Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Massage For You Rudy

I think you'll agree that one of life's little pleasures is a good massage. Not a sexy one involving "extras" or the new term I heard recently "a happy ending", I mean a good proper one by a good proper masseur, with the whole pain / pleasure line being smudged, blurred and generally beaten into oblivion, which is exactly what happened to me last week.

I was in Singapore and decided on a massage, as you may have guessed. The event was prebooked at one of the more reputable establishments and I arrived, to be greeted with herbal tea, soft music, that type that no one listens to except whales and people in massage parlours, and a full explanation of exactly what was going to happen. I opted for a head, shoulders and neck one. The woman then bunged me into one of those rooms and told me to take my clothes off and put on the disposable pants. Being a boy with childish tendencies I naturally had to amuse myself by putting the pants on my head for a quick minute, but keep that to yourself.

The masseur hovered into the room and I spent a few minutes wondering if they are specially trained to walk without leaving any sort of imprint or make a sound. Perhaps in the next "Ocean's 14" the new character will be a Singaporean masseur who can walk anywhere without setting off alarms and things. Remember, you heard it here first. Or didn't hear it as the case may be.

I was lying comfortably and marvelling at the joy and simplicity of a good massage table. There I was, face down but my face was peering at the floor through the hole that they incorporate into these things. As the next member of George Clooney's gang started work on my legs I felt as if I wasn't actually lying down but more floating, as if I were a sprig of parsley on a delectable bed of rice, probably pilau rice but you can choose whichever type you prefer if it helps to set the scene.

The agreement was that she'd do a bit of stuff on my legs and lower back, avoiding my penis, then move upwards and concentrate on my shoulders and neck. I remained on my bed of pilau rice and, as she advanced up my torso, I occasionally caught a glimpse of red toenail adorned foot. Her's that is, not mine you understand. I pondered on whether these masseurs are told that they should ensure their feet are neat and tidy at all times as they are the only bit of them the client might see.

Frankly I didn't pay much attention to them, but I did observe that she had an unusual amount of flesh around her toenails, particularly those on her big toes. I decided not to mention it though. She also had quite a large amount of toe cleavage going on, but some of that was because of the obvious pressure on her feet as she pummelled my back with all the force of a lead guitarist after being told that he's playing a little bit too softly.

As she moved up my back she got to the, and here comes the science, top middle bit, just inside the shoulder blades and towards my spine. The force continued and I wondered if I had upset her, maybe in a previous life, maybe when I had greeted her as I walked into the place. I often used to upset my ex wife by saying "hello" so it wasn't a wholly alien concept to me.

But my discomfort hit a new high, or maybe it should be a low, as she seemed to start massaging lumps in my body. It felt as if she had found a series of lumps that were like little hills, with a circumference around the base of about four or five inches. Not content with just discovering them she was now trying to flatten each one by pushing on them as hard as she could. I was in quite severe pain but also going through the man thing of not knowing if my pain was "acceptable" or I was being a wimp.

When anyone says to us men that we should just tell them if something's hurting too much it probably sounds like a simple equation to a woman. I can see why; the man is being dealt with by a Dr or a dentist or a tattooist or a masseur and all said man has to do is to raise a hand if the pain becomes too great. Then the disher out of the pain stops and we regain our composure and all the levels are reset to zero, for it all to start again. It sounds well and good and I can imagine women like Darwin happily telling the punisher when to stop without ever having to go through the mental turmoil we men have to suffer. Not that Darwin would ever feel pain, but you know what I mean.

Because we have macho issues. We suddenly start wondering if the pain we feel is normal, if the act of raising our right hand to signal to the tormentor to stop would be a slur on our masculinity. That the masochist would stop but after our session she'd be laughing over coffee with her colleagues at the previous customer, the one who asked her to stop at a level two, when all other men can go up to a level ten before they even feel anything. The result was that she continued pummeling these mountains in my back, I continued to feel as if I was going to pass out at any point but I refused to let the evil woman and her colleagues laugh at me and question my manliness during their coffee break. It felt good. And painful.

Then she said something that made me feel better

"You have a lot of tension in your back Sir"

I knew now that I wasn't struggling on a level two, that I was indeed at a ten, or perhaps a four. I let her carry on but I felt better about letting out the occasional groan of pain. When I say "occasional" I actually mean every time she touched me.

After some time we got to the end of the episode. I felt as if my upper back and its surrounding areas had been beaten into a pulp, that all these hills of tension had been flattened and were gone, like glaciers and global warming. As I stood up it felt strangely dichotomous; I was relaxed and free of tension as though my skeleton had been removed and yet I was walking upright and unhunched as if my spine had been straightened. My posture was better straight away and I hurt like hell.

The masseur asked if I spend most of my day hunched at my desk over a computer. I realised that I've got to change my posture and habits so, as I write this, I'm sitting as straight as I can, I walk around making a conscious effort to keep straight and I'm determined to get regular massages.

I've got a hunch it will be good for me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'll Slice My Own Bread Thanks.

I'm back after the little sojourn. It was one of the best, for many reasons and I'll be sure to tell you more in forthcoming posts.

One of the many highlights was my amazing discovery, although I suspect I'm not the first person to actually come across these things, which may well mean that it wasn't a discovery.

I'm one of the many who have always struggled to sleep on a plane. No matter what the seat, even on the rare occasions when I've travelled business class, good quality sleep has alluded me. And, with frequent trips to Sri Lanka and Singapore, I've done a few long haul flights so I wouldn't consider myself as one of the tourist types who can't sleep simply because they're sitting there with their eyes wide open and marvelling at the joys of flight, or free alcohol.

The only times I've slept well are on the couple of journeys when I've had three seats to myself. I've lied down and slept like a baby, not that babies ever sleep like that, but I'm just being poetic.

There I was, on my way out of Heathrow, wandering excitedly but aimlessly around the shops and doing that thing that we all do, contemplating spending money on stuff that I wouldn't even look once at normally. These chaps who own shops in the airports must be rolling it in. They've got a captive audience who are in a great and relaxed mood and probably have more money in their pockets than they usually do. As if that isn't enough they then charge about six times the high street price for most things anyway.

On a whim I browsed one of the stands in the luggage shop. You know those stands that rotate and hold a load of "travel" things. Portable irons that fold down to the size of a matchbox, slipper things that are made from old socks probably donated by poor people, plug converters that work in any country in the world and everything to do with luggage you can possibly think of.

I had a longish look at the item in question and contemplated buying one. In the past I've frowned upon this particular item, thinking that they were the sign of an old person or someone a little bit sad, who's just got a bit too much time to think about things. Well you know that I don't fit into those labels so I can only conclude that my past opinion was plain wrong. So I bought one, for the princely sum of about £3. At current exchange rates I believe that's about 300,000 of your good old Sri Lankan Rupees.

Yes my dear reader, I bought one of those inflatable pillow things. The type you see saddos pull out on a plane, then blow up and sleep on for hours on end. Which is exactly what happened to me.

These things are brilliant. In a matter of minutes I was transformed from an "No I can never sleep on planes either" type to a "I just get on the plane and sleep for the whole journey".

Take it from me, these inflatable pillows are so good that they should be made compulsory. If I owned an airline I'd give one away with every ticket sold.

I saw some people with proper beanbag pillow things but they're not the same, the hassle of packing these things away must be a serious negative. The inflatable ones fold down to the size of an Indian penis and they're far more comfortable on a long flight.

They're better than the best thing since sliced bread. From now on I'll be taking my new pillow everywhere even if it means slicing my own bread.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why Do They Do That?

This post comes to you from sunnier climes. It's hot, it's humid and it's not Sri Lanka. I'll tell you more about it later.

But, sitting on the plane on the way here, I observed something that I've seen happen a few times recently that bugs me. It bugs me in a weird way, not a losing sleep kind of way but enough to make me ponder a bit. I've seen this happen two or three times on flights recently and it makes me want to smile, laugh and rant a little.

There I was, it was a long haul flight and I was deep in the heart of the economy section. Like the famous Whitesnake song, but that was called "Deep in the heart of the city". Someone said to me recently that the sign of a wealthy person is when they can afford to fly business class and pay for it out of their own pocket. Well that makes me a pauper, well and truly, perhaps quite rich in air miles, but they never got a chap anywhere did they?

You know how it is on a plane don't you? We all sit there and check out everyone else within our view. We all do it cunningly so that the other people don't realise we're doing it, except they do. but they pretend that they don't. Then they check us out and pretend that they're gazing past us, at the window and the view of darkness or maybe a cloud. And we pretend that we haven't noticed, unless it's an attractive girl, but they always sit in other parts of the plane anyway.

I was sitting there, reading Modern Drummer magazine, listening to my iPod and trying to shut out the annoying conversation between the Swede and the Kiwi that were sitting next to me. They were having a vague attempt at a drinking competition. Unless it was an elaborate set up they hadn't met until we all got on the flight but there was a strong smell of male ego as they "casually" chatted about how much they drank and how much they loved alcohol. They then proceeded to have one of those unacknowledged drinking competitions.

Swede and Kiwi matched each other drink for drink, each pretending that he was just behaving normally. I knew full well that neither Swedes nor Kiwis can behave normally, so I sat there and carried on with my air drumming and waiting for both of them to pass out. Sure enough they did, the Swede lasted four, maybe five seconds longer than the antipodean, but I think it would be fair to call it a draw. It's even fairer to say that I, representing Sri Lanka, played a tactical game and won.

While they were sleeping I noticed a biggish bloke about two rows in front of me but to my left. He must have been about fifty and was travelling with a woman who I assumed to be his wife. I assumed this because they just looked as if neither of them gave a hoot about their appearance. He had a paper clip holding the arm of his glasses to the main bit, that kind of thing. The thing I saw was him get annoyed, I mean really annoyed here, with the guy sitting in the seat in front of him.

He wasn't getting annoyed because the chap was farting at intervals of three seconds, he wasn't stewing because the guy was chucking bits of paper backwards and they were landing on the paperclipped bit of his glasses. No, he was going off on one because the chap, the horrible and nasty evil fellow in front of him, actually had the audacity to recline in his seat. He didn't say anything to him but he was miming to his wife that he wanted to give the evil recliner a smack in the chops, that ge wanted to push the seat forwards, that he hardly had room to move and all other miming activities.

It would have looked a lot better if he had been Marcel Marceu and was doing the whole stuck in a box or behind a window thing, that would have provided entertainment for many of us watching him, but it wasn't to be. Perhaps Mr, or Monsieur, Marceau used to practice by sitting on a plane stuck behind a reclining seat, I know not, but he was quite good at it anyway so maybe the need wasn't there.

I watched the idiot and just condescending thoughts towards him. We were travelling on a plane in economy class, it's no random coincidence that many people actually call it cattle class. The seats are actually designed and made to recline, that's what people do when they sleep, or do a vague impersonation of it, on a plane. Yes, if we really were cattle in a lorry, we probably would be entitled to about double the space that we're entitled to as Humans. But we're scum, we're just economy passengers and we should know our place.

So Mr Paperclipped glasses. If you read this I hope that you don't ever recline your own seat, I hope that the next flight you go on has someone in front of you who leans back as far as their seat will go.

Or pay for business class, where you'll get some champagne and a neighbour who's got an upgrade because he's got lots and lots of airmiles. He might even have my expired ones. I often wonder where they go.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Little Update.

The 11 year old continues to test me. You know about her from reading the things I've already written, assuming you're a regular here. But, should you ever bump into us as we stroll around Colombo, or even London, please don't tell her that you know all this stuff. She'll only get proud and boastful and things will be even tougher.

I told you about the phone business here. And I think it's right that I give an update to all those who were interested.

On Friday evening I went to collect the girls fron their Mother's place for the fortnightly weekend, well Friday night, stay. I'm getting used to the regular "Why aren't you ready yet?" conversation, the awkwardness as I hang around in the corridor waiting for them and not knowing exactly how to behave. It used to be my house, it used to be my home, but now I'm a visitor of sorts.

There's always some post for me to collect and this time one of the envelopes had all the indications that showed it was a phone bill. I grabbed it, with some nervousness and some glee, as I explained to K that it was the bill that would show if she would have to give up her life savings of £162 or not. I had wondered why an 11 year old would have £162 as her savings, that £2 seems a strangely odd couple of nuggets. So I asked her.

"Because I had £160 of birthday and Christmas money and then I won £2 at cannasta against my Grandmother". She explained. Fair enough I thought.

I opened the bill, half expecting to see a figure several hundreds of pounds more than usual. K was hanging over my shoulder trying to see and I was trying to not let her see. Tension was everywhere and the atmosphere could have been cut with a large salami, maybe even a Pepperami, but not one of the spicy ones.

The total looked about normal and I scanned upwards to look at the itemisation bit for the calls. I found her dreaded call, the one at 7.45 AM made to her mobile number. And, as Ian S had suggested it looked as if the voicemail had hung up after a nice pleasant 4 minutes. This made me happy and my cunning and clever mind advanced to the next fatherly stage. The one that questioned whether I should tell K the truth or wind her up for a bit. I took the only viable option.

I made that face, the one when you purse your lips and make a straght mouth, trying to look glum and serious but smiling and laughing underneath. It's a face that all Dads are taught when we go to Dad school, one of the very first lessons, just after the one in which we're taught that no boy will ever be good enough for our daughters and that our dancing will always be impressive to the younger generation, they just won't admit it.

I showed her the bill, well I would have if she hadn't wrenched it from me. She looked at it and I told her that the 4.00 minutes bit actually said £400. It was no use though, she was onto me. She could smell my relief and, once an 11 year old detects that on you, you're a goner. Her face showed relief and bravado, a lethal mix. Off she waltzed to do the next bit of damage.

About an hour later we were sitting in my front room, she was on her laptop, doing MSN or whatever and her sister was lounging in my planter's chair and generally being sarcastic. I remembered a conversation earlier in the week with Academic Bro and sprang into action, like a spring, a drummer shaped one.

"K, we need to have a look and edit your profile on Facebook" I said.

You see Academic Bro had told me that both my daughters had FB accounts, which I was aware of. But the 13 year old's was relatively normal, talking about schoolgirl type of interests and interracting with ther friends. Her younger sibling however, had set her profile to say that she was interested in men and she'd ticked the box that showed she didn't want to disply her age. This worried me, for obvious reasons. It has made me think that I might actually cross over to the other side and get myself a FB account after all, that may be the only way I can keep an eye on the girls' shenanigans.

I explained the situation to K and she reacted with all the innocence of a Sri Lankan piano teacher. We looked at her profile and changed it so that it reflected her age and changed her interests to "friendship". This made me feel more relaxed. Not entirely comfortable with them being on FB but I also know that all their friends are and I don't want to be too strict. I just hope they don't get talked to by some weirdo, like Academic.

Job done. By now the profile's probably been changed back, but I did what I thought was right.

What else has been occurring?

Oh yes, I'm away for about a week from tomorrow, checking out sunnier climes. I've got a band practice tonight with the covers band and I'm seriously underpracticed. Damn.

And the biggest news is that I've taken delivery of my new black leather Converse All Star (cut offs). The All Star collection continues to grow.

See you in a week or so.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More On Darwin Stuff

I don't know how to do links on this MacBook thing that I love so much, but if I did, I'd chuck a link to Darwin's post. She edited it to make the point that she doesn't have a beef with everyday followers of Islam who don't speak out against violence and fundamentalists. Her beef is with Muslims who appear on TV and in the media, who are in a position to talk and be heard, and who don't.

Well I'm content with that and I think her point is valid, so I feel it's worth outlining in this post. It's a good thing that Muslims refrain from consuming pork, rather than beef, or Darwin's liberal use of the word "beef" may have caused an outrage. As things stand her blog may be swamped by fundamentalist Hindus with all kinds of threats. My money is on the famous parasitologist. We live and learn, I never knew there was that much to learn about parachutes, but now I do.

I won't close comments on my original post, but it wasn't my intention to start a debate about the publication of the cartoons, that was a side issue. If anyone wants to carry on with that one then feel free.

It's early, I'm going back to sleep.

Happy Sunday all.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dear Darwin.....

I looked at my screen, I tried to read the words and not feel the anger I was feeling. It wasn't even anger with the person, more with the situation and the mindset, one that I've come up against in the last few years.

As a person with a mixed religious background I count myself lucky to be able to see things in a way that I think is more balanced than some. And this last post by Darwin stirred lots of things within me. Before I rant, rave and sound like a wanker let me explain the background. I like Darwin, I don't know her well but we occasionally correspond via email and I do hope we get to meet someday. I'm one of the billions who reads her blog regularly and it always makes me react.

Darwin's main point is that the cartoons, those infamous ones published in the Danish paper, or rather the furore about their publication, is just a storm in a teacup. As she says diplomatically:

"Bullshit. It's just a bit of ink on paper. Get over yourself."

My opinion is that I haven't come to an opinion on this. I think that the reaction from the more extreme side, those that have led and been involved in protests, is over the top. I fail to see that the cartoons are THAT offensive. But, it's a dangerous path to take when you mock a person's religion or faith. If you choose to do it, then you're plain naive if you expect no backlash whatsoever. A storm in a teacup? Yes, but a teacup filled with some kind of chemical combination that's likely to erupt any moment anyway.

It really was Darwin's PS that got my attention. Her sentence:

"Muslims who support - or refrain from condemning - this sort of behaviour share the responsibility for bringing dishonour and shame to their beloved religion, and for the rest of us thinking that it truly is a religion based on violence."

Is one that I couldn't agree with less. Responsibility for thinking that Islam is a religion based on violence must be held by the person or people who hold that opinion. During the troubles in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s I didn't go around thinking that catholics were violent terrorists if they didn't come out and condemn things.

There are many people, particularly here in the UK, who have limited experience of Islam and their only real exposure has been to read about bombers, fundamentalists and extreme viewpoints. They are the sort who will happily discriminate against Muslims in their thinking and behaviour. It's just crap thinking, if thinking even comes into the equation. It's fuelled by much of the media and by fear and it's perpetuated by ignorance and a lack of desire to understand.

I was in a meeting the other day and someone made a comment about Muslims that just showed his total lack of understanding, but more sadly it showed that he actually thinks all Muslims are extreme fundamentalists. The sort who pray 17 times a day, only eat lettuce and hate anyone who's white. It just makes me sad that people like this are happy to read the Sun and form their opinions without really being qualified to have a sensible one.

To be fair Darwin has explained things a bit further in the comments below her original post, but my point is still there somewhere;

Islam is not a religion based on violence. If anyone thinks that, that's their problem.

People are innocent until proven guilty. That includes Muslims.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How Do You Throw Away A Bin?

The dilemnas and learning experiences continue to fascinate and bewilder me.

When I moved into my house I had to buy stuff, house stuff. Stuff that people use to live in a house, like ironing boards, irons, soap and one of those wire grill things that go inside the grill pan. It was, and is, a daunting and exciting time. Just when I thought I'd done it all I realised that I'd never set up home alone before.

Run a company? Audition for a band? Be in a band? Get bullied by two daughters? Yes, I'd done the lot, the level of success is debatable but I had done them. Faced with a blank sheet of paper and a need to figure out what a fellow has to buy to start a home I was flying blind. It's one thing to go in a restaurant and choose from the menu but it's a different ball game when you have to decide on the meal without having options to choose from, then buy the ingredients and cook it all too.

So, to avoid confusion I'll summarise my metaphors and similes; I had a blank sheet of paper and I was flying blind, going into a restaurant and choosing from the menu is a different ball game. Wow, that really does sound like one of Dubya's better speeches doesn't it?

Back to the main plot though. I've now got most of the basics covered and life, or the shopping and buying part of it at least, is ten, perhaps eleven times easier. These days instead of going out and having to think of buying stuff from scratch I can go out and remember what I need and then figure out if I've got it in stock or not. Mostly, but there are still things I discover at times.

You get my drift, you know, instead of cooking something, realising that I need to add soya sauce, discovering that I have none and trying to remember to buy it next time now I know that soya sauce is an essential for me and all I have to do is to check whether I have it every now and again.

The best bit about my new found level of competence is that, now I've got the basics covered, I can go out and look for nicer things. I find it to be quite a lot of fun, suddenly coming across a nice pepper grinder or bumping into a bargain of a great lamp or whatever.

During the January sales I stumbled across one such example. It was one of those highly trendy stainless steel kitchen dustbins knocked down to half price and, being a man, I was sensible enough to buy just one. My understanding of women is remote and useless but I do know that one of the laws of the sexes is that a woman, on seeing an item reduced to half price, promptly buys two or more of the things. The proverbial law of averages, that one that doesn't exist but gets quoted all the time, then steps in and decides that us men, on seeing something reduced to half price, either buy one of them or none at all. Thus it all balances out and, on average, men and women buy exactly one of the half price things.

I'd bought this highly trendy touch to open Brabantia bin and was very pleased with it. I took it home and set it up in the kitchen, as one does. I even bought the "special" Brabantia bin bags. They cost about a million times the price of normal white bin bags and they come in special packaging. I don't fall for all this marketing hype though.

The problem then cropped up. I'd bought a relatively cheap stainless steel bin when I moved in, a pedal one with average features. Had I been the owner of a Colombo 7 house this bin would have been the sort I'd happily keep in the servants' kitchen. They'd use it and the odd passer by might see it and think it was acceptable. But I'd never put it in the fancy kitchen, that front part that only ever gets used when my wife makes pineapple fluff or chocolate biscuit pudding. No sir, that would be where I'd proudly display the Brabantia. To remain strictly true to my roots I'd probably cover the thing in cling film as well.

But here in Teddington I have a mere one kitchen and it's even smaller than my bass drum. It's so small that I can't even cook a cat in it, let alone swing one. And it's definitely not big enough for two kitchen bins. I can only thank my lucky stars that I don't own a cat as well, that would be disastrous.

You can see the seriousness of the situation. I've got no servants' kitchen in which to put the old bin, I've hardly got enough space to move in and now there's a bin surplus. A similar thing happened about a while ago, when I was still with the ex, but my parents needed a new bin and took the spare one happily. But I don't think a kitchen dustbin (nearly new) is the sort of thing one can give to a random friend anyway.

The binmen in my area are a strange breed, with laws, rules and regulations that no one, particularly them, actually understands. The borough started its new recycling thing recently, with all kinds of mailshots and advertising telling all of us lowly residents exactly what we should do and what to expect. It looked simple and easy, as well as good for the environment; basically put all our recycleable stuff in a white bag, which had been supplied to us, and it would be collected on the allotted day. The allotted day is Thursday, but I shouldn't think you care about that, I just thought I'd supply the information for the sake of clarity. But the bastards nicked my bag and I haven't seen it since.

One thing I know with absolute certainty is that my binmen will not even think of taking away the old bin. It's ironic for sure. Binmen who won't take a bin are a bit like pilots who refuse to actually fly or priests who don't believe in God. The old unwanted bin currently languishes in my back garden, like a sad stainless steel bin, in a garden, almost identical to one.

I'm left perplexed. How do I throw away an old bin?

Vut too doo?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sri Lanka Versus The UK

There's been some newsy talk here in recent days about Derek Conway, a conservative MP, who has been caught "misusing parliamentary funds". It would appear that he has been paying his son, and there's strong conjecture that he has also done this with another son, a total salary of over £50,000 for work that he didn't do.

It's the sort of thing that business people do all the time here. The old "put your wife on payroll to avoid paying tax" concept is one thing but it seems that this chap has pretended that his sons work for him to actually get money that he wasn't otherwise entitled to.

Pretty shit behaviour really but he got caught, he's been stripped of the Conservative whip, which does sound like an old fashioned surgical procedure but isn't, and he's been reported to Scotland Yard so may well be in very big doo doo. I approve of whatever punishment the chap gets, although I might not if he gets the death sentence. The latest development is that he's been banned from the House Of Commons for ten days, which most people here think is far too light a punishment. In fact, after a bit of reflection, I think it's more than pretty shit behaviour, it's appalling and shouldn't be tolerated in any form.

It's like fiddling expenses; most people do it or have done it at some point, but usually you get sacked if you get caught. I just don't expect that sort of thing from an MP.

As I caught soundbites and glimpses of this story I couldn't help thinking of the contrast between Britain and Sri Lanka. I don't mean this post to be a strong torrent of ways in which Britain is "better" than Sri Lanka, nor even the other way round. Few people would disagree that Sri Lanka wins on many points; food, climate, landscape, friendliness, ease of hailing a trishaw and inflation of course.

Sri Lanka also wins hands down on the issues of lawlessness and the behaviour of her MPs.

Some relatively unknown MP here gets caught trying to claim money under false pretences and he gets the book thrown at him, as well as the whip withdrawn. Meanwhile, over in Sri Lanka, we have MPs doing all sorts of things with TV stations and High Commissions and they remain in their positions with the full backing of the President.

But the whole thing about corruption in Sri Lanka is a strange issue. Perhaps it's not corruption as much as favours and connections. There are so many times that I've taken advantage of a family connection or friendship, when I've behaved in a way that I wouldn't even contemplate here in the UK.

I remember being introduced to a high ranking Policeman or whatever the title was when I was a teenager. I was told by my parents that I should contact him if I ever got into any trouble with the Police. This was in front of the friendly Mr Plod and he was in full agreement. Totally normal behaviour for Sri Lanka but it would have been morally dodgy had it taken place in the UK, the kind of conversation that could ruin someone's career.

You know what? I'll take the Sri Lankan food, the climate and the landscape any day over the British offerings. I'll even agree with anyone who says that British lawmaking and policing can do with some improvements. But I have faith in the authorities here, with conditions, but faith nonetheless.

I reckon my opinion would be shared by most people living here.

It's a HUGE difference.

But is it right for me, you and almost everyone to complain about the bad aspects of Sri Lanka's authority and workings when we're more than happy to take advantage of it when it suits us?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rules Of Lovemaking

After extensive research, incurring considerable cost in both time and money I've come up with the definitive explanation of making love. It's clearly a complicated business and I'm learning all the time but the basics are:

  1. iPod - At least one party must be listening to music on an iPod

  2. Frilled and fancied up - The woman must be wearing garments of that description. I'm unsure what garments qualify but I reckon things like net curtains should do the trick. Parthi said this and he strikes me as a man who knows.

  3. PM tells us that there should be feelings of comfort, plenty of laughter and cooing involved as well as relaxed messing around. A good session in a comfortable armchair with a comedian who does pigeon impersonations should do the job. If the comedian is a bit stoned that would be handy too.

  4. McBoom tells us that there should be kissing involved. My hunch is that he means proper kissing, not the Sri Lankan cheek sniffing business, which should only be used on Aunts.

  5. Darwin says it's cheesy, PM says it's not. Bea says that the main difference is the cheese factor and a Barry White track. One thing's for sure, cheese is important to some of these women. Boys, I would advise you to take some cheese on your next date. Perhaps a good pungent brie or a nice stilton, it's best not to ruin things by turning up with a couple of Dairylea triangles.

  6. Anonymous asks about "Empirical confusion". Sadly I was never a Star Wars fan so I can't even come up with something remotely witty about this.

  7. Themissingsandwich tells us some girly stuff about stirring loins and souls, I didn't understand it either.

  8. David Blacker gives us a vital bit of information; that it's about the time of day. He doesn't tell us what time of day means sex time and what is making love time, so my advice to any ladies hanging around outside his gaff is to check your appointment time carefully before you sit in the waiting room.

  9. Anonymous replies kindly to tell us that it's about bangers and mash and a 5 course meal. I'm partial to bangers and mash so I'm left none the wiser here. Food is the word.

And there we have it, the ultimate guide. To refresh you, the key ingredients are food, lots of cheese, an iPod, the woman to wear net curtains, a stoned comedian who does pigeon impersonations and an armchair.


Oh, and for fuck's sake stick a Barry White album on and don't kiss like a Sri Lankan Aunt.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Making Love Or Having Sex?

What's the difference?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Sri Lankan Blogosphere Protesteth

It's almost 2 years since I started this blog and it's a fair bit longer since I started to peruse the SL blogosphere on a regular basis. In all that time I've never seen such an array of blog posts discussing the political situation as I've seen in these past few days.

And to even call it a "political" situation seems to be to treat it with a lesser term than it should have. A political situation implies that it's merely politics, easily solved by changing governments or calling a general election. Well those have been tried and so far haven't really worked.

Perhaps we call it an ethnic crisis, but I don't think that defines it, even though we have the usual polarisation of opinions based on ethnicity flying around for all to see. Does it matter? Everyone knows what I'm referring to.

A glance across Kottu a couple of days ago on Independence Day, at 4.15 PM London time, showed an amazing statistic. There were 50 blog posts listed on Kottu's front page, 27 of those wrote about the crisis / political situation, call it what you will. That's staggering isn't it? There's probably one thing that everyone has in common; the desire for peace. The only real difference is what each person sees as the best route towards it.

It's unlikely that the Sri Lankan blogosphere can be cited as a representative sample of the Sri Lankan population, but it's also true that just about every opinion is represented on it.

There were opinions like this from Dragons of Eden. He says:

"I hate this government but I hate to think what would happen if the war effort wasn’t going on in the manner it is now! I’ve had enough of this war and I just want it to end…and the only way it will end is through bloodshed. The tigers must be wiped out. No peace talks, no negotiation..."

And he's clearly pretty pissed off with things. I think his liberal use of profanitiy and his desire for the loved ones of NGOs to die probably dents his credibility, but many agree with him, as can be seen from the comments made.

There was this one from Java. He asks how long people are prepared to wait for peace, how long will prices keep going up for before people run out of patience? Unusually in my opinion Sittingnut makes a good point; that peace won't necessarily result in prosperity. The harsh fact is that the cost of the conflict will be borne for a long time by many, but the conflict has to finish before the path to prosperity can even be set foot upon.

Here over at Rants, Raves and Miscellaneous Musings our blogger takes a very different approach. I'm sure many would disagree with his assertion that "we actually had it good under the Brits", but there are millions who would agree with every one of his other words. Guess what? He wants peace too.

Indi's post here asks what Sri Lanka has actually gained independence from. He tells us in his eloquent way:

"The laws which regulate the government are ignored and the ones that protect us are suspended."

Some would say that the laws have been suspended simply to protect the people, but fewer would disagree about the government bit.

In the Lakbima blog there's a post that has left me startled, startled at my own reaction. Simply because at first glance I thought it was a piss take. It's not, or is it?

One thing that is evident though is the desire for peace. It's there and it shines through. Some think it will come from sheer military might over the North, some think it will come from negotiation, some from the LTTE, but it is there.

It's only a slither, it's only faint but it's a glimmer of hope.

But what would I know? As someone said to me recently, I don't even look Sri Lankan!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Time And Toilet Roll

There I was, watching TV and I heard something that grabbed me and sparked a bit of scientific thinking in me. This doesn't happen often and it makes me feel inadequate, like last time I watched Shiraz playing drums at Barefoot. He played a solo and got more emotion and feeling, more excitement and voices out of two drums and two cymbals than I could get out of a kit that was ten times the size. It made me feel inadequate but inspired.

Yet, on the science front, I usually feel just inadequate. Academic and scientific stuff is for people like Darwin and my Academic Bro. They can think for periods longer than ten seconds without their mind going off on one and thinking about drumming or food or baseball boots. As a result of my inherent childishness and my lack of concentration I tend to pay scant regard to long things like textbooks but get grabbed by the occasional fact or set of facts that is presented to me in the appropriate medium. i.e stick it on the back of a cereal packet and I'll read it, well I would if I ate cereal.

For years I've had a vague awareness that this world is quite old, that we've got a few years behind us. I'm no fool and I know that dinosaurs became extinct many years ago, possibly even before cars were invented. Time, or the history of the world, is one of those esoteric concepts for me. It's all in the past too. I know enough about it to be scared shitless when they talk about global warming and I'm aware that, when scientists talk about a hundred years from now in the scheme of things it's like you and I talking about someething that's actually going to happen before I finish typing this sentence.

But it was only the other day when I heard Dot Cotton talking on Eastenders, during her big soliloquy, that I actually started to visualise the concept of time, how old things really and how totally insignificant we, the human race, really are in the big picture. It's all to do with toilet paper and you can read about it here if it interests you, though you're probably aware of it already.

Isn't it incredible and sad that we, who have been on this great planet for about the last millimetre on a roll of toilet paper, are on the verge of destroying the planet. The Earth has outlasted dinosaurs, ice ages, even Mahinda, yet we're about to destroy it because of our greed and selfishness.

The developed world chastises the developing world for doing what the developed world has already done. Except the Americans who aren't that aware of a world outside their own land, apart from Iraq and that country that Al Qaeda comes from, the Netherlands, or no wait, that was Peter Pan's place wasn't it?

Have a look a the toilet roll thing, it really does make us feel small.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Setup, Soundcheck And Action

I had a nicely mellow weekend. Mimosa, the funksters, had a gig on Friday night. It was our first gig with our new trumpet player, a shall we say, more mature chap, by the name of Leslie. His addition to the band means that I am no longer the oldest one there, so I like him a lot.

As I am possibly the only drummer in the world who always turns up early I arrived at the club at about 5 PM, we were due to soundcheck at 6 and I knew that there was no way that would happen at the allotted time. I sat in the car listening to some grooves and getting "in the zone" I saw Rich, our other new boy. We now have two Riches in the band, one who plays guitar and one who plays sax, with an age difference of many hundreds of years.

Young Rich has been with us now for about five months and he's a totally wickedly brilliant player who's only nineteen. He's off to college next year to study music performance and I have a feeling that he may do incredibly well in the future. His passion for everything and anything to do with music comes through like bright sunshine and permeates everything he does. It's so funny for the rest of us to have a nineteen year old in the band though. Everytime he tells a joke it makes all of us feel very old, everytime he plays something it makes me feel that I've got so much to learn in my drumming.

So he let me in to the club, gave me a hand to unload my kit and then messed around on the club's piano while I set up. I am one of these musicians with a passion for playing too. I can't explain it to anyone who hasn't felt it themsleves. Confab, if you're reading this then you may share the sensation, that desire to play anywhere at anytime, from my front room to a club full of people. Not that you know my front room of course.

As I set up my kit Rich was tinkling away at the ivories. His tinkling was interrupted every once in a while by his own murmerings of pleasure. He'd come across a chord progression or a sequence and say nice things about it, as if he'd just discovered a new sound on his ride cymbal or a little sweet spot on a snare drum that he's never heard before, I think that's the best way to describe it.

For some time, as I set my kit up and listened to his groans of pleasure, which reminded me of Paris Hilton in one of her home videos, I replied to each of them, as if I had a clue what a diminished seventh or an augmented third actually are. Then, after bluffing for a bit, it dawned on me that Rich was in a world of his own, he didn't need someone else there at all and he was just conversing with himself. This was good as I could get my kit set up and make a suitable affirmative type of noise at regular intervals, like having a chat with a Sri Lankan mother, or rather being chatted to by a Sri Lankan mother.

Once the Rhythmic kit was assembled I had the time of my life. Young Rich and I, with a whole club whose only occupants were us and a young blonde waitress, had a thoroughly enjoyable jam. The blonde waitress didn't play much of a role in it, unless the clatter of plates being put on tables counts as a musical contribution, which probably is the case in some of these modern jazz circles. I had volumes of fun as Rich would come out with a melody on his sax and I'd join in with a groove, or I'd begin a groove and Rich would come out with something. Every now and again he'd try to impress the blonde waitress but I think she was about seven divisions out of his league.

We called a halt to our selfish shenanigans as the rest of the band started to arrive. There was the usual amount of carrying and lugging equipment to be done and this club, that we play in regularly, has a nice "green room" where the artistes can relax, but it means we have to cart everything up a flight of stairs.

Soundcheck commenced. There were two songs that Leslie, the new boy, wanted to run through so we blasted them out. We've had many rehearsals recently in which there have been one or two of us missing and I got that familiar buzz that I often get, which is why it's a familiar one, when I feel the force of all eight of us playing together. It's a pit of the stomach feeling, like butterflies but more akin to ostriches flying around there, perhaps swans.

Playing with a guitarist, a bassist, keys and a singer is exciting and I'll probably never get bored of it, but to experience the air moving from a three piece brass section and to feel so surrounded by so many elements that all blend together (occasionally) is extra special. As a drummer it's like being the tiniest part in a huge steam engine moving at great speed. I'm not aware, nor can I hear much, of my own contribution to the big sound, but I know that I'm there in the mix and crucial to it, unless the sound man has fucked up of course.

After soundcheck we hung around in the green room. There was a good two hours before we were due on and it's a time when each band member deals with his or her pre gig thoughts and tensions. I must apologise as I'm vaguely aware that the last sentence sounds somewhat twattish, as if we're big superstars or something, which of course we're not. But we still have little routines and ways of preparing in the immediate build up to a gig. Usually there's lots of banter, lots of joking and messing around and a good whack of eating and drinking.

There's always some last minute adjustments to be made, a tweak to a song here and a nip to a song there. Singers of course, no matter what band I'm in, have to do their usual poncing about thing of getting ready. Whether they're male, female or anything else the routine always involves lots of clothes, plenty of mirrors and a few bucketloads of ego and vanity. Us drummers don't do any of this, if we're feeling tarty then we might just change into a new T shirt, with a different picture of a drum kit on it to the last one. All singers prance about, changing shirts or blousey things and acting as if they're one of the women in Abba warming up.

My pre gig routine is predictably sad and boring. No drugs, no sex and no wild antics with horses, it's just me with some drumsticks and a practice pad, beating out a few rudiments so to speak. I've discovered that I dislike with a passion that space between setting up and actually playing. I don't really suffer from nerves in that I'm not a chap who's throwing up behind the stage or getting into a strop, but I just feel impatient and angsty and yearn for the performance to begin.

After all the waiting and the routines we went on to do our stuff. We were great, even if I say it myself. I experienced a "first" midway through the first set; I counted in the song, one which is started by bass, drums and guitar coming in together. When we came in I heard straight away that something was drastically wrong and, after some puzzled looks, it dawned on me that I was playing a different song to the rest of the band. It's the first time I've ever done this in a gig, I had skipped a song whilst reading the setlist and seven others hadn't.

I was pleased with the way I reacted. Even though it was in a gig I had the sense to call a total halt to the song and start it again, it was remarkably mature for me as I apologised quickly and counted back in for us to restart without a hitch. The reason I was so chuffed was that it's tempting to keep going when that happens and to try to put it right, but it sounds like a train crash and usually ruins a good song. I hope it never happens again but if it does, I hope I react the same way, like Walker Texas Ranger or one of thoseother level headed heroes.

You know, I think I'll curtail this post about now. The gig went well, there were women dancing and we all had a good time, but you've heard all that before and are probably a bit of it. I thought you may be interested to hear a bit about the lead up and all those before bits.

The next gigs I've got are two gigs with the covers band on consecutive nights, we're calling it our world tour.

Should be fun, I'll probably tell you about them.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Theena's Weiner v2.0

There was a young poet called Theena
He was proud of his massive weiner
But his pants were so tight
That he'd over excite
And shoot all over the cleaner


One Day he saw this pretty lady
On his way to a show in Wembley
He had to forget that
Because of a little mishap
And rush back home in a hurry


Theena's pants were quite tight
Due to his weiner's great might
So proud to show off
What was behind his loin cloth
That everyone gasped in delight.


There was also a girl called Cynical
Who thought the weiner was miniscule
But she didn't know
That when it started to grow
It really was quite astronomical


There was a blogger called RD
Who had a rather complex psyche
Based on his limerick
On a topic quite phallic
I think he's got weiner envy


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Damn, That Feels Good!

I captured a nice feeling recently, one that I've probably experienced all my life but that has taken many years to prop itself consciously into my mind. Now it's there in the forefront of my mind I'll probably be so aware of it that I'll get bored of it or lose interest in it.

Like that phenomenon when you love a song that you hear on the radio, it feels like you can't hear it enough times and it also seems as if it's always on the radio. Then, you go out and buy it on iTunes or, in the case of many of you, a dodgy shop in Majestic City, you play it a few times and before you know it you're sick of it. The element of surprise has been hijacked, by you.

This feeling has been buried in the subconscious deep parts of my mind because it's one that I, and probably you, only really feel when I'm asleep, or nearly asleep, or when you're asleep.

Picture the situation; there you are in bed fast asleep. You wake, but just a bit, and feel uncomfortably warm. Perhaps the duvet is a bit too much, maybe the Sri Lankan balmy night has got to you and you become intensely aware of the heat. But, you move your legs and there you find the most gorgeous patch of cold and crisp sheet that the half sleepy mind can deal with.

It feels like you've moved from fighting your way through a pool of treacle to jumping around on a moon with no gravity, as if you've been struggling through traffic on the Galle Road for the last hour and you've finally got past Mount Lavinia and the road is clearing, but it's a motorway and you're in a fast car. Of course this only works if the sea is on your right, unless you're reversing, but then you probably wouldn't be able to go very fast.

It only lasts for a short while because you either fall asleep very quickly or the new fresh patch of sheet gets all warm soon anyway. I should imagine it's a bit like the rush these heroin addict chaps get, in a totally different way, but you know what I mean. It's a quick buzz and it's gone before you can say Amy Winehouse.

But just see if you can feel it. When you wake up in the night and you move to a clean and fresh patch of sheet, spare a thought for me, the inventor of your new lovely feeling.