Friday, September 21, 2012

Bless Those Working Classes!

There I was, like any good Brit, sitting in my local Indian restaurant quietly waiting for my takeaway. The door opened and in walked what can only be described as, well, a working class salt of the earth type of fellow. The sort of chap who you wouldn't want to meet in a dark, or even a well lit alley. But, this was an Indian so things were probably going to be friendly.

He sat down opposite me at the waiting for your takeaway and reading The Sun table. I was already seated and busy reading the Sun. There was working class muck all over him, the stuff that the blokes who work on building sites accumulate throughout the day. Plaster, brick dust, urine and the like.

The waiter tried to give him a menu and he said no, he knew what he wanted. I tried to look like I wasn't listening as he ordered.

"I'll have a chicken Buriyani, two naans. Yeah and some poppadums and a couple of bottles of lager please mate."

"They're quite large bottles" said the waiter. (660 ml, I've just googled it to check)

"Yeah that's fine, two please."

"Are they to takeaway?"

"No I'll have them while I wait."

He had my begrudging respect. I could drink two of these in a week and I'd be shitfaced. I had a slight feeling that the beers would turn up and he'd complain that they were too big but deep down I knew that wasn't going to happen.

The order was placed with the certainty of a man who eats a lot of Indian food (I should know). No menu was needed, any hesitation was merely because he was deciding what to eat, not what was on the menu. There are two characteristics of the traditional working class Brit; they hate foreigners and they know their Indian food.

So I was surprised, and remain it, to hear the next bit.

"Anything else Sir?"

The working class man, we'll call him Tarquin, thought for a bit.

"No that's okay, the buriyani comes with rice doesn't it?"

"Yes it does Sir"

"That's fine then."

All that certainty, yet he wanted to know if a buriyani "came with rice". What the fuck? I can't figure it out now even. I mean, if you didn't know what a buriyani is then fair enough. But he knew, he ordered one without looking at the menu. Mad.

Still, I sat, watched the waiter arrive with the two large bottles of Cobra and pour one out. Tarquin didn't bat the faintest of eyelids at the sight of all this lager and before I could say a word half a pint had gone down in one.

I finished reading my paper and offered it to him. It's always good to bond with these chaps just in case he decides to beat me up randomly one night then recognises me and changes his mind.

"Nah ta mate, it's just the usual crap in there, same everyday"

I nodded and replied, doing my best to sound quite common. I can't remember what I said but the sentence definitely contained the words "fuck" and "tits." And "Kate" too.

We bonded and had a chat about our future Queen. Tarquin said he thought it was a load of rubbish, they were tiny anyhow. Besides over in France they all go topless all the time anyhow. Then he got up, popped his head outside the door and spoke to a small thing. I realised it was his dog and wondered if I'd wondered into a Dickens novel. When he answered the call on his iPhone I figured it probably wasn't.

He proceeded to have a chat with someone. Most of it consisted of him telling the friend that he was talking to him from his new iPhone 5, that he got it a couple of days ago and was one of the first people to get it.

"Honestly mate, have I ever lied to you?" he said convincingly.

The call finished and I did my best to check out the new iPhone. It was old and dilapidated. If it was new, then it sure had taken a battering in two days. An even bigger achievement seeing as it wasn't even out two days ago.

Tarquin looked at me.

"Ha ha, I told the cunt that I've got one of those new iPhones and he believed me" I laughed with him, as you do. By now he was on his second full pint of lager while I was still finishing my first half.

We chatted some more. He did have an iPhone, just not a new one. I told him about my iPad, we moaned about the state of the world a bit and, in the time it took me to drink one pint, he'd sunk just over three and probably would have been good to drive.

Tarquin's meal came and he bid me goodnight. I said to him that I hope he enjoys his meal and him and dog strolled off into the night. I would have shaken his hand but I'm reasonably sure chaps like that don't wash so I gave it a miss.

Salt of the earth though. Just saying.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I've been on a recent mission to upgrade my pants collection. And, for the benefit of any Americans, I really mean pants here, like you know, the things that your balls and willy actually are held in by, not trousers. And, for the benefit of Sri Lankans, when I say "trousers" I actually mean " a trouser".

Not that long ago I told you about my then new pants collection. Well it didn't seem that long ago, but a quick search on my blog has revealed that it was actually over four years ago. Since then I've added considerably to the collection, but the theme has remained one of Odel. There have been flowery ones, more striped ones and a generally good and colourful selection of undergarments have prevailed.

But recent visits to Colombo's finest (only) emporium have proved disappointing. It seems that these type of pants aren't around any more and I felt the need to update and upgrade. It was either that or wash them anyhow.

So the other day I could have been found lurking in mens' pants in Odel. The cheap bright ones were nowhere to be seen but there were plenty of nasty ones, the sort your Dad would wear, just not much in the way of my last collection. Before you could say "kids with jeans hanging low and showing their arse crack" I found myself browsing at those Calvin Klein ones.

I perused the options and settled on a sort of cross between a boxer short and Y front as my choice. The things were all boxed up with a photo of a muscular looking white bloke hung like a horse on each. I'm not one to fall for all this marketing hype, so merely paused to think about how much the chap looked like me before selecting about five or six pairs to buy.

Size, contrary to what they say, did matter. Trying on pants in most shops is not permitted; a great thing if you're concerned  about trying on a pair that Johnny Smelly had tried on and rejected twenty minutes ago, but a not so great thing if you're me trying to figure out what size you need.

I played the dangerous card and went for medium, knowing that small would have been a laughable option, not because of the size of my wedding tackle mind, and the only question was whether to go large or one down.

Off I went to queue at the checkouts and wait for the tourists in front of me to peer at their currency and try to figure out which notes were which and then pay for all that bargain clothing that they'd mostly end up never wearing anyhow. And a T shirt or two about saving dogs or something.  The checkout chap asked if I wanted them taken out of the boxes, to which I gave an affirmative. As a slightly serious aside isn't all this packaging just ridiculous? I'm sure I'm one of many who have no need for it and would rather see the environment protected in some small way.

A short while later and I was back at C's place trying them on. My first reaction was that they were a bit scratchy. I wondered whether this was because they were brand new and needed a wash to soften things up. Turns out I was right about that.

The choice of medium was perhaps not one of my best. There didn't seem to be a lot of room for manoeuvre and the waistband was making me do that thing stomach holding in thing that most middle aged blokes do when in the presence of
attractiveany women at all. Nevertheless I decided to give a pair a trial run out in public that evening.

I did, to discover that overall comfort was somewhat lacking. Not only that but I found my jeans sliding down to reveal the waist band of the pants, big Calvin Klein graphics and logo for all to see. Seriously I promise you I really didn't want this to happen but it did. I wasn't trying to look like Snoopy Snoopy Dog Dog or Sebastian Posingis or one of these sex gods, that's what happens when you wear these pant things. It's like it's built into their DNA or something.

So the next day I could have been spotted in that other place, Roma Four, buying a selection of almost definitely fake Paul Smith ones in a rather nice variety of colours in a size they call large.

I'm persisting with the Calvin Kleins but not as my everyday pant. I forgot to tell you earlier that being a drummer means that extended periods of playing, sitting there on the stool make me highly prone to what's technically known as "drummer's arse".

And drummer's arse means that high spec pants are often required, otherwise one can get home after an energetic band practice or gig and find all sorts of creatures and nasties nesting in there. It's so bad that sometimes I fail to even get a week of wear out of one pair of pants. Honestly I kid you not.

I live alone by the way.

Monday, September 17, 2012

On Kate's Topless Photos

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and her breasts have hit the headlines, as you're possibly aware. Unlike some, I'm not going to use the incident as an excuse to publish some topless pictures of various women. No, I'm not really against "modelling" of that sort, but neither am I an advocate of it.

Frankly I just think it's a bit sad that some women want to do it and that there's sufficient demand to make them want to do it. If there wasn't the demand then they wouldn't want to do it, if they didn't do it..... you get the picture.

But I'm surprised at the Royal Fam's reaction to the publication of these pictures. Every newscast and all the papers here are full of stories about various publications being taken to court by the Royal Family, threats of people being sent to the Tower of London and all.

And that reaction, the dismay and upset, has made the episode much bigger news than it ever was in the first place.

It seems to me that, had William and Kate just laughed it off with a shrug of the shoulders, then things would have been very different. I'm not defending the rather intrusive picture taking either. Even though they were taken (as far as I can make out) within the boundaries of law, albeit Italian law which is quite oxymoronic at the best of times, particularly as far as sexual behaviour and public figures goes, I still think that their privacy has been significantly intruded upon.

However, they are senior figures of the British Royal Family and one would think that this sort of thing is something they half expect. I'm told that topless sunbathing among some of these European women is quite the done thing, that beaches in parts of France are full to the brim with breasts and armpit hair. And in Italy it's compulsory for female TV presenters to wear nothing from the waist up.

Of course over here it's fine for Britain's biggest selling newspaper to have a "page 3" every day, just not fine for the Duchess of Cambridge to appear as if she's in training for it.

But my very serious view is that the Royals would have done much better to have just laughed it off. Maybe it would have been better if Prince William had made a statement along the lines of

"Well we're disappointed that these photographs have appeared but the Duchess is proud of her body and it's not a big deal."

Followed perhaps by her next public appearance wearing one of those fake boob body mask things.

Instead of all this court case and cutting off their head business, which had merely highlighted something that most people aren't fussed about anyhow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On That Cartoon

I glanced at Groundviews yesterday and saw that some sort of girls' fight has broken out between Sanjana, David Blacker and DD. And, when I say "girls'" fight, I really mean a fight that girls wouldn't actually have.

If I've got it right (which is rare) then it's all because Groundviews, in this case the esteemed Mr Hattotuwa, called for the sacking of the cartoonist concerned, possibly his public hanging immediately after having his balls smeared with dog food and set upon by hungry canines.

Why? Because the cartoon has (was) deemed as insulting to women by Groundviews, as well as plenty of others.

Then, quicker than you can go and worship your mother every morning, DB and DD jump on the submit comment button and start a virtual fight with GV, along the lines of "how can you advocate free speech then say that things like this should be censored? And by the way my Mum's bigger than your Mum."

Before we know it it's handbags at twelve yards. If a real fight broke out between Sanjana, DB and DD I reckon Sanjana would emerge victorious. It's obvious really, he's the only one not weighed down by the ink of hundreds of tattoos and could run the fastest. The other two are a bit fat also.

The thing is the original Groundviews opinion wasn't about censorship, it was about taste, sexism and what's acceptable to the public to be published in a national newspaper. And, the cartoonist here just drew the cartoon. It's the editor's judgement that should be questioned.

My already limited understanding of the issue gets even more hazy next, but I think Groundviews then reviews its opinion on the cartoon, deciding that maybe its initial reaction was a bit harsh. I stand to be corrected, but with Tweets, Facebook, blogs and so many different types of media involved I just can't keep up.

If I'm right, then fair play to Sanjana. It takes an intelligent person to look at something and admit that perhaps they were wrong. If I'm wrong, then I won't admit it.

As for the cartoon itself, I just don't understand it. It's not really very funny and I'm continually confused by Sri Lanka's attitude towards gender and women. I mean really, people can leer at women, touch them up and do all sorts of things on buses while going home to worship the matriarch. And just about every Sri Lanka family has some sort of matriarch sitting there at the head, dishing out orders and perceived wisdom. Of course sometimes the matriarch is a man though.

Yes, the cartoon might be seen as degrading to women, but it's not as degrading as half the advertising in SL with its inherent sexism or many of the other behaviours that go on every day.

And strangely there's a whole load of blog posts saying nasty things about Sanjana that all have broken links, or it might be that Kottu's playing up.

Indi's got an opinion, though full of Americanisms like, and if you're bothered, you can read the explanation by the editor of Lakbima here.

I suppose that's it really. Oh I seem to have joined a punk band too, more about that later.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I've been reading lots of short stories.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On My Dad - A Nice Update

I first told you about my Dad's cancer here, about fourteen months ago. Well it's been a long old fourteen months, full of drama, pain, happiness and sadness. Not to mention drugs, wheelchairs, chemotherapy and tears.

And yesterday we were told by the Doctor that he's in full remission. It feels weird, in a good way. For the first time I can actually feel some tears coming to my eyes since hearing the news. I'm at work, it's 7.45 AM, so I need to man up a bit before staff begin to arrive.

"In full remission" is as good as things will be with Cancer. I don't think a patient will ever be told that they're completely cured as there's always the potential that there will be Cancer cells in the body, but this phrase, the three words, are the grail.

There wasn't a big fanfare, no grand announcement from the Doctor with a cake presented or anything like that. In fact we had to pretty much lever the information out of her. The Royal Marsden, the Cancer unit where my Dad has been / is being treated is totally fantastic. It has reinforced my belief and commitment to state healthcare, not that I ever doubted it. Why so many Americans are opposed to it is beyond me.

But one thing that has been a test is the way in which we've seen such a variety of Doctors. All of them would get full marks for effort, it's just hard when there isn't one continuous line, when often the Doctor has to sit there in the appointment and read through the history to "catch up".

I wonder how others deal with similar situations to this. I must admit I have pangs of guilt. I mean I want my Dad to live as long as possible but I know we're lucky compared to many. I'm forty six and both my parents are still alive. Totally mental but alive. I know so many people who have lost one of both parents at a much younger age and, from going to the Royal Marsden so often now, I've also seen many other Cancer patients who I know may not be as lucky as us.

I guess it's not about scarcity is it?

It's not really that my Dad has won this round at the expense of someone else.

I can't believe the shift in mindset. Last Christmas we had a big family one with all of us sitting there in party hats silently wondering if there'd be another. Now they're planning their next trip to the motherland, albeit a little more sedate and conservative than usual. He played his first game of snooker the other day. He used to play at least once a week before the Cancer struck and this was his first game since. Word on the street is that it was hard work, but it's so positive.

So well, there we are. It's all good and I thought I'd share it, just in case you're not one of my Facebook friends.

Thank you sincerely for the support, kind words, prayers and thoughts.