making plans for nigel

– or to be more precise, Otis. We are holding a naming ceremony for the little boss on Saturday, and as usual there has been a great deal of last minute running around and tearing out of what little hair remains in order to ensure a good do. Along the way I have learned many things, including a) you can actually buy a Monk’s Gift Pack. Yes. Don’t snigger. For $5 at the market, containing all those Monkly essentials – Saffron robe, flip-flops, toothpaste and brush, etc, etc. It’s a bit worrying that the likes of me could (and quite possibly will ) stoop to Monk impersonation if the whim takes me… you have been warned. But we have been advised that a six-pack of Asahi and some chewin’ baccy are not entirely suitable thank-you’s for the holy gentlemen who will conduct the formal ceremony, whereas a couple of Monk Gift Packs will go down a treat…

b) musicians are ALL ornery cusses. We’ve had a little trouble in negotiating a musician to perform at the ceremony and party following it – we sent a Khmer friend to do the negotiation and the poor man has been run ragged by the effort of trying to get a straight answer from our second choice (our first choice has gone to the provinces to have his long neck fixed. His chapei (long neck guitar-type thing), that is). We really want this guy, as the chapei tradition is fantastic. It’s an oral tradition, stories passed down for centuries but adapted to give a modern twist or incorporate stories about the person that the musician is playing for, accompanied on a long neck 2-string guitar, the chapei dang weng. It’s a bit like rapping over bluesy licks, spirited and hypnotic. 1st choice, blind master Kung Nai is off getting his axe fixed, so our 2nd choice is one of his younger proteges, master Pe. Not just a master musician our Pe, but a master businessman also… negotiations continue, but hope springs eternal (if not, there’s always Scary Uncle…)

c)don’t do this again – well, no, to tell the truth many people are helping, especially our Khmer and volunteer friends (thank you!), and it is going to be a grand day. We’re having it in a French owned salsa bar called Gasolina this Saturday, so if you happen to be there please be generous to the elderly albino monk with the very hairy legs, spectacles and slight Scottish accent, and don’t tell anyone if you see him swigging from a can of Asahi, as the heat can play funny tricks with your mind…
‘…we only want what’s best for him…’ (XTC)
‘evening all’ (Jack Dixon)


Smiley Smile! Today Otis ate his first solid food (pureed carrot) and learned to ‘swing his pants’ in a Trevor and Simon stylee, to the accompaniment of some of that ‘dang hippety-hoppity music’ that gets played ’round these parts. Big thanks to our friend Ben, who departed these shores on Sunday to return to the USA, but before he did he donated his ENTIRE music collection to my hard drive… over 100 Gigabytes (whatever that means… how many LP’s is that?). Ben has amazingly eclectic taste (regular readers will know how cool he is) and I am very excited at the musical delights that lie ahead… Kiss greatest hits in particular. I’ve been known to ‘play Kiss covers on the jetty in the summer’ as Wilco sang, amongst the many crimes against music I’ve commited (and continue to commit). Perhaps we can incorporate something like ‘I wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite’ into the next (and last, for the time being) Scary Uncle gig. Scary Uncle have developed into a minor legend in Phnom Penh, despite having played much less than a handful of gigs. We were (are) a two-piece, myself on guitar (and to tell the truth, it probably would sound better if I actually did climb onto the guitar and jump about on it rather than try to play those things that Ulf Goran calls ‘chords’) and ‘singing’, and yet another Ben, the wonderful Ben R, on bass and enthusiasm. Ben is one of the world’s leading monkey anthropologists and a damn fine fellow to boot, although I sometimes suspect he views my more enthusiastic fret mangling as some kind of throwback to my simian past… his son, Tane, is also Otis’ hero, as he is at the ‘running around and causing havoc’ stage of babyhood – Otis gazes awestruck at Tane’s ability to run rings around pursuing adults as he attempts to redistribute the contents of a potato chip bowl to needy ant colonies. Tane and Otis are also Voodoo brothers, but that, my friends, is a story for another time…At our first gig in the truly wonderful Zeppelin Rock Cafe (supporting the even more wonderful Betty Ford and the GT Falcons) we even managed one of those transcendental rock ‘n’ roll moments, when, just about to start our last number, a chap leapt out of the audience and enquired if we needed a drummer.. ‘what do you know?’ I said ‘what d’you wanna play?’ he said’do you know any Violent Femmes”yep!”Blister in the Sun?’ ‘Yep!’…. and he did… he was a fantastic drummer… then he faded back into the darkness from whence he came… it was one of those nights that has passed into folklore, so much so that even Asia Life magazine, the SE Asia equivalent of Time Out reported us as being an Irish/English version of the White Stripes- not bad for a mostly drummerless Scottish/Australian outfit… Take a look at the photos in my media for the sad evidence… Ben R and family are off to Vietnam soon, so who knows what will happen, maybe some long distance rehearsing by Skype, or maybe I will finally take the plunge and perform solo – if you’re out there Michael (and I think you are…), I really wish I’d listened more carefully to¬† Bert Jansch and Leo Kottke and all those other guitar toters albums you used to have instead of sneering at them… now where are my Ulf Goran and Bert Weedon chord books….

‘she started dancin’ to that fine, fine music, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll’ (Lou Reed)