. It involved packing and serious tidying. My parents are due back here while I'm away. No Sri Lankan son wants his parents to arrive in their house and find it in the mess that it was in. The kind of mess that Dinidu would leave.

I did well. I tidied, hoovered, polished and emptied the bins. I wiped surfaces and checked mail. I took the keys and started my Mum's car. I took the other keys and tried to start my Dad's car. Nothing happened. When I say nothing I mean just that clicking sound, the one that tells you the battery has less life in it than a glass of French mineral water.

Bollocks. I thought to myself, still without knowing for sure if a thought should be placed in speech marks or not. The car started perfectly last weekend when I took if for a spin and the battery had run down in a week. It was parked in their drive, meaning it was almost impossible for me to pull my car up to jump start it. But that would have been pointless anyway, the chances being that the battery would be flat again by the time they got back.

I decided to do the courageous thing, to take the bull by the horns and face up to my fears. Sometimes a chap has to be a chap, this was chap time, I was the chap for the job.

"Dear Mum and Dad" the note started.

Then, I had bloggers' block, though it was more "43 year old writing a note to his parents to leave on the dining table block."

I stared at it for a while. To a writer staring is the same as talking very loudly to a person who can't speak the language. You feel as though it should help, but it doesn't. So I'm told, but I'm neither a writer nor a foreigner. I had a vague outline for the note. It consisted of me telling them when I'd be back, that I'd done these good things and all was okay with the house and by the way Dad your car battery was flat, sorry about that.

Somehow, like a possessed chap, in the middle of my 43 year old writing a note to his parents to leave on the dining table block, I found myself on the phone dialling 0094112...... Though I hadn't dialled the dots, they're to represent numbers.

Before I knew it I was talking to my Dad. They had just got back in from Jazz Unlimited at the CR + FC and were about to go out for dinner. It was funny to think that only four weeks ago I was there with them. Not only was I in the midst of some kind of freak London cold wintry shower but I'd be in the heat and humidity of Singapore in a few days time too.

I told him about the car and was reminded that the effect of alcohol, music and Sri Lanka is a powerful one. He took it in his stride and casually remarked that he'd sort it out when they returned. This was good as I was slightly scared that he'd want me to jump through a lot of tiny hoops to try to sort it out before I left.

Then the phone was snatched away from him by my Mum, you know how it works. Everything I had just said to my Dad had to be repeated to her, partly because he can't really be trusted to relay the information accurately, mostly because, even if his relaying was as accurate as that of a Sri Lankan politician giving his defence in court against fraud charges, my Mum would still want to hear it from me.

We went through all the usual things. How are the girls? How is Musicbiz bro and Academic bro and the other granddaughter? I gave all the usual answers, that clever mix of detail and going through the motions.

Then she asked me exactly when I was going for Singapore, I told her. Then she asked me if I'd told the neighbours so they could have an eye on the place, I told her that I had. Then she asked me if I wanted them to pick me up from the airport on my return, I told her that I was fine as I was going to leave my car at the airport because I would go straight there from work tonight.

Even I was surprised at her next question, on reflection I reckon she might even have been surprised that it came out

"So will in be in for dinner on the Tuesday night?" She was referring to Tuesday next week, when I get back.

"Mum" I said, in that tone.

"I'm in London, you're in Colombo and I'm going to Singapore for a week. And you want to know if I'll be in for dinner Tuesday after next! I haven't got a clue yet."

She seemed a bit sheepish, as though she'd realised if was a bit over the top. And she has high standards in over the topness.

Her next question was about whether I was going to leave my flight details on the fridge for them, an ongoing source of conflict.

I said no. We moved on but she had that tone, the one that can intimidate from a distance of thousands of miles.

Only I wasn't intimidated, not one bit.

Laters all.

RD

Monday, March 9, 2009

How To Understand People

This really amused me.

I was watching TV a couple of nights ago and before my eyes there flashed an advert for one of the Sunday newspapers. That in itself was quite normal for advert scheduling towards the end of the week.

Also, as is normal, the ad told us about the extra features and bits and pieces that would accompany this week's edition of the newspaper. One of these supplements was called "how to understand people". My calculated impression, after watching and listening, is that it's about how to understand people.

The funny bit?

Ah yes, the fact that it's serialised, over two issues of the paper! The "normal" Saturday one and then the Sunday one.

Now understanding people isn't easy, that much most would agree on. Those psychologists have spent and do spend years and lifetimes on the matter. If the little pamphlet was published over the course of a year I'd totally understand the idea. Such a detailed topic could take a long time to explain. If it was printed as a stand alone thing, in one issue, I'd also be fine with that. Then it would be a quick precis on the subject, maybe to get some thickos interested enough to explore it further.

But over two issues? It's as if they're saying that understanding people isn't easy, so we have to tell you about it in two parts.

I guess the only thing more complex and bewildering is how to understand women. Presumably that will be a three part booklet.

And yes, I'm savvy enough in marketing to know the true reason for the two parter.

Feeling Good

I must admit to carrying around a feeling of jittery and nervy excitement with me in recent days. There are things going on in the RD life that I'll share with you, just because it's a big happy world of abundance in these parts and you might be interested.

The first thing is that I'm actively out flat, or apartment, hunting at the moment. Isn't it funny how apartment feels very different to flat? A flat conjures up images of old Parisienne type buildings with quaint lifts and musty smells. An apartment is modern, bright, airy and appeals to a different kind of person.

For a few reasons it's the apartment side of things that I'm seeking. I've pretty much decided on an area and this is so exciting that I literally get butterflies in the bath stomach as I think of it. My most important factor was that I wanted to be close to the girls, though my definition of "close" is governed by driving time rather than physical distance.

So I've been searching in the vicinity surrounding where they live, places within about a twenty minute drive of theirs. All good in theory but I play the drums, something that isn't conducive for the apartment hunter. You know me, I love drumming with a passion only matched by my passion for everything else in my life, but there are times when I wish I'd been born to be a singer or a harmonica player.

This drumming lark means that I need a place with good loading and unloading facilities. If it's above the ground floor then I need a lift. The last thing any drummer wants is to get back home at 2AM after a gig, park half a mile down the road and then lug his drum kit up stairs and around corners before going to bed.

Then the place needs to be solid with exceptional soundproofing. It's not that I practice on my acoustic kit at home, but that I have an electronic practice kit which is one of the best things ever invented. It does make a thumping or tapping noise though and this could seriously frustrate a downstairs neighbour or someone on the other side of a thin wall. This rules out all the old big houses, the conversion flats which are plentiful in these parts but generally have the soundproofing of a balmy Colombo night.

Next we have the divorced Dad issue. According to all my how to be a good divorced Dad books one of the common mistakes our species make, once the financial hardship starts to improve, is to go out and get some sort of cool batchelor pad, the kind of place we dreamed about living in when we were batchelors the first time around only couldn't afford. The newly divorced Dad, the one who has read no how to be a good divorced Dad books, gets one of these places and forgets that it is the most important thing in the world to give his kids the message that he is still their father, that they're still a big part of his life.

He has them over at the weekend, or whenever has been arranged, and they sleep on a settee or are given the message that it's not their home too. Well my thing is that I need to get a place with at least one bedroom for the girls. My concession is that they can share, but they will have their own room, ideally with a bathroom so we avoid all the complaints about the sharing issue.

I told K that I was looking for a place with a bathroom for them and her reaction was:

"Oh cool, so we won't have to put up with your bum hair then?"

The idea would appear to be popular.

All the objective and logical criteria are relevant and well and good, they need to be fulfilled for me to be happy somewhere. But then, on top of it all I'm trying to be in touch with my feelings on this, something we men find hard.

I'm trying to find a place that ticks all the boxes and does the functional stuff, but one that feels good the moment I walk into it. This is a challenge, one that I'm enjoying and relishing. I've already made an offer on one place, but it doesn't look like I'll get it. But I'm out there viewing and surfing and trawling and seeking.

It's a new area for me and trusting my gut is something I've got a lot better at in recent years but it's definitely like diving off a cliff in the dark. You just have to have faith and jump, you'll only get injured if you spend too much time hesitating.

Post divorce life presents challenges that are new to me. C may come over here to spend time, which will be cool, the girls will be with me at their usual times, but I'm conscious that they're getting to the ages when their main desire is to hang with their friends. So I know I'll be doing a hell of a lot of time hanging around on my own, like now, and the new pad has to make me feel good just to sit there and chill in.

I'm excitedly mellow about it. I'm hunting and viewing with a zen like calmness, knowing that, if I have the confidence, I'll find the perfect place. The place will be the final piece in one puzzle and the very first piece in the next one. Nice.

Oh, and I'm off to Singapore on Tuesday, so things might be a little bit quiet here for a day or two.

Happy Monday all.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dinidu - Where Are You?

Mr De Alwis. Your blog's playing up and doing strange things.

Where are you?

Is everything alright?

We're all a bit worried.

To Nibras Bawa, VIC And Sittingnut

This is a kind of open letter, one that hopefully will ask you guys a question that's somewhere in my mind and not yet fully formed. As I write this post I'm very optimistic that the aforementioned question will form some time before the end. Otherwise, things could get pointless.

I'm no kid, though I have a couple of my own. I consider myself a fairly mature and experienced business person and, in my more lucid moments, a pretty rounded individual, though lots of sit ups should help with this. I'm telling you this in an attempt to establish my credibility, for my question might appear as naive to many. Incidentally "naive" is a word I always have a problem spelling first time around, do any of you guys struggle with it? (that's not the main question by the way)

As most people who read this will know, all three of you have blogs.

Mr Bawa, you appear to be the newest entry into the Sri Lankan blogosphere, or the Lankanosphere as one of my heroes has called it. I find your blog captivating, interesting and annoying, all in extremes. It seems that you are successful in your chosen field with some strong opinions and it's fair to say that much of your blog centres around the Lankan advertising industry and its close relatives.

Mr In Colombo, you are known to most in the Lankanosphere. When you write a post we read. I usually disagree with you, but I respect your passion. Many people also agree with your opinions, that of course is their right. As far as I can make out your very popular blog has been in existence since May 2006, which surprised me as I thought it was older than that. I also hope that one day you'll allow me to call you "Voice" as I know your friends are allowed to do.

Mr Nut. What can I say about you that people haven't already thought to themselves? From what I can make out your blog began in August 2005 with this fledgling post. That means you're the longest established blogger out of my three chosen people. Like VIC you don't need much of an introduction to the people who may be reading this.

Now I sincerely hope that you interpret my question in the spirit in which it's intended, one of genuine interest in something that I honestly don't understand. It's this:

Why do all three of you choose to try to present your points, arguments and views in such confrontational and insulting demeanours?

Seriously, it puzzles and bothers me and I'll try to explain why this is so by telling you a bit about my mentality.

I believe that there is little more effective than constructive and positive dialogue. And this is by no means a post in which I advocate peace talks as a current way of solving the situation in Sri Lanka. I'm merely talking about blogging and life in general here.

I respect the way people like Indi and Dinidu articulate their views, though I don't always agree with them as well. They present their points in what seems to me to be a thought out approach, weighing up pros and cons and talking intelligently. Apart from the rare deviations in which a "fuck off" or similar might have appeared they come across as level headed guys.

You three, VIC, Nibras Bawa and Sittingnut have clearly made some kind of decision that the way forward for you is to slag off the people who don't share your opinion. You name call, you insult and you make a habit of hitting below what most people would define as the belt, even on a sarong where it can float a bit. Again, I'd like to emphasise that I mean this as accurate commentary, not some sort of attack on any of you. Once I filter out what I see as the wholly unnecessary padding you often make good points.

Surely it would be better to make those points without all the shouting and name calling, so others would view you with more credibility?

For example you Mr Bawa have made what many seem to think are some insightful and constructive comments on the Sri Lankan ad industry, yet you've managed to do it under a cloud of homophobic and insulting writing. Why did you choose this approach? Perhaps you took a calculated decision that some sort of sensationalism would get peoples' attention quickly. Maybe I'm missing the point here.

VIC, in one of your posts you talk about Dinidu like this:

"Do you hear the “tone” of a sucking LTTE ass licker who is fed by all the rich NGO’s headquartered in Colombo? A tone of a real traitor, who’s enjoying a tiniest of a victory to the tigers?"

Why? I don't get it, just because you have different views?

Sittingnut, you write things like this

"by peaceniks i mean people who think peace is worth any cost (even cost of human rights, justice, democracy, and freedom ). that is people like paikiasothy saravanamuttu, jehan perera, jayadeva uyangoda, sunila abeysekera, sunanda deshapriya, nimalka fernando, rohan edirisinha, jeevan thiagarajaha, and their ilk (and their underlings like sanjana hattotuwa). and their fellow travelers in the sl blogosphere like hypocrite indi.ca/padashow.wordpress (son and tool of a corrupt political appointee) and his cronies."

And I really fail to see what you think you'll gain from that kind of delivery. If it's because you want to appeal to some people then surely you'll only succeed in appealing to the people who already share your opinions anyhow?

There it is, my question.

Why have you adopted these approaches?

I don't know if any of you will read this but I'd really love to hear your answers, though I may be wise to wear body armour!

If anyone else can help me with this please feel free too.

Good weekend in the hot, hot heat of Colombo all. I'd much rather be complaining about the heat than the cold!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lately In The Sri Lankan Blogosphere.....

The regulars have been quiet and the quiet ones have become regular.

Plenty of juicy posts, delightful nuggets of prose and paragraphs of love have been spurting our way in recent days. There's also been the usual batch of mediocrity, name calling and "ooh look how clever I am because I can insult you" type of stuff going around. Here, my blogospheric friends, are the ones that have caught my eye.

I'll leave it to you to decide which category to place them in, you're more than capable of that by now. Just be careful, this kind of power can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Remember Dinidu's religion posts?

The first blog I must, must, must mention is the Gypsy Girl's one. We know not who she is but she's given us a big clue by dropping the bombshell that she was in Hamlet at Elsie's Bar. It matters little though. She may be a thespian but I'm an open minded sort of fellow and what people choose to do behind closed doors is their business. As long as she continues to create posts like this one the rest of us will continue to hang on her every word. In fact I liked it so much I nominated it for Cerno's T100SLBPBP.

In an unusual situation I've reached a crisis of segue possibilities. My mindmap for this post shows clearly that I have the option of moving seamlessly into a bit about Cerno but also the bit about all the actors in that play and their posts.

I've decided to go with Cerno, for he is the master.

T100SLBPBP continues to move forwards though it's fair to say that interest looks to have tailed off slightly. Maybe that's because we all feel we've done as much trawling through the Sri Lankan blogs as we can stand, but Cerno's responded by introducing the concept of the best political post you have read into the melting pot. It's a great idea, the Sri Lankan blogosphere, which I think I'll start to call the Lankanosphere, is in itself a melting pot of a huge assortment of political posts, for all the obvious reasons.

I run the risk of death by metaphor and simile here but I'm going to dive in anyway and say that it's not just a huge melting pot of political posts but it's also one that's positively boiling over. Can a melting pot boil over? Probably if it contains some kind of unusual element, I'll ask K, she'll know.

Yes, going back I'm pleased with that "Lankanosphere" moniker. I might copyright it and make millions from other peoples' use of it in the future.

Over in the Divine world of the Lady there are qualifications, pats on the back, changes and surprises. The change refers to the icon, which has now become a sparkly and rather gleaming fresh looking young thing, just like Lady D herself! She has also passed her CIM exams. Passing her CIM does sound a bit like a painful medical procedure but I'm told by intelligent people that it's nothing of the sort and is all good.

It sounds all good for the good Lady D, yet she says she's missing something. I send my positive thoughts.

Oooohhh, the new stuff that has grabbed me goes a bit like this.

This guy, Nibras Bawa, who I think is fairly well known, has created ad industry shaped waves with some of his diatribes. His blog has the longest "introduction to myself" bit I've ever read and, though he may be very successful at what he does, he also appears to be his own biggest fan.

In a nice short period of time he's slagged off his own staff and his own industry. His coup de grace is this entirely homophobic post. Some of the points he makes may have some relevance, but, when they're made in a fog of homophobia and personal insults, it just makes him out to be a blinkered and prejudiced twat.

The thing about Mr Bawa, and I publish his name only because he does so himself freely, is that he writes well and loves his mum. To use the old cliche I would respectfully suggest that he considers more carefully who he shits on on the way up, he may need them on the way down. I sincerely hope that the guy is as good as he thinks he is.

Interesting blog though, check it out. After you do I also suggest you take a peek at what's going on in the world of ViceUnVersa. This post is a sparkling and heartfelt reply to someone who has laid into the Lankan ad industry and well worth a glance. There was also one of DD's crytic serial posts going on, all about red dots. I was totally lost until I saw the last post in the series, now I'm only half lost, or half full, depending on how you see the glass, you know, that one that could hold twice as much.

The luvvies are out in force like a pack of strange animals that have been released into the wild and are struggling with things.

After the success of Hamlet at Elsie's Bar they've bonded and are now missing each other. If you've ever been in a band or done anything that involves close and intense teamwork you'll understand. TMS' post here, giving her thoughts about everyone is touching and heartwarming, as is the Gypsy's one here. But they miss the point.

We, the readers want dirt. We want to read the blog post about the one member of the cast that everyone hated, the one who would have been bullied at school. We want to hear how he smelled a but funny and how he was a total tosspot. Oh yes, that's what we want.

And on the Darkside of things our Gehan has punched out a nice post about blogging relationships and how many members of the Lankanosphere know each other. I've met many of them, have made some good friends and find it a stimulating and fascinating experience. I'm continually puzzled by people who want to keep themsleves hidden, though I understand why people want to remain anonymous.

Well, if you've read this far you'll be pleased to know there are only a few more blogs to mention.

I don't know exactly why but I feel a slightly fatherly, or perhaps POUly need to give this new blogger a helping hand. She seems desperate to build up a readership and keen to move her blog onwards and upwards. There's a mix of interesting posts and slight blogstitution going on, and that's another new word I've come up with, how cool am I?

Blogstitution - When someone blogs about sex to get readership.

I like this little drawing thing and I read the post about doodling and the psychologist with interest. But, the "Do you masturbate?" post was a bit too contrived, even though I felt a need to throw my hand in.

I'll leave you with two pieces of brilliance. Dinidu has put out this poem, that he's going to read at tonight's open night thing. It's passionate, hard hitting and it's got rhyming lines. That's a poem I can understand. Over in the Big Apple T has written one of her beauties that speaks for itself.

Those are the just some of the things in the Lankanosphere that have captured my attention lately.

As usual there are a lot more good things that can be found on Kottu, but you knew that already, didn't you?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Best Clown Ever





In general I'm quite scared of clowns, what with their big weird feet, the brightly coloured nose and the strange make up. But, Mr Sellers was the best one ever wasn't he. Check out this scene. The beauty of it is that you know they were laughing for real, you just can't tell exactly when.

Pure class.

Morning all.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Just Not Cricket

Like pretty much everyone I've watched, heard and read about the attack on the cricket team and I'm dismayed and saddened about it yet pleased that things weren't even worse.

The Sri Lankan cricket team is a phenomenon, possibly the only one, that has united Sri Lanka through the last twenty or thirty years. We all know that. When it comes to cricket, to supporting it, the people of Lanka are Lankans first. Whether Tamil, Sinhalese or drummers who have London accents and don't know a googly from google, everyone gets behind the team.

The Sri Lankan blogosphere has reflected that mentality. Posts about the incident are everywhere and the feelings are the same from all.

I'd like to add my thoughts, particularly to the one person who appears to believe this is the LTTE's work.

It's unlikely, almost impossible I would say. Status messages like this one on FB make me shake my head in despair, for many reasons.

"???? is shocked that the Sri Lankan team have been attacked by suspetced (sic) LTTE cadres. Now Murali must speak out."

And, on a lighter note, it's bloody hard to text the names of the players involved in this without having some kind of meltdown. Predictive text was never designed for Sri Lankan names was it?

Behind The Scenes At London, Lanka and drums.

I was looking through the inner workings of London, Lanka and drums a minute ago and felt a but surprised to see that I've got sixty one draft posts lurking there in differing states of undress.

There are a few completed ones that I've not yet published, either because they've not reached the depths required for publication or because they were about something that happened at the time and the urgency's gone.

Most of them are ones I've started and never finished. I do this quite often when I'm hit by a bit of inspiration from somewhere. Someone might say a passing phrase or I might see something that grabs me and I'll quickly write the title with a line or two to remind me to come back to it at a later time. Sometimes I look back at these titles and wonder what on Earth that one was supposed to be about.

I must admit the one entitled "Review Of The First Colombo Grand Prix" has definitely got potential. I started to write it after watching the Singapore GP last year and, just like the Colombo GP, came to a standstill. The first couple of paragraphs have actually cracked me up as I read them, even if I say it myself.

So far it features Mervyn Silva, Lewis Hamilton and a thinly veiled reference to that time Dinidu forgot his ID, left it in his mother's car or something. I also remember that the race was going to feature a photographer driving an orange Land Rover, though any similarity to any person in real life would have been entirely intentional.

"How To Make A Sri Lankan" has got me perplexed. It starts with some commentary about me, a trend in many of my posts, sitting at the dinner table with my parents. It continues with my narrative about the conversation and about an attack, one that I didn't see coming. Clearly not only did I fail to see it coming but I also failed to remember it going, as I have no recollection of the events I was going to attempt to amuse with.

"The Pros And Cons Of Fruit" will probably get deleted very soon. In fact, by the time you read this it may have been consigned to the virtual bin. It's crap and should never see the light of day.

"That's Enough" is one I started only a few weeks ago but I'm sure will never get out as it's factually rubbish now. You see I started it because I had noticed that I'd got to a nice round figure of one hundred friends on Facebook. My idea was to write a quirky post comparing Facebook and the concept of Facebook friendship with real life and real life friendship.

I'm not one of these people in real life who has friends in every corner. I'm that other group, the type who has just a handful of friends whom I consider to be very close to. I've also got lots of "virtual" friends, people whom I haven't actually met fact to face yet I would consider as genuine friends. The whole issuse of what a real friend is was going to be explored in the post.

The opener is based on the idea of "cutting off" my FB friends at one hundred, something one would never even think of in real life. The idea was abandoned as, just as I started the post, I got two friendship requests on FB, both which couldn't be refused and I'm now on one hundred and two, which doesn't have the same ring to it as the good old century.

"DD Said That Money DOES Buy Happiness" is one that I started that after being inspired by a comment DD left on TMS' blog, in which he said exactly that. I was going to present my opposing view; that money doesn't buy happiness, but it can help to buy things that can help to make us happy. There, I've more or less said it now anyhow, that's another I can delete.

Fear not dear reader, I shan't bore you with a run down of each of the sixty one drafts, it was just to give you a picture of how things operate here. Well, also because I was a bit stunned at the figure too.

Now I'm thinking about what to do with these fledglings. Perhaps I could take some of the promising ones and sell them for charity. Maybe there'll be young beginner bloggers who'd pay good money for them, then could change some names and key points and chuck them up on their blog as their own.

Perhaps I could swap some of my drafts with some of yours. Then you might suddenly notice DD chucking up a post that was incredibly witty on the same day that I publish one that's incredibly, erm, advertising.

Or I could sell them as rare unpublished RD posts, to raise money for me good causes. People might display them on their living room walls in years to come, in the same way some coves own rare unpublished works by authors and artists.

Then, this sounds morbid, but I assure you it's nothing more than a fleeting thought, if I was to die what would happen to them? Would they languish in cyberspace for eternity. Would someone eventually find my blog and guess my passwords and take them, to do whatever they want with them?

I tell you. It's thought provoking this blogging business, it really is.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Obvious Shit

So they've finally realised the obvious. The mobile phone companies have decided to make a universal charger, therefore presumably the handsets that are compatible too.

It helps the environment, it makes life a damn sight easier for all of us and those tossing mobile phone dealers get to rip us off for accessories a little bit less.

Sometimes the little things in life are very joyful.

Zed's Dead

As the child of a Muslim father my name, as is customary, contains more Z's than an N factory that has fallen on its side. If you know me you'll probably know that I have one in my first name and another, just in case you missed the first, in my surname. To some, those with a Z fetish, I'd be considered lucky.

I hate Zs though, so I don't consider myself lucky. I do on other fronts, just not on the whole Z issue. Zs, or zeds, as it should be written, as letters go, are definitely the worst letter in the English alphabet.

We can't even agree on how to pronounce the letter zed. You lot in Sri Lanka chuck a mysterious E in front of it when you say the letter, it becomes "e-zed". Americans call it a "zee" and we, us Brits, call it the proper "zed". No other letter suffers so much for its own existence.

It's also a comedy letter, the only time it's valuable is in scrabble, if you can think of a suitable word to use it in, but you never can, unless you're Amila Salgado.

So I've decided to start up a protest group to get rid of them. I've even thought through the implications, something that's rare for me.

It's only us Muslim types who use them in names anyway and they sound harsh and weird. Some people would have to change their moniker, thought interestingly not people called Monica, but usually an S would do the job and give the name a nice softer feel anyway.

Nazreen Sansoni is the only blogger I can think of, as well as myself, who would have to do this. I may ask her, but I reckon she'd be okay with the idea. She already has a couple of Ss in her name so another might even make things easier.

Things on the Muslim side of my family however, may get panicky. Removing the zeds from all my cousins' names could be the linguistic equivalent of global warming. Suddenly there'd be random vowels all over the show creating imbalance and possible disaster. Most of my cousins would be called a name that sounded like that noise a cat makes when it's got a fur ball. Further thought here would be needed.

Those gods of music would become Led Eppelin and Frank Appa. Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham would, I'm sure be fine with the idea as everyone would know the band from the new name immediately. The late Frank, or his representatives, will be a bit pissed off. Let's face it Frank Appa sounds like a Sri Lankan Grandfather more than the innovative musical legend he was. I say that with my apologies to any Sri Lankan musical legends who are also Grandfathers, I know it can happen.

Countries are no big deal. Zambia, Zimbabwe and Zaire would still be recognisable either with an S at their beginning or just carrying on with the next letter. The odd country that has a Z inside its name, perhaps Belize, wouldn't matter at all. No one really knows if these places are spelt with an S or a Z anyway so it would just simplify things.

And let's look at everyday words that have zeds at the start, well there aren't that many. I opened the zed section of my dictionary and it reads like the last chapter of a book, which it is, when the author has got bored and deiced that he needs to finish it. It's like those crap songs at the end of a good album that no one listens to and no one remembers. There are words like zein, zend and zedoary there. Let's face it we don't really need those sort of words do we?

The zoo would suffer, but it's a fairly dated concept that many think is almost extinct anyhow. The zebra crossing might be an issue, though not in Sri Lanka for two reasons. The first is that no one pays any attention to them, so they can be called anything for it wouldn't matter.

The second is that they're yellow and black which IS NOT THE COLOUR SCHEME OF A ZEBRA, unless it's one in camouflage. But, the camouflage would be useless unless it was a zebra that was trying to hide in a Sri Lankan zebra crossing factory. Or in a liquorice allsort factory. Mind you, this may explain why we never see zebras in these places.

As for the zephyr? Well it's just some kind of wind thing that was named after the old Ford. It's not important these days.

The icing on my cake of an argument has got to be those Americans, Microsoft and spellchecking.

Americans, because they're too lazy to think about whether an S should be pronounced as hard or soft, have changed everything with a hard S to a Z. So apologise becomes apologize, specialise becomes specialize and, well, you know the score.

Spellchecking is disastrous for the civilised world because of this. This will all change.

There you have it. Zeds must go, you know it makes sense.

It's Sunday night and I'm off to get some sleep. Or, as we say here, I'm off to get some zeds, or seds, or eds.

Happy Monday all.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An Elephant In The Room

Some might be embarrassed to admit to something like this, not me though.

I had never known of the phrase "an elephant in the room" until a few months ago. I suppose I had heard of the phrase, only in the context of there actually being a pachyderm lurching in the environ.

A year ago, had I been sitting there having a quiet beer with you, or you for that matter, and you'd mentioned an elephant in the room, I'd have jumped up and been searching like Clouseau looking for Kato. Nowadays I know that it's a lovely little metaphor and I chuck it into a conversation at every opportunity.

I suppose the only potential time for confusion would be if I was in a bungalow in Yala and someone mentioned the matter. Things could get very puzzling.

Must dash, there's something hiding behind the curtains.