I am suffering from the intermittent bloggers’ dilemma- the longer you stay away from blogging, waiting for the combination of something meaty enough to blog about and having enough free time to do it justice, the more things to blog about pile up. So I’ll just have a go- first things first. I finally signed up to Facebook, just to see what all the fuss is about. I haven’t been terribly excited, but perhaps I simply haven’t got into the spirit of the thing….if anyone wants to show me how to do it properly, get in touch, search for Musing Naijaman….
There have been a great many train journeys since I last posted (reminder to self- buy shares in Virgin Trains) including one in first class, courtesy of work which was sadly marred by the entire carriage being overrun by a bunch of football louts who kept the train heaving from Wolverhampton to London Euston. The British Transport Police made a brief appearance and then promptly disappeared; the Virgin Trains staff did not dare to show their faces at all. In the event I finally gave up my unbothered mien, packed up my laptop and book and moved to another carriage. Talk about feral- banging on the roof of the carriage, jumping on the seats, dancing on the tables, roaring out their football chants. They were all white and I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if a bunch of Black or Asian young men had overrun a first class carriage in a similar manner. I’d like to think that the train staff, transport police and other passengers would have been just as indulgent, but somehow I doubt it….
I was able to shut out the soccer louts’ antics for as long as I did as I was deeply engrossed in What is the What, Dave Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng’s stunning tour de force of a novel. I’m not sure if it’s a biography or what, because it’s called a novel and it’s by Eggers- an account of the life of Deng, a Sudanese “Lost Boy” who ends up in the United States- it is equal parts sociology text, history text, novel and utterly unbelievable and unputdownable and heart wrenching. And you must read it, if only to understand What is the What….
I’ve also been reading Patrick Gale’s Notes from an Exhibition, where he skilfully uses the notes from a retrospective exhibition to recreate the life of an artist on the Cornish coast exploring her family’s past and present relationships in a calm understated way that I found very attractive….
And to politics- so Gordon Brown’s liver failed him. One minute he was at the top of the opinion polls, with Cameron destined for the dust heap and the next he was struggling for dear life after Cameron made what the press told us was one amazing thumper of a speech. I was more interested in the quick switch- I assume most people like me had not watched the speech, so what was the sudden switch based on? The pledge to reduce the number of people liable to pay inheritance tax? Or the deal to tax non-domiciled City fat cats 25 000 pounds a year in lieu of tax ? Whatever it was, and I suspect it’s a bit of a mystery to the Cameron camp as well, Old Gordon was forced to swallow all talk of a snap election. It’ll be interesting to see what the next few weeks bring, but I was left musing on the power of the media to frame narratives….
In Nigeria, the furore over the Speaker continued with each newspaper virtually guaranteed to have an article on the latest of Speakergate. The usual tritenesses were being wheeled out- is she the first; it’s all the work of disgruntled elements and so on. All probably true but why do we always have to resort to the age old refrain “Everyone does it”
I was more bemused by the story of Judith Burdin Asuni, or as Thisday put it “The Spy who loved us” Is she really a spy or are there other issues at stake. The murkiness of the dealings in the Niger Delta and Nigeria’s oil industry remain a source of fascination for me. Would that there were some good investigative journalists to piece all the stories together. Who bunkers? Who owns licences to drill for oil? Who imports the petroleum that Nigeria uses? So many unanswered questions and yet the answers float in mansions in Lagos and Abuja and Port Harcourt and London and Maryland and elsewhere….