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Archive for November, 2009

What to do in Seychelles when you’re bored #1

Wash plastic bags
Read a lot
See if you can make a 90 degree right angles between your big and little toe (no I don’t know why either but I can nearly do it, so there)
Make things out of discarded tat (see ‘Scdabble mat’ in birthday presents) Debate whether to get internet access at home
Categorise countries visited by number and alphabet (sadly,according to our own rules Zanzibar does not count. X is also problematic)
Moan about how you’ve hardly heard from anyone
Talk about what you could eat right now if you could eat anything
Ponder minutiae, like the entomology of phrases like spitting feathers.

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There’s no business like show business

Help. The National Conservatoire of Performing Arts has a Christmas Show – and I’m expected to be in it.

Prancing on stage with teenyboppers; youthful, supple, slender things who wouldn’t know what cellulite was if it came and bit them (mercilessly) on the bum is not quite the anticipated paradisiacal lifestyle.

At least on a beach you can either:

a) lie prone, breathe in hard
b) dart quickly between water and shore, breathe in hard.

Dancing on stage, giving maximum opportunity for wobbly bits to wobble and maximum exposure for flexible parts not to flex, isn’t the sophisticated Seychelles image I was after. Let alone the nightmare potential for heavy sweating.

I ask if I have to be in it.  ‘You’ve been practising like everyone else’ is the sneaky neither yes or no reply.

Bugger that means she’s leaving it up to me. And the thing is now I’m involved. I’m part of the routine. And being so pathologically polite, I don’t want to let them down…

Better start scouring the island for decent anti-perspirant.

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Cinematic

There are two cinemas on the island with one screen each; an old and decrepit one (Deepam) and a shinier new version (Docklands). I have yet to understand properly when the films are actually on – bit of a hindrance that. I mean, there are posters of the films showing and times, but I’ve not yet mastered how one relates to the other (I had to phone a friend).

On the whole, choice of film is itself a nebulous concept. While possible, if you actually ever want to get to the cinema, don’t be too picky. That’s obviously why I find myself watching Sandra Bullock’s ‘feel good’ romantic comedy ‘The Proposal’ – not my usual choice.

The Deepam is like the cinemas of old (Withington or Gatley when I was a nipper), stairs leading up into the middle of the theatre with red velvet seats to the front and the back. People wait outside until a bell summons them in and popcorn, wrapped in a paper cone, is available for ten rupees from the van across the road.

Midway through the film stops for an interval. Old School!

Disappointingly, there is no one sporting an ice cream tray but there are other advantages; a bathroom break without worrying about missing bits of the film, time to ask/answer the stupid question about what the film is going on about, a refreshment refuel and best of all, the anticipation that there is more of the film to come (unless you’re watching anything with the words fast and furious in the title).

And despite myself, I liked ‘The Proposal’. I laughed and everything.

Maybe it was because of the script/acting or more likely my advancing years, lower entertainment threshold and masochistic enjoyment of gawping at people onscreen drinking lattes, eating muffins and walking into stores called Seven Eleven.

Yes, that must have been what it was.

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The birthday presents…

The other one and I don’t go big on presents and seem to specialise in ridiculous choices like the set of storage boxes I got once and the dodgy zip up Pierre Cardin jumper (I’m not sure ‘it looked warm’ stands now as an adequate defence) he got in return. So thank god he’s got friends.

Exhibit A: The Coffee Pot.

I don’t have to say much do I? You thought we were excited at ‘A’s goodies  I think ‘Anay’s* gift actually saw the world’s first ‘coffee pot jig’. The post coffee ‘coffee pot jig’ powered by its blast of pure caffeine was even more mind blowing.  

 


Exhibit B: The Subbuteo book.
Apparently, people used to find flicking pretend plastic footballers and footballs around a green piece of felt great fun. I can’t see it myself but the other one and his bessie mate share fond memories of when their flicking fingers reigned supreme, so his mate sent a book to relive those thrilling childhood moments. I’d have thought that with a book called ‘Flick to Kick’ some bright spark would have had the foresight to put a little Subbuteo footballer at the edge of its pages so that when you flicked through them, he moved. I flicked (Christopher Lilicrap style)** through its pages but this creative opportunity had not been grasped, maybe they were worried people would think it more entertaining (and less painful) than Subbuteo itself? Still no vision…

Exhibit 3: The Scadabble*** mat
Whereas…
Introducing the ‘Scdabble Mat’.

Why not combine a love for Scdabble with a casual dining experience? Make meal times fun and educational!

Each mat can be personalised with up to 150 characters (use of double letter/triple letter/double word/triple word scores will cost more). Free with each mat is a bonus list of 20 words starting with Scdabble’s most tricky letters – snoozing on the job with a tricky Z? Getting vexed with your V and X? Just consult your Scdabble mat and crush your opponents’!

Made from the finest discarded t-shirt packaging; quality cardboard and durable plastic film designed to last. Available from all good toyshops.

Of course, the present was from me. The other one was speechless- with joy he said.

. *For purposes of brevity and thinly veiled anonymity, I have (and will) shamelessly overlook the existence of individual personalities and, where appropriate, meld them into an amorphous entity with a vaguely silly name.

** Another irrelevant childhood reminiscence, some programme with an annoying theme tune and a presenter whose name was a gift to children everywhere, Christopher Lilicrap.

*** Scdabble is a game very like another one played worldwide whose makers seem to have litigious leanings – they even try making a Scdabble mat and I’m onto them.

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The birthday boy…

Another year, another birthday, for the other one .The day was bright and sunny, so we headed over to Beau Vallon beach with beers, snacks and blanket and found some shade under what seems to have become our usual tree. Anyone who fancied it was invited to rock up any time after 3pm, so we chatted and I practised sitting with only the one belly on display. An hour later, and it was still only ourselves, panic slightly set in, what if we didn’t have any mates after all and were just being humoured?!

The minutes passed and then as tends to happen, everyone turned up at once. J arrived with the bad news that her place had been broken into the night before. They took her laptop and also some stuff of her friends who’d just come on holiday. Not a great welcome to the island. They were very pragmatic though, taking it in their stride, and J reported it to the local police but, probably wisely, isn’t expecting too much.

Two mates also recounted charming stories of finding rats in their homes, striking fear in the heart of the birthday boy (and mine) and I imagined him hands over ears, stamping his feet, his pitiful whine carrying on the sea breeze saying ‘stop it, it’s my birthday.’ We turned to things more pleasant and a few of us then went to Baobab for pizza. Home before midnight and relatively sober (how novel), I tried singing a tuneful rendition of Ben (Michael Jackson) to the other one who wasn’t amused.

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Car swap shop!

After my mini whizz in the automatic car while staying in Praslin, we’ve been thinking about getting one, hopefully so I’ll stop getting so annoyed with myself and the other one will have an excuse to get rid of our current tin pot (so essentially swapping one noddy car for another!). Not being sure how many automatics are for sale, we start looking and find one in our price range (providing we sell ours first of course).

As the Creole accent can sometimes be difficult to understand over the phone, the other one ends up making some laboured arrangement with a guy whose car we want to see. After calling twice, we find the place and are ushered into some offices where we meet two guys, one of them thrusting car keys into our hands, waving us towards the car park telling us ‘it’s the green one’. Rather confused about the abrupt exchange, we find the lime green Toyota Sprinter and hop it. It’s a proper Seychellois mobile in my eyes, boxy, slung low and old (14 years we found out). It’s bigger than ours and though much older, feels way more solid. The other one likes it.

After a test drive, we return to the offices and are ushered in once again, not quite sure who to have the conversation with. Over the course of the next half hour (yup that’s how long we are there), the situation becomes less confused/ more surreal. For starters, it seems we had interrupted a business meeting that the guy selling the car was having, to sign over papers for his business that he had just sold. He’s selling everything as he’s going overseas for an operation that, in his words, he might not return from. Not quite sure what to say to that one, we smiled and said sure that it’d all work out fine. We then ascertain that we are in the offices of the other guy, who was sealing the business deal for our car seller, and who turns out to be the ex Minister of Defence (hence confusion earlier as the car  seller man was obviously keen to minimise any inconvenience to him). Ex-Minister waxed lyrical, showing us round his office proffering anecdotes, ‘when I was talking to the Chinese President’ and so on and so forth and we stood there and chatted and nodded and it was honestly, all very interesting.

But really our only concern was whether we could get a better price for the car.

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Library lovers

Seychelles library card

Okay, it’s a dirty habit but I have to come clean. I love libraries (if you happen to be under 25 years old you probably think that I’m very weird, I am, but not because of that). I’ve always regarded having a library card as being some kind of citizen’s rite of passage, becoming a fully fledged member of a community. In London, I lived in six places in twelve years (not unusual for London dwellers), but in only one place did I ever get myself a little laminated library card – where I lived for the past five years. So becoming official and getting my Seychelles library card has for me been a moment of anticipation, especially as we have a paltry eight novels sitting on our bookshelf.

The library itself is in a building that is fairly imposing and, shaded by leafy palms, it strikes quite a picture. Inside, there is a central lobby with the children’s library off to the left, adult at the back and reference upstairs. After doing the necessary bureaucratic stuff, the cards are ready. Woo hoo quickly turns to boo hoo.

It’s the Lidl of library cards. I could have made a better one myself – while blindfolded and listening to a medley of Cliff Richard’s Christmas ‘hits’. Still, I comfort myself it’s about the books.

Yes. About the books.

There’s quite an impressive amount, most in English, some in French, hardly any in Creole, so I luck out despite being hopelessly monolingual. However, it would seem that the stock hasn’t been updated in some time with few seeming to have been written in the past ten years. The books are battered and worn, covered in flimsy plastic and their pages yellowed with age. Still, as long as they can be read that’s not a problem, it’s just a case of finding something you want to read. John Le Carre, Len Deighton, Wilbur Smith, Catherine Cookson, Maeve Binchey eat your heart out. For the rest, it’s a case of browsing the shelves and finding the gems. I look at it as an opportunity to read more widely so on that first trip come out with Silas Marner (George Eliot), Mother Tongue (Bill Bryson) and Engleby (Sebastian Faulks – recent!).

Lord knows what the system is but they take the library card, write it’s number down on a large file of paper writing next to it the code of the book, stamp (yes stamp!) the book and then stare vacantly at the one computer they have, presumably it imparting some kind of life force (if not, it should, they need it). While not arguing for technology for technology’s sake, if a simple system works fair enough, no need to fly a jumbo jet to get to the local shops but what if they lose their file eh, what then?

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