Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Memories of an injured friend

The phone went "Hello," I said.
"There's a big bird in our garden, dear - I think it's nearly dead"
"I'll grab my coat & partner and we'll be there" and off we sped.

Attacked by something big and fierce, he flapped a bloody wing at me,
When I came near he spat and hissed and would have turned my hand to gore.
Out came the leather gloves and then he lunged and clawed and tore.

I held him fast, kept clear my face,
It was not hate but only pain
Which held him in that ruffled state

We took him to our garden shed,
Gave him water and a nice clean bed;
We'll see how he is tomorrow, I said

The following day dawned bright and clear,
Yet still I couldn't hold him near
Without exacerbation.

I soothed him, fed him, brought him viands
Till at last he fell compliant
When he on me became reliant.

Each passing day he drew a little near to me
He saw no further reason to attack, you see,

I soothed him, fed him, brought him viands
Till at last he fell compliant
When he on me became reliant.

I saw him next day, we'd called him Oúlu
He was more fluffy and more gainly,
Getting better and acting tamely

Another day, and he looked restless,
Grateful, and yet wanting to leave,
With us he'd had a safe reprieve

I soothed him, fed him, brought him viands
But now his look had turned defiant
No longer would he be my client.

Just one more day, his time was through
We'd let him free, no hullabaloo;
And then I clasped him with full care
Lifted him up, and threw him in the air.
He beat his wings and circled round about
Then he was up and he was Out
In seconds he'd relearned to fly
Then up he wheeled and vanished in the sky;
Up to greet the rising sun
Tu-whit, Tu-woo, and he was gone.

I soothed him, fed him, brought him viands
For now I knew I'd lost my client.
For each of us was self-reliant.

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Glossary: viands = food-stuffs, victuals

Grateful acknowledgment is made to for the use of the photograph of an injured owl.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Does Virgin have to be a Total Prune?

Dear Richard Branson,

The afternoon was so nice and bright, I thought I'd take my guys out into the back garden, where we relaxed to read or listen to some songs. I was finishing a book I had been deeply into and, remembering that my mobile could go on the net, I'd started googling a few interesting links, when I was interrupted with a mini banner which said:


I think my phone must have thought my mind as green as the grass on which I was lying; nonetheless I found my face turning a little pink as I dialled the Virgin helpline and prayed that a girl wouldn't answer:

"Hello Virgin Mobile, this is Lisa speaking," announced a member of your staff: "How may I help you?"

My face had now turned to a livid puce when I realised that my prayer hadn't really been answered at all; but I guess it had at least been modified, as I judged from her accent that "Lisa" wasn't from British shores. So I imagined a sunny backdrop, perhaps from Italy or the South of France, and that made it all so much better, even if I wondered why your staff are allowed to work in such exotic locations.

"Lisa," i said, "I'm lounging peacefully in the back garden with my friend and I've got my Virgin Phone and a Coke in my hand, and I've found a reference which has got me searching for the English meaning of a 1975 Indian song; but Virgin appears to be living up to its name and telling me I'm not allowed to read it. I'm think I'm big enough and old enough to take read the site, Lisa, don't you?"

DSC00011 Scaled900

"Oh John," she said, "I'm sure you are!"

I was sipping my Coca-Cola®, when something in the lilt of her Mediterranean voice went into alliance with a bubble in my mouth, and I snorted coke out of my nose into a fine spray which then broke out into a splattery cough which set her laughing, and it wasn't long before the virgin and I were cooing to one another like a couple of teenagers out on a first date. Between splurts and giggles, Lisa managed to spit out that to remove restrictions on my account she'd need to speak to a third party. Parties being in somewhat short supply at the time I managed to hook in little Rajah who's thirty years younger than me on the clock, but most would agree that at half my age he's more mature than I'll ever be. So for a few minutes he stopped fiddling with his own gadget and started playing with mine whilst promising the Virgin Girl that I was allowed to drink shandy now, and in his view I was over 18. "Make sure he switches off before rebooting his phone she said" Rajah handed her over to me in peals of silvery laughter, which was where I left her on that sunny day called Yesterday.

And Richard, have you been playing too? It's time to stop playing with your aeroplanes in the garden dear. Come in and eat your tea. Time to stop playing Nanny to me, because that's my job, not yours. Now off you go -- time to learn to manage your companies like a Big Boy!

Love John.

PS: I almost went of focus. What was the fuss all about?

I'd been finishing the Whistling in the Dark interviews, and was flicking through the intro again where I was reminded about the 1975 blockbuster film Sholay, "that finds an excellent parallel in the overtly gay, 2007 film Brokeback Mountain [which] in fact the other side of Sholay, its off-screen side. The Yeh Dosti number sung by Jai and Veeru on a motorbike emerges as a queer song when when one scrutunises its lyrics and imagery."

Yeh dosti from the film Sholay (1975)

Yeh dosti — from the film Sholay

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Raj Rao, R. 2000: Memories Pierce the Heart: Homoeroticism, Bollywood-Style, in Andrew Grossman (ed), Queer Asian Cinema: Shadows in the Shade, p 305. New York: The Haworth Press.

A queer reading of the song Yeh Dosti is set out in the author's forthcoming novel: Engineering College Hostel (Penguin).