DAY 110 Not all white middle managers from Ohio…

November 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The reader will recognize that I’ve just started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s recent novel Americanah; and I was  worried because the heroine Ifemelu writes a blog of which the above words are a sample heading. And it seemed that unlike me,

adichie_usnerLogic can convince but it is in fact emotion that leads us to act

Ifemelu had hundreds of committed readers, feeding her with impassioned comments. Why not me? I wondered whether it was the style (of which I’ve given an example); but it might also be because she has a fellowship at Princeton – which always helps. Short of remaking myself as a young Nigerian woman (too late) can I attract a larger audience by a mere stylistic change? Ifemelu’s technique seems to be a) to give the blog a general title: ‘Raceteenth Or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known As Negroes) By A Non-American Black’ and b) to draw random strangers into a conversation, and then use it to make a generalization – like the one about white middle managers –  which undercuts your readers’ presupppositions. Some Millwall supporters don’t hate Caravaggio. Many Pashtun waiters like Miley Cyrus.

news-graphics-2006-_610680aAny 4-manifold with vanishing w is almost parallelizable. And so on. [I'm not sure how you'd draw a 4-manifold into a conversation, but I can't think of any law which excludes it - anyway you recognize that the subject is always the major premise in an undeveloped syllogism.] I’m perhaps too unsociable, on the tube mothers see me as too threatening and Millwall supporters not threatening enough. Maybe I should sign off the blog and relocate to Lagos. Anyway, Ifemelu is so successful, she can keep herself going on speaking engagements and selling advertising. Could I sell advertising space to my physiotherapist? To Amnesty International? To a sunset home?

Well, I haven’t only been reading huge novels  - I’ve been on two long-haul flights, to Grenada and back;
Grenada1

(Sorry folks, this photo has come out sideways, and the wordpress team will have to get to work on it. Damn! On second thoughts, it’s easier to leave it for the reader to look at it sideways and interpret it as a postmodern objet trouvé.) I’ve watched two Bergman movies, which can get free on Youtube (Winter Light and The Silence, since you ask.) Also The Omen. Which gives rise to more thoughts, this time about the passage of time – a hackneyed subject, I know. In Winter Light, you recall, Jonas is depressed and finally suicidal because the Chinese have the atom bomb; while Tomas Ericsson lost his faith because of the suffering in the Spanish civil war.winterlight Get a grip, folks! Forty years later, North Korea has the bomb, and there has been plenty more suffering in subsequent wars; some of us still have faith, and indeed use it to help us fight wars. But maybe we still have the same problems, competing with death as in The Seventh Seal.  In The Omen, on the other hand, we see Gregory Peck, who has just been told, by an exorcist, at Megiddo a.k.a. Armageddon, to stab his diabolical son in a church. He’s homeward bound – on an El Al flight? – clutching six naked daggers wrapped in a cloth. These days, not only would he not have made it through security (never mind that he’s a U. S. ambassador), but the Mossad would probably have wiped him out before he even got there.

All the same, my friends at the Az Theatre are trying to get together a London-Gaza based adaptation of War and Peace, on the basis that neither war nor peace has changed essentially since Tolstoy’s time. We could meditate on that one.

Poetry Corner

Since I heard Linton Kwesi Johnson at a concert for Gaza in Tottenham, a poem by him is a natural follow-on in the middle of all these meanderings.

From Brixton Prison, Jebb Avenue London S. W. 2 Inglan
Dear mama
Good day
I hope that when these few lines reach you they may
Find you in the best of health
I doun know how to tell ya this
For I did mek a solemn promise
To tek care a lickle Jim
An try mi bes fi look out fi him

Mama, I really did try mi bes
But none a di less
Sorry fi tell ya seh, poor lickle Jim get arres
It was de miggle a di rush hour
Hevrybody jus a hustle and a bustle
To go home fi dem evenin shower
Mi an Jim stan up waitin pon a bus
Not causin no fuss

When all of a sudden a police van pull up
Out jump tree policemen
De whole a dem carryin baton
Dem walk straight up to me and Jim
One a dem hold on to Jim
Seh dem tekin him in
Jim tell him fi leggo a him
For him nah do nutt’n
And ‘I’m nah t’ief, not even a but’n
Jim start to wriggle
De police start to giggle

Mama, mek I tell you wa dem do to Jim?
Mek I tell you wa dem do to ‘I’m?

Dem thump him him in him belly and it turn to jelly
Dem lick ‘I’m pon ‘I’m back and ‘I’m rib get pop
Dem thump him pon him head but it tough like lead
Dem kick ‘I’m in ‘I’m seed and it started to bleed

Mama, I jus couldn’t stan up deh, nah do nuttin’

So mi jook one in him eye and him started fi cry
Me thump him pon him mout and him started fi shout
Me kick him pon him shin so him started fi spin
Me hit him pon him chin an him drop pon a bin
- an crash, an dead

More policman come dung
Dem beat me to the grung
Dem charge Jim fi sus
Dem charge mi fi murdah

Mama, doan fret
Doan get depress an downhearted
Be of good courage-acap

Music

Who remembers the Fugs? Tuli Kupferberg, I think, was featured in some long-forgotten film from the sixties singing ‘Kill for Peace’ – still relevant now, in its way.

DAY 109: Comrades

November 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

adah-tom1
Tom and Adah Kay

a comrade, and there aren’t many left; she worked in Ramallah for years, and wrote (most recently, with Nadia Abu Zahra) Unfree in Palestine, » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 108: Ebola

November 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

But first, a query that’s been worrying me and many others who have those old-fashioned Nokia phones – there are more of them than you think. My friend has one, call it sentimental, and while texting – not for the first time – she found  that instead of showing letters e.g. a,b,c the screen was » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 107: Meanwhile….

November 4th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Having missed marking Diwali, Hallowe’en, the anniversary of the invasion of Grenada (October 25th 1983), and even the infamous ‘Balfour Day‘ (Nov. 2nd 1917, since you asked), I might as well give up on festivals and pseudo-festivals. I should perhaps remind you that the anniversary of the October Revolution will be celebrated as usual on 7th November, » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 106: The Fall

November 1st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Which, of course, means any number of things – Americans find themselves thinking about what we call autumn. I, of tripping on North London’s uneven pavements and banging/bruising the head, the knees, or whatever – I could refer you back by now to half a dozen places in these records where I’ve done myself some such mischief and bored you with my confessions on the subject; and last Monday there I was again, flat » Read the rest of this entry «