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Monthly Archives: January 2014

A World Away

I’m sitting with Ian, he’s driving. My ears are being held hostage by the radio. The song’s chorus goes; ”every time I think about you I touch myself”. Uncomfortable does not describe how I feel. Nothing does. So I do what I do best, I start to chat.

He studied Eastern European History. I don’t ask why, even though I really want to know why he chose to dedicate his future to the past of a group of people who thankfully have stolen the spotlight from Nigerians in the UK. He is Welsh, born of Welsh parents and raised on Welsh soil. I ask him what sort of career path he’ll be taking, he doesn’t know. Perhaps my question isn’t clear. So I rephrase. His answer remains unchanged.

I leave Ian in mid-sentence and mentally teleport myself to West Africa, where I arrive in the sitting room of an average Nigerian family. They’ve just finished dinner and father asks son to repeat what he just told him. Then he holds up his hand signalling to the son, to ‘hold that thought’… he calls mother  to come and hear what her son is saying. Then turns back to son;

”Oya, tell us again what you want to study at University, the university that I’ll be paying for. With my own money”.

The rest of the scene is a blur so I take my leave and return to the car, we’re nearly at our destination but there’s time to chat some more. He tells me he’ll be leaving his job in 15 days to travel to South America. I ask where- eager to add my tuppence worth. I have Brazilian roots and I’m buzzing with the newfound knowledge that my ancestors first arrived on Nigerian soil exactly 100 years before I was born. My dad is our genealogy tzar. I’m blessed.
He tells me he’ll be travelling everywhere. I probe deeper. When will he be back? Because in my world people come back when they travel- usually within two weeks, four weeks tops if you’ve gone to bury a relative who had a chieftaincy title and lived long. Any more than that they’ll consider you as having emigrated. His answer reminds me he’s not from my world; for he’ll be gone for a year, maybe even two.
He did the same thing two years ago, quit his job and went travelling. Again I ask where.

”Oh you know, the standard. India, USA, Turkey”.

Standard?

I shut the heyall up. He carries on humming to the song. I don’t make the comment that’s been slowly making its way down to my mouth from my head.

Yesterday I met another one. I needed to buy a mobile broadband dongle, she looked and sounded like she would rather be in bed. The 21-year-old proceeded to take my details.

Ms or Mrs?

Mrs.

She replied in her sleepy voice, ”oh! You’re sooo lucky!”

I decide she needs some advice. A slap upside the head. A wake up call. Kick up the backside. So I ask how long she’s worked for Carphone Warehouse. ”one year”, she manages to offer. As though an additional word would send her over the edge and into Alice’s wonderland, which is precisely where she doesn’t want to go- in my opinion she’s halfway there.

So what do you plan on doing? I’m sure you don’t want to work for Carphone Warehouse forever?

No, I want to travel. Afterwards I want to finish my final year of degree.

Oh that’s nice! Where are you off to?

Australia.

What’s your degree course in?

Criminal psychology.

Sounds exciting!

Everybody says that.

She drags out ‘everybody’ so much so that the poor thing is unwillingly turned into a seven syllable word. I pay for my dongle, and as I leave, I wish her well on her travels.
Oh it’s not for a while, I have to save first. I don’t even know when I’m going.

I start to tell her where the nearest Starbucks is, so she can grab a coffee. then I change my mind. It’s only 10am. I don’t need this. Besides they may not drink coffee in her world.

Joanne says I attract odd people. Like those gypsies. Did I share about the day they came to the office? And puked in the toilet? It was no small matter. Another day! Now you have to come back!

Thank you for reading!

A Fiery Start to 2014

The first time I saw Chinese lanterns was in a movie. The second time I saw them was in another movie. I had never seen one in person until New Year’s day, 12:27 am precisely. We attended the watch night service at church and part of the festivities to ring in the New Year included lighting Chinese lanterns and releasing them up into the sky. I was as excited about it as the boys were. Their exuberance was expected considering the fact that the reason there is an unsightly burn mark on the top left corner of my bathroom window is due to their worrying obsession healthy curiosity with fire. Did I ever share about the day they made a rocket? It wasn’t from a rocket kit from the toy shop. No. These boys chose to make one from scratch since their mother isn’t ‘in the habit of buying toys willy-nilly’

So they gathered all their components together. A single A4 paper and Vaseline. They made a paper airplane, smeared the tail with Vaseline, yes petroleum jelly. In case there is a non-greasy type I’ll point out that they used the greasy one. Placed a large blob of the jelly on the nose of the plane, set fire to it and yes, attempted to fly it out of the window upstairs. I’m guessing they went upstairs to give themselves a head start into space.

Back to the lanterns. The wet weather prevented us from lighting our lanterns at church, so we took them home. Of course the weather has never been known to hinder my boys’ determination for adventure so straight to the garden we went. After a few false starts we had success. The challenge then became how to get it to lift up in a straight vertical manner just like the movies. Wasn’t it supposed to just float upwards until it became as tiny as a star?? Eventually #3’s lantern lifted up, we stared in excitement, barely able to contain ourselves that this was really happening. As if on cue the lantern decided to change course and chart a horizontal path towards our neighbour’s garden. It carried on past their’s to hover over the second garden and then began it’s desent, all the while staring at us in a mocking fashion. It was still alight. For all we knew they had gas cylinders on their patio- they were the heavy barbecuing type- but the lantern didn’t care and the patio was precisely where the lantern made a bee line for. The swift change from excitement to mad panic deserves a place in the Guinness book of world records. I’ll point out too that the mad panic was neither experienced nor displayed by the boys.

I flew in my high heels to their home and knocked on the door. No one peeked out of the window to see who was knocking at that ungodly hour.  There was no shuffling of feet or  tinkling of keys. All I got was pitch blackness and silence. By this time I could hear the sirens of the fire brigade coming to douse the flames of an entire house, while the residents whispered in small circles about the woman with the four sons who was bent on burning down their quiet street. And how certain people really should be certified sane before being allowed to move into the borough of Bromley.

I ran back into my house where I told the boys to get ready to climb over two lots of fences. From our garden I could see the orange glow of the flames in the darkness which told me trouble wasn’t looming, it had successfully loomed and doomed.

I  dashed back outside, this time to my next door neighbour rambling on about fire, cylinders and the Chinese. I think it was out of fear for the safety of his future that he let me in.  I brushed past him, tore through the house to their garden to climb over their fence. Thankfully the fire was out and the lantern was smouldering. I then had to do the walk of shame in front of his family who had gathered on either side of the hallway to see how someone who didn’t even know their name was now tearing around the house like she lived there.

As I walked I tried to talk away the shame, focusing on safety and lanterns and all the right things I thought they’d want to hear.

Needless to say our experience with Chinese lanterns shall remain confined to movies. We have a large screen, what more do we want?

BTW it turned out that the ‘orange glow’ was only their garden light. Phew!

Good enough!

My new year resolutions for 2014 can be distilled into one buzz word, authenticity.

Not that I have gone out of my way to be pretentious or fake, but after some reflection in the last few months of 2013, I realised and faced up to the fact that there have been times when I haven’t been entirely comfortable with who I am. I love myself to bits- I don’t want to be anyone else, I don’t wish I was Michelle Obama, but still I noticed that I have struggled to be myself in certain situations, especially when outside my comfort zone.

Case in point the new blog issue. I wanted to start a new blog that would appeal to my clients, none of whom I live like or look nothing like. So I struggled with a blog name and content. The plan was to write as this personality that fit in with the quintessential Brit. A lady who lunches. I was to visit places and appreciate the sort of art I normally don’t care for, then write about it (in a genteel tone) as though it was normal for hubby and the boys to go to Lords Cricket Ground, while I had afternoon teas with the Windsors. Don’t get me wrong I do love the finer things in life and appreciate art and beauty, but your girl wanted to take it to another level so she could fit in.

After struggling for a while I pushed the  idea to the back of my mind. But the comments you kindly share on this blog, the email responses I get from friends and in conversation with my friends, I tend to get two main descriptive phrases that resonate deeply. One of them is being authentic.

I have come to the conclusion that the best personality I can portray is mine. I cannot successfully try to be someone else. The fear of not being accepted in a different social circle is gone, because God made me with a personality that cannot be replicated. So who I am is unique and beautiful as it is, I don’t need to alter me. This is not to say I won’t try to improve on areas that need improving on, I believe in education outside the classroom and life-long learning, and I will still go out to expose the boys to the epicurean lifestyle, but I will do so while remaining authentic. I love my name and totally love my skin colour and I’m comfortable in it.

I have also come to the conclusion that excellence can only be achieved when you’re being yourself. Because that’s what you were pre-wired to be. Imagine a car trying to be a boat? Or an apple hoping to taste like an orange? You get the picture!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2014, filled with the confidence to be you! Thank you so much for being in my life and sharing my journey with me!

I’d love to hear your buzz word for 2014.

PS:

On the blog note, I have decided to step out and create a separate page on the business blog, complete with my photograph and sharing my life and loves, the real one, not the imagined one, it’s a big step for me and I’m VERY excited!