Friday, 28 December 2007

Twas the night before XMAS.....

and all through the house, Iyawo was pacing like a cat on a hot tin roof. What could be the cause of this behaviour? Was she worried about Santa not delivering her presents? Was she now worried that not getting me a present - "after all what can you get for a man who has everything?" would come back to haunt her in less than 24 hours. Note to Iyawo - you can never go wrong with Halle Berry. Even for the men who have everything.

It turns out that she is fretting about the number of guests who will be descending on our humble abode for XMAS. See as a Muslim, XMAS for me is all about eating orishrishi, yanfu yanfu and the same goes for my family as we celebrate with our Xtian friends. So Iyawo has proposed that we get a few close friends and family round for some nourishment and good times. I had accidentally mentioned this to my sister and this is when the palaver started.
Ring, ring. Hello.

Sister :Toks you know that your second cousin's, sister's brother's aunt that you have not seen in years?.

Me: erm yesss????

Sister: Well she is coming to your house on XMAS.

Me: okayyyyy. But it is just her right? She will not be bringing her husband and children and that her cousin that always causes trouble?

Sister: Of course not. Don't be silly. She will not bring the cousin that causes the trouble. ...its the other one. Bye

Me: Hello?? hello??

Ring. Ring.

Me: Hello

Stranger (but related in some way or other): Uncle T. How show? So what time should we be there tomorrow? Aunty K said like in the afternoon but I wanted to be sure sha.

Me: We who? Is it not just you? (whoever you are)

Stranger (but related in some way or other): Uncle T. Very funny. See you tomorrow.

So it was that I started to sensitise Iyawo to the possibility that just maybe there might be more than ten people coming over. Then I dropped hints about twenty. Dark mutterings about thirty. Coughed out fifty just to over exaggerate. Needless to say after having planned a meal for a dozen. Iyawo was a bit stressed about the imminent arrival of four. This necessitated several emergency trips to Shoprite. I can honestly say that what I was seeing in her eyes that evening was definitely not love. I have seen thatlook before. On CSI. On Crime & Investigations. On Sky News. But definitely not on XMAS eve.

Naturally yours truly slept like a baby that night. Peaceful are the innocent. Abi no be so?

Come XMAS day the place was like Grand Central station or Cele bus stop at closing time. At one point I banned the guards from ringing the bell any further. Just bring them in. Oh Iyawo was in such a state. Counting left over chicken pieces and cornering me at every opportunity to ask exactly how many branches there were in the Toksie family tree. Food was evaporating off the table like no man's business. (Note to anonymous - we had rice, fish, lasagne, chicken, beef, small chops etc. - Naija stylie). Me I just took the serene view that when food finishes, it finishes. How for do? But Iyawo likes her organisation oh. Things have to be just so. She even stressed the chap doing the cooking so much that when she told him that he could have a drink she came back later to six empty bottles of Star beer (and a much more relaxed chef).

And still they kept coming. From the main cooking we then moved on to throwing the sausages that were left in the freezer on to the barbeque. Another pot of rice hit the stove. Another glass of wine hit the back of Iyawo's throat. Another dagger in my heart (thanks God it was only metaphorical). This was a good time to escape outside with awon boys. These are the Muslims who drink and smoke (but out of sight of Mama Toks obviously). Champagne was uncorked and gist began. This is where we were till 11.30 when the last guests finally departed. Forcefully. If I might say so myself.

By this stage I was well over the limit having consumed a small glass of champagne and a drop of Baileys on the same day. Talk about living dangerously.For me this was really pushing the boat out. My yearly alcohol intake in one go. Iyawo looked at me with a new found respect (at least one of the four Iyawos that I was seeing at this stage anyway) My eyes were not the only thing that were rolling. I was lilting from side to side. It had been a great night.

Iyawo was adamant the next day that she would prefer XMAS abroad next year. Or at a friend's house. Any friend. As a matter of fact they could be perfect strangers as far as she was concerned.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Merry XMAS to all....

We had friends and family around yesterday and it was fab. Our first XMAS in Naija in our own home and it was just so nice. The chefs made some food that was just off the scales. The lasagne was truly historic. I have put a CCTV camera on the fridge to keep an eye on the leftover just to make sure no one gets their grubby mitts on it! You know how these children are oh.

Have a great break.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

A week in the life.

So yesterday over to VGC for the Kids XMAS party. I love kids. ReallyI do. But just my own :->. Not 200 of them. Screaming, shouting, fighting. Being kids. I mean grow up! Actually it was quite good with all the bouncy castles although they could have had more things due to the large number of kids. Anyway, I ended up in the queue for popcorn. Now when I say queue I mean there was a main queue and then several tributaries. The good thing was that the two guys serving the popcorn were strictly serving the people in the main queue. But it did not stop the chancers from trying their luck. Kids and adults (mostly their nannies).

Now being a big guy it is not very difficult for me to oppress. I mean when I frown face even grown men fear. But you think these kids gave me face? For where? I mean one kid even moved my leg back so that he could insert himself in front of me despite all my grumbling and clearing of throat! He was like- yea whatever.

After about 30 minutes of queueing -note to organisers - two oldish popcorn machines to serve 2009 kids is not a good idea- I was just about to reach the front of the queue when this "lady" came over, saw her son on the side of the queue and started asking why he had not been served. One of the nannies in front of me had the "nerve" to tell her that it was because he was not in the queue. Cue (pardon the pun) explosion. How dare you tell him he cannot be served because he is not in the queue? Is it not only popcorn? What is the big deal? I was going to explain the big deal to her and point out that she was setting him the wrong example but thought ah what the hell. Save the ammo for bigger battles so I let her continue to hiss and cuss and prattle on whilst her son remained unserved.

Over to the girls school to watch the XMAS play. Arrive to find two leather chairs at the front of the hall behind which the standard folding chairs were lined up. What are the folding chairs for I asked? VIPs my daughter responded. For a school play? Am I not a VIP with the amount of cash I am forking out to the yeye school? A memo is winging its way to the Headmaster tomorrow. What message is this sending to the kids?

Over to my parent for a visit. My father says my son has been telling him all about me. What did he say I ask? He said you had not been feeling well, he replied and when I asked him why he said "don't you know he is an old man and he makes funny noises when he walks "and then proceeded to demonstrate my funny walk. So what are we going to do my father asked him? "Oh he is okay now we have given him medicine!"

And so it goes.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Proud to be Nigerian!!

Even here in chilly London I cannot get it, or him, out of my head. It just keeps popping up like that leftover in the toilet bowl that lacks the substance to get sucked down the drain. I mean how dare he? At the time I was apoplectic. I could have bust a blood vessel. Since then I have calmed down but not enough to forget.

So here's the deal. You grow up in Nigeria before the oil hit big time and the train went off the tracks. You have a great family and social life. You go down to the beach on the weekends. You go for drives with your dad in his convertible. Lagos is light. Life is great. It stays in your mind.

Fast forward several decades and you now have kids of your own and you say to yourself - I must give them a sense, a taste of what it is like to be a Nigerian. Regardless of where they eventually settle in the world they must have a sense of their Nigerian identity. And so you all end up in Lagos. And every day you are trying to show them this , tell them that and the other so that they get it. So that they understand. So that they are Proud to be Nigerian.

In the meantime, everyday you turn on your radio and local TV to be greeted by a barrage of false American and British and God knows what other accent. However, there is one that truly stands out. This chap on Grilla FM. Is he for real? Iyawo reckons he might just be doing it to take the mick. I don't think so. I think he sees himself as the bees knees. I think he wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror and taps himself on the chin.

This guy has the most strangulated, over reaching "upper class" British accent I have ever had the misfortune to come across. Morning after morning on the drive to school we tune in hoping against hope that at some point he will come out and say - just kidding oh my people. How ya body? But no. He continues to murder the English language at every turn.

And then the final straw. He is interviewing some chap and he has the audacity, the alacrity, the bloody nerve to ask the chap if he is proud to be Nigerian???? He then claims that he himself is very proud to be Nigerian!! All the while continuing to speak in his awful !£%£$^$&% accent. Whaaat?? How can you be proud to be a Nigerian when it is quite obvious that you detest being a Nigerian if you cannot even be bothered to speak naturally? To communicate in your own tongue?

His is not the only example of the dissing of our culture, our values, our heritage. It seems more and more is disappearing every day. We are dying a slow death. How sad. For me, for my children, for their children. Will there be anything left?

Monday, 3 December 2007

Buyer Beware.

One of the things we did not bring back to Nigeria with us was a car. There was just nowhere to fit it even if we had stood it on it's head. So we had to buy one here. My cousin recommended a dealer (D1) who proceeded to deliver a fleet of different models for our consideration. My father in- law also recommended a dealer (D2) from whom he had purchased various cars over the past 15 years.

Once we had settled on a car - with the dealer recommended by my cousin, my father in law insisted that we must at least visit the other dealer for comparison and we did so. It was a most impressive showroom and as a matter of fact there were several of them - all impressive.

We decided to go for a test drive in one of their cars which apparently was the same year as the model and year we had settled on. On first inspection it was clear that there were differences between the two cars even though it was claimed that both were of the same year. I then decided to do something I am not sure a lot of people are aware of. I decided to check the VIN on both cars.

The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number can be found in several places on a car -on a plaque under the windscreen and on labels on the driver side door and in the engine bay. Once you plug this number into google it will direct you to a variety of sites where you can get the history of the car. Some of these will give you basic information for free and ask you to pay for the full history of the car including if it is registered as stolen, damaged, write off etc. Some even have maintenance details of the car and details of the previous owners.

A cursory check on the two cars on our list revealed one (from D2) to be a 1999 model and the other (from D1)to be the 2002-3 model as claimed. A call back to the dealer who had advertised the 1999 car as 2002 elicited a surprised response and a promise to get to the bottom of this "mystery".

Yesterday my father in law rang me in a panic. He had just bought a car from this dealer (D1)and suspected that all was not well - hmm. It turns out that exactly the same thing had happened. He had been told the car he was buying was 2002-3 when in fact it was a 1999 model!! He is returning the car today.

You have been warned.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

I can't quite put my finger on it.

There's just something about this lady that is reaching out to me. I can't quite put my finger on it (for Iyawo and legal reasons) :->. Thanks to Funmi for the link.