Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What rules do you have for yours?

When I started my blog I made some simple rules. I had read other people's blogs for a while and, whilst I hadn't the faintest idea how my blog would look or how many people might read it, I made some "house" rules for myself:

  1. Keep positive - I didn't want to be a "moaner". I wanted to talk about good things and not whine about bad things. There are plenty of blogs that exist by attacking and criticising others and I didn't want to take that avenue.
  2. Be polite - I have tried to treat everyone with respect. The old "treat everyone as you would like to be treated yourself" adage is one that I firmly believe in. (apart from when brothers are involved)
  3. Stay away from politics - There are some things I can claim to have some knowledge about, but politics is not one of them. There are a few occasions when I have skirted around politics but I have generally steered clear. You political brains will run rings around me anyway.
  4. Make friends - The old blogosphere is a marvellous place full of interesting and very dull people. I have made many new friends and had many conversations with lots of interesting characters. Nice.
  5. Listen - As a young salesperson the habit of listening well was drummed into me. "You've got two ears and one mouth, use them in that ration" I was told.
  6. Publish all comments - I publish every single comment with two types of exception; those that are pure spam and the few occasions when someone has accidentally sent the same comment more than once. Everything else is published. So far.That's it.

So, those are my few rules. Self regulated and I know I have broken just about all of them.

What are yours?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Clothes, clocks, climate and covers.

It's that miserable weather time of the year here in the UK and I'm pissed off with it.

I like the deep winter, when it can be cold and crisp and has been known to snow. It's great for photography and there's a certain romantic and Christmassy air to it.

But, this autumn stuff is getting me down. The colours are nice, I'll grant you that. If I didn't have a job, 2 bands and some family I'd try to get out and take some pictures of the gorgeous autumnal reds and browns that are everywhere. Leaves, trees, deer and foxes are all around me; I've got Richmond Park on one doorstep and Bushy Park on the other, even closer, doorstep. Sri Lankan friends come over and get photographically excited by the deer everywhere and stop and stare in amazement at the foxes. We just look at foxes with disdain, who wouldn't if they went through your rubbish every night?

Everything is in limbo. Clothes, clocks and climate are all unsure whether they should be in winter or summer mode. This morning, the first work day after the clocks went back, I woke up to sunlight.

On Saturday I was strolling around Kingston wearing a T shirt and sunglasses. On Sunday I made a fire at home and wore a jumper and an overcoat. ( I was boiling!). I took a stroll down to the river, it's about 5 minutes walk and can be quite picturesque. But I couldn't really get interested or photographically stimulated. I took a few shots of rivers, birds and the like then wandered home deeply dissatisfied.

Exactly a miniscule fraction of a nanosecond after I had turned my camera off and put the lens cap on I heard a roar and saw a gorgeous Ferrari convertible with its hood down speed past me.


So home it was. To practice this fantastic set I've got to learn. I was contacted by a great local funk singer who asked me if I was interested in doing a gig with her. It's her first solo gig after Barflyz, her band, split up. The intention is to do the one gig and see how the various musicians get on to see what might happen after that. I said "yes", rather loudly and quickly and followed it with lots of very serious doubts about whether I'm a good enough drummer for the calibre of people and music involved. The doubts are still there but I figure that she wouldn't have asked me if I wasn't good enough and these challenges have to be met head on. Or not.

But she sent me the set and it's a kicking jazzy, funky and latinney piece of work. From Mas Que Nada by Sergio Mendes to Broken Dreams by Basement Jaxx to Glorybox by Portishead, it's all there and I've got to learn them and nail them. Some of the songs are technically hard and some are challenging in terms of feel but I'm enjoying the learning. There's a few, Superstition, Take your Mama that I already know, which is always handy.

On the subject of music can anyone tell me who won at the battle of the band thing in Colombo?

I can't find the answer anywhere.

And it looks lke the little covers band I had joined has now imploded. The usual musical differences and guitarists and singers egos have been hard at work.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thanks Anon and thanks Electra

For the last few days I've been having an online debate with someone who has so far stayed anonymous, all in the post I made about local and tourist prices. Initially I thought that I had touched a nerve or angered Anon but, as our debate continued it became clear to me that Anon felt passionately about our chosen subject.

We've had, and are still having, a stimulating discussion. I am enjoying it and it makes a nice refreshing change from many of the online arguments I see online, where there is untold namecalling and personal insults and the like. I hope Anon has enjoyed / is enjoying it too.

Then, Electra has said some kind words, all thoroughly deserved ;), about my band, Mimosa. She has impeccable taste that woman!


Anon, that was my first smiley, albeit totally fucked up, and all down to you.

So, thanks to Electra for the words and thanks to Anon for the lively and stimulating debate. The best fun I've had not involving nakedness or drums for a long time!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Come in and give your view.

I'd just like to draw your attention to the post I wrote here:


It looks to be drawing a lot of opinions and yours would be welcome.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Tourists, locals and Sri Lankan Mothers

I was having a healthy argument with my Mum the other day about the positives and negatives of the Sri Lankan system of charging differing rates to tourists and locals.

Now, you know what these Sri Lankan Mothers are like. In fact the sentence:

"I was having a healthy argument with my Mum the other day"

is full to the brim with innaccuracies, bulging with oxymorons and would probably get me thrown out of many an institution. Or put in one.

First there's the issue of saying "a healthy" instead of "an healthy". I believe that the correct thing is the latter, but the average man in the street, whether it's Duplication Road (one way or two way!) or Piccadilly, won't say that in everyday conversation. The odd very well spoken, prim and proper Englishman will make it a habit to say "an hotel", dropping the aitch. Of course they only exist in PG Wodehouse books and American films. The rest of us talk about a hotel, with a hard aitch.

Then there's the major oxymoron "a healthy argument with my Mum".

You're reading this therefore you may well be Sri Lankan. You probably have had experience of these Sri Lankan Mothers. You may have had or still have one, hell you may even be one (hello T and N). You may be someone who actually knows my Mother. But, whatever your background, there is a very high chance you'll be nodding in agreement, smiling knowingly and feeling rather gulty about it.

These Sri Lankan Mothers are unique. They're like a Matriarch really, only scarier and more Motherly.

And it is against the law to have a healthy argument with your own one.

So, the other day it was more of a chat. Well a lecture I suppose. With me as the audience. You're never too old or too wise for your own Mother to give you some advice on how to wear your trousers, how to breathe, how to walk or some other pearl of wisdom.

But, Mothers aside, we were discussing the tourist and local system of pricing that most tourist places have in SL. My opinion is that it's a good thing, in principle.

As long as the cost of living is Sri Lanka is so much lower than in the Western world then I think it can work and achieve all its objectives. Most tourists are happy to pay a more "Western" type of price for the joys of climbing Sigiriya or exploring the caves of Dambulla. The price has to be finely judged as many aren't happy to pay a rate that is, for example, the same as the admission price to Madame Tussauds, even though Madame Tussauds is crap.


On reflection I would actually pay the same price to climb Sigiriya as I would to enter M Tussauds, but my point is that most western tourists in Sri Lanka do expect to pay less for things than they / we do at home. After all, the low cost of living in Sri Lanka could probably be classed as an attraction in itself.

So, in principle, I'm perfectly happy to pay a bit more to see certain things and stay in certain places than I would have to if I were a local. The Sri Lankan economy gains more revenue, many of the poorer local people are able to see sights and do things that they would never be able to if they had to pay higher prices and all are happy.

There are occasions when I get really pissed off with the tourist rates though. There are times when I have stayed in some hotels and had to pay the full all up tourist rates. Why? Because I don't hold a Sri Lankan passport and don't speak Sinhala. Well I ask you, they're just details. My family and heritage is Sri Lankan through and through, I go there at least once a year and I honestly feel that my cumulative contribution to the Sri Lankan economy is far greater than that of the average "package tour" tourist. Just ask the fellow with the long hair and baldness at House Of Fashion if you don't belive me. As I have got to know more people and made more contacts over the years it's now quite rare that I will stay somewhere and have to pay rate card, but it can still happen and still be annoying. I guess it's a pride thing, not wanting to be classed as a normal Sudda but also knowing that I'll never be a proper local.

So to remedy the situation (for me at least) the GOSL needs to introduce some kind of loyalty card. I need to be able to accumulate points for trips to Sri Lanka, knowledge of people, places and presence of family. I can accept that a lack of Sinhala should be a negative in my Sri Lankanness rating, but it shouldn't wholly negate everything else.

I wear a sarong every night, that must be a big point scorer. I can nod my head the Sri Lankan way to say yes, I can play a passable baila on the drumkit. All these things must count for somethng surely.

Indi, can't you organise some scheme for people who have blogs listed on kottu too. That should be a big points earner.

So different rates for tourists and locals is fine by me. As long as I'm a local, not a tourist.

For the record my Mum thinks that it's a ridiculous system and everyone should pay the same.

She knows.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Six word blog post

I don't want to do that!

The fruit chart

My favourite fruits in reverse order are:

5. Orange - But why is it the only fruit called by its colour? Or is that the only colour called after a fruit? Intriguing.

4. Papaya - A smidgeon of lime and it tastes fine. And it rhymes.

3. Water Melon - Although I never know exactly what to do with the seeds.

2. Mango - Not too stringy please. As a child they were a rare treat but now they are so common that we get them free inside packets of cheese and onion crisps.

1. Rambutan - Number 1 by far

Easy to open, easy to eat and delicious too. No mess, which is a big downside of mangoes for me. I still don't get it with the dodgy bit that is just near the seed, I always end up chewing it for a while and then giving up. The flesh is so similar yet so much better than a lychee. I remember spending 2 days in Yala several years ago and my friend A and I spent hours driving around eating from a big bag of Rambutans that we had bought on the way. We never saw much on that trip apart from a few elephants. I hardly ever see them in the UK, maybe that's one reason I like them so much. I mean Rambutans, not elephants. Although I don't see that many elephants in Richmond Park either.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Heather, you haven't got a leg to stand on.

The Sir Paul McCartney and Heather thing looks pretty one sided doesn't it. The majority think that she is a gold digger and there is little foundation for the allegations she has made. That majority, which includes me, may be wrong. It's bloody unlikely though.

The allegations were clearly something that she was going to use as a threat in order to increase the settlement, all behind closed doors. The plan must have been banking on him paying out more money in order to prevent this going public and the hassle involved in fighting it. After all, some mud always sticks, doesn't it? It was never much of a plan really. When Blackadder talked about someone being "more cunning than a fox that was a Professor of cunning at Oxford University", he wasn't exactly talking about people like Heather Mills.

But it got leaked and her plan has been scuppered. No one wants to believe that Paul McCartney, a Great British hero, icon and institution, is a wife beater. In all his years of marriage to Linda there was never any hint of scandal, apart from the odd dope smoking episode or three. The only bad thing he ever did was that Frog Chorus song, which was actually quite unforgivable. Oh, Ebony and Ivory was pretty bad too.

The latest news is that she is going to sue a few newspapers for making "false, damaging and immensely upsetting statements". That should be interesting.

So Lady Mills / McCartney or whatever title you have gained, leave it alone. You're going to get a few squillion quid anyway, not bad for a few years work. Just quit messing with the bloke who wrote "Yesterday".

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gorgeous girls in sexy clothes, hot weather and men.

Caution - This is an outrightly sexist post. For real men only. And it's all thanks to Child of 25 for his inspirational photos.

I was chatting with B, my wing man, mate of the past 20 or so years, business partner, minder, goalscorer and all round genial chap. That really is the best way to describe the geezer and it's all true.

We were pondering on why women always get better looking and more attractive in the warmer weather. That is, in countries like the UK where we have seasons.

Me and B on a summer's lunchtime can often be seen at our local Tesco. We peruse the sandwiches and ogle the women. In a non pervy way of course (almost). We exchange knowing winks, we study G strings and bra lines and then we go and look at women!

Without any shadow of a doubt there is a direct correlation between sunny weather and the frequency of sighting of gorgeous ladies and we can't figure out exactly why. Possible but unproven explanations are as follows:

Warm weather makes women wear less clothes. Indisputable. Breasts and bums always look better when exposed. I am told some men prefer a bit to be left to the imagination though. Probably just weirdos who don't like Baywatch.

Skin colour appears less pale in the sun. Again this is true. A warm glow looks better than a pale shade of pink.

Us blokes are more "on heat" in the warm weather. I suppose so. We still get hard ons in the winter though. It's true that many are in a more jovial and friendly mood when the sun comes out.

All the nice women "hibernate" in the colder months. It's not very realistic but it does seem as if it happens. There might be an artificial city on the outskirts of London full to the brim with stunners. They go there during the cold spell and revel in the synthetic sunshine and buy sexy summer clothing. Then, when the summer breaks, they go back to their cities to torment the men, replaced by all the uglies who go there and get cold and miserable. There are even day release women who come out on the odd sunny day at the wrong time of year.

It's probably a combination of all the above. Boring but true.

So what do you think? And are Parisian women better than London women?

Now that's a question!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Zed's dead??!!

That zsri thing (see my link on the right) seems to have been left out to die doesn't it. I used to check it fairly regularly to see if it had anything good to click on, but I suspect Kottu had it all covered anyway.

That's a shame.

It looks like everyone has deserted it and left it running, like one of those 300 year old ghost ships on Star Trek. They usually have one solitary crew member hiding in the shadows and he's usually gone mad.

Beam me up Scotty.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

White men can't dance.

I went to this Sri Lankan dinner dance thing on Saturday night. It was the fun and somewhat drunken evening that we all expected. There was a good band and they got everyone up dancing but no drums. Which, dare I say it, was nice. It meant I didn't have to do any kind of attempt to play a baila and for that I was truly grateful. I even spent some time practicing the baila yesterday afternoon, I got a few fills sorted out and felt rather flowing at it but no public performance was a huge relief.

After the usual round of speeches, raffles and dinner most of the guests hit the dancefloor. It was my Dad and my brother's birthday so our party was in good spirits and we all bopped away enthusiastically. I don't think of myself as a shy or retiring type but when the wife dragged me up to strut my stuff to "Dancing Queen" which segued nicely into "Simply the best" I was embarassed beyond belief. I could see my brothers smirking and laughing at me, even more than normal and if there had been a fellow chap with a "Divorce lawyer for hire, ask me now" sign on his back I would have engaged him there and then. Price would not have been an issue.

After that the band stepped it up a bit and there were twisting and jiving songs and all the stuff that us Sri Lankans love to shake a leg to.

Most of you will know by now that I have two brothers. We were all up giving it some welly and I looked at both of them and felt rather sad.

"Why so, Rhythmic?" I hear you asking.

It's because they can dance, boogie and shake their booties like the smooth groovers that they are and look cool and hip whereas I, allegedly of the same nature and definitely of the same nurture, strut my stuff and end up looking like some white bloke at a wedding. Not quite that bad but you can get the picture.

I've thought a lot about it in the last day and have come to a conclusion. It's not that I don't possess rhythm. Good God no. I'm a decent drummer, even if I say it myself, I can carve out a mean feeling groove on a drumkit with the best of them. It's not that I'm not musical either. Music has always been a huge part of my life and I can't envisage that changing.

But, when I think back to my childhood, I recollect that both my brothers were always good at sport and I wasn't. That's where the difference lies. I reckon now that dancing needs more of a bodily kinaesthetic ability than a musical ability, like sport does. I just don't have that ability to think of a dance move and make it come out of my body the way some do. My head is chock full of slick moves and cool flowing twists. Sadly my body just doesn't do what the mind tells it to do.

Never mind. I am beginning to accept that it is not to be.

My job is behind the drums, not in front of them.

As for my brothers, they're just bastards.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Baby Madonna

I'm not a strongly opinionated person about many things. It usually takes me a while to ponder on the facts and rumours and stories about anything before I decide which side of the fence looks good to me. Even then, I'll often jump to the other side if I discover something new or different to all the facts that I had heard in the first place.

But, even by my low standards, this Madonna baby thing is going to keep me in arse splinters for a long time.

I understand that there must be some very negative psychological implications to many of the orphaned children left behind in Malawi. It's beyond the scope of my mind to think what it must be like to see one of your friends "chosen" by a billionaire superstar for a life of luxury while you get left behind. Presumably there are some personality types who would actually be positively motivated by this but I'm sure most would feel crushed and beaten by it.

On another level I have little doubt that Madonna and Guy will be able to give the child a far better standard of life and much better prospects than he would have faced had he not been adopted. That's a good thing. Some will say that the life won't be better, but they'll be people with beards and engines under 2 litres, possibly even diesels.

But that has got to be good for the child. The other kids in the orphanage will eventually get on with their lives and all will be happy?

It's entirely feasible that the Ritchies have wholly good intentions in this episode. They already have kids and look to have a normal family life. As normal as possible when your parents are those two.

I was talking about this with someone the other day and she pointed out that, if it was all so genuine, then why on earth did Madonna not bring the child back to London herself? Wouldn't most people wouldn't have left the child in the hands of their staff and gone home. Again I don't know. Most people wouldn't have done that I agree. But most people live a "normal" life and don't have an army of servants and staff anyway. I would imagine that a large part of the upbringing of her children has been done by staff and nannies anyway. It's not wrong, it's just different.

Surely with all her money, power and resources the Madonna organisation would have ensured that all the paperwork was done and correct to facilitate a quick and fuss free passage for everyone out of Malawi. Probably, but maybe the paperwork could only be done once she had "chosen" the child, which seems fundamentally wrong anyway doesn't it?

If the intentions were so genuine then why did it all appear to be done in a blaze of publicity?
Perhaps the publicity was always going to happen and they felt it best to get some of it out of the way. Perhaps they tried to keep it quiet and failed. Maybe they misunderestimated (as George Dubya would say) the negative publicity they would get. Angelina Jolie has adopted a few underprivileged kids and doesn't seem to have got a load of bad stuff said about her for it.

Some will say that Madonna (or Guy) will have done this for the publicity. I can't see this. I don't think she needs the column inches that much and, call me naive here but, I just don't think she would do something like that.

There are plethoras of people who do oodles of work for charity and less fortunate children yet get no credit or publicity, not that they actually want it. But, if you're a global superstar, doesn't the public crave your every move anyway?

I'm none the wiser really. I'd like to give the Ritchies the benefit of the doubt and wish them well. I hope it all works out and their intentions are good.

If the average person in the street adopts a child no one questions their motives and wonders if they've done it to be trendy.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm so happy 'cos today I found my friends....

Well not my friends actually, more my email. But Kurt didn't write a song about finding email in his head.

What was in my email this morning? I can hear you asking.

The fully and finally mixed tracks from the Mimosa recording session we did weekend before last.

They sound fab.

I'm chuffed.

I love Mimosa.

If anyone wants a listen let me know.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oh Lily you're so fine

On a whim I bought the album that's all the rage here by Lily Allen. It's called "Alright, still". ( I think)

She's a 21 year old geezerbird from London, daughter of Keith Allen, a professional geezer / comedian / musician that most here may know.

It's fucking brilliant. It's a very "London" album, from the language and the scenery she has painted to the people involved. At a stretch I would say it's a very "English" album, and I'm not sure I can see it selling by the bucketload in the US or maybe anywhere outside the UK as it's rammed to the brim with talk of geezers, the filth and Tesco. Lines like:

"A feller looking dapper, but he's sitting with a slapper."

The average foreign Johnny won't have a scooby what that means, will they?

I have a fear that's it a body of music that I'll be bored of soon and it'll sit in my CD collection for years only coming out once in a blue moon. Like that album by the Dream Warriors, the green one.

I hope that doesn't happen, I want to like this for a long time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rudi, a message to you

I started reading a fascinating book about songwriting at the weekend. That is, I started it at the weekend, it's not about songwriting at the weekend. That's for part timers.

I decided that I should try to learn more about song structure and composition mostly because of the songs we have written in Mimosa, which are all team efforts. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to release an album of material with me playing all the instruments and singing. There's nothing worse in my book than a drummer who thinks he's a total allrounder. The only example of a drummer who has done this and come up with music I like is Dave Grohl, but I think I am right in saying that he played guitar before learning the drums. (Theena, you'll know)

No, I'm not going to preach to anyone about the correct way to write a song because of 2 things. The first is the fact that I have only read the first few chapters of the book. The second is that, from the little I have read, I have discovered that there is no magic formula for writing music.

That's the magic formula. All these successful songwriters say that they just go with their instincts and do what comes naturally. Interesting eh?

And also, here's another thing. Keith Richards, Tori Amos and many others see themselves as some kind of "receivers" for songs. They don't think that they actually write them, just that they interpret the messages and signals they receive. Many of the popular and highly successful writers think that the songs are all written and all they do is "pluck" them out of the air.

And I have also learned that some people actually pay attention to the lyrics of a song more than the rhythm.

Fancy that?

Monday, October 16, 2006

The ability to drum doesn't make me a Baila King.

So, here's the story.

This coming Saturday there is one of these London Sri Lankan dinner dance things at one of the hotels. It's organised by one of the thousands of SL associations that arrange these things so that many of the Sri Lankan diaspora can get together, have a half decent meal, a bit of a dance, a good chinwag with some old friends and raise some money for charity. All good stuff and fun will undoubtedly be had by all.

My whole family is going along. Matriarch, Patriarch, myself and both bros, along with wives and probably some friends too. Quite a lethal cocktail of people, and that's just going to be on our table. The day also happens to be the birthday of my Dad and one of my brothers, so it will be a good one. I've always thought that it's a remarkable coincidence, their birthday falling on the same day, but it seems to happen virtually every year.

On Saturday my parents walked the short distance to my house for some reason and, after some preamble, my Dad dropped the bombshell on me. One of those earth shattering ones that are common and probably part of everyday life in North Korea, just not frequent around Teddington, or much of London. Except some of the dodgy areas.

You know the score with these dinner dances don't you? There'll be some band playing those old easy listening songs. "Help me make it through the night", "Island in the Sun" and all those old favourites.

Then, later on, a fairly pissed old Sri Lankan bloke, usually a Doctor but sometimes a leading lawyer or a Captain of Industry, will be thrown up on the stage by friends and family to play or sing some baila. Very occasionally the band will be Sri Lankan and they'll know Baila, but usually they're not. And they don't.

Within seconds the dancefloor is filled by older generation brown people dancing the Baila. A small scattering of English people will be attempting to join in but frankly they just don't have the natural sense of flapping elbows and keeping your hands by your side that we Sri Lankans are brought up with. It's all led by the pissed bloke and the band are doing their best to jam along to something they're wholly unfamiliar with.

That's the scene set now.

Take yourself back to my place with my parents.

"Rhythmic", says the old man.

"Yes Dad", says I.

"I told Aunty R (the chairwoman of the committee and old family friend) that you'd play some Baila on the drums if they need it on Saturday".

"What Dad!!!????"

"I told Aunty R............." he repeats.

"But why? I can't play the Baila", which to me is a perfectly good reason not to volunteer your son to perform in front of all your peers.

"Yes you can" he says. "You were playing it the other day" and he proceeds to sing a baila. The logic being that, if something is sung to me, I can immediately play it on the drums. His singing is very rhythm based, enough for any Sri Lankan son to recognise as a Baila rhythm but not enough to miraculously give me super baila powers.

"Chik kerr de, chik kerr de, chik kerr de, chik kerr, da doong ga de,
chik ker de, chik kerr de, chik kerr da doong ga de........"

Fathers have this amazing ability to think that their children can do anything, I know this as I am one. Just ask your Dad if you doubt me. Not about whether I am a Father but if he thinks you can do anything. He'll say yes. In my Dad's eyes I'm a master drummer, giving regular lessons to Billy Cobham, Dave Grohl and probably Ravibandu too.

The reality is different. Once, about 4 years ago, I had a 5 minute lesson from a nice old chap who was playing at the Triton in a band. I asked him to show me the basic Baila rhythm and he kindly did. I've practiced it a bit and I made the mistake of showing it to the old proud Dad once.

So, here I am. I've got 5 days to master it and then probably won't get asked to play on Saturday anyway. If I don't practice it then that will guarantee that I'll get shoved onto the stage and acclaimed as a master Baila drummer. Until I start playing.

I'll get working then. I'll let you know what happens but, if you're at a dinner dance on Saturday at one of the Heathrow hotels and you hear some chap murdering the Baila on the drums, chances are it'll be me.

Come and say hello.

Oh, and tell my Dad you think the drummer's great. Thanks.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What's in the car this week

1. Grant Chamberlain - Colombo Beast.

I bought this in Colombo. It's got my latest drum hero, Shiraaz Nooramith, on drums. Great Jazz album with top quality musicianship all round. The kind of drumming that makes me smile.

2. Mimosa's unmixed 3 track demo

Because I love it. It's not mixed yet, hence the "unmixed" bit, but it's just wicked. If I could record it again there's a couple of things I'd change in my playing, but overall it's something I'm dead chuffed with.

3. Alun Harries - Back to front

My first good drum teacher's album. I don't know what it's like yet, I only got it today.

4. Dawn Penn - No, no, no.

I got a phone call the other day from a brilliant local singer. The band she fronted for a long time has split and she's looking for a drummer for a one off gig in December. Afterwards there may be other stuff too, depending on the outcome and how the band gets on. It's a mixture of originals and covers and the song "No, no, no" is one of the covers she mentioned. I read that the album features, and is produced by Sly and Robbie, one of the best rhythm sections of all time, so I thought I should revisit it.

5. Bernard Purdie - Master drummers Volume 1

This is 12 tracks of funky drum grooves meant for DJs and samplers to use in their work. It takes a special breed of person to be able to listen to a whole album's worth of just drum kit, nothing else. That breed of person is a total drum bore and that total drum bore is me.

6. Various - Prestige funky beats

A compilation of old funky songs played by old funky drummers. From "Shaft" by Bernard Purdie (see above) to "Super Bad" by Idris Muhammad you just know from the titles and names that there aren't going to be many white geezers on this Mutha.

Groove on down and say "owww".

Friday, October 13, 2006

It's a bit minging now.

My hair.

It's sticking up in some parts and plastered down in other parts. The growth rate has slowed right down as it's passed that initial "spurt".

I'm still being strong and wilful about it and I'm getting through it, day by day. I've got the courage and fortitude to do this.

The worst bit is thinking that people might see me and think I'm one of those blokes with no sense of style at all. I might wear a big sign saying

"Growing Hair, please make allowances".

That'll get the message across.

I've got a gig on Saturday. Oh shit.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sitting at the gate.

About 4 weeks ago whilst sitting in BIA waiting to board my flight back to London I thought that I should record all the thoughts going through my mind, specifically how I felt about coming home. With apologies to all for the poor quality of language but this is pretty much what I wrote in my diary word for word. There are some sentences I may have edited slightly just to make readable but the rest is as I wrote it. It was just what was going through my mind at the time:

"Airport lounge and I'm surrounded by all the people who I'll be spending the next 11 hours with. There's a lot of bright lobster coloured couples on their way home after what has probably been their dream holiday, or even honeymoon. It's funny to think that most of them, like me, have lived a life of luxury and extravagance for their holiday, but we'll all return to the anonymity and hard work of our day to day existences.

Opposite me is a rather majestic looking Archi or Pati, she reminds me of my own special Grandmother who died nearly 20 years ago. Grey hair and saree and a look of supreme elegance and wisdom. She may never have been on a plane before or may be a seasoned and frequent flyer but there's a calmness about her that comes from contentment. Or food poisoning.

There's also a few business types scattered around, probably looking like me, just not as handsome. I'm trying to spot the guy my brother mentioned, who he met last night and is due on this plane, but I can't see him. There's one bloke who fits the bill but just doesn't look stylish enough to be an architect. I've tried to make eye contact with him but he's not having it, so he's probably not the fellow.

I may be wholly incorrect in my visions of all architects displaying a sense of style and panache in their choice of clothes, but it's an assumption I'm happy to live with. In my mind the average architect is one who designs all those picturesque and stylish places, the Bawa looking ones and the exotic and Guggenheim type ones. But, there must be some untrendy and dorkish chaps who spend their life drawing up plans for public toilets and industrial units, like my office. I can't believe, even in my wildest fantasies, that they are people who would be featured in top magazines as epitomes of style and high fashion. I should point out that my wildest fantasies don't actually involve anything dubious like architects and public toilets. No, they are centred around normal stuff like drums and cranes.

Who else can I see? Locals who look as if they are going to London to work and make their fortune. Some of them probably will and may return as captains of industry or Radio 1 DJs. Others won't be so lucky. They'll end up working for one of the smaller radio stations. They all look apprehensive, I wonder if they're judging me as I'm judging them. I feel both admiration and superiority towards them. Admiration for the courage it takes to leave your home and try to better yourself. Superiority because I'm lucky enough to live that life already. Maybe I shouldn't admit to that though.

There are some traveller looking types. A rather cute looking blonde. Cute but in need of a good wash, a definite sign of a backpacker type, as is the backpack.

Just opposite me are a pair of Sri Lankan wannabe hip hop dudes. They make me almost laugh out aloud, they're doing such a crap job of looking cool. One is wearing Nike trainers, jogging pants and a white vest, with a strange goatee thing on his chin. There's lots of jewellery but it's not enough and his baseball cap is perched precariously on his head with the peak facing backwards. It's a look that I see almost every day in Hounslow or Southall on every 14 year old kid who is a couple of years behind the latest thing. But, this bloke is about 35 and he's got a large pot belly under the vest. He may do well to wear jeans and a baggy black shirt next time.

It is amazing really to take in the sheer mass of people at the gate. It's a large crowd and it looks way too large to be on one plane. When you're sitting on the thing you only see the people immediately around you, not everyone else at the other ends of the aircraft.

The journey to the airport was chock full of all the mixed emotions I always get now. Since '83 every time I have left Sri Lanka there's been a little seed of doubt in my mind about whether I'll ever return. It's silly really, I've returned every time and at an increasingly frequent rate. But the island of serendipity pulls at me in a peculiar way. Many Sri Lankans living out of the country say the same. But, I've never even lived here, just fallen for it as I've got older. The airport drive always affects me. I spend so much time in the centre of Colombo and then leave it behind, through fort, over the bridge and I watch the City just kind of dissolve as we head to BIA. It's my last chance to soak up the sights and sounds and smells of my motherland before I hit the mass and organisation of London.

London, with its crap and unpredictable weather, its ability to make almost everyone feel anonymous, its sky high cost of living and all its multi cultural diversity is home and it's been good to me. But still Colombo contains many of my best friends, my favourite places and my best memories.

The airport itself has changed almost beyond recognition in the last 30 odd years, the bulk of that change has taken place in the last 12 months too! When I was a 10 year old coming here it was like something out of a James Bond film, a small tin pot airport with a couple of planes scattered around and hardly anything going on. My how you've grown into a fine chap! Now a true international airport with shops like Odel and Hameedia charging prices far higher than they do in Colombo. Granite flooring done by my good friend all over the place, a BMW raffle thing. Only a 520 mind, you wouldn't catch me driving one of those! It's even got a smoking area now that smoking is banned in all other parts of the building. With only a small stretch of the imagination I can look around and forget which country I'm in. All the old quaintness is gone and it's been replaced by a fully grown international hub of air travel. That is progress. Or so they say.

I'm off then. I've had a superb week with the academic bro. I've got a new found respect for him and only he knows why. I met Electra, Indi et al. That was good. I saw probably the least enjoyable weather I have ever seen in SL, I ate lots and I got to play 4 songs with a band. Weeks don't get much better than that!

Bye Colombo - See you soon I hope."

I'm not really very good at this evocative and poetic style of writing but I'll post this entry anyway. In future I'll stick to drums, cranes, cars and gigs and leave the "proper" stuff to Sach, Electra, IanS, Co25 and those coves.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm really not liking this.

This new trend for saying "I'm really loving this" or "I'm liking that".

What's all that about then?

Just say "I like it".

It's easier and it's correct.

All this McDonalds and Justin speak is crap.

Rant over.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Don't read this.

Unless you're a drummer or you have a vague interest in photography.

I spent most of the weekend ensconced in a studio with Mimosa, that most funky of bands. We had finally managed to synchronise the diaries of all seven of us and the recording of our first proper demo was booked in. We had decided on the songs we would do (always useful) and we had even chosen an extra one just in case we found ourselves with some extra time. The last band practice was spent on polishing up our parts (ooeerrr Missus!) and getting as ready as we could.

On Sunday evening I left the studio with a CD in my hand. The CD had the three tracks in a rough unmixed form because the final mixing will be done this week.

Yesterday, in between sporadic bursts of the mother of all headaches, I did a lot of listening to it and a fair bit of reflection on the studio experience. I think it's a valuable asset to be able to learn from everything and I try to treat any mistake as a positive thing that I can gain from. Trust me here, you won't be interested unless you're quite into music or have a passing interest in photography, but this is what I learnt:

  • Lesson 1 - I should have been a bit more thoughtful about the mix in my headphones. After the set up it is common that the drum parts are put down first. This gives the foundation for all the others to record over. The engineer was a nice and helpful guy but I should have asked him for more drums in my mix. Headphones have to be worn so that the drummer can hear the click and I just didn't have the volume of the drums up loudly enough. The result was that I was playing very much by feel, without hearing all the nuances of exactly what I was playing. The end result was good but I think I could have made it better with that one simple modification.

  • Lesson 2 - I should have listened to my takes with a more critical ear before I said I was happy. I'm totally chuffed with two of the songs, but not so much with the third one. Of course it's the easiest one too. After a few listens to it I definitely think I could have played it better. I was a fraction behind the beat and should have played it with more urgency. I put myself under pressure as I was the first to record and there were six others waiting for me so that they could do their bits. My sense of pride made me want to get done as quickly as possible but I should have listened more carefully and asked to do the one song again.

  • Lesson 3 - I should have put new heads on my toms. Last week whilst tuning my kit I decided that the heads were just about ok for the recording session. They weren't, particularly on one tom. I should have erred the other way and replaced them anyway.

  • Lesson 4 - Have more self confidence. I'm actually a decent player! I made friends with the click and played with it rather than fought with it. So much of my practice is with a metronome that I really am ok with it. Now I have to master the art of pushing and pulling the feel whilst still playing good time.

  • Lesson 5 - I really like my new EOS 400D, but I'm not so sure about the 18-200 lens. On the Saturday I took them along and got a bit frustrated with the lens. The maximum aperture at the 200mm end is only F6.3 and that's often not enough to get a decent shutter speed, even on 1600 ISO, particularly indoors. It's a nice little all round lens, to be kept on the camera and taken out for general purpose stuff, but that's it. On the Saturday I took along my Sigma 70-200 F2.8 and the experience was totally different. The fast aperture gave me a different perspective on things and I got some decent shots of people in the studio. If you look on my flickr account you can see them, the mistiness was purely because I was shooting through a rather grubby window.

Those were the lessons I learnt. All good, all positive and I am really proud of the results.

Oh yeah, we've got a gig tonight, come and have a listen if you're free.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

What I did at the weekend

Get out of my way
Originally uploaded by rhythmicdiaspora.
I spent most of Saturday and Sunday with the Mimosa chaps and our Debs, recording a 3 track demo.

Big fun was had by all. The engineer was also a drummer and he got an excellent drum sound for me, thanks Damon!

We played well and the songs will sound damn fine once the final mix was done. I'm getting almost ok at this drumming thing now. I got my drum tracks down in the first couple of hours and then let the rest of them fight over tones and semi tones and things like that. Playing to a click is fun if you make friends with it!

More pix on my flickr account if you're interested. I may even let you hear it if you're really, really unlucky.

Friday, October 6, 2006

I want Hot Chocolate!!

I was reading someone's blog last night, I honestly can't remember which blog it was, and I saw an amusing exchange of comments between Savi and Savi3. Most in the SL blogosphere are probably aware of them.

But it made me remember that Savi's blog was one of my favourites and I haven't read it for a while. I had a glance and realised it was because it looks like it may have sadly passed away. It hasn't been updated since August and, in this fast paced cyberworld, that is the equivalent of about 24 years of normal life.


So Savi, please start blogging again. I enjoyed reading of life in St Andrews and I miss it. Or are you too busy eating haggis, drinking whisky and wearing kilts to think of us, your loyal readers?

If anyone else misses her then add a comment. There's nothing like a bit of public pressure.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Some useful advice

I thought some of you may find this helpful.

Just in case you ever think my blog isn't educational too!

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Hold on a minute lads.....I've got a great idea.

I was going to call this post "What a great day" or even "What a fucking great day". Yesterday really was that good. But I didn't, largely because one of the things I shall proceed to tell you about has also given me a brilliant idea.

When I started blogging I set out to try to give a positive image of myself. I think I'm a reasonably positive person, I like to think of myself as a bit of an action man, and that's not just the current hairstyle. But, yesterday was a one in a million, a truly joyful day, one which kept me smiling. It was a bit like Sgt Bilko's lucky day, but only fellow Bilko fans will understand that reference.

It all started in the morning, as many of my days do. One of my first "to dos" was to call the shop that I had ordered my new camera and lens from to see what the state of play about my order was. On the previous day the helpful man had told me that the lens was out of stock and wouldn't be in for another 2 weeks at least. Bum.

Mr Canon dealer told me that the camera had been despatched to me and the lens will actually arrive sooner than expected, probably in less than a week. This was better than I had been promised and would have been a sufficient dose of good stuff to do me for a whole day on its own.

Then one of my loyal servants brought me the post for the day and I saw a large box. I opened said large box and found my new camera inside. Yippee and deep joy. The lens thing wasn't a huge dealbreaker as I have a bagful of decent Canon lenses at home which will do fine for now.

I continued opening the post and came across a large yellow envelope. Pardon my language here but, on seeing the contents, I almost did come across it too. Let me elaborate.

For a long time Dominic Sansoni has been my favourite photographer. Adams, Doisneau and Cartier Bresson are all well and good but they're just juniors in comparison. (Embarrassed now?)

I think my admiration for his work is based on a few things but the way he "sees" colour and light is just so different to many other people's view that I find myself staring at his images for a long, long time.

Then there is his choice of subject, often Sri Lanka, its people or wildlife or scenery. If you've read my blog before you'll know about my feelings for Sri Lanka so I won't bore you. If you haven't read my blog before then hello, how are you?

We also have a distant connection. Our maternal Grandmothers were best buddies and I suppose that's a nice personal touch to have too. And I've got loads of Barefoot sarongs.

I have mentioned my appreciation of his work before and recently he asked me for my address to send me some of his work. The more mentally able of you will have realised that the yellow envelope contained the aforementioned work. For the more stupid people well, the envelope was full of Dominic Sansoni's photographs.

How chuffed was I now? What a nice guy and what a nice gesture. They look great and, as we are about to get the office redecorated, they will soon be seen adorning the walls of my Company. I was so, so pleased to get something like that. It was one of those random acts of kindness.

Then, in the evening, I had a top band practice with Mimosa. We are heading into the studio at the weekend to do a 3, or maybe 4, track demo and this was out last rehearsal prior to that. It was good, we sounded good, we felt good and it was an evening full of smiles, laughter and funky music. It's a privilege to know that we will be recording songs which I have helped to write.

Also I got an email from someone else whose work I admire in which he said that he reads and likes my blog. I had no idea he had even glanced at it and it made me rather more happy than I was already, quite a feat. Thanks Mr J.

So a big show of hands to all the people that contributed to my joyful day, some of whom don't even know it, but thanks anyhow.

The idea? Oh yes. Well, all I did was mention Dominic's work and my aprreciation of it a few times, nothing more really.

So I'd just like to say what a fan I am of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. It's lovely and you can email me to get a delivery address.

And OCDP drum kits are really the best ones I have ever seen.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Sri Lankanisms - Number 3 in an occasional series

Another of my favourites. I have not heard it used in the same context anywhere in the world as it's used in Sri Lanka. It's a wonderful expression of acceptance. A linguistic way to shrug one's shoulders and move on to something that one can actually have some influence over.

Many of us spend too much time and effort fighting things we cannot change. My Grandmother used to have that old poem thing on her shelf by her phone. You know, the one that says:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

It's a nice little poem, or whatever these things are called. A bit deep and meaningful for me, but now and again I can appreciate the deep and meaningful stuff.

Most of us just don't possess bucketloads of serenity to help us in making snap decisions on whether to act or not act. Us normal people blunder our way through life sticking our noses into things where we're not wanted or ignoring stuff when we should actually steam in a give it a major overhaul.

Unless we're someone's Grandmother, always a challenge for the more masculine types amongst us. Grandmothers always have a knack of knowing this kind of stuff. Sadly I no longer have any grandparents, but I remember both my Grandmothers had this serenity and wisdom oozing out of their pores. I never knew either of my Grandfathers but, looking at the ones that I do know, it's clear that their role is to float around in the background and make grandchildren smile and roar with laughter at regular intervals.

As I've got older I've witnessed my parents becoming grandparents. It's quite a challenge to look at my Mum and Dad and think that my kids will think of them as wise old birds full of knowledge and worldly advice.

Actually, my eldest who's 12, already goes to my Mum and asks her for advice about various things. She runs off to her moaning about how strict I am and how I never listen to her and never let her do what she wants. Little does she know that my parents used to treat me exactly the same way, so there's no point in going to them.

I mean, my Dad has got the Pussycat Dolls' latest album and plays gigs in a local wine bar, Mum supports Liverpool and spends half her life wearing an England football shirt. I rest my case. Oh, and my Mother in Law, the other grandparent of my kids', is totally mad too. I don't want to be seen as unfair.

I'm rambling and for that I must apologise. I should tell you the phrase that has come in at number 3. You've probably glanced down and read it already anyway.

"What to do?"

That uniquely Sri Lankan way of accepting and moving on. Lovely!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Wir sind dann Helden fur diesen tag!

Last night's gig with the covers band was a blinder. The setlist, with the original artist's names, was this:

Set 1
  1. I feel good - James Brown
  2. Rebel rebel - David Bowie
  3. Little wing - Jimi H
  4. Dancing in the moonlight - Thin Lizzy
  5. In the crowd - Jam
  6. Two Princes - Spin Doctors
  7. Fragile - Sting
  8. Golden Years - David Bowie
  9. Smooth criminal - Alien Ant Farm version
  10. Under the bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP)
  11. By the Way - RHCP
  12. Lucy in the sky with diamonds - John, Paul, Ringo and George

Set 2

  1. Californication - RHCP
  2. Sha la la la lee - Small Faces
  3. Can't explain - The Who
  4. Fire - Jimi H
  5. China Girl - David Bowie
  6. Watching the Detectives - Elvis Costello
  7. From the floorboards up - Paul Weller
  8. Dani California - RHCP
  9. Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
  10. Purple Haze - Jimi H
  11. Tell me Baby - RHCP
  12. Play that funky music - Wild Cherry
  13. Hum da bump - RHCP

Yes, a shitload of Chili Peppers songs, but they go down really well and we do a fine job of playing them, even if I say it myself.

Other than that it was quite a mixed set, the pub was a lively little place and a good time was had by all. Me and AL (the bassist) are grooving along nicely.

I just thought I'd let you know.