Thursday, February 18, 2010

good intentions....

look ma no hands....no saddle.

so it's a rainy lunch time up on the hill and i am blissfully on half term holidays.

god it's luxury....time to do just what i want to do. even if that means pressing my nose against the windows and watching this dark storm lash the hill for a good ten minutes.


i intend to watch movies. last night i bagged a documentary on the only REAL cowboys left on the planet - the los californios vaqueros of the baja peninsula. it's called Corazon Vaquero - The Heart Of The Cowboy and it's absolutely magnificent. i want to saddle up a mule and ride into this rattle snake ridden final frontier. horses don't make it there. these people are my people. i know it.
then some robin hood - only because second born insisted - which was disappointing...not even one arrow was shot and Little John didn't kill the sheriff when he had a very good opportunity to finally finish off the unconvincingly evil sheriff of nottingham. i so would've. the finale was District Nine which was brilliant. but it meant that i dreamt of prawns all night - the parktown kind.
i intend to ride horses, which is nothing new, as y'all know. it's what i do second to sleeping and eating. thank god it's raining though because my bottom needs a rest. i've been messing about with some bare back riding, trying to get centered and have a perfect seat. hmmm. i am damaged goods....my poor bum. and next on the list is to play the piano. i have already mastered first movement of one of amadeus's little songs and have bach and clementi lined up next. oh. i intend to "lie in" too.

and let's see. oh. i have a smattering of marking i intend to complete....and should probably try and read something on arthur millar if i am to teach him in the not too distant future. yes. so not a lot to do in the next 4 and a half days. christ.

so, with this schedule in mind, and all these good intentions, after toast and marmite this morning, i strolled along the road to go and visit miranda (not on list) http://thetimesofmiranda.blogspot.com/) - for a coffee, (the kind puts hairs on your chest and keeps you up for days) and a catch up session. we hung out on her verandah, listening to music, watching thousands of butterflies hovering over the acacia...i think there is a butterfly migration going on. she said that her sister in law told her there's hardly any butterflies or bees left in england. that's worrying. is it true, i wonder? i lazily watched her chasing the cows away. it's true. they come and eat her little herb garden and they're really scared of her too. we spoke about blogging and watched the storm clouds building...and we came to a unanimous decision that we need many more comments to keep us going. (nudge nudge, eyebrows wriggling decidedly and uncomfortably in your direction)

i wish i had something deep and meaningful to share but honestly. just nothing nothing nothing. my god. maybe i should just, well, Stop. ? she says in very small bewildered voice.


i could blather on about how first born is in zanzibar with his class on a school trip swimming with dolphins, perusing the spice tour, checking out prison island and the spooky dungeons where recalcitrant slaves were kept. i will confess when he left on the Dar Express to, well, dar es salaam, i said my ten hail marys, summoning up the mother of all mothers. i am not catholic but i learnt this prayer at the convent i attended for school. mary and i are like this (she says crossing her fingers) i sent her packing with all the kids to zanzibar. well. it's not like she's not busy or anything like that...humbly ironing her blue robes. looking serene and beautiful in the mirror and watering her rose garden while glowingly waiting for her next magnificent mercy mission.
hail mary
full of grace.
the lord is with thee.
blessed art thou among women.
blessed is the fruit of thy womb, jesus.
holy mary,
mother of god,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death
amen. and please go to zanzibar now and make sure the bus doesn;t crash, and that he doesn;t fall off the ferry from dar to zanzibar and please make sure a dirty arab in stone town doesn;t kidnap him and that he doesn;t drown when he swims with the dolphins and that the plane doesn;t crash when he flies home on saturday.
hail mary full of grace i love you. thank you. x ten.
or how second born is annoying the hell out of me with his mates here in the house running riot, leaving popcorn shells in the lounge...how last born left last night to go and watch those goddamned chipmunks at the cinema in njiro and has still not come home. i know where she is...just next door....probably painting her nails and watching mama mia for the 502nd time.

yeah. it's 2:30 in the afternoon. it's raining on the peely green roof and my eyes are heavy after my lunch of a piece of cake covered with lashings of butter lemon icing (not on list) .... i think i shall stumble upstairs for a snooze. (not on list)
just because i can and anyway, didn't john lennon say that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans?
so.
toodely old toot oh bestests, bisous X.X.X. unplanned lemon icing ones with all good intentions. . . x j

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

ngorobob hill and some...

call me a gypsy (which is a very good thing in my books. by the by.) but the ngorobob hills are lately a decidedly quirky little place. maybe it's something to do with the elevation. or perhaps it's the clarity of the mornings - meru and kilimanjaro clear as crystal. white skied mornings. laced in very clear gold. it's state of the heart i'm tellin' ya. or maybe it's the way thousands of butterflies hover over the lavender around the house. sparkly and flighty. who knows.

after much contemplation through this particular looking glass i have decided that plastic bottles are out. a no no. they give you cancer (ignore the fact that i am happily smoking myself to death on camel lights. please. just this once and then you can get back up high on your Hyde Park Corner Box.) so The Order has been given that only glass bottles please, are to be filled from the precious rain water collection tank in the courtyard. the thing is, most of the glass bottles are, well, old (ish) vodka bottles....and unfortunately this morning second born took a swig of what he thought was water...and we all know what Thought did, eh?
a rude shock at 7:00 in the morning before school. teeth cleaning stuff.

the newly broken in colt, sukari (sugar in swahili) has toured the house. confidently it would seem. when i wasn't looking. the fact remains that third born was watching mama mia for the 485th time and didn't even look up when the horse walked past her in the lounge.

we have quirky neighbours too.... a transcript from an evening at their house the other night:
ma baker: so oscar (who is about 5) how was your day?
OTB: (oscar tom baker) ooooh i've had a fuckn day.
(one of the fuckn days. OTB in the middle.)

his sister, niamh, who has starred somewhere in this obscure blog because she is third born's best best best best best friend and seven. SEVEN. 7. and OTB's big sister. and because she's well, beautiful. anyway. she reminded the said OTB to apply sun block before heading out to school this morning. his retort was "shut up bitch". i asked his mother where he got this from. she has absolutely no idea. naturally.

i'm tellin' ya.
so, um, toodely toot y'all bestest beloveds. X. X. X. white skied gold laced ones. yeah. x j


Friday, February 5, 2010

singing for the dead people


hardly an uplifting title for a post. singing for the dead. but that, oh bestest beloveds, is what i found myself unceremoniously doing last night. not to sound too morbid or anything like that, but in the last nine months three arusha musicians have died, corbs being the first, (http://ngorobobhillhouse.blogspot.com/2009/05/happier-days.html) then john kavalo, then xavier, the bass man who owned a bass guitar made from a solid piece of oak. and who was tres snob about music. he was a jazz man supreme. john sang the blues with the black mambas. he would always sing Dylan's caustic "You Gotta Serve Somebody" for me. it was my favourite. he wore a black hat and always had a whisky and a cigarette up on stage with him. he studied rock art in the hills south of tarangire, theorizing passionately and convincingly about shamans and dreams. and well, belted out damned fine blues. and before all of this? he was in advertising in new york city. . .


i received a phone call last week from d, the drummer, asking if i would play at john kavalo's memorial, for xavier who died in paris a few days ago and for corbs. for all the dead people. i looked wearily at my guitar which has lain quiet and still for a good nine months, or thereabouts. apart from the odd drunken tinker out in west kili. i mean, would it even be a safe and sensible thing to do, i mused, all things considered? i gingerly picked it up yesterday afternoon, tuned the axe up and felt the strings bite into my soft fingers. yeah. sure. i can do this. corbs taught me the super glue trick. line each chord playing finger with super glue. you can play for days like this.

the event had been supremely planned. a film of john's cremation at the hindu crematorium opened the gig, flickering black and white images, accompanied by a recording of The Doors singing Riders On The Storm. this was followed by liza and the cello player, treating us to j.s. bach. she said the music would talk for itself and it did.

and then the banjo man....who gave explicit instructions to the awaiting band before he perfectly plinked "Malaika" (Angel), a popular swahili song. no one knows whether it originated in tanzania or kenya. either way it didn't really matter until it became popular and there was money to be made. he was a hard act to follow.
but thank god i didn't have to come on after mama charlotte who has to be nina simon re incarnate. she awoke the spirits, no doubt about that. and told us all to look after our babies. she can make waterfalls flow upstream. she is married to pete, an ex black panther who left america in the 60's after doing some bad things. he wanted to go back a few years ago to visit his mother who was dying but was denied entry. after all these years. it must have been a very bad thing he did back then. he was once asked about his life with the black panthers and he said, " when you're young you do crazy things. crazy things. you think you can change the world," and smiled a crooked smile. i sometimes see him in shoprite. his dreadlocks and heavily embroidered african shirts and his clear, crisp american accent. it's always surprising.


arusha hasn't ever heard music like last night. i have never snapped a plectrum before. and i haven't even told you about the scottish lass, who stood alone on stage, a sophie dahl dead ringer (when she was still fat), in black, poised, brimming with emotion, who sang Auld Lang Synde with bob and the pianist. i fell like a cut down tree. along with the rest of the crowd.
the angels were happy last night. at least, that's what it felt like.
toodely, y'all. bisous X.X.X. deeply musical ones. x j