Saturday, October 18, 2008

Credit crunch autumn, Sisyphean tasks, Sarah Manyika, Nnenna Okore and other miscellany

It has been so long since my last blog that as I finally sit down to write an update, I find that I have forgotten my log-in password. After two attempts, I finally type in the right words and feel a wave of relief as I am let in...

It is autumn in credit-crunched London and the days are often sunny but the pavements and roads are slowly acquiring a cover of brown crinkly leaves as the trees shed their garb as a chill enters the air. I retrieve my hat (with my recent haircut, my head is cold) but note that soon, the rest of the cold weather gear will have to make an appearance- first the coat, then the scarf and then the gloves and then the layers. Now I begin to understand why a Nigerian friend says she loves getting dressed in winter....

Walking to the tube station, I spot a cleaner with a weird machine blasting at spots on the pavement- it soon becomes clear that he is engaged in the thankless task of blasting the chewing gum spots from the pavement. I have read somewhere of the vast cost to councils of cleaning up chewing gum from the pavement, but watching this poor man blast away at spot after spot and then seeing people drop new bits of gum on the parts that he has already cleaned, I am reminded of the legend of Sisyphus, eternally condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a hillside, only for it to roll back each time he reached the summit...

In Marks and Spencer, I dash in late one evening to grab a bottle of milk for tomorrow's cereal, and after queuing find myself face to face with a check-out clerk that I am pretty certain is Nigerian. My eye goes to his name badge to confirm my suspicion, but it only bears the unhelpful moniker "Trainee". Why , I think to myself humiliate someone with the badge- is the idea to alert us to the possibility that our service might be less than perfect? Surely the badge could say " Ola (Trainee)" or whatever..

In the event when I move to his corner, he greets me with a parroted spiel of obviously recently memorized words" Goodeveningsorryforkeepingyouwaitingwould youlikeabag.. The words tumble in an unrestrained rush from his lips as if he is afraid that pausing for breath would rob his memory of the next line in the obviously carefully crafted script. All the while, he does not make eye contact, seemingly staring at a space behind my left shoulder in a bored and lethargic manner. As I leave, the last customer for the night, I hear him whispering into his phone in Nigerian pidgin.....

I find myself in Leicester Square one Sunday and discover that the large building at one corner which included the Swiss Centre has been torn down, leaving a gaping hole in the heart of the West End. Suddenly the higher floors of some of the buildings behind it are exposed to view, and I marvel that I have walked past this area so often without noticing so much....

While I have been away, so much has happened- from Chimamanda's Macarthur "genius grant" to the emergence of Sarah Palin to the credit crunch to Colin Powell doing the Yahooze dance at the Royal Albert Hall- too much to talk about

On the credit crunch, it is so reassuring hen it is clear that even the so called experts have not got a clue what the right thing to do is. Meanwhile politicians squabble over who to blame, when in reality pretty much everyone carries their own share.

A late summer holiday gives me the chance to catch up on my reading- from Oona King's fascinating accounts of life as a young mixed race Blair Babe in Parliament in House Music to Edward St Aubyn's chilling Some Hope which I later discover is based on his own life- including being raped by his father at the age of five

Two new books worth getting are Sarah Ladipo Manyika's In Dependence and the UEA Anthology of Creative Writing 2008

At the reading for the UEA Anthology, in a packed downstairs room at the Poetry Cafe, the air fervid with the compressed ambitions of fifty potential Ian McEwans and Anne Enrights, my eye was caught by Christie Watson dressed head to toe in dazzling red, as she read from her forthcoming novel set in the Niger Delta.....

Finally for Londoners, don't miss two Nigeria events over the next few weeks- Nnenna Okore's stunning Ulukububa exhibition at the October Gallery and the Partnership for Nigerian Health Conference at UCL next month

I've also stumbled on a number of interesting Nigerian related ,art blogs in the last few weeks, Bisi Silva's
Princeton art professor Chika Okeke-Agulu's and Santa Barbara professor Sylvester Ogbechie's

Also stumbled across this about Abuja on Monocle, the uber-hip magazine

20 comments:

Just...Toluwa said...

seems u did not get to talk about everything on your mind...but good summary...

hope you'll not be taking another long break on blogsville?

ShonaVixen said...

welcome back...dont go for too long till u forget ur password again!!

Jaja said...

It's always good to read your commentaries.
Write more!

pilgrimagetoself said...

I've been away for a long time but returning to read your blog I find that it's still as refreshing as ever. How have you been?

Ms. Catwalq said...

blogging is becoming something of a chore. Possibly, I have got all I need from it because, it no longer holds as much joy as it used to...

I am older. I guess?

masduqi said...

it amazing news. i have too.

'Yar Mama said...

Happy New Year!!!

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

hope all is well. Happy New Year.

Waffarian said...

where this man don waka go again?

Anonymous said...

We miss you and your writing. Hope you are ok.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year

Where art thou?

Skyhigh said...

Your writing just flows. First visit and I want to read more. It will be a shame if you stop this blog... I have just joined the blogging world and so far it seems many are leaving it...

To read the musings of a young Hausa girl in search of love in London and Nigeria go to: hausamatch.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Hi, I read your blog a lot and I'm hoping you are ok. You haven't blogged since Oct. I pray all is well.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

hope all is well with you and yours.

SECRET DIARY said...

D-a-r-l-i-n-g, it's my first time on your blog. I can't comment. I don't know you yet / well - how you write, why you blog, if you Personal Assistant blogs on your behalf, etc. These days of cold / computer virus, I just don't want to catch anything. Consider this as my "wait and see" comment. Okay? Remember when you mama told you not to talk to strangers? It's something like that here - about not knowing a person well and commenting on their blog. You get me? Its like sex on a first date. Some people won't. I would. I wouldn't comment on a blog on the first time. There's a huge difference between sex and commenting on a blog on the first time on the page... With sex, there's instant gratification, but with commenting on a blog, one gets zilch. I'd feel d-i-r-t-y, used and abused... So, darling,... maybe next time, ..maybe,.. but d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y not tonight that is my first time here. I have standards and reputation to maintain. Ciao.

* * *

Mii komment has bin safed, hand will be fiisible after di owner appruvaal.

jaya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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spoon said...

about the eye contact: is it true that in Nigeria is an eye contact a sign of disrespect? Because we, in our European culture consider it as a sign of honesty and sort of 'I've-got-nothing-to-hide-from-you-please-read-my-face-if-you want-to' appropach... Of couse I'm not talking about staring and making the other side unconfortable..

Anonymous said...

aion kinahhope you'll not be taking another long break on blogsville?

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