British versus American

Unlike most Britons (male and female) that I know, I am unreserved about enjoying a British series called Made In Chelsea (MiC). I debriefed the series in a previous post here, which you can read up on here. Liking the series (and Britons who also like it, but are embarrassed to admit it in British public) may say a great deal about me as a person, and the people I attract. Let’s face it, black-identified Americans have called me “bourgie” since I was a child. It’s pretty hilarious to think about the cultural connection, too, as Anglophones typically view Francophone people as “refined” ( Ou Lah Lah! ) but “arrogant.” We all bathe in parfum and are serial epicureans. “If the shoe fits?” Continue reading

Colonizing minds

I like going to the barber. Two weeks ago, when I went, I learned that Nigerians regularly request asylum in the UK, the main thrust of their applications being that they are homosexual. Of course, as I learned, they’re not really homosexual; they merely use this as a powerful enough excuse to obtain UK citizenship. And, the government is aware. The things we do to broaden our horizons. It’s really quite remarkable. Continue reading

At Brown’s

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I was at Brown’s on Thursday.
It was a nice day out and given that these are rare occurrences in “sunny” Brighton, I figured it wise to go out and get some vitamin D-producing UV-rays while I could.

Besides, I had never been to Brown’s, a Bar and Brasserie located one block from the seafront, where Middle Street forms a horseshoe.

And, I dunno, it always struck me with a healthy dose of dissonance, because I always see brasseries (or, breweries, as we say in the U.S.) as fun and cheap, but Brown’s has a distinct air of refinement to it: pristine windows, waiters in black and white uniforms (white aprons, mind you!) stiff as paper from starching.

Anyways, there I was, seated with my 2 menus in hand, cross-eyed trying to decide what to concentrate on first: drinks (for which an order would be requested imminently) or food. Aw, hell, I’ll go for a glass of Champagne: (in my very best British English) “Oi will hahv ay glahs of chawmpahnyuh, please.” How chic of me. The server, more gingery than Ginger GRANT on Gilligan’s Island, returned for my lunch selection, prancing and spinning around like a top. That dude must be on speed of some kind, I thought to myself.

“When in Rome,” they say.
There I sat, back straight as a wall, apron in lap, forks and knives in place.
I was utterly bored watching boring-ass proper people who, I suspect, were mostly as “posh” as I. Well, in Louisiana, people do commonly refer to me as “proper,” especially now that I’ve been living in the United Kingdom.
I really wanted to study the entire posh act of the patrons, but decided that they were indirectly paying more attention to me. So, I figured, it’d be a lot of fun to mess with them, a bit.

My pan-seared sea bass arrived, with veggies and what not. It was tasty. What a surprise. And while I worked my way through the dish, fork in right-hand, knife in left, I overheard an interrogation at the table immediately next to mine.
The husband at the table was cornering the waitress about her Britishness.
She kept reassuring him that she was British, told him where exactly she was from (which went over my head), and all. To no avail. Stuffy, froo-froo, His Highness, Duke of Nowhere, Pompous-General of Britishité, kept at it. He must’ve taken her for Eastern European: she was tall, blond, well-proportioned, nice bum, pleasant air and face. But, she shocked him, I guess, that tall, elegant and forthcoming waitresses can actually be British.

The Brits can be quite obsessive about speech.
One of my mates from who-knows-where in England (he’s a bit of a mystery to all of us) finds so much joy in hearing different ahksents from throughout the united kingdoms. It’s, literally, orgasmic for him. And he’s, consequently, very good at reproducing the accents.

Maybe that Sir, Duke–whatever title he accords himself–was fixated on the waitress because she broke the clichés normally defining Britishness. It’s true, the Brits really do live-and-breathe clichés. They make me quite uncomfortable at times, because they will try to mold me into the American cliché that they feel comfortable with: Obama-fanatic, urbanite, hip-hop fan, gangster movie watching, basketball or football playing; you get the drift. Umm, no. I am from a sugar- and pepper-producing Bayou city of 40,000 inhabitants, speak pretty neutral mid-Atlantic English in addition to Creole, French etc, like Lounge music, watch documentaries, played baseball and soccer in school, and only like Obama as much as he is a he is the first socially-approachable head of state since JFK and, identify as Creole, not blahk. When I don’t fit their clichés, they usually just stop talking to me, as the client did to the waitress.

Oops. My shawm pahn yuh glass is nearly empty. I won’t finish it all, as this is such a working-class thing to do. Plus, I really need to go, as my mates are waiting for me for yoghurt then shisha. Must make the best of the sunshine while it lasts. And, that’ll probably be short-lived.  Off I geaux.

Al Nakhl

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I’m back in Brighton.
It’s been mild here, surprisingly. 

After my generous dose of warmth, humidity, magnolias and spanish moss, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I returned, but here I am.

Háruki, a friend who is a doctoral candidate at Rutgers, came to Sussex Uni for a conference, and spent the weekend at my flat. 

I’m the worse tourist guide, only because I never, really, frequent tourist spots. 
So, we went to Al Nakhl, my old shisha-smoking stomping ground. 
I decided months ago to boycott Al Nakhl, due to its awful customer service and attention to detail–you feel like another number, rather than a loyal customer. 
But we went there out of time convenience: it’s the only shisha lounge open during the day, here.

And there we were, catching up and discussing his work and the conference. 
We were the only customers there.

Then came in a guy, alone, who sat at the table adjacent to ours.
Ever met, or saw, someone who just had one of those “I’m open; talk to me” faces?
Well, that was his case.

He just stood towards our table, looking at the massive plasma TV behind us.
Té dí mo-mèmm: boug-ça olé sharé ak nouzòt.
So, I said to him: not much on TV today, hey?
The guy didn’t stop talking to us from that moment on.

Turns out, he was born in England, but his parents and entire immediate family are from Kaboul, the Afghan capital.
He’s 21 years old, and just got married back in Kaboul.
Twenty-one and just married? Jeeeeezus! 
Note that the sound of this only strikes me as “odd” here in the UK; probably because non-Middle Eastern-identified/cultured Brits marry much later, if ever.
But it’s fairly common in the Attakapas, where I’m from.

It was good talking to him.
It’s what I love about shisha lounges here: it’s the only place where one can have a decent conversation with complete strangers, strangers from all over the world, without a beer in hand. 
To be honest, I don’t even really love shisha itself: okay, it’s alright, but not orgasmic. 
But it’s more so to meet new/old people and talk about life.

I suppose the name of the joint in English, Palm Tree, is quite à-propos in that regard … conversations do tend to blossom, like palm trees, in all directions. 

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to workout what “artistic” endeavors Brightonians have embarked on, by placing rags around the Clocktower but mindfully leaving the actual clock uncovered. Ahhh, the Brits can be so … accentric.