Monday, April 22, 2019

Thoughts from Colombo

I’m currently in Colombo, probably feeling like most people; a mixture of heartbreak, confusion, loss (for the many lives as well as the peace we’ve got used to) and, I’m sorry to say, relief that myself and my loved ones are okay.

I’m old enough to have lived through many terror related incidents, from being here in July ‘83 to living in London during the height of the IRA’s reign of terror to witnessing the more recent attacks in London, Christchurch and Paris.

C and myself were with some friends at The Kingsbury on Saturday evening. They were staying there and at one point we were having a poignant discussion about the Central Bank bombing, as one of them was working right there when it happened. It was the past. We felt like we were talking about a different Country. I took that picture from the rooftop bar of The Kingsbury looking at the Shangri La, with the Cinnamon Grand lurking somewhere in the distance. It was just another hot Colombo evening and I was just another person taking another picture.

We woke up yesterday morning to see news of the bombs, mixed with that early event confusion about exactly what had happened and where. Our friends messaged and told C that they were late for breakfast at The Kingsbury because she had been hiding Easter Eggs in their room for the kids. They were safe and had jumped into a taxi and escaped to the haven of his parents’ house.

That’s the thing about these events; so many of us have stories of close calls. A few months ago I was staying at the Shangri La, for a few days C and I had breakfast in that room. We were having dinner in the Cinnamon Grand a few nights ago. I was here with my Girls last year and we were doing the full on tourist trail. These events could have happened at any time, to anyone.

It feels to me like most Lankans have an old wound from the civil war. For each person that wound has healed to a differing degree. Yesterday’s events poked at that wound. Some people feel huge pain, some remain as stoic as ever and others want to sleep, just so that they don’t feel anything.

My best friend, a Brit in the UK, had his birthday on Saturday and, in the course of happy birthday messages, told me that he has decided to finally visit Sri Lanka next year with his wife and daughter. My youngest daughter K, whom you know well, is planning to spend a month here in July.

I just don’t know what to advise them.

I so love Sri Lanka. If anyone reads this blog anymore I do hope you understand that one thing.

I’m British, I’m Sri Lankan. And I feel the loss.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Off for a bit

I'm heading off to the Motherland for a sojourn. Nothing too spectacular, just a couple of weeks in the metropolis with C. I expect it will be pretty empty because of most of you fleeing to the more scenic areas for the new year.

We will talk when I'm back, or if I whack out a little post or two while I'm over there.

Bye then!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


I went off to watch a gig with a good friend on Saturday. My friend, we'll call him P, has a son who's a very good drummer and his band was playing in this kind of grungy indie festival.

I'd never heard of a festival taking place in a hotel before, but this was the score. This hotel, the kind in which you would normally see business people staying in, had been taken over by a mostly young crowd of middle class crusty kids.

I feared I would walk in looking like someone's Dad, which I both am and did, but it wasn't a problem as half the musicians looked the same; that old rock 'n' roll look with more creases on their face than in their jeans and giving off an air of "I nearly made it in the 80s you know".

And, worst of all, it was in Croydon. I need say no more.

So me and P trundled over to Croydon in his car. It's one of these Prius things, that I hear all the trendy people now drive, and I was fascinated by the tech in it. It's even got a camera that operates when he reverses, that's how bang up to date it is!

We got there, parked in a car park and walked out onto the street.

Within about 3 seconds of getting onto the street we heard a woman's voice saying "excuse me".

To our left was a slightly scary, extra from Game of Thrones type looking woman, heading towards us.

"Can you help me please?" she said.

Me and P are both old salespeople and any salesperson will tell you that the easiest person to sell to is a salesperson. Why? Because so often we end up buying crap we don't need simply because the salesperson has sold it to us well. You normal people think about details like whether you actually need something. But sell to a salesperson, give them a good ice breaker, some good questions and a decent presentation and we'll buy all sorts of shit we don't need.

And one of the things I learned as a young whippersnapping teleseller was that if you ask the receptionist or gatekeeper for help they will rarely refuse, as it's human nature to attempt help a fellow.

She was off to a good start, asking for help got our attention along with our sadly sexist old fashioned attitude of helping a woman in distress. Honestly, had it been a man, I think we both would have been less amenable. But I think I'm ok with that too.

Her story went something like this:

"I'm pregnant and was with my boyfriend but we had an argument and he's driven off and left me.

I need to get back home to Hove and have got no money on me and need £19 for the train fare. I wouldn't normally ask but I'm really desperate, do you think you can help me?"

P was quicker to respond that I. My mind was full of cynicism, sympathy, slight fear and also sheer confusion.

P said "I'm sorry I haven't got any cash on me", while my mind was thinking that if I.just give her a few quid that might suffice.

Her response to P was as quick as a tuk tuk driver turning off his meter when he sees me

"There's a cashpoint just there" and pointing about 20 yards away.

So she overcame P's objection and P caved.

He walked to the cashpoint, took out £20 and gave it to her.  I tried to contribute half but P wasn't having it.

On the short walk I asked her what exactly had happened to find her abandoned in Croydon. She explained in some detail that she'd been in the car with the BF, his phone had rung and it was a girl. She, being pregnant and hormonal (honestly that's exactly what she said) had reacted and slapped the BF. At that point he'd thrown her out of the car, saying that otherwise he was likely to punch her, and driven off.

She, who didn't look at all pregnant by the way but had some sort of long coat on so might well have been, took it, said some thank you I could kiss you thing and walked off.

P said that he wasn't sure if we'd been conned but even if she was just a local junkie, he'd done a good deed for the day and was ok with that.

Of course with hindsight I'm as sure as can be that we (or P if you want to split hairs) was totally and wholly conned, albeit rather beautifully.

A lone abandoned pregnant woman, needing help, asking for £19, conveniently not actually £20, telling us that she was hormonal and a bit violent. Then knowing that we were a short walk from a cashpoint.

Truly masterful.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

I don't Need No Invitations

Or reminders.

I don't want my reincarnated blogging life to consist entirely of mini rants, so I'll just write this one and slope off and try and think of something more jolly to publish for next time.

But seriously what is it with these people and institutions who insist on sending Outlook and Google calendar invites, followed by fourteen reminders as you approach the meeting time?

As far as calendar / meeting type stuff goes I reckon I'm pretty British. Despite my Lankan blood I am almost always early for things. And I mean properly early, like half an hour or more. The rationale is that by turning up early I avoid any chance of the loss of control lateness involves, that hustle and bustle of trying to rush and all that goes with it.

The non rationale is that I'm a bit obsessive about it, I just feel better for it.

Talking of calendars does anyone else have an issue with spelling the word? I always have a moment when I wonder if it should be "calandar" or "calender" before settling on the right way forward.

As I was saying, I reckon I'm quite well behaved and organised as far as my time management goes. I arrive early, I run my calendar on three different devices, all of which are synced (in theory), I play in three bands so have to make sure I know when I'm doing which gig with which band.

My life is totally governed by my calendar and task list. There are few things I have to do that aren't stuck into my task list and marked as completed when done.

I'm sure I could improve but I'm quite happy the way things are.

So, if you and I make an appointment, I put it in my diary and it stays there.

I don't then need you to send me a Google or whatever calendar invite. As the septics say; I've got this.

I don't need you, like my Chiro clinic and most places these days, to send me a reminder the day before. I know I've got an appointment with Nisha tomorrow at 3pm, I know I've got a hospital appointment on Friday at 9am too. They're in my diary.

Got to go, I'm running late for a meeting I'd forgotten about.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Those RIP People

I wonder if it's just me, or do you have any of these types as well?

I'm talking about the Facebook friends who are madly keen to spread the news that someone, famous or not famous, has died.

I've got two in particular, both musicians, who, usually within about half an hour of a death announcement, will put up a link to an article with a little post saying "so and so RIP".

I've surmised that they are desperate attention seekers, a conclusion that would tie in with the rest of their FB posts; all crap minutiae about the lives of their kids and dogs, kind of trying to turn their lives into some sort of sitcom.

And this is a continuation of that behaviour.

It's all a bit too desperate for me, thank god for the snooze for a month feature.