Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Work work work.
That’s all there is.
Haddy is now on nine hours a day and enjoys the atmosphere where she’s working, so she’s cheered up some.
The full time staff seem to appreciate her efforts and she seems to be happier ?
And I just work, work, work…
Gimme overtime that I might have excess of it and that I might make some money because it looks like I’m going to need it ?

I’m going to be a Grandad.
My eldest daughter, Jo Ann is going to make me a Grandfather at Christmas sort of time
Hmmm… ?
Grandad ?
Will I feel any different or is it just a term of endearment ?
I don’t know, but it’s going to be an interesting journey.


Sainabou wants to get married.
Ouch !


I've got a chance to get a copy of The Grateful Dead's box set of the complete 1972 tour.
Apparently there were 117 copies left after I'd already had the e-mail to say it was sold out and just for a change the roulette wheel went in my direction...
Mind you, I had to make a special journey to tell my bank not to stop the funds...

We definitely live in difficult times.
Is there that much overtime I can do without killing myself in the process ?
Who knows, but I’ll have to give it a go, and hope that the warning procedures are working ?

The back garden allotment is beginning to bear fruit (and veg' for that matter)

Haddy's done a marvelous job of nurturing the plants.

We've got tomatoes, peppers, chillis, grapes, potatoes, onions and a few herbs as well.

The girl definitely done good.

My father’s health is getting worse.
Mum, Dad and Haddy
Mum’s distraught, but there’s nothing anybody can do other than what they’re doing.
It’s soul destroying.

The Dead box set appears...  It is an amazing document.

Seventy two cd's in a limited edition box set of 7200 copies.
I'm going to be in Dead heaven for months.

November comes and goes and we’re no nearer going to The Gambia…
Not even close.
No Tobaski with the kids and the ‘extended family…’
(Don’t worry, you’ll understand the expression properly a bit further up the line}
It’s soul destroying.
But we did get one humongous surprise...
I got invited to the Mayor's Pride of Stevenage Awards Dinner.
Apparently I'd done such a marvelous job in the area in which I was working that it had been noticed and picked up on radar by the 'Powers Behind The Thrones' at work.
You could have knocked me down with a feather and I actually rang the Mayor's secretary to ask if they were taking the piss ?
No, she said.  
It's definitely you that the Mayor wants because you've done such a great job...
Gobsmacked doesn't even come close to describing it.
Ok, we're coming, I'll put my glad-rags on... Darling, shall I wear my bandana ?
'*X&XZ*$*' !!!!
I take it that means no ?
Vindication ?
Justification ?
The only member of the council's cleansing department to get an invite.
Haddy and The Mayor, Councillor Carol Latif.

The only bug-bear being that when we turned up, I was asked how I'd managed to actually do the job when the previous occupants of the job hadn't ?
I didn't really want to tell them the truth but they kept on and on and so I did...
'Easy... I just ignore all the complaints...
The problem is logistical and so everything else I ignore.
Just keep on with the same route and when you get to a complainant, do the job they've complained about.
If you keep chopping and changing then nothing gets done...'
Now imagine the sound of jaws hitting floors...
'Well however you've done it, you've done a wonderful job...'
The above is a direct quote (I have witnesses)
The big boss manager of our lot spotted me there and asked me why I was there ?
'I was invited...  What's your excuse ?'
Oh well, no promotion for me again...
Still, it was a good night and Haddy enjoyed it.
The meal (We had the chicken) was excellent.

Me (Note Jerry Garcia designer tie) The Mayor and Haddy
Apparently the wine was quite enjoyable too, but I'm an orange juice drinker at all do's so I wouldn't know.
It was the first 'Official' do that Haddy had ever been to in the U.K. and the fact that her husband had been invited on 'merit' as opposed to any other reason pleased her no end.
God, I love that woman...

Fatou, Haddy’s eldest daughter, and her husband Vincent also pop round for a visit which pleases Haddy no end.

It’s only for a weekend after Vincent has delivered a car from Glasgow to the buyer in London, but it’s great what it does for Haddy.
Fatou and Vincent are going to visit Vincent’s family in Ghana in December and both are seriously looking forward to the trip, but right now Fatou is visiting Mum and that is special for both of them bearing in mind they haven’t seen each other for a couple of years.
Of course there is the odd problem or two…
It turns out that the shoes that we’d promised Mariama and Jalika which were supposed to be sent via Fatou because we’d sent them to her over three months back have still not been despatched.
So… No ‘us’ for Tobaski, and no new shoes either…
The last pairs of school shoes had given up their ghosts after one week’s wear.
(More crappy Chinese made junk)
So we’d invested in a couple of pairs of Clark’s for school.
But… Fatou, being in a ‘save money for the trip to Ghana’ sort of mode had not sent them out.
This resulted in a very pissed-off Mariama blagging her elder sister’s mobile phone and ringing Fatou to tear her off a strip for promising and not delivering…
Which results in the usual ‘How dare you talk to me like that, when I get hold of you I’m going to beat you senseless’ routine from Fatou, and a rejoinder from Mariama that 'If you can’t tell me the truth then don’t bother talking to me…'
Needless to say, neither of them are prepared to back down.
Let’s play Happy Families shall we ?
Who wants to be Mr Bun the Baker ?
Haddy says she’ll speak to Mariama about it, but… Fatou knew the kids were desperate for shoes, so…
We take a sad leave of them at Luton from whence they'll be flying back to Glasgow.

Finally the thaw comes in early December when baby Estrella
(that’s pronounced Est-ray-ya by the way) is born.
Jo and her partner Toni are just…
Words fail me.
Over the moon ?
Glad the pregnancy is over and mission accomplished ?
Ecstatic ?
Happy ?
Jo and Estrella

All of that and more, and I’m not really that far behind them.
Neither is Haddy.
It IS quite an amazing feeling.
Anyway, let’s not get too goooey and gushy…

Work at work.
Work when I get home.
It’s mostly phone calls and e-mails and it’s Rhythms Of The World stuff.
Thank God it seems to be flowing smoothly this year…
At least I’ve got 75% of my artists slotted in.
I know who I want and once these are in place the rest seem to slot into place quite naturally.
Not too many poetry slots for the next one as most of the artists want 45minute slots or longer…
Musicians ?
Huh !
Oh well, it’ll work itself out.
Apparently the cut-off date is March 31st when all the details have to be in.
Shit !
It gets earlier and earlier year by year.
Sounds like I’m moaning doesn’t it ?
It’s just a gripe.
A minor irritant.
Truth is, I feel flattered and privileged to be involved.
That little stage is an embodiment of one hell of a lot of what I and a few other like-minded folk and musicians believe in.
And you don’t knock that shit.
It’s far too important for that.
(And this is even more important...)
One of the things Rhythms of The World always does is to get the local schools in the vicinity to design all the banners that festoon the site when the festival is on, so...
My kids go to school in The Gambia and my stage only has a borrowed backdrop, so why couldn't the kids in The Gambia design The Arcadeclectic Stage's backdrop ?
Drop the school a reasonable 'donation' and involve them too.
It's Rhythms of THE WORLD after all.
Good idea, Chris... You're on.
Or it will be if Haddy and I have anything to do with it ?

Christmas comes and goes and I spend most of it working.
I actually had Boxing Day off.
It’s a source of constant amazement to me how much stress and pressure a body can stand before the breakdown hits ?
But needs must and we need.
Could have done without the snow, though.

Finally we book the break.
We tried travel agents but they couldn’t come up with anything in our price range so we’d gone to the internet.
We got the flights cheaper than last year but it’s a whopping great rip-off for the luggage and food, so by the time Haddy is finished with our luggage we’ve spent twice as much again on the excess.
All I need to do now is to persuade her not to take a single item more.
(The writer is now collapsing into a laughing heap…)
I want to take some stuff out for Mariama and Jalika and so I’ve said that my twenty kilo is inviolate.
To whit:  Ain’t NOBODY gonna crash it.
It’s ALL MINE and if we take anything over then it has to be paid for upfront.
But… We’re sorted for the 27th of February and I’ve managed to persuade work to give me three weeks on the trot by a bit of judicious juggling, so we’ve at least got time to do the stuff we need to do appertaining to Sainabou’s wedding.

The problem as Haddy sees it is that she doesn’t know the bloke Sainabou wants to marry at all.
She tends to know three quarters of the population of the country, but this guy seems to have slipped off the radar…
She’s made enquiries and sent her spies out, but they haven’t come back with much so she’s getting more suspicious about it by the hour, let alone the day.
Still… Sainabou is adamant that he’s the guy she wants to marry and you can’t really go against that.
You can talk to her until you are blue in the face about your suspicions, your fears, all the stuff parents go through.
But if they’re adamant then that’s it.
It’s their decision (or it bloody well should be, for any ‘arranged marriage’ fans who might have stumbled into this ’ere blog by mistake)
So we’d relegated it to the back-burner for a while because we couldn’t get out there.
Now, being imminent, we have to make all the arrangements within a three week timescale.
What’s that famous line that comes up in these situations ?
‘The impossible we can do at once, but miracles take a little longer…’
Damn right !
Make the arrangements, meet his parents and representatives, make or buy all the clothes, seal the marriage...
And all in three weeks ?
As ‘Father of the Bride’ I’m going to have to be on my best behaviour, but I’m just going to go with the flow.
So long as I get a reasonable translator for my official bits I reckon I should be able to hack it ?
Although whether Haddy or I get anything resembling a break out of the whole thing is open to question, but at least I’ll be out of cold, damp and very miserable England.

Just before we fly out, my brother flies in.
Then we learn that Jo is bringing Estrella over to see Great Grandad but that will be while we are away.
Did we all book tickets the same week ?
It turns out we all booked in a forty eight hour period totally independently of each other.
Oh well, can’t be helped.
We manage to see brother Pat on his first day in the country before he visits our Mother.
It turns out that he’s been clocking up hotel ‘hours’ instead of ‘airmiles’ so he’s booked us into the airport’s hotel as a present for the night before we go.
That means I can drive there Sunday, relax, sleep, get up and go in the early hours rather than having to stay up all night.
Brilliant !
The only bug-bear is that the long-stay car park is miles away, but I’ve used it before so at least I know where it is.
Things are looking up.

No comments: