Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Second Gambian Experience Part Seven (Get Back To Where You Once Belonged)

So here I am, sitting with ‘Tufa and Haddy at Banjul airport enjoying a beer…
Everybody seemed to like the chicken thing I concocted except I personally thought the chicken lumps too big but that can be altered for next time I’m out there which should be in November for the gigs.
I haven’t got the dates yet but they’ll let me know the details when they are sorted out.

What a rush… Lamin was out when we called round but Ebrima was in and so we drank tea and chatted as people do as the storm raged outside.
Normally we’d be sitting outside on the long bench seat but the lightning is flashing around our heads and the thunder is rolling over the mountain…
That’s an expression from my youth by the way, back in the days when I had heroes and I suppose that if truth be told then Thunder Rolling In The Mountains was, and is, still a bit of a hero.
Certainly he was one of the bravest of men and definitely one who should be admired…
If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about then look it up, I’m not here to make things easy for you. The Creator gave you a brain so bloody well use it.
Anyway, that’s the past and that has gone, so back to the present.
Ebrima has given me some oranges to take home from his compound tree and I have to admit they taste pretty good. Sort of sweet and tangy as oranges should be as opposed to the sometimes tasteless supermarket stuff that can taste like sugary wet papier mache, but that’s the difference between getting them straight off the tree as opposed to the forced growing that we suffer in England in the name of the Brussels Agricultural policy…
So we pass round the oranges and nuts and drink tea with Ebrima’s wife and with Jacob (See, I did remember) as the storm rages until Haddy comes over with two umbrellas and I say my goodnights and leg it back across the road getting absolutely soaked in the process.
The following day I spend an hour at Haddy’s saying goodbye to everyone.
It was like a conveyor belt with a different face every two minutes for a goodbye handshake or hug…
Even some of the local kids came to say goodbye without their parents.
It really was very touching and I thank you all.
They say it’s the people that make a place what it is and this is certainly true of here.
These people are so welcoming that it is sometimes difficult to get your head round after the usual self important English argy-bargy-ing

‘Tufa had football practice at the same time as my departure so he needed special permission to take me otherwise he wouldn’t get picked for the team so I went half an hour early so he could do both.
It has definitely been another good trip.
I could have done without the cold and the case of ‘Banjul Belly’ but these things happen sometimes and this was one of them and I’ve actually remembered to keep back 350 dalasi for food and drink in the departure area this time as I definitely needed something before getting on the plane.

My usual bad luck at airports is holding and I got pulled on the Gambian side for my Nicorette Inhalitors. Giving up smoking is a pain in the arse but it has to be done and after I’d given them a demonstration and one of them had tried out one of my spares and sneezed himself out of any sense of lucidity (It happens to me sometimes on the first and second drags so I know it occurs) they concurred that I wasn’t a drug smuggler after all. The boxes do have my name on because for me they are prescription items so I should be ok, but they don’t seem to know about these things over there yet.
They will, but its early days for Africa yet. They’re still smoking like chimneys out there.

I met the airport cat again while in departures. It’s a sweet little thing and it begs like a professional… Ok, the prawn sandwich could have been the spur but one king prawn and a lump of bread later it seemed a happier cat and we were chatting away to each other like a couple of old women and then the couple on the next table started feeding it also and I got a break.
The flight back was uneventful except for the two hour delay which puts my car in jeopardy at the car park. Hopefully they will be told the flight is delayed and won’t charge me any excess but I don’t know ?
What I do know is that I’m going to be completely knackered when I get into Gatwick at four in the bloody morning, and then there’s that half mile walk to pick up your luggage…
God, I hate Gatwick Airport !
Hey ! Miracles do happen. I walked through the green light totally clear of any excess whatsoever and I’m not sure how, but that was a first for me as it has never happened before… Previously I’ve gone through green with nothing and been pulled everytime, but since I’m carrying only mangoes and some dodgy sour fruit with seeds in that I don’t particularly like for Haddy’s daughter Fatou, then I know I’m ok.

It’s now early Saturday morning so the M.25 hasn’t yet jammed up with traffic although I’m sure it will later but I sail right on through at a steady 70mph which is somewhat gratifying and get home at 9.10 am.
Meet and greet a couple of grumpy pussy cats and then go straight to bed…
Sod the washing, that can wait.
Aaaah sleep…


I got the dates at the beginning of October, six weeks before the events take place.
First Joy, Nuzz and Grant can't do it because of the way the holiday system is worked in this country so the band is out, but Graeme from Parnassus can.
A week later a poster appears through the post as e-mailing is out of the question courtesy of Gamtel.
One week after that I receive a frantic telephone call from Haddy...
The Semega Janneh Hall is being renovated the week we're supposed to be there so they've been put back a week and the three gigs have now dropped to two but I've got three school workshops now as well...
Oh Gawd !
Much as I like doing them, if I'm on my own when am I going to have time to rehearse with the musicians ?
After some frantic ringing around at my end Graeme now can't do it because of the date change but Joy now apparently can, and that is where we stand at this moment in time.

Checking out the poster I suddenly realise we are working on the same bill as the next African superstar in waiting...
I've seen Jalex (Akuntu) on television and was very impressed...
That lad is good.
For Africans and specifically Gambians from whence he comes, it would be like working with Bob Dylan in 1965 or Bob Marley in 1972 just before they went into world superstardom, but then he comes from Bakau which is where I stayed on my first trip out there and so if he's at home then it's only down the road for him.
Give the lad another couple of years and I reckon he'll be pushing for Youssou N'dour's crown... Mark my words he's gonna be big.

We're far too late to apply for any sort of funding for this trip or to get anyone else involved, but if it goes ok then lets try for the big one next year with funding, plus maybe I could get The Faction out there as well as The N.P.W/Chris Ripple X-perience, plus anyone else who wants to go ?
It's all down to money and who's doing what holiday wise, but let's just see how we get on with this one first ?
I hate the political correctness of the funding system and I know from a previous letter from The Arts Council that because I'm white and doing something in a predominantly black and Muslim country that there are gonna be problems.
They wanted to publish Parnassus' poetry but only black or asian poets...
Well I've got news for those fuckwits.
We live in a predominantly white area of North Hertfordshire so while we might have one or two black members the vast majority are gonna be white.
We don't have a problem with colour so why do they ?
Fuckin' rascists !

Looking forward to it ?
You betcha ass !

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