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Days Like This

  Tue 16th July 2013

It's Ramadan, and several of my neighbours are Muslims. I distrust them, with their rigid social boundaries. The men treat me with a technical, shunning, politeness; there is a mute group of women in their ridiculous Ninja Turtle niqabs to whom I say "hello" whenever I see them--part greeting, part challenge.

I get home after watching the cricket highlights at Kirsty's. On the kitchen table, there is a plastic container full of some sort of biriyani, and a note from the lodger. "A gift from next door. They only ask that you return the container when you're done with it." "When you've finished with it," I muttered, lamenting the geological inevitability of the drift of English speech as it moves towards that of America. But I am delighted with next door's ground-breaking gesture and immediately plan to reciprocate.

Trina and I made my Gruyère, red pepper and black olive quiche, a dish which has been known to provoke a bit of polite competition for the last couple of slices--deciding against the black pudding casserole in red wine. We took it round and told her--honestly--that the rice dish was lovely. I presented the quiche, assuring her it was vegetarian, in case that mattered. She said that they buy their vegetables from "a halal supplier from outside", wherever "outside" may be. I infer that my expensive, time-consuming and delicious quiche is destined for the compost bin.

Back here we spent five in-depth minutes of research looking at what halal food actually is; the dairy produce might fall into the wrong shade of a grey area. I am pleased we responded to the gesture, even though now I wish I'd just knocked up a pot of Out of Date Vegetable Surprise. It'll be interesting to hear what she says when she returns my china dish.

Trina came round on Friday as we were heading to St Annes the following day for some groovetastic dancefloor activity. We had a bottle of champagne before she said that we'd better start preparing dinner. "Just before that though, we could...", I suggested, and we did. I managed not

[July 2012]
Chris walked in looking very pretty, in a grey scooped necked dress dotted with black circles, with a big black bow whose tie hung attractively and eye-drawingly down the parting of her lovely tits; the whole of her was beautifully, curvily shown off by her tight grey felt-ish minidress. Black tights and almost flat shoes with little white dabs of plastic.

to think about being Chris's pornographic photographer.

The place is familiar and the people are becoming more and more so. Trina pleasingly reported that someone had asked her whether she was coming to the weekender in September. Whilst she was being asked about, I was at the bar.

"A coke and a pint of Kronenberg please," I said.

"Oh, alright then," a woman next to me said, put out.

"Sorry, sorry, I'm really sorry. I thought you were being served. Right I'll have a Coke and a pint of Kronenberg and whatever this lady is having," I said, feeling a glow of manly chivalry.

"I only wanted a soda water."

"Right," I told the barman, "add a soda water onto that."

"That'll be seven pounds, please."

"Fucking hell," I said and turned away towards her. "Two quid for a soda water. In my local it's free. You're not getting another fucking drink out of me." Me, her, and my small audience laughed, and I felt I'd done something well.

Back at our table, me and Soda Water Woman got talking. She had only ordered the soda water in order to conceal the time-honoured Wine in Handbag Manoeuvre.

We've fortuitously landed pole position both on the obcFekoa page and the event's own sequence of photographs. A careful examination of picture 024 will reveal the extent of Soda Water Woman's egregious duplicity.


Comment from: Tony [Visitor]

Thought picture 027 was more interesting ;-)

Tue 16th July 2013 @ 22:59
Comment from: [Member]

I hope you’re not suggesting that I was making funky advances on the young lady who has deliberately and wantonly stationed her bottom inches away from my manly area?

Wed 17th July 2013 @ 07:06

I’m sure the culture nonsense can be exhausting at times but the biriyani is an incredibly kind gesture, don’t you think? I read once that sharing food is deeply significant.

I chuckled at your lamentation regarding the decline of proper English because of the U.S. influence and yet you use “groovetastic” a few paragraphs later. Is that a British colloquialism? I don’t think so.

Nice dodge at the bar. Well played.

Wed 17th July 2013 @ 12:02
Comment from: [Member]

Yes, it’s mean to complain–it was a very nice gesture and it’s churlish to say otherwise, really. I’m glad we’ve finally broken the ice.

Er… good point re “groovtastic” but I would wriggle out of that one by saying that I think it’s naturalised English (cough).

And thanks–was quite relieved she didn’t ask for a double G&T or something!

Wed 17th July 2013 @ 14:59
Comment from: [Member]

Oh botheration, you’re right. From the Shorter OED:

groovy […]
3. slang (orig. US). Playing, or capable of playing, jazz or similar music easily and brilliantly; appreciative of such music; sophisticated; hence, generally, excellent. 1937.

Wed 17th July 2013 @ 16:55
Comment from: [Member]

after two weeks in Turkey, i’ve found ‘mainstream’ Muslim culture to be delightful, friendly and comfortable. i think it was a lovely gesture, and your effort certainly did not go unappreciated…possibly uneaten, but not unappreciated.

i kind of like the idea of halal. if i only buy halal meats, i can be sure that someone made a decent effort to spare the animal unnecessary pain while being slaughtered. something sort of sweet about that…

Thu 18th July 2013 @ 19:38
Comment from: [Member]

Although being on holiday for a short period in a relatively liberal Muslim country makes it easier to overlook Islam’s misogyny and patriarchal authoritarianism. But then holidays per se involve selective vision.

I know very little about halal but a superficial reading suggests it’s far better than the hideous practices of factory farming, of which, most Westerners simply don’t want to know.

Thu 18th July 2013 @ 20:40

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The Comfort of Strangers

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