Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dark Brown, Silky And A Bit Tasty

It's a bit unmanly to say such a thing but I've always been a fan of chocolate and I'm not talking about that song by that lot that Child of 25 likes either.

I'm no connoisseur of the stuff but I know what I like. Some years ago I went with the girls to a chocolate factory in France, no it hadn't melted. We were given a tour, told exactly how the stuff was made and about the craftmanship that goes into it, all about the percentage of cocoa and technical things.

Sadly I understood fuck all as it was in French, but I was told about it afterwards. Anyway, the whole point of this "tour" was a cynical ploy to get the parties into the gift shop where we'd all pay extortionate amounts for bars of this handmade chocolate. I was wise to the plot and escaped things, only buying a small bar of fruit and nut plain chocolate for the bargain price of about £25. Frankly it was unimpressive. It tasted good, just not £25 worth of good.

But I'm firmly a plain chocolate type of chap and I'm mightily pleased that plain chocolate is high on the agenda in the UK. A few years ago we could buy any type of milk chocolate we wanted, you name it and it was on the shelf of almost any supermarket, but we were confined to Cadbury Bournville and the occasional other brand of plain plain chocolate. That wasn't a typo either. I meant plain chocolate that was plain, not fruit and nut or anything similar.

One of the things I loved about going to France, and most people here in the south of England do it about 9 times a month, was the availability of plain fruit and nut chocolate. Every supermarket, or hypermarket, had an aisle full of the stuff and it was all great quality and delicious.

These days we can get it in the UK too. Any Tesco has a large selection of the plain stuff and the manufacturers are bringing out new types of plain bar all the time. Cool. There's even a plain chocolate Flake and a plain variation of Kit Kat. things are on the up.

But my old favourite, even though it's banned in the US or illegal in Afghanistan or whatever, is Cadbury's Dairy Milk. Something about the taste that feels like home. Perhaps it's the gorilla thing!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ikea -1, Microsoft - 0

Lately I've been developing a fascination with all things Ikea. All this furnishing and buying of stuff has become a new and exciting challenge, as are many things these days.

Over the past years I've usually liked Ikea and many of the things it sells. I like the way it makes no bones about the price and the whole concept of less labour and less staff. I like the feel of looseness to it and I like Swedes. Not as much as Danes or potatoes but I still like them.

But I hate going to an Ikea store. They're always crowded, they're always in a place that's easy for most of the country to get to. What's all that about? It's as if they want to get crowds of people there to spend money or something.

Lo and behold. There I was a few weeks ago, perusing the Ikea catalogue and I saw a thing about online ordering, something I had thought they didn't facilitate. It looked to be the perfect answer to my problem. There'd be no traffic involved, no borrowing a van from work and certainly no mixing with crowds of poor quality people and fighting over the last flat packed wardrobe with a vaguely scandinavian sounding name.

I went online, I bought far more stuff than I can afford and I sat back and waited for the expected delivery date to come around. All of this needed a computer but, as I've got an Apple MacBook I think it's safe to say that I managed it without Mr Gates' help at all.

A couple of years ago I recall reading that Mr Ikea was the richest man in the world and had overtaken Bill Gates. This was a temporary thing as the dollar had crashed and the Swedish Rupee was worth a few quid, or something like that, I'm no economist, though you're probably suprised at that.

The thing is that I've been thinking lately about Mr Gates versus Mr Ikea and which of the two of them has done more for the world. The answer is obvious and the evidence is there for all to see. Mr Ikea's the clear and undisputed winner.

Bill may have given us the PC and brought computing to the masses, he may give all his income to charity now and he may be a marvellously nice chap. His credentials are good, his pedigree is unquestionable and his impact is big.

Bjorn however, is a different matter. The average home has 47.6 pieces of Ikea furniture in it and that doesn't include those drinking glasses with the stripes on them. Compare that with computers, of which there are 1 or 2 in every house and maybe a laptop or 2.

There's a whole endless cycle of things going on. Ikea's online shopping requires access to a computer. But, and I think you'll find my point beyond question, where would you be if you didn't have a chair to sit on while you were at your computer? Or how on earth would anyone exist without a desk lamp from Ikea?

Did you know this incredible fact? Worldwide, at any given time, there are exactly the same amount of Ikea Allen Key spanner things in use as there are PC laptops. I found it hard to believe myself but it's true, I read it somewhere.

Or are you fascinated by the names and little bits of writing about all the designers in the Ikea catalogue? Names and pictures of blonde and attractive looking twenty something Swedes with some words on the approach that they took to designing a new chair:

"I wanted to rethink the traditional view of what a chair should do, so came up with this. I spent many hours just looking at chairs, trying to bring freshness and colour to the traditional seating device and have invented this. We call it the "Tajvitor"."

And I may have confused myself a little bit with the speech mark thing too.

The PC, Windows and all that geekish stuff are all well and good, they serve a purpose and they do benefit a few.

But there's only one Ikea and it gets my vote everytime.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Is Resistance Futile?

I've noticed, over the last few months, maybe a year or so, that many of the blogs I used to read regularly are being updated less frequently. I had assumed that this was because of the writers being busy with other things, moving onto different stages in life and just not having the time to blog.

Then there's this Facebook thing that may just catch on. Now every fucker under the sun is on Facebook. I go to a band practice with Mimosa and the guys chat about the latest happenings on their "walls" on Facebook, they talk about the new things that can be done, of how many "friends" each of them has got, something I'm not comfortable with.

I had thought that Facebook was something just for the younger crowd, but no, there are plenty of, shall we say more mature, people on it too. I was sitting in Colombo the other day chatting with one of the city's sexiest women and she told me that she was on Facebook, to keep in contact with members of her family around the world. This rather stunned me and since then I have continually been surprised by its apparent level of growth.

My latest thinking on the subject has led me to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons many bloggers are posting less is because they're posting, or whatever the equivalent is, on Facebook. So many of these blogs have ceased to be the thing that gets updated on a regualar basis while Facebook gets all the attention.

The internal jury, the one that operates in my head and occasionally comes up with a verdict, is firmly out on the question of whether FB is a good thing or a bad thing. One of the biggest and most cunning reasons that it's out is because of the fact that FB can't be investigated without signing up, or becoming a member or a wall or whatever I would become. And then I'd be caught in the trap, I'd be one of them, or one of you, which I currently don't want to be. As Cerno would say, vut to dooo?

The biggest question mark over the goodness, or badness, of Facebook is the "friends" issue. The line, that thick black one that used to exist, between a real friend and a virtual friend, is not just becoming grey but is now the lightest shade of grey possible and shaped far more like a big fluffy cloud than a straight line. I bet we've all witnessed FB people chatting casually with each other and desperately trying to find out how many "friends" they've got to see who's the most popular.

I used to think that they couldn't be real friends if you haven't met them and don't know them personally, now I'm just not sure. I've met so many people through the blogging thing, many of whom started as email, blogging and comment relationships and they've turned into genuine and true friends. So I think making friends is wholly plausible via the virtual world, but fundamentally disagree with the "I'm better than you because I've got more Facebook friends than you" thing that is all the rage.

Currently I'm resisting the urge, I'm fighting for the resistance and may be the last man standing. Watch this space though, it may not last long before I jump over to the other side, before I leap over the wall.

I'll turn the lights off before I leave though.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


After reading Indyana's post I've decided to unashamedly copy the idea and do my own one. I won't tag anyone but I think we could start a trend of people writing miscellany about themselves and linking back to the post they read it from.

  • I'm childishly passionate about many things.

  • I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing

  • I start work pretty early but can never get used to waking up early

  • I try to be positive as much as I can

  • I usually have at leaast two books on the go at any given time

  • I love meeting other bloggers and have met a few

  • Rice and curry is my favourite food

  • I find it easier to write than to talk, I guess it's because I can think before I type.

  • I love Sri Lanka and Colombo

  • I make lots of mistakes, I like that in me.

  • My favourite colour is red

  • Sometimes I think that the whole blogging thing is a bit weird

  • I always prefer warm weather to the cold stuff

  • I lost my virginity at the age of 37

  • If I had to choose one motivational saying type of thing to live my life by it would be that "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.." one.

  • Oh, and I don't always tell the truth.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    When You're a Boy

    The aftermath has landed. I'm alone after dropping the two delightful walking bags of female hormones back to their mother.
    Today started, as so many of them do, with good intentions. A trip to the Science Museum was on the cards and we had found an big area of commonality; 11 and 13 year old girls and their 41 year old Dads are both keen on the thought of an interactive spying exhibition, in which you're trained in spycraft before being set off to complete your mission. To be fair I was slightly more keen on the idea than them but that's hair splitting of the highest order.

    But us boys don't take 9 hours to get ready do we?

    A quick crap, some toothbrushing and a shower, a bit of deodorant, a splash of the cologne stuff if you're a new man, which of course I am, just old, some clothes on and we're ready to go. And, it may be too much detail but the morning was a crapless one for me, so I was even quicker.

    Then I waited. What on Earth do you girls do in the bathroom. I got the vague idea there was make up, hair, more make up and more hair and then the process, rather like a Guns and Roses song, was repeated ad infinitum. By ad infinitum I mean just enough time for me to suggest that we didn't have the time to go to the science museum. That was rescheduled and we're now heading there in a couple of weeks time. Off we went to see a film instead.

    In line with one of my latest fads, that of searching in everything that happens to me for a lesson, I've decided that the lesson in this episode is that I must make them get ready earlier, instead of relying on their good judgement and common sense to be prepared at the alloted departure time.

    We saw a film, came back and lounged around, in a rather enjoyable fatherly and daughterly way. Then I dropped them back and am now sitting here surveying the scene. At one point I caught myself saying:

    "No daughter of mine's going out with breasts like that"

    I really did, I stopped and we laughed but it's not a phrase I ever thought I'd be saying, for so many reasons.

    I've got a beef and potato curry simmering away on the cooker, I'm due to meet a couple of good friends for a few beers in an hour or so and life feels, smell and is damn good.

    But there's a big tidy up looming, clearing up girls' mess and getting back to a semblance of tidiness.

    And it occurs to me that, when I was 11 or 13, I was just a boy. Life was easy. I'd stare at girls, without the faintest clue about what might happen next if one showed any interest in me. I'd listen to music and walk around bumping into furniture. Thirty odd years later my life is pretty much the same.

    Girls at that age have a whole plethora of other things to contend with.

    Arse Washer

    I've arrived.

    Someone googled those words and was led to my arse wiping post.

    Also I had the classic "Length of time for dead cat body to become stiff" the other day.

    They fascinate and intrigue me. Was the arse washer perhaps looking for a job, or maybe a machine to do the job for him?

    And why would anyone want to know how long it takes for a dead cat's body to become stiff? Well, apart from me a few weeks ago I suppose.

    Other ones that have caused me to smile:

    "Barefoot frog fetish" - Has someone got a fetish for frogs sold in Barefoot or is it a fetish for walking around barefoot in a sea of frogs? Either way it's something I'm uncomfortable with.

    "Instructions for wiping your bum" - Leaps of logic and assumptions can be dangerous but I assume this person knew how to use the internet, how to type and how to search the net for certain things. But they searched for bum wiping instructions. Why?

    "Medical help for men peeing on the bathroom floor" - My mind went into overdrive on this one. Was it an angry wife, totally frustrated with her husband peeing all over the floor when he was drunk one night? Was it the husband who had been so pissed that he had forgotten to lift up the toilet seat before peeing? Why did they end up here? I can't remember writing anything related to the subject at any time.

    "Sexiest Sri Lankan lady" - A proud moment. To think that someone may have read my blog and taken my opinions into account before deciding on this high ranking position. I'm honoured and chuffed.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Gawd help my friend!!!

    So a "friend" of mine, a chap I admire greatly in fact, told me this story. He's an almost divorced bloke, an incredibly good looking musician type and he's got two daughters, aged 11 and 13.

    Apparently he texted their Mother to ask about collecting them tonight as he's got them for the night and is taking them out tomorrow. The text was about finer details and not really important, but the response was scary and filled my friend with fear and trepidation. It said this:

    "I don't envy you. Good luck with them, 13yr old's got her period and 11 yr old's got PMT".

    My friend is positively shitting bricks, he's more nervous than a BA pilot who's been instructed to follow the plane in front, the one with the Sri Lankan flag on it.

    Life would be so simple if it wasn't for women, periods and all that stuff!

    Looking Blue!

    I decided to give LLD a change of look. You know that, because you're reading it.

    I've often thought about where the line can be drawn, if at all, between the comfort of familiarity and the freshness of change. The most likely answer is that each individual has their own opinion on it, but I do find it interesting.

    Many of the blogs I read regularly are like old friends. I feel reassured and cosseted to have a peek at Tiny Little Fractures and see the railway line at the top as it winds its way into the distance. The busyness of Cerno's pad has a feel all of its own, one that I like and suits his blog, but I don't recollect seeing anywhere else.

    But on the other hand Julesonline has just had a facelift and it's looks fresh and the new colour scheme and layout give it a new lease of life.

    Clearly there are no rules, it's all subjective.

    One of the things I would like to know is what you think is the ideal number of other blogs to link to. If I see a blog that's got links to every blog in the world in one of its sidebars then I usually can't be bothered to scroll through them and click on one. Too few links and it feels to me as if the blogger isn't giving a good service to the readers.

    Any opinions on this would be welcome.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    About The Whole Egg Boiling Thing

    If you're a regular you'll know that I'm trying to learn to cook, out of necessity and desire. I've got to a level now of having about ten things in my repertoire. Hardly the standard of Indyana or someone but I'm reasonably pleased with the progress.

    So far I've concentrated on the things that I consider as essentials; chicken curry, beef and potato curry, dhal and then a few dishes that the girls will happily eat. There's a couple of western dishes in the armoury for me too, just in case I have a sudden inexplicable desire to eat something bland.

    I'm struggling with some of the basics though and the other night there was some fun and games involving eggs, a prawn curry and me. Here's the score.

    I'd made a prawn curry on Wednesday evening. It was a spur of the moment move, I'd opted to cook for me rather than to eat the bolognese or chilli con carne thing that I'd cooked up for the girls. I say bolgnese or chillie con carne because they're not really that different, there's just a can of kidney beans and some cumin that separates them to be honest.

    Quantity isn't one of my chosen fields. I can cook stuff but most of it is made in enough quantity to feed a medium sized town. The balance of flavours is invariably ok, but the amount of food prepared is always sufficient for a few days more. The prawn curry was no exception to this. I gorged myself silly with it and was left with at least enough for another meal.

    Thursday night was going to be the second night, I claculated that the addition of a hard boiled egg would fill out the curry, making plenty for a hearty dinner.

    That's when I found out about boiling eggs the hard way. Or rather that's when I didn't find out, because it's quite hard, and they don't teach you about it on the cookery programmes.

    I boiled some water, remembering to leave the egg in the water. Then, when the water started to boil, I turned it down a bit and set my vastly over priced but highly trendy kitchen timer to about 5 minutes and waited. As the bell pinged I took the egg out of the water and attempted my new method of peeling an egg, as seen on Jamie Oliver a few weeks ago. I used to like Jamie Oliver, particularly with him being a drummer and all. After trying his egg peeling thing I can only conclude that he must be a guitarist, there's no other explanation. Or just a tosser.

    On one of his programmes he showed this way of peeling an egg that took about 2 seconds. It involved holding the egg with your hand clenched and then smashing the egg downwards in your fist, then rolling your fist backwards and forwards on the work surface. It's a bit hard to describe but the theory is that you end up with and egg and some shell that comes away from the egg in a matter of seconds.

    We all know about "in theory". I tried it and ending up with runny egg all over my fingers and a work surface that looked like one of those griddles in a fast food place. There were bits of egg shell floating everywhere and I was getting the firm idea that this egg wasn't going anywhere near my mouth. Some people might take a blinkered view of this and say that blame should lie at my door for not cooking the egg for long enough. I say that's rubbish and kick the blame firmly in the direction of Mr Oliver.

    I cleared up the mess, runny egg white, tepid yolk and shell. All went in the bin and I started the boiling thing again. Sparing no expense I went for a fresh egg, the recycling brigade would have a heart attack at the thought but I was in a generous mood. I threw the egg in the water and set the timer to 6 minutes, an extra minute should ensure that the egg would be suitably hard boiled.

    The timer pinged, I took out the egg and went for the "Jamie". There was more confidence and a bit of swagger in my approach. I thought that I needed to go for it, the extra minute would take care of the egg and the firmness of touch as I banged the egg in fist on the work surface would help with the peeling.

    In theory.

    Seconds later I was mopping up another runny and eggy mess from my kitchen worktop. A chap can love an egg but times like this are testing ones indeed. I abandoned the egg in the prawn curry plan, the prawns on their own were fine tasting and eggs just weren't going to do it for me. Of course I realised that the problem was because I'd hurled the egg in the already boiling water, I hadn't put it in cold water and started from scratch.

    I'm not sure on this egg boiling business. Anyone know how to do it?

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    More About Energy

    In recent months I've become highly interested and rather fascinated about the concept of people exuding, or draining, energy.

    I'd never thought of it all my 28 (!) years before. I'd paid no attention to the way in which some chaps give off a positive and infectious aura, they just have that quality that makes people want to do things and they pass on enthusiasm naturally.

    I often look at famous people and fantasise about working under them, not in a "working under Jennifer Aniston" sort of way either.

    Richard Branson is one such chap. There's something about his "atmosphere" that makes me feel as if I'd love to work for him. Of course, I hope I never have to be traditionally employed by a company again, but I'm sure you understand my reasoning.

    On the other side of things, there are quite a few people that have a complete energy draining effect on me. A few of them are people I've known for years, I'm genuinely fond of them in many ways, just not fond of the way they seem to make me feel.

    It sounds like a crazy dichotomy, the fact that I can be fond of someone yet not like the effect that they have on me, but I'll try to explain this one.

    There's one person in particular who has worked for me for about 15 years, virtually since the start of the company. I'm fond of him in a slightly fatherly way. I've seen him go through marriage, divorce, crazy relationship problems, work issues and more or less anything else you can think of. And it's not just that I've seen him go through all of this, I've tried to help him as much as I can and he's also asked for help in different ways.

    But he's the type who has a dark thunder cloud above his head wherever he goes. According to him nothing good, nothing happy and very little joyous stuff ever happens in his life. His only way of responding to the "How are you?" question is by telling the soon to be uninterested party about all the bad things that happened yesterday. His first name is "Doom", his surname is "Gloom" and his middle name must be "And".

    Yet it's only recently that I've realised he has a negative effect on me. I used to just think, like most others who work with him, "Oh God here we go again", every time we interract, which is a good few times a day. All of a sudden I realised that he makes me feel as if someone has sapped my energy. Or more importantly, he actually saps my energy.

    My solution to this is to try to minimise contact with him. On the work side I have to communicate with him, but I now keep it businesslike, I don't ask him about his welfare unless I want an injection of negative energy. I think the plan is working. I wonder if it's a bit mercenary, a bit selfish as I'm thinking of myself and not him in any way.

    I suppose we all go through big events in our life, as I have done recently. These events can often teach us lessons, if we want to learn lessons that is. One thing I've learnt is who my genuine friends are. There are people who I had expected to stand by me who've deserted me quicker than I thought possible, people who I had really thought of as close friends. Then there have been others who I had thought would run a mile who have been great just to chat with and who have been happy to lend an ear when needed.

    I've also realised that the last thing I've wanted is to sit down and have a long heart to heart with someone who's got an air of misery about them. I don't want to pour my heart out to some kind of cheesy Mr Positivity type either, just to get a nice balance. Well, come to think of it I don't really want to pour my heart out anyway, but if I did then I'd want to do it to feel better not worse.

    I'm kind of rambling here, unlike the proper writers who most likely start out with a good plan for their posts, I've just chucked words down as they've come into my head, there's no conclusion, no dramatic or serious point to be made and no highly contentious statement for anyone to pick holes in.

    But, it's Monday morning. There are energy drainers and there are energy givers. I know which type I want to be and I know which type I want to mix with.

    And by the way, if you ever get to meet Java Jones, he's one of those positive energetic types for sure.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Recently in the Lankan Blogosphere

    What's been going on?

    The big news is Ian's suit. It's white. Can we all say "aah aah aah aah staying aliiiive"?

    Almost as big news is the debate, if it can be called that, going on at Indi's place. Sittingnut has launched a series of personal attacks on Indi and his family, accusing them of all sorts of mad things. One good thing about it is the fact that Indi has confessed to the killing of Nicole Simpson. I always thought that there just wasn't enough evidence that OJ did it.

    Java has even written a post that has been prompted by sittingnut's vituperative comments. I learned what the word "vituperative" means.

    Over at The Black Lullaby stories and allegations of hacking and devious plots are unravelling, frankly I haven't got a clue what exactly is going on but it's something to do with themissingsandwich and hacking and things.

    Sach's post about virginity continues to attract unsurprising interest.

    "The huge fuss made about virginity is a load of bollocks" says our heroine. I'm not sure whether she meant that to be a funny line, but I laughed so much that I almost lost mine.

    To follow it up Sach's been going to the cinema and perving over courting couples. Meanwhile over in Glasgow Darwin has been having cold showers. I'm developing a theory on this. It's a tenuous one but bear with me. Perhaps it was Darwin and the Russian in the cinema sitting behind Sach and the cold shower was much needed to calm Darwin's passions. Ah yes, I have the makings of a detective for sure.

    Outstation Life has become West Country Life and our Bea is getting ready for wedlock, sending out invitations and eating geese.

    Cerno has been spilling the beans on the inner workings of Sri Lankan politics. His post relates to events from some months ago but is still relevant. I think its a tad on the optimistic side to think that Sri Lankan politics has cleaned up its act since then! Cerno probably won't be invited for any more of those types of dinner but I have a feeling he won't be that bothered.

    Achcharu was down for a short while. There is a rumour that a poet hacked into it, as yet unsubstantiated. In fact the rumour was as yet unstarted, but now I've started it, I think. There was panic from Darwin, Java and myself as we all wondered if the problem was with our own settings or if everyone was experiencing the same symptoms. Thousands of emails were exchanged and I'm sure many of Ach's other regulars were going through the same things. Drac finally escaped from his shed, where he had been locked in by a chap who looked like William Shakespeare, and freed Ach from the Bard's evil clutches for all of us to enjoy again.

    There was a plethora of blog posts about nature and the environment on blog action day, or whatever it was called. I can't remember the exact name but I read many and DO think it was a great idea to increase awareness. Child of 25's superbly written and thought provoking post went to the top of my list. He's a man of conviction, but may consider starting not killing scorpions as a way of contributing!

    Ravana, one of those fellows whose blog always gets lots of attention and I wish would publish more posts, bunged up this beauty. He clearly outlines the terrible hardship and turmoil that poor Malaka Silva must be going through. Apparently he's recently been released on bail of Rs 50,000. That's a lot of money and is sure to guarantee the safety of everyone in Colombo's nightclubs. Let's face it, it can't easy suffering the kind of persecution he faces on a day to day basis and most of us can probably genuinely sympathise a bit now that his Sri Lankan Mother has got involved. Hell hath no fury like a Sri Lankan Mother, except perhaps an Aunt.

    To round up the round up there are couple of blogs that are sort of new. Well, one is revived and one I think is new. Hot Chocolate, one of my favourite blogs, is back. I'm unsure exactly why I've always found this so readable, I don't know S, the author, at all. But she's risen from the ashes, like a mathematical phoenix, due to public demand (Cerno) she's changed the colour scheme and I hope she stays, in the words of those Take That boys, back for good.

    And the new one that caught my eye and made me laugh out aloud is the very own blog of Mahinda Rajapakse. It really is the funniest blog I've read for quite a while and I urge anyone to check it out.

    Those are the ones that have caught my attention in the last couple of weeks. If you'd like to be included in the future just send me a Britney Spears or Jennifer Aniston lookalike, or the real thing. Or a pair of drumsticks should do the trick.


    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    How Long is Good For you?

    I heard a ongoing debate on the radio about how long people wear a pair of jeans for before washing them.

    I was amazed and feel a need to do some research on this. I always wear one pair of jeans for several weeks before they hit the washing machine. Unless I have a client meeting I wear them for work, gigs, band practice and more or less everything. I do change into a sarong at night of course. A Barefoot one.

    I believe in this as a rough policy. Rough because I think it works in a climate like the British one. In Sri Lanka I change my jeans far more regularly, what with the humidity and pants activity and all. I also think that newly washed jeans look like crap, they need a few days of wearing in before they even begin to look natural.

    How about you?

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Sri Lankan Drivers!

    When I got into work yesterday I went through my normal routine. I won't bore you with details of it, but it's relevant to this post because it involves turning on the radio and sitting at my desk, although the sitting at my desk bit isn't relevant unless you want to get a mental image of what I was doing. Why you'd want to get a mental image of me sitting at my desk is frankly, a mystery to me. You must be some sort of perv or something.

    But, now I've set the scene, I'll tell you what happened. I listened to the news on the radio. It mentioned a plane crash at Heathrow. This immediately got my attention and I listened carefully. I'm fond of Heathrow, have pretty much lived all my life within a stone's throw of it, or certainly within a distance that means I never struggle to fall asleep because of aircraft noise nearby.

    And a plane crash is big, often sad news, anywhere.

    This time the big thing that got my ears as such was the words

    "Involving a British Airways Jumbo and a Sri Lankan Airlines Airbus".

    I heard almost immediately that it was merely a very minor collision on the runway, wings had been clipped and my next thought was of the inconvenience for the passengers. Off loading and waiting for another plane and all the hassle for the people tht may have had connecting flights and the like.

    But then my mind went off on one. A Sri Lankan Airlines plane, crashing, presumably piloted, or driven, by a Sri Lankan. My God the comedic possibilities were endless. What could have been the cause of this accident? I mean it's not as if Sri Lankan drivers are any different to any others in the world is it?

    What would the British Airways pilot, or the Sri Lankan airlines pilot fill out on the accident claim form?

    "I saw the Sri Lankan pilot put his arm out of the window and beckon with his right arm in a cupping motion. I thought he was telling me it was safe to overtake."

    "As I procceded through the green light the Sri Lankan plane came from the other direction and drove straight through a red light. He tooted his horn."

    "Although it was my plane and I was supposed to be in it, it was actually my driver who was driving and he is now absconding" (said the SL pilot in case you were puzzled there)

    "No I didn't think the BA plane would pull out because I had horned to tell him I was about to overtake."

    "I couldn't stop the SL plane in time because we had seventeen times its maximum payload on board."

    "I had my hazard lights on and the Sri Lankan plane seemed to think that meant I was going straight on."

    "I heard a horn, saw the Sri Lankan plane pull out in front of me with no signalling, then the pilot started to gesticulate at me for not stopping in time."

    "We had the President on board and I assumed the whole of the airport had been closed to all others so that we could take off."

    And so on.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Yearning For Colombo

    As we face the British winter I've become conscious of something that I battle against every year. It's the battle of the nights drawing in and the mornings drawing out.

    I'm a fellow who likes a good lie in, but I wake up at about 6 AM normally, am at my desk at about 7 AM and am usually in the office until about 6 PM. It's stuff I choose to do so I'm not seeking sympathy or anything.

    The thing is that I can do it very easily when the weather is nice, when I leave home in sunshine and get back in the sunshine. I can even do it comfortably when the weather's not nice but it's still daylight. What I struggle with though is the dark.

    Getting out of bed when it's dark, driving to work in the dark and sitting at my desk being vaguely aware that there is a day going on out there. Finishing work and driving home in the dark and spending the rest of my awakeness in darkness is hard work. When the clocks go back it just gets worse and dusk shows up sometime shortly after lunch.

    I find myself yearning for Colombo, for its warmth and smell, for its taste and adventure. For the sense of excitement and sexiness that it stirs. I long for its sound and its huskiness, for the long nights and the longer days.

    Its nice and reassuring to have the thoughts and images, the memories and the sensations to pull out whenever I want. It makes me glow to think that I've got access through so many methods.

    With mobiles, the net, email and cheap flights the world is definitely a smaller place that it used to be.

    It makes my life better and I like it, but I'm not sure if that makes the world a better place.

    Arse Psychology

    This comment stunned me, not in the fact that I felt at all insulted nor offended, just that someone would be that bothered.

    I've been looking at it for a while and it genuinely makes me smile and laugh.
    Can anyone out there offer any type of explanation?

    "when will you lay off your pathetic self righteous self.
    You wuss with moderation I bet you get lot of sayings.
    Have you clicked on your blog like crazy for it to go up to popular posts today?
    I bet you will not have the balls post this comment"

    A mystery.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Easy On a Sunday Morning

    Laptops are good. I can lie in bed, sarong floating somewhere, listening to that typical British loud stillness of a Sunday morning while I type a post about nothing in particular.

    The day ahead is filled with good things. Some serious practice for both bands, some exercise and a visit to an old friend that I'm aniticipating with excitement and apprehension.

    I started to listen to the background a few minute ago. It's still and quiet. There's the occasional distant hum of a vehicle, the drone of a bus or the higher pitched purr of a powerful car. I heard a plane take off and wondered if it was the first one of the day's hundreds leaving Heathrow. Was it a 747 full of the usual mix of people going to New York or was it a little 737 going to Spain with a load of tourists?

    What was the feeling and atmosphere on the plane? I'm sure the passengers had arrived a the airport hours ago, full of exhilaration and enthusiasm about the time to come.

    The sound of the London suburbs on a lazy Sunday morning is so contrasting to the sound I know I'd witness if I were in the heart of Colombo. Here all is still, there's no constant horning, no permanent diesel rumble, none of that continual noise that I miss whenever I get back to London. Yet, I adore both soundtracks and they're both part of my life.

    And I can't seem to comment on any wordpress blogs right now, which is annoying. I saw a post that someone had written about this a little while ago and I guess it's over zealous spam blocking, or just discrimination against drummers! If you're reading this Java, Theena and Naz, you may just find some comments from me lurking in your spam box. Please release me or I'm going to have to change my name or something.

    On a final note, many happy returns to Darwin. I hope your year is a great one.


    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Which Detective?

    Not my idea, I heard it on the radio the other day, but it got me thinking.

    If you were murdered which TV detective would you want to work on the case?

    I'd choose Columbo, for so many reasons.

    Who would you choose?

    Spacing and Stuff

    Does anyone else have this fucking frustrating thing where you write a post on one PC, then use a Mac as well and find that the spacing gets totally messed up?

    I've done some research, well as much as my total lack of geekiness allows, and discovered that it's something to do with IE, Safari and text editing. I've also discovered that quite frankly all that means absolutely fuck all to me.

    It's a problem that annoys me. I'll write a post at work, edit it at home, maybe look at it again the following day at work and play with it a bit. I do the preview thing and it looks nice and presentable, then,when I publish it, it looks like someone has crept in and stolen the spaces between the lines, or often added a load more to give me about 3 lines' of space between each line of text.

    I know this blogger software isn't liked by many people but I'm not sure if it's a blogger, a Safari or an IE problem, or a combination. It's annoying though and it's bugging me.

    Any ideas?

    Have a good weekend all.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    About This Blogging Thing

    I like the whole area of blogging.

    It's nice and relaxing at times to jot down a thought or two, to tell a few "regulars" what I've been up to and what's going on. Some of the blogs I read regularly are fascinating and stimulating, rather like one of Britney's better videos, Slave 4U perhaps.

    Cerno's post about having the time to blog got me thinking a little. When I started my blog I only had one preconceived notion; that I'd try to keep things positive, not rant and rave about things or people and not make it a "moaning" blog, and outlet for negativity. The rest was a freeform thing and I had no idea that I'd gain a bit of a readership.

    As time has gone on, which I find it does except in Dr Who or Back to the Future, I've developed some more principles that I apply to my blog. They're my own principles and they may or may not apply to you. If you haven't got a blog then they won't apply to you for sure.

    The strongest one is that I don't want to sail through my everyday life thinking about whether I should do a blog post about everything that happens to me. I'm quite content to have an experience and think that it might be interesting to write about but I don't want to analyse everything in my life in terms of its "blogability".

    It means that London, Lanka and drums is not as fascinating as many of the blogs I read regularly. Java sent me an email the other day with the name of a new blog he has found that he recommended. I checked it out and it really was a great one, instantly readable and instantly captivating. But something about it bothered me and after some thinking I realised what it was.

    It was the fact that the girl who writes it appears to spend as much time writing about her life as she does living her life, that she thinks of life as one big blog post. That's cool, fine and dandy, but it's not how I want to be.

    I was on holiday in Poland last year and one of the thing that struck me was the way I saw many tourists taking photographs of the sights of Gdansk. Lots of these people were rushing around from one place or one building to the next and taking picture after picture, hardly looking and hardly experiencing with their own eyes and hardly feeling things for themselves. They'd see everything through a lens, on a viewing screen on their camera in the evening back at the hotel, but they wouldn't remember it for real.

    That's my big judgement call for my blog.

    I want to live life, experience things for myself and really feel them happening and love, hate or anything in between them. I want to climb Sigiriya, feel the wobbly steps, really look at the view from the top and really get attacked by bees and really feel what it's like. Then, if I fancy it, I might do a post about it.

    None of this living for blogging stuff, certainly no rushing up there, taking a few snaps and rushing back down to do a post about it.

    So my advice to Cerno is just to get on with life and enjoy it, then blog about it whenever he's got the time.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2007

    It's Tag Nice Week on Ach

    Java, the wise old owl, published this post in which he talks about the way many leave negative and personal comments on people's blogs, how they can be hurtful and vituperative. Now I have to tell you, for the sake of transparency, that I hadn't the slightest clue what "vituperative" means and had to look it up in my dictionary, where it says that to vituperate is to "berate abusively".

    I read some time ago a piece by Edward de Bono in which he said that "creative and critical" are 2 of the types of thinking. It's pretty obvious what exactly they are and they're not mutually exclusive in a person's mind by any means.

    I get pissed off by people who are continually critical, I'm probably not alone in this and guess that many of us go through life frequently thinking that so and so should try and do it better if it's that easy. I find it easy to take criticism if it's from a person who has established their credibility with me and I find it extremely hard to accept someone as credible unless they have a level of success or expertise in the area they are criticising.

    The sittingnut comment thing on Indi's blog is a stunning example of poor quality thinking. If you disagree with a person's opinion that is your right. If that person has a blog then the comment facility usually gives you the right to voice your opinion on that person's blog. But to go on attacking the person's family, their personal stuff and to make childish comments is just, well, childish.

    We bloggers demonstrate a level of creativity by the very act of blogging. Some of us are more sensitive than others, some are thick skinned and some are bang in the middle. I got frustrated with all the "we get it" tags on Achcharu simply because I thought it was cowardly to hide behind anonymity. If I knew that it was Java, Darwin, Ian or any one of my favourite bloggers who was doing the tagging then I think I'd feel differently about it. I respect the things they write.

    One of the books I'm reading at the moment is about people who invalidate others. It's intriguing and stimulating and has taught me that there's a type of person who seeks to feel secure and superior by running down others. It's a mentality that deals in scarcity, thinking that if I make you feel bad then I'm better than you.

    By just mentioning Mr Sittingnut I'm guilty of being critical of him, I'm not really being constructive nor am I really being creative. Or am I?

    The Sri Lankan blogosphere, or the whole blogosphere, is full of opinionated people. We can set out our opinions without censorship and we can censor the opinions of others without recourse. Blogging is a phenomenon that continues to amaze and intrigue me. I can write anything I fancy and I get a certain amount of readers.

    But, the bloggers who are driven by a desire to get vast readerships are the ones who I feel for. There's something warmly satisfying about sitting back, writing about drumming, kids and life in general and not caring whether I get a million or as little as ten thousand hits a day.

    Either way I won't be off making vituperative comments on anyone's blog, particularly now that I know what it means!

    These negative critics, the bad taggers and the downright childish twats are just energy drainers aren't they?

    I've noticed that I have had a few people in my life, some of whom I genuinely consider as friends, who really do drain my energy. It's fascinating to notice this and to be aware of it as I'm interracting with these people. It's not that the people mean it, just that they go on and on about bad stuff.

    What's more is the revelation that, by knowing it and observing my mind going through the draining thing, I can actually have much more control over it. It's been a big discovery for me, one that will have big and good consequences.

    And now I see that Drac has declared it to be Tag Nice week on Achcharu.

    Good for him.

    In On The One

    I mentioned that I'd had a few days in Singapore last week, that the flight coming back was my best flight ever. After I landed I had an interesting and fun evening. Here's what happened.

    I got into Heathrow at about 3PM, rescued my car from long term parking and headed home. I must confess that I always feel good to get back in my car, to put my foot down a little bit and enjoy a bit of German performance. Of course, this being West London, when I put my foot down it's invariably on the middle pedal, but the principle remains.

    This time getting in the car still felt pleasant but it was all a bit miserable. I'd left behind the warmth of Singapore and the tropics, I'd flown past Sri Lanka on the way back, even contemplating asking the pilot if he could just take a small detour and drop me off in Colombo. I reckoned it was only a few inches away on the airmap thing and he might just have said yes. And here I was in the greyness and vastness, the pissy rain that you don't feel but makes you soaking wet, of my birthplace.

    As I sat in the bus going from the terminal to the car park I saw my plane parked on the runway and thought of the vastness of air travel and the wonder of it. Slightly over 12 hours ago I had been getting on that plane in Singapore and there it was standing on the London tarmac, probably about to take off again as soon as its army of support staff had done its duties.

    I drove home, I unpacked my case, which took me all of about 5 minutes. Then I made a few phone calls. The usual stuff; the office to be told that everything was fine, the girls, to be told the same, that kind of thing. A quick shower and then I headed out into the evening for a Mimosa band practice. I felt fresh and good, the sleep on the plane was nice and tiredness was something for wimps.

    I got to the studio and sat around for a while, chatting to the people that I've got to know and waiting for the band before us to vacate. They're a nice bunch of chaps, I've mentioned them before and we've all got quite friendly over the couple of years. Their music is rocky in an Indie sort of way, a little bit American sounding but somewhere along the Muse, Creed, power chordy tangent. I've sat in and listened to them practice many a time. There's not the slightest hint of funkyness to their sound but I mean that in the nicest way, just that they're a rock band through and through.

    As I sat in the reception area they came out of the studio for a fag break. Just for the sake of the American contingent a fag break isn't some sort of beating up gay people thing, it's a break taken in order to smoke a cigarette, those things that non Americans often light and inhale. Mike, the singer, the one with tattoos all over his arms and the voice of a bank manager looked at me with a glint in his eye. He then explained that Sam, their drummer, wasn't there and asked if I'd like to sit in.

    I jumped at the chance. At worst it meant I'd get my kit set up earlier than usual and I'd be fully ready to play when the other Mimosians turned up. At best I'd have a good blast playing some songs that I had heard enough to have a vague idea of how they should sound, but were also unknown enough for me to have to fly by the seat of my pants. I grabbed my drums, bunged them into the studio and set up as quickly as I could. They continued playing as a trio without drums while I set up, desperate to join in. It's nice to listen to them with Sam, the regular drummer. He's a fantastic player, a music college kid with more technique in one hand than I have in my whole body.

    I'm also confident enough in my own playing to know that I'm an ok player if I concentrate on doing what I do best, which is to sit there and carve out a groove. Ask me to sound like Phil Collins in his Genesis drum days or to play No One Knows with all Dave Grohls fills and I'd be as lost as a Aussie rugby fan looking for his seat at the world cup final, but to play 2 and 4 and make it feel good is something I can approach with some confidence.

    I was set up, I sat at the kit and they began a song, one I was vaguely familiar with. The great thing about being older, as a drummer at least, is the knowledge that flashy isn't necessarily good, that the basics are what makes a good drummer. Now I'm not saying I'm a great drummer, but I know that getting gigs and getting work, being asked to play in bands comes from being solid and playing the basics really well.

    The bassist, the one who wears make up and has a penis, looked at me and gave me a nod to indicate that they were expecting some drums soon. I did a little sixteenth note intro and came in with a bit of a bang, which was good as drums do tend to make a "bang" sound. If I'd come in with a "twang" or perhaps a "twarp" then I would have been on a guitar or trumpet and I would have sounded like a total wanker.

    The reaction of the band was positive. They all looked stunned, pleasantly so. I listened hard to what they were doing and tried to play what I felt was right for the song. There were no funky ghost notes on the snare, there was not much in the way of deft little touches around the kit but there was plenty of power and punch. We finished that song, naturally I totally fucked up the ending, something I can do to songs I know intimately and have been playing for years.

    Then we moved on, 2 more songs followed before it was time to finish. During the last song Greg, the percussionist from Mimosa, strolled in. He looked a little startled to see me playing with these guys, probably a mixture of surprise that it was me combined with shock to hear me playing that style of music. It was interesting to watch his reaction as things registered with him.

    As the others packed up they were very complimentary about my sound and my playing. It was nice to hear and it was good to feel, but I was as pleased as punch anyway. A brief break from the norm can be such fun sometimes and this was one of those things. As well as the fact that they're a good bunch of chaps with some fine songs.

    Then we started our Mimosa band practice. I was warmed up, damn near boiling actually and perhaps a bit too rocky to start with, but I mellowed and got into it in a big way. The contrast between the two styles of music was fascinating.

    I often have these affirmations in my life, when something happens and it acts like a little nudge. It doesn't change my opinion and it doesn't make me formulate a new one, but it reminds me, in quite a large way, of how or why I love the thing so much in the first place.

    This reminded me just how much I love to play music and drums.

    And I do.

    Monday, October 8, 2007

    Smelly Cat

    There I was, recovering from the laser surgery, peacefully and boringly. Not that I was boring, more that I was bored. Bored shitless mostly. In part because the painkillers I had been given also had some side effects.

    I coudn't read, as my eyes were focussing on different things at the same time and I felt a bit like an early autofocus camera; focus was something being permanently hunted for. I could only spend small periods of time on the net or laptop as it would strain my eyes for the same reasons.

    Even practice wasn't something I felt like doing, it just wasn't comfortable to sit at the kit and play with my eyes as they were. I still can't figure out exactly why this was.

    I couldn't drive, unless I went on a route that only involved turning left and sticking to the left side of the road. I had thought about an anti clockwise drive around the M25, sticking to the inside lane, but it just didn't seem appealing. Even if I could have gone for a drive I was faced with the problem of glare as the light hurt my eyes. You're probably thinking that I'm used to it from the glare of flashguns from the paparazzi but you're wrong, I'm not.

    So all I could do was to hang around, I listened to some music and I did some cooking, my new hobby.

    Then, on Friday afternoon I got a text from the almost ex, to say that Aliya the cat had died. Apparently the girls had found her dead outside one of the bathrooms in the morning and had gone off to school leaving Aliya still there. I felt a bit of sadness, even though I'm no ardent animal lover. I knew that the girls would probably be upset and that wasn't a pleasant thought.

    The girls and their mother were going to dig a grave a bury her that evening after school and work and I, ever aware of my duties and stuff, offered to do the job for them. As I was unable to drive because of the eye this meant I had a walk of about 20 minutes, a virtual marathon for me.

    I got through it though, arriving to find the house empty, except for one dead cat and one alive one, who seemed to be pining and did get some quite genuine sympathy from me. I've never had much, or any, contact with dead cats before and I was a bit saddened and rather fascinated by Aliya's lifeless body.

    As I ambled towards the house I had ruminated on the fact that I'd have to be sure the feline was dead before I buried it. How would I be sure, I thought. Where does a cat have a pulse and how would I find it?

    Yet, as soon as I took a look at the thing I knew it was brown bread. It had only died a few hours ago but it was stiff and rigor mortis afied. It was like one of those stuffed animals and the side that had been lying on the floor was straight where it had been in contact with the flat surface. The tail was stiff and cold and I could pull the whole cat by the tail alone, as I found out.

    There are a lot of foxes in West London. They roam around at night destroying bin bags and creating havoc. As Blackadder almost said, some of these foxes are more cunning than a fox that's Professor of cunning at Oxford University. And I'd been advised that, when burying a dead animal in the area, it's best to dig deep and cover the body with stones so the Professors can't get to it.

    I found a spade. I called it a spade because that's the type of chap I am. I also found a pitch fork thing, then chose a suitable spot and commenced digging.

    The whole area around Teddington is built on some sort of clay stuff. I'm no expert on geology but I think it would be scientifically accurate to say that the soil structure, perhaps it's called the topography, is a bit of that earthy stuff, the stuff that worms go for, and then rock hard stuff, the soil equivalent of Vinnie Jones.

    So digging to any depth was a challenge. Digging to the depth required to bury a dead cat was challenging alone, but digging to the extra depth required for a dead cat, lurking foxes and all with Vinnie's presence in the ground was some sort of super hero feat. And that would be a super hero who hadn't just had laser surgey on one eye too.

    Once I hit the hard stuff I was faced with two options; either carry on digging around the hard stuff, making an ideal grave for a pet jellyfish or possibly a fairly old tortoise, or get in some heavy equipment and labourers to do the job. I went, a bit predictably, for the whole jellyfish option. I ended up with a hole, about cat length but in all honesty it didn't look about cat depth.

    Confusion reigned supreme when I realised that the hole was of entirely different lengths and depths depending on which eye I used. Through my left eye, the one which has not yet been fully fixed, the hole was fuzzy at close range and deep enough to bury a giraffe at long distance. Through my right eye, which was healing from the recent surgery, the hole was pin sharp at close range, if a hole can be pin sharp that is, yet shallow and fuzzy from any sort of distance.

    Whichever eye I used to look at the cat made no difference. Aliya was very dead, probably almost 100% dead, or should that be 900% in the case of cats? I had left the body in the house, thinking that the girls would be back from school soon and they'd very possibly want to be solemn and present when I buried it. I never know with girls of these ages, 11 and 13, how they're going to react to anything. Sometimes they're emotional and caring and other times they're cold, unemotional and teenagerish about things. Actually I never know with girls of any age about moods, predictability and logic. In fact I'm unsure whether a sentence has ever been written with the words "girls, predictability, moods and logic" in it.

    I waited around, tried ringing the girls. The 11 year old's mobile was cleverly placed in the kitchen, no use whatsoever and the 13 year old's wasn't answering so I decided to save some time by carrying the body outside and leaving it by the grave, to await the arrival of the mourners. I walked to the body and visually inspected it. Now carrying bodies isn't something I have experience of and I was hesitant about what to do. It just didn't seem right to carry the body as if I was cradling a live cat, particularly as this body was hard and flat on one side. Then again, it didn't seem right to hold the tail and carry it in the style of carrying a dead mouse, especially as the tail might not be strong enough and I might be left with the task of explaining to the girls why said tail had become detached from the cat.

    Some weight and tolerance testing was needed and I tugged at the tail a bit. All looked ok, so I tugged a bit harder. I went for it, I lifted the whole cat up by the tail and carried it out to the garden and to its grave. I know you're probably expecting a story about the tail snapping and the hilarious comedy consequences but nothing of the sort happened. The tail held and the body made it to the grave, there was no disaster. Well apart from the whole cat dying business of course. I left the body by the side of the giraffe grave ( I was using my left eye) and waited for the girls to arrive.

    After about half an hour there was till no sign of them and I was getting bored and anxious. I didn't want to hang around for too long so I convinced myself that I should get on with the burying. I figured that the girls probably woudn't mind anyway. I looked at the cat, feeling a bit sad actually, it seemed a bit poetic in a way. With the pathos over I bunged the body into the grave, legs pointing skywards, the cat's legs not mine. I had been unknowingly clever. By a miraculous coincidence the legs were sticking out of the hole by about 2 inches, the exact length of the average man's willy. I knew that more measures had to be taken. And quickly. I could go for the humanitarian option of taking Aliya's body out and trying to dig down a bit further. This would take lots of time and there was a risk that the girls could come back and realise that I had already buried her once and was now on the second attempt.

    Or I could try the sensible course of action; the one that involved some shoving with the spade and a bit of leg bending. It would be quick, the cat was dead and the girls would come back and not know what I had done. It wasn't as if I was going to write about it or something and they might read it in years to come.

    I was sensible, I shoved a bit, I bended some legs and I hurriedly filled the grave with the soil that had come from the hole in the first place. I had also put some rocks on the body, apparently this helps to stop the foxes getting to it. Then I put the heaviest flower pot I could find on top of the grave as an extra anti fox measure. And obviously I put a little bit of brick to act as a headstone and to mark the spot.

    I went in the house and was about to leave when the fron door opened. The 11 year old strolled in with one of her friends, all attitude and hormones. They were accompanied by a cloud of smell. It was that scent of grubby schoolchild, the odour that is rather pleasant when the child concerned is your own but smells like crap when it's anyone else's child.

    "Ah hello" I said.

    "I've just buried Aliya, I waited for quite a while but then I wasn't sure how long you'd be so I did it on my own." I continued.

    I was prepared for a barrage of tears and upset, perhaps some demands to dig the body up and do it all over again in the presence of others.

    "Oh cool, thanks Dad, we're going upstairs then" she replied.

    She had gone for the "not that bothered" option, which is typical of her, this time I was quite pleased about it. We said our goodbyes and I walked off to make my way home. Ten mnutes later I got a call from the 13 year old. She wanted to tell me about some stuff and, as befits the communication between sisters of that age, was totally unaware that I had left their house only a few minutes before. I told her and told her I had buried Aliya.

    "Oh Dad, we wanted to be there and do it with you." Was her response, one that I felt bad about. She is the more outwardly sensitive of the sisters and this reaction was predictable.

    "But actually A, it really was hard work, I had to dig for ages and it was quite knackering" I said, assuming that the work aspect might make her a bit less upset.

    "Oh really? That's ok then, thanks Dad".

    It was that easy.

    Life goes on.

    PS - I'm listening to Placebo. What a fucking great band!

    Friday, October 5, 2007

    Recently in The Sri Lankan Blogosphere...

    I thought I'd pen a few words about blog things that have been happening lately, more specifically Sri Lankan blogs, or ones that relate to Sri Lanka.

    Ian, the1truecoolguy, looks to be back. I have spent way too much time wondering if, and when, he'll regret choosing that name. I reckon by the time he gets to 26 he'll be wishing that he'd chosen something more like "Ian Selvarajah" as opposed to something that will definitely embarass him in the future. No matter though, his blog is always lively and we hope his comeback post will be the start of many. Well not the start of many comeback posts but the start of many posts.

    Stateside N, aka childof25, has been getting heavy and political. His post on the state of Sri Lanka, whether it is a failed state, has created interest and comments and his next post about Sri Lankan politicians behaving like pigs at a trough has upset many. There have been angry protests by pig supporters everywhere and N's has been refused entry to several pig farms as a result.

    Julesonline and Beatrice Hannah have both been missing Sri Lanka. Jules has been eating dhal on toast and Bea has been job hunting and going to Sri Lankan restaurants. I know what they mean about missing Sri Lanka. While we in the UK are getting used to 36 hours a day of darkness and the wearing of jumpers and frilly underwear you lot in Sri Lanka are enjoying blistering heat and the one of the highest rates of inflation in the world. And when I said frilly underwear, I meant thermal of course, although Jules and Bea may well be wearing frillies. Even though these two aren't really blogs about Sri Lanka or listed on Kottu and Achcharu I still check in and see what's going on with them regularly.

    Indyana has been busy too. She's been on a youtube bender checking out all her childhood favourites. Personally I was pleased to read of her love for Paddington Bear and Steve Austen. Only the other day I was pretending to run bionically up the stairs at work. There's a knack to running in slow motion, dropping your shoulders and humming the theme tune that only men of a certain age group can appreciate. She has also shipped, or planed, her Mother in Law off to the UK. Cruel, but understandable.
    And, searching for "youtube bender" may not be advisable.

    Ravana and Childof25 are both running caption competitions with pictures of Mahinda at the moment. Frankly I have been disappointed with the standard of entries on Ravana's post so far. N's is still in its infancy, but my vote goes to the "pile of crap" line so far. Not that I'm biased.

    Over in the motherland itself many bloggers are dealing with some serious stuff.

    Cerno is getting used to married life and dealing with the whole transport and logistic thing that a wife and in laws bring to the table. I reckon he's in for a shock if and when there are a few little Cernos to add to the transporting thing. That's when he'll have to consider buying his own trishaw, on which some great artwork won't go amiss.

    Confab, he of the band, has been in hiding. He has been totally shitting himself after reading reports of an "armsgiving" to 100 senior citizens. Everytime he sees Java or someone else over 85 he body searches them and tends to get a few swift kicks in first.

    Dominic Sansoni, he of the cameras, lenses and sarongs, has been snapping away at cricketers and stripes. His work is of the usual high standard but I have emailed him to let him know of a problem he hasn't spotted. The picture of Malinga has somehow come out with a whole load of strange streaks in Malinga's hair. Must be some dirt on Dom's sensor or streaks on the lens.

    Last and by no means least I come to Darwin, probably the best blogger in the world. She's been facing "Dingleberries" from the Russian who doesn't use toilet paper. I was upset and disappointed that she called him "RD" and would like to make it clear that not only do I use toilet paper but I also use the moist Andrex wipes too. She has also been out for dinner with the Russian fellow, but keep that to yourself for obvious reasons. I hope she stayed away from the Dingleberry pie on the dessert list. She followed this up with a post to prove that she really is an academic, all about fasting and science, real complicated matters.

    She mentions circadian rhythms, something I've been trying to master for some time now. I'm nearly there but can't quite get the bass drum pattern yet. I may have to consult Shiraz Nooramith on this for some help.

    And those are the ones that have caught my eye lately. Notable quiet blogs have been Java's and Lady Luck's, we hope they're back soon.

    That's all for now, I might do this as a regular thing if anyone's interested in the blogs I read. We'll see!

    Thursday, October 4, 2007

    Girls, Drums, Fathers.

    Allow me to tell you about a situation about which I'd love some opinions. It's to do with my 13 year old daughter and drumming, two things I'm rather fond of.

    The 13 year old, I'll call her "A", has been learning the drums for a few years now. She has a huge mother of a bucketload of natural talent, unlike her Father, before anyone else says it. She plays in a couple of bands at her all girls' school and could go quite far with her playing if she wants to.

    She loves the recognition that she gets from playing in bands. At her school she's known as the drummer girl, although there are a few others who play too. Her drum teacher, a good friend of mine who taught me as well, thinks she's got genuine talent and potential.

    Being her Father and a drummer means that I am probably the least objective person in the world about her ability behind the drumkit. I think most parents are wary of trying to live out their dreams through their children yet we also can't help but want our kids to realise their potential.

    The problem I have?

    "A" hates to practice the drums. She loathes it. She loves the back slapping when she does a gig, she loves to play with other people, she even enjoys her lessons. But, getting her to practice is painful and nearly impossible, like one of Sach's piercings.

    Her ability, and I apologise if it sounds as if I'm blowing my own trumpet, which would be weird in a post by me, a drummer, about my daughter's drumming I grant you, is such that she can do a minimum of practice yet still understand and do well in her lessons, even thought the lack of practice is evident. When she has to learn something for a school concert she manages it easily. I guess being surrounded by drums and drummers helps.

    But, in the context of having lessons and doing the necessary workload in her own time, she just isn't interested. I'm uneasy about this. If there's one thing I'm uncomfortable about in life, apart from farting in a small room and deciding whether to run or stay, it's seeing wasted talent.

    I also don't want to force her to go for lessons if she won't put the workload in. So far there's been no strict rule in place, I haven't come down hard with a big stipulation that she has to beg before I book more lessons, but I'm also not the sort to book lessons and force her along. As a kid that's what happened to me with piano lessons and I never really feels it's appropriate to make a child do something if they're not interested.

    Yet to call her not interested is not strictly correct either. She likes the lessons, she learns and improves in them but, by hardly practicing, she doesn't progress at the pace she could.

    Currently I've told her that I'll book some more lessons as soon as she really wants me to do so. I might have shot myself in the arse as it were, in that we've reached a bit of a stalemate, or one of those catch 23s.

    So children, parents, drummers or those who are none of them, what would you do if you were in my position?

    How To Have a Great Flight

    After a quick trip to Singapore I got in to Heathrow aiport at around 3 PM on Tuesday afternoon. Normally I would have felt totally knackered after the long and arduous flight and the time difference of 7 hours.

    But fate was on my side. My flight had been half full, or half empty depending on your point of view, whether you're a Singapore Airlines manager or a lucky passenger. I was the latter and had the most enjoyable flight I've ever experienced. I had 3 seats all to myself, luckily they were next to each other, so I spread out and made myself comfortable.

    As we took off I watched Singapore disappear beneath me. I watched the ships waiting in the sea and I saw what seemed like a million high rise tower blocks become tiny specks and vanish. Breakfast was served and I devoured it, I don't know about you but I tend to like aircraft food, even more so when there's a bit of table space available either side of me.

    After breakfast I lay down and slept, probably getting a good 6 hours in. It was a luxurious situation that I wallowed in. When I woke I read, wrote in my journal and listened to music. I'm an avid avoider of in flight movies for a couple of reasons; first is the fact that they're so often edited to within an inch of their plot to keep them aircraft safe and second is the fact that I struggle to enjoy anything on a screen that small.

    So I wrote lots of stuff in my journal, just random thoughts to no one in particular, some of which I'll use in blog posts, some I'll read at some point and others that may be ignored forever. I've kept my own journals / diaries for a few years now. They're therapeutic for me, ways to put out my deepest thoughts, often with the knowledge that no one will ever read them but sometimes with the faint thought that a future generation of little RDs might discover them and find out about their ancestor (me). Sometimes I write things that I want to be read by someone specific and use the journal as a simple means of putting something in draft form.

    The music I listened to was a hard hitting combination of genres and styles. I had a band practice that night so figured I better listen to some Mimosa and get "in the zone" so to speak. I spent about an hour listening to us live. It's a strange and slightly disconcerting thing to do.

    I like, no, I love our music. I'd like to think that it's the sort of music I'd buy and listen to if I just heard it randomly and it had been played by someone else. But I can't tell if I'm just totally biased because it's us and any semblance of rationality I have goes flying out of the window. On top of that when I listen to a live recording, which this was, I wince at my own performance. I evaluate and think of things I might do differently in the future. It's nice to think of continual improvement but I sometimes wish to be able to just accept it the way it is and enjoy it. Oh well.

    After that I went to some Abba. While some fellows love The Police, Stigmata and Joe Zawinal, I readily admit to a love for Abba. There was a very obviously Australian tourist occupying the whole of the middle row of seats next to me. I knew he was Australian without hearing his voice. He was middle aged and wearing clothes that displayed not the slightrest hint of any awareness of the existence of the whole worldwide fashion industry. He had white towelling socks on and trainers that had been designed for something ridiculous like sport.

    His hair was spiky from lack of styling and he wore a hat. Fundamentally I think I'm an anti hat sort of person. They're fine if you're a spaceman or a policeman or a construction worker but not for general use, just because you think it looks good. But this was one of those rounded soft materialled hats, I don't know the name and it had 100 or so little metal badges on it. Those ones that people buy as souvenirs from Cheddar Gorge and Stonehenge and the like. I expect he must have taken about an hour to get through the metal detectors at the airport. Clearly he was Australian, that was the only explanation.

    He looked like the sort who never ever listens to music, let alone likes it. So you can imagine my surprise when he rose from his slumber and took out his personal CD Walkman thing. Double edged surprise it was as I didn't know there was anyone in the world that listened to anything other than an iPod and I hadn't expected him to be a music lover.

    That surprise changed into a new type of Gillette razor and became triple edged with aloe vera strips when he started to play note perfect air piano. I wish I knew what music he was listening to as he began to perform. This was no teenager playing air guitar and thrashing away at wild and vague power chords while headbanging. No this was definitely a pretty competent pianist at work. He was picking out every individual note with his right hand and the left was thumping out some serious rhythm.

    As I air drummed to "The day before you came" and tried to play the perfectly suited drum fills our eyes met and we gave each other one of those musicians' smiles, one of mutual respect and mutual love of music.

    He still looked like a pillock though.

    The flight wore on with more of the same, all good and actually very relaxing. We landed, I queued with all the immigrants and held my British passport with that strange sense of pride. Then I went out into the London cold to find my car and pay the extortionate long term parking fee to have it released. I steamed home, unpacked my case, which only took about 4 minutes and had a bite to eat.

    Then I headed off again to my Mimosa band practice. As I hit the delights of the M3 and traffic I thought that was probably the most relaxing flight I've ever had. Wow, next time I'll book 3 seats to myself, that's the answer.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2007


    What's been going on?

    Well I've been away in Singapore for a couple of days, so there's plenty to tell you about that. I've got a list of around 11 possible posts I could write from the one about the joys of Abba to the question of whether Sri Lanka is a failed state. Needless to say the respective summaries of those posts are along the lines of "greatly written songs and a blonde with a gorgeous bum" and "not yet, but it's well on the way".

    My Dad's dhal recipe is in popular demand, a post outlining it seems very likely, filled with a bit of discomfort on my part. You see he, or his wife, who is also my Mother, know nothing about the whole existence of my blog. You can imagine the problems that would ensue; daily phone calls from my Mum to complain about this and that, questions and suggestions and routine criticism, just like any Sri Lankan mother and son's average life really only slightly more extreme.

    But I feel a bit awkward about the idea of publishing my Dad's dhal recipe. It's not exactly a big secret, he probably wouldn't mind a bit, but he wouldn't know that it had been put out for all to see.

    I asked academic bro for advice on this situation. He gave none, well nothing useful. Some stuff about pretending that it was my recipe and then that would be ok. I said that that would be plagiarism, or maybe dhalarism.

    He told me that I have lot to learn about ethics. He's right, but it's not as if I'm going to write a post about the conversation or something.

    And I don't want to give his dhal a big drum roll, which you'll find unbelievable as you'll probably know about my whole drumming thing. But I don't want to stick the recipe up and then find lots of people try it and hate it. Frankly I don't think I'm man enough to face that level of rejection. Nor do I know if one can do a dhal drum roll. That could be a question to put to the Dhal Foundation for sure.

    But I've promised to send the recipe to Indyana anyway, so I'll have to type it up at some point and then may as well put it up on the blog. Be warned though.

    If, in a few days' time you see a recipe for dhal here and I say that it's my recipe, then it will actually be my Dad's recipe. Just don't tell him if you know him or meet him. But, if you do grass me up then please tell him that I only did it because one of his other sons, the academic one, told me that it would be ok.