Tidings of Comfort and Joy

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This Christmas, I visited Vancouver, British Columbia. This was especially wonderful because two things I enjoy most were stationed in the same place: my little sister and the wines of Western Canada.

The Pacific Northwest has been one of my long time favored regions of wine production. I prefer the complexity, depth and character of these wines and champion them among some of the world’s best. Vines in this region sit in great company with other worldly regional favorites such as Burgundy & Loire Valley of France, the Piedmont of Northern Italy, the Ribera del Duero & Rioja of Spain.

What can I say, I’m just different, though I live in California when I shop, I look first for wines from the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia. Even in Northern California, it’s challenging to walk in to a local shop and discover tastes from British Columbia. There simply isn’t enough produced and Canadians like to drink their own, in country.

I was in wine enthusiast heaven when I walked in a local chain in Davie, Vancouver and found a generous selection of British Columbia wines at a price point of around half of what they can be found for, if found, in the states!!!!
I grabbed three bottles which would be around $30 American dollars: 1) Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Rsv. Merlot 2013 Okanagan Valley 2) Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Pinot Noir 2014 Okanagan Valley and 3) Red Rooster Cabernet Merlot 2013 British Columbia.
My favorite of the three has been the Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Reserve Merlot 2013. This wine is precisely what I wanted when I walked into the wine shop. It was cold with mixed snow a day rain and I had arrived by train a couple of days prior and had yet to have a proper glass of wine. I wanted something delicious and comfortable, rich, warm and thought provoking. These guys did it in style!

The notes I have for you are taken over a three day period. My nose in the glass gave an evolving spicy bramble berry jam with hints of cedar, toasted oak, dried strawberry and plumbing fruit rollup.

On the palatte, the wine was rich and lush. The full-bodied red was elegant, graceful and bold. The chewy, yet delicate texture was supple and grounded with notes of right h, this kind velvety mocha….no vanilla, just mature, unlike the California mellows of the same price point. The deep purple juice splashed with firm, dignified tannins which left my mouth feeling coated like a soft velour throw. The mid-palatte was filled with red and black fruit, plums, blackberries, prunes and dried strawberry. The total composition finished with light cedar.

This wine is perfectly flawless. It would be great with steak, grilled lamp chops, spices rubbed grilled pork, ribs, beef stew or just with popcorn and a movie.
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Bowie and Me

It must have been the spirits connecting who persuaded me to stay up late last night and watch the Bowie documentary I recorded over Christmas so you can imagine my shock this morning to hear he had died around the same time.

I am not going to pretend I knew him well, I wasn’t a girlfriend but for a small moment we held hands, snuggled up and kissed. I met Bowie after the singer Danny Williams (Moonriver) was brought to our flat. I think Greg Edwards had already left Manchester but the guy who brought Williams didn’t know that. The three of us went into town. I think to the Explosion club where DJ Dave Eager brought Bowie and persuaded me to get them into the Time and Place. I was happy to do so because though Bowie was excited to meet Williams I didn’t like the crooner so off we went.

Eager lived quite close so I was happy to accept a lift with them but instead of Longsight we went straight to their hotel by the airport where Eager (yes you did) drove off and left me with Ronson and a snotty blonde. At the bar he told me about his music ambitions and while there he took a call that informed him they had a USA hit so he was over the moon. It was really late when I left and with not enough money for a cab I was given a handful of cash; over fifty pounds. I was living with the man who was to be the love of my life and knew that even as a night taxi driver Pete Gresty was already home with the sunrise. Not mentioning the kisses I told him I had been with this extrovert Gay guy I had after all been snuggling up to Ziggy still I was confused. Bowie was a toucher (not a groper) a caresser and his kisses were not gay!

Even though he had asked me to join him at his show at The Hardrock (Stretford), I was still in my teens and had no idea how I was going to get in, plus my music taste laid more in American Black music. That afternoon the same taxi driver arrived with my tickets and flowers. I hid the tickets and binned the flowers which was a good job because when I pointed Bowie out on Top of The Pops Pete went ballistic and that was that.

SuAndi Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

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Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

5 March 2015 10:57
An internationally acclaimed performance poet has been awarded an honorary degree for her outstanding contribution to British art.

SuAndi is a performance poet, whose works include poetry, prose and librettos. She has published numerous collections of poetry, including Style (1990), Nearly Forty (1994), and There Will Be No Tears (1996).

SuAndi was presented with the honorary degree by Alan Milburn on 4 March, which was one of his very first tasks as Chancellor, having been officially installed that day.

On receiving the honour, SuAndi said: “This honorary degree illustrates that Lancaster University values voices outside of academia and for me, as a self-taught poet and writer, it is my Oscar.”

Born of Nigerian and British heritage, she was a dancer and a model before becoming a performance poet in 1985. In more recent years she has also worked in Live Art, touring and lecturing nationally and internationally.

An active supporter of the arts, both locally and nationally, SuAndi has been voluntary Cultural Director of the National Black Arts Alliance since its formation in 1985. She was appointed OBE in 1999 for her services to the Black Arts.

Lancaster University has been awarding Honorary Degrees since it was founded in 1964. They are awarded to people with an outstanding international reputation in their field and those with a leading national reputation who have a strong link with the University or the local region. SuAndi has a strong association with Lancaster University, both through her work with Theatre Studies and the AHRC-funded ‘Moving Manchester’ research project, which explored how migration has informed Manchester’s literary scene since the 1960s.

http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/articles/2015/honorary-degree-for-acclaimed-poet-suandi/

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Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

From Friends to Physical: Top 5 Reasons Men and Women Can’t be Friends

The idea that (heterosexual) men and women may be able to participate in strictly platonic relationships is one of the most debated notions amongst people across the globe. On the one hand, we’ve all had friends of the opposite sex that we have never been physical with.Other the other hand, however, we all have also had to turn down the sexual advances of a trusted buddy…or even moments where we forcibly quelled our own inappropriate attractions.

That being said, please consider: The Top 5 Reasons Men & Women Can’t be Friends

5. Sexual Attraction– Let’s begin by stating the obvious: if you have hot, ‘platonic’ friends, you’re in trouble. Not that you won’t be able to control yourself (nevertheless, you may not want to) but regularly being around someone who you find sexually attractive is one of the worst way to avoid having sex with said person. What’s more, your ‘friend’ may also find you attractive…which means they may also be having their own dreams and dirty thoughts about you. Even if you’re involved in a relationship, how long do you think it will take before an awkward silence turns into kissing…or more…?

4. Jealous Significant Others– That being said, if you are in a relationship and have close friends of the opposite sex, your thoughts might not be the ones most threatening to the situation. It’s not uncommon for significant others to become jealous of platonic relationship even when they truly have nothing to worried about. Watching someone spend you’re involved with give time and attention to some unrelated person of the opposite sex can be a lot for anyone to deal with. What’s more, most men and women have playfully flirtatious relationships which only add to this insecurity. It usually doesn’t take very long for the threats and ultimatums to start flying…

3.Break-ups and Rebounds– Speaking of which, be very careful after breakups! Being vulnerable or ‘on the rebound’ is a part of many people’s process when getting over a relationship. Add to this, a fairly to extremely attractive friend, as well as some sexual chemistry, and you’ve got a recipe for rebound sex. Ideally this may not ruin a friendship, but more often than not it will. Furthermore, it will change the way you view one another and you may find that going back to being ‘just’ friends after such an experience to be next to impossible.

2. People/ Things Change– To piggy back off of number 3, people/ things change! Just because you weren’t interested in dating someone when you first met them (and vice versa) doesn’t mean that things will stay that way. People grow up, go through things, then all of a sudden even you’re goofy buddy starts to look like a dashing prospect. This can sometimes be the best thing ever. However, other times it may just be a relationship of convenience ending once you reach the realization that you were never compatible.

1. Secret Crushes– The top platonic relationship killer typically comes along when the realization that one or both of you never intended for it to be platonic to begin with. As humans, we often settle for whatever role we can get in someone’s life if we deem them as special in some way. That is to say, someone may be in a committed relationship or have other limitations that prevent them from being available when you first meet them. Most people will attempt to remain in their lives under the guise of ‘friendship’ just waiting for the perfect time to strike. In fact, I’d venture to say that this is the case within most platonic relationships. Just think about it, when you become friends with anyone, you usually do so because something attracted you to them.  This is all well and good when you are of the same gender (assuming you’re straight) but where do you go from there when you’re just a pair of heterosexuals? (Indeed, many so-called ‘platonic’ relationships begin with either one-sided or mutual flirtation.) Lastly, it seems that men are the least likely to sniff this out as most have been conditioned to be the hunters and can’t fathom a woman going such great lengths to win them over. (In fact, this may be the preferred method for some as many prefer to get close to someone before making a move in order to lessen the likelihood of rejection and humiliation) Don’t be so naive, fellas! If a woman is hanging around a lot, don’t think she’s not a threat simply because you don’t find her attractive. It takes 2 to tango…but only 1 to initiate! Keep that in mind…

The Bottom Line…

This was not written in order to discourage men and women from being friends. On the contrary, these ideas are being presented to encourage people to closely examine their relationships and to be open and honest with the people in their lives. Nothing lasts forever and many friendships are seasonal. However, many still could be saved from years of pointless yearning and turmoil if they simply refuse to accept those dreaded words ‘Let’s just be friends’…

Massacre • Charleston S. Carolina June 17, 2015

The they that kill us
threaten our lives from dawn to dusk
plot our extermination
In public arenas
of council office
self identified churches
that are without the true God
they who claim what we have achieved
they permitted
and the rest we took
through stealth crime
by any means necessary
because that is in our genetic makeup
thieves from the cradle to the grave
sexual deviants from puberty until incarceration
and they hope no appeal death row
first they cloaked themselves in missionary cloth
then in the wealth trappings of slavery
and when freedom brought emancipation
they donned pointed hoods and white sheets to conceal their uniforms and shields
Who are they
Theses senators, mayors, sheriffs. Officers of the law. Ordinary citizens. Priests vicars, red necked bigots of ordinary guys
whose mantra kill kill kill
divides this nation
because the fear sits close to our consciousness
as our kids climb into the yellow bus
we travel the subway
Check into work
lunch out
watch a movie
go about our business
minding our business
Bow our heads in prayer
That as we reach out to our neighbour
He isn’t taking aim

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

The New Lows of the Anti-Gay Bill in Indiana

As the national debate over same-sex marriage heats up, many states are drawing lines in the sand on this issue. Most recently, in a bold move by the state of Indiana, they have revived a year old bill (originally introduced by states such as Kansas and Virginia) that proposed giving businesses the right to refuse services to homosexuals.

The Teeth of it…

A bigger, bolder step towards bigotry, this bill would allow businesses of virtually all kinds to refuse services to homosexuals based solely on the notion of “religious freedom.” This is a step above previously proposed bills of this kind as the vast majority of past bills have asserted that this amendment would only apply to services in relation to the marriage ceremony. This new bill proposes that anyone be allowed to refuse services to homosexuals based on personal moral conviction. Furthermore, this would apply in both the public and private sectors.

On the Cutting Edge of Oppression

This begs the question, if bills like this are seriously being proposed and considered, where will it end?! Though it’s being said that “gay is the new black” I disagree with that statement for a few reasons. Particularly, black is a skin color that can’t usually be hidden. That being said, how does one gauge the “gay”?? Effeminate men are no more correlated with homosexuality than masculine women. Furthermore, with bromances and kissing bff’s everywhere you look who’s to say who is or isn’t homosexual?! A bill like this will leave the door open for virtually anyone to get turned away for any reason. A slippery slope.

The Bottom Line…

Homosexuality is not a new convention and is certainly here to stay. Whether or not one agrees with the lifestyle, we should all learn to be decent enough humans to simply live and let live…

Venus L

Untitled Prose

How many of us
Have stopped to stare
As we wash dishes
Brew a far too expensive coffee
While yearning
For cool white wine.

And the young ones
Looking for something to fill
Their emptiness of nothing.
And off course those with green fingers

Especially those with green fingers
They linger longer
Confusing memory with what is now
Impossible to see.

Yet they continue
Looking hard in concentration
Through glass turned opaque
By the light reflection of the room

Sometimes what is invisible to the eye
Our ears hear.
And for a short breech of time
Our hearts flutter
For what might be out there
Is magnified by fear
Causing blood to pump out of rhythm

When clouds stop blocking the sun
To make space for the moon
What do flowers do.

Do they bow their heads in slumber
Do stems and stalk flex so they can lean on another
As they wait.

For The slow slimy trail of those invaders
That we think we can hear
That crawls up stems
Gnashing holes in leaves so they wilt and die
As a momentary starter to their late night supper
Which they chew
One petal at a time

By sunrise they are gone
Invisible again
Save the silver trail of their passing
Like a tip reflecting
In the sparkling morning dew
Of the tears the flowers shed
Over the agony of their evening

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

Bam Bam

It’s a hell of a thing
When a gun come home to live with you.
Things change,
House change,
You change.

If you were the master, the man
Now you not even the bend down,
Yes sah, servant of the house.
You is the below stair
Threaten live outside
Back door porch
No good nothing
For the gun in big biggest armchair
Tapping impatience.

Gun is restless, got no easiness waiting
Waiting for chat
Gun no watch TV
Got no hunger for pizza,
Special seasoned chicken,
Tub full of vanilla ice cream
With chocolate running down
So you must lick before spooning.

Gun full already.
Belly full of cold bullets
Gun need to let one go.
Not just fart,
But one big brown one
That smell like nothing
No one who never been to war smell before.

Gun got power
Make your palm itchy when empty.
When you doing anything
Make you leave and sit and wonder
Should you take gun out to play
But gun no player

Gun got no hobby.
Gun is professional,
Born into the business
Career change never.

Gun need a target
An aim
Gun is always thirsty for trade

Clever gun make words
Speak loud in your head
Whatever you doing.
Sleeping, watch TV,
Staring out to nowhere.
Don’t reach for nothing to calm you.
Weed no strong enough
H and Crack will paranoid your paranoia
So that when gun say now
You be up and going
Maybe somewhere,
Possibly nowhere
So long as you and gun be on a journey.
And the silence
The silence is so loud
You squeeze your eyes to slits
Trying not to hear
Until Bam Bam
You dead
And who die with you
Only the gun knows

A Brief History of Seven Killings. James, Marlon ISBN-10: 1780746350. (Page 73 Bam Bam )

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA

My father first walked the earth in Warri
His feet sinking into the hot mud of Nigeria’s Delta State
Then one day, as other men launched fishing boats
He sailed far away.
Why, I don’t know,
He never told me,
I never asked.
Africa and Manchester did not offer life parallels
So we never had that conversation

My father never talked of the past
I never asked
What did you do in the war dad?
What was your home like?
Do I look like your people?
Can you see your mother in my eyes?
The way I walk, argue
I’m built a female version of you
Am I the same height as your father?
Words never spoken
Only got silent responses.

My father never said
When the white man came:
But I know he knew.
Summers we would visit his old master
Exchanging our terrace house
For a large white detached in Richmond Surrey
Where my father cleaned;
A servitude repayment for our visit.
While I was forbidden to
Touch, speak, play,
Do anything without first asking permission.
Strange white people I thought.
‘Snobby bastards,’ said my mother when I returned home
‘Where do they think this is?
It’s not bloody Africa.’
Her temper causing her cheeks to flame red
Matching the copper of her hair
‘Andi,’ she’d say
‘Slavery is over;
Get over it.’
What did she mean?
But I never asked
And she never explained.

Schools for my father
Were glorious European opportunities
So he spared nothing to buy
My uniform, my shoes
A too large briefcase.
Copies of the same books that teachers
Distributed daily in class.
Strange, that I had to leave the classroom
To begin my education;
Tutored via overheard conversations
Documentaries, radical articles
And orators from Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X.
Even though neither had a penchant for white people.
But no matter how I broadened my knowledge,
I still loved my mother
Nothing was going to change that.
Now my mouth was full
Of words my brain had memorised
Colonialism, lynchings, detention
Apartheid, segregation
Civil Rights, Black Power
And always
Slavery.

What did my father know?
That the Yoruba’s were favoured for their strength
But whipped long to curb their independence
That the Ibos though stolen in their thousands
Also found an inner power to walk-on water
And the ijaw from Warri
Who speaks of them?
Not, certainly my father.
Except sometimes,
When the silence was so loud my ears would ache
I would turn to him
And he looking far into the distance
Seemed oblivious to the tears
Washing his cheeks
Flowing under his chin
Then water falling towards his heart.

In that moment my father
Was no longer the man I knew
The man I didn’t know.
He was in that moment,
A body filed with the spirits of all his ancestors.
My family from my grandfather
To generations who never imagined life beyond the Forçados River
Conquered, shackled, bartered
Sold, abused, demonised, throttled, burnt, flogged
Criminalised, imprisoned,
Executed by the law under the law.

The trauma of the new
The wicked the evil
Filled my father
So that he could not speak
And I never asked why.
Why,
Before he died
Was he called Thomas

Under my right eye
I have an indentation
It is in the exact same place
As my father’s peoples’ ritual scarring
Some days when I look at it
It seems more prominent
Like it really is a scar
But I can barely make it out
Through my tears

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

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