Selected Yambient Words

Monday, July 31, 2006

Velulah 1996-2006

Velulah 1996-2006

I saved up �200 when i was 16 ( a mean feat when girls and underage drinking are such necessities) so I could buy a guitar and learn to wail on it, Jimi-style.

In the shop, for it was the legendary Harrow music shop (owned by Sikhs with long Jimi style hair) where I picked up a lovely black sale guitar for �99. It was black, beautiful and electro-acoustic.

She fit. She was perfect. As soon I played that first strum, she was the one. She called out to me and I responded with my bank card. I bought her. She felt so right in my hand. I wanted a guitar that I could have some sort of symbiotic relationship with and this black guitar was the one. It felt so right, so normal, so magical and so musical. I bought her on the spot. I spent the remaining �100 on underage drinking and girls.

So, to her name: Velulah. It was a trip to New Orleans and playing the guitar in the street, busking and rocking out where I decided that she needed a New Orleans type name. I settled on the kindness of a waitress who gave me a free refill of coke with a burger in a diner. Her name was Velulah. So was my guitar's...

The best gig I ever played with Velulah was in brixton at the Ritzy Cinema. It was HKB FiNN's night, Organix and he asked me to prepare an all-acoustic set. I relished the challenge, as did Velulah. We tried some electronic beats underneath. We strummed and we rocked out. She enjoyed the gig, as did I. She was the focus, the bow to the musical note arrow. She was the provider of the rhythm and the melody. My voice fit snugly between the thighs of her twang. It was beautiful.

The worst gig I ever played with Velulah was Christmas 04. I was horribly drunk and debuting my acousto-rap thing (eat yer heart out Plan B). Horribly drunk I was and I was horribly drunk. I slurred my words, shouted, forgot what chords to play and then started shouting at the audience for talking over me. I shouted NO RESPECT. I strummed wildly and I ranted maniacally about how no one was listening because they had no respect for the artist. Vee and Lingo walked away in disgust. My girlfriend shook her head in horror. Everyone else was bemused/laughing/shocked. Velulah did NOT rock this night.

But that was my fault.

My best memory with you Velulah, involved our synergy, our musical understanding, our love and respect for each other. My worst memory of you involves me having too much to drink and not listening to my girlfriend and mates who begged me to sit that gig out.

I love you Velulah. I intend to give you a rock send-off... set you alight and smash you to bits, Hendrix-style... whilst Led Zepplin plays. It's what you would have wanted.

Goodnight sweet princess. I loved you... I miss your sound, your comfort, your understanding.

Jasmine will be a good replacement for you... but it'll never be the same.

Let's hope Hendrix picks you up in rock heaven and takes you to Valhallah and back...

Yam Boy [distraught]

Sunday, July 30, 2006

a FICTIONAL short story

Tribes At War

By Nikesh Shukla

Warring tribes, that’s what my family is. Two camps, two warring tribes marinated in pride and fried in self-righteousness. I have always managed to remain an impartial observer. Obviously, it’s always been clear where my loyalties would lie if I was forced to pick a side, but I’ve managed to stay in the middle, getting on with everyone and not having any unnecessary melodrama.

The pride and the stubbornness that permeates our family is a war of attrition. Everyone is looking to wear each other down into submission. They don’t want the other person to admit that they’re wrong. They just want to wear that person down so much that they are saddened and destroyed. It all started so innocuously and now, because pride doesn’t allow you to nip things in the bud, the cause of the problem has gone stale and is now being used as a projectile weapon. Looking at the actual physical cause of this war and what it has now become just does not correlate. It started so small, so tiny, so wee, and now it has become full-on warfare, full fighting, destruction, terror and attack.

Would it surprise you if I told you it all started with the premature finishing of a loaf of bread? I’m sure it wouldn’t. Families argue about all kinds of stupid shit. A loaf of bread was finished when it needed to be kept for some other use or something, an argument ensued, other issues surfaced, some huffing, some puffing, some pride and no interest in reconciliation resulted in meltdown, war and all-out aggression towards each other.

How did I then- the impartial observer, the go-between for the camps, the Mahatma Gandhi of this piece (and of peace)- become public enemy number 2 for warring tribe number 1? I’ve gone from being able to spend time equally between the two camps at family functions to suddenly having to go to defcon 2 (which is state of emergency, where previously I was at defcon 4 – peaceful). I’m on the defensive, I’m quick to show people I’m right, I’m forming counter-arguments in my head as soon as anyone opens their mouths. Sometimes I even go straight for the jugular.

So, how did we get to this?

Well, the simple truth is I left a party early. That’s all it was. It was a Sunday night, there was a huge family party going on- a particularly opulent and high falootin’ party- and the party was on the opposite side of London to me (deep within enemy territory), where all of my family except I reside. I was worried about getting home late and being late for work, so I took my leave of this amazing party (Cinderella must leave at the stroke of midnight). I took my leave of my hosts, they were gracious but narked (I understood why) and bide me a fare thee well. I took my leave of my aunt and uncle, the parents of the hosts of the party and they immediately took it upon themselves to ignore me, swear at me, call me a traitor to my family, moan to their friends about my rubbishness and walk away from me waving their hands in disgust. I didn’t understand why they were being the way they were so I forced a hug and a kiss out of them and took my leave, running to the tube stop to make the last train across London.

An hour and a half later, I was home, lying in bed and annoyed at the way my aunt and uncle treated me. I had been sucked into this military conditioning of high impact response time. I was in the warring frame of mind. The way they had treated me was like throwing down the gauntlet and defying me to defy them back. How dare they swear at me and try and guilt-trip me into staying and having fun.

Sample comment made when I was leaving: “You want to leave when there is all this fun to be made. Stay, goddamnit bullshit to hell, stay and dance. Dance! Dance, come on, dance!”

Made me want to stay and trip the light fantastic.

I soon got my war-face on. I was pissed off. I was ready to die for the cause. How dare they defy me and make me feel shit when it wasn’t my fucking fault? This was fucking war. I phoned my mummy the next day, cos mum’s kinda like the UN in this situation. I couldn’t proceed with a military attack without her accord. I phoned mummy up and explained the situation to her. I gave her a status report of the events leading up to my call to arms, I explained the emotions I felt, I explained how my aunt and uncle broke elements of our peaceful treaty and how they had drawn me into the family conflict, making me no longer an impartial observer. I told me mum that I expected sanctions. Mummy was considering placing a social embargo on my aunt and uncle anyway. She authorised me to proceed with military strikes. Thank god for mummy, the peace-keeping force of my family.

I considered my options. I could do a direct attack on her house and turn up and berate her. I could phone her up and give her some sort of bilous chemical attack over the phone.

I settled for something more subtle, to ease us into the conflict. I didn’t see the point of a full-scale assault just yet. I emailed her, I sat down and wrote her a lengthy e-mail about my feelings, about my perspective of things, about how she made me feel, about how she was in the wrong, and about how I wanted to avoid further conflict, so was addressing the situation with her so that it did not escalate into man-to-man combat. It was a civil e-mail, scientifically breaking down to her the issues involved. I made my position clear. I made clear to her the repercussions of ignoring my e-mail and I made clear that this was a sanctioned e-mail from mummy. I wrote it, proofed it, spat in the bin and pressed send, the e-mail disappeared off into the ether.

I spent the next two days waiting for a reply, preparing for war. I quickly allied myself with cousins on the other side of the family divide. I told them all my story, what had happened and what a bunch of twats my aunt and uncle had acted towards me. They all allied themselves with me. My addition to their strike-team was a welcome bulk-up of resources.

The reply came: it noted disappointment that I had broken ranks from being impartial to allying myself with their enemies. It noted my disrespect for adults. It noted my disrespect for their child, whose special day I had ruined by leaving early. It noted that I was their closest cousin and they depended on my being there.

My blood boiled. It was war.

The next family gathering was a week after the initial event. I went down there with my war face on. I wore an olive green suit with a khaki shirt. I scrunched up my eyes and grinned insanely. I hung exclusively with my cousins from warring faction number one. My aunt and uncle were there, as was my cousin and her man. They all ignored me. They all gave me evils. They were all clipped when I spoke to them.

I was then roped into serving food at this function. I made sure I got the driest foods going, bhajis and poppadoms. Sorted, no drips, no stray chutney splotches on my beautiful khaki shirt. As my aunt and uncle and cousin and her man (let’s call them PE no. 1) came up to receive their food, aunt, uncle and cousin went past. As her man went past I held out a handful of bhajis and a handful of poppadoms to place on his plate. He looked at me, placed his plate down on the table and took his own portions from the serving bowls. A telling manoeuvre. Interesting. It was a panzer attack on me. I felt like they were undermining my serving attempts.

I blew my top, I ranted to anyone who would listen. This spineless man had ruined any attempts at peace. I called a parlay with my sister, who was still impartial and friendly with my cousin. She spoke to her and yes, lo and behold, my cousin now had an issue with me. Most interesting tactics my aunt was using. Not only was she staying stoic, she was also venting bile through her child, who was my generation, thus was able to cause more emotional damage to me.

I phoned my cousin. She told me that her issue was that she thought I was showing a complete lack of respect to the adults in our family. We were younger than the adults. If we had problems with them, we had to ignore them, as these were our elders. I told her that was bullshit and we agreed to disagree. She admitted that her mother had acted out of turn but that was her issue with me and my issue with her. My cousin and I agreed to disagree about the whole respect thing.

We hung up the phone. I sat down wondering if this would continue and continue and continue till we died. I also thought about the fact that I was right and I need to stand up for what I think is right. The moment I don’t, I’m just like those apathetic kids that you always read about. No, I choose to stand and fight. Lives may be lost and treaties may be broken and it’ll never be the same again, but you know what? I was right and I knew I was right and I deserved to give my righteousness a chance to win over its oppressor. My aunt was defying me to back down, choose her way over the right way. I refused. I needed to show her that I knew I was right and I was going to stand up for myself.

I picked up the phone again to call my aunt and call the game back on…

Wow, war sure is hell.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I Routh the Day They Hired Brandon

So Lingo and I saw Superman Returns yesterday.

It was an evening of discoveries. The main one is that our local cinema allows you to take beer in from the cinema bar in plastic cups. So we headed to the off-licence. Suddenly the cinema experience lacked only pizza and stadium seating.

But to Superman...

It was pants. Sorry... I could try come up with something more flowery and descriptive than that. But call a duck a duck, especially when it's a lame duck. This was an appalling film. This is beyond such good things like my distant cousin playing a silent henchman and the original score/title sequence being kept intact. The film itself reflected everything I always hated about the Man Of Steel. His lack of duality and layers, his monotonous quest for good, Lois Lane being annoying enough to always find herself at the centre of the trouble. Superheroes should be disturbed, haunted by some ulterior mission, like avenging your uncle's death or fighting the demons inside you. Not Superman, who's just the son of some ponce who thinks that Earth needs his morally superior offspring's guidance. There's something too black and white about Superman (with the added irony of him having the most colourful suit.) There's something quite nationalistic about Superman too, something they painstakingly avoided in this film. His srive to protect 'truth justice and the American Way' would surely nark leftie liberal Guardian readers who would out him as a facist. There is just the air of blandness about the whole Superman franchise. it makes me wonder why I was so excited about seeing the film. I'm more akin to Wolverine's rage, Batman's darkness and Spidey's teenage tribulations. Supes has the most fantastical powers, like flying and x-ray vision and all that stuff, but it adds to his boringness, rather than making him exciting. His sense of justice has no grey area. He's just boring alright?

SO, to the film: the film reflected this boringness in its choice of cast (my cousin's silent henchman aside)... Lois Land looked like she was MIA from the OC (as in Missing In Action, not the Sri Lankan rapper, who to my knowledge, has no affiliation with The OC). She looked young, and for such a spunky character lacked any spunk whatsoever. Perry White, traditionally the snarling goliath editor, was beyond apathetic. I doubted he voted in the last election. Jimmy Olsen needed a punch in the mouth. There's no need for pancake face-line annoyingness in any film. Kevin Spacey was hideously miscast as Lex Luthor. He certainly hammed it up like he was in the spandex 70's day-glo Batman series, but his hamminess took away any danger Lex Luthor had, and made him so comic book that you know ol' Supes would triumph over him. He was a little too silly. So, to Superman... woe woe woe... first mistake: trying to replicate Christopher Reeve, both physically and mannerisms-wise. He seemed to be doing an impression all the way through. Also, he looked so young. Usually in American dramas, it's a bunch of 30 year olds playing 16 year olds..> This time it seemed like the other way around. So Brandon, you were rubbish... sorry but you were... it's alright though... it's not entirely your fault, it's the fault of the creators of Superman for forgetting to add a personality. Only Parker Posey (as usual) and CGI (as usual) emerged with their reputations intact and the general warm feeling of having done a decent job, so good on them.

So, to the writing, or lack of it... why was the major action sequence (involving the plane, i.e. the one in all the trailers) dispensed with in the first half hour, why is the big pay-off such an anti-climactic lack of showdown, why is th writing so not there? Also, I think I'm quite good at following films, but I think I severely missed the point of Lex Luthor's fiendish (non) masterplan. What exactly was he trying to do? I won't go too much into the end in case you haven't seen it, but oh my... it's anticlimactic to the max.

I routh the day they hired Brandon.

Great CGI though. SHame it was wasted. Singer if you'd stuck to X-Men you would have replicated the perfect franchise. By jumping ship to Superman, you ruined TWO franchises. Kevin Smith would have done a better job. At least he reads and writes comics.

That's enough bile for one day.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Lone Rangers

When dad was 15 years old, he was painfully shy. His heart palpitated at the prospect of speaking in class. He couldn't speak to strangers. He wasn't particularly good at studying. He had no direction. He was steeped in apathy. He was a sweet, mild child, but had no flavouring about him. He was sullen and beset by a lack of self-esteem. He had no real regard for himself. When his class in school was streamed for 'O' level he was accidently put in the top stream. He went from being bottom of the class to being in the top stream of the class to being bottom of the top stream. Then he suddenly burst out of his shell and started working, making friends, rising and rising, studying hard... milking the administrative error that led to opportunity.

That's similar to me. I may be a performer now. But I was always painfully shy. I couldn't speak in class due to similar palpitations. I couldn't relate to anyone. And now I know that I'm just like my dad.

Dad, like me, doesn't do too well in company, especially in the company of strangers. He likes to be on his own, lost in his own thoughts - I had to push him for all these answers - he doesn't mind whether he's with friends, or with himself and a drink and his thoughs. I'm the same. I'm nearly at my happiest with an iPod of tunes and a good book to read in a cafe by myself. I hate relating to people on a day to day basis. I hate talking about myself. I especially hate expressing my opinions (of which I have many) because, well, they're my opinions, not yours. I refuse to let you into my world.

And I thought I was just a weirdo, an outsider, completely and utterly different to my parental units. Nope, I am more akin to my dad than I ever realised. I guess we would never have really realised or come to that realisation seeing as we're both the strong silent types, and finding these things out involves talking to one another. We're both more comfortable in our own heads. I want to relate to my dad and so I always push him for answers. He only ever really half-answers me when he's sober. He's quite thoughtful and serious and half-arsed and absent. When he's had a few drinks (every evening then), he becomes lucid and jovial. The type of man who needs a drink to relate to people. All because all his hard work has destroyed many facets of his day-to-day personality.

Am I destined to end up this way? In an earlier blog on Myspace (, I discussed familial cycles... my friend had discovered that her father wasn't her father... and the same thing had actually happened to her mother. Family cycles... repeated mistakes. This led to me looking for circles and patterns and gene defects in my own life. I'm not blaming dad for all my doubts and insecurities and for being who I am. The opposite: I feel like I understand myself a whole lot better. I feel like I belong to the family chosen for me. I feel a lot more akin to my father than ever. Obviously there's still a way to go in terms of relating to each other... but I find a curious comfort in knowing that we possess extremely similar emotional make-ups.

It does make me less unique (and all the less likely to become a superhero for it) but belonging... mmm, it's a lovely smell.

Next time you see me, I shall have:

- given a speech at my oldest friend's wedding
- written Velulah's retrospective
- finished a new tune called "If Only All Policemen Were Cuddly"
- finished editing and writing my book
- booked my trip to Kenya.
- watched Superman Returns
- drunk loads of beer
- worked out how to post loads of photographs on this here blog.

Anyways, take care of yourselves... and each other.

Yamnesty International

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mostly I have been...

- Mourning Velulah's parting... Ours was a private affair. She's dead now. I'm not ready to post up the retrospective of her greatest moments just yet.

- Listening to Thom Yorke's solo album and Plan B's debut album and feeling like I want to fuse the two and wondering if I'm able to do so. I think I have the vision. I'll give it a go. Both are insanely amazing albums. Go buy, support... put down that Sandi Thom album.

- Reading salacious stories about the girl I swoon over :Lily Allen: in various tabloid newspapers. Imagine my surprise and flusterations when I found a Sun on the train, read it and found her exposes left breast. I was gobsmacked.

- Rehearsing with Shane for some new D'Archetypes stuff. We're doing a scratch run-through of this theatre piece Shane's writing called 'Jerusalem' this Sunday. It's all looking good. We're also putting together our Big Chill set. He's sourced some amazing musicians. One guy is beatboxing, playing kora and guitar, doing percussion, using a loopstation and doing some Tuvan throat-singing all in the same set (but not at the same time. Quite the musical chap then.

- Enjoying the hot weather. I turned into one of the posh people who eats dinner on his balcony with candles and watches the world go by. I have also been going to the Lido... to swim, not ogle the topless Brixton-ites.

- Wearing sunglasses. It's hot, and I can fall asleep in public easier.

- Watching my sister graduate. I remember when my parents were just happy she was managing to go. But she graduated with a kick-ass degree and a new-found maturity that made me oh so proud.

- Preparing for a life of Kenya in Kenya. I've been prepping which books I'm taking, what music set-up I'll have and whether I'll be internet sufficient to keep you up-to-date with a blog. (This is under the assumption someone, anyone reads this crap.)

- Embarrassing myself in front of my boss' boss. I thought she was attending a barbeque at the house next door last night. I asked her about it. She now thinks I was flirting with her... the things we do to get ahead.

That's about it.

In fact, stop reading this and go outside and take a deep breath and hum the bassline from "There's Nothing Like This" by Omar.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Goodness Gracious Me

Dear friendlies,

I spent most of today nursing a monster hangover and a bit of a broken heart. First things first: the hangover belongs to my brother really. I fell for his "quiet drinks yeah?" catchphrase. It was all but quiet when, at 3am, we were dancing to dub and doing turbo shandies. The broken heart? Well, Velulah, the trusty black guitar I have owned since I was 17 years old is dead [sad face]. She suffered at the hands of London Underground. Yes, when the bus lurched forward, she banged into the front of the bus (I was standing at the time) and the top of the neck snapped off. [sad face]. My stomach hurts. Velulah is no more. Next blog entry will be a Velulah retrospective.

So, my hangover meant sitting in bed and watching DVD's. I chose today to watch Goodness Gracious Me - the Complete Series, a presnet I had asked for, and received for my birthday last week. It was great. I watched it partly within the context of wanting to develop a D'Archetypes comedy radio thing with Shane. I wanted to see what had been done before. And you know what I learnt? They covered all the bases, and they covered them fucking well. Their knack of picking very particular and very universal stereotypes of Asian behaviour and giving them enough accessibility to a wider audience was bar none. Their creation of archetypal characters was phenomenal. My only criticism is that by the end of the third and final series, they had descended into the death knell of all sketch-based comedy shows: a reliance on widely repeated catchphrases ("Kiss my chuddies", "Bullshit damn it to hell.") My fiance reckons that if comedy catchphrases have reached the playground (she's a teacher) it usually means the show is tired and dying.

I reckon when Goodness Gracious Me was first on. And it was completely a case of "Mum, come quick, quickly, there's Indians on telly". The first night it was on, I was watching television and all my family was out. And it came on, and I scrambled to record it for them, to prove that... well, Asians were funny, and on the television! My family loved it too. Watching Goodness Gracious Me, laughing uncomfortably and comfortably at the wry and cutting humour, and repeating the catchphrases to each other really brought my family together for the duration of the first series. We finally had a family activity that my dad could drink at, my mum could relax to, and my sister and I would not bicker. We were there. And the next day at school, all the Asian kids were tied together, we had something to link us, somewhere where our opinions of our background had been showcased. We felt like it was justifying our feelings about our families. It also showed the white and black kids our culture, in a nice bite-size way. The archetypal horny aunt, mothers bickering about their sons, the dad who thinks everything is Indian, the ridiculous bhangra-muffin rudeboys, the Asian babes and the spoilt Mumbai-ites... even the sketch where they "go for an English". Everyone found it funny, everyone watched it, and everyone got to have an insight into Asian culture... and also see Asians being not very serious about themselves. It was lovely.

Watching it now I am scared about comparison. About repeating their ideas. I mean, it really is a 90's programme so it needs updating. But that first series was comedy genius. It made the culturally specific universal, it gave us all (Asian artists) a platform, it, along with Anokha and Cornershop and Asian Dub Foundation (bands I was listening to at the time of the first series) made us cool. And that is why it has a truly special place in my heart.

My sister and cousins still repeat catchphrases from Goodness Gracious Me to this day. My uncle constantly caricatures the uncle who can get it for you much cheaper and Dinesh Cooper who thinks he is British (the irony being, he's still exactly like them when he's not acting). My brother and I still exchange Chunky Lafunga's 'look' and my sister still says 'bullshit godamnit to hell'. It's be there for us for infinity. It was enlightening and enriching at the time, and it still is.

Now it's my turn to have a go.

I could make it at home for nothing.

All I need is a small aubergine.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

RISE my kittens, rise

The D'Archetypes played RISE festival last weekend, and on my birthday too. It was mighty grandiose fun, I tell thee.

Waking up on your birthday to find your partner still asleep is never fun though. I lay there willing Mrs Yam to get up and go make me breakfast and give me presents for at least 30 minutes, before getting the arse with her snores (not literally) and getting up to watch television... for I was not to waste my birthday in bed. Television was my game.

Mail-check... no post yet... damn you postie... I know you deliver through rain and snow and all but beJESUS, it's fucking sunny outside... where's me presents?

[spoilt birthday brat mode was in FULL effect all weekend... all irritations and inappropriate comments were met with "But it's my birthday...weekend".]

The partner awoke and furnished me with presents. Thank god, I spotted three things I had included in my meant-to-appear-funny-but-actually-deathly-serious birthday list. Am I being spoilt? I was grateful. Especially for the Goodness Gracious Me DVD's and the fuck-off cool Spider-Man t-shirt.

The post arrived... as did some lovely surprise presents and cards from well-wishers, fans and family. I thanked them and graced our mantlepiece with my spoils.

For I was spoilt.

All this lasted till the end of breakfast, when I decided I was being 10 again... and trying to open as many presents as I possible could. I regained some composure, aknowledged the downward spiral to an impending 30th and got on with my day.

[spoilt birthday brat mode falters for minutes of reflection]

Wash up, calm myself, wash meself, pack up and then it was off to norf London (why is norf London always written 'norf? What a pointless waste of punctuation? Is it short for something - fahckinorf Laaahdaaahn? I'll ask my cockney mate Di next week... remind me... )

Finsbury Park was the setting for RISE 2006 - London's biggest and most diverse anti-racism festival. There was quite a good line-up. Shame we missed most of it for it was packed, we were busy and phones were being moody thus most of the time was spent rushing around trying to find everyone. The area was packed, more concise and crammed this year. When we performed on the Mela Stage last year, we were a speck of dust on an after-thought at the bottom of a dip on the main road behind all the portaloos... i.e. empty all day long, unless you planned to go watch some Asian rnb-type stuff. Here we were in the thick of things, to the back of the main stage, near a bar (selling Carlsberg and Magners... the ugly sisters of beer) and a thick line of aromatic food stalls (by aromatic, I mean - less jasmine, more jerk!!)... the crowd was heaving with smells and people... and not just Indians here to see Indians... real-life white and black audience members too... a certain novelty for the D'Archetypes.

Pre-onstage showtime, we got dressed up... Shane in saree, Kesh in BNP and we looked hot, and we were sweatingly hot too. Hanging out at the back of the stage, we found ourselves roped into a Bollywood steps demonstration, copying the steps of a bleach blonde leather trousered man with a radio mic taped to his face.

I was appalling. See below photographic evidence... Shane was in time. I was in time... with another track. A friend filmed it and threatened to YouTube it for the world to witness my lack of funk.

To the set itself: we weren't exactly in tune, but we found a rhythm, a vibe and a strong rapport onstage, we matched and raised our sloppy harmonies with pure vibrant energy and the reaction was immense. People really loved it... I mean, we even got love from Mud Fam, who plan to tell SkinnyMan about us. It was a strong performance in terms of confidence and energy.

We were asked on the Friday how long we would need to have festivals to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity before it was no longer needed. I replied that it is important to celebrate diversity, regardless of using it to oppose racism. It's nice to have cultural days out, as celebrations of different tribes and different countries and different languages and the richness of it all... especially when India is on the cusp of communal riots, and Israel has invaded Lebanon and a World Cup winning footballer claims to be too ignorant to not know what terrorists are.

But also, we do need to stand up and have a wide-ranging bunch of artists from the Wailers to Sway to Graham Coxon (to the D'Archetypes) to help to stand up for anti-racism, because we're still a few generations away from full integration and full acceptance from both sides. RISE is a great event, and I'm glad it exists. It made me feel more British than the World Cup, for Britain is a place of multiculturalism and different influences... England is a perennially underachieving football team with all the hopes and dreams of a sycophantic tabloid culture ready to knock em down pinned on their tiny white shorts.

After RISE, we left for Old Street, where we ate gourmet haloumi kebabs, and then we danced to funk music all night at Mr Lingo's Funk From The Trunk thing.

We also discovered that my brother Neel is, well, wo-oh-oh, he's the greatest dancer.

Apologies to Sister Yam, who bore the brunt of pirate enthusiasm on a hungover aftermath Sunday. After seeing and enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean 2, we prank-called her repeatedly to ARRRRRRRRRRRRRR and YO HO HO at her down the phone.

It was funny... I take that back, I don't apologise.

And I'll make you walk the plank if ye disagree.

Thanks to everyone for a spectacular birthday.
See you all soon.
Check if you haven't already.
We got a single coming out in a few months.

Jean Claude Van Yam