Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bury. Dead. Giraffe. Why?

After a couple of years of blogging I sometimes feel like an old hand these days. It's a nice comfortable and warming sensation, rather like when you pee in the shower. It means that I feel a certain sense of ease, of enjoying the view rather than worrying about the journey and how to drive the car.

It also means that I can chuck out a quick post like this, talking about nothing specific, or a bit of rubbish and knowing that a couple of people may just read it anyway, hopefully chuckling along quietly in the background with me.

I'm back in London as you know, the weather here's a treat and the city's looking sexy. I had my first band practice last night with the funksters, who I'm leaving. Yes, I told them I was leaving a few weeks ago and am now working my notice. We've a couple of gigs coming up and then I'm off. I might blog about it at some point, maybe not.

But, one of my highlights of the last forty eight hours has been seeing the following search phrase that ended up at my blog:

"Bury dead giraffe"

Was it an errant zoo keeper who had accidentally killed one of his giraffes and was looking to quickly hide the evidence?

Maybe he was going to use my advice given in the burying a dead cat post, perhaps with a much longer grave and more stones.

Why, why on earth would someone have been searching for those words?

Tell me please.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Observations On Sri Lankans - Part 19

You know me. You probably know that my love for all things Sri Lankan is, like that ahem "wallet" Java carries around, unusually large. Though there are a few aspects of Sri Lanka I don't care for at all. Things like corruption, war and piss poor customer service. They're not Sri Lankan per se, we have plenty of the latter over here in London and some scatterings of the first two as well, but I think Sri Lanka can justifiably considered a world leader in them.

One of the fascinating bits about being a Sri Lankan abroad is the way in which one can dip into Sri Lanka, the country and the people, then go back "home" and really think, ponder and cogitate about things. I take London and the UK very much for granted. It's where I've been born and bred and so many intricacies and modes of behaviour are my "normal".

Do I ever question that it's compulsory for an English person to say "please", "thank you" or "sorry" a minimum of seven hundred and sixteen times a day? No, of course I don't, it's entirely normal and I'm sorry but you won't catch me apologising for that.

When you're a tourist visiting a country for a holiday that's one thing. You fly in, have a look around, observe a bit and then fly back to your home and think things like

"The Germans are very efficient aren't they?"

They you get on with life, forgetting about Germans and their efficiency. If you're English this lasts until the next international football tournament, when German efficiency usually wins on penalties.

It's when you have the chance to visit a country frequently and continually that you start to really observe things and think a little bit more deeply about the way the country and its people go about their business. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not claiming to be an authority on Sri Lankans and I know that my knowledge is poor compared to a local. But my view is a comparison based view rather than a total acceptance one and I get to stand and look for a much longer time, in much more detail than a package tourist in a beach hotel.

I digress here but I must tell you that old alleged Tommy Cooper joke, it exploded in my mind a couple of lines ago and has made me smile:

"So I rang the local swimming pool. I said:

'Is that the local swimming pool?'

The woman said to me:

'That depends where you live Sir'."

I may have vastly overused some quotation marks there, but the joke's a classic if you can read it with a Tommy Cooper accent.

One of the things I've noticed about the average Sri Lankan, who of course doesn't exist, is that they have a wholly different concept of personal space than the approach taken by an Englishman, or woman for that matter. Whether it's in cars, tri shaws, on foot or bicycles the approaches and attitudes are the same in Sri Lanka, which are totally different to the approaches here in the UK.

Picture the situation; you've got two English gents walking towards each other. All is comfortable but, as they get nearer, it becomes clear the they are going to meet at a point which is not wide enough for both of them to pass each other. One of them is going to have to give way to the other. There's only one way that this scenario will develop. As they get to the tipping point both gents will say something like "after you", they'll make a suitable hand gesture to beckon the other fellow and will then be stumped not knowing whether they should go first or let the other fellow go first.

After a second or two they'll both decide to go, which will embarrass both of them as they almost collide. They'll both back off and the scenario will be repeated complete with a dance until finally, some days later, they agree on a plan. That's the way it works here. It's some sort of law.

Now picture the Sri Lankan version of this scene; there are two Sri Lankan men walking towards each other. There may be some of that loud nasal sniffing throat clearing business going on, but that's for another post. They're approaching the gap, the narrow one that will only accommodate
one of them. It's not filled by an Englishman either. Now part of the Sri Lankan psyche is that neither fellow actually notices this gap until they're in it. There's no urgency, no sense of trying to nip through quickly before the other chap gets there either. They both get there then plough into it innocently.

There's untold pushing, squeezing and maneuvering, yet animosity isn't on the agenda. They help each other and somehow, through that miracle which is Sri Lankanness, they both get through and go on their way. The only possibility that hasn't been explored is that of reversing. That's only allowed if a Sri Lankan has the written permission of all four of his grandparents and usually a government minister. These days it's almost impossible to track down and get through all the red tape to get all four grandparents to sign something.

For many years I thought that the Sri Lankan way of dealing with these situations is rude. On the surface, to the average Brit, it does look that way. There are no pleases, no thank yous, no after yous and no sorrys. I would often, when finding myself in one of these predicaments in Sri Lanka, say one of those sarcastic thank yous that we Brits often do to make the other person feel bad. Of course in the motherland this is about as productive as complaining to an Italian waiter that he's been flirting with the female customers a bit too much.

It's not rude because it's just the way it's done. Each different way works, to a degree, for each country.

Of course in Germany there'd be a system that would get fourteen people through the same gap in half the time.

Who wants that though?

Monday, July 28, 2008

That Was Quick

Here I am, back at my desk. Again. There are stories aplenty to regale you with, from the one about the dog poo and the lamprais to the one about the annoying Indian family on the plane back.

They'll come later.

For now I must tell you about my concern on the return flight. Prior to leaving my hotel I read the Sunday papers. One of the articles was the story that madeinsrilanka blogs about here. I didn't pay more than passing attention to it until we had boarded the plane and the pilot did his introduction bit. For he had a distinctly European accent, probably Dutch, but maybe German.

Could this have been a case of incredible Sri Lankan efficiency? That the chap had been found out, sacked and dealt with and was now working his notice period. Stranger things have happened, some of them actually happened last week, so it wouldn't have been that surprising.

Fortunately I have friends in high places. I contacted an old friend, a Doctor no less. who told me this:

" As soon as this was discovered the pilot was removed from his duties. There is no danger to the public. This is only the 15th 17th time this sort of thing has ever happened in the history of aviation and we are confident all is under control. Fellows masquerading around with false qualifications will not be tolerated here."


Friday, July 25, 2008

Leaving Blues

After all the hype, all the excitement and the build up it's almost over. I hate this bit. Tomorrow will be a day of last minute shopping, no doubt a trip or two to Odel, to Barefoot, to the jewellery place in Crescat that has the moonstone earrings the girls were asked to buy for their Mother.

Then there'll be some trying of suitcases and a bit of panic about whether we can fit everything in. We will.

Today was the first really nice day of sunshine this week, the girls spent most of it laying by the pool and swimming, splashing and jumping around on their Dad. It was very lovely. I knew the week would be about bonding and redefining our relationships but I didn't know exactly how it would pan out. I suppose the best way to describe it is to say that we got to the planned destination but took an alternative route. Perhaps it was the only route that would have got us here, but I hadn't planned on going this way.

I've bought a few things. I couldn't resist those Paul Smith shirts at House Of Fashion, you know, the ones in the stripey boxes. I'm sure they're genuine and they're knocking them out for about 1500 Rs a piece. Now, in London these very same shirts, in different boxes I'll grant you, are kicked out at about a ton. That's one hundred of her majesty's pounds, about 20,000 Rs.

So you can understand why I bought two more here to add to my collection of three at home. That's three that I haven't worn yet. That'll be a collection of five. All unworn but who can resist that sort of bargain?

The pants collection has been refilled as well. The girls think that pants with flowers on them are gay, or at least made for girls and so does Darwin. But I'm a fellow who's in touch with my feminine side. And these flowered pants have got holes to put your willy through so they must be for men.

Sunday morning will see me and my girls heading to the airport, doing the drive that makes me sad. I'll be watching Sri Lanka as I leave and I'll know it's been good. Then we'll be back home. I'm so dreading leaving the girls. I'm sure their mother will be pleased to see them and they'll be pleased to see her. But I'll make a hasty exit, leaving them to their summer holiday and maybe, just maybe they'll tell their mother of the great week they had with Dad.

And a few hours later I'll be sitting at my desk.

I must admit that it seems quite poetic that, as I write this, I'm watching two blokes setting up a drumkit in the lobby of my hotel.

London, Lanka and Drums.

The love affair with Colombo continues to burn brightly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rock 'n' Roll 'n' Hot Butter Cuttle Fish

The days are definitely getting easier. A is relaxing and K is running at about 270 mph as is normal in her case. Today was one of shopping and then more shopping. We followed that with some more shopping, then some swimming in their case and some drum practice in mine.

A pop in to the Barefoot garden for some lunch saw a chance meet up with Mr Kottu himself. We complained about the state of Colombo with SAARC pending and then he wandered off into the depths of the city, probably to invent something or write something spectacular. A few minutes before this K had managed to spill a whole glass of chocolate milkshake all over one of Barbara Sansoni's finest tablecloths. I had turned my back for about a minute to make a quick phone call and, upon my return, I found the girls frantically trying to mop up a whole milkshake to leave no trace and thereby escape cleanly. Their plan was foiled, the tablecloth was soiled. I only wish I had ordered some food that had been boiled, then I could have added that in rather poetically. I didn't though.

I'd ordered hot butter cuttle fish, it was on the specials board and I thought I should give it a try, what with all you "proper" Sri Lankans raving about it all over the show. It was a bit delicious, not very delicious, just a bit. I had forgotten that I'm no big fan of fish, let alone those of the cuttle variety. Like all cuttle fish this stuff was quite rubbery and quite chewy. The coating was right up there in the highly delicious ranks though and I would have happily eaten a portion of that, perhaps around some meat or a prawn or two.

The girls have been spending money but not as much as I'd expected. The eldest has been busy buying all sorts of "designer" stuff for her friends, not really caring whether it's fake or genuine or unknown, as long as it's got the right label attached. K's been her usual fastiduous self about purchases, counting her money at every opportunity and organising it even more frequently. Everything she buys is carefully considered as if it's an important business deal. Actually I wouldn't be at all surprised if she somehow makes a profit from this holiday.

I spent some time by the pool watching the girls swim and learning some new songs for the covers band. We've got a list of eleven to work on over the break then will reconvene to see how they sound. I got the usual stares from weird people who have never seen a drummer practicing with drumsticks and a full airdrum kit by the side of a swimming pool, then I think I managed to work out the intro to "Rock 'n' Roll" by Led Zeppelin. I'm seriously proud of this but my iPod may die from too much pausing and going back to the beginning of that track.

That's all for now. I have to go upstairs and try to get the girls ready now. Then I'm off to meet some famous people for dinner. I can't tell you who. I could but you'd have to eat this computer after you've read it, then I'd have to kill you.

Frankly it's not worth it.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Colombo, The City I Sleep With.

As the week gets better the city gets worse. I must admit I hadn't envisaged the drama and turmoil I'd have to deal with and how hard it would be for the girls, A in particular. I'm busy trying to find the right balance between firm divorced Dad and nice divorced Dad, between verbal understanding and verbal warfare. It was never going to be easy, maybe Sri Lanka as our first holiday as a threesome wasn't the best idea.

I had thought that the familiarity would be good for the girls, that the people and the places would be comforting and easier than those in a new place. But the reaction from the crowd has been a mixed one to say the least. The positives of familiarity have been tinged with the negatives of wishing their Mum was here. For fuck's sake don't misunderstand that. I haven't been wishing anything of the sort, the girls have, at times. My life is full of firsts, this is merely another one. It was an exciting t experience for the girls, their first tri shaw accident, something I believe they'll always remember.

Today was a big Muslim lunch with my cousins and their offspring. I think I've come up with some kind of solution to remembering the names. It's a safe bet to make a random noise, one with lots of "R"s "F"s and "Z"s and it usually sounds like the name, particularly if you add a "ana" on the in the case of girls. One of my cousins, the particularly devout one had the grey bits of his beard dyed orange. I was quite surprised by this and K found it hard not to stare at him. I must find out what's going on with the whole orange beard thing.

On the way back to the hotel our tri shaw was involved in a nice little accident or, to use the proper Sri Lankanism, it "met with an accident". There was lots of shouting, lots of waving of fists and, in true Sri Lankan tradition, most of the offices and buses on the Galle Road were emptied as people stood round and watched what was going on. I did my bit, waving my open palm in the air wildly and shaking my head in dismay at the other driver, not that I had the foggiest what was going on. A fellow has to take sides though.

I'm not sure if I can be bothered to haggle with tri shaw drivers these days. I always used to end up paying them far closer to the price they had originally stated anyhow, but now I feel such a hypocrite. Inflation and the cost of living here are so high, so criminally high, that I feel it's not right to haggle over a hundred or two hundred rupees, money that could fall out of my pocket and hide down the back of my sofa and I wouldn't notice, yet could make the difference between a good and a bad day for the man on the street here.

I read Mr Blacker's post on the 23rd of July '83, it made me feel things. I was here then too and it feels as if it's a big thing that I'll be here tomorrow, twenty five years on.

There was some talk of meeting him for a drink tonight. He said that he didn't want a late one as he was judging the Miss Sri Lanka competition tomorrow. What a guy! Last week I wanted Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins to be my new best friends. Today I want David Blacker, with some Jennifer Aniston thrown in for the sexy stuff.


14 and 12 year old girls, hormones, strops, hissy fits, tantrums, smiles, laughs, farts and snores in the night, "Dad can you get me a hairdryer?", "No, I'm fine, I just want to read my book", "Yeah, whatever Dad", the Colombo symphony is going on outside as I type this, diesel engines, horns, that rumble of traffic and roadworks, the Barefoot Garden, ice cream at Odel, "Dad I'll have the chocolate sugar free one", 14 is almost an adult, 12 is so often still a child, "Dad can I have a piggy back?", the SAARC thing seems like such a good idea, expensive, inconveniencing everyone, closing colombo, yes, that makes sense, it's not like the country needs the money for other things these days, is it just me or is the men's department at Odel getting worse by the week?, I remember when it was good, or did I just buy everything?, nearly got on the same flight as a famous blogger, but didn't, string hoppers, white potato curry and pol sambol for breakfast, mmmm..... finally I've found the full stop.

Monday, July 21, 2008

So Here We Are

In the Country of my dreams.

Last night I bumped into my cousin A, the sniffing one. Today it's Odel, the usual places.

I'll tell you what. The girls are driving me up the wall. It's like being on holiday with a pair of teenage girls whose parents have recently got divorced.

The hotel has wireless.

That's good.

Happy Monday all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Look Like This!!

Pic by Dominic Sansoni (honestly)

Last day at work means lots of things to be done. But, tomorrow I'll be heading your way, your way if you're in Colombo, not Alaska.

Am I excited? Yep

Am I apprehensive and nervous? Yep, too bloody right. First time away with two (almost) teenage girls.

Have I packed? Nope

Chaarmax asked what we look like. Well that's me. If you see me say hello. Obviously it's a false nose in the picture though.

Who'd have a real one like that?

Are Bloggers Better Observers? - Part 2

I think my original question deserves a tad of elaboration. Java has added his take on the question here and he says that he thinks the question would have been more sensical if it had been posed in reverse i.e are (good) observers better bloggers? Can a question be "sensical"? I'm not sure, it could be that I've made that word up, but I think it makes sense, or is sensical.

When I posed the original question I was actually thinking about myself (which no doubt suprises you) and the way in which having a blog has actually changed the way I observe things that happen around me. I'm sure Java is right when he says that good observers make better bloggers but my thinking was about whether I have become more interested in things around me since I started LLD.

The answer is a definite "Yes". As Sach commented in the original post

"I don't know if it is possible to make a categorical statement about all bloggers but I have become a better observer since I started blogging. But I don't think being a blogger necessarily makes you a good observer because the best observers I know are people who probably don't even know what blogs are."

For me it's as if I had gone through my pre blog life enjoying things and living them thoroughly but, once I started blogging, there was a film in the camera. I now look at things and pay attenton to details and nuances that I barely used to even notice. I have quite a fear of becoming one of those bloggers who I don't really want to emulate; the ones who live a boring life but blog about it in an exciting way, kind of living by proxy.

It's all about Venn diagrams I think. Some bits overlap, some don't. In my case writing a blog has made me look at things in different ways. If I had been a highly insightful observer all my life then I probably would have written a book, or at least tried to write one, ages ago. There must be many who are great observers but who wouldn't be able to describe those observations and there must be many who are great writers but don't observe things well.

It also must depend on the type of blog a fellow writes. Take D of ViceUnVersa as an example. His blog is centred around advertising, unlike his previous incarnation, which was much closer to the "pimped up diary" (copyright Blacker c.2008) approach that many take. I'm sure D spends much of his time observing ads and thinking about them, evaluating them and going off on creative tangents. But does he spend much of his normal day to day time pondering on the mysteries of life in general? I don't know actually. He may be a bad example as I've just remembered that his book blog thing is full of highly insightful and observational writing.

So, moving forwards back to the original question leads me to conclude that I'm a much better observer since I started blogging. That's it. I don't know about you and I don't think that being a blogger necessarily makes you a better observer.

But I am.

Unless of course someone breaks into my house and I don't notice because I'm so busy writing a blog post. That would be ironic.

Can You Work Out What X Is?

Damn, I wish I'd concentrated more on algebra at school. This has got to be the hardest equation ever. Don't you think?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Who Wears Which Watch?

For as long as I can remember I've been a fan of watches. I got my first Tag Heuer, one of the original Formula 1s, when I was about eighteen, a Christmas present from my parents, and I've added a few to my collection over the years.

I'm not a watch ponce either. There are numerous cheapo ones as well as a few expensive ones and a whole plethora of medium ones in my collection. There's more Casio G Shocks than there are NGOs on a Hikkaduwa beach on a Saturday night and more Seiko Kinetics than there are drumsticks in the wine rack in my kitchen.

I'm a marketeers dream as far as watches are concerned. Every time I buy a mens' magazine here and browse through it, I'm the original person that the rain forest of watch adverts are made for. All those little lines about a watch being passed on to the next generation, about top sports stars becoming better players because of the watch they wear and about a good watch being the measure of a good man, well I fall for them, hook, line and sinker. A fellow who isn't at all concerned about his choice of watch is a sub standard chap in my book. Not that I've written a book. I suppose that line would carry far more weight if I was David Blacker or Ashok Ferrey.

A couple of years ago I bought my last "pricey" watch, a Tag Heuer diver's one, the copy of the Omega Seamaster that they do. Up until then I'd been quite the fickle one, wearing a different watch whenever a change took my fancy, which was often. On getting the new one I loved the look of it so much that I wore it solidly for the two years. The G Shocks, the Seikos, the Swatches and even the other Tags were left in my watch drawer and forgotten, like ex lovers, and I devoted my energy to the new love.

There I was happily doing my things on Sunday afternoon when I glanced at the time on my lovely Tag, the one I'd been wearing for the longest time. Something unnerving caught my eye and I looked at it again. The unnerving thing was the second hand, it was jumping at four second intervals. I knew that this is the indicator of a low battery, which would normally take weeks to get changed as most jewellers here send the watch away and charge a fortune for the honour.

On any other day the situation would be a bummer for me. This time it was worse, the week in the motherland is coming up and the thought of spending it with a different timepiece wasn't a pleasant one. Strange I know, but true. I can't rationalise my feeling, it's just something that other people who like watches may understand. But, ever the coolheaded fellow in a crisis, I went straight to my watch drawer and pulled out a favoured G Shock. It was on my wrist quicker than you can say "What the hell is daylight saving time anyway?" and I thought things would carry on as usual. Well, they didn't.

"Why Rhythmic?" I hear you ask. Well Dinidu, it's like this. My trusty Tag gives me the most basic information one can get from a watch; the time in hours, minutes and seconds and the date. That's it. It has a bezel that only turns one way and is waterproof to a depth of 300 metres, features that might be useful to Action Man but not to a drummer who can barely swim a width without looking like he's just gone ten rounds with ________ (insert your choice of sexy woman here)

On the other hand the G Shock gives me access to every possible bit of information you can think of. If you want to know the time for high tide in Hawaii just ask me and it's there, if you want to know what time your Mum farted yesterday and how long it lasted then I've got the answer (14.2 seconds, which I'm impressed with) and if you need to know this week's average price for a Barefoot sarong then my watch will probably have it somewhere.

I struggled though. This digital display business just isn't the same. Hands on a watch give the viewer a real sense of time, time that has elapsed and time that is remaining. I like to look at the time and instantly make that calculation, that visual connection, of how many minutes there are to go before the hour. It's okay to read a digital display that tells you it's 8.41, but that gives a very accurate picture of now. It's much better to look at the hands and see that it's somewhere around 8.40 ish but to also see the gap, the minutes remaining and the time that has passed.

The analogue experience is a better all round one for sure. It's a bit like helicopter vision, one of my favourite business analogies. Helicopter vision, which you may have figured out already, is the ability of a good manager to see a situation from different levels, as if flying in a helicopter. So, when just above the ground you can see every minute detail and every blade of grass, but when you go higher you get a much better overall view and see things that just weren't visible from the ground, yet you lose some of the detail. It's said that a great manager possesses great helicopter vision and can view a situation from whatever level he or she chooses.

Well, the analogue watch is like being just that bit higher up than with a digital watch, getting a better all round view but only losing detail that isn't necessary for me anyway. I don't really need to know the average price of a Barefoot sarong, the reality is that I'll probably buy it if I like it anyway.

That's why I struggled with the digital watch for a couple of days. Luckily I found a local watch place that installed a new battery, sealed the watch and pressure tested it all for a sum far less than this week's average Barefoot sarong price (lucky I had that info to hand).

My trusty Tag is back and the situation remains normal.

It was a narrow escape though.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Deep One

Something happened on Sunday that has had a profound effect on me. When I say "profound" I mean that it has made me think a lot, not that I've gone out and done anything drastic like get rid of apartheid or vegetarianism. I'll tell you about it and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

It was Sunday, which is why I said it happened to me on Sunday, and I'd decided to pop into Richmond to buy some bits and pieces.

Sorry, that was a pretty crap start, I'll try again.

I had a friend at school called B. We went to our secondary school together, that's from twelve until about sixteen, then we went to the same college too, for another two years. He came from a seemingly decent middle class background, his parents were divorced and he had a half sister through his Dad but he lived with his Mum. B was a regular sort of guy, but regular in an extremely brainy way. He had a certain cleverness about him that was different to the usual boffin's cleverness.

You know the way we all went to school and had to deal with those brainboxes in our class? Those ones who were good at everything but also had no hint of badness about them, the teacher's pet types. The sorts who didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't snog girls behind the art annexe and got turned on by algebra and verbs in the way I now get turned on by, well adjectives and drums.

B wasn't one of those types, he was different. He was as bright as Java's eyes after he'd managed to straighten his arm enough to get that doob to his lips, he always did well in academic things, yet there was an edge to him. He had a kind of streak of badness there, a streak that would often make him the instigator of a joke or the first person to make a smart arse remark to a teacher. With hindsight I can say that he was a natural leader, or at least had some very strong leadership characteristics.

We became great friends, me and B. I went to his house regularly and he used to come to mine. As I type this I've just remembered that he was the person who introduced me to PG Wodehouse, not personally but in a literary way. We went together to a one man Jeeves and Wooster play at the Riverside Theatre in Hammersmith. B was quite the Wooster aficionado then, at the age of about fourteen. I didn't have a clue, I didn't know the difference between a Fink Nottle and an Aged Aunt, but became a firm Wodehouse fan from that moment on.

I remember that he asked me if I wanted to go and see a newish up and coming band with him at the Hammersmith Odeon, this must have been 1979 or 1980. I said no, not knowing much about the band and being into more heavy rockish things than B was at the time. He was very into punky and new wave bands, not my thing at all and even the free ticket didn't sway me.

He came into school the next day raving about the gig, how the band played all the new album and the big hit at the time, a song called "Message in a Bottle". I don't think staying at home and listening to Hawkwind in my bedroom that night was one of my best decisions, to be quite honest with you.

As we got older we both became big tennis fans and for about three years in a row we'd go to Wimbledon to watch the action. Those were the magical days of queueing and standing room on the centre court. The very British banter in the five hour queue in the morning was often more fun than the tennis itself and the feelings remain with me somewhere deep inside of me, underneath my skin. There was a group of satellite people that would go with us but it was always B and I, every year.

Then the two years at college saw us drift apart. We carved out different peer groups, remaining friends but only nodding hello at each other type friends rather than let's have a laugh about your stupid trousers type friends. We did go to Wimbledon in that first year but then totally separated.

After leaving college we lost touch entirely, the occasional accidental meeting would happen but we didn't contact each other proactively. It wasn't a fall out, there was no argument or disagreement and it was just one of the many sugarcube schoolday friendships that fell into the water of growing up and slowly dissolved. We've all had them, I'm sure B did too.

For a few years after that I'd bump into old school or college friends every now and then, we'd get to talking about other ex friends and B's name would come up. I can't remember exactly when it was but I recollect seeing coverage of Wimbledon one year and play had been rained off. One of the audience had jumped onto the centre court and started juggling, to the amusement of the crowd as well as the BBC TV producer, who gave it a fair bit of coverage.

That juggler was B, I recognised him immediately and the fact he was at the centre court at Wimbledon came as no surprise.

After that I heard nothing more than rumours about him. The biggest one was that he had somehow become a tramp in the locality.

There I was, on Sunday, doing a bit of last minute shopping in Richmond. It's time like these I wish I was a proper writer, for I'd have figured out a way to keep you in suspense, rather than this way, in which you all know exactly what's coming next.

I walked along the main high street thing, wallowing in the very glorious beauty of Richmond on a hot summer's day. All the glamorous chavs were out, every make of designer sunglasses was being showcased and everyone had their summer T shirt on. The normal people were trying to look sexy and the sexy people were trying their hardest to look normal, in a sexy way. The ugly people were in Hounslow.

I saw a tramp outside Tesco. I would imagine, though I'm no authority, that Richmond might be a decent place for a tramp to do trampish things. It's a fairly wealthy borough and all, though I guess that doesn't necessarily equate to good pickings. Then, I walked along and passed another tramp just setting up his place on the street. He had four or five jugglers balls and was getting ready to do some juggling and pick up some money. I walked past him and carried on with my perusing.

Some time later I walked past the spot again. The fellow was still there, sitting on the pavement, roll up dangling from his bottom lip and juggling at random intervals. He was unshaven and dirty, probably hadn't been receiving much in the way of manicures recently and he had less money in his hat than I had just spent on the designer T shirt in my bag.

Something made me glance twice at him. I'm glad I did.

It was B. At least I thought it was.

I stopped and asked him. Maybe I was naive, maybe stupid, maybe just mad. I haven't yet read the book "How to talk to a tramp for dummies" so wasn't sure which approach to take. I wasn't even sure whether it was B, and even it if was B, he might have been a drunk or dangerous type. Or totally normal or mad, or any combination of the above.

"Excuse me, is your name B?" I asked.

"Yes" he said, quite normally.

"What BN?" I asked.

"Yes, that's me" he replied, still perfectly normally.

"Ah hi, my name's Rhythmic, I used to go to school with you". I held out my hand and we shook.

I said it as if I was talking to a child or an old person, as if he would have forgotten because of the plain and obvious fact that he was an alcoholic drug riddled tramp who wouldn't remember what he hadn't had for breakfast, let alone a bloke he went to school with. I was wrong, I felt guilty immediately as he answered.

Of course he remembered me. I crouched down beside him on the pavement and we had a chat about old times, the things we got up to. He asked me what I do, where I live and all sorts of questions that seem quite normal. I told him the answers, then realised that they aren't so normal and I was stuck. I told him I was recently divorced and he told me that he didn't believe in marriage anyhow. Fair enough I thought but it seemed a strange thing to say.

Then I was well and truly stumped. What do you ask a down and out? There were ten thousand questions going through my head, from "how did you turn out like this?" to "what does your family think of your lifestyle?" to "do you live like this by choice or was it circumstance?". With all the possible probing and interesting questions that I could have chosen I went for the one question that was just so downright stupid that it would probably win prizes.

"So where do you live then?"

Before the word "then" had left my lips I was thinking "fucking pillock" in my head. But I'd asked the question, it was out there waiting to be answered.

"Errmm, well I sort of live around the area, you know". He said, rather kindly letting me off the hook. We carried on chatting for a few minutes. I felt a whole rainbow of emotions, from the red of danger to the blue of compassion to the violet of gratitude, the gratitude that it wasn't me in his position. I knew that I wanted to give him some money but wondered how he'd take it. Would he be insulted or would he feel grateful, would he be angry or happy?

I wished him well and asked him if it would be okay if I gave him some money, I told him that I didn't want to insult him or anything but that I'd like to help.

"Sure, just put it in the hat" he said.

I gave him some folding money, feeling mixed emotions. I'm sure it was a lot of money compared to his normal takings, but it was nothing to me and that didn't seem right. He took it like a gent, telling me that he'd put it in his savings and putting it in his pocket. We shook hands and parted company.

Meeting B has made me think so much about life, about the cards we're dealt, or perhaps the way we play them. In so many ways that could have been me sitting there juggling and begging. He was bright, middle class and seemingly had the world at his feet. It's not even fair to ask what went wrong, for he might be as happy as can be. Someone said to me that it's like the reverse of someone who went to school with Barrack Obama, looking now and being amazed that he may be president of the USA. I actually think it's more amazing. It's a kid who could have been Obama who's now at the other end of the scale.

As I sit here writing this I wonder about B. Should I have given more money to him, should I have tried to offer him some more help in some way? Next time I see him, if I do, I'd like to offer to buy him a meal or something. Yet, the shallow me worries that I wouldn't be able to take him into a restaurant, that I'd get too many looks if it was allowed.

I feel guilty that I'd made all those assumptions when I saw him. Was is wrong of me to worry that he might be drunk or stoned or both, that he might attack or shout at me? Was it wrong that the first thing I did when I went home was to wash my hands?

Was it wrong that a little bit of me felt pleased that it was him there and not me?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Letters To My Lovers

With thanks to TMS for the inspiration.

Dear Deborah

You made puberty so much fun, so sexy and so erotic. Your experience and daring made me a happy teenager. I had to take down the posters from my ceiling but Parallel Lines remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Dear Pamela

I never dreamt you'd be mine. I'd watch you running along the beach in your red bikini thing, blonde locks flowing gracefully and those totally natural things bouncing playfully, like cats in a bag. When I saw the video of you with the drummer bloke I though I might have a chance. Then I realised his band is slightly more famous than mine and he has a few million and a few inches more than I do. It was never meant to be.

Dear Janie

I'll always remember your long hair, the silkiness of your skin and the way you used to breathe so heavily when you were excited. I feel those walks in the park kicking the autumn leaves around as if it was yesterday. Our love was taboo though the connection was strong. If I'm honest I don't think the relationship would have gone anywhere. Your tail would have got in the way of things and you crapped everywhere. And you smelled like a dog.

Dear MG

Being with you taught me much about life, you'll forever have my gratitude and love. Those summers were so much fun, you going topless and me worried that you were too expensive and high maintenance. I suppose I let you go too easily in the end. But, once a chap gets his first company car that's often what happens. Let's face it all those lessons haven't helped much either. What's the point in knowing how to dismantle and service a set of twin carbs when modern cars are all computerised and impossible to work on anyway? I burnt my balls on your exhaust too.

Dear Pearl

I know I beat you frequently but I can't help it, I don't even feel bad or shameful afterwards. It's almost as if you like it. You've been there for me, through thick and thin. You've moved house with me, gone to pubs, clubs and theatres with me and even let other chaps have a go on you. I know I haven't been as good to you as many others would have been, I know I haven't changed your heads recently even though I've got new ones waiting. I'm sure our love will last, as long as you continue to take the punishment from me and I don't decide to learn the guitar or something.

Dear R

You're one of my earliest memories. You've been constant through my life, in bad times, good times and some very hungry times. You've soaked up so much for me, your warmth and kindness is there for all to see, but it's just me and millions of other Sri Lankans who have that very special relationship with you. It's only us who fully understand that you're the main man. We know that it's called "rice and curry" for a reason, we know that you're to be treated with respect and are always going to be the centrepiece in a good meal. Sure I may have flirted with others. String hoppers, hoppers, even the Italian pastas, but it's you whom I always come back to, it's you whom I couldn't do without, it's only you who has a (well, three actually) cooker in my house. And cous cous is just crap anyway.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

One Thong Leads To Another

I've kind of abandoned the whole thong / necklace thing, for now at least. The buzzword around Rhythmic Towers these days is "minimal" and I mean that in a minimal way.

After building up a necklace collection that had rapidly become the envy of every necklace collector in town I've decided that they're not me. Subtlety is far better than poncing around with elasticated beads, wet collars and mildly high powered meetings in which I spend most of my time thinking that I should have worn a tie which would have meant that my collar would have been done up and the necklace wouldn't have showed.

This taking jewellery on and off business isn't me either. And the absolute final straw was that, after my gig on Thursday evening, I was talking to an eleven year old kid, a nice enough fellow who had enjoyed the music fest that had unfolded before him tremendously, so much so that he had asked me for an autographed drumstick, which had forced me to hurriedly decide on an autograph, and said kid was wearing the very same necklace as I was. Not the actual same necklace, or we would have looked some sort of Siamese necklace twins, but the same model of necklace so to speak.

He was a nice friendly kid, at eleven they usually are, it's in about a year's time that it goes pear shaped, but I didn't want to look like him. You may be interested to know too that I went for and imaginative "Rhythmic" as the autograph, I thought it was a nice touch, though it was my real name not "Rhythmic" that appeared. Come on now, a drummer signing sticks with that name would have made me look like a total wanker.

Yesterday morning saw me busily buying a bracelet. I'm now the proud wearer of a nice brown woven leather thong, but on my wrist this time. There are no necklaces in sight, apart from that pile of them over there on the dressing table, no rings on my fingers, no nothing. It's just the bracelet and my watch.

This is the way forward.

Well, this week's way.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Do Two Ugly People Make A Good Looking Child?

I saw the above as a search term that someone had used to get to my blog and it made me chuckle in a hearty fashion.

Me thinks someone is getting nature mixed up with algebra, or mathematics. I remember from my school days that two minuses most definitely make a plus. -x multiplied by -x makes x squared. (does anyone know how to do a squared sign on a normal keyboard, you know the little number 2 in the corner)

But I'm damn sure the same principle doesn't apply to the birds and the bees. Or to Humans. Life just doesn't work like that.

It would be too easy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kalusudda's In

After extensive consideration and a considerable amount of bribery, corruption and sexual favours I've now added Kalusudda's rather innovative and interesting slant on a blog to my blogroll.

It's become a kind of ongoing report on many of the Sri Lankan blogs that most of us read. It's certainly different and engaging. Check it out. Click on the link, it's easy.

Are Bloggers Better Observers?

Is something I've been thinking about lately.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I can't help myself. Every time I'm about to go to the Motherland I get like this. One more weekend and then I'll be winging my way to Lanka.

This time it's going to be different. This time my dish of excitement is mixed with a tablespoon of nerves, a teaspoon of trepidation and a small pinch of fear. Yes, this is the first time I've been away post divorce, with the GIRLS!!!!

There were a couple of weekends and even a week during my marriage when I took them away. But the week was one spent with their maternal grandmother, who was more than happy to look after us almost as if we were family or something, as these grandmothers are prone to do. As Mothers in law go she was a good one and I enjoyed myself too. The weekends were short sojourns and entirely different to this trip, a proper holiday.

The girls both love Sri Lanka and it's something that pleases me immensely. In what many would consider as a fascinating mix and many others would consider as a lethal one, their mother originates from Poland. I, as you may be aware, originate from a small island somewhere near India. An island that's been war torn for far too many years, that would probably be put into administration if it were a company and would be then bought by Tesco and turned into the huge profit maker that it always nearly was but never quite became because of its bad management.

And since the girls were born I've always felt that one of my responsibilities, or desires, was to "give" Sri Lanka to them, to try to do whatever was needed to instill in them that love for the country and that passion for it that so many of us have. Their mother could do whatever she wanted to do with regards to "giving" Poland to them. I accept that it's part of their make up and their heritage but that was up to her. My bit was Sri Lanka.

There have been times when it's seemed hard to do. How can a fellow do that sort of thing with all the negatives that were apparent? Things like the fact I speak no Sinhala, that the girls are such typical Londoners in many ways. They watch Eastenders and they listen to Lily Allen and understand her lyrics without question. Not to mention the indisputable physical distance between Lanka and London that makes it impractical and often prohibitively costly to take them there for short breaks.

Bollocks to the negatives though. I hadn't counted on a couple of things; me and Sri Lanka.

I hadn't counted on the fact that, despite the negatives, Sri Lanka has this uncanny ability to inspire people, to create a passion in them and to make them feel that a million wrongs can be outweighed by one small right, a glimpse of an up country view or one brief inhalation of that Lankan atmosphere. Being Sri Lankan is like working for a totally evil yet totally charismatic master villain, like Boris Johnson, Dr Drake Ramoray or Kolu.

I hadn't counted on the fact that I have this passion thing for Lanka in me, that I could sit at my desk in West London on a cold grey July London morning and write about Sri Lanka and really genuinely and one hundred per cently feel excitement in my stomach as I think of her. That other diasporic Lankans feel the same the world over, that I, who really struggles to think of things that aren't Human as Human, think of Sri Lanka as a "she".

I certainly hadn't counted on the fact that I'd instill some of those feelings in my daughters, or maybe I should give the credit to Sri Lanka for that. Either way, I'm no glory boy or I'd be a singer not a drummer, but I'm pleased that both of the girls feel connected to Sri Lanka. They've been going there regularly since they were six months old, they're familiar with people and places there. Not in the way many locals are but in a way that's more deep and more powerful than an average Sudda.

The holiday is only going to last for a week, the post divorce turmoil on the girls has meant that this is a sensible option right now. The plan is to chill, to have some fun and just relax.

My work may well be cut out. I'm aware that I'll be alone with them and there'll be no adult to help me out with ahem "female" stuff should the need arise. There may be issues with tampons, periods and things that I just won't know how I'll deal with. There may be PMT or just MT for me to cope with. I'm no neanderthal though, in fact I've only been to Holland once, and I know that periods happen once a month and last for about three weeks. I'll be ready.

If you see a good looking chap with a scared look on his face being bullied by two teenage looking girls and we're in one of the regular touristy spots around Colombo then that'll be us. Feel free to say hello and offer to babysit.

One tip though. Try not to look at K directly in the eyes. That's how she captures her victims.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Get Your Head Around This

I was chatting with a friend the other day who told me a fact, a rather fascinating, scintillating and mind boggling one.

Said friend told me that she was watching a documentary about black holes and that there are some black holes that are 400 million times bigger than our sun. When she told me this I said something like

"Wow" as I tend to.

But then I thought about this, about size and my mind, how we picture these things.

It's fair to say I'm no scientist but I have Google and I'm willing to use it. I did. I always knew the sun was quite big, in the same way I know that rich people often live in big houses, I just don't know how big they are. Well the sun is 1,000,000 km in diameter compared to the Earth's meagre 12750 km.

In all honesty I can't really visualise one single stand alone kilometer. My mind goes as far as 100 meters then I'm off into uncharted territory. I can see a 100 meter track in my head but beyond that it all goes blurry and I start to think about drums.

So when some intelligent bod tells me that the Earth, the one that we're rapidly destroying, is about 12750 km in diameter well, I'm a bit dumbfounded by it. By my standards that's pretty massive, it would take me a fair while to drive around and that's good enough.

Then this business about the sun rears its head. A million kilometers you say? Well I can only sit here and shake my head in disbelief. I bet it's nice and warm there too, I bet it's so warm that I can't imagine that either, maybe even hotter than some parts of Sri Lanka when it's really hot. And what happens at night time there?

Then, to cap it all, I get told that some of these black holes are 400 million times bigger than the sun. I look at lorries in my work car park and think they're big. I marvel at the ability of these fellows who reverse them and park as if they're born to do it.

But, to these scientists, the ones who have to measure suns and black holes for a living, I have a question.

After you've had a hard day at work with your tape measure (extra long), your writing pad and your extra dark sunglasses do you go down to the local kebab shop and ask for a doner kebab?

Then, when the nice Turkish fellow asks you if you want a small or large one, does it all seem a bit mad?

It would to me.

Or, do you do what I do? Which is, no matter how many suns you've measured, how many planets you've counted or how many black holes you've gazed at, you just ask for a large one with chilli sauce anyway.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Photo Session

My covers band hasn't got much press in these parts even though I've been with them for over a year now. There's a couple of reasons for that. The biggest is that the other members of the band are all quite well known in their industry, high flying sorts who have articles written about them and are "known" in all the right places. But, in the time I've been with them I've already learnt a lot and am enjoying things like a maldive fish chunk swimming in the best parippu in town.

The other day the band decided that we wanted to be photographed, for websites, flyers and the usual applications that covers bands have. Normal covers bands in this situation have someone's girlfriend or boyfriend turn up with the kind of camera that Dom Sansoni wouldn't use to wipe his bum with. Not that he wipes his bum with a camera of course, that would probably hurt and make it hard to use afterwards. In fact it would make the bum and the camera hard to use afterwards I guess. Not that I know how he wipes his bum of course.

This band isn't "normal" as I mentioned earlier. So the singer, who I shall refer to as C, called in a favour and arranged for a photographer friend to come to a band practice and do the honours. The photographer friend wasn't a casual acquaintance who happened to have a camera slightly better than the one on my phone, she was a photographer who works for all the high end magazines, taking pictures of bands, people and other living things, except animals of course.

There we were, in the rehearsal studio at the band practice on the night, when she arrived. I trotted off to answer the door when she rang our bell, well just a bit after she rang it. As a drummer these are the sort of responsibilities I'm now lucky enough to get. There was some training involved as I used to open the door before the bell rang and sometimes didn't open it when there was a ring. It took some months but I've now got the hang of it.

I opened the door to see this Amazonian looking woman, about six feet taller than the average airport control tower. She was dragging a medium sized suitcase on wheels. A proper suitcase, not one of those Balryn Paris ones that you see on the conveyor belt when the Sri Lankan flight has just landed, usually wrapped in cling film and leaking with something that smells of onion and chilli powder. There was a glamorous and scary look to her. We did the introduction thing and I led her into our rehearsal room.

Within a few minutes it was very apparent that this photographer was the real deal. She got out her equipment and we chatted. She'd seen us play a couple of times and was a fan, or the fan. So we had a bit of a good start there.

The photo sessions, if they can be called that, I've been involved in with other bands have consisted of a get together and then someone's had the brilliant idea to get the band to "stand over there and face the camera".

This woman was in a different league, this photo session was going to be a bit different.

First she set up and watched us play as we set up too. She sort of checked us out, without saying so. As we soundchecked and messed around she tried out a variety of sexy looking lenses and different angles. We (the band) pretended that we were used to this kind of thing. She (the lenswoman) probably knew that we weren't used to this kind of thing but she pretended that she didn't know.

After she'd set up and we'd been as macho as we could she told us her plan. She was going to first get us to pose a bit, line up and look like we had attitude. She'd take some pictures and then we would rehearse as normal as she floated around and took "action" shots.

We lined up.

"You stand over there A, you face that way B, why don't you turn your head to the left a little bit R?" She said, and it was obvious that this was a professional who was very much in control. We did as told. I was genuinely interested in the way she made conversation, getting us all to laugh and smile and then "bang" she'd fire off a stream of exposures when we didn't expect it. It was slick and smooth, like a snake sliding over a big spillage of oil.

It was also interesting to see the sheer number of shots she took. It must have been hundreds. An amateur would have taken ten or twenty, she took one or two hundred, getting us in position then really going for it.

Once the "line up" shots were done we took our instruments and played, as normally as possible. We were all glad to finish the line up. Never have five middle aged men tried so hard and failed so abysmally to hold their stomachs in for such a long time. Their was a collective sigh of both relief and stomachs relaxing when we were told that we were finished.

We kicked out a few songs and she did her thing. As I was playing I suddenly became aware of something I hadn't really thought much about before; that playing the drums is actually a very visual thing. Not to most audiences because they usually can't see the drummer, but to a photographer who is peering around cymbals and using a fast telephoto lens, a drummer must display exciting movement coupled with some seriously dodgy expressions.

That's why we always see pictures of drummers looking a bit mental, arms flailing, hair everywhere and sweat pouring off them and then we see pictures of bassists looking like a geography lecturer who's picked up a guitar that one of the students has left behind.

We played and she blended into the background, like any good photographer should. Every now and again I'd look up and see her, lying on the floor, standing on the old settee in the studio or doing whatever she thought necessary to get the angle she wanted. For very different reasons I've wanted to meet a girl like that for years.

As we played I noticed that could smell something in the studio. It seemed to permeate everything and it wafted around as if it was a fart trapped inside a jam jar. I realised what it was. It was testosterone and it was everywhere, oozing out of every pore and every hole. It came from the five middle aged blokes in the band. It wasn't pleasant but it was most definitely there.

Each time I hit something, which happens a lot for the average drummer, my face contorted into rock star caricature looks, or maybe that should be caricatured rock star looks. Each time the bassist had that feeling of "which bit comes next?" which happens a lot, he managed to make his face show gritty moodiness and rebellious attitude instead of the usual look of confusion and frowning, mixed with severe constipation. When the singer forgot his words, his key or when to come in he made it look as if he hardly ever does that, as if it was a rarity. Only the photographer was fooled, though she had seen us play live a couple of times so maybe she wasn't.

B, the lead guitarist has a strange look that he makes on his stage face. It's a mouth open, squinty eyed grinning look, one that's similar to how a fellow would look as if he's going through intense pleasure and intense pain while suddenly realising what the answer to 17 + 23 across in yesterday's Times crossword was. Under normal conditions ie with no photographer present but in a band practice, he makes the face a few times every other song. Under normal conditions in a gig he makes the face about once every song, usually during the guitar solo or middle eight. Under these new conditions the look had been plastered and set across his face, like on one of Batman's enemies, probably the Riddler, as he'd be the best one at crosswords.

We continued to play, about five or six songs, staying in our respective characters until she told us that she was done. When she had finished we did some small talk, the thing where she tells us how good we are and each band member in turn makes a series of self deprecating comments about us not really being that good and how we normally don't get a single person to gigs etc. It's what you do when you're in a band; pretend that you think you and the band is crap but all along you think you're all great, invariably that you are quite a lot greater than the rest of the band.

And then she left. We relaxed and carried on with our band practice significantly more sedately. Volumes went back down, hair got put back in place and shirts got tucked in. I put away the extra loud drum sticks and got out my extra quiet ones.

A week later we got the results.

Fuck me is all I can say.

Maybe I'm photogenic after all.

But do I put the best one up here in a post, risking the laughter?

That is the Q.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Orgasms, That 23rd Mile And Living In The Now

Mr Lullaby's post about the 23rd mile set me off on a train of thought. I quite like his blog, but it doesn't take much to set me off on a train of thought these days either.

Some time ago I was glancing through a sex manual, one of those text books that teaches you how to do sex, the most natural thing in the world, apart from farting at the end of a pee (if you're a man). I don't need a sex manual of course, it's a bit like a solo pilot reading a book on how to fly commercial aircraft. Even though my flying is mostly solo these days I'd like to think that I'm qualified to fly with passengers.

I turned to the page about the female orgasm. Well it wasn't so much a page as a whole chapter, but I turned to it anyhow. It told me some fascinating facts, like the fact that there are three different types of female orgasm. On paper I now know how to help a woman achieve each one. On a bed it's an entirely different matter.

One of the common themes running through this chapter was that couples who are focussed on orgasms, climaxes, popping the cork or whatever you choose to call it often create problems for themselves. Why Rhythmic? I hear you ask. Well Dinidu, it's like this.

It's because they put so much time and effort into the big O, their minds are so focussed on it that they forget to enjoy the experience. The principle running through the chapter was that if a couple enjoy the journey they'll invariably get to the destination.

This information works on many levels. If you're a chap or a girl who likes to partake in a bit of hide the sausage now and again then it's useful to remember it. Relax, enjoy the foreplay and all that kissing stuff that women like. Maybe if you're an adventurous guy, you can do things with their breasts, perhaps prod them or something. Then, when the ship finally comes into harbour, you can both feel that the voyage has been an enjoyable event in its own right. It makes it far more likely that you'll drop anchor and that the harbour will enjoy it too.

But, as a metaphor for living life it works too. As Brandon says

"As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to stop focussing on the next mile and start enjoying the walk. I know I will…"

That's the thing, as we say in Sri Lanka.

Plan for the future, do things that will help tomorrow, but enjoy today as well. Go to the Taj Mahal and have a wonderful and enlightening time but also enjoy the journey, look out of the window and marvel at the scenery.

Somewhat ironically I've got a book called "The Power of Now" at home. It's about enjoying the moment, enjoying today and living today. The irony is that I haven't had time to read it yet. I'll do it tomorrow.

As for the orgasm thing a very sexy woman once told me that they get better with age.

Enjoy today, tomorrow's going to be even better.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Rhythmic Desktop

Lord Cerno asks, Lord Cerno gets.

Here's my current desktop. I wish I could give you all sorts of technical and geeky details, about the applications I use and how I can open this one that makes the moon spin the other way and that one that makes me instantly more attractive to the opposite sex. but I'm not that technical.

However, one of the applications I use a lot is that one that you can see, the 7th from the far left. It makes me instantly more attractive to the opposite sex and has women worshipping me at every opportunity.

The view. Well you can probably guess the country. Can you tell exactly where it is though? It's one of my better pictures.

I'll tell you what let's make it a competition. The first person to guess correctly wins a night out with Dinidu.

The second person wins two nights out with Dinidu.

Seems fair.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Interesting Blogs And Coffee And Tea.

There are a select few blogs that I can rely upon to give me inspiration, to fire something up in me. There are other blogs that I read and enjoy, but more as an observer than a participant. I wonder if that makes sense to you or if it's just me that thinks like that.

Chaps like Indi, David Blacker and Ravana continually make me think about stuff. Not all the time, if it was all the time I would have used the word "continously", but at least on a regular basis. They write posts that stir me, that make me think about tangential aspects of their subject, posts that hang around in my head for days, maybe weeks after I've read them.

Even now I recollect David Blacker's post called Cologne Again, for its vivid language, the way it made me feel and its outstanding title. Indi has a way of writing that draws the reader in, a bit edgy and a bit poignant. Maybe it's because he's been reading Otara's mail too much.

There are other blogs I read with interest. I follow them almost religiously and I hang on to their every word, but they don't inspire me. They don't make me argue with myself and don't set me off on a tangent. They're still good, they're still captivating but they're different. Maybe, by writing about them here, I'm proving myself wrong because they have made me think. Damn, mirrors looking at mirrors can get confusing.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I often write a post after getting the idea from another blog. Cerno's masterpiece of a blog is probably my biggest source of inspiration. He has a knack of writing about things that we all think about but we don't pay much attention to. Then, he chucks out a post and suddenly we're all thinking about the subject. His post on Kalusudda, the new blogger with the new twist, reflected some of my thoughts on the chap. I was actually about to write a post on KS and his blog when Cerno published his.

But Cerno's recent post on coffee is the one that inspired me to write this one. For some time the thoughts have been flying, or swimming, around my head.

Here in England tea drinking is a national pastime. I love a good cup of Rosy, every work morning it's the first thing that I taste. Maybe the fourth thing if you include toothpaste, mouthwash and a stray bit of mens' moisturiser, but my point remains a valid one.

But during the average day I drink a mixture of coffee and tea, not a mixture of course, but a mixture, and it's governed by nothing more than the mood I'm in at the time.

"Do want a coffee or tea Rhythmic?" someone at work will ask.

I look at them with scorn, that scorn we employers reserve for employees, then answer. My answer is invariably a "yes". The details about whether it's coffee or tea are entirely variable. Yet other people, most of them at least, always drink the same thing. Gaz, one of my partners, always drinks coffee. The girls in the office always drink the same drink.

I'm wondering if it's a British thing. My parents are the same as me. Correction. I am the same as my parents. Yet so many Brits only drink one or the other, always sticking to their preferred choice of delicious warm brown beverage and staying away from the other evil one as if it was poison flavoured with invisible whole cardamons.

What about you?

Coffee, tea, either or both?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Was That You With The Sri Lankan Flag?

Last weekend was a spectacularly musical one for me. I've already bored you with some of the details but I'll mention them again. I had a gig on Thursday, one on Saturday and a band practice with an old band on Sunday. Those were all good, in varying degrees.

The highlight was definitely Saturday night's gig. It was a birthday party for someone, the weather was lovely, the atmosphere was kicking and it seemed as if everyone was out for a great night out, including the band. I played well, the others in the band played well and it gave me a little jolt of everything that can be good about a live band. Other musicians understand that there are few things that feel better than performing to an appreciative audience, whether it's two hundred or twenty thousand people. In my case on Saturday, you'll be surprised to know the figure was closer to the former, well about fifty per cent of it anyway.

Now I don't know if it's just me but the weekend felt special. It's about the third or fourth year in a row when I've played a gig over the Glastonbury weekend (not last year I know). I've never actually been to Glasto but I love watching it on TV. I know many people who have been there but I don't think it's my sort of thing. I'd love it for the music, I just don't think everything else is my bag of otters.

My idea of camping is a bungalow in Yala. A chap to cook for me, the most delicious rice and curry ever, those blinky star things in the sky, the Sri Lankan climate, frogs in the toilet and a Leopard or two. The thought of rain, mud, wellington boots, sleeping in a tent and hiding all my valuables, evading hippies and ending up smelling like one just doesn't appeal to me. I can't be sure but I don't even think there are any Leopards at Glasonbury either.

If I ever do go to Glastonbury I think I'll take the five star approach. Stay in a nice hotel and get helicoptered in every day. Unless I suddenly join a famous band that's unlikely to happen. But, until then I'm very happy to sit in my house, live dangerously and crack open a Diet Coke or two and watch the festival unfold on TV. There's less mud when I go to the toilet, I can take a break to nip off and play a gig and I can change channel to watch Walker Texas Ranger. No contest.

Every year (if it's on) Glastonbury seems to create some kind of atmosphere among the people who watch it. I've noticed this when playing. The atmosphere among the audience seems more electric, more buzzing and more lively and none of that's to do with the wiring in our PA system. I really think it's because many watch the TV coverage and are hungry for live bands. Cool I say.

The weekend was good for me though, Glastonbury, gigging and practicing made me feel as though I was bathing in music.

The TV coverage of Glastonbury was also a good reminder. On Saturday night I came in from my gig feeling all cocky and smartarsed, I'd just been solely responsible for making all those people dance and I was probably the best drummer in the world. They were dancing to my groove and my bass drum after all. Then I turned on my TV and was knocked down to earth, in the best possible way. I can't remember who I watched right then but all the drummers I saw were outstanding and made me realise that there's always so much to improve upon.

I watched the chap in the Fratellis, whose name I don't know. He played the set with so much energy and force that I could only gasp. I watched the drummer in the Zutons, marvelling at the sax player who I believe he's engaged to. That gets any bloke's admiration.

On Sunday afternoon I watched some of Neil Diamond's set. I must confess to feeling a bit disappointed. The performance was flawless and the set contained all of his great songs, most of which I like. But, somehow the energy wasn't there for me, I even fell asleep at one point. Having said all that, his drummer caught my ear as soon as they started, not just because the drums were way too loud in the mix.

I looked at the bearded grey haired chap and thought that he looked familiar. Then I recalled something in the recesses of my mind, that Mr Diamond had Ron Tutt, Elvis' old drummer, playing with him these days. I was right and it was a lesson in classy drumming that I felt lucky to be watching.

I perused the Glastonbury coverage on and off over the whole weekend, catching Nihal Arthanayake, the Sri Lankan DJ on Radio 1 a couple of times. It always feels good to see a Sri Lankan on TV here, particularly one that seems to be doing so well but I feel that his hair deserves a mention.

Have you seen it? It's all over the place, looking like something Dave Grohl rejected as being too messy for the video shoot of Teen Spirit. If I was his mother I'd give him a bloody good slap and drag him to Ramzi's for a short back and sides. How can your poor mother take you to see Aunts and relatives, how can she boast about your achievements and your greatness when your hair looks like that? At least put some water and clean it once in a while men. Chee! No wonder you haven't got a proper job like in a bank or something.

The best bit about Glastonbury was the flag. Did you see it?

I spotted it flying high and proudly in the Zutons set, We Are Scientists' set and also Lupe Fiasco's (I don't know either) set. I'm sure it was evident during other bands' performances too.

Among the sea of flags for tin pot countries like the USA and Germany, there was one that outshone the rest.

Yes, it was a Sri Lankan flag.

Despite the white van stories, the "war", the inflation, the corruption, Mervyn Silva and every fucking bloody shitty thing that's bad about Sri Lanka I felt proud.

Am I mad?

Am I Sri Lankan?

Or both.

Or neither.

Was it you? Please get in touch or comment. I'd love to find whose it was, it really did make me feel even better.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Leather Thong Thing

For many weeks I'd been deliberating about the issue of buying one. A leather thong. Not one of those thongs that hold the willy in but one of the necklace type ones, that every man about town who wants to give the impression that he's a bit of a surfer dude is wearing these days. You know the ones.

My deliberation wasn't about the cost side of the equation. Even in London, where a ten minute taxi ride usually requires a deposit and a written guarantee that you'll be able to pay the bill, leather thongs aren't up there in the expensive stakes. No, my uncertainty and my hesitation was about image, that whole fear of being accused of having a mid life crisis and the clear and now proven fact that my brothers and my daughters would mercilessly and needlessly take the piss out of me until the next victim marched into view.

Finally, last weekend, I took the plunge. Browsing in a shop the urge became too much and I did the deed. I'm now the proud owner and registered wearer of one of those platted leather necklace thingeys. It hangs around my neck quite tightly, I guess about an inch or two away from my neckline at the front, a little bit tighter than I had envisaged but I'm okay with that.

Men's jewellery is a concept I feel uncertain about though. Frankly, and I hope you'll allow me to be frank here, I'm uncomfortable with it. As is the law in London I had my left ear pierced when I was about fifteen or sixteen, spent several years wearing every variety of earring you can think of, then got a "respectable" job and stopped the radical and so rebellious behaviour and looked down on anyone who didn't think a suit and tie was the height of stylish anarchy.

My mind settled down with the conclusion that jewellery for a man was acceptable, but only if a very limited number of items are worn with a certain panache and a sense of manliness. A minimalist looking ring, an uncluttered bracelet or a subtle necklace on a chap were just about within the limits of what was acceptable to be within my definiton of manliness. I still hold those principles.

The most important thing is that men's adornments have to be chosen carefully, then worn all the time and treated like an old mate. There should be none of this waking up in the morning and trying to decide what jewellery to wear, none of that getting changed to go out for dinner and also changing your necklace to match your underpants and certainly none of the wearing a plunging necklace to gain attention for your manboobs business. That's what girls do, though they often have proper breasts, not manboobs.

No, a real man buys a thing and then wears it forever, or perhaps just a little bit less.

I bought my thong and chucked it on, expecting for it to sit on my neck for about ten, perhaps twenty years. It felt like and sounded like a plan. You know, chuck it around my neck, leave it there and get on with life. But it didn't turn out like that.

It's one of the platted thongs. I'm unable to tell you technical details but it looks as if it's a long leather bootlace that's been woven to make a patterned piece, about a few hundred reef knots joined together, with a big loop at one end that goes round a knot at the other end to clasp it all together. It's simplicity and practicality in action, mixed with a sense of style and a love of the outdoors. It's a reflection of the kind of lifestyle us surfer dudes like to live.

It also itches my neck quite a bit and the whole "not taking it off for ten years" thing is quite hard to live with.

At the weekend I took it out for a bit of a test run. It was a weekend it which I saw just about everyone who would matter to me, who would look at it and laugh at me, take the piss or perhaps tell me that it looked great and they were surprised more people hadn't bought them.

There were both of my brothers, both my daughters and close friends. You know them all by now.

K, the 11 year old, and Academic, the academic, were going to be the toughest challenges. The tightness of the leather embellishment meant that it would get spotted within about three seconds of anyone seeing me. A good thing and a bad thing.

The 11 year old daughter with the brain of a Bond villain who has decided to retire and use his mind for good causes was first on.

"Dad, what's that around your neck?"

"Well it's you know, just a necklace thing, you know, just" I answered with all the confidence and force of a young blogger who's left his ID in that hole behind the handbrake, then got stopped at a checkpoint.

"What for?" But she was already in gear for the laughing. My answer wasn't going to be relevant and I knew it.

"Well just" I said. I meant it to sting.

"Ha ha ha" she said and then called A, her sister over.

"A, look Dad's gone gay"

The sister wandered over and peered at my neck. She had that look on her face that women can do, a scrunched up nose and a Presley turned up lip, as if I had asked them to smell my fart.

"Uuuurgh Dad, what's that, are you gay or what?"

For the purposes of fairness I should mention here that I'm open minded and have total ease with people who ask others to smell their farts. We're all different and I'm happy for people to do whatever they want to.

"No I'm not, it's just a necklace."

"Eeeewww. You're way too old for that. You're having some sort of crisis aren't you?"

I felt that things were going pretty well under the circumstances. Academic Bro was next in line. The chances of him not spotting it, not mentioning it and not mocking it were about as slim as the chances of my Mum not having a go at me about, well anything really. As we often say here in England, I had two chances; Bob Chance and No Chance. Or something like that.

"What the fuck's that?" he asked. He's good with words.

I gave my carefully prepared answer. I gave it with the tone and attitude of a disgruntled teenager who's just been asked to tidy his room for the second time that year.

"It's just a bloody necklace."

He just laughed, giving me that look as if he knows better, which he usually does, then kind of rolled his eyes.

Since then, every time I've seen the girls they've made cutting and cruel remarks. On Wednesday K spent a lot of time asking me if I had a boyfriend yet. When I denied it she came to the conclusion that it was because I was too old anyway. A three way discussion ensued, about whether I was too old, too camp or both, to date women. The girls seemed to be coming down on the side of both. I disagreed with them.

But if I'd spent the best part of a week suffering the anguish and turmoil about the appearance alone I could have lived with that. The problem for me was compounded by water and British weather. When I shower the necklace got waterlogged. I ran a towel over it as I dried myself but making too much effort seemed overly concerned and taking it off before a shower is just against all my principles too, far too narcissistic.

So I've been sitting through my morning at work with the sensation of a wet cold piece of leather wrapped around my neck. My collars have been uncomfortable, my neck has felt a bit itchy and I've been questioning the price of vanity.

That price of vanity in conjunction with the unsubtleness of the thong led me to buy another one. A less cumbersome one, a thin black shoestring of leather with loud bits of subtlety written all over it. I'm field testing it and the signs are good so far. It's a bit longer so doesn't get seen by everyone the second they see me. It's less rugged looking and a bit more "jewellery" looking.

The results are pleasing on both of the major issues. The appearance thing is more subtle, which results in less mocking from my daughters and every other person who I have ever met. The waterloggedness doesn't happen either. But I'm decidedly undecided on this.

The balance between the first one, that surfer dude look and its ruggedness and the more subtle but also more "I take so much care about my appearance" look is a hard one to decide upon.

Currently I'm back to the first one. Who knows what tomorrow will herald?

At least I'm not over thinking the issue!