After a wander along the Regents canal, from Mile End to the Limehouse basin, and along to Canary Wharf before sliding home on the rollercoaster-esque DLR I sat down and read the last 200 odd pages of a fine balance by Rohinton Mistry. I didn’t do this because I couldn’t put it down, although clearly I couldn’t, I did it because I wanted to be let free from the despair that this book had pulled me into. But even after closing the back cover, I’m still there.
following on from Salman Rushdie’s Midnights children and the Moors Last Sigh (my favourite of the two), a fine balance was my third book telling of life on the sub-continent. I know hardly anything about India, and nothing about the time of the ’emergency’ which these books dive into and describe in visceral detail.
However I knew that Om and Ishvar would be characters that would be engrained on my memory, their lives are relentlessly buffeted by their country and I cannot think of them as anything other than heroes for enduring the almost endless suffering that they are subjected to, intersped with moments of peace and sometimes hope. These moments are brought about by other characters, such as Dina Aunty and Shankar who all face the same endless struggle in very different ways. But right at the end Om and Ishvar were joined by Maneck, who I don’t think I ever understood throughout the book, but whose feelings of helplessness and impotence I realised when it was too late.
I have struggled a bit with what to say about the book, I agree with most of the reviews on amazon that it is a great great book, but for me it’s greatness has come from the feelings that it has left with me with, which are so strong and bleak, that they have left me being unable to say almost anything about the book itself, and also struggling to move onto my next read.
“Here is the central paradox in all this: directors have no problem getting an audience to believe in ghosts, vampires, succubi, extraterrestrials, poltergeists, gremlins, wizards, giant worms, latter-day dinosaurs or rustic werewolves who seem to have unlimited access to steroids; all that is deemed perfectly logical and believable. But it is impossible to get anyone to believe that a character in a horror film or thriller would not be armed with the technology needed to foil the depredations of his rampaging, bloodthirsty stepfather.”
Made me laugh at my desk this afternoon, part of an article by Joe Queenan from the Guardian.
Full article here
So in the end I reckon Scala was easier to get to than Koko would have been, I finally found the reason for the Hammersmith and City line (the pink one that prefers Aldgate East to Aldgate on it’s journey following the circle line), as it whisked me from east london to Kings Cross and then back again sans any changes.
I managed to time my arrival on the steps in the main room with that of the Colman Brothers on stage. They produced a fantastic jazz set that had me on emusic this morning to download their self titled debut album on Wah Wah 45s.
A quick tidy up the stage, a swift trip to the bar for a beer refill and the crowd were ready for Quantic and his Combo Barbaro when they wandered out onto the stage and kicked off with an instrumental of Linda Morena that had most of the crowd at least swaying. the pace picked up and then Will Holland introduced Nidia Gongora, the pacific folklore singer and award-winning songwriter. Half way through her first song I felt a tug on my leg, I looked down and the flat cap below me beckoned me down “Music is meant to make you smile, and you have had the biggest smile on your face all night”. He was right, I was loving the gig. The band were tight, from the trumpet player who spent as much time dancing as he did playing, to Freddy Colorado on the conga’s. Songs from the album Tradition in Transition were intersped with funk and latin numbers, a few instrumentals of Quantic’s own pieces as well as Cumbia. Nidia addressed the crowd in Spanish, of which a large portion appeared to be native speakers, judging by the screams and claps. At one point flat cap leaned forward as his girlfriend translated. Another tug at my leg
“She’s asking if it’s alright if Quantic wears the same hat as me” then he was off dancing again.
“Heres someone who we should be giving pom poms to….” Will introduced the trumpet player, whose name I have ciminally forgotten and who doesn’t seem to appear in any of the blurb on assorted websites, during the band intro’s
Finally after a rousing version of Un Canto a Mi Tierra and an encore including some lively dancing from Nidia and Freddy, the bows were made and adulation received.
Flat Cap kindly bought me a beer and chatting to him and his wife afterwards he revealed he had come all the way over from Ireland just for the gig, I was massively impressed, Most, if not all of my friends are local, and few of them have barely heard of Quantic..
I wanna take a look at the world behind these eyes,
Every nook, every cranny reorganise,
Realise my face don’t fit the way I feel.
What’s real ?
I need a mirror to check my face is in place,
In case of upheaval, fundamental movement below,
What’s really going on I wanna know,
But yo, we don’t show on the outside, so sly.
Just below my skin I’m screaming…
I need a mirror for my spirit,
Yeah, can you feel it ?
When I get deep, wanna hear myself sleep,
Not drowning, just tumbling around and around in the voices
Like a crowd in my head so loud,
I wonder what it’s like to be dead,
I hope it’s quiet, noise in my head like a riot,
Any remedy you have for me I’ll try it.
Just below my skin I’m screaming…
I started my first blog years ago, apparently about 30 people looked at it, I mostly posted song lyrics, whatever I was listening to, or what reflected how I felt at the time.
So I thought I’d kick off where I left off, I’m older, not as lean, but with a much larger collection of music. Maxi Jazz is someone who has inspired me, I can think of no one else who writes and performs like him, and it is a dream of mine to one day write a song, or in fact anything, that could be compared to him, even if it’s in my own head..