And so it came to pass last weekend that I found myself sitting in a workshop, a serious one. It was about the role of the diaspora in the rehabilitation and development of post war Sri Lanka and, being the serious minded person you know me for, I was primarily concerned about my choice of footwear for the thing.
I'd gone for my white Converse Jack Purcells, a nice variation on the more traditional and common Chuck Taylors that all the world and his wife, as well as their kids, are wearing these days. My worry; that I wouldn't be portraying a serious enough image to fit in, dissolved as soon as I saw the state of the other people there.
Scientists have established that if you took a sample of about a hundred academics only one of them would be trendy in his appearance, probably Academic Bro actually. If I owned a university I'd have some kind of dress code, one that didn't involve long gowns and hats that are only good for pigeons to land on.
My second major concern was the correct pronounciation of the word "diaspora". I mean, what's going on here? It's "dee ass porer", it's "die ass pora", it's "dee ass pourer", in fact it's any combination you can think of. These things should be sorted out when words are invented to avoid confusion.
Honestly, I really don't know how I came to be invited to this thing, but I was and it was a highly interesting day, with a bunch of quite diverse and thought provoking people. There was even a Professor there, giving a presentation that I found very informative.
I sat next to The Auf, a nervewracking position to be in. It was like going to a new school, being placed in the gifted and talented class because of a clerical error, then finding myself sitting next to the brightest kid in the room. Not only that but The Auf's mate, The Guru, was one of the people speaking.
At one point The Auf mistook my doodles for mind maps and thought I was busily making notes and taking it all in. I let it pass and then hastily started to do some mind maps to keep up the pretence.
At the end of it I found myself wandering the streets of London with The Auf and The Guru, heading to a bookshop the former was keen to investigate. You can imagine my consternation. As the fast living rock 'n' rolling type of chap that you know I was reluctant to be spotted by one of my fans walking with these two rather serious looking fellows.
The Guru, having just landed a few days earlier, was entirely unused to London life and spent much of his time strolling into the path of oncoming vehicles because he hadn't heard a horn, leaving shop doors wide open, that sort of thing. The Auf, having been here for a few years, has morphed into a Londoner of sorts. Of course he still dresses like one of the blokes in Machang going for an immigration interview, but apart from that he's more or less a cockney now.
We strolled, me feeling like I was auditioning for a weird film, them feeling, well, probably like they were auditioning for a weird film. At one point we stopped to take some pictures, doing that whole grabbing a passing stranger and asking him to take a picture then wondering if he might run off and nick the camera thing. Unfortunately I managed to look gay in one, putting across a slightly mincing impression that I hadn't intended.
After a visit to another bookshop, in which I found a little treasure of a book on drums and the other two bought all sorts of serious works, we parted company. I confess that I was surprised and startled, nay disappointed, by their intention and felt the need to leave, to distance myself from their frankly sordid influence over me.
A dinner invite, perhaps a non alcoholic drink, a museum or an art gallery would have been perfectly good for me. Maybe a meeting in a club to discuss some serious issues, perhaps more about the diaspora and its involvment with Sri Lanka would have interested me greatly.
But no. The Guru and The Auf, formerly my heroes and role models, had decided that they wanted to go and visit a.....................sex shop. I wasn't going to be part of this, sullying my own good reputation for the sake of seediness and dirty, filthy stuff.
Would you adam and eve it, as The cockney Auf would say. You just never know.
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