and they have a rocking script!

The latest Tanariwen CD is officially the only thing keeping me alive these days. Their music is brilliant. Every track that comes on i blurt out "oh this is my favourite" before i realise i'm sounding ridiculously fickel because i said that approximately 5 minutes ago when the last track began. That's another point actually. Does this music last the standard wazzerish 3:20mins? No of course it doesn't, it goes on and on for an absolutely minimum of 5 mins which is just as well because it gives me an extra 5 minutues in which i may acutally be able to stop myself from throwing things as people. They blatantly only stopped at like 8 minutes because the wazzers who recorded them couldn't handle it, they clearly would have gone on into the night.

Tinariwen also manage to do something truely amazing. They manage to un-do all the evil Jenny Valid and her whayt flute have managed to do to the image of that essentially rocking instrument. Are they prancing around in their silk pyjamas playing flute concertos in the corridor like my flatmate? um methinks not. Do they play the piano? obviously not, i mean what kind of self-respecting nomad plays the piano? As if their music wasn't enough on it's own they have to have a rocking story behind their formation as well. obviously.

They were all in Algeria in the 70s where they were seeing refuge from persecution in their homeland. They met in Gadhafi's camps where they had gone to train to fight the scurge of the nation-state that was the central government of Mali. My peeps the Tuaregs want autonomy from the government and more equal distribution of resources across the country, including the north where the Tuareg and Maur are the majority. In Algeria they sung about political stuff and about living in exile. They were also heavily influence by the American Blues they came accross during those years and when they trekked back to Mali rather than carrying guns they were toting guitars. doesn't get much better than that does it?!

Not only are they rocking musicians, they also reinforce the mulberry bush principle. People are not very bright, this we know, but in addition to this the worst things happen when people are in big groups. The mulberry bush principle states that people should not live in groups that are too big to be supported by a mulberry bush. This is why football matches are very bad, cities are evil and Italy needs not to exist.

get my ass back to Afrika

Something tells me this is very very bad....

One quote in particular got me;

"Viewers will see the women of the tribe speak with passion, emotion and humour about their lives, in a way that has not been explored before."

It's just great getting into the minds of these women, knowing how they feel, what their emoitions are, what they're thinking. giving us a woman's-eye-view of the world, if you will. What this programme really shows us is that despite living in these backward social groups, suriving on berries and roots they've dug up and not knowing what footspas are, these women are just like you and me. They get sad when someone tapes over their omnibus recording of Eastenders and feel like they can never have too many pairs of shoes.

too much ice

Went to the see the ubergoat that is k'naan a few weekends ago. I was buzzing for days after it and for some reason while brushing my teeth today(as always!), i was reminded of it. The performance was brilliant etc etc but a couple of things still resonate with me.

One was the brother pushing all the way from the back of the room to the stage and asking my man K'naan to sing the song again, he was like "huh, that's one thing about audiences back home, when they want an encore they don't want it at the end, they want it right there and then. So for the first time outside of Afrika..." and he sings it again.

And when he did his piece about the racist attack backstage on the Jamrock tour with Damien Marley, the whole place was on tenter hooks and at one point everyone turned around because someone's camera clicked. That's how quite the room was and that's how powerful his words were and it's only the tragically funny ones that stick with me to this day... "I thought this was Sweden a land of peace-loving vegans."

land ahoy

"...because Turkish and Mongolian are so closely related..." is the gem that my goat of a linguistics lecturer slips into class on Thursday. Well of course, i mean it makes sense if you think about it. Some people have told me i'm reading too much into it but i think there a signs everywhere i look. I just clearly need to be in Mongolia.

Apparently for the last three years i have been messing around in the murky shallows of the second floor and the tepid stagnant pool of the fourth floor when the third was where it is AT. The third floor is ram-packed with linguistics goats. People who are not only apprently passionate about their subject but also already know my name, which is completely ridiculous because i'm a bare-ass, unabashed imposter. Is it full of briefcase weilding coperate lawyers? is it full of incompetent muppet men? me thinks not! So needless to say i have managed to squeeze every available nanosecond out of my timetable and have devoted it to the wonderful field of lingustics. i spend my time (when i should clearly my writing law essays) working out the morphemes in Zacapoxtla (a dialect of Aztec) and composing essential sentences in Korean such as Chelswu sent two letters to Suni. It's great.

coptic_pariah and i are now convinced we are fluent in the above languages as well as Persian, Basque, Thai and Chamorro which we picked up last week. I don't think even the goats on the third floor realise quite what a monster they are creating. When Basque flag-waving, bike-riding goats board the train in Turkey to cross Lake Van on route to Mongolia via Iran, speaking a Somali-Somoan pidgin they best be ready for the consequences. If Genghis could do it so can we. Who says i'm unemployable!

bug is the new black

I've heard that in Barbados people have managed to sell varnished cockroaches to tourists under the title 'mahogany birds' which of course makes them highly appealing to your average not very bright tourist. They kill the roaches (somehow) and then open up their wings and smoother the items with varnish so they're all hard and shiny - i swear people will go for anything as long as its shiny.

if you thought that was bad wait for the news of today....... it is now fashionable / acceptable / surprisingly legal to buy jewel-encrusted cockroaches. No doubt marketed under some name which plays on the whole roach-broach situation, these pieces of so-called jewellry are actually that. They have really really expensive jewels and shiny things (please note) encrusted on their shell. Strange really, encrusted has always been one of those words that i only ever use in negative situations but i thought the same about roaches until now as well. Apparently encrusted has just gotten a bad press over the years and is now selling.

The pins are slid through the shell of the cockroach, the jewel attached with some kind of really sticky glue and hey-ho you're in rio. But perhaps you had not realised, as i had not in my fog of naivete that these cockroaches are still alive. ALLLLIIIIIIIIIVEEEEEEEE i say. For the love of all things good and sweet. As if having a lapel wasn't bad enough you're telling me you're going to stick a cockroach on it, with a shiny thing attached to is back and you're not even going to kill it first!!! what has the world come to.

The guy who is marketing these things, which are apparently really taking off, said, and he wasn't joking,

"it's perfect the roach-broach comes with its own custom-built box which contains dark places for it to hide in and we even put food in there. Cockroaches are great because they eat anything"

I know they eat anything, that's why they're bloody everywhere, eating everything and skuttling really really fast, and hissing AND flying, i repeat they can run AND FLY. RUN AND FLY. how many legs do they have, how many wings? far too many is all i say. We're talking here about mini-beasts that can eat themselves, eat each other and not only surive nuclear fall-out but can actually live for 9 days without their heads. NOTHING should be able to live for 9 days without its head but if it can i sure don't want it pinned to my clothes.jewel-encrusted or not.

hurricaine dollar

yesterday i saw a film called Heading South. It was about a group of middle aged white women from Canada, Amreeka and England who headed to Haiti for some "fun" as they so charmingly put it. Upon arriving they quickly found the 'fun' in the form of a group of local young men. The men were young, muscular, semi-naked, charming and most importantly of all Black, a far cry from their experiences in their own homes.

The three women who it focuses on find no shame whatsoever in popping dollar bills into the trousers of whoever they are 'having fun' with at the time. As well as their sexual exploits they shower them with gifts and watch with great pleasure as they feed the boys - and they are boys some of them. Legba the main character being 15 when he gave poor 45 year old Brenda her first orgasm. (wait wait, let me bring out my small stringed instrument which i shall proceed to play with a bow.)

The film was atrocious and one of my favourite bits actually had me laughing out loud. Sue the Canadian is talking about how she doesn't find herself attracted te her Black co-workers at home in Canada. She says;

" yeah it's true, they're different here, perhaps it's because they're closer to nature, closer to the sun"

Needless to say all of these women fall in love with these young men and poor Brenda who falls in love with the lithe Legba offers him a passport and a better life. Just about the only thing this film does have going for it is that he refuses. Having no interest whatsoever in obtaining a passport and heading back to Savannah, Georgia with her or with Ellen, the French Literature lecturer from Canada.

There is far too many naked Black schlongs in this film just to prove that even if there are trying to make a point - God forbid - they have fallen far short of the mark. Albert, the mardy old waiter at the restaurant was the only reason i didn't stop watching after the first 5 minutes. He's from a long line of proud Black men ( oh, you don't see very many of those around here these days do you)and he says of his father

"he used to say that whites were equal to monkeys. Whenever he saw a white man he used to have to look behind him for the tail"

The film is worth it for this line alone and for anyone who is thinking about going into film-making/directing as a brilliant example as to how not to do it. I'm still wondering whether Heading South was just a bad translation of Vers le sud or a deliberate double entendre.

sultana chronicles

an inocous small ex-fruit it is not. sultanas are evil and need to die.

My hatred of sultanas began at an early age. My dear Grandmother who has almost lived in three centuries makes what she calls a curry by adding sultans and apples, yes that's right sultanas AND apples to her beef casarole.

Yesterday i had the pleasure of attending a 90th birthday party of an old next-door neighbour.Old in that he's 90 and that he was my neighbour 21 and a half years ago. Said neighbour now lives in the hell that is Dover. Not even Dover in fact, something worse - a willage near Dover.Contrary to my estimations i was not the youngest person there. I was however the only person there not in floral frocks, who had arranged the floral table display and done the floral icing on the cake and i was definately the only Blek.

It appeared nobody wanted me and my long-suffering mother sitting on their table nor to talk to us so we quickly found ourselves in isolation in the corner of the room between the members of the WI and the macrame group. Finally it was time to eat. We had been travling for hours in fact days to get there and the thought of a meal, or at least that British favourite -"nibbles" at the end of it all was the only think keeping us going. The jury's still out as to whether i am always this stupid or whether i was having a particularly vacant day. what was i thinking? there would be no wali na mchuzi, not even any tambi, this was whayt do and the food was going to be very whayt.

As we neared the table i saw handy-yet-whayt labels explaining what everything was. This were not really needed anyway because it was self-explanitary. Eat me and you will die. Coronation chicken -didn't that happen about 55 years ago?, salmon mousse, eggs with maiyonaise -eggs and mayonise TOGHETHER, quiche lorraine, ham and mushroom quiche, gammon, haddock, past salad with spring onion sauce, potatoe salad, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, oh and the list goes on. I quickly scanned the giant table for anything that looked unoffensive and that's spoon hadn't already known (in the biblical sense)any meet or fish. Almost impossible but tucked away in the corner my eyes spotted the most unlikely thing even. Tabbouleh. No it couldn't be i though. couldn't possibily be. well it was the safest looking thing by far so i made a beeline for it. i managed to make it back to my table with a tiny spoon of the offending substance and a great big hunk of bread. The Shakleswell tabbouleh turned out to be made with Quinoa rather than bulgar wheat -even more surprising and wasn't that bad all things considered BUT, you've guessed it. It had sultanas in it. Why? why? it just makes no sense to me whatsoever. There was no way i was going to eat them but likewise i coulnd't really leave 60 sultanas on my plate, i had already drawn enough attention to myself as it was by just turning up, what to do? i looked around desperately, not even any ashtrays or bins in sight. i looked to my right. it was my only option. i stealthly began depositing spoonfuls of the sultanas onto the plate of the toad of toadhall-esque woman sitting next to me who was so busy telling us about her new Stannah stair lift that she didn't notice. phew. i made it out alive and live to tell the tail. until we meet again sultana.

(no subject)

all my life i have been the subject of the NHS racialy slured policy. When i was little i was forever being jabbed and tested for sickle cell anemia. When i went to have my teeth taken out in my early teens i was given yet another sickle cell test "just in case" i was going to be a sufferer. The europeaness of my socially conscious afrikan american mother seemed to be of no importance to the doctors who clearly needed to go back to their secondary school biology classes to be reminded there was almost no chance of me being a carrier. As if that wasn't bad enough i was also subjected to random, secret HIV tests, again "just in case". You never can be too sure about these things. The fact that i was a 13 year old Black lass obviously helped the proceedings.

This time however the Health Service has gone one step too far. People in england are suddenly obsessed that people from "migrant communities value male children over female children". As a resultof the lack of civilisation of Black, yellow and brown people and their sheer backwardness, the health service has decided to take matters into its own hands. A friend of mine is pregnant. She is Black and she is not allowed to know the sex of the baby. It has always been standard practise in England, from as long as the technology existed for people who wanted to know to be told to the sex of their baby. From now on however all people from 'ethnic minority communities' are barred from this information.

Terrified that all people who score anything above a late on the beverage scale will abort their pregnancies if they discover it is a girl, the whole system has been changed. This got me wondering, what if you're a late but your babyfather is a capucino? or what if you're just a slice of apple pie, the babyfather is also a slice of apple pie BUT you're no longer with him and the guy who you're at the hospital with is a wedge of chocolate cake? what is the protocol? are they going to start looking at the names of mothers-to-be and saying "oh i think she'd prefer a boy, best not tell her"? what will be the next terrifying step the NHS will take? perhaps the next time i go to the dentist with a cavity i'll have not just a test for anemia, sickle cell anemia and HIV but i'll also be prone to an involuntary pregnancy test and a pyschometric test to ascertain my my likelihood of aborting a girl child. maybe i already have been.....

(no subject)

we were getting on fine, things we going pretty smoothly all things considered, no arguments, neither of us were seeing other people - more out of practically than anything else - but then it all had to end. Two months ago it hit. My teeth had let me down. I had a cavity. My first in years.

After years of bad teeth during which i had memorised my dental chart backwards and forwards, about 8 years ago finally left the office-cum-dentist sugery along with the hundreds of other kids at my school with the much saught after "clear" ringing in my ears. I would skip around school all day and not eat or drink anything that had even been on the same shelf as sugar for weeks afterwards.

My dentist was a small, friendly man (aren't they all), but he had the most impressive nervous tick ever and would blink about 10 times a second. I am almost certain that he would have been refused a driving licence on the grounds that he clearly wouldn't be able to tell if the lights were green or red but apparently it was fine for him to be unleashed on small innocent children with a drill in his hand. The fact that he spent more time with his eyes closed than open never seemed to have caused a problem to his sucessful dentistry career.

Once i left school there was an absolutely BRILLIANT Ghanian dentist where you didn't even realise you had even sat down in the chair and he had already finished and sorted everything out. But then there were privatisations and extended stints in far away places and i found myself in a woeful situation - dentistless.

Unfortunately my hyperactive paranoid (dear) mother managed to get me the only NHS dentist left in the land and i waltzed into the surgery confident. Thoughts of "Clear" making me positively cocky. But wait, get a grip, that was 8 years ago! a CAVITY had been detected, apocalypse had truly come.

That was two months ago now and i had managed to skillfully avoid going back to have said CAVITY( duh duh duuhhhhhh) filled. But alas no longer and today was D day. Several morphine filled needles, noisey drills and patronising comments later i left the surgery with spit dribbling down one side of my face, considerably poorer and im not sure any more beautiful......and now i have just dicovered that a bit of the tooth that was supposedly drilled away is in fact lodged between my teeth and no going anywhere. all for what?????

teeth, you let me down

and there was a double bass

So it was the first time in a long while that i wished i was also drunk. Either that or that i could hack away at my arm with a tiny penknife and not feel the pain, you know like those people who get stuck caves and things.

What began as an innocous jam session, passed through the stages of great fun and musical mulfuddery and landed unceremoniously in accute cringe syndrome.

If you had told me beforehand i wouldn't have believed that i would want to leave a room full of bongos, guitars, a multitude of harmonicas, a double bass and a whole host of shaky jangley things. In my head i still put it down to the alcohol but i think i'm probably being generous and the turn the conversation took was as inevitable as it gets. This was the point at which i did actually burst out laughing.....

"where did you get your skin from?"

Now look, i'm usually quite patient person and perhaps too often try and make excuses for people's sheer ignorance but this had me on the floor in stiches. Telling her I got it on offer from Marks and Spencer would not have cut it. Fortunately for her health she kept on speaking/slurring and i didn't actually have to answer the question.

I should really have seen it coming when quite early on in the evening the topic of the those unmentionable books came up - needless to say positive comments were flying left right and centre. I just went off on one as i do with few other things to the same level as AMS and the lady's detective series. Before i knew it i had managed to silence everyone in the room with my views which were obviously not held by the other people in the room. so really i should have anticipated some kind of ridiculous comment but it still always catches me out. The ingenuity of people's idiocy is truely impressive!