Thursday, 4 September 2014


And slowly we returned to something like normality…
The twins had finally got their Tobaski outfits, which made the pair of them look absolutely stunning.

Housai’ had received an invite to a works do at one of the top hotels and had decided that she’d take her sister along…
What to wear, that was the question ?
And Little ‘Tapha was finally going to start school again.
I don’t know how it had started, but Haddy and ‘Tapha Kebbeh along with a couple of others had said they would pool resources if the local Islamic School would take him ?
Between them they would pay for uniforms, books and the rest.
This was fine by the school so long as he was of a reasonable standard and he behaved himself.
Well as far as I’m concerned he’s of a reasonable standard but who knows what a school is looking for these days ?
Whatever it is, he managed to pass the test and so from next term he’s going.
That is a weight off everybody’s mind, mine included.

It's school uniform next 'Tapha...
He’s a very bright lad, and ok, he would have to start in the younger year but his natural intelligence should get him back to his own peer group within eighteen months at the most at a good guess ?
He seems pleased about the idea anyway, so I think they’ve done the right thing by getting him in.
And Haddy and I are now off to Banjul to see Uncle Pa.

When we go we always see him at his office and today would be no exception.
So off we went, up to the main road, and caught the first mini-bus that could fit us in.
It’s such a small world sometimes because we sat next to my drummer friend Hadim’s sister and her little girl, who for some reason took in instant shine to me and started playing…
Most of the little ones are ok with me once they realise a. I’m a different colour, and b. Whatever hair I have left is real, but this one decided that sitting on my lap and poking me in the eye was infinitely more preferable than doing it to her Mum who just let her get on with it, while she and Haddy caught up on the usual women’s stuff.
We parted at Banjul.
They were going shopping, but I reckon we’ll see them later when we hit the market…

Pa has invited us out.
He’ll be round for us this evening.
Apparently we are going for a meal and then we’re off to a Karaoke bar ?
Gambian karaoke eh ?
That’ll be different.
So we left Pa at work and hit the market…
Baddou’s in, but Hadim isn’t as yet but he’s expected.
Guess who else we bumped into ?
What do you reckon.
Could I get a job as an unregistered child-minder (that’s baby-sitter to you…) ?

Babysitting in Banjul craft market
Apparently so long as she has her (empty) cigarette lighter to suck, she’s fine.
Before anyone thinks that is irresponsible, she’s had it for a couple of months now, and apart from sleeping, won’t go anywhere without it.
I didn’t do too badly, as she only cried when she dropped it…
The word seems to have travelled as now Hadim, Makumba and Doudou have arrived and as usual the talk turns to the band.
They are still stuck for the money to record the second album.
If there was only some way of helping them then I would, but this trip is going to put us back to zero in the bank balance department.
Still, they are getting a few gigs at some of the hotels and that’s good.
Ok, it’s a fixed rate, and they have always refused so far to ‘pass the bucket’ but at least they have been selling a few cd’s to the tourists.
It’s better than nothing and it keeps them in a ‘ready’ condition.
It’s soul destroying knowing that there’s this seriously good band of musicians who just want to play their music for people and who are totally stuck because of money and poli-t(r)icks.
But they are still going, still taking it to as many places that they can within their own country and still looking to bring Gambian music to as many people that will listen.
And it IS Gambian music, make no mistake about that.
It’s NOT Senegalese.
It’s NOT Malian.
It’s not a mixture of this, that and the other.
Put purely and simply, it’s Gambian, and it deserves a far greater exposure than it gets.
Ok, this is an advertisement but what the fuck do I care ?
IF THERE IS A BRITISH, EUROPEAN OR AMERICAN AGENT LOOKING FOR A SERIOUSLY GOOD ‘WORLD MUSIC’ BAND then please get in touch with this guy here, via his web-page… or you can contact me via this'ere blog and I'll put you in touch.
Or if you are just a casual reader then please buy a copy of their first album 'Duniyaa' because that would help them get some money for their second one.
Front sleeve

Rear sleeve

In the meantime we’ll do what we can via advertising and putting the word out.
Sad to leave them as always, but we have to go home and get ready for going out.
This is going to be interesting…

When we get back we find that cousin Tony has arrived from Senegal on a buying trip.

There’s going to be even less room in the house now as he’ll be sleeping on the sofa.
Oh well, whatever ?

But at least the twins have decided on what to wear tonight when they go out.
They’ve decided on European dress and have picked the two dresses that started the whole ‘send it to The Gambia’ scenario.

To be fair to them they look great when wearing them...

Pa arrives at the time he said he would, which is unusual to say the least.
Not that Pa is usually late, but this is The Gambia and everybody is usually late !!!
Apparently we are heading for Kololi, and a restaurant opposite the Palma Rima Hotel which is Pa’s usual eating place when he takes people out.
There’s a simple reason for this…
The food is good
So as soon as he walks in, he’s greeted by all the waiters, the chef, the assistant manager (because the manager is having an evening off) the bar staff and pretty much fifty per-cent of the other patrons.
Yep.  He’s definitely a regular…
After asking the chef what he recommends this evening,  Haddy and I forsake meat and go for the prawns in garlic sauce, and while we eat Pa regales us with tales from his recent trip to Rome and The Vatican with his church group.

Prawns in garlic sauce

It definitely passes the time because Pa is a practicing Christian and he’s also a witty raconteur and the couple of hours we spend there while he plies me with ever more Julbrew before, during and after the meal, seems to fly by.
Pa drinks beer but he prefers the continental lagers.
I’ve always reckoned that when you’re in another country then drink the local stuff rather than the premium priced imports.
Right, meal over, stagger to the car knowing that I really shouldn’t have any more Julbrew, and head off to the karaoke bar…
Haddy’s fine because she just stuck to tonic water.
Sensible girl, my wife.

We get to the karaoke bar which isn’t that far away and is called Churchill’s.
It’s run by an English guy name of Tony who has a propensity for belting out old Cliff Richard tunes, specifically The Young Ones…

Tony giving it some welly...
More Julbrew arrives.
This is getting silly because I’ve asked Pa not to get me another, so finally I’ve put my foot down.
Last one, and I’m not joking.
It was entertaining, I’ll give it that.
Most of the tourists are too pissed and can’t sing for shit, but they are happy to get up and make total twats of themselves.
One girl who decided to ‘do’ or should that be ‘do over’ Meatloaf’s ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ nearly made me laugh out loud…
The Gambians who have a go seem to be mostly female and on the lookout for men.
At one point Tony came over and greeted Pa whom he obviously knows, and asked us what we did ?
I just told him I book acts for a rock festival back in the UK.
It’s not all I do, but it’s good enough when I’m in a karaoke bar.
He asked me what I thought and I actually said ‘You want me to be honest, I’ve got three little girls who can sing better than most of this lot…’
To be fair to him, he laughed and said I should bring them along.
I don’t think so.
Whilst I realise that they are going to have to start somewhere, I don’t think Churchill’s is the best place for them.
To be fair to Tony after I’d written off the talents of his customers, he got one of his staff to bring us another drink ‘on the house’.

Oh Gawd !
Another Julbrew.
I’m gonna be pissing rivers when we get home.

Time to go, and Pa is taking us to another bar.
This one apparently has ‘live’ music.
Well, it has a band belting out chart hits from about a year ago, I’ll give it that.
The band isn’t too bad if you like formulaic versions of chart toppers.
Looking around me it is obvious that this place and Churchill’s are on a ‘circuit’.
You go to one and then move on to the other.
I wonder how many others are on it ?
Some of those people we saw at Churchill’s are now turning up here, including the woman who murdered Meatloaf…
The problem seems to be that she’s had at least one too many alcoholic beverages and is now grabbing hold of anything, tables, chairs, men, women, pillars… Whatever she can get hold of, to stay on her feet.
It is definitely not a pretty sight.
The Brit’s at play…
Wherever you go in this world, you can’t escape them.
But all good things have to end sometime, and it’s finally time to leave.
Pa takes us back to Fagikunda through minimal traffic at that time of night, and I fall into bed.
According to my wife she went to the bathroom and came back to find me fast asleep.
Well if she’d drunk eight Julbrew, she’d probably be absolutely ‘sparko’ too ?

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