I know I told allyuh I was going to a house warming. However, knowing me, I think in my mind I had an idea of a sedate little sit down business, where we talked about existentialism, and knowing Mahie, some kind of cleverness about economics with her flatmates and friends, the majority of those who go to The London School Of Economics.
It wasn ‘t like that, oui?
When the day dawned yesterday morning in Kent, there was fog, my cousin ‘s girl friend was hustling (sort of) to get up to London to go to work, so I packed up my shit, pounding a quick little entry and moved my already packed suitcase into the car.
You could see your breath, but I didn ‘t find it particularly cold. (Does this mean I ‘m getting used to the weather here?)
She dropped me off in Lewisham, where I mistakenly paid two pounds for a one pound ticket for a bus to Marble Arch I saw no one showing tickets for. It took so long for us to get up the road. Almost an hour I think.
I’m sitting in the bus, and this brother gets on with this hacking cough, and sat right across from me. I listened to him cough a couple of times, and then I called over to him, “Garlic and ginger….”
I remember one of those biddies from the ile told me once, “Sometimes your Spirit tells you things; gives you messages to pass on to people. That ‘s what happens when you tell people things, and have no idea why. Spirit, Mama Osun, your Guardian Orisha, they will talk to you, and when they give you a message to pass on, try and pass it on, yes?” (Not everything about the ile was bad… I got some really god information from those people.)
The man across from me in the bus answered, in a kind of in a half-English, half-Jamaica twang, “Meh try all kinda ting, bush, and shit, but meh have infection in meh chess.”
So I gave him some of my mother ‘s herbal wisdom (for colds, flu, and them sorts of things):
Grate fresh ginger root
Crush a pod of garlic
Pour boiling water on it
Squeeze a lime (or a lemon) into it
Let it draw
When cooled enough to drink, add honey to taste
Drink before it cools
Drink about three or four cups of this over the course of 24 hours, and continue for a few days even if you see improvement.
Alternate cups of the Honey Ginger Garlic tea with:
6 drops of Echinacea tincture in water, orange or grapefruit juice.
I suggested if the coughing continued, to get to a good herbalist. He said the doctor ‘s ‘horse-pills ‘ hadn ‘t helped him at all.
I wrote all this down for him on a scrap of paper, and off he went, thanking me profusely as he got off the bus.
I shook my head and said nothing. No point in accepting thanks, when it was nothing to scribble, and I did as Spirit asked me to do.
I finally made it to Marble Arch. Around 12pm or so, I made my way under the actual Marble Arch and made my way to Mahie ‘s flat just a couple of blocks away.
The fucking elevator didn ‘t work so I had to haul my weekend case and backpack up four flights of stairs.
When I got there, her flat mate (the young woman) greeted me at the door. I hugged her right away, she has such a pleasant face, and I could sense she had a good spirit. So after some chit chat and what not, we all left – them to go get party supplies, me to go and see monilove at work.
Oxford Street, on a Saturday, Halloween, is a fucking ZOO, oui?
Not only that, I walked from the absolute bottom to the top and back again, in a pair of beautiful brown leather boots I bought a Clark ‘s for £10… I didn ‘t tell allyuh about that, but these boots lept off the shelf at the Clark ‘s Outlet in Woolwich, the last time I was in London, I mean, LEPT out at me. Any good shoe whore will tell you, that when a pair of shoes, just kind of appear in your hand, and you have a violent, almost sexual response to them, it ‘s just impossible to resist.
To show you how bad it was, when I first saw them… I tried to resist. Monilove was with me, and we left, got in a bus went to another store a few miles, where I bought a few cheap sweater and things, and then she went home, while I told her I couldn ‘t stand it, I had to go back and get those boots.
Now, I may or may or may not have confessed that I am second or third generation shoe freak, but let me tell you now. I am an avowed, card carrying, dues paying Shoe Diva. If DivaGirl was still around, she ‘d tell you about me. I had almost 40 pairs of shoes when I was living in Barbados. When I moved to Trinidad in 2002, I whittled that down to about ten pairs, but they slowly started to creep back up there over the time I was in Trini.
When I came to England, I managed to get that down to just four pairs. My mother was shocked…
I blame her though. She is as bad or worse than I am. Dig it, some of my favourite memories of childhood, is seeing my mother, in her house T-Shirt (another habbit I picked up from her) and panties mopping the whole house in brand new $200 Brazilian leather high heel shoes. “It ‘s the best way to break them in,” she told me. Not once or twice, but often enough that it was very much a part of domestic life.
And people don ‘t seem to understand why I loved Nadia from the Big Brother House, for showering in stiletto heels. It takes a Diva to understand a Diva baby, that just all there is to it.
So here ‘s the other thing, there is a specific subset of my shoe lust, one I almost never get to indulge in the Caribbean. Say it with me darlings.. BOOTS.
For obvious reasons, wearing boots in the Caribbean is impractical. There are people who do it mind you, but we make fun of them, because I can ‘t imagine how their feet make out in the heat with those things. Even court shoes in the Caribbean does make your foot sweat, lined boots sweetie? Oh gosh, why you so?
I have however always loved them. There are some you can get away with, ankle boots, Tims, that kind of thing, but the heat is almost always a serious consideration.
However, when flipping through magazines, shoes in general and boots in particular always make my heart skip a beat.
So you know, since I ‘ve been in London, the boots in every shoe store are just driving me to distraction. Some of them look evil, trust, but they ‘re beautiful to look at.
So the boots that precipitated this part of the story today darling, are really ‘special ‘. Lovely, lovely, lovely… simple, but lovely.
When I bought them, I spent the whole day and night in them, just admiring my feet and the curves…. :sigh:
However, shoe whores will tell you, one suffers for beauty…. They ‘re very comfortable, when one does not have to walk too much or too far.
So me ain ‘t know what de ass convince me to walk quite ta ass up Oxford Street and back in semi-new HIGH-HEELED boots. The heels aren ‘t that high, but high enough that by the time I started back down Oxford St (monilove was not at work yesterday) I had to stop in Boots and buy some insoles, which did nothing to relieve the pressure on the balls of my feet.
I God/dess, I could have slapped more than half a dozen people who were just standing on the unbelieveably crowded sidewalk, just fucking gaping for no good reason and stopping me from getting back to Mahie ‘s flat in some kind of brisk fashion. I mean I could have outright slap they ass up, shit… MOVE OUT OF MY WAY BITCH!
Also it was getting late… I had to get back and start this pelau for the party so there would be food when people started showing up and I was really conscious of the time.
Chile, when ah tell ya pain. Pain, pain, pain in my footses.
It ‘s times like these, when Tuck & Patti ‘s “High Heel Blues” just ring and ring and ring in my ears. Don’t know it, track it down… “Dreams” is the name of the album.
I grit my teeth against the pain and crowd and walked, eventually leaving the main road and making my way through the back streets to Mahie ‘s place.
Thank God/dess, the elevator was working… as soon as I opened the downstairs door, I sat and relieved my poor feet from their agony. Boots in hand, I let the elevator carry me up this time.
I sat for at least half an hour, helping Mahie and flatmates (the guy showed up) blow up balloons and getting ready for this ‘lime ‘ as I thought it was.
When I examined the ingredients that they brought, it was a kind of ‘garden peas ‘ business I instantly mistrusted. Me ain ‘t know what kind of pelau ya making with green peas, but me ain ‘t know how to do it and did not even want to try.
We sent one quiet little fella out to see if the stores any kind of brown peas in a can, but nothing.
When I examined the kitchen cupboard though, I found three cans of red kidney beans, and well… I know what a red bean pelau is, although I ‘ve never tried to make it. My grandmother used to make a mean one. (At least when she could cook, or was it Auntie O who used to make it, I can’t remember now. It might have been Auntie, but at any rate, I remember eating it.)
So, after sending the young man out again for more chives, more chicken, more rice… I started to cook one massive pot.
Mahie ‘s female flatmate is half Serbian, half Croat so she had never seen pelau, or had it or seen it made… so I showed her how to brown the sugar, and she coated the chicken for me, since my elbow is still a little painful after the break, and that much chicken is hard to turn, and then I got it all going.
Just as it was getting ready to finish up, people started showing up. At first it was a trickle, you know how it is. So I felt it was going to be a nice, friendly, evening… but chile, by about 10.30pm or so it was a positive CRUSH. Up to now I do not know how many people managed to fit in that apartment!
The only real drawback for me was the youthfulness of the crowd. You ‘re talking 18, 19, 20 and 21 year-olds for the most part. So while the greater majority were very nice and pleasant and smart, there was a point we got to in most of the conversations, were I could really feel my age.
It ‘s just that they kids, and because they are kids and I am no longer anywhere near that, they are having experiences that I went through ten years ago. I identify, but you know… you can’t tell them… they just have to experience. They seem impressed with me somehow, but it was still a little weird for me.
It was kind of cool though, because they kept taking me for one of them. “So are you in school with Mahie?” and “What university are you at?” and “What are you studying?” When I told people I was 30, I kept getting ‘No way! ‘ and ‘I kept thinking you were 19, 20! ‘ and ‘Lauren, guess how old she is? ‘ That was really cool. It makes me think I ‘m going to be fresh and fuckable well into my… whatever happens after this.
And my dears, the red bean pelau went down like big rock. Whole night I got compliments… from people I didn ‘t know, people I ‘ll probably never see again. People used words like ‘terrific ‘, ‘amazing ‘, ‘excellent ‘ and ‘can I have the recipe ‘. I had to explain that there is no recipe for pelau. It ‘s like something they pass down in your genes or something… I thought the rice was a little soft, but it still went down like big rock.
Unfortunately, all that flicking standing up got to me. After the gruelling Oxford Street Quest, the cooking of that huge pot of food, and then a goodly amount of mingling and standing up right through, my ankles and the bottom of my feet were throbbing.
Also, this adorable little girl from Uzbekhastan named Narcise, declared me her new best friend after she had a plate of pelau, and afterwards she kept bringing me vodka shots… which was to be drunk neat she said, because she ‘s half Russian and despite her ‘Fuck The Russians ‘ stance, it would not do to mix it.
So, by about midnight or so, I was fucked up. More than tipping to be sure.
So, I climbed into Mahie ‘s female flatmate ‘s bed, pulled the covers up over my chest, and just remained mostly supine the rest of the night. It didn ‘t matter to me that there was a laptop and iTunes, blasting out music from these little JBL creature speakers and a subwoofer next to my head. It didn ‘t matter that there where strange, unfamiliar white boys all around. I just got in the bed and lay down.
For awhile, the room was quiet, because all the strange boys cleared out. However, renatempress showed up, and dahlings, it was on… because she pulled in tow, a dude I met while he was campaigning for safe sex among teenagers in Trinidad; then there was this Bajan boy, R and his small Trini friend also R (different name, but I am protecting identities here) who were both kind of flirting with me all night, came and sat on the bed. Small, Trini R, kept bringing me alcohol; vodka and Fanta.
Then rentaempress started pulling tunes out of the iTunes Jukebox; playing out tunes I hadn ‘t heard in years, old, old dub and dancehall, soca tunes from this year and years gone by… we were flashing up lighters, caling out “DJ Tillah Willah in Da House!”, my girl well select… she could DJ at my house party anytime….
So although my ankle was hurting me, and I didn ‘t want to put too much pressure on it, I danced sitting down (I am famous for that now it seems) and well… was drunk and had a blast. I tried to escape the party, but all the Trinis and Bajans congregated in the room I was in, and it became the Caribbean oasis in the party. The party came to find me, so to speak.
When DJ Tillah Willah aka rentaempress put on Square One ‘s “Ragamuffin”, Big Mami forget all about de foot oui, and jump up in the bed and wine down the place. “Let me hear the militant ragamuffin call!! Ragamuffin, ragamuffin, ragamuffin!!”
“Jump up and push back, jump up push back! Let me see ya wukking up, let me see ya wukking up, let me see ya wukking up! Push back, hold ya head, turn the bumper! Push back, hold ya head, turn the bumper! Roll up ya pants leg! All ah de African children put up wunna hand!”
Then promptly sat back down when it was over… heart beating fast and breathing hard.
Oh God/dess, last night was easily the most fun I ‘ve had since I ‘ve been in England; without a shadow of a doubt.
I am now what they call, hungover, maybe a little stale drunk. I ‘ve been typing for a couple of hours, and nursing a cup of coffee. I ‘ve had two huge painkillers, but I ‘m going for some more. My headache is slowly receding, and well the house has been stirring slowly.
Mahie was sleeping with four people, I woke up with the young man who went out and got the chicken and extra stuff for the pelau next to me, my arms tightly clutching Mahie ‘s female flatmate ‘s Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed toy.
There are a couple of guys sleeping on the couches, and well when I went to make a cup of coffee, no surface was uncovered by refuse, cups and whatnot. I noticed that the pot with the pelau had been scraped down to the ‘bun bun ‘, and I cannot seem to find a cigarette anywhere.
And it was a party, allyuh… not a party, a PAH-TAY, with a capital PAH-TAY.
There was music, drinks, food and finally dancing.
And somehow I need to organise myself sufficiently to get to Birmingham tonight.
Ah mash, ah real mash, oui, but it was worth it.
I felt young, alive, and was in good company and after the aridity of Kent, this really was an oasis of fun!
Card of The Day The Chariot (El Carro)