Saturday, May 31, 2014

78 Sri Lanka

I've had an awful, bad foot. And I've been tripping about Sri Lanka.

But I am fit and I am back now. And I will be getting into writing the Africa trip.

"The past is a curious thing. It's with you all the time. I suppose an hour never passes without your thinking of things that happened ten or twenty years ago... Then some chance sight or sound or smell, especially smell, sets you going, and the past doesn't merely come back to you, you are in the past."


Saturday, May 10, 2014

77 Stone Town

In Notes at the minute.... must get this one sorted
Diary Entry 1992
The slave pits and holding areas. The whipping post. The cathedral.

William Wilberforce - Hull - abolition in 1830s and onward.
Movie imagery white tourist style of Roots and Django Unchained

Spice Islands to the east rather than the US, Arabs and Portuguese.... anger captured  Nina Simone Four Women song, passion and anger. Discrimination of displacement. Better than a gospel song, subservient. Still living with the results of the slave trade. Proud anger reveals it more... I'd seen Nina too late in her life at the Oxford Apollo, she was too tired and the voice had gone... we left at half time.
"My skin is black My arms are long My hair is wooly My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain Inflicted again and again
What do they call me My name is Aunt Sarah My name is Aunt Sarah
"My skin is yellow My hair is long Between two worlds I do belong
My father was rich and white He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me My name is Safronia My name is Safronia

"My skin is tan My hair is fine My hips invite you And my mouth like wine
Whose little girl am I Anyone who has money to buy
What do they call me My name is Sweet Thing My name is Sweet Thing

"My skin is brown And my manner is tough I'll kill the first mother I see My life has been rough
I'm awfully bitter these days Because my parents were slaves
What do they call me My Name Is Peaches"

I saw Nina in Oxford once. Six months before I left for Zanzibar. I didn't understand her when I was in the audience pit at the Apollo, watching an old woman past her sell by date. I get her now. I've seen her. Heard her.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

76 Bangkok

I've had a bad foot for the past few week. I've been holed up in my apartment neither bothered nor motivated to do much of anything. I've slept for hours on the sofa and wallowed in my pain, until I'd downed enough Tylenol to fell a medium sized pony.

This foot thing could grow to be a concern for the big surface trip. My approaching fifty year old body is tossing out signals that it's fifty, and that it can be buggered up from twenty five years of lifestyle. It's weird. My brain is alert as ever but my flesh and bits can't keep up. When I was a child watching dads and uncles grow older I didn't know that the thoughts of those dads and uncles were pretty much those of the same blokes when they first asked out the mums or aunts.

Hmmm. My body isn't keeping up. In a few years I'd make a rubbish polar explorer. Not that I'd have been an expert a few decades ago. With me I can forget the idea of fighting back the "minor tingle" of frostbite, stuffed into a sleeping bag with a stiff upper lip, eating boiled seal meat. There's no way I could do or could have done that. There's no way I could make the ultimate sacrifice for my mates with a "I'm off out for a while" death walk into the Antarctic night. With me it would be;

"I think I'll be stopping in lads, my toe hurts. Yeah, I might be here for a while. Can anyone knock up a mug of Ovaltine? Ta."

This foot pain has reminded me of the time I saw an inspirational statue of the ultimate polar explorer and leader, Ernest Shackleton. It's at the Royal Geographical Society, subtley tucked into a brick niche looking over to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, on the outside of the library building so everyone can see him if they cared to look up as they walk past.

It's a fabulous, human scaled sculpture; cast by Charles Sargeant Jagger with, so I've read, the concept and design begun by Edwin Lutyens.

Crikey, does Ernest look determined, oh yes, does Ernest look hard. No swollen foot issues up there.

In my week of pain I did manage to get out to the 7-Eleven a few times, with differing styles and various amounts of heroic hobbling as the days went on. Okay, three hundred yards to 7-Eleven and back wasn't an expedition worthy of Shackleton, but such yomps are a fine excuse to post Edward Elgar's Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod"... because Nimrod is the name Shackleton gave to the 1907 to 1909 British Antarctic Expedition. I hummed it to myself as I hopped along and paid for my milk. 



I'm happy I can cope with a dull pain and that I can walk again.  I've had returned the precious gift of mobility. I'm wondering where in the world I'll go tomorrow.

- - - -
As a contrast to Sargeant's glorious understatement of sculpture for a civilian super hero, here's some over done "nobs in charge" stuff...

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband.
Kim Il Sung, The Great Leader and Eternal President of DePRoK in 2010.
Nowadays he's got his son, Kim Jong-Il, standing next to him.
Equestrian Statue of King Louis XIV, Versailles.
Equestrian Statue of King Rama V, Bangkok (the Siamese peasants were expecting an elephant).
Ho Chi Minh, hands in pockets, striding forward across the plaza in his birthplace town of Vinh,Vietnam.
Mausoleo Che Guevera, Santa Monica, Cuba. 
This last one has to be the best of the lot. The Albert Memorial was a close, loving second. But Che's was the most down to earth, grand scale, place, where school children could learn and interact with their people's history. They were unfettered by any religious ancestral worship and under none of that nonsense to feign reverence to a dead deity.

Friday, May 2, 2014

75 Bweiju Zanzibar

On The Beach and Chilling...

Diary Entry 1992

"First floor balcony of the guest rooms on East Coast Zanzibar Island and I can't but not think of Robert Redford and Meryl doing their Out of Africa thing in a yellow bi plane and afterwards having the picnic, at night, on the beach...

"Meryl got all huffy if I remember correctly, because Bob wouldn't commit and Bob wanted to keep spizzing off. Well Bob did spizz off and he died. Never to be seen again. Oh well."


74 Dar Es Salaam

Diary Entry

"Africa. Note Book #1. Sunday 25th October 1992.

"We arrived into Dar es Salaam airport at 10.00am. The rickety baggage conveyor had gave me an idea of what to expect from East Africa; it sort of works but don't expect many unnecessary frills. Catherine and I picked up our rucksacks, the heaviest rucksacks in the world,

"A whizz through the customs and immigration booths hassle free. As an extra we showed our Yellow Fever certificates to the health officials. Until now I've not been to a place where I've had to prove to the locals that I won't get sick, nor die on them, nor be a financial burden.

"Officially "in" we changed one hundred dollars cash into five billion trillion near worthless Tanzanian shillings. Out and into we went and negotiated fares at the taxi rank to head straight to Dar’s port. By 2.00pm we were on the Zanzibar ferry. Stevie Wonder lookalikes, a couple dozen mum and child combinations, an African albino and two melted Kit Kats."