Thank you notes…

FEMME POSTER

Jimmy Fallon does this on his show so I got the idea and decided to do my own version. Short ‘thank you notes’ in my best style. Here goes:

Thank you…

To those public mini bus drivers for stuffing four oversized adults into a seat intended for two slim adults and a small child. We love the intimacy of rubbing up with each other and exchanging bodily fluids fully clothed. Not to mention the array of odours, a combination of sweat, smelly hair and fried plantain. I whip my fan out like a lethal weapon to keep what little air space I have ‘fresh’! Plus they charge you full price to travel in sardine style!

Thank you…

To my bank that changes its opening hours every week leading me to think that they only open when they have available cash in the dispensing machines. I also thank them for refusing to speak English on an island that is bi-lingual and I think they do this to make sure I never understand how much money I have in my account, so that I will go over my overdraft and incur humongous bank charges. Using their cash dispensers is worse as it is all in French and I keep pressing the buttons that I think will give me money as if I am in some quiz game with no other contestants! Customer service indeed.

 Thank you…

To the helpful girls in my local boulangerie. Even though the baguettes are so overpriced and the tables are swarming with nasty little pigeons, they always make me feel welcome despite my crap French. Even when I try to speak and hold up the queue because I cannot remember how to say ‘hot sauce’ and they calmly remind me that they listen to Beyonce so they know what ‘hot sauce’ is. Suggesting too, that I should always keep some in my bag…like Beyonce presumably. Lovely Mademoiselles.

 

 

 

 

 

Mr ‘Soggy Dollar’

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Ok. ‘Soggy Dollar’ is a ‘liming spot’ on the island where all sorts of folks, from government ministers to tourists gather. I have never been but I was told this by the this guy I met.

It all started one day, as I was sitting on the wall by the bus stop waiting for a bus home. It was hot and my menopausal hot flushes are not on a timer…they come whenever they please. Unfortunately the Planning and Urban department on this divided island, did not think it nifty, in a dual climate of wet and dry season, to put a shelter up on the various bus stops to offer either shade from the searing sun or being soaked from tropical downpours. I suspect that one of the staff or perhaps a cadre of them, have to be sent off on a government contract, to somewhere with a temperate climate, like the US or Europe, to develop this ‘awareness’ of dual seasonal challenges, in order for them to build shelters on public bus stops, so that ordinary travellers, many of whom service the ‘tourism’ needs of the island, can have a little respite in their otherwise arduous days.

As I am sitting there, contemplating my long trek to the gated community where I visit from time to time, I see this very enthusiastic driver beeping his horn at me. Because I am seated, I have straight on eye contact with him, as he slows his vehicle down to give me a ride. The car looked a little unsure of itself, due to its shabby and broken down look. It did kind of say ‘loser’ but I really don’t like to judge people. Besides one could say the same of me…loser for not ever learning to drive! That’s another story. Some other time.  Anyway, I smiled back. By the way, it is customary on this island for people to hitch rides and for drivers to offer rides. I often accept rides out of the gated community by drivers I don’t know, it is not New York or Lagos. It is still a ‘quaint’ thing that people do here. But you still have to practice caution as you never know.

My driver kept smiling at me even when I politely shook my head indicating no. Now I said no only because I felt he seemed too smiley and too keen. And the thought of having to sit with him for the few minutes drive, was too big a task for me to imagine. I was tired and I did not want to make polite conversation. If I took a public bus the only words I would have to utter would be ‘thank you’ and ‘stop please’. So I waved off Mr Smiley.

Two days later, who should I see in the supermarket, between the avocado and tomato aisle but Mr Smiley. I could not hide. Neither the tomatoes nor the avocado provided enough camouflage. Up he came. His name is C, he is a happy guy, he likes me, he only eats healthy and he held up the two avocados in each of his hands to prove his point. He does not drink alcohol, does not smoke either.  None of his ‘credentials’ interested me nor did I interrupt his monologue to provide any answers to his many questions, or should I say his assumptions about me. I was more preoccupied with finding a nearly ripe avocado that wasn’t bruised.

He invited me to come dance (remember he does not drink) at a place he frequents called ‘Soggy Dollar’. A place I have been told is for the young and inebriated. Well that rules me out for sure and looking at him, up close, I thought certainly in his case, why would someone who is not-so-young and a teetotal go to ‘Soggy Dollar’? Ahhhh….perhaps it is the ambiance?

To cut a long story short, I am always bumping into him. I have not veered off my path of ‘not my type’ to go anywhere with him. He asked me to cinema, the beach, walks on the boardwalk all of which I declined. Why? The only way I can explain is this. As a child, I remember the way that some of my brothers boyhood friends would collect marbles, the ones with different colours etc. How they would be enthused to come across a colour combination they hadn’t seen or didn’t have in their ‘marble collection’. And having a good collection of marbles was a sign of coolness.

‘Mr Soggy Dollar’ reminded me of that. That I was a marble he had not seen before or needed in his collection and on that thought, I just could not get over being sought after for my colour combination so to speak, or what other ‘marble’ value he might have thought, that I might bring to him.  My thing was this: what if, he eventually decided that I was not the ‘marble’ with the eye-catching colouring he originally thought I was?! Exactly! He can take his ‘marble eyes’ and go pitch somewhere else.

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My terrible, terrible fashion moments…

I have done some terrible things in the name of fashion and vanity. Terrible. Once I spent close to £200 on lipsticks. Chanel, Guerlain and Lancome. My top three favourites. That was money I should have saved. Considering I do not and never had luscious lips I’d say I spent good money on nothing! 

But I loved the colours and my thin lips felt plumped up whenever I put them on. Another time, I bought a pair of Russell and Bromley patent leather biking boots for too much money because I was trying hard to emulate that out-of-town-come-urban-chic-look. Wearing riding jodphurs and a baggy sweater with biker’s boots. I didn’t matter that I never rode a horse, or that I lived in a semi-detached, in town. In my defence, I trotted around a paddock on a Welsh pony once or twice.

But one of my most frivolous forays was one Christmas season in London. I was crushing on the visiting American VP who came to ‘streamline’ (as in ‘fire’ staff) the London office. I stood a good chance of being ‘let go’ but all I could think of was my big, fat crush! That year, I decided I was going to dress to impress at the annual Christmas party. On impulse, and in a moment of complete romantic turbulence, I spent half of my salary on a Ralph Lauren satin jacket. It was wine coloured with tiny, ‘distressed’, antique gold buttons, lots of them. The kind of jacket that took you an hour to button up! I matched it with a grey/black snake skin dressy straight cut trousers from Joseph and Donna Karan heels. God… I remember it so well. The good-looking VP, whom we nicknamed ‘Scary Freary’ (Freary being his surname), did not bat an eyelid. I mean, I could have been the cat’s dinner for all he cared! What a waste of showmanship. The jacket, I lent to a friend and I never got back. Imagine that! Each time I saw her I was too afraid to ask for it, in case she cussed me off as she was known for being fiery and very touchy. Now, it would have been a real vintage piece. I may not have been able to wear it but I could have looked at it and swooned…..

I take all my fashion moments very seriously. It’s one of the best avenues for self expression. Ask any of those little dolly birds, who nibble daintily on their five almonds a day quota, sitting behind their desks as editorial or administrative staff, how much they love their jobs. For those who scoff at the superficiality of it all I get it. But there is more. Maybe you don’t like all the hype, but you can still look, comment, experiment, gasp and even laugh. That’s why I love to hear people talk about it or write about it. It’s not all arty farty. Nor is it just about skinny women with big foreheads and pulled back hair with glazed over eyes. Or good looking guys with better hair than the average woman. It’s fun. It takes over all of us at some point in our lives. Some of us never come off the fashion merry go round, we stay on and keep brandishing our style as our brand of identity. Or we stick to our favourite styles from when we were young.

Many men for example, of a certain age, still rock their big, boxy polyester shirts in brash colours, only it fits them a little snugger but they are sticking to their style. Some women too…. never changed their big hair-do’s that they had since the 80’s….. it’s as if the flat-iron missionaries never got hold of them to convert them. I suspect people say that about me, ie my hair, but mine is acute frizziness and of course menopause too. Apparently your hair changes (for the worse) as your hormones start swishing around.

Anyway, every dog has its day and I had mine! I’d like to think I have a little time still. You don’t have to be a dedicated follower of it but don’t dismiss it as some frivolous thing that ‘women’ do for that will be not be true. Men love it. That is why I say long live fashion – the good the bad and the Kanye West aesthetic! I rest my fashionable case.

(pic is free use)

Rules, rules, rules…

The entire human existence is built on a set of rules. Even when you’re blogging. After much hesitation, I decided that I would try. I dismissed the term blogging early on. And with that dismissal, I turned away from all the prophesizing about how to do it in order to maximize this or that. As I read more and more, I thought why am I paying attention to these folks who sound more like used car sales people with their levels of ‘expertise’? Don’t get me wrong. There are (were) a few bits of useful info but that was not the norm.

What if you just want to peddle your ideas? Your incoherent moments? Emotional responses to some worldly conundrum? Your frustrations with your dentist and his bad-breath? Isn’t that part of what the Internet community is about? Finding and connecting with other people? Since when has human expression become such an art that we need all of these experts to tell us how it’s done?

I don’t care about who is writing for what and for whom. I may or may not relate and that’s fine. I’m very comfortable with not being everyone’s cup of tea and vice versa. My main preoccupation is being able to write honest, unpretentious content and not pitch myself as some expert. In my real life, not everything I say or think is of interest to others. I write for me. Some may like, not like, be indifferent or even bored. It is why I honestly don’t care.

 

 

“Chacun voit midi à sa porte”…Translation….. “everyone sees noon at their door”

It means that every individual is occupied, first and foremost, with his or her own personal interests, and each feels their subjective opinions as objective truths. When such tenacity occurs, the French would say, “Inutile de discuter,” it is “useless to argue,” since every man feels he is right. Innumerable is the context in which this phrase may be applicable…

(image free, for public use)

The man in the doorway

 

The photo looks like an ole time town. Meaning the feel of the photo, along with the facade of the building, the little paved area for walking, the complete absence of cars congestion lends the idea that this could well be an old town somewhere out there that time forgot. But sometimes photos don’t always tell the truth. This is the contemporary setting of a Dutch colonised island in the Caribbean. Sint Maarten is one island divided roughly half-half by two old slave trading nations in Europe – Holland and France. ‘The man in the doorway’ is the topic of the post, set in a space that is made to look whimsical and nostalgic. Stuck in a time warp, like the island itself.

When you don’t know who you are, you morph into ‘all things for everyone’. An island that has been set up as some tourist destination, is the obvious identity all of its inhabitants speak off.  What is not spoken about is the ‘men in corridors’ both within and outside its borders that ‘manage’ the real goings-on of the island. Tax evaders, off shore business folk, eager-to-get-a-piece-of-the-stolen-pie politicians, a worn-down and ill-informed immigrant community, resentful locals, runaway Metropolitans from Holland, France, other colonial outposts, as well as North Americans, all seeking a better life that the island facilitates for them.

The tensions between the merchant class and the disenfranchised mainly black locals, ie small businesses, which the East Indians  and Chinese lead. All of these little details, could never be captured in a photo.  It is easier to present a facade of a quaint order under the disorder. Ramp it up with nostalgia touches and small island charm and the fantasy continues so that tourists could come and enjoy and say their carefully crafted nuptials under palm trees whilst the majority of the island’s inhabitants, mainly blacks, young and old, continue with a development module that pushes servitude.

That’s the ‘official business’ of the island. Servitude. There is nothing modern or quaint about that. All the more trying because we ‘choose’ to see it like this.  Just like how in our own lives, we hold on to some faded memory, or idea of something or someone, because it is simply easier, even when we know it’s wrong or that it’s a lie. When I took the picture, and tried to ‘fix’ it…I had a motive. I wanted to do something that is fake and contrived. That said, it is just a photo.

 

 

 

 

Title: The politics of the ordinary

“Two thoughts came to me as I lived and read in this world……public life has a way of breaking your heart. It was not even that officials lied: There seemed to be little relationship between what they did and what happened, as if their words were disconnected from the world. So my first thought was that there was something lacking in the experience of the world, the absence of which made that world a threatening place.” From Tracy B Strong’s…The Politics of the Ordinary…