Category Archives: About Me

One in, one out

I don’t usually make resolutions. I am very good at failing to do the smallest thing on a daily basis and beating myself up about it (eating more veg, doing more exercise etc etc) so randomly choosing the start of the year to come up with a list of stuff that I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life seems silly. 

However. I have been recently kinda driving myself mad with the amount of stuff I own and similarly the amount of stuff I covet. In the last few months alone, I convinced myself I couldn’t live without a pair of  flat-ish, smart-ish, black ankle boots and that I couldn’t possibly make do with what I’ve got already. This is some of my collection of ankle boots (I thought it was all of them but then found three more pairs, and I was too embarrassed to share). There are five pairs of black boots in there (and another two that didn’t appear in that pic), two of which are new within the last two months. Seriously. Why? 

And it’s not just shoes which, if you know me, know is likely. I have 11 striped Breton tops, countless black tops from uniqlo, six pairs of black jeans. 

And here’s the handbags. 

And that’s just the clothing. When I was cleaning out the kitchen for the big refurb, I discovered three bags of red lentils, two bags of rice and I can’t even talk about the herbs and spices (but here’s a pic of some of the bottles I ended up throwing out) 

And then there’s the cutlery collection we’ve amassed. I could host a dinner party for 38 people and still have cutlery leftover. 

So my only resolution for 2017 and life is to stop buying stuff. I literally don’t need anything. And if I do get the urge to get the latest must have shiny thing, I can only get it if I sell something I already own to the same value. Which means, I’ll be doing a lot of car boots and ebaying as the year goes on, probably. But right now, I cannot think of one thing I simply must have. There’s lots I want to achieve. But nothing I want. As a natural consumer, it’s bloody liberating to not be desirous of stuff, I feel lighter already (emotionally, physically I have eaten all the cheese and may never move again). 

What are your resolutions? Let me know, inspire me! 

What I think about when I think about being brown

I mentioned in my last post about how this referendum is making me feel like the country  I was born and brought up in doesn’t really want me here.

But that got me to thinking about all the brilliant things about being an immigrant (or child of) and I thought, hell, let’s write a list. Because I’m bloody pleased that I’m a child of immigrants, and I’m (often – not always) bloody proud to call myself British and here are some reasons why the combination of my two cultures is actually a really good thing.

Something to rebel against

I did not have a bad childhood. Far from it, I had a great childhood. But I can only say that now with the benefits of hindsight. Ooh, I was a nightmare child. I mean, probably no worse than most teenagers, but I always felt the need to push against my heritage by way of rebellion, from wearing Doc Martens with saris to becoming vegetarian just to be stubborn (I get that my people generally are vegetarian what with the holy cow and all but the first gen Lankan contingent were committed meat eaters so being a vegetarian did not make them think I was pious and worthy and instead, it simply highlighted my brattishness). Also, weird shit like dressing me up in a sari and inviting all the locals over to gawp at me when I started my period (not even lying – see photo below) didn’t help me feel like being an immigrant was something to enjoy. My white friends just got given a box of feminine hygiene products and left to get on with it – I had a priest, pouring milk over my head, then getting dressed up like a 10 year old child bride in a sari with (fake) diamonds dripping off me and all of the Lankans in the extended family come over to watch the spectacle of me bleeding. Where are they now, eh? Maybe I should revisit this fun time once a month – they can watch me yell at the husband, cry and binge watch TV whilst eating all the Minstrels, I’m sure I could do that in a sari too.

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So this is me, aged 10 with my ma and pa, on the day they dressed me up as a little bride to celebrate my monthly chum. I am not sure why I’m green, when my folks are definitely brown. Let’s go with embarrassment?

So yeah, whilst I love the mad insane lot of them, being a child of immigrants gave me something to rebel against that helped me develop my personality (I have maintained the brattish behaviour throughout my life) when actually, all things considered, I had a very lovely childhood (and I wish I’d appreciated it more then).

(Swearing in)many languages. 

My mum likes to tell a story about the time when I was in a Sri Lankan shop with her best mate who told me to put something down so I called her a litany of swearwords in Tamil. I was 35. Not really, I was like 10. Possibly not dressed like above (more likely to be in some sort of batwing and legwarmer – it was the 80s, after all. Admittedly I still love a batwing).

Oh, they laughed and were mortified all at the same time. Mortified because the only reason I’d know such filthy language was because my mum had used them on me in times of ultimate brattery. Your fault, mother. But in all honesty, more than swearing, I love the Tinglish of my people – you get them in a room and the words flow in all the languages and make a beautiful cacophony of sounds. It’s just great to be able to understand go to India or Sri Lanka or Wembley or Tooting and understand  people talking around you (not all the people, obviously, there’s a lot of languages there)

A naturally built in community

So I have many communities. Friends, colleagues, the people you see when you get the same train every day, I would say the gym/yoga/running club but that’d be a lie. But you get the drift. But what  I love/loathe more than anything is being able to spot a Sri Lankan Tamil at 100 paces. We have a ‘look’ you see. Depending on who I’m with (mostly my dad, really) you’ll then get the whole ‘which village are you from’ conversation – and invariably, you’ll find out that their mother’s second cousin, twice removed’s husband’s sister’s dog was walked by your cousin’s second wife’s sister’s neighbour. And you’ll be like, whoa, small world. But outside of those almost family members, there’s always all the actual aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins as well as the family by heritage (mum and dad’s friends mostly) who turn up to the opening of an envelope. They’re ace. Annoying as all sin, but ace to know they’re there. It’s difficult to be alone when you’ve got a whole race that could potentially have walked your grandparent’s dog (not a euphemism) back in the home lands.

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Some of my fam making merry and a couple pretending not to know us. We’re that cool.

F(orce)feed Me

I have no idea if this is because they didn’t have much back in the home country (I don’t know that this is true for I’ve been force fed there too), but fuck me, we love to feed people. I get anxious if someone just pops in for a visit if I don’t at least have a bag of Doritos to forcefeed down their throats. Honestly, there’s a generosity of feeding that I blame entirely for my inability to fit my fat ass into anything gorgeous and ethereal and elegant, and instead has given me the delightful dumpy figure I endure today. But in all seriousness, I love that I can pop in to my cousin’s to drop off a bowl and be there hours later, eating all the mutton rolls – it shows such generosity of spirit (and food) and makes you feel part of a family. It’s also considered rude to visit someone without eating something. Honestly, I’m just realising why I’m fat.

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Mutton rolls, fish patties. Actually licking the screen right now.

Saris and shalwars

So as I’ve mentioned (once or twice) I am short and rotund. It’s OK, one day I’ll come to terms with this. But the best thing about that is saris specifically are made for short rotund people like me – you get a blouse made to measure to your specific requirements and then acres of beautiful fabric, folded and draped over your womanly curves to make you look as though you have actual womanly curves rather than gigantic sofa cushions stuffed in clingfilm (thanks skinny jeans and lying magazines). Similarly – having a day where you just want to eat all the food and nap on the sofa – throw on a shalwar kameez. Drawstring pants and baggy tops can still look elegant if a cousin pops over to drop something off/get fed till they explode. And being a child of immigrants means that you’ve got all those outfit choices at the back of your wardrobe along with all the clothes of your adopted country too. It’s superficial, sure, but it makes me happy.

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See? Womanly curves, not lumpy lardy bits (sorry about insane face – whodathunk I was excited about getting hitched?)

 

The opportunities

I should probably say here that had I been born and brought up in Sri Lanka, I may be a step closer to the ‘castle/sprog/Indian version of Dior’ dream I had at 11. But having known my parents for like 40 years now, I don’t know that would be strictly true, but it might have been. I may have been less brattish after all. I grew up here, I got educated, I went to university, I lived on my own, I met my own husband (rather than one being chosen for me). I never felt like the world wasn’t mine for the taking – everything was available to me. Sure, I get that some people don’t have that, but going back to my first point, part of my rebellion was to ensure that I could go out and grab the world, and I never felt like I should be held back (and god help anyone who tried to).

 

As I’ve been writing this, I’ve realised that not much is simply down to the fact that my folks moved here in the 60s and are brown. These things: generosity of spirit, community, support, multiculturalism, saris; are there for the taking for anyone at all – we’re one big melting pot of cultures and classes and that’s a bloody brilliant thing in my book. But some people don’t like it. And that makes me sad. So my request for all my tens of followers is that you go out and learn something about your own culture or one you want to be part of and you’ll soon see, that we’re all more similar than you think.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

It’s been nearly six months since I blogged. Six months without my bon mots to get you through the dark winter nights and spring showers. How have you coped? Probably completely fine, I haven’t had anyone knocking down my door, begging for the latest installment in my little life.

It’s been a topsy turvy six months – I started a job,  I ended a job, I started another job, I’m soon to end another job. I am on the hunt for another job. We have an obnoxious tenant who we’re having to take legal action to evict. My cat still hates me. My dad was emergency hospitalised, he’s OK now, but that started January off on an extremely stressful note. So life has been stressful  (see job and tenant points above, I’m slowly coming to terms with the cat hatred) but not without some ups in amongst all the downs.

But the reason for my S&BB return is that I’ve realised I’ve been 40 for nearly six months now, and I’ve not had a complete breakdown. A round of applause for me. I’ve been wondering why my mid-life hasn’t involved a crisis (and when it does, I’d like to be in a position to afford a sports car please) though. I mean, I have the crippling pain of not one but two mortgages (thanks, obnoxious tenant), I have chosen poorly with my last two work contracts and thus need to look for another job to pay aforementioned crippling mortgages. I have a cat who hates me (OK, maybe I’m not as over this as I thought), I have a few marital woes, nothing major or that I can write about here (as it’s not just about me, you see – unlike everything else in the world). I have a sickly dad and he’s also old so there’s that constant spectre hanging over the door. What else?

I have been suffering with chronic eczema (due to work and life related stress and possibly because of the evil cat – I have a mild allergy, yet she still doesn’t find it in herself to love me – the bitch) for the last six months, leaving my back looking a little like a lizard. I have truly joined the realms of madness – I think I’m half lizard. Do cats like lizards? Maybe this is the reason for my cat hating me. I have yet to find a cure or anything to stop the incessant itching, despite giving up literally everything to see what is causing it – so I can only put it down to stress. Any cures/remedies – send them my way.

And the country is in the grip of a maddening referendum debate about the EU which has turned into crazy xenophobic scaremongering by the Leave campaign, which is making me feel like the country I was born and brought up in isn’t one that wants me in it. I mean who wouldn’t want an unemployed, scaly lizard person of the landlord classes being part of their country?

And 49 people got killed for their sexuality in Orlando. And an MP got shot for doing her job by someone who believes in Britain for the British (and his interpretation of British does not include the likes of me.) Jo Cox was a 41 year old woman who has done more with those additional 12 months that I have done in my 40 years on the planet. And that brought me right here to talk about my 40 something non-crisis.

From all the tributes, she seemed like an amazing woman – there has not been one negative word said about her, in any of the obits I’ve read. She was determined, committed, compassionate, kind, caring – she just gave of herself to make the world a better place.

And that got me to thinking about where I expected to be at 40 when I was 15. I mean 40 at 15 was a lifetime away. And at 11, I fully expected to be married and living in a castle with 450 screaming brats being looked after by their nannies, whilst I travelled the world and wore Dior and had a matching set of Globetrotter luggage. And none of those things have happened (and Dior doesn’t make clothes for people who have asses the size of mine).

The 25 years since 15 have been filled with a lot like meeting the man I fully intend to spend the rest of my life with (and several ‘frogs’ before him), buying two houses, travelling, building my career (to the heady heights of nearly unemployment now – woo!) and just generally meeting wonderful people who I am honoured and #blessed to call family. Or framily if you want to use a really ugly word. And my actual family – being the world’s best aunty ever takes a lot of work, but that’s work that I really don’t mind doing. Whilst the numbers may have gone up and down over the last 25 years, there are people I value more than life itself amongst my family and framily.

But what else have I actually achieved? That’s the sum total of my 40-something crisis, I think. I’d like to think I’d done good things but the reality is that I haven’t done bad rather than actively doing good. And I don’t really think I’ve ever had proper ‘goals’ (apart from castle, sprogs, Dior). So maybe that’s what I need to do, set myself some goals that’ll help the world be a better place and by doing so, I’ll finally achieve some actual good and go into the next decade with a 50-something crisis that involves more than still wishing that I had a set of Globetrotter suitcases.

The sum total of this post is, I want to do good things and whilst I’m not unhappy with my little life (in fact, I’d say I’m actively contented), I want to be able to do more with it. So watch this space, a change is coming. But not until I’ve caught up on the latest episodes of whatever’s on Netflix to binge on. Change takes time, right?

PS for want of better images, I’m using pics from recent holidays as I find holidays inspiring.

And we’re done for the year

And so it’s farewell to yet another year. Compared to the crazy body punching blows of 2014 that left me broken in several small pieces and on a granola obsession, this year has been much more stable, with a few gigantic waves thrown in to keep me on my toes. Or to knock me onto my substantial big brown ass but not enough to break me. Thank GOODNESS for that.

I started this year very unemployed and on the hunt for a job and in April, I won a competitive pitch against 20 agencies/freelancers for a project which was a great confidence boost. But that was only a few days work over a few months so I also had the opportunity to work with some super clever agencies and individuals who made me fall in love with PR again (well, a bit, I’m far too cynical to drink the KoolAid and completely lose my mind!) I’m ending this year working with a fantastic team on a longer term project so that’ll hopefully keep the wolves from the door and get me back on a much more even work-life keel. (Sorry about all the maritime analogies, I think I want to be on a beach).

Speaking of beaches, I started the year, in the midst of my unemployment, in Goa with my darling wino (because there ain’t nuffink like celebrating unemployment with a huge holiday) and then over the next 12 months, we also went to Istanbul, Berlin and had a big gay weekend in Suffolk. All told, a much smaller year of travel than previous ones, but I blame that on my work shy foppishness. Goa was incredible, met some wonderful new friends, explored a beautiful part of the world and now I’m wondering where I can go in 2016. I want to end the year in Australia but I can definitely feel a weekend in New York to catch up with my buddies on the cards and possibly somewhere a bit Scandi.  But that sounds a bit like a resolution and I’m loathe to set myself up for failure before the year’s even started.

Sunset at Mandrem

We also contemplated becoming supperclubbers in 2015 but trying to hold down a 9-5 and then cooking for 15-20 people on a regular basis sent me into freefall a bit so we had one awesome trial run with friends and family and then just carried on as normal.  Maybe we’ll do it again in 2016? I’ve been told that we’re hosting the family for Christmas next year (which is possibly about 30 people) so that may inspire me to finally get the kitchen updated. Doubt it though, I’m quite lazy and scared of commitment (and also, we may run away to Oz so we don’t have to do it…)

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We’ve had an interesting year with our cat, Doris. She was bullied by another cat who was sneaking in the catflap and eating her food so decided to let us know about her unhappiness by peeing on our bed. Delightful. Put an end to that madness through lots of loving but she’s ended the year pooping in the lounge. Not sure what’s wrong with her, think she’s just insane but that was definitely one present I didn’t want to find under the tree.

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Before she started to leave us poopy presents all over the house

The wino has continued to put up with my madness as well as mad times at his business but that’s his story to tell so I’ll not go into details. He’s a good, if annoying, man who I wouldn’t replace for all the tea in China. Possibly for all the chocolate in the world but not tea.

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I turned 40 too this year, which I celebrated over three weeks and loved every minute of it, so much that I may be 40 again next year – gird your livers, chums.

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And on top of all that, I went to a gin festival, I ate at some incredible restaurants, I spent a lot of QT with gorgeous people who inspire me and make me laugh till I want to pee (I am 40 after all), I baked a LOT and this year was just lovely. Apart from the four failed Amazon deliveries that have made me realise that Amazon Prime is not worth the money it costs and that their drivers are more than a little bit racist. But that’s a conversation to have with their press office rather than bitching here – unless I don’t hear back from them, in which case, bring on the bitching.

So onto 2016 – I’m in employment, I have a roof over my head, I have more shoes than a girl could ever possibly need and a lovely man by my side. If 2015 was about getting back together (after 2014 decided to break me down), I think 2016 is about bringing joy back. Which mostly means spending time with those reprobates who are my dearest framily, experiencing new places and eating lots of food. Those aren’t resolutions by the way, that’s just good sense. Oh, and I’ve got a flying lesson and a Segway experience and a cake decorating class to do that I’m hugely excited about (god bless birthday present experiences!) Thanks to those of you who have listened to my ramblings over the last 12 months, I may post more regularly over the next 12 but don’t hold me to it, I’d hate to let you down. Here’s to a 2016 that’s filled with joy for all of you too.