Monday, February 18, 2019

Gig Rant. Slightly

I was playing a gig with one of my bands on Saturday evening. We've somehow got to do these pretty big rugby gigs at one of the largest professional clubs in the country, in which we play in the bar after the match and get a largish crowd, about 500 - 900 people depending on the match.

These things are raucous, loud and very full on. We've decided that we need to play one long set, as taking a break, even a quick one, means that the crowd start to go home and the place empties sooner. So it's two and a half hours of full on rock music (Oasis, Muse, Killers, that kind of thing), which gets knackering on the drums.

I sit there, playing my little brown arse off, intermittently checking my blood sugar to ensure I'm not on the verge of passing out and stuffing glucose tablets down my neck when needed, and listen with raised eyebrows when the singer or lead guitarist mutter between songs about how tired they are. I'm sure there is no role in a band that is more tiring but it's what we drummers do. Sympathy? No chance.

Anyhow, this gig was full of pissed people. The weather was stunning by London February standards, the home team had just won convincingly and all was good, including, dare I say it, the band.

So of course, some numpty decides he's going to get up on stage to impress his mates.

Up he gets, narrowly avoiding damaging valuable instruments and equipment in the process. The soundman is giving him those "Damage anything of mine and you'll fucking pay one way or the other" looks and the rest of us get on with things.

The bloke gets hold of a tambourine and is now topless, singing and tambourine playing (a term I use in the loosest possible way) and absolute best mates with every member of the band. At every possible moment he comes up to one of us and tells us how great we are, how he'll play anything we want. Which is quite bizarre as he clearly couldn't play, I don't know, even something as simple as a bass guitar.

We go along with this for a bit; his mates in the crowd are many and are jeering our hero along happily, but after a couple of songs he's still up there and has been joined by about four others.

I don't have the luxury of a monitor and I have to confess that I had a moment of doubt in myself. There were about four people playing four tambourines and I'm not sure any of them could have put "Tambourine playing - numerous years of experience" on their CV.

I started to think "fuck I've got to keep time here, despite these fuckers, it's my time and I don't care where any of you think you are, I'm in charge." It actually was quite a challenge. I dug in, concentrated hard and did my job, but it took a surprising amount of focus to defeat these random tambourines I could hear all over the show.

The thing is, this idiot stayed up on stage for a good half hour, until he got a bit bored, perhaps realising that it actually is a bit tiring. Another girl had decided to join him and she stayed up for the whole of the set, around forty five minutes at the end. She had the demeanour of one of those people who has a good idea but, once they kick it off, are just not going to back down whatever the circumstances.

She lasted right until the end, but at a certain point she adopted the body language of a passport control person who knows she's being secretly filmed but keeps forgetting it.

At the end of the gig she shook hands with each member of the band and thanked us. Weird, I know, but kind of sweet. I suspect she thought she was some type of guest star, without whom the crowd would have all gone home ages ago.

And I got to thinking. It's kind of okay when these fellows jump up with us, when they play a bit of tambourine, do a few dance moves and make their friends laugh and think they're the bee's knees.
But don't overstay your welcome.

We the band, work hard. We rehearse, we learn songs. We have big fights about the arrangements, about all sorts. We get there hours earlier to set up and leave hours after the crowd once we've taken everything down. We get paid next to nothing too. It really is a labour of love and we really do love it.

So do your thing, have some fun. Then please, get your arse off our stage and let us do our thing.

Rant over.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Rules of I Love You...

Is it too controversial to start by saying that most Sri Lankans, perhaps Asians in general, don't really say "I love you" or express emotions much? I don't recall a single moment when either of my parents said it to me or either of my brothers and I don't hold any grudge or bad feeling towards them for it, I just accept that's life.

Or, come to think of it, am I being unfair in that it might be a generational thing rather than racial? Because I don't think the parents of any of my schoolmates would have been affectionate, either verbally or physically, in those days. It just wasn't done.

In the West kids these days are brought up to say the 3 magic words once every fifteen minutes. It's compulsory, like watching reality TV or having botox done. What's it like in Lanka these days for youngsters? Do they say it a lot or is it frowned upon?

The rules of I love you, they confuse me though. You may know that I have women in my life. I have my now grown up daughters and C, the girlfriend / partner. I don't like using the term "girlfriend" for her because it feels too young, too immature. But (and I'm sorry to admit this, I really am), the word "partner" makes me fear slightly that someone will think I'm referring to my same sex partner. Even as I write this I feel like some sort of caveman. It's wrong and I know it.

The thing is; should one always respond to an "I love you" with an "I love you too"?

C once told me off for doing so, saying that I don't have to respond in kind every single time, that sometimes a person just feels it, says it and it doesn't need the reciprocation.

But then my girls sometimes say it to me and will have a dig if I don't return the thing, like some sort of tennis ball flying back over the net, only I'm unsure if I should have attempted the shot or if I'm even in the game.

I've also noticed that kids say it as a variation on "goodbye" to each other but they usually miss out the "I" and just say "love you". It's bizarre, but to me it changes the whole context, making it sound like "see you later" or "cheers". Add that tiny "I" onto the phrase and it becomes proper and meaningful, like a Sri Lankan man buying a domestic appliance for their wife on Valentines day.

Who said romance is dead?

Monday, February 11, 2019

My name is RD and I'm probably lost.

I was reading Cerno's post the other day, about him being a blogger for 12 years, and it made me nostalgic.

Truth be told, I've forgotten how to write, not that I was any writer in the first place, but I mean really, I can't even get through a sentence without missing a letter or typing a double T there when actually I was going for an apostrophe. That's what mesaginn, Whatsapp and all these new fangled things do to a chap I suppose.

And, in the dark recesses of my mind, I'm aware that most of my last blog posts have touched on the subject of my not blogging very much anyhow. Well that's all a bit self centred isn't it, all a bit about me with no element of me asking any questions about you.

So, how are you?

I reckon you've got older. Been through some major life changes and done things that you thought only your parents did. You might well be a parent yourself now, dealing with the trials, tribulations and joys of raising youngsters and, if you ever have time to pause, wondering how it happened so quickly.

Do you even still exist?

I know we witneesed the sad passing of one or two bloggers, but generally I'll put my money on you still being around. Though most likely not reading this, as none of us read blogs. You might have emigrated to Australia (Hello G12!). I wonder, are you even doing what you thought you'd be doing now? Many have changed careers and are doing something they enjoy and others are wildly successful in the career they set out on.

And Colombo, how you've grown!! Every time I go there the skyline is unrecognisable. That Lotus Tower thing, that I so hated at the beginning, has now become a landmark that the whole of the metropolis seems to point at. It glares at everyone with its purple and greenness (I used a word with 3 sets of capital letters!) and for people like me, with the sense of direction of a deflating toy balloon, it gives a decent indication of which way you're going.

So, I should tell you, I'm now 53. Yes, that's getting on a bit. But it's taken me until very recently to realise that thing; that I have no sense of direction. With age comes wisdom (some) and I used to think I was normal, that I could find my way around a place as well as any man. But I can't and I admit it.

It takes me I reckon about 5 - 6 times as long as the average person to get familiar with  the Geography of a place. Satnav is my friend in that I use it to get myself to place that other people smell their way to. Then, whan I finally memorise the route, the person usually moves house or the one way system changes, not that that ever happens in Colombo or London.

It's ok. I'm dealing with it. I've stopped pretending. I've stopped thinking of mental navigation as some sort of worthiness and a measurement of a person and I'm admitting to myself and all around me that I'm as clueless about how to get somewhere as a fart in a collander.

But, if you see me, it could be in Colombo or London, looking aimless, staring at my phone and for all the world behaving like a Colombo businessman in a branch of Tesco, you'll know why.