Sunday, September 20, 2009

A question of etiquette, Dave Eggers' new offering and the sins of the son...

She comes into the shop where I often stop in on my way to work to buy a freshly squeezed juice drink. She is often dressed in the same simple black dress (or perhaps she simply owns a lot of them), and is often wearing sneakers. She is perhaps in her late twenties or early thirties, blonde and slim. Each time she orders the same drink and on more than one occasion when our visits to the shop have coincided, she is just finishing an energy bar. At least I assume that she is, because she is usually holding the wrapper and delicately inserting a finger into the space between her upper teeth and her cheek to extract what I imagine must be a lump of freshly chewed, sticky mass of energy bar. I often wonder at her lack of self-consciousness while engaged in this task, but sympathize as it is one bit of social etiquette that I am yet to work out what the appropriate answer is. How do you dislodge that lump of sticky food paste that lodges in that area (peanut butter sandwiches are a particular hazard), without employing the discreet or indiscreet use of a single digit.....answers on a postcard please

I trek out to the Riverside Studios in west London for the reading to mark the launch of the memoirs of Michael Mansfield QC, Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer. I have taken the trouble to buy a ticket online and so when I arrive, hot and sweaty, having walked briskly from the tube in the muggy September weather that we are currently enjoying, ignore the long line of punters, queuing up and march to the counter, confident that there will be a separate collection point for pre-bought tickets. Alas, there is not and so I join the queue, ten people further back than I would have if I had just meekly joined the queue in the first place and end up missing the first ten minutes of the event. It isn't a reading in the conventional sense, he does not read from the book, but is an hour and a half of a monologue, with Michael perched on what looks like a barstool and offering up random thoughts and reminiscences. It is surprisingly engaging and I find that he holds my attention to the very end, but then as I remind myself, as a barrister, that is exactly what he has spent the larger part of his life doing....

I've just finished Dave Eggers new book, Zeitoun, which is another foray by the celebrated author into the realms of oral history presented as grippingly as a novel, similar to his earlier magnificent What is the What. This time, the hero is Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian American leaving in New Orleans who finds himself caught up in a Kafkaesque experience following Hurricane Katrina.

In the library, as I do from time to time, I type in the words "Nigeria" into the search box on the catalogue, just to see what new books may have been acquired. This time I am rewarded by finding The Forger's Tale:The Search for Odeziaku, in which Stephanie Newell, an English academic charts the story of John Moray Stuart Young, a wealthy English homosexual trader who was one of the wealthiest men in Onitsha in the early 20th century, building a fortune from the palm oil trade. Apparently he makes a fleeting appearance in one of the short stories in Achebe's Girls at War collection.

The recent news about the apparent rejection of the Nigerian Ambassador designate to the US, Professor Tunde Adeniran on the basis that his son was recently arrested for rape in Baltimore, appears to descend into farce, as claims are made throwing the boy's paternity into question. An aunt of mine has often argued that part of Nigeria's problem has been the fact that most of our leaders have had pretty messy personal lives, citing the numerous affairs, girlfriends, mistresses and wives attributed to most former leaders. Stories like these probably only serve to buttress her arguments...

BTW our erstwhile Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was in London to give a talk at the LSE last week, I missed it, but there's a report here


Ms. Catwalq said...

Proper behaviour can be exhausting. Like swishing water in your mouth to clear masticated mother would deliver a nice slap if I did it in her presence but what can i do? Must I walk around with egusi painted teeth?

Nigerian men and paternity...story for another day.

The rapists: filthy dogs.

Anonymous said...

"masticated debris"? you mean food? etiquette is relative. what you do in public is different from what you do in privste. I choose to be non conformist, i like that she appears oblivious when clearing out her "masticated debris"...

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting in the public area of the library right now, taking advantage of their free wi-fi. A lady has just sat down beside me and is now proceeding to noisily make her way through an after work snack/junk food-fest consisting of a jumbo pack of crisps, a bag of grapes and a bar of chocolate.

Completely oblivious of anyone else around, tips her head back and taps the bag of crisps held to her mouth to access those hard to reach dregs. All this i wouldn't mind, if only she didnt have to noisily smack her lips and lick her fingers intermitently as she works her way through her 'meal'.

She moves on to the grapes and the lip-smacking continues. My subtle glances cast her way have since turned into full blown glares. Alas, they do not seem to deter as intended.

Demolition of the chocolate bar ensues in the same vein. Oh, and did i mention the insertion of her index finger to extract the masticated debris?

Can you say 'table manners' anyone? Eeeuw!


Per the 'ambassador' and his son, the boy is indeed his child. But the parents are estranged. He is the son of one of the man's wives.

Hope all is well.

Ms. Catwalq said...

Okay, u promised a post a week/month...e don tey naaaaa....haba!

Plus this one wey u no dey reply email....

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