Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A SO-CALLED FRIEND SENT ME THIS LINK THE OTHER DAY, I need help, I think I've become addicted, I've wasted so much time, its worse than Sudoku. And, no, I haven't got a clue why its called coldtomatoes.


Set in Nigeria during the 1960s Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a much darker and more serious story to tell than ‘Purple Hibiscus’ her first book which I and many other readers thoroughly enjoyed. At first I found it hard to get into the book, but little by little, as I got to know the main characters, I was drawn in and became totally absorbed.

The background to the story is the complex political situation in newly independent Nigeria which gave rise to a civil war that the west called the Biafran War, following the attempt by a part of the country to secede and form an independent state.

Adichie has skilfully pointed up the various ethnic divisions between the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa tribal groups within Nigeria, divisions which come to have a bloody significance as coup and counter-coup lead to all-out war, a war in which starvation was deliberately used as a weapon. The war is very much seen from the point-of-view of the Igbo people – the author being an Igbo whose parents survived the war.

The story is told from the perspectives of three characters; Uwugu, a young country lad who comes to be houseboy to Odenigbo, a famous Nigerian academic - a maths lecturer in a university town in the part of Nigeria which attempts to become the independent state of Biafra; Olanna, the UK educated daughter of a wealthy nouveau riche Nigerian couple who is in love with Odenigbo and goes to live with him; and Richard, a young Englishman who is in love with Kainene the non-identical twin sister of Olanna, and who is writing a history of the war. Around these three individuals are a larger cast of characters who impact on them in various ways.

My knowledge of the peoples of Nigeria and the political history of the country was extremely limited, so apart from anything else this book provided me with a rough and ready lesson. This book is about civil war from the perspective of a handful of individuals who are caught up in it. Above all, however, this is a book about love, loyalty, betrayal, family relationships and friendships, how these are changed by war and how ordinary people manage to cope during really dangerous and frightening times. Numerous books have been set against the backdrop of the two world wars in Europe and the Far East, but very few as this one set against a modern war, a war in Africa, waged by Africans.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is still a young woman, she is not yet 30, and she has already written two absolutely brilliant books set in her home country; I think she will become considered one of the great African authors of the 21st Century. This book has been long-listed for the 2007 Orange Prize, and seriously deserves to win.

Rated: 4*


Sometimes I could scream – this country is being strangled with thousands of rules and regulations, and petty officialdom loves nothing better than implementing them, even when their interpretation of the regulations is manifestly nonsense.

During the winter months the coast of England is often battered with gales and recently Arthur Bulmen who lives by the sea front in the Lancashire coastal town of Fylde found that nearly seven tonnes of sand had been blown off the beach and into his front garden. It had also blown all over the roads and pavements. The local borough council were busy trying to get the sand removed from the highways and back to where it belonged. Mr Bulmen, being a decent sort of chap (79 years old, retired bank manager) got busy filling his wheelbarrow with the sand from in front of his house, wheeling it across the road and dumping it back on the beach. So what do the cretins who constitute Fylde Council do? they threaten to prosecute him for fly-tipping.

Now YOU know what fly-tipping is, I know what fly-tipping is, and I don’t think that returning sand to a beach fits into that category. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
A Fylde Council spokesperson said:
"The sand is actually part of the Queen's Crown estate,
which owns most of the foreshore around our coasts.
This year has seen an exceptional problem with wind-blown sand.
We have been cleaning up since Christmas.
But the council has no responsibility to clear sand
or any other debris from private land.
The owner must do this
They also said that anything removed from a garden and dumped on the beach constitutes fly-tipping which is a criminal offence and must be prosecuted. Even when it is the same beach sand that they themselves are scraping off the road in front of Mr Bulmer’s house and putting back on the beach. He should employ a specialist waste disposal firm who will put it in a designated waste tip (which would cost him approximately £500).

What truly ridiculous state of affairs – what has happened to common sense?

Tonight I am going to a Hen Party, a Hen Party which is being held in a beauty salon! The bride-to-be is a delightful young woman from Ecuador, and next weekend she is marrying a lad who comes from White River in Mpumalanga. I have been asked to provide something South African for everyone to try, and I thought that there could be nothing better, nor more typical, than the ubiquitous alcoholic milkshake that appears on menus up and down South Africa. So I have packed up my blender, a pack each of coloured drinking straws and plastic tumblers, ice cream and Kahlua in a coolie bag, and a packet of cocktail umbrellas for suitably gaudy decoration and I'm off to enjoy myself sipping a Dom Pedro whilst having either a facial or a manicure What a great plan for an all female pre-wedding bash.

Serves 2

4 scoops (300ml) good quality vanilla ice cream
4 shots liquor of your choice (I use Kahlua but you can use Tia Maria, Amarula or whiskey - in fact you could probably use just about alcohol of your choice)
4 tablespoons double cream.

Whiz all ingredients together in a blender until just mixed (don’t over blend). Pour into two tall glasses and serve with straws for sipping.

WARNING: Do NOT drive after drinking one of these!


jessica said...

This blog is so cool. Love it. Keep up the good work.
Drop into my blog on friendship Wishes for a collection of lovely e-cards and info that exemplify the bond of friendship.

Reluctant Nomad said...

I love your reading matter.

For your (my?) sins, I've tagged you.

Anonymous said...

I hope you've patented your "milkshake"! This could be the start of something big....! I'd love to know how it all began in SA, but absolutely EVERY restaurant will offer it as an alternative to Irish coffee........

Anonymous said...

Are you done with your blog? What about the comments from Jessica and reluctant nomad? We miss you!