Monthly Archives: February 2014

Manners

Dear all,

Being English, we are known for our politeness and manners. Not all, especially myself, abide by society’s strict codes of etiquette, but here’s a little poem I wrote while waiting in the blistering heat for a bus to Santa Lucia.

Manners

Never should love be expressed through a fart,
It’s best to cork it inside,
No one cares for your exhumations of a digested mango,
Friends like lovers won’t abide.

Nor do it with a echoing burp,
Because a gobfull of liquid can come up with it,
Vulgarity is only applauded by the vulgar,
And the burp is vulgally explicit.

Don’t smash out windows out with a sneeze,
Because people near will end up green,
Do it in a hanky if you have to,
Any other way is grossly obscene.

Why would anyone open their mouth while they’re eating?
Do you think you want us to see what your chewing?
Take your elbows off the table while you’re at it,
Or the exit door is what your lover will be pursuing.

Romance is for bedrooms and motels,
So keep your tongue in your own mouth,
Holding hands is just about acceptable, But never, ever in public should they roam south.

Bad manners can cost you friends,
So never interrupt or be arrogant to others,
Show that you’re polite and of decent character,
Anything else is too disgraceful to our ol’ mothers.

To finish off, here’s some graffiti in Santa Lucia that might be bad manners to some.

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Pamela Cruz Lozano

Dear all,

I have unfortunately been off work today with a nasty little bug which has left me hovering over the toilet seat with an upset stomach and noxious headache all last night and today. I should name the establishment which I think is culpable, but it’s only a small business and the owners are friendly enough that I don’t want to cause any bad business for them. Although I should really ask myself why I still eat there, especially when their chicken smells like sardines when they cook it on the barbecue (and sardines aren’t stated on the menu, if you’re wondering).

While sitting at home twiddling my thumbs, usually I would be feeling sorry for myself in this type of scenario, but I haven’t been. In the last couple of weeks, I have been suffering from irregular sleeping patterns and insomnia. Work has been extra busy and I am still settling into a new job, which is proven as one of the biggest factors for stress. People who know me best know I’m not the easiest person to be around when I’m tired and anxious, and I tend to take it out on those closest to me, with lots of whining and complaining. Unfortunately, this leaves Pamela feeling like my complaining punchbag as she has to bear the brunt of it, which I realise must weigh her down. I am what they call here, “un burro”, which kind of means “very irritating”.

Apart from the other day with the poem, I also noted that I can be a little cheeky about Pamela on my blog, making her appear a bit cynical and black humoured (which she can be). So, in this update, I would like to tell the world how much of a brilliant girlfriend she is, how she looks after me through thick and thin, she answers my every call and helps me in any way that she can, and she’s always entertaining and funny to be around, cheering me up no end, especially when I feel homesick or strained. I know some male readers will probably be calling me ‘pussy’ and some women readers probably want to barf, but I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am proud to say that I love her so much, she is an absolute princess, I have never met anyone like her and I feel like the luckiest man in the world. She told me the other day that she had a little thing for Bruno Mars, so I thought I would include a song that I know puts a smile on her face; Locked Out of Heaven.

Despite feeling ill, I have written several limericks about her, which I hope she likes, as well as all of you readers.

A Limerick for Pamela

My girlfriend’s name is Pamela,
Whose boyfriend is a handsome fella,
She is a princess,
But I have to confess,
That she’ll be fighting for this status with Ella*.

She has beautiful big brown eyes,
She says mine are as blue as the skies,
Then she gives me a bite,
That gives me a great fright,
Then runs off laughing without saying her goodbyes!

She’s my rock, mi musa, my supreme,
The perfect picture in my dreams,
And when she smiles,
It’s with warmth and style,
And as sweet as a sugared custard cream.

She’s going to be my wife,
We’ll be travelling from Cuba to Egypt to Fife,
We’ll have a boy and a girl,
Blue eyes and blond curls,
Living in happiness, the walk of life.

*Ella is my niece

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Polache

Dear all,

On Sunday evening, I was sat on the settee in Pamela’s grandparents house watching TV when suddenly the whole family became animated. I began watching and saw something that resembled a Latín American version of the Eurovision Song Contest, or something of a Latin American music get together. It’s called Viña del Mar, which I don’t know if it means vein of the sea or vineyard of the sea, but it’s something of the sea. I gather it lasts a week and currently being held in Chile. I haven’t heard any of the songs so I can’t say if they’re cheesy or anything like their European counterpart, but good ol’ Ricky Martin gave a show singing the ‘Shake your bum bum’ song which left the female members of the family regretting Ricky’s exiting of the closet, while the male members weren’t quite as generous with their compliments.

Pamela asked me nicely if I would vote for Honduras’ contestant, Polache. He is winning (88% of votes so far) but I wondered if you guys at home would like to vote. Below is a link for you to vote. It’s self explanatory. Pamela told me that he has been heavily criticised for having backing dancers who had tattoos that looked very similar to those of the Mara gangs, although it has been said that it was the Chileans that chose this dance routine, as well as the dancers, so blame them! It would be great if he won though!

http:// http://festival.pudahuel.cl/2014/02/se-inicia-la-competencia-con-un-jurado-exigente


“Luka”

Dear all,

Since my update regarding Casa Alianza the other day, I received a message from Fred Shortland, who is Chief Executive of Casa Alianza and a good friend. He has played a big part in having Suzanne Vega doing the foreword for the book. In the message, he corrected me on the name of the famous song which is often associated with Suzanne (I called it Tom’s Kitchen. It’s actually Tom’s Diner), but also he informed me of a beautiful song, as well as fsmous, written by her called Luka, which bodes in a lot more with her work with Casa Alianza/Covenant House, being about child abuse. For me the song has a hint of Kirsty MacColl in her rhythm, another singer I like and Fred has worked with. There’s a couple of lyrics that remind me of one of my favourite books too, “The Woman Who Walked into Doors” by Roddy Doyle, which is about domestic violence and covers a couple of the issues in the song. Fred told me that he will be doing an update on the Casa Alianza blog regarding Suzanne’s recent tour in the UK which I will put a link to. Here is the song.

http:// http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VZt7J0iaUD0

Also on YouTube was a clip taken I don’t know where from but it includes some interviews with some of the kids in Casa Alianza, some of whom I know. It reminds of my own interviews with the kids there. I have fond memories of playing gootball in the gym, talking to kids in the yard outside and interviewing the kids at pretty much the ssme tables the man is sitting at interviewing the girl. It was moving to watch.

http:// http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gWnn7t8MwOc


Iglesia de los Dolores

Dear all,

I didn’t have a religious upbringing. My folks pretty much let us choose. We had to go to church for Scouts and Cubs and so on, but that was only once a month and I was too young and immature to really understand or care what was going on, normal for the culture and the age.

I live in a very religious country, which is predominantly Roman Catholic, a faith that in my own country, as well as many other developed countries, has come under great criticism and scrutiny in the press due to scandals regarding the covering up of child abuse and the beliefs that clash with modern culture, often criticised for its outdated stance on homosexuality and contraception. I’ve always had an interest in the faith, although that’s been more down to being a Celtic fan, but I’ve also liked the ambience of the churches and cathedrals. I’ve lived in ignorance to the bible and I still don’t really know what rosary beads are nor do I know any prayers or have any idea what a Hail Mary is.

Having a Roman Catholic girlfriend, I suppose my interest has deepened. Her mum is quite intrigued about faith in the UK and asks all sorts of questions that often leaves me red-faced and makes Pam and her brother and sister giggle at my discomfort. For her family, I think it’s quite important that I am Catholic, or at least follow the traditions, to marry her. But my interest is more than just wanting to fulfil wishes. It’s wanting to know what it means to be Catholic and understanding the faith. I would like to open this up to people who know of any literature about converting to Catholicism. Leave a comment. I’d much appreciate it.

The centre of Tegucigalpa has a few churches. The cathedral sits at Central Park, which is nice to sit down in and escape with your own thoughts away from the hustle and bustle of the centre. I know I have mentioned the other church before in updates with street kids and so forth. It’s off the main pedestrianised street towards a slightly poorer part of the centre. It is known as Iglesia de los Dolores, the ‘church of pains’ in English (although it sounds like a Cypress Hill tune). It is decorated with pieces of colourful art and seems a bit more bohemian. I especially like the face of the sun with a smile up towards the bells and the black and white tiles on the floor. If I’m right, it was the poor man’s church or the slave’s church when Tegucigalpa was founded, I can’t remember which. I suppose it still might be regarded as the poor man’s church by judging the people (yes, I know not to judge people like that!) who attend the services. I think I have included pictures before that date back a couple of years. The square has been cleaned up a little since, but you do feel that the centre could be spruced up a lot more in general.

The reason for this update is because Pamela sent me a picture of what it used to look like a few decades ago, wrapped up in vintage film. You might have to Google search to see what it looks like today. I love the art deco designs of the cars lined up along the street. It goes to show that Tegucigalpa has prospered and can still prosper. Maybe this photo should be kept, just as a reminder o
f how things could be.

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The Hobbit

Dear all,

One thing about working in a library is the very obvious factor that I’m always surrounded by books, the majority of them with wonderful twisting plots, deep narratives, beautifully crafted characters with mystery, good and bad intentions, murder, romance and adventure in mind, non fiction full of instructions, guides, instruments for teaching, behaviour, choosing a second hand car, animals, music sheets, encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibles, fables, history books, poetry, maps and I don’t want to go on further with the thought of you wanting to switch off and turn to a different blog because you know what a damn library is, so I’ll stop there. The point is, it can be quite intimidating with all these books staring back at me and screaming,”READ ME, READ ME, READ ME”. I swear, the f–king  things chase me in my sleep and I wake up in  torturous cold sweats thinking of all the literature that I haven’t read yet and how I feel I’m cheating and being unfaithful if I pick up and start reading more than one book. The pressure and stress is immense . . . . and then along come the students and teachers and projects! You know my anguish! I desperately want to read the Savage Detectives by Bolano and the Bible pops up and then Robinson Crusoe and I want to scream, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Hailing from Hall Green in Birmingham, I’m very proud to say much of my childhood was spent wandering around Tolkien county, the neighbourhood where Tolkien also grew up and they say based some of his ideas of the Shire on. I think he spent some unhappy years there, as it was this period of his life when his parents passed away. I was given an A* in my A Level media studies course at Bournville College for making a documentary about Tolkien’s life in Brum around the time the Lord of the Ring movies were released. Many thanks have to be given to my parents who drove myself and a very idle, workshy and I think slightly stoned classmate who I won’t name for legal reasons, up to Edgbaston Reservoir and the Oratory to film. I loved it to be honest. However, I have a dark, shameful secret that Pamela kind of picked up upon while watching part two of The Hobbit in the cinema a couple of months ago. She kept asking more awkward questions that I couldn’t answer and then she gave me that knowing, shocked look and exclaimed in the middle of the cinema, “You’ve not read the book!”  and then did the loser sign on her forehead, aimed at me. And the worst thing is, she is right. I’ve not read one word of his literature.

Well, this is all about to change thanks to Pammie’s colleague Elizandra who gave me a beautiful vintage hardcover copy of The Hobbit. I absolutely love it and it makes me feel nostalgic seeing the drawing of Tolkien’s face on the back cover, reminding me of the small but refined little museum at Sarehole Mill. Thank you Elizandra, if you’re reading this.

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Valentine poem for my girlfriend

Dear all,

It was a week ago. I don’t care. We should try and be romantic every day. So, I am going to include the poem that I wrote for my beautiful girlfriend Pamela. I wrote it, printed it on special paper and put it in a frame, to which Pamela asked what picture could she replace it with. Romance murderer. To be honest, my girlfriend has more of the slightly stinging bantering British sense of humour than myself, which is kind of funny because I prided myself on that. Without further ado, read below.

Hand-in-Hand

Deep words of doting affection,
Cut right through me in an adoring dissection,
Making me strengthen and stand to attention,
Bringing smiles to our faces in our sunshine reflection.

Awaiting with anguish ’til your alleviating lips meet mine,
Holding the image of you in my wallet as though it’s a shrine,
Sensing your soothing strokes easing my tense spine,
Drunk on love like the fiercest of red wines.

You’re in my dreams and in the books I read and the songs I hear,
You stamp on my insecurities and iron the creases of my fears,
You wipe down the windscreen and we see the road is clear,
Hand in hand as wedding bells and children draw near.

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