Thursday, May 26, 2005


In Russell Brown Hard News style, this entry has several observations about isolated events. That's where any similarity ends.

Went and saw the wonderful Ska Cubano last Sunday night at the Zodiac with my colleague Sue, her man Neil, and my friend Evelyn from Noo Ziland. Ska Cubano generate a wonderful mix of of Ska rhythms. They played for two hours with immense amounts of energy, every bit the equal of The Go! Team, although The Go! Team do have better tunes... Much of the gig was in Spanish, so some of it was lost on me, but the rhythms needed limited explanation. The band is comprised of a band leader from Brixton, an amazing saxophinist (of the feminine kind) from Japan, and brassmen, bassists, percussionists, guitarists, keyboardists and a singer in a white suit from Cuba and Jamaica. Quite simply and extraordinary amount of fun an be had at these gigs. I was standing on a slightly elevated part of the floor towards the front and at one side of the stage, so I could look out over both the band and the crowd. Two things stood out to me. Firstly, the whole audience was going for it, for the whole gig. Most gigs I have been to has seen a gradual dissipation of energy, that is the further away from the stage the more stationary the punter. Not on Sunday night. Secondly, and I wanna stress this is just an observation, while the whole of the band was black or Asian, pretty much the whole audience was white.

Highlight of the evening - Istanbul not Constantinople. Much, much fun...

Yesterday I had to negotiate the wilds of Croydon, south London. Croydon is where Lunar House is, and Lunar House is where you can find the ominous sounding Imigration and Nationality Directorate (why does any government department with 'directorate' in the title sound so damn menacing? It sounds so damn totalitarian...). I've heard nightmares about this process, and if Patrick's Czech experiences (here and here) were anything to go by (yes, I know, different countries and all), it was not going to be fun. Usefully, the UK version of the IND has the option to create an appointment for the express service. The qualifying part of the express service is to have £500. Brandishing my form with 74990 scrawled on it, I invincibly marched my way in, smugly passing the long queue of those without the number 74990, before facing a whole lot of having my forms checked by pretty much every official I passed on my route and finally a whole lot of waiting in a very long room that was set up like a zoo. Lots of long blue chairs, all facing in one direction, all facing a long series of glass booths where hopes and dreams are being crushed and kindled. Oh yes, we can all sit and watch as applicants get asked tricky questions, see the tensions boil up as they find out that they haven't got the right documentation. Eventually, I heard 74990 called, and all my nerves dissipated as my interviewer decided that as far as she was concerned the only thing that important to her was that my surname was actually pronounced 'body'. Constantly being called 'Mr Body' followed by a chuckle was quite soothing, it has to be said. Twenty minutes later I was sent away, and told to come back in two hours while they found someone to stick a paper in my passport. Three hours later (the sticker man was out to lunch), I had permission to stay till 2008. Happy days.

Been hanging with my friend Evelyn a bit recently. She was really a friend of my friend Steph who has some temporary nannying work in Wytham, a small village west of Oxford. She knew no-one here, but Steph pointed her in my direction. It's a funny thing, in that she has certainly utilised my time and space, but that simply doesn't bother me. Maybe if she wasn't such a damn fine person it might have.... But three and a half years ago, my friends Sarah and Craig made me so welcome when I moved to Edinburgh, and then two and a half years ago my friends Sarah and Mike did the same when I moved to the 'shire. Now I know that I could never repay them, and I know that they would never expect it, but I think that what they would expect of me to treat new people in my world the same way they treated me. Not that I thought about this for a second. And it is nice to talk to someone with no connection to poetry, cricket, hOME, work...

When was the last time you saw a woman driving too fast? Yep, I can't remember seeing one either.

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