Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tat Two - Vut Too Doo?

I've ponced about with the idea before but the decision is made now and there's no going back. Unless I change my mind.

The decision is to get a tat on the inside of my right wrist. All I have to do now is figure out exactly what I want done.

This right wrist is the perfect position for what I want and I'm amazed that I hadn't thought of it before as a potential site. The one I already have, at the top of my left arm, I'm totally pleased with. Yet it doesn't really come out to play and get seen unless I'm swimming, bathing or having sex.

And let's face it, I bathe on my own, I swim like a brick and sex can be scarce in this life. On top of that I'm not a sleeveless T shirt kind of chap, even when on the drums in a dodgy pub. So I wanted a new location that gave a bit more public viewing but could still be hidden and kept away from people in a business environment.

The right wrist has the clever benefit of being able to be hidden by a sleeve as well as revealed by a T shirt. I can't believe no one's ever thought of it before.

So to the design. I posted some time ago about this and still would like to come up with something Sri Lankan, but it's proving a hard task, all about balance and taste. You see, if I were to get a Lankanish thing, then I wouldn't want it to be corny, I wouldn't want a Lankan to see it and roll their eyes and think "what a twat", any more than they normally would I mean.

Images of Kandyan drums and drummers are ideas that I've more or less rejected. Getting a tattoo artist here to do something like a Kandyan drummer may well end up with something that resembles a picture of a fat bird in a skirt with an oil drum around her waist. No disrespect to the inkers here but most of them won't know exactly how it should look and I've struggled to find enough pictures or diagrams on the net.

The option of waiting until the next time I hit Serendib is there, just not a favourable one because of impatience.

I toyed with the idea of having an outline map of the island but figured that, to the average Suddha, it would just look like an insignificant squiggle. Lions and flags were considered and turned down for potentially having too many extreme connotations.

I've also pondered on the possibility of getting a copy of one of the Sigiriya frescos but it's fraught with risk. Get it done badly and people would just think it was a picture of that long haired bloke at House Of Fashions. The only good thing that could come from that would be a bit of discount but it would take years to even get back the cost of the tat, so that's a no go.

A nice one of Naz Sansoni was also considered, then rejected because of a technicality, well Dom. Then, while thinking of other well known Lankans, of course Indi made an appearance. I reckon I might be the first person to have an Indi tattoo and could start a trend, perhaps with or just underneath.

But then I realised that Indi, good guy and all round hero anyway, does not possess a face I'd like to wake up and find staring at me in the middle of the night. I'm sure there are women who would love the thought, I'm just not one of them.

The Gyppo was also rejected. A pretty face and all, but huge big feet. That's why she never falls over you know and can swim really fast.

The initials of the girls, as well as Chinese characters are out. When I say Chinese characters I'm talking about letters, not Cato from the Pink Panther. The girls are fundamentally against the idea anyhow, with A saying that she'll probably hate me if I do it, so getting their initials would probably be rubbing ink in the wound.

So the search is on in earnest. I'm out and about visiting tattoo parlours looking for the one. Searching on the net for a tattoo is a bit like describing a colour to a blind person. It's only going to give me the very vaguest of ideas about what it will look like on me and it's next to impossible when I'm so hazy about what I want. Googling Lanka and drums just comes up with some idiot's blog.

Vut too doo?

Quite literally.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pre Gig Thinking Aloud

You'll be reading this on Wednesday morning and everything I've written will be all in the past, but I think you're bright enough to figure things out.

Come, sit with me and I'll talk you through my mind. Here we are. It's a Tuesday morning, it's 9.56 and tonight's a gig night. I'm going through my usual schedule for a weeknight gig. It's one of bananas, deodorant, water and nerves, not necessarily in that order, and some banging under my desk.

The bananas and water are my new friends in the battle against drummer's cramp. It's a battle that me, the bananas and the water are winning though increasing age might be creeping up on the blindside for a surprise attack. I read somewhere recently that a top level drummer is as fit as a professional footballer and uses up as much energy in a gig as a player uses in a match.

Well I think it's safe to say that I'm nowhere up to David Beckham's level of fitness. For starters I've only got the one tattoo and then I'm not a professional drummer out on tour doing a gig a night. Nevertheless it's hard work to drum my way through about twenty five kicking songs with only a ten or fifteen minute break and a singer who thinks that drummers shouldn't be allowed to grab some water between songs.

In recent gigs I've found this awkward and was gettting a bit, well a lot of cramp in a multitude of RD limbs. The show must go on and the more keen drummer watchers would have witnessed my trying to play I Predict a Riot while fighting cramp in my right calf as well as my right hand and wrist. It wasn't the most confortable of situations and some googling has led me to the discovery that lots of water and bananas can help prevent the crampy stuff.

So these days my pre gig routine consists of eating King Louie sized helpings of bananas with simply lashings of mineral water. That's rock 'n' roll for you. It's rock 'n' roll when you're in a covers band that plays for fun and you've got work the next morning and the girls that evening.

It's also our last gig of the season. After a busy time in recent weeks this is our last one until we reconvene after the summer. It reminds me of something I read in a book, where the chap muses on how he never realised, whilst having sex for the very last time before sufferring from impotence, that it was actually going to be his last time.

For all I know it could be the band's very last gig. We have no more booked, though I'm sure we will have soon, and who knows what might happen. There could be musical differences, a nasty gardening accident, a banana overdose or any number of things that might split us up in the meantime. Or impotence.

My god, what if I never have sex again as well?

The deodorant is a bit of the pre gig routine also. Leaving straight from work means that a burst is essential. I've got myself these new Lynx bullet things, tiny cans of deodorant about three inches long that you can carry around for emergencies. Apparently I'm going to smell of rare leathers and be irresistible to women. I hope the rare leather isn't like the chamois in my Dad's garage.

Nerves are a bit alien to me. I get nervous and a bit apprehensive but have never been one of those puking up round the back of the stage sort of chaps. Once we've set up and soundchecked my nerves tend to be the impatient type. I hate the waiting, the standing around, the having a drink and a bite and chatting. I love the banter side of it, just wish that the clock could be fast forwarded and we could get on and play.

I'll often be found sitting quietly and practicing on a pad, doing paradiddles and single stroke rolls, the drummer's equivalent of keeping the oil in the engine. Under my desk I have two bass drum practice pedals and the girls in my office are used to the sound of bass drum patterns wafting out of my office. At least that's what they think.

My mind, in its drifting state, wanders over to the subject of all these trolls around the Lankanosphere. What do I think of them? Some of them are genuinely funny, some are merely vicious and some are cruel. One or two are funny, vicious and cruel in a hit or miss type of way. I suppose the fact that I get quite a lot of "attention" is a symptom of LLD being quite popular.

The truth is that sometimes these comments annoy me, a troll feeding line if ever I wrote one, but only in a slightly puzzled way. This was never meant to be a serious blog tackling serious issues. It's always been the pimped up diary chronicling the quite normal events of my day to day life. When I get criticism for writing boring stuff I genuinely get bewildered.

On one hand it can't be that boring as, let's face it, I get a reasonable amount of hits. On the other hand it's bound to be boring to some but I've never claimed that I'm trying to write the blog equivalent of an action packed H(B)ollywood film. Surely complaining about my blog being boring is like ordering beef at a restaurant and then complaining that it doesn't taste like fish?

I think I'll leave you on that note, for fear of putting too many people to sleep. It's almost two hours since I started writing this, though I've been doing plenty of other things as well, and the car has to be packed with drums and other things need to be done.

It's been a bit of a stream of consciousness thing, I wonder if I should make it a tag. Nope, it's a thought but probably not a good one.

Ooooh, I'm all excited about tonight now. And I've eaten two bananas.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Automatics And Blue Lights, Snails And Germans

I've been spending recent days driving in unusual cars. When I say unusual I mean unusual to me, not that they've got seven wheels or engines powered by string hoppers or something. Actually, if I did have a car that ran on string hoppers I'd never get out of my parking space at RD Towers anyway.

As I mentioned in another installment the Satnav on the RD chariot decided to go to the place where Satnavs go to die and required a new DVD drive in order to come back to life. I assume it already knew how to get to that place or it may have got lost as it wasn't working.

The car, after several shenanigans and several hundred spondulicks, was returned to me. I was pleased yet disappointed with the expense. I was pleased that it was fixed, pleased that my software had been upgraded, though the only major difference I could see was that the graphics were in a slightly brighter tone, and pleased that I had the car back with working satnav.

I was also pleased that I thought of and got to use the word "spondulicks" in a post, though that came later. I've never used it in writing before and may start to use it more.

Now I'm by no means a petrolhead yet I do like cars, it's probably accurate to say that my knowledge of them is slightly above average for a bloke. I know my BHP from my MPH, my torque from my talk and my cylinders from my cup holders. I like to drive with a bit of ooomph and speed but my idea of car maintenance is checking the oil level with the iDrive and putting water in the windscreen washer tank when it's needed.

I like cars, I know a bit about them, that's it really. For me they're more than a method of getting from A to B, or C even, if that's what takes your fancy.

So the RD chariot has a rather powerful 3.0 litre fuel injected straight six engine, one of those sporty interiors and of course a stereo that goes up to eleven. I like it and I use it.

Imagine my pissed offishness then when, thirty six hours after getting it back, it decides to laugh in my face. Again.

There I was, driving to work. I put my foot down as I came off this roundabout, in the place where I almost always do it. I got up to about 60 in second gear, as I always do. The rev counter was just about hitting the red line, as it always does. I went to change into third. Nothing happened, as it never does.

If I was one of the type who drive a really old car, maybe one as ancient as five years old, then I would have thought my clutch cable had snapped, that was how it felt. I'm knowledgeable enough to know that these beasts don't have clutch cables, it's all done by magic and German technology. Yes, I'm pretty advanced with the old mechanics and I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong with the hydronautics.

I cruised to a halt then managed to limp into work in second gear, then had that sick feeling as I watched the car dispatched on the back of a tow truck back to the dealership. I've had better mornings, if the truth is what you desire.

I was carless and annoyed but a phone call to the 'rents took care of the first part. Within a few hours I was driving back to my office in my Mum's VW Polo. It's got a 1.4 litre engine, an automatic gearbox and a cushion on the driver's seat. It's even got a cassette player, which kind of freaked me out a bit. It's four cars ago that I last had a cassette player.

But the relevant thing was that it was driveable, a fact that I was grateful for, something my expensive piece of German er technology wasn't. Frankly I'd rather be in a car with a cassette player that moved than be in one with a CD player that didn't.

A 1.4 litre engine isn't the most powerful thing in the world. It may be good for the environment, it may burn less fuel and run more economically than a camel in a water factory, but let's face it, it's hardly going to be Benjamin Button's or Jensen Interceptor's choice of engine in the next Grand Prix. On top of that this one is an automatic. Can you believe it?

I don't know about you but for the life of me I just can't get to grips with automatic gearboxes, though some would say, particularly after reading this post, that I struggle with manuals too. To be a passenger in an automatic car when driven by me must feel like travelling in a kangaroo. I can't get the hang of the braking and the accelerating, though I'm proficient on the steering side of things.

Every journey I went on was a series of leaping and bounding from one stoppage to the next. Each little touch on the brake pedal resulted in either a sharp emergency stop type stop, as if the driving examiner had just slammed his notepad on my dashboard, or nothing whatsoever, no slowing of the car and no decrease in revs. Which of course meant that I'd have to do an emergency stop in a couple of seconds' time anyhow.

Then pulling away from the stoppage invariably involved putting my foot flat to the floor and feeling as if the accelerator had stopped working, only to realise that there was some vague forward movement, just slower than nature had intended. I imagine that the engine compartment in these Polos contains a treadmill contraption that's actually powered by a team of geriatric snails, all of whom are on a hunger strike and going a bit slower than normal.

I got through things eventually. I must apologise if you were stuck behind me in the last few days. I bet it was frustrating for you and I can offer no excuses.

The silver lining?

These VW Polos, they've got blue lights on the dashboard. Each time I turned on the lights the whole fascia glowed with this very lovely shade of blue. It was most relaxing and eye catching.

Very groovy I must say.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Drummer In Action

Morning all.

Here's my new favourite picture of an unknown drummer in action.

Good looking bloke eh?

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Blonde In The Lift

Well, you know me, you know that I'm partial to a blonde. Give me Britney over J Lo, give me Rachel over Monica, the blonde one in Abba over the redhead, as long as he shaved his beard off. But, it can't be easy being a blonde and I sometimes feel sorry for them, no more so than the other night when I got home.

I was unloading my car of drum kit as we drummers so often have to do. RD Towers is one of those apartment blocks in which you only occasionally get to meet the neighbours, everyone keeps themselves to themselves but are also quite friendly and jolly when we meet, even if I am one of those darkies. It's all very British, but pleasant.

And you know what a bass drum looks like right? It's round, it's drum shaped and big. There are few things in life that look like a bass drum, even when it's in a case, a bass drum shaped case.

There I was, dragging the bass out of my car when another car pulled up next to me. We have allocated spaces in the RD Towers underground car park and it seems that the modus operandi is to wave at each other and be friendly, just not too friendly. This car pulled up and a blonde woman, probably a bit younger than me, though most people I see are these days, got out and said hello.

She asked if I'd moved into my flat number, which I of course had, and introduced herself. I reciprocated and put down the drum in order to shake her hand. Who said drummers weren't polite? She seemed nice enough but had one of those squeeky voices, the kind that you get on blondes on reality TV programmes, the kind that suggest that the owner has such a voice because the sound echoes around an empty head before it leaves the mouth.

We got into the lift together. There was me, the blonde, my bass drum and an elderly looking woman who had got out of the blonde's car with her and I assumed to be her mother. She had that motherly look about her and didn't say much. It was a bit cramped but of course these things are relative. If it was a Sri Lankan bus if would have been more or less empty and I would have wondered what the mirrors were doing on the walls, why it had buttons that went from one to four.

As we went up in the lift there was a second or so of silence and then blondie came out with it

"So what's that you got there then?" she squeeked.

I looked at her with a squinty thinking expression. Was she quite smart and having a joke? Was she a few steps ahead of the game? Maybe underneath the bimbo look there lurked a keen and agile mind. But she gave little away.

"Eh?" I replied with all the charm and eloquence of Bertie Wooster being caught stealing something by Aunt Agatha.

"What's that there?" she pointed to my bass drum and it became obvious that she really didn't know.

Fifty three possible witty answers flashed through my mind. Responses like saying it was a huge can of baked beans to a small child that I like to carry around in a circular case were considered and rejected. I was in a lift, there wasn't much space and she was a neighbour of mine. On top of that she clearly wouldn't have understood the sarcastic reply, her mother might have beat me up and, as I say to K so often, it's not a joke if you're the only one laughing. And I would have been.

"Oh it's a bass drum." I said, then explained about being a drummer, gig etc, you know the stuff. I hoped the many mirrors in the lift hadn't revealed the roll of my eyes as I answered.

Some people eh? How on earth can blondes have more fun?

That's my story about the girl in the lift. I'm sure someone else told one once...

Merry weekend all.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Addictive Personality?

I was cruising back to RD Towers the other night and listening to a phone in type radio show that I often choose.

One of the topics was alcoholism and several people were ringing in to talk about their experiences with it and of it. I found myself feeling sad, happy, grumpy, dopey and sneezy. Then I realised that I wasn't actually Snow White in a porn setting and was just sad and happy.

The stories were like that, yet I skilfully retained my outward composure and calmness whilst driving. I didn't want the public outside my window to witness the spectacle of a crying or laughing me.

Many of the callers mentioned the fact that they thought they had an "addictive" personality and that that was why they had become alcoholics. I found this to be highly interesting on several levels.

The first one is that I've always wondered if there is actually such a thing as an "addictive personality". Is it just another way of labelling someone who has a low amount of willpower, a person who's easily led perhaps?

I smoked from the time I was fifteen years old to a few years ago. I "gave up" now and then, but always restarted. Until last time. I stopped by using the Allen Carr method and I now know that, even if I do start again, I'll stop again. It sounds a bit mad but my mindset has totally shifted. I don't smoke. Full stop, but the full stop was before.

I'm not one of these people who struggles to get through each hour, day, week and month without a smoke. I just don't do it and there's no big battle of willpower that goes on, nor was there from the moment I stopped.

The thing is, when I did smoke, I was one of those confirmed smokers. I could never have been one of those people that many smokers envy, the dreaded social smoker, the type who can go out and have a few drinks, smoke a few cigarettes then go home and not smoke until the next occasion.

I was a dedicated thirty a day smoker, a wake up and have a fag (in english), a have one as the last thing at night type of fellow. People used to say that I was a bloke who looked as if I enjoyed each cigarette, by and large I did. Then I started to hate it, then I stopped.

My point in saying this is that I thought I had an addictive personality yet I stopped smoking without going through the whole battle of willpower that so many do. One of the principles of the Allen Carr stop smoking method is that willpower isn't involved. As soon as it was removed from my situation, as soon as I thought I didn't have to face this ongoing turmoil I was okay.

Also I've noticed that many people, and I reluctantly include myself in this group, choose to label themselves as addictive personalities. It's become a sort of badge of honour that we talk of as if it's bad, but the reality is we love it and subtly boast about it.

"Ooh I shouldn't. I've got a bit of an addictive personality you know"

It's become like saying you're a bit edgy, a bit of a loose cannon, not to be confused with a loose canon, one of those priests who puts it about a bit. To have an addictive personality equates to glamour, the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, people like Slash and Keith Moon. It never conjures up images of sad alcoholics living a lonely life and dying.

It's second only to people saying that they're a bit OCD about something. That's all the rage these days isn't it? The average bloke who likes Chinese food will describe himself as "a bit OCD about Chinese food" instead of just saying he likes the stuff. And also, while I'm on a roll here, it's actually more of a trait in women than with men isn't it?

Lastly this addictive personality thing interests me as, of course, I think I've got one, yet I remain unsure if they really exist. One of the things the chap on the radio said last night is that most people, when giving up one addiction, will switch to something else. In effect what he said was that addictive personalities are a fact and, for that type of person, they'll always be addicted to something, be it gambling, smoking, drinking or cheese.

I wonder.

I'm currently going through a serious asparagus phase. In fact I think I'm a bit OCD about it.

What sayeth thou?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dogs - Intelligent Companions Or Stupid Animals?

It's important that I set my stall out nice and early here; I'm not a dog lover, I'm not really a pet lover of any sort. I tolerate them, I love elephants and leopards and I particularly like chicken, not the skin though, except KFC skin, that's tasty.

But I also don't hate dogs, contrary to popular opinion, I'm just in that indifferent camp.

I look at canines, I observe their and their owner's (or should that be the other way round) behaviour and figure that these four legged furry things have some fine and admirable qualities.

They're usually fine, faithful and loyal companions, except when they sometimes turn on and kill or maim their owner or a child of course. They not called man's best friend without good reason and there appears to be no other animal that can demonstrate the loyalty and sense of duty that a dog will.

But, as nice, devoted and trainable as they are, I firmly believe that dogs, as animals go, rank quite highly up on the animals that are stupid chart. I got into a discussion about this with a friend the other day and she said that I was judging dogs as being lesser than other animals and that was wrong.

Well I'm not. I see it as a passing comment, a criticism and an observation. In the same vein as if I mention that you've got black hair or wear glasses. It's a fact, though you might choose to argue with me, not something that makes a dog a "worse" animal than another. But, they're thick, they're stupid and still many people love their canine to bits.

Some people cite a dog's ability to be trained to do simple tasks, sitting, fetching and rolling over and having their bollocks stroked as examples of their supreme intelligence. No, I say. The fact that just about any dog will run the length of a football pitch to retrieve a mouldy foul smelling stick, that the average fellow can be trained to sit in just about any situation on hearing the command just proves that they're not up there in the gifted league.

Would you or I, after training, respond to these commands by sitting down, then running off feeling quite happy because we've been rewarded with a biscuit, a crappy tasting one at that? No way, because we're intelligent, though I'll do most things if there was a pile of white string hoppers at the end of the rainbow.

Cats, which many people dislike as pets, are quite boring and uninteresting compared to dogs. Well I reckon that's because they're far more intelligent. Try to teach a cat to sit and it will just look at you with that "oh fuck off tosspot" look. They don't need to be taken outside to do their ablutions because they can figure things out for themselves. They can find their way back home whereas the average dog couldn't find its way to out of a wet paper bag.

They (cats) can also jump down from very high places, a feat that must be admired by anyone. Can you imagine a dog attempting to jump form a height of ten or twelve feet down onto a smallish ledge. It would end in tears, broken limbs and that whinging sound dogs make.

It is clear that there are differences in intelligence between the various dog breeds, but fundamentally they're all still down there in the lower ranks. Some dog loving types will say that these Police and Narcotic seeking dogs are examples of high intelligence. I say that the fact dogs can be trained to hunt round a house to find drugs or bombs is proof of their dimness. Any animal with a modicum of intelligence would just adopt a cat like reaction to these situations and stroll off to sleep or relax.

Sheepdogs though must possess a reasonably high level of IQ, or DIQ as it should be called. The way that they can actually round up a herd of sheep and apparently do some thinking must indicate more than an animal merely responding in Pavlovian fashion to commands.

And it does seem to me that a dog lover will rarely admit that dogs are fundamentally a bit slow on the uptake, as if it is a "bad" thing, as if it says something about the intelligence of the owner as well.

I've come to the conclusion that it's the sheer stupidity of dogs that makes them such great animals to have as pets. It's their trainability, their faithfulness and companionship that make them man's best friend.

It's their stupidity that makes them like that in the first place.

And any animal that can lick its own balls has got to get some admiration hasn't it?

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One Small Step For A Sri Lankan....

Wasn't what was said.

The actual words were

"One small step for man but one giant step for mankind."

It was exactly forty years ago yesterday that so famous phrase was utterred by Louis Armstrong as he and Buzz Lightyear landed on the moon. Naturally they did it at night time, when the moon was out.

I heard that Lankan astronauts attempted the same feat several times but, on arrival in the vicinity, they saw the full moon, declared a Poya day and promptly went home and travelled down south for the long weekend.

But, if it had been a Sri Lankan astronaut to get to the moon first, what do you think he would have said?

Prizes for the funniest as always.

Answers on a comment please.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Only Slightly Funny

Cerno's Cernometer, Cars and Carbs

The master's post here got me thinking. One of the things I thought about was whether his thing in his car that tells him what speed he's driving at should actually be called a "Cernometer". I chuckled inwardly and quietly to myself at that one, I must tell you.

The other thing was about Sri Lankans and carbohydrates, rice in particular. We love 'em don't we. Give any of us a plate of something centred around rice or noodly things and our eyes light up and our tongues hang out like one of those boys at Majestic City when they see a female under twenty five.

Here in England some people, when confronted with anything like an Indian restaurant menu or a situation in which they need to eat Asian food, will actually opt for more curry than rice, sometimes these Suddas will even NOT have rice. Honestly I've seen this happen and it never ceases to astound me. We eat rice and curry, they eat curry and rice, maybe just curry.

I've been to restaurants with friends and they've tried to order one portion of rice to share. With me??!! At this point I have to put my foot down. A rice portion in an Indian restaurant here usually contains about a third of the amount of rice in the average Lankan bath packet. You can see my quandary and occasionally I even have to order an additional portion just for myself.

We love rice and we're proud of it.

But, as with many things, a Sri Lankan's love of rice, his eagerness for string hoppers, hoppers and his cravings for Kottu (except NB who hates kottu of course) come at a price.

Rice, as well as other carb based foods, absorb moisture and water once eaten. That's why we eat rice until we're full and then, an hour or so later, feel more uncomfortable and even more full, though we thought we were full to the brim earlier. That rice absorbs all the moisture in our stomachs, it's like the silica gel of the food world, and expands in our stomach.

Then, after a lifetime of this continual behaviour, we end up looking like we're fourteen months pregnant and chaps like Cerno write posts about it. Sadly exercise alone doesn't change things. I'm told it's a mixture of diet and exercise that gets rid of the pregnant look. I'm also told that in some countries it's all the rage.

I went to see Bruno the other night, the film that they're all raving about. It was hilarious in a cover your face and hide in shame sort of way. One of the scenes involved a severely depressed Bruno committing "carbicide". He told us that, prior to that moment, he hadn't touched a carb for fifteen years.

At that point I thought to myself that he would have been no good as a Sri Lankan man then.


Happy Monday all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Connections - Real Or Imaginary?

You know when you read a book and you feel as if it's going to change your life?

Well that's what I'm doing at the moment. This one is by Edward de Bono, a fellow who is probably best described by someone other than me. In the wikipedia entry he's described as a

"physician, author, inventor and consultant."

I'm sure it's accurate but I think of him as a highly bright person, probably from eating a lot of fish, who teaches and writes about good thinking, creativity and using one's intelligence. He introduced the term "lateral thinking" and also the six thinking hats method which you may have heard of. He didn't invent lateral thinking of course, that was Newton, who also invented gravity.

I like his work and the book I'm methodically working my way through is called "I am right, you are wrong." though I'm unsure if it features the comma that I've thrown in there.

If I were an academic sort of chap I'd speed my way through books like this with the ease of a tri shaw driver weaving his way through Galle Road at about 2.15 in the afternoon. I'm not, though I know it will surprise you, so instead I plough through each of his books with the speed and sense of relaxation only normally seen in white tourists attempting to eat with their fingers for the very first time.

Yes, reading one of his books for me gives me the literary equivalent of food up to my elbow and mess all over the tablecloth. There's no way I can take it all in if there's a TV on in the background, Guns 'n' Roses blasting out or A + K having a fight about who sat there first.

This book demands my total concentration at all times, any mind wandering results in a total lack of comprehension. However, providing I manage it, which often means reading a page several times, I learn. And I learn big time. And I like that. And I must not start sentences with and.

I won't bore you with details of what I've learned but each short section in this book invariably sets of an army of lightbulbs in my head. As I read something there are pinging noises and explosions going on as I feel stuff realigning and huge big chunks of knowledge being deposited in the RD head.

The one thing I want to share with you is about connections, how we approach them, see them and often look for them. It made me think, perhaps you'll do likewise.

I used to have the occasional bad driving day, one of those days when it would seem like all the bad drivers were out on the road, as if there was a meeting of the bad drivers' club and they were all on the way and somehow had erroneously thought my car was the one leading the way.

It would always start with someone pulling out in front of me in the morning. By the end of that day I'd have had about three or four similar incidents and would get home wondering what was in the air that day. Then there'd be about five months until another day would have the same kind of incidents.

Or do you ever find yourself looking at a crowd, perhaps at a match or if you're watching one on TV. When you aren't thinking about it the crowd appears as a totally random mix of differently dressed people. If however, you decide to count the number of people wearing red shirts, they spring out towards you and you begin to see red shirts all over the show. It appears as if almost everyone's wearing the things.

The other day, as I was doing my morning commute, one without the mad drivers around, for some reason I started to think about Paris. In fact, as I write about this I've realised it was because I was talking with Ozcuz the previous night about Barack Obama and how I'd seen him in Paris. I drove into work and merrily day dreamed of the joys of Paris, the delights of the French experience and the rest of it.

Fast forward by an hour and I was sitting at my desk staring at a friend's pictures on Facebook, pictures she had uploaded of, yes you've guessed it, Paris. She'd only uploaded them the previous night and I felt as if Paris and me were going through a connected phase, which is probably how the boyfriend felt when him and Ms Hilton were making THAT video.

All these kind of things happen to all of us and we all think that there's a connection going on, that there's something in the air, or that the universe is speaking to us. It may well be the case.

Or, as de Bono theorises, it may be our mind playing tricks on us. He tells us, well he told me and the other people who've read the book and I'm telling you, that the mind actively seeks connections, that it has a need to join things up and find patterns, even when they don't actually exist.

So if I start the day with an idiot pulling out in front of me, my mind becomes attuned to more of these incidents through the rest of the day, whereas on other days I'm occupied with my usual mind tremors and ruminations.

If we look at a large crowd but decide to pick out the people wearing red shirts then our mind gets into that gear and the red shirted people jump out at us.

If, by coincidence in fact, I have a passing thought about Paris and the look at some photographs of the city a little while later then my mind seeks out a connection and concludes that there is one, probably making it all the more likely that the next time I see a Renault I'll figure that Paris is calling me and I should jump on the next plane there.

When you think about it that is what happens isn't it?

It's not that these connection really exist, it's just that our minds, for whatever reason, look for them and find them.

Next time you catch yourself thinking you're receiving messages telling you a place is calling you, that everyone's in a bad mood or all the cars are blue today, take a step back and question if it's your mind making connections that don't exist. It seems to be for me.

Just thought I'd share that with you.

Good weekend all.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SatNav Love

If you're a person of a certain age or above then you'll have definitely seen this happen. It's when technology develops and you look around and observe things that are totally taken for granted now, yet you remember them in the very original and basic form, all those years ago when they were first around.

DD feels like that when he looks at cars. Sadly I get it when I look at mobile phones. Hand on heart dear readers I can recall when they were first around and took up the space usually reserved for a drummer on stage. Chaps would carry them around to show how important they were and a few lucky but less important ones had car phones. Then, us normal people would buy stick on fake aerials to chuck on our car so that people would think we had a car phone. They cost more than a mobile does now.

Most of these inventions stemmed from early episodes of Star Trek anyway. Being an inventor these days must be quite easy, all you have to do is watch what James Tiberius and the crew were using and then make the thing in real life. Piece of piss really.

Satnav is one of these things. I've seen it get invented, get introduced, become cheap and accessible to most and now it's more or less an essential. It won't be that long before every single new car sold has satnav as standard. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe you guys don't have it in Lanka yet. I'm not clear if that's because the mapping of roads isn't sufficient yet or if it's because of other factors but would very much like to know.

It's brilliant, I tell you. I'm old enough to have done my time with paper maps and that so old fashioned thing of driving while trying to map read, of stopping to ask for directions and getting lost. These days I get in my car, type the address into my Satnav and follow the instructions, either on screen or by listening to the rather asexual sounding woman.

The only negative to it that is that it's hard to get an overall picture of the route you're going to take, if it's a longish journey. That may be something that's changed in newer types and it's not a major thing. I often do a quick map finding thing online if it matters that much, then use the satnav once I'm on route. One can feel a bit helpless just driving and following the turn left at the end of this road instructions without knowign roughly where you're going.

My car, like many in London, is a map free zone. Never do I fret about the route or about getting lost. We have the technology. Or so we thought.

Until last Sunday.

I had a couple of old and great friends with me. It was a quick visit, typically Sri Lankan actually. A phone call to say they were here, can they come and see me. I replied in the affirmative and before we knew it they were with me. A drink, a look at RD Towers, a walk and then a short drive to go and see the 'rents before dropping them back to where they were staying. No problems.

I knew the area they were staying in, knew how to head in that direction but had no local knowledge, not the faintest. We left the parents' house, I asked the address and turned on the satnav to whack it in.

"Please insert DVD" the text said on screen.

My mind, the sharp, quick analytical one that you know I have, jumped ahead several steps, two to be precise. I pressed eject and poked the DVD back in, the same message came up. I tried again, I guess it's the equivalent of shouting at someone who doesn't speak your language to get them to understand. You won't be surprised to hear that still nothing happened.

We drove in the rough direction and I wondered what on earth to do. After some thinking I figured that pulling over and turning the ignition off, waiting a few minutes and trying again might solve things, the ctrl alt del of the car world. That didn't work either.

It became evident that my satnav was well and truly bollocksed. If it was working the woman would have said

"find your own way there, I'm broken"

Though she would have said it in German

"Guten tag, wo ist der rathaus bitte?" I think is the translation. That may be ever so slightly incorrect.

Some phone calls and my vague awareness of how to get us in the general direction ensured a smooth and relatively trouble free journey. It was a rare thing to have to find our own way there, but actually quite easy.

Coming back was different. I was on my own and thought I could go the easier way. It would have been easier I'm sure, if I'd have known it. I ended up going about eighteen sides of a nineteen sided figure, it may even have been nineteen. All I know is that it took me about forty five minutes to get back to where I would have been anyway had I not tried to be smart.

I'm ashamed to say it, but I got lost. As any woman knows we're programmed in such a way that we MUST never ever ask for directions. And being lost without satnav, without even a map in my boot was actually unnerving. Thankfully there was no woman next to me, at least I'm able to keep these things to myself.

It was like being stranded in the Wanni, or being left in Block 2 in Yala suddenly and there's no tracker to be seen. That's what Weybridge is like, real deepest Surrey and perhaps a good twenty minutes from my home. It was frightening, with a capital fright.

The BMW place tells me that the drive might need replacing and I'm waiting to hear how many millions of the Queen's pounds this will cost. It's not good news and I find myself wondering if this technology is worth the cost after all.

Yeaaahhhh. Of course it is.

Isn't it? Maybe I'll just get a map and chuck it in the boot for emergencies.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lately In The Lankanosphere.....

After some time since I've even felt like writing one of these things have started to pick up in the Lankanosphere, that Kottu world we all know and love. Many of our favourite Sri Lankan bloggers have been mysteriously quiet and seemingly replaced by a bunch of wannabes, all trying their best to be controversial and getting lots of positive comments from anonymous readers.

'tis a weird phenomenon this, though I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a phenomenon that isn't weird. I reckon most of us get negative, downright nasty and bitchy comments from people who hide behind anonymity, then we get intelligent and eloquent ones, though often disagreeing with our opinions, from people who are prepared to give their identity, even it's their blogging identity.

A select few blogs seem to get nice comments, those that agree with their opinions and offer words of praise from anons. Why on earth is this? I really can't figure it out.

But in the space of the last week some of the old favourites have kicked out a few little gems. My intention is to tell you about the ones I've spotted, read and liked. This could be a damn long post, one of those ones that you'll get quite bored with, perhaps not even making it to the end. I apologise for that, but needs must and whatnot.

The first and most eye catching post has been this one by the Gyppo, G12 or simply The Temptress as she probably should be known from now on. The furore surrounding the issue has even spread over to Groundviews, where only the most serious things are to be found. Support for G12's views has sprung up all over the place and, according to the recipient of our Gyppo's letter, support isn't the only thing that may have sprung up.

The serious message in these things is actually about people taking responsibility for their actions, not blaming their behaviours on the way someone is dressed/looked at them/blinked in the sunlight etc. On the other hand if "temptation" in young boys and priests means that they'll rush home, lock their bedroom door and do some serious monkey spanking then that's quite normal isn't it?

Both the Sachs have been chucking stuff out into the blogospheric world. Firstly JapSach has celebrated the milestone of getting 10,000 hits so congratulations to him over in the land of the rising sun. On the subject of blogoversaries (copyright Cerno 2008) Kalusudda has also hit the one year mark with his blog and many have wished him on this auspicious occasion. He's off sailing at the moment and the members of the Lankanosphere are holding our collective breath waiting for his safe return.

The cynical Sach has been bravely battling exams, illness and road closures. There's barely anything I can add to that except a get well soon or a good luck. Or both. I guess the biggest incentive for her to get better is the thought that the Poet fellow might come over and nurse her if she gets any worse, with his "special" thermometer.

Java's back with a little postlet on the subject of decriminalising marijuana, a genuinely interesting topic. There are few people who would present a case that a bit of a smoke now and again will actually do a person any long term harm whatsoever, but I do wonder if many can put forward a reasonable argument that enjoying it doesn't increase the temptation in people to try harder and harmful drugs. Either way it's good to see Mr Jones back with his idiosyncratic and stimulating words.

TMS became TMTMS for a while but has returned after Special Agent Cerno put out an APB. It seems she was holed up in Unawatuna, or Oonerwartooner, as it's correctly prounounced. She's more poetic and mysterious than ever before and can be seen in a play all about marriage, sexuality and love you know.

Lady Divine, her with the biggest blog roll ever (check it out) wrote a simple one line, one sentence post that got a bit of attention. It made me think, all about perception, different views and perspectives I guess. The comments made it clear that her blog is one of the most followed and popular in the Lankanosphere. We all love to know what's happen in the Divine life.

Cerno created one of his mini masterpieces, in which he cleverly uses acronyms and brain power to produce something that makes the average reader pause and wonder if it's true, before realising that it's about as fact based as a salesperson's weekly report. You can spell "weekly" as "weakly" if you want there, it's the same thing really.

Indi tells us in a quickie that there's this forthcoming lecture on Ravana and Ramayana. This PDF thing, published by Perera Hussein looks to be a good idea. I've found, whenever I'm due to hit the motherland, that there's a distinct lack of readily accessible information about forthcoming events in the metropolis. However, a whole lecture on Ravana, nice bloke and great writer though he is, seems a bit excessive. These days he hardly ever writes in his blog. And I can't find this Ramayana one even listed on Kottu.

I stumbled upon this newish blog, one that's all about attracting people to Sri Lanka. It's been around for some months from the looks of things but hasn't been updated very often. I really do hope that whoever writes it can get the momentum up and keep it going as it has the potential to do some very good things. I've chucked a link to it from my blog and will keep my fingers crossed, except when I'm drumming.

In a comment that I didn't publish because it contained so much insulting crap I was accused of being the writer of the blog. It's actually quite a compliment to have to defend myself against that kind of accusation but honestly, it's not me. So there. With knobs on.

This particular post about Barefoot caught my attention. It's also caused a few arguments on the old issue of Barefoot being for people who have money or are the Colombo elite and therefore not for the general people of Sri Lanka. This one, over at My Space (aka SOB), is one of the posts. My opinion on the matter is that the Foot can hardly be described as a place frequented by all and sundry but it's definitely become an instrinsic part of Colombo's cityscape. Which shops, institutions, or activities in any society or country are actually enjoyed by all anyway? Probably just sport and music in most, Tesco in the UK of course, but they don't have jazz on a Sunday afternoon.

In a visualt styley I must direct you to Sebastian Posingis' eye catching latest batch of photographs. The one called Sri Lankan Hills, a picture of, erm, Sri Lankan Hills, is only aptly described by one word; absofuckinglutelyfanfuckingtastic. I've spent far too much time staring at it, at the incredible array of shades and the timelessness of it. I bet he's got a really expensive camera. Maybe even one of those ones with lenses that come off and a built in flash. Yes, he really is that good.

And really lastly Kottu now has the top ten posts for the week displayed insted of the top five.

I think this is good news. I just don't know why.

Have a spiffing week all.


Monday, July 13, 2009

How To Pronounce Lamprais

I saw that someone from the UK had got to my blog the other day by searching the phrase

"Lamprais pronounciation"

My first thought was a mocking and cruel one. Along the lines of

"Ha, how stupid can someone be? It's obvious how to pronounce the word, surely anyone can work that out?"

Then I thought more about the important matter. It dawned on me that, if a chap isn't Sri Lankan, or Dutch, or used to hearing and saying the word, then it's a total mindfuck of a word. My possible pronounciations are:

Lamp rice

Lump rice

Lamp rye

Lump rye

Lamp raise

Lump raise

Confusing really, this whole language and phonetics business isn't it?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hating My Lankan Heritage.


Because it's Sri Lankan, because I miss the motherland, because it's like a drug, one of those addictive ones, like parippu or string hopppers, the hard stuff.

The older I've got the more I've travelled and got to know Sri Lanka. The more I've got to know her, the more I've fallen in love with her. The more I've fallen in love with her the more I've travelled there. The more I've travelled the more I miss Serendib.

It's a catch 23; like a catch 22, but worse.

I wonder how many of these similar diasporic types go through the same.

I'm lucky in that I get over there at least twice a year these days, though they're often quickish trips, and I'm aware that many can't do even that. But after the joy of the last trip starts to subside I get a vague itch. Give it some time and that itch becomes constant, give it some more and it becomes an intermittent pain, like a little brother.

Then, after some more time, that intermittent pain becomes almost constant, which is my current state of play. I mope about, wanting to get over there. Everything I see, everything I hear (oooh, I almost sound like Bryan Adams there) reminds me of the little island I yearn for so.

Only on Monday I was taking A to a piano exam. It was hot and it was raining and I smelled the Colombo Kandy road, vivid and tangible. I saw the roadside greenery and felt that Lankan rain, I tasted that woody cooking smell and the fresh dampness.

I talk to people who tell me about their recent weekend in Unawatuna. I see their photos and can feel the drive out of Colombo as the city fades and gives way to the ruralness. The sea on the right changes from occasional to permanent. The smells, the sights and the sounds and tastes are with me in my head and yet so far away at the same time.

Is this one of the downsides of the ever shrinking world we inhabit? The fact that, even though things seem closer, even though we can text, email, twitter and communicate in real time with each other, we're still thousands of miles away. Of course it is, but it's one side of a coin. On the other is the positive fact that all these things are so close, that we're more connected than ever before.

Then, when I feel that I'm at breaking point, that I'm a mere impulse away from logging onto the SriLankan airlines site and booking a ticket, I see this newish blog. "Go to Sri Lanka" it's called.
I know, I know.

It talks rather smoothly of the beauty of Lanka, of Barefoot no less. There are pictures, lists of hotels and writing that's got lots of description. The hustle and bustle of walking into Barefoot off the street, of sitting there in the garden and chatting to that photographer chap, whose name I forget, dangerous type.

I hear the horning, I feel that dustiness on the Galle Road and can actually touch the brass type door handle as I walk in, you know the one. I go backwards and can see the Elasto sign at the junction, it's like a part of my upbringing that sign. Weird.

As I write this, as I think of these things I feel my heart rate speed up, the excitement builds and then crashes down as reality, or the current reality, reappears in front of me.

It's the reality of my shopping list for Tesco at lunchtime. It starts with Flash wipes and washing up liquid, pretty boring really.

But fuck it, I've added chicken to it, for tonight's going to be a rice and curry night.

Sometimes these things have to be done.

And what strikes me is that I'm content.

There's not a country in the world I'd prefer to yearn for.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Things Women Don't Know

There I stood, peeing into the urinal, doing what we men so often do. I was trying my best to use the intense force of my jet to get the detergent cubes to disappear through the grating thing, the metal guard bit. Any man reading this will know exactly what I mean.

Those cubes, they shrink and eventually get down to a size that forces every man in the world to attempt to pee them through the aperture. The feeling of satisfaction when we actually do this is immense, a bit like winning your fifteenth grand slam title or a Grand Prix.

And, as I did this, or failed to, I realised that most women just don't know about this sort of thing. Unless the woman is a toilet cleaner or has an incredibly weird hobby.

Such a simple act, an easy pleasure and no woman will ever get to attempt it. Even if there are females out there who are aware of the existence of these toilet cubes, they'll never be able to use their pee as a slightly disgusting light saber, the way we can.

They'll never know the joy that we used to have when we tried to pee up to the huge record height on the wall in front of the urinals at school. There was always a myth that some bloke, usually a heroic type who left the school a few years before, had managed to pee up to "that mark up there".

There are many things that the fairer sex will never know and never understand; how it feels to get kicked in the balls, the relaxed joy of parallel parking with ease, getting all the credit for standing in front of a barbecue and turning some meat occasionally while drinking beer and chatting to people.

Every single man can feel the pain involved in getting a football or a kick to the bollocks, it's part of our upbringing, yet women just don't have a clue on this one. As I mention it I bet that you, if you possess balls of your own, can feel that tingly and winded pain in the pit of your stomach, but women just screw up their face and think that we're laying it on.

Then they complain about periods, childbirth and the like!

So what else is there that women, or men, just don't know? Comments on a comment please.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Noodles, Girls, Alcohol And Life.

One evening last week I was in the local noodle bar. When I say "local" I mean local for me, not really for you, unless you live quite near me of course.

I like this place and tend to get a few takeaways from it on a regular basis. Sometimes me and the girls walk down there and sit and stuff our faces merrily. It's basically a Chinese restaurant, with restaurant prices. But cleverly, in order to be able to justify the term "noodle bar" they have a menu that's only got about half the amount of dishes you'd get in a restaurant and it has café style seating and tables. Cunning. The food however, is delicious.

I don't know if you live on your own but, as you may be aware, I do, well, mostly. It's an interestingly and ongoing challenge this relatively new single life. One of the results of the divorce is that I lost many, many friends. Society is such that a huge proportion of my friends were ones that I shared with my ex wife and many made judgements and the like. These things happen and the man who is seen to leave his wife and kids is never going to get much sympathy from some.

And now, going through this rebuilding my life thing, most of my friends are married with kids anyway. So social things have to be arranged weeks in advance. Such is life and when I have the girls or when C's here it's all jolly and different.

The rest of the time, which is most of it, I'm on my own. It's fortunate that I'm quite fond of myself, in fact I'm one of my favourite people, so I'm usually fairly mellow and content. I potter about in RD Towers, I read, drum, try to write and do all sorts of things that I want to do.

Then it gets to dinner time and I wonder what to eat. Cooking for one is weird. It's a lot of effort when I'm the only diner. There's no sense of someone appreciating my effort or liking the food as I've been tasting it all along the way and know what's coming. Normally I do it and cook something in such a quantity that it'll last for a few days, that kind of makes it worthwhile.

Eating out on my own is curiously challenging. In some countries, Singapore and even Sri Lanka for example, it's easy and common. Over here it still gets a few glances, more so in the evening than at lunchtime. So I'm a bit wary of it, though I find myself getting better at it and less self conscious as time ticks on.

The aforementioned noodle bar is one of the places that I feel comfortable eating alone in. We'll call it S.

This time I was waiting for a takeaway. S is run, I assume owned as well, by a matriarchal Chinese woman. She must be about sixty, is always warm and friendly to the customers and often shouts with ferocity at her staff. I know this because the walls are thin there.

The phone rang and the matriarch answered it. It became apparent that it was a regular customer. As the conversation progressed I realised that it was a regular customer telling the matriarch that their daughter was heading that way on the Friday with some friends. The customer was asking the owner to refrain from serving any alcohol to the group as they'd probably ask for it.

Matriarch, in her matriarchal way, was saying that it won't be a problem at all, that she'd refuse any request for alcohol and had her methods of controlling rowdy groups of teenage girls. I looked on and felt both admiration and belief. Sometimes you just know that these things are true.

A couple of days later I was to be found busily and happily setting up my drums for that evening's gig. My phone rang and I answered it. It was A, the fifteen year old.

"Dad" she said, in that slightly too dynamic and buoyant way that immediately told me she was with friends.

"Oh hello A, how's it going?" said I.

"Dad, Dad, I'm in S, what was the dish you had last time, I really liked it."

"Eh?" I said.

"That prawn thing you had, last time we went to S, the one I liked. What was it called?"

"Oh, that was the King Prawn curry with egg fried rice." I said, as the cogs started to turn in my head.

"You're in S are you? With who?"

And she reeled off a list of girls' names.

Kerching, kerching, kerching, was the noise as things in my head all dropped into place and I realised that alcohol is my new challenge to be faced as a parent, then wondered why I could hear the sound of a cash register. Sometimes these sound effects don't quite cut it, but what exactly is the noise a conclusion makes?

The noise matters not, it's the coming years I fear.

Oh shit!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Photo Of The Moment

By that Dinidu chap.

He's come up with a right little scorcher here.

The colours, the rustic feel to it, the composition and the proportions make this quite a picture. The plant thing just tops it all off rather nicely, like a good old dollop of double cream on the cake.

Nice one son!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Even Drummers Want Love Sometimes

One of my regular pastimes is to develop theories on things. I'm probably not up the standards of Freud, Plato or any of the other great Disney characters but I still like to do my thing, to try to figure out structure and logic to things that might seem random.

After attempting it for such a long time I'm only now beginning to realise that not everything has to have structure and logic, not every system or behaviour has to operate under a set of "binary" rules. Some things just are. I'm sure there are many, the scientist types, who will say that everything, even randomness has a structure. My opinion is different, some things are without form and rules.

But, over the last ten or more years, I've got a half baked theory in my head. It's so half baked that the average academic would laugh at me for uttering words that are so unspecific and unprovable. If you bought it in a supermarket and it was labelled as one of those theories that you can pop in the oven for ten minutes to finish off and make it seem totally fresh, you'd take it back and seek a refund, saying to the cashier that it wasn't half baked but more like the raw ingredients had been left on a tepid pavement for about thirty seconds.

I'm proud of it though, with the full knowledge that it needs work to become a fully fledged theory, with its own clothes and maybe a little house, nothing flashy or ostentatious, perhaps one of those ones on Gregory's Road would suffice. So I'm not actually going to share it with you, not just yet, even though a few people who read here might have heard me babbling about it from time to time.

What I will tell you is that it's about musicians and personality types, patterns I've observed and behaviours I've noticed. And one of the specific group of musicians is drummers, for I'm actually one of the fellows, I don't know if you're aware of that.

The RD opinion is that most drummers share some key characteristics, that having these character traits may well be why we're attracted to playing the drums in the first place.

I reckon we're the least attention seeking member in a band and by "band" I really am talking of a "conventional" four or five piece band, not a huge big one with a brass section and percussionist all over the place.

As drummers we want to be part of the team yet with a role that's different to all the others. We're usually heavily motivated by responsibility and recognition, that big, big motivator for so many, matters little to us. There's plenty more, but it's not important at this juncture.

One of the contradictory natures of my theory is that most musicians, the ones who perform to a public, no matter how large, are somewhat motivated by recognition. There are many people who are fantastic musicians but only ever play on their own in their bedroom. They presumably pursue their knowledge of music and their instrument just because they want to, or sometimes because they just don't have the balls or drive to go out and seek more.

The rest of us, whether a drummer in a band, a lead singer or a violinist in an orchestra seek some form of recogntion and often try to get that by performing music to an audience.

My point, so vaguely presented, is that all musicians who perform to an audience are driven by recognition to a certain degree. It's just that lead singers fed on recognition like the rest of us need air and drummers are much less bothered about it.

That's the introduction done, here comes the story.

There I was, last Saturday.

The gig, a party thing, had gone rather spiffingly. It was in a marquee and nearly had to be cancelled because of a torrential downpour, an overflowing river, water and electrical leads and equipment. In the end we moved things, swept things (water) and rearranged things and went ahead.

People danced, they rocked and rolled and clapped, sang, whooped and hollerred. Even my loose and freeform drum solo went down well, the one that I dread so much. We were stumped to be asked a couple of times if we did any MJ songs, but managed to claw our way over that hurdle with only some difficulty.

Yes, it felt good.

After we'd finished, only a few minutes after, there was myself , the lead singer and the lead guitarist standing outside the marquee and getting a bit of much needed fresh air, as well as patting each other on the back as if we'd just reached the summit of Mount Everest, without the coldness mind.

A fellow, one of the guests, came out of the flappy door thing, the things they have on tents, and walked the couple of steps towards us. We didn't know him but he looked at us with familiarity.

"Nice one guys, that was really great, thanks a lot. You were fantastic" he said. It was a nice thing to hear of course and I was the first to reply.

"Oh thanks very much, we enjoyed it too" was the carefully thought out but virtually instant response. I felt that it was appropriate.

The fellow looked at me, the same way you look at a trishaw driver when he's tried to charge you a tourist rate and you're actually a local, that look that lasts just a second or two before you speak. I wondered if I had a large bogey hanging out of the RD nose or if I'd done an involuntary fart that he'd heard and I was wholly unaware of.

Then he said it, he delivered the killer blow.

"And what did you do in the band then?"

It was said with genuine interest, with no malice intended and with a very real puzzled expression on his face. Those things didn't help, they made it worse and I was so wounded that I could barely get the words out.

"Erm, I was the drummer. It was my groove you were dancing to all night."

"Oh right, yeah, well thanks then."

But I could have been anyone.

I've almost booked my singing lessons.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hands Or Fingers?

This post by Mr Sachintha, formerly of Sri Lanka but now of Japan, got me thinking.

I'm sure many will agree with me, I'm sure many won't. I'm also sure I'll receive some anonymous "RD you're such a tosser and you're really pathetic because you can't write properly" type comments when I tell you that I believe rice and curry tastes better and as it should taste when eaten without the use of cutlery.

It's subjective though and I find the arguments about what is best just laughable, like you and I having a fight over which is the best colour, blue or red. There is no definitive answer. Except red obviously.

I was brought up in London, but eating rice and c with fingers was an everyday occurrence. From a "normal" young age myself and my brothers could be seen regularly steaming into a plate of R+C (I think it's safe to use the acronym now) with no sign of knives, forks or spoons in the vicinity. It wasn't because we were poor either.

I suppose things were different for us, brought up as Lankans in London, compared to how it would have been if we were in Lanka. I recall being taught by my Mum how to eat with my fingers, it was quite a conscious thing at first. Even these days she takes great pride in teaching Grandchildren or passing through members of my family exactly how it must be done. And I use the word "must" very deliberately.

The fact is, if you're learning to eat with your fingers and my Mum is the teacher, one small mistake can easily get all your fingers broken.

For years we ate all R+C with our fingers and it was only so much later, probably in my twenties, that I discovered that it's just not Colombo 7 to do it. There's a stigma attached to it that is interesting.

The diasporic relationship with behaviours like this is intriguing. I'm certain that relatively well to do Lankans living out of Serendip eat with their fingers far more than if they were actually there. For them (us) it helps to create and reinforce the bonds and links, to feel more attachment, attachment that is far less needed if you wake up in the motherland each morning. Academic bro taught me most of this, I can't make any claims about figuring it all out myself.

The actual point of this post is about definitions. You see I was brought up with the knowledge that it was always called "eating with your fingers". Clearly the phrase isn't wrong and if I were to say it to any Sri Lankan they'd know exactly what I meant. But hands never came into the matter.

In her eating like a Lankan classes my Mum always demonstrates things by placing her thumb on the inside of the knuckle closest to the hand and telling the hapless victim willing pupil that the food should never go past that point. It has been alleged, though never proved, that white vans have turned up and taken away at least four people from her house for breaking this rule.

It was only relatively recently, when I met C actually, that I became aware of the other term, the "eating with your hands" one. I know that it refers to the same thing but really had never been aware of it for all those years. C has had the honour and privilege of being corrected by my Mum many times for saying the "wrong" phrase.

Research has shown me that it's common and entirely correct, that many people talk about eating with their hands and many call it eating with their fingers. It matters not as it's the same thing.

I can't help feeling a little uncomfortable when I hear it, it's rather like when I learned the correct way to say spaghetti or advertisement after so many years of saying them the other way, so used to the old way that the new correct one sounds wrong.

On my journey of discovery I ask you, the reader, what do you call it?

Is it hands, fingers, both or neither?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three Songs You Hate The Most

I was tagged here by JapSach, who's not actually a Japanese porn mag. The rules are simple; mention three songs you hate the most, give a little reasoning and then tag three (or more) people.

Here goes:

1. Fucking Hotel fucking California - Oh I hate this song with a passion normally reserved for people who think it's easy to be a drummer. It's so middle of the road that it should have white lines painted all over it, which was a great song incidentally. Talented musicians the Eagles, great songwriters for sure, just not my thing.

2. Lady In Red - Come now, I don't think I need to explain this one.

3. I Just Called To Say I Love You - The great, the legendary, the genius that is Mr Stevie Wonder wrote this. Then, to make it worse he recorded it. Then, to rub our noses in it he released it and trillions of people bought it. I'll never understand why the bloke who wrote and played Superstition and Living For The City would do such a thing.

The only explanation I can think of is that he received his bank statement, in braille of course, and there was a scratch on it that he mistook for a minus sign. A quick buck was needed so our Stevie whacked this thing out and made some what he thought was much needed wedge.

I herby tag some musical people I can think of:

Gyppo, Java Jones and T.

I apologise sincerely Java, for I really do know how much you hate these things, but I'd be very interested in your response to the question.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Humour Is A Funny Thing

I've been meaning to write a post about this for some time but was prompted and arse kicked by yesterday's post about women and humour and the lengthy but considered comment from G12. I don't know how to link to a comment, or I would. And, for the record I used the term "arse kicked" because, in the context of arses I'm British, not American. I'm referring to my arse not my donkey/unicorn cross bred thing.

The Gyppo says:

"I also think it has more to do with where you live than gender. People are just funnier in Britain or in Australia than they are in Sri Lanka. I don't know - just another way of looking at it I guess."

and it made me think, one of my hobbies anyway. These sense of humour things, are they that different according to nationality and is it fair to say that some nationalities are funnier than others?

Despite all my abundant words about identity, all my whining when someone tells me I'm not Sri Lankan because I use the indicators when I turn, that sort of thing, I think I've got a very British sense of humour. I've put a lot of time into trying to figure out what a British sense of humour means, what characterises one and what the recipe is.

Wikipedia has this entry, but it's probably written by an American academic who's just done a PhD on the subject, something that is ironic, something that is a key constituent of British humour. We Brits laugh at ourselves, we parody ourselves and take the piss out of each other in ways that other nations don't, though other nations do take the piss out of the British.

I hesitate to blow my own trumpet bang my own drum but I've been told that the occasional person finds my blog slightly amusing because I scribble things that are about Lanka and Lankan life but with a Brit sense of humour. To me it's just a sense of humour, like Joey and the Chinese food business.

The Brit sense of h is very brain based. That's about the best explanation I can come up with, that its foundations lie in jumping ahead with one's thoughts and then leading the audience along the path that took you there, or took one there. Once the audience sees the connection they hopefully find the joke funny.

In contrast I think the Sri Lankan sense of humour is more about everyone jumping together, the whole crowd being involved in one big leap to funniness, if that makes sense. It seems to be more of a group thing. Lankans have much more belly laughter than Brits, I think, but should add that I'm talking of my observations about Lankan humour in English. I don't understand the Sinhala language so can't make any kind of commentary on Sinhala humour, or the Tamil variety.

Often I feel as if the Lankan flavoured humour struggles to mix with the Brit stuff. There are many occasions when I've watched a crowd of Lankans crack up over something and I just haven't found it funny, despite understanding why they're laughing. There are many more when I've cracked a witticism to a Lankan audience and they've looked at me as if I was at a Michael Jackson fan club meeting and had decided to narrate some of the jokes that we've all heard lately.

Only a couple of weeks ago I was out for dinner with a group of Sri Lankans and I came out with a particularly funny line about a Brazilian. It was a line I'll use again, just with the right crowd. These people, who'd been laughing and joking for pretty much all the time leading up to my corker, went silent and looked at me in disbelief.

I, being the considerate type, mistook the looks of disbelief for looks of "Pardon me but would you say that again as we didn't hear you?" so I did the only thing a chap could do and repeated it. It made things twice as bad. They were young people as well, can you imagine that? There was tumbleweed everywhere and that Clint Eastwood whistling thing going on loudly in my head.

The big commonality between Brit and Lankan humour is the way that they feature in the make up of each society. They may be fundamentally different but it's fair to say that both nations love to laugh. Rarely have I had a good evening, either in London or Lanka, that didn't involve copious amounts of laughter and a little bit of wee leaking out accidentally. Java's like that though and his bag can leak sometimes.

And what about the Americans? Well their's is a different one too. Like most Brits I find American humour to be hilarious at times and totally predictable and boring at others. Friends was/is funny. The American version of The Office was just painful, I know not why. American stand ups always seem too obvious for me. Sometimes they're very funny, they just lack the sophistication that other nations have. Some people might even go so far as saying that about the Americans in general. I wouldn't.

Here in Britland we have a stereotyped view of the German sense of humour. It's possibly unfair, though I can't think of many German funnies or programmes. I do know that the Germans take their humour very seriously indeed. I've also noticed that they do it all in German, how mad is that?

Maybe sense of h is impossible for us to even consider if it's conducted in a language we don't comprehend. As I said before that's certainly the case for me in relation to Sinhala or Tamil but I don't even think about the Danish sense of h or the infamous Spanish one. No one ever expects the Spanish sense of humour though.

So it's fair to say that we can only evaluate a nation's sense of humour if we speak the language. Therefore, when we're translating a "foreign" language back into our own mother tongue, surely we're bound to lose a huge amount of the intrinsic wit anyway?

Or what do you think?

Are some nationalities just naturally funnier than others?