Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

Time seems to be getting more and more scarce these days. Which is weird, as when I last looked, there were still twenty four hours in a day. Perhaps they're making the hours shorter or something.

Still, I thought I'd write a quickie to wish you and yours a merry festive season. It's been a big year, with lots of good stuff and some not so good things.

I wish you well and will return stuffed to the brim with turkey and all the trimmings.

RD x

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spitting Games.

As if to remind me that I haven't been blogging enough lately I sign in to Blogger to write this post and discover that everything's changed. It's all a bit weird and all sorts of nice friendly features that I'd grown accustomed to have vanished. Progress is good, but these people, Google, Facebook and their counterparts could do a far better job in keeping us informed about how to deal with it.

Anyhow, that's my little rant over and done with.

Oh, no it's not. Fuck me, I've just signed out of Blogger, signed back in and it's totally changed. What the hell is this? Five minutes ago I was presented with a page that I was pretty familiar with, just with some things missing. Now I've got a new one, all shiny and glitzy, with the things that were missing from before now present but in scary positions. Dare I click on any of it? No, I need to get my confidence first, do some baby steps, maybe a bit of easy spellchecking to start with. Irony MUST be exemplified by the fact that the word "spellchecking" that I wrote about fifteen words ago has been underlined in red, presumably to indicate it's wrong. Ha! I bask in my own rebelliousness!

So anyhow I was at a friend's gig on Saturday night. It's rare for me to get out on these social things here so I rolled up at the pub, got myself a drink and tried my utmost to look as if I do these things all the time. I found a table, one of those elbow height ones, and lounged at it casually. After about five minutes of standing there I realised that I'd chosen a location about as practical as a one legged man at an arse kicking party. It was bang smack in the middle of the path to the toilets and every few minutes I was required to move and breathe in to let people past. This being England it was all done with plenty of excuse mes and sorrys, but still, it left a lot to be desired.

But, I had perceived coolness at stake so decided not to move, coupled with the fact that there was nowhere to move to.  I stood my ground. If these polite bastards wanted me to move, well, I was just going to jolly well move. That's the way I saw it. Sometimes there's just no moving me.

The pub was the one that The Breaks, my covers band, consider to be our home venue, so there was some competitiveness going on in my head, mostly to do with the size of the audience. They were all about average height, so that was okay, but I was a might perturbed to notice the place was rammed full of people, quite young ones at that. I decided that it was because it was a band full of quite old blokes and most of the young crowd were the kids and their friends of the bandmembers. Yes, that was it. Definitely. Here, out of interest, do you always have trouble typing the word "definitely"? I do, usually getting it wrong the first time, just thought I'd ask.

Anyhow, the band kicked off and immediately the audience started to dance. Pfft. I thought. And frankly I meant it. About two bars, perhaps four, into the first song my friend M arrived with his son C. C is one of these teenagers who can play the guitar like some sort of demon. He must spend about twenty nine hours a day locked away in his bedroom practicing his guitar and will probably be a rock god before we know it. At his age I was locked away in my bedroom practicing too. Only my "practicing" was a very different instrument and involved lots of posters of Debbie Harry and copious amounts of tissues.

We chatted for a bit. C is going to play a few songs with us on our gig on Thursday and, truth be told, I think I'm far more nervous about it that he is. Then another fellow, I'll call him R, mooched on over to us. I said hello, as one does, and he introduced himself to me. I find introductions to be a bit of a downer when they're being done for the second or third time. I'd met this chap at least twice before and he's even see me play a couple of times, but no, he had no recollection of me whatsoever. I think I need to work on my personality, or get a silly hat or something.

Still, he's a guitarist, so these things are to be expected.

We embarked on one of those "muso" conversations, about jam sessions, venues in our neck of the woods, that sort of thing. Of course I'm a drummer, not a real musician, but I can usually bluff these chats, unless the subject turns to tones, when things start to get out of my depth. If semi tones come up then I'm totally out of my depth. I know that there are two tones in a semi tone, but that's my limit.

As we were in a pub with a band playing we needed to be quite close together in order to hold a conversation, so there was only a few inches between us. Then, bang, or rather splash, it hit me, a small globule of saliva from R's mouth landed just below my bottom lip. No big deal I thought, these things happen occasionally. I was faced with that mental quandary of whether to wipe the spit away, thereby running the risk of insulting R by drawing attention to it, or just leave it, perhaps making me look like a bloke with egg on my face. I went for the latter, but ordered a small portion of spit instead of the aforementioned egg dish.

A few seconds later I felt another little globule hit me. Again I gave R the benefit of the doubt. It was clear as  daylight that he had been wholly unaware of the propellants leaving his mouth and I carried on like a gent. You, being smart, have figured out what happens next. On the night I didn't. Well, I did, but only after it happened.

Not eight seconds later another one hit me. One can be random, two can be coincidence, but three is the beginning of a trend. And a trend it was. As the conversation continued, none of which I can recall, the shower just got busier. If I was a deer I would have started to sing a song about splish splish splosh little April showers. But I'm not a deer and this was no jolly little April shower. All I could think of was that episode of Friends, the one in which Joey has to deal with the spitting English actor. It got to the point that I could see these missiles leave R's mouth, but couldn't dodge them.

I saw the globules depart, felt them land and was defenceless, like Bambi's mother being shot by the poachers (surely one of the saddest cinematic moments of them all).  I couldn't move away, couldn't stop the conversation as it was only me and R who were involved and the only possible thing I could think of was to launch a counter attack. I mulled the idea over, like wine, but then decided against it. R was blissfully unaware of his actions and a counter attack ran the risk that he would walk away thinking I was an accidental spitter, maybe writing a blog post about me or something. Imagine that.

I battled through, bravely, like a brave chap. Some hit my eyes, making me glad I don't wear contact lenses anymore, the rest of it landed on random spots on my face, perhaps some hit my hair but I couldn't tell, hair being not that sensitive. Or plentiful in my case.

I thought of Joey and of the kebab I planned to purchase for my dinner on the way home. I absolutely HAD to remember to wash my face when I got in prior to stuffing it with kebab. God alone, well god and the kebab makers that is, know what goes into one of these things but I had no intention whatsoever of adding R's spit to the experience. It probably helps with the digestion and all but I'm a firm advocate of the using my own saliva not someone else's school of thought.

After some time R and C discovered each other and their mutual interest in guitars. They set off on a conversation about flying Zs or something and were lost in their world. I sloped off to watch the drummer, as there was much to learn from his rather tasty playing, and all was good. Except for young C, who no doubt face the same spit barrage that I did.

When I got home, kebab and chips in hand, I did remember to wash my face. The kebab was deliciously disgusting as always and I went off to bed with that disgustingly satiated feeling that only a kebab can create.  I'm thinking about carrying some sunglasses around with me in case I ever meet another chap like R. Or even better, those joke ones with windscreen wipers attached. Yes, that just might work...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Joy And Whatnot

I was asked earlier why I haven' t written a blog post for such a long time. I cobbled together some sort of answer, along the lines of "I've been busy...I haven't got many things to say about Sri Lanka at the moment....Yes, yes I must write something soon....but none of the 'regulars' are blogging much these days anyhow".

And it's all true.

But I must write something, or else you'll think I've given up blogging totally, then you'll move on, like people do.

So. Vut to say?

Ah yes, it's Christmas time here.

I suppose it's about what we're used to, but Christmas for me SHOULD be cold. I've had festive seasons, well days at least, in Sri Lanka and Singapore and, nice as they are, they just don't feel quite right. Heat doesn't work at this time of year, not that I like the cold, but it's just so, well, so right for Christmas.

Every morning I dress myself in a scarf, some layers and my new dark red gilet thing with duffle coat style toggles. Of course I don't wear anything at all from the waist down. I like that approach as it surprises people when I get out of the car or get up from my desk.

I jump in the new car and the kindly dash display tells me that the outside temperature is around three degrees. At that time in the morning there's mist and darkness and it all feels just like it should. Random houses are decorated with lights, the odd house has that totally over the top lighting that's usually featured on houses in American Christmas films starring Danny Devito and lots of artificial snow.

But, this being England, we tend not to have much of the wholly over the top lights everywhere thing that seems to feature so heavily in Lankan and Asian Christmas lights. Somehow here it all (mostly) seems to hit the right balance of subtlety and garishness. At this point, if you're a Sri Lankan you may not be aware of the word "subtlety", but I urge you to look it up, perhaps even using the concept some time.

This year has been quite a big one for my family because of my Dad's cancer. Things continue to progress nicely. He's now just about to finish his fifth cycle of chemotherapy and we wait to hear whether he'll be having another one or not. He's infinitely fitter and healthier than he was five or six months ago, but he's also a shadow of the fellow he was a year ago. We all make the choice on whether our glass is half full or half empty and I always like to go for the optimistic approach, but at times it's hard. The approach I mean, not the glass, which is a metaphor.

I've been gigging like a proper musician in the last few weeks. The season does that for you, with a few Christmas parties and a few birthday parties thrown in for good measure. Last week we did a gig and there was one of the blokes from Spandau Ballet there. You have to be of a certain age to have the faintest clue what that means. I'm not, but have been told by much older people of course.

Oh yes, I put up my parents' Christmas tree the other day and learnt something new. My Dad normally does this, but I'd never realised that he was so totally obsessed with how it should look. I'd assumed that, like most things at my parents' house, my Mum made the decisions and he just did the physical work involved in facilitating those.

But no, as far as the Christmas tree and lights went, it was his personal domain and I very nearly walked out of their house in a hissy fit about twelve times. First, at the age of forty five, after being married for so many years, I had to endure him instructing me on exactly how I should hold the lights so they don't break.

Then I was trained on where to place them followed by where to move them because they didn't look good. Then we argued about the need for a second set of lights on the tree because he thought that it needed more colour. I convinced him on the grounds of the need for subtlety, saying that it was all the rage these days. I say "I convinced him" but it wasn't one of those resounding victories, more like a narrow points victory made by a dodgy ref.

After it was all done, as well as some other lights over their kitchen doorway, the old man stared at things with an air of disapproval. He wasn't happy with the dodgy ref and things were compounded when Academic Bro turned up. I told him about Dad's possessive obsessiveness and he laughed with me sympathetically before turning and saying to him:

"Dad, the tree looks a bit bare, it could do with some more coloured lights I reckon."

"Wanker", I thought to myself, possibly saying it out aloud.

I'll be off then. I'm sure we'll speak before Christmas day.