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?"

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"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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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).

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a really fun film!

    I just googled the lyrics, and I'm baffled as to why a song about wanting to enjoy each other's company forever would have an 18 rating.