Thursday, July 22, 2004

Itdon't rain but it pours

Can you believe it? It’s bleedin’ well raining again. The roof man came today and fixed my kitchen roof, but it started raining, so he fucked off. Leaving me, still with a hole in the roof above my bathroom.
“What about my bathroom roof?”
“I’ll come back  when it’s not raining.”
“But it doesn’t leak when it’s not raining.”
So the buckets have to come out again. At least I can put away the bucket in the kitchen now. What happened to summer? Did I oversleep and miss it all? Apparently it was very nice one Sunday morning but that was probably the Sunday morning I had an enforced lie in due to exhaustion.
All this brings back memories of when I lived in Cyprus. All summer it would never rain then toward the end the small showers would start and we’d all run out into the street, arms outstretched,  faces pointing upwards, welcoming the rain. Which incidently, was warm. In fact during those days at the end of summer when it rained it was so hot that our faces would get wet and the heat from the ground evaporated the rain before it hit our feet. Weird. Then later on in the year, the heavy rain would start, with the rain drops big as dobbers, bouncing two foot off the road. Soaking us to our skin. Not that we wore much in the way of clothing. khaki t-shirts and khaki shorts and open top sandals, no socks. We were dry again in ten minutes after the rain stopped.
I was once visiting my sister in Kingston Jamaica. She had a swimming pool that everyone in their compound used. Every morning we’d wake up, the sky would be blue and the sun shone. By 10:00am it started clouding over, by 11:00am it was full cloud, then at midday it just chucked it down. I was in the swimming pool and it started raining. Everyone in the pool except me jumped out the water and ran to get their towels, hid under them and ran for cover. What the fuck was that all about? If you’re already in the pool you can’t get any wetter. OK if there was a thunderstorm to go with it I might make an exception. But there never was. Then it would stop raining and for the rest of the day it was beautiful again. Spookily enough on the north coast of Jamaica they didn’t seem to have the same daily weather pattern of midday rain. So guess where all the tourist resorts are?
I used to take to walking alone through Kingston. Went to see Bob Marley at Tough Gong Studios, But he was out. The studio is easily missed it’s just a bungalow in a row of bungalows. One day I asked a taxi driver to take me to Trench Town. A place spoken of frequently in Bob Marleys lyrics and I wanted to have a look.
The taxi driver almost had a coronary. “White boy don’ wan go dat place. Is bad fo’ white boy.”
“Just a quick look? I’ll stay in the taxi.”
“No I don’ take no white boy to Trench Town. I take white boy to museum irie?”
So in a cloud of dust, the taxi lurched forward, throwing me back into my seat at the back. We sped off across town. The wheels screeched around every corner. Apparently they are so keen on American gangster shows that they deliberately run their tyres on very low pressure so they screech round the gentlest of corners. Fuck aweful handling but then this is Jamaica. We stopped at the museum and the driver got out the car to open my door. He had only one leg. It wasn’t an automatic. It was a stick shift. He used his crutch to operate the accelerator pedal. I wasn’t going in that taxi again. So I nipped into the museum and after a quick look round, high tailed out the back door and found a bus. I got on. I was the only white face on the bus and it all went disturbingly quiet. Eeeek! A big fat woman with a brightly coloured turban poked me in the ribs.
“Hey you whitey! What you doin’ boy?”
“Taking the bus back into Kingston. What you doin’ girl.”
She laughed out loud. “White boy don’ take no bus. What you  really doin’?”
“Well I am a white boy and I am on this bus, going to Kingston.”
Before I knew it everyone was asking me questions and being incredibly friendly.
I guess I must have been one of the first white boys they ever saw on the bus. They seemed to enjoy the fact as well. I  got up to get off the bus in Kingston central and the fat turbaned lady poked me again. “Hey White boy! You can ride MY bus any day you want.” And she looked round to the other passengers and laughed wickedly. They all laughed as well. I just felt myself going bright red. “anytime white boy!” and she laughed again.
Back on the streets I was stopped by a Rastafarian “You wan’ buy bag?”
“No thanks.”
“Twenty five dollar.”
“Best smoke on the island. Only twenty five dollar.” He showed me the bag. It was almost the size of half a standard carrier bag. Packed full of grass/weed/ganja, whatever you want to call it. There was enough to keep the whole of my university stoned for a week. I walked on. Time for a beer. I stepped into the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, into the bar, ordered a Red Stripe and picked up the Daily Gleaner. Really there is a paper called the Daily Gleaner. Also it has on the back page the British Daily Telegraph crossword from a month ago. Hmmm! At the time I was an avid crossword fanatic. So I bought a copy and took it back to the house. My brother in law, who fancies himself as a bit of a genius at crosswords had a go and got stuck.
“Can’t do it Phil? Sling it here I’ll help you out.”
It was just like filling in the blanks as I already knew all the answers from a month ago. I made a point of making comments like “Christ Phil didn’t you get this one?”
And “How did you miss that one?” To this day I have never let on about it to him.
Hmm! It’s stopped raining. 


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