Wednesday 25 August 2010

Though some scientists predict we will eventually succeed in splitting the cheese.

Sorry for going quiet - I've been at the Edinburgh festival, narrating this, which, should you have children and be in Edinburgh, you should definitely see.

Whilst doing that, sometimes, if my description of the various colours and sizes of flowers in the Emperor's garden seemed to be going down big with the crowd, I would fearlessly batter down the fourth wall - I am a compulsive risk-taker as a performer - and ask a child what was the smallest thing they could think of. The results were as follows: four votes for 'a mouse'. One for 'a pin'. One for 'a daisy' (leading to the not entirely astonishing botanical revelation that the Emperor had flowers as small as daisies). One slow, pitying shake of the head. And, by far my favourite, one vote for 'a cheese'.

Sunday 8 August 2010

What kind of an idiot am I?

The place I'm staying at the moment is lovely, but the food and drink is rather expensive. Knowing this, when I went to the bar after dinner just now, I ordered a pineapple juice, thinking it'd be relatively cheap. When it came, it was elaborately dressed up like a cocktail, and came with a large bowl of peanuts. Oh dear, I thought- rightly as it turned out- this isn't going to be cheap at all. I looked at the nuts. I've just had dinner, I'm full, I don't in the least want any nuts. But here they are, and the drink's going to be really expensive... I'd better eat them. I start to eat the nuts. The nuts are covered in chilli powder, which I don't like. My immediate, uncontrolled reaction is to think: 'Great! Things are going my way at last! Now I don't have to eat the nuts I don't want!'

That's the kind of idiot I am.

Friday 6 August 2010

And a Muthumudalige Pushpakumara to you too.

So, generalising wildly but usefully, it seems that Sri Lankan people are extremely friendly, and enjoy talking to foreigners. Usually without at any point trying to sell anything, though I did once have a handshake turned so seamlessly and expertly into a palm reading that I was halfway being introduced to the six children who are to enrich my 93 year long life before I realised what was happening. Though perhaps it was worth 500 rupees just to learn that I will, so the Hand foretells, be attending high school next year. As I am 32, I'm very excited about this. I wonder if they'll let be in that musical I've heard so much about? Anyway, apart from that guy, most people seem keen to talk to the ridiculous sweaty man in the concertina'd linen trousers just for the fun of it, but often without speaking much English. And my Singhalese is distinctly rusty these days.  Luckily, though, they really love their cricket. Unluckily, though, I merely mildly like my cricket. Which meant that in the last fortnight, I must have had a dozen conversations along the following lines:

Australia? Germany?
Oh! Freddie Flintoff!
Yes! Murali! 800!
(I was in Sri Lanka when Murali retired with a record-breaking 800th wicket. I would charactise the Sri Lankan response to this news as 'positive'.)
Yes! Andrew Strauss!

Now here, obviously, is where I ought to say the name of another Sri Lankan cricketer that I know. You will have guessed the problem with that. Of course, I could easily have learnt the name of another one, but the thing is, where is that policy going to end? I am pretty sure any given Sri Lankan could name more English players than I could name Sri Lankan players, however many I tried to memorise. Come to that, they could almost certainly name more English players than I could name English players.

I found a solution in the end, though. I just said 'Murali!' again, only with even more awe. Turns out that's fine.

Monday 2 August 2010

Return Flight

Still in Sri Lanka, but have just discovered Radio 4 have rather sneakily started repeating Cabin Pressure series 2 while my back was turned. It's on Tuesdays at 6:30, and then on Listen Again for a week, which means you have have one day left to catch Helsinki, should you wish to, which is one of my favourites.

This seems like a good time to announce that before series three arrives early next year, there will also be a Christmas special, at, of all times of the year, Christmas.