Friday, 9 December 2016

We shall have to get out our leopard skins again

Duke has the permanent answer to these stereotypes and caricatures of Negroes. It is as well a deft parry of the thrusts of amateur anthropologists who refer to all Africans of darker color as savages. It's a musical comedy called, tentatively, Air-Conditioned Jungle. The opening scene sets mood and clime and theme. In a particularly chic living-room, decorated in the best of urbane good taste, but not given to flamboyant extravagances, sit the King and Queen of one of the ancient African tribes. She's dressed in a gown by Schiaparelli; he in a sleekly fitted dinner jacket. They are drinking their after-dinner brandy and coffee in relaxed comfort: the house is air conditioned. A muffled bell rings. The King picks up the telephone. "Yes," he says, "yes, yes. Mmm-hmm. Oh, bother. Well, if there's nothing we can do about it." He slams the receiver down on its cradle and turns unhappily to his consort. "What is it, darling?" she asks. "There's another of those expeditions coming over from America. Trying to discover the original sources of their jazz, you know?" "Oh, damn," the Queen curses. "Yes, my dear," the King says, "we shall have to get out our leopard skins again."

Ulanov, Duke Ellington (The Roots of Jazz)

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Wednesday, 19 October 2016



Recently I've started to work on some new skills and it makes me feel like I'm shit at everything, because new skills are not so easily acquired. But then that makes sense, really, because if I go to these classes to learn new things and find that I can already do it well then, it's probably a waste of time/money because it's not a real challenge, is it? The problem is that sometimes I'm so overwhelmed by what I can't do that I forget I can do anything - anything at all.

On the other hand sometimes I tangibly achieve a goal and that feels quite nice. The Bubble Tea Shakers performed for the first time this last weekend, so I'm glad I came up with an idea and worked with others to make it a reality.

Also another thing that helps in general is knowing what to say no to - for instance, swingy Christmas music.

I like my swing to be old fashioned and my Christmas music even more so. Medieval carols will do nicely, thank you.

Some motivational posters I liked.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Saturday, 27 August 2016



The idea is that the world is not a safe place and you should do your best to protect yourself. But there's very little emphasis given to making the world a safer place. I believe we should try to make it a place where we can live without fear. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016



Saturday, 19 December 2015

For My Daughter

By Sarah McMane

Never wear only pink when you can strut in crimson red, sweat in heather grey, and shimmer in sky blue, claim the golden sun upon your hair. Colors are for everyone, boys and girls, men and women -- be a verdant garden, the landscape of Versailles, not a pale primrose blindly pushed aside.Never play the princess when you can be the queen: rule the kingdom, swing a scepter, wear a crown of gold. Don’t dance in glass slippers, crystal carving up your toes -- be a barefoot Amazon instead, for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet.

Tramp muddy through the house in a purple tutu and cowboy boots. Have a tea party in your overalls. Build a fort of birch branches, a zoo of Legos, a rocketship of Queen Anne chairs and coverlets, first stop on the moon.Chase green dragons and one-eyed zombies, fierce and fiery toothy monsters, not merely lazy butterflies, sweet and slow on summer days. For you can tame the most brutish beasts with your wily wits and charm, and lizard scales feel just as smooth as gossamer insect wings.

Don a baseball cap, dance with Daddy, paint your toenails, climb a cottonwood. Learn to speak with both your mind and heart. For the ground beneath will hold you, dear -- know that you are free. And never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.Dream of dinosaurs and baby dolls, bold brontosaurus and bookish Belle, not Barbie on the runway or Disney damsels in distress -- you are much too strong to play the simpering waif.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

turn the tide

冤冤相報何時了?At some point someone has to start forgiving and turn the tide. As ever the challenge is how to love the sinner whilst hating the sin. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

And then

... I stuffed the leftover crevices in my boxes with newspaper, and sealed them up with tape. I put one UPS label onto each box in preparation for the pickup tomorrow. Now they are all sitting in a row (all 11 of them), and I pray that none of them are over-weight (30 kg). 

Feels like another phase of my life is wrapping up. I've moved from one continent to the next more times than I care to recall. The first time, I was 9 years old and had a aqua-marine striped canvas tote bag (carry-on) and that was all my luggage (my parents packed other things, but that was outside my jurisdiction). When I was 19 I moved to the UK with one suitcase and one sleeping bag. After I laid out the sleeping bag and put my clothes away in the wardrobe, my toothbrush sat on the windowsill and my dorm looked very cold and empty (soon I furnished it with charity shop finds). 

Ever since my moves have been increasing in frequency. I don't really want to think of them now.

As ever, the only way is forward. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Since when did I become...

an advocate of kindness?

Friday, 11 September 2015

what it's like to live in survivor mode

... to learn to live without the things that are so necessary, to the point of distrusting the existence or the proffered offerings of friendship, understanding, appreciation.