Diary of a Separation

Metaphor-built vicious circles and the joy of CDs

Spotlessly clean, but, did you also get rid of the metaphors? Photo by the author

Friday 29th March 2019

I woke up today thinking. Thinking about the loop. You know the one. The loop is the various patterns built over time in a relationship. They go around in circles, always locking themselves in. Eventually these patterns become the framework the couple lives in. The loop comprises both good and negative interactions. But when the latter outweighs the former, chaos ensues. For some reason, yet again! I find myself digging into my past. I’m aware that the effect will be beneficial in the long term. Something I need to come to terms with.

Little by little, I’m getting to the core of what happened between S and me and the reason why our marriage failed. It wasn’t just the “triggers” (domestic chores not attended to, children told off needlessly) but also and above all, needs and vulnerabilities not openly expressed. Needs not met and vulnerabilities not addressed.

Sometimes a dirty bathroom is a metaphor for a deeper issue. In relationships we could all do with a diving suit occasionally.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, located in Tottenham, north London. Soft hate, though. The kind of hate that translates as love in reality, but belongs more in the tough love arena. So, hate it is. The reason for these contradictory feelings (love sometimes, soft hate others) is that the potential this venue has to become north London’s premier purveyor of black culture is unmatchable. I can’t think of any other arts centre north of the river in a similar privileged position. And yet, its activities programme leaves a hell of a lot to be desired. The lack of consistency is disappointing.

With Ao gone to the States for the weekend to attend a friend’s wedding and time to kill in my hands, I found myself at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre tonight watching Strike a Rock. This is a South African film that deals with the aftermath of the 2012 Marikana massacre, when 37 miners were killed by the police. The company at the heart of this incident was Lonmin Plc, a platinum mining corporation. It is this Goliath which two grandmothers take on in order to seek justice.

The documentary was brilliant. However, the evening was slightly marred by the fact that there were only two people in the audience, including me. And the other person arrived late at the screening. There was no rain to stop people from coming (also, the venue was indoors, so no excuse there), nor were there sub-zero temperatures outside.

It’s at times like this that I often wonder whether outreach work is all it’s cracked up to be (and I’ve done a lot of it over the years). The Bernie Grant Arts Centre sits in the middle of one of London’s most vibrant black communities and yet, a film that should be on everyone’s must-see list is ignored.

Talking to the projectionist later, I was told that this situation was not a one-off. Even when they charge a fiver (like they did for this film), he said, they still have difficulties getting bums on seats.

After the film I went to a gig by Kefaya, the London-based eclectic musical collective. I’d heard about them before but never seen them live. Standout performer of the night for me was the guitarist. His Ethiopiques-driven riffs were musical manna for my ears.

Saturday 30th March 2019

Day for idleness. For checking credits and anecdotes on CDs inlays. Like, for instance, the tale Count Basie tells us about meeting the great man, Art Tatum (included in The Album, Art Tatum and Ben Webster’s masterpiece). In a very informal and jokey style, Basie tells us how he was just hanging out at a bar where they sold cigarettes and sandwiches. There was an old piano there and Basie went and sat at it. Unknown to him that was also Art Tatum’s hangout. Someone went and got the maestro. When Tatum came in, he found Basie playing his piano. The way Basie tells the story is fabulous. He compares himself to a small-time boxer who all of a sudden sees the great Joe Louis coming into the gym. And he knows what’s coming up next.

Alas, you don’t get that from music-streaming.

London-based, Cuban writer. Author of “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner”, to be published by Austin Macauley. Has written for The Guardian and Prospect.

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