Friday, 18 April 2014

a conversation with my sister in which we say 'like' a lot.

I was sitting in Blu Cabana, the sort of post-colonial restaurant slash clubhouse that always pops up in places like Abuja, the sort of place where white people come to swim and black people come to eat reasonably good food and smoke overpriced shisha. My sister was with me and we had ordered some buffalo wings and hummus. She was saying

"Maybe it's because we moved around so much when we were kids."

I was weirded out by my buffalo wings because they were like little chicken parcels, with protruding legs of bone and while the meat was hot, the bones were cold and I couldn't figure out how that was possible. But I was listening and agreeing so I said,

"Yeah. Yeah. I think for me I decided I had to care about every new thing because how else would I know which new thing was like, the key, to fitting in at the next new place."

She  dipped some flat bread in her hummus. I noticed she had just gotten a new manicure-her nails were now a bright purple- and it made her fingers look happy and brave.

"Yeah. You did. You were always a bit obssessed with figuring out what was the right thing to do."

"I was. I still kind of am. It's exhausting."

"So stop doing it then. Me, though I think I just kept on observing. Waiting, I suppose."

"Waiting for what?" I was surprised because she always seemed to me to be perfectly content with her now.

"I don't know. For when things would all click together. I find it weird how for some people things just make sense."

"I think things make sense for you."

Her eyes widened a little.

"What? No. I mean,  now that I'm married, well that's a definitely a thing that makes sense. It's definitely a good thing, a big thing, a thing you're supposed to do."

She put a stress on 'supposed' that meant that if she wasn't eating with her hands she would have made inverted commas with her fingers.

"But like, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm meant to do with my life, you know. Even where I'm supoosed to live. Tom is up for leaving soon, but like, I know it's my decision because he's happy here and he's totally good with staying here and I wonder if..."

"If moving away isn't what you have to do, but what you've been raised to do? Like, we always move. Moving is what we do."


She is more animated now because the hummus is done and we've hit the sweet spot of conversation- I'm saying the things she is thinking.

"Yeah! Like, maybe this is my life now. Here. And it's good, it's great even. I mean it might even be perfect but like, I'm thinking, it's been 5 years here almost and I sort of feel like, maybe now I met him and we got married, I'm done now. Like, that was the thing I was meant to do here so now it's time to go somewhere new. Or maybe just somewhere else."

"I feel you. Me too. I just wonder if, like, this is going to keep happening. Like, we're just always going to be moving and waiting and, life is some sort of endless traffic jam."

"Maybe it is." she says, laughing a little.

Later, after we've talked about my newest non-starter of a relationship, and how our maid is probably not stealing from us even though we can't find lots of stuff, and how I need to be nicer to my step-mother, and how slowly her hair is growing, and how weird I think it is that she and her husband never get bored of each other, and how I need to not be such a bitch sometimes, after we've paid and left, and I'm on one of Abuja's many perfectly paved and seemingly endless highways listening to Kings of Leon, which always reminds me of Paris, driving along a bit too fast with nothing ahead of me and only one car behind me, I think- but I hate traffic jams though. They're really fucking annoying.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How to Plan a Wedding in Nigeria: Your 10 Step Guide to a Delightful Day

Nigeria is full of people who take weddings very seriously so I've decided to put together a list of 10 of my very best tips on how to have the perfect Nigerian wedding. Make sure you print this page out and stick it on your fridge, prospective brides and grooms, as you won't succeed without it!


1. Aso-ebi

....i.e. the material that all your friends, family, haters, hangers on, domestic staff and bitter exes will wear to your wedding is absolutely crucial. It has be lux but not gaudy, stylish but flattering on every body type, and interesting without offending the older generation. The point of aso-ebi is to get a good buzz going about your wedding, so you have to make sure you get it just right. My advice is stay away from boring standards like velvet, ankara or sequins. Instead, branch into something that everyone is familiar with but no one has ever thought to use as Aso-ebi (or ever will again) by spray painting reams of old newspaper. Once done, fold your couture creations together and place in cute raffia bags. Sell to all your friends as Aso-ebi and you will be sure to read all about it on BBM status updates and Instagram hashtags for days to come.

2. Catering

Everyone knows that a wedding without good food is no wedding at all. Forget the vows; Nigerians go to weddings for small chops and jollof rice. Why not make sure you're not just feeding your guests with food, but pumping them full of essential nutrients and good bacteria at the same time? Why not line up two dozen cows and a good number of delicately carved wooden stools, and then have your guests sit and milk the cows to their hearts content? In no time at all, you'll be the proud bride or groom watching your guests enjoy a delicious meal of warm, unpasteurized, calcium. If you'd like to add a bit of variety, bring in a man-made fish pond full of catfish. Hand out fishing rods and let your guests delight themselves by catching some brain-crucial Omega3.  Give your guests fish pepper soup and they'll eat for a day, but teach them how to fish and they'll thank you for ever!

3.  Music

We all love to dance but DJ's are so last year. You don't want your guests listening to an unexciting rotation of the same 30 or so nightclub bangers do you? Besides, you cant risk being the unlucky couple whose special moments were ruined by a distracted DJ playing  Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares to You for a first dance or Dance With My Father for a Father/Daughter dance (both songs written about dead people.) How can you make your wedding music stand out from the crowd? Well. Remember that the average Nigerian spends at least 30-40 mins dancing in lengthy church services every week. Why not combine our love of God, music and dancing and get your local church choir to provide the wedding music? TOP TIP: If you make sure the choir doesn't practice and disdains singing in tune, you can get extra fun points by teaching your guests to play 'Guess The Song!', a thrilling game of mystery and suspense that's suitable for all ages.

4. Invitations and Venue

 Nigerians are a friendly lot so there is really no need to formally invite people as everyone you've ever made eye contact will turn up anyway. Instead, hold your wedding in a large open space, like the National Stadium, or on the Third Mainland Bridge so everyone can get in and no one feels left out.

5.  Decor

Do you want to be yet another bride with crystal centrepieces and gold charger plates? Of course not. Be unique. Dare to dream. Capitalise on Nigeria's natural assets. How? Easy, silly! Decorate your fab wedding with fresh air, sunshine and mosquitoes. To add some extra sparkle, catch all the mosquitoes in the local area beforehand, douse them in glitter, and then release into the air just as your guests arrive.

6. Souvenirs

We've all seen the scrum for party favours a.k.a. souvenirs. Let's face it; no one likes to leave a wedding empty handed. But who really needs another branded pen, pillow or plastic tray? Give your guests things they really need, like monogrammed bottles of deodorant and hand sanitizer or a specially embossed copy of the Economic and Financial Crimes Act. They'll be blown away!

7.  Wedding Planners/Co-Ordinators

Wedding planners are essential but unfortunately overpriced in today's Nigeria. Save some cash and get someone already on your payroll to oversee your wedding prep. We suggest using your driver. After all, he will already have impressed you with his keen attention to detail, fast reflexes, and ingenuity in the face of obstacles. He will bring a unique perspective to the entire affair, dazzling your guests with his fresh ideas and ability to handle unexpected bumps in the wedding road.

8. The Bouquet

Brides, use a stalk of ripe plantains as your bouquet, that way when you throw it, your female guests will actually have the chance to catch something useful.

9. The MC

Ask your local preacher to be the MC. If you're lucky, he'll turn your wedding into a night vigil, thereby ensuring none of your unmarried guests leave without being freed from the debilitating and evil curse of singledom. Share your blessings.

10. Ushers

Use a charming set of bejewelled billy goats as ushers. Oh how your guests will crow with delight at being shown to their sections by these adorable creatures! Simply ensure they're well fed before festivities begin to prevent any unfortunate episodes with the waist length hair weaves some of your guests may choose to wear.

Follow these 10 steps and I guarantee you'll be gracing the pages of Bella Naija Weddings in no time!

Go forth and wed!


Monday, 2 December 2013

Returns, Rookie Errors and Recriminations

Can we all take my apologies and explanations as read? No? Alright then.

Apologies: I am incredibly sorry for being away. I love you all more than I love my West Wing DVD collection and almost as much as I love my new Puppy, who will henceforth be referred to on this blog as The Puppy. Please continue to love me in return, despite my irregularities, because otherwise I will expire.

Explanations: I have been horribly, awfully, disgustingly busy but that’s not the real reason why I’ve been away. I have also been, at various times, ill, cranky, furious, without internet access, without a working laptop, without proper glasses and/or contact lenses, which all contributed to my absence but aren’t the real reasons why I’ve been away either. The real reason is actually quite embarrassing. I got a very scathing review on something I wrote and my insides turned to stone. Yes, yes, I am a pitiful creature who allowed some harsh criticism (which I had previously professed to love) keep me away from you all. I realise how wrong I was to be so easily cowed and I’m pleased to say I’m not going to be such a wet pile of loo roll going forward.

There. All done. And hopefully you’re at least halfway through to forgiving me. On to my misadventures.

The most exciting thing that has happened to me recently is I’ve applied to a slew of (okay only two) American graduate schools. Can I give anyone considering doing the same a bit of advice? Prepare your soul for agonising destruction. It is an ENORMOUS faff. Literally, the most enormous pile of faffage in the world. Especially when you’re trying to do it from Nigeria where internet remains a luxury. I had to send awkward emails to old professors and tutors and employers and colleagues. I had to arrange for transcripts to pass through 3 separate sets of hands before ending up at the schools I was applying to. I had to think about boastful things to say about myself as, sadly, English self-deprecation will not get you into graduate school. I had to invent superficially clever things about comparative law and how I find the inter-relationship between law and finance so sexy I want to bend it over a stack of law tomes and bang it into oblivion. I had to write lots and lots of empty words that all added up to “please take me please please please”. The worst bit is I won’t know anything till March so I’ve months of night terrors ahead. Joy.

The second most exciting thing that has happened to me recently is I got a puppy! He is the most adorable thing. He quite literally trips over his own paws because they are too big for him and is a big fat slut. He was supposed to be a guard dog but it is clear that unless we want intruders to be licked to death, he will be entirely useless. I have become his slave already. 

As to the most infuriating thing…do you all remember Silent John? Well, as I think I implied but chose not to bore you with, things went very well for quite some time then got very weird very quickly. The short story is that he, quite literally, went mental. He got possessive when I went on holiday with my friends then chose to punish me for that by being cold and distant when I got back to Abuja. He started to act strangely when we went out in Abuja together and finally, after much badgering, confessed it was because he was freaking out about what other people may think of me. Apparently, some of his High Commission friends were known for squiring local prostitutes around town and he couldn’t bear the idea that people thought he was doing the same. Not sure why he was more fussed about it than I was- if people thought I was prostitute then surely that was my problem and not his? Anyway, his weird male brain turned it into A Real Thing and so our social life got very expat heavy very quickly. One day, we drove to a less ‘fancy’ part of Abuja and I decided I wanted to get a cold drink from one of those ubiquitous cold drinks stands by the side of the road. He decided to stay in the car, his bulletproof car, because he didn’t want to "stand out". I’m not ashamed to say I lost my temper. After years and years of being the only black girl in the room I have no patience for grown men afraid to ‘stand out’. Besides, this was Abuja! Did he think he’d be surrounded by wide-eyed, barefoot and pot-bellied children reaching out to touch his skin, shouting “Oyinbo! Oyinbo!”?! Then he starting hinting that, as he wasn’t really enjoying Nigeria, I ought to pack in NYSC half way through and move back to England with him. He couldn’t seem to grasp that that was a wholly impossible thing for me to do- I’d promised my dad I was going to do NYSC, I wasn’t going to leave it half done for a guy who I quite liked but had only known for a few months! And so it went until the inevitable end a few months ago. I got over it, slowly, but I did and I was quite settled into my John free life when, totally out of the blue, he sent me an email saying he was in love with me. This, after he went totally radio silent for the last two weeks he was in  Abuja, prompting me to panic that he’d been killed or kidnapped. Guys, at one point, I went to his house and asked the guards to call him because I was convinced he was dead in his room and no one knew. They told me they’d seen him drive out of the compound that morning to go to work. I have never felt so horribly embarrassed in all my life. 

Anyway, in this incredible email, he waxed lyrical about his all-encompassing love then, charmingly, blamed me for the nervous breakdown he currently claimed to be suffering. Before I got the email, my feelings for him (helped along by an excellent beach holiday with my uni friends) had slipped out of anything jagged and painful and settled into a nice, easy sort of nostalgia. I wasn’t cross anymore, I’d had fun with him and besides, there were plenty more fish in the sea. But seeing his idiocy on my iPad screen lit a fire in my heart. I actually screamed in frustration. In love with me indeed. I’m ashamed to say I did the most stupid thing possible and replied to the email while angry. But oh well. Not all stories end with everyone being friends.  

I then went up to Lagos for a visit where I made a new friend, a young English lawyer working in Lagos with whom I proceeded to get uni-level drunk for a few days. She in turn was friends with another English lady whose husband imports booze into Nigeria and the two of them invited me over to their sickeningly lush flat in Banana Island. Being a booze importer, my host made me the best gin based cocktails I have ever had. It was like sipping on laughter.  Fed up with me moaning about how all men were shit, my besties set me up on a date with a bona fide Lagos Big Boy, which went surprisingly well actually. As to that, things are proceeding apace but he is a Lagosian to the core and I find Lagos fun but terrifying. I just don’t think I could ever keep up with the endless social whirl. I don’t have enough fancy outfits and I often leave my brows unplucked for a bit longer than is accepted in the Big Smoke. Also, I think I want to leave Nigeria next year and he can’t see himself living anywhere else. Well. We are at a bit of an impasse. He is, however, lovely and fun. Clever and curious. Not arrogant at all, which is what I was expecting. I’ll keep you posted on any developments.

I came back to Abuja, then after slogging through NYSC for a while, reached my limit with everything. I’m still a bit shocked at my cavalier attitude but after weeks of sitting in an office doing nothing, I felt like I was going to lose my mind. So I booked a flight, sent a text to my boss and fucked off to England. I had a lovely time- if I had to put a theme to my time away it would High Tea and Manor Houses. I went out to High Tea at least 4 times, hitting all the big ones, Liberty, Fortnum & Masons, and the Wolseley. My sisters and I also went to a few country houses for kicks and giggles, including the beautiful Luton Hoo, which I believe is where I am going to get married one day. I fell in love with London all over again, in a way you can only do when it isn’t your home anymore. My brother even left Lagos for a few days and came to England too and as he is a dyed-in-the-wool Americanophile, I took great pleasure in civilising him. Eventually, Abuja beckoned again and I flew back to face a lot of snarky comments at work. I got them all mounds of chocolate though which seemed to calm the most strident critics. Thank you, serotonin.

Socially though, I realised upon my return that I’d become a bit of a hermit. When I moved here last year, I was out doing something almost every evening. Now, the thought of going clubbing filled me with a silent dread. Not because I hate clubbing (it can be great fun) but because I have never enjoyed being out unless I’m out with people I know and love. Otherwise, I’m happiest at home with a good book and messy hair. I realised I’d made a rookie error in Abuja; I got here and fell straight into the expat crowd, which any long time Abujan will tell you is depressingly transient. All the people I took the time to get to know and love when I got here were gone now, leaving me with many acquaintances but not enough core people. I’m not new to Abuja anymore, so there is nothing left to discover- now ought to be the time of lazy brunches and lunches and stress free, booze heavy, chatty evenings with people who are now your friends. I realised I’d have to start again, a year too late, and I also realised that running off on holiday whenever I felt a bit cranky was doing me more harm than good. I realised I’d cut myself off from  the whole point of me moving here in the first place- living, really living, in Nigeria. So, if there is a lesson in this rambly post to impart, it is best put in a slight paraphrase from a biblical verse: Better a neighbour nearby than a relative far away”. 

More later booskis xx

Monday, 9 September 2013

Besties, Ballrooms and the Big Smoke

Last Monday started like any other- too early, too grinding, too Monday-ish. NYSC is meant to be full of cultural integration and new experiences but is better described as a year's worth of tedium. Okay, maybe that's a little unfair. Some people are clever and lucky and find themselves doing real work and getting paid real money during NYSC. You all know what my NYSC is like. Anyway, it's an experience!

I did have a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Come Thursday, I was going to escape to the Big Smoke (Lagos) for a few days. So I spent the first part of my week getting to work as late as I dared, taking long lunches, and leaving early all in a bid to make Thursday come that bit faster.

It helped that my cousin was here, so I spent my evenings at his house, catching up over enormous goblets of his dad's good wine. I also bullied him into taking me out to lunch at Grills In and Out. I am a bit obsessed with the honey spring rolls they do there. Spring rolls plus honey- why isn't this standard practice everywhere? On the evening before he left, we went out for a drink at The Garden with his younger sister, where we knocked back tequila shots and let her sip on a light pina colada. For those of you raising your brows at us letting a 17 year old have a cocktail, phooo!

I ran into E at The Garden. Now I thought E and I were, until recently, pretty good mates. Sure, he's flakier than a croissant so I usually only see him by chance, but I never actively thought he was thoughtless until recently. Here's what happened. We had made plans to go out for drinks about a month ago and I'd warned him that I wouldn't have any patience for his usual tardiness or unreliability. "Ah, Mia. How can you say that?" he said and made all the usual promises. Knowing what he was like, I decided that instead of waiting at home for him to get himself in gear, I'd go out to a drinks party in Jabi with my friend Nee beforehand. The drinks party was great fun-  Nee and I met a guy who's writing a crime thriller set in Nigeria and another guy who I was flattered to be gently chatted by until he mentioned he was married. When I realised it was getting late,  I called E to find out where he was and hurry him along. He didn't answer so I sent him a BBM. By midnight, I still hadn't heard back from him and I had moved on from resignation to worry. My friend Nee reminded me however that E was a flaker so I tamped down my worry and sent him another message. When, by the time I got home around 1, I still hadn't heard from E, I sent him a terse message saying "Classic move, dude. You make plans and then just don't turn up." I went to bed expecting him to reply and apologise by morning. Instead I woke up to the knowledge that he'd read my message and responded with silence. I decided I couldn't be bothered wth him- I have patience for lots of things but I cannot deal with people who are thoughtless.

Fast forward to last week at the Garden and who do I see when I walk in with my cousin but E. I never usually do that thing of pretending not to see someone- it's childish- but I unleashed my inner 7 year old and made as if I hadn't seen him. He went to uni with my cousin however so that move totally didn't work (I ended up standing to one side as they shook hands and back slapped, trying and failing to look aloof yet cross, angry but unconcerned. I probably just looked like I wanted to wee.) Anyway, when they eventually concluded their man ritual, he turns to me and makes to give me one of his lift-you-off-the-ground bear hugs. Ah, now here was my time to strike. Turning my nose up, I took a step back and said "Don't hug me! I'm cross with you." Now, even though I had been truly cross, I'd had weeks to forget about it so this was clearly code for " Just apologise and you will be forgiven.". Instead, E said "What? Why are you angry? What did I do? I haven't even seen you for ages?!" And that, dear readers, is when I realised that not only did E stand me up, he'd clearly forgotten that he'd even done it.  As my sister says: I have suffered. Stunned, I said "The fact that you don't even remember why I'm cross makes it so much worse." and walked away. My inner 7 year old was furious and so was I. Ah well, it's my fault I suppose- I had forgotten that many guys struggle to maintain real friendships with girls unless sex is in the offing.

By 5am on Thursday morning I was packing for Lagos. My 8am flight was blissfully uneventful. I've reached a point with domestic air travel where I expect the absolute worst. I get on planes and pray "God, if it's my time to die, just let it be quick." But things have gotten much better. I checked in without incident, flew to Lagos without incident, and went straight to the salon from the airport so easily that I was halfway through getting a new weave installed before I realised that I was supposed to be stressed. Hair coiffed, I went home to get ready for a dinner party my bestie was throwing. Delicious food, cupcakes and oh my god an entire platter of candy coloured, melt-in-your-mouth, spit-at-your-FitFam macaroons. We played dinner party games and gossipped. I went home seriously reconsidering my oath to never live in Lagos.

I had toyed with living in Lagos when I moved to Nigeria. After all, unlike Abuja, I had a ready made home to move in to. But I'd decided against it- I wanted to live with my sister in Abuja and I also didn't think I could bear being constantly chaperoned by my brother who believes that grunting and glaring are acceptable forms of communication with anyone I'm dating. Plus Lagos the city slightly terrified me. Traffic, dodgy electricity (in Lekki anyway), stories of people being kidnapped outside nightclubs and have I mentioned the traffic? But with each successive visit to Lagos, I was slowly coming to realise that there were definite perks of living in the commercial capital of Nigeria. And it couldn't be denied that, gross constitutional breaches notwithstanding, Governor Fashola was slowly but surely turning Lagos into a glittering metropolis. Of course there are wonderful things about Abuja- no traffic being chief among them- but it has to be said that things are a lot more sedate in the capital.

Friday was spent frolicking around Lagos with my two best friends. I got a quick manicure in the morning, after being stuffed to bursting by the cook at home. A short word on our cook. Mr F is a bit obsessed with feeding me and I have no idea why. My brother complains that Mr F goes through periods where he cooks variations on the same thing for days and sometimes does no more than make 4 meatpies then swans off for the day. When I'm home however, my brother and my cousin who lives with us literally race home from work because Mr F is guaranteed to have covered the table with a yumfest. It's lovely but also very strange.  I haven't done anything to deserve it but it's reached a point where I have to sneak out of the house if I'm going out just before meal time. He catches me sometimes, guiltily trying to slide out the back door and looks at me with such betrayal that I find myself saying "Mr F, I promise I won't eat when I'm out. I promise!".

After breakfast I waddled into my bestie's car and we drove over to a restaurant called  Bungalows in Victoria Island for sushi. I'd never had sushi in Nigeria before and I'm pleased to say that Bungalows took my sushi virginity in the best possible way. It's an interesting place- the decor is all sports bar and the menu is of the 'everything-but-the-kitchen-sink' variety. But I'm told that everything on the menu is very good- I can tell you that everything we ordered was delicious and the service was excellent. Even though the lunchtime clientele was mostly expats chuffing away on cloying cigarrettes, my friends and I found a little corner in which to binge.

Now here is where I wax lyrical about Nigeria. I had been invited to a wedding the next day but due to my muppetyness, I didn't have the aso-ebi for it. Aso-ebi is the material all Nigerian brides hand out to their friends to make anything from 1950's inspired dresses to backless mega glam red carpet stunners. Currently the aso-ebi trend  is leaning towards sequined lace and bedazzled velvet. Until the dinner party the night before, I hadn't worried too much about my lack of aso-ebi as I thought I'd be fine wearing a dress in the right colours. But then I heard that most people were going to be wearing the aso-ebi or some form of traditional outfit. I thought about this, then realised that the Zara maxi dress I'd packed clearly wasn't going to cut it so I went shopping in what my sister and I call our 'material cupboard'. People are always giving us material and over the years we've just started storing it in a wardrobe in the house.  I found two pieces of orange and gold aso-oke material, considered it, then called my tailor. And so it was that my tailor came to the restaurant where I was lunching, took my measurements right there beside our table then brought me a perfect outfit the next morning by 9am. Where else can you get that done? I love this country.

After lunch, I went home for a cocktail induced nap, then got dolled up and went out on the town. We went for drinks first, which were lovely and just my sort of evening- music not too loud, lots of booze and great conversation. We however all wanted to have a bit of a dance so we went on to a place called Sip. It was a meat market. Too full, too busy, too hot. The guys heroically tried to get us a table and sort of succeeded but we couldn't bear it so after a while we moved on to another club called Likwid. On the way there, I got 3 missed calls from a number I didn't have saved. Curious, I finally called back only to discover that it was Mr Tango! For those of you wondering what happened there, the spark between Mr Tango and I died a very respectable death ages ago, but we'd stayed in touch as friends. He lives in Lagos and he'd gleaned from my BBM status that I was playing in his backyard. He invited me to come along to where he was, what sounded like a jazz thing at some bar, but I was at that stage thoroughly committed to getting stuck in to the Lagos nightlife so it wasn't going to work out. I hung up just in time to hop out of the car and head in to Likwid. Had I known the trouble it would cause me later, I would have saved his number then and there....

Upon arrival at Likwid, we went upstairs and finally managed to have a pretty fun night. Marred only by my aching feet (rookie error, I wore new heels) we danced away till about 4am then hobbled down the stairs and home. The difference between a club night in Lagos vs Abuja is monumental. For one thing, people actually dance in Lagos. Here in Abuja, we show our appreciation of the music in more subtle ways. Also, there are just more people out and about in Lagos. If one Abuja club is packed, I guarantee that the rest aren't. In Lagos, Sip and Likwid and the bar we started out at were all heaving and doubtless it was the same for all the other clubs on the Island. Insane.

The next day was packed full of wedding shenanigans. I blessed my tailor, did my make-up in what I hoped was a flattering way, then helped along by my excellent followers on Twitter, found a lady near my house who tied my gele for me. A gele is a bit of slightly stiff material that once tied on your head by a master makes you look amazing. I love it.

So. I was hitching a ride to the wedding by my bestie's husband, who, because of the way he dotes on their toddler, I call Papa B. I didn't have his number saved, but he'd called me a few times the day before so I looked at my call history and guessed, based on the time of the call, what his number was. I do this all the time, because I've convinced myself that I only need to look at a number once to remember it. This is obviously bollocks because when the phone rang and I heard a "Hello", my cheery "Hi Papa B!" was greeted with an angry sounding "What?! What did you call me?". The beat of silence after that was just long enough for me to realise that I'd called Mr Tango instead of PapaB. God. Needless to say, Mr Tango wasn't impressed. I apologised but, clearly vexed, he snapped "I'll talk to you later." and hung up. Whoops.

When I eventually got through to PapaB, I told him all about it, much to his amusement. He was like "Not only did you call him  some other guy's name, you said Papa. So now he's going to think you were calling some older man."  I tried and failed to get him to stop laughing at me.

Anyway, the wedding was at the Grand Ballroom of Oriental Hotel. It was lovely. Good music, great decor, outstanding wedding planning (a seating plan!) and gallons of booze. I got home with everything about me aching and tired but thanks to the powers of my tailor and my gele, I am not too humble to say that I looked a bit of alright!

Sunday was a slow recovery day. I managed to put on a shift dress, brush my hair, and make it to church with my brother at This Present House (which was less of a church service and more of a advert/fundraiser for their new building), then went over to my bestie's house to lounge. We then ended up at my house for lunch and more lounging. Side note: outside church, I saw a white bus with "All Gossippers Shall Die" printed on the back of it. A bit harsh, no?

When my besties had gone home, I tagged along with my big brother to go visit  a friend of his, then we went to get burgers at a place called Double 4. A couple of hours later, I got home to find another friend of mine parked outside my house, waiting patiently for me to come home. He had also very sweetly brought me suya and shawarmas so we had a very pleasant visit before I felt guilty and let him go home at about 11.30 so he would be conscious at work the next day.

Monday morning rolled around too soon and it was time for me to head back to Abuja. I stopped over at a friend's house on the way to the airport to cuddle her delicious new baby but even that treat couldn't quell the distinct "Do I have to?" whine I could feel building up. I do love Abuja, but I'd had such a lovely few days getting stuck in to the hustle and bustle of Lagos socialising that I viewed the return to my quiet Abuja existence with trepidation. On the flight to Abuja with my bestie, I vowed to her that I'd make more of an effort to be social when I got back. It seemed the fates smiled on my promise because we ran into an old friend from uni on the flight, who was also in Abuja doing NYSC. So we all swapped numbers with a promise to get together soon.

My sister's driver picked me up and it was straight into  the wedding prep which consumes us these days. Her wedding is in 7 months which, in wedding planning time, may as well be 6 days. We met with a potential decorator and I had to make myself pretend that her tacky diamante chair covers were lovely. Then we met with a lady who makes beads and had more success. By the time I got home, I was so exhausted I fell asleep with my dinner in front of me. My sister woke me up and sent me to bed like a child. As I dozed off in my own bed, I thought  sleepily to myself that if I wanted to continue tripping the light fantastic in Lagos, I'd have to put in some serious work on my endurance.  Lagos- fun, huge, busy and bustling- was not for the faint hearted.

More later booskis. xx

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Of The Week 1/09/13-8/09/13

I'm having an incredibly lazy Sunday today in an attempt to recharge my batteries after my monster Saturday so this week's OTW is small but mighty and all about the chilled tunes. Enjoy.

Music Video of the Week: Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford & Sons

My love for Mumford & Sons has been well documented on this blog. That love is now eternal and non negotiable due to the truly hilarious video for Hopeless Wanderer, the new single from their stupendously good sophomore effort Babel. The video came out a few weeks ago and if you haven't seen it yet, you must. I won't ruin it for you but expect to see some familiar but surprising faces showing us the true meaning of folk. It is absolutely my favourite thing right now.

Girl Crush of the Week: Lianne La Havas

Everything about this woman is excellent. I've been crushing on her ever since I listened to her album Is Your Love Big Enough? on a BA flight last year. This week I found a video of her singing Age live on Jools Holland. Her dress, her eyebrows, her smile, her hair, her insanely perfect voice..Urgh. She is disgustingly cool. If you haven't already bought her album, drop everything and do. it. now.

 Dark Skinned Girl Icon of The Week: Laura Mvula

I'm so happy someone like Laura Mvula exists. Us dark skinned girls have to search far and wide for people who look like us on telly. In music, that search is 50 times harder. Thank you Nina Simone, thank you Lauryn Hill and thank you thank you thank you Laura Mvula!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Frivolous Friday Fribbles


I have had a meh sort of week and I have a YAY sort of weekend ahead so I have run into the waiting arms of Friday like Liv Tyler in the final scene of Armageddon. I have clutched Friday to my bosom as if it is the downy head of my only child. I have drunk of the waters of Friday as if I were a camel dying of thirst in the middle of the Sahara. I have stared lovingly into the eyes of Friday as if it were my own personal "genius/billionare/philanthropist/playboy". I have laid down at the feet of Friday and worshipped it as if it were a craven idol and I a heathen. Everything about Friday is in me and I am in it. I. AM. FRIDAY.


To celebrate I thought I'd share some frivolous fribbles and nonsense with you. By some, I mean 1. So 1 Fribble. I have 1 Fribble for you but it comes with a side order of utter nonsense.

I present to you all: The R Thing

A while ago, I imbibed a cocktail of red wine, cough syrup, Night Nurse and honey and lemon tea spiked with whiskey over the course of about 90 mins. (I wasn't trying to kill myself, I was just battling a monster cold). The result was I went a bit crazy and decided I had created an infallible theory I named #TheRThing. The theory was borne from the fact that I couldn't think of a single great fictional villain whose name did not have an R in it. I concluded that R was the most sinister letter in the alphabet...and proceeded to tweet my theory.

Frankly, I don't know why people got so involved- I at least had the excuse of being high bordering on insane, but involved they did. I had many supporters and a few harsh critics * I'm looking at you, CMC, in the event you read this blog*. A fun time was had by all.

The absolute icing on the cake came when, just as I came to the conclusion that sleep was probably the only thing I should be doing, I was sent this video by a disciple of #TheRThing:

Clearly, the evil nature of the letter R had occurred to others before me. I'm still the owner of #TheRThing though. Gonna totally trademark it and everything. I see it being a real cash cow.

Anyway here are some examples that prove the unassailable veracity of #TheRThing:

SauRon,  LoRd VoldemoRt, SplinteR, the JokeR, the RiddleR, Lex LuthoR, HitleR, SheRe Khan, Long John SilveR, MoriaRty, CRuella DeVille...the list is ENDLESS!

To steal something the glamqueen Adaku says: "go forth [upon your weekends] and slay" but beware #TheRThing!

God bless you, God bless Friday and GOD BLESS THE WEEKEND!!

*tosses laptop out of window, overturns desk, runs screaming out of office, highfives security man at gate, leaps on top of passing taxi, bears breasts to the heavens and ventures forth into the weekend.*


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

"Don't Expose Your Laps!"

My job at the moment is a joke. I work at a government agency as part of the mandatory National Youth Service Program (NYSC).  In the last two months or so, I’ve probably done about 25 hours of real work. This would be less soul destroying if I wasn't required to be here all the time. But instead, I have to sign in before 8.30am, can't officially leave until 5.30pm and I've been told that I even have to co-ordinate my loo breaks so as to never leave the office empty. What this means is I spend hours, literally hours, sitting at my desk doing sweet FA.  I’ve become rather desperate to fill the time. I’ve written two essays and started work on a PhD proposal. Thank you boredom for reviving my love of academia.

Apart from the lack of real work, I don’t particularly like being in my office. It’s rundown and tired. We don't even have loo roll in the loos (you have to bring your own, because apparently Nigerian tax payers would rather fund 20 official cars per department than some loo roll). The taps don't work so now the skin on my hands is like leather due to repeated use of hand sanitizer. We also don't have internet. The office motto is “turn up, kill time, go home, get paid.” A few departments are riotously busy but my little unit isn’t one of them. My supervisor and I get on much better than we did at first, and now he even occasionally slides some work my way ( I was almost weeping with joy when I was asked to type up some minutes the other day. God. This is my life now.) but he seems to think that his primary purpose is critiquing my wardrobe choices and trying to get me to attend the daily office prayer meeting. I tried seeking out real work when I got here and was told that simply by sitting in an office environment, I was learning things. They were right, I have learned LOTS. I've made a list.

1. Contrary to everything you have been taught, the area made up of the front of your thighs when sitting down do not make a lap. Each singular thigh, whether you're standing or sitting, is a lap. So rather than having one lap when you're sitting down, you in fact have two laps at all times. Your "laps" are an affront to all the laws of heaven and earth and they start from your pelvic bone and extend all the way down to well past your knee and must be hidden from public view at all times. Only a skirt that hits you at granny length i.e. midcalf is deemed appropriate enough to cover your "laps". Make sure this skirt is at least a size too big- if your skirt is fitted to your body such that the "outline of your laps" is visible, the world will end.

2. You may think that you know what a "corporate dress code" means. You think it means that everyone ought to turn up to work in suits or smart separates. You're only partly right. Women may wear pretty much anything they like so long as they show no skin whatsoever. That jersey maxi dress you wear on lazy Sundays? Entirely appropriate for work. Add a baggy cardigan to it and you will be hailed the office over as a 'decent' girl.

3. As an NYSC member, you are generally deemed fair game to every man in the office. How to protect yourself? Don’t go into a man’s office on your own unless you have to, and if you do, don’t let him shut the door. Lower your standard friendliness levels by about 80%. If you don't, your chatty greetings and polite enquiries about holiday plans will be interpreted as everything from flirting to outright solicitation. Being a bitch gets you respect. Embrace your inner bitch.

4. “Are you mobile?” means “do you have a car?” and usually precipitates a request to give someone a lift. It is just about okay to give an older woman a lift but it’s generally a bad idea to give men of any age a lift, no matter how bitchy that might seem (see 3 above) because if you do, you’ll get to work the next day and find an office brimming with gossip about how you "ride around town with men" and the car itself was probably bought for you by another man.

5. Long lunches are totally okay so long as you have someone in the office who will say "she just stepped out" to anyone who asks. “Stepping out” is code for anything from “she’s in the loo” to “she’s in an important meeting” to “she’s currently having a two course meal at Tulip Bistro, followed by a pot of froyo at Yogurberry, then a quick stop to get her brows waxed at B-Natural Spa.”

6. Your parents can for real call your supervisor and get you a week off work for no better purpose than your sister needs help planning her wedding. Don't waste a moment feeling embarrassed about this.

7. Watching films at your desk is standard post-lunch behaviour.  Get involved. There will be someone at work who has a hard drive with every possible film you could ever want. Get some popcorn, plug in your earphones, shrug off your blazer and you’re set till closing time.

8. Rather than being crass and inspiring dislike, name dropping will significantly ease your passage. Name drop as if the name in question is a pellet of poo and you’re an incontinent rat. You want the office to be contaminated with your name drops. Do this and things you need to get done, will actually get done. Name drop like a bitch.

9. Don’t give anyone at work your number if you can help it. You will get 9pm phone calls from the random filing clerk asking if you can send him something (credit for his phone) or 11pm phone calls from the guy in accounts asking if you want to ‘take a ride around town’ with him. A good way to avoid this is to be a bitch (see above). Say “ I don’t give my number to colleagues.” and walk off.

10. There is no such thing as sexism, sexual harassment, or equal rights at work.

11. Don't waste your time being offended or taken aback by questions like “why are you so dark skinned? Are you sure you came from abroad?” or “can I have your iPad?”

12. If you do get a bit of work to do, don't do it too quickly or you will be subjected to a lecture from your colleagues about how you're making them look bad and you should "cool down." Stretch 4 hours of work out over about 3 days and make sure you say "Ah, it's so stressful!" often.

13. Try as much as possible to sneak in to meetings between the higher-ups. That's where all the real work gets done and the best place to learn anything. Offer to take notes, sit unobtrusively in the back and make sure your "laps" are well covered.

14. Dedicate about 30-45 minutes of your morning and about 25 minutes of your afternoon to 'greeting'. Greeting is the process by which you engage in 'eye service'. Eye service is being seen to be present and willing to work, whether or not you are actually willing or able to work or indeed if there is any work to be done at all. In order to 'greet' effectively, go and knock on your supervisor's door. He or she will probably not be busy and even if they are, they will always make time to be 'greeted'. Greeting is a mixture of acting, banal commonplaces, prayer, gossip and flattery. Make sure you have some paper in your hands. Say "Good morning Ma!"   or "Well done, Sa!". They will respond with "Ehen, how are you?" or something similar. Compliment them on something they are wearing. Remind them that they are your "Chairman" or your  "Oga at the top." If appropriate, slide in an insult about their immediate superior. Tell them that you hope "God will continue to reward" their efforts. Do this every day.

I'm stuck here for a few more months until my sentence is up so please send me any NYSC tips you have to add to my list.

More later booskis.