Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Anaesthetics

Oxford Street. Saturday night.

I'd just left the nightclub Gotham, where my friend Sani DJs. She plays an amazing mix of disco and RnB, not dissimilar to what I used to dance to in clubs in London.

I stop by Zambreros for a burrito on my way home, and I see a girl queueing in front of me in a brightly coloured outfit. "wow" I thought to myself- "She's really attractive. I'd really like to talk to her."
I paid for my burrito, then walked to her table. "Excuse me"
"Yes?" She replied.
"I think you're really attractive, and I'd really like to talk to you"
"Sure" she said. She was a little surprised, but pleasantly so.
"Your outfit- there's something very samba-ish about it" I told her. She told me that she'd just come from a brazilian themed party. I told her that I went to Brazil a couple of years ago with my capoeira team, and that I knew some basic samba, which she did, too. We talked about dance for a while, and I told her about my being a club dancer in London, and also that most salsa nights will play some samba music, too.

"I love it" she said "but sadly I don't get to go out as much these days. I'm simply too busy with work"
"What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a doctor" she replied.
"Wow!" I said. "You must be really smart!"
"Thanks. It's a lot of work though. I've just been doing exams, and now I've got my research project to do"
"If you don't mind my asking, what sort of doctor are you?"
"I'm an anaesthetist"
"Whoa- that sounds really complicated"
"It's OK" she said. "You just need to study a lot for it".
"So... you're the people who put people to sleep when they have an operation...?"
"Yes, that's right" She responded.

We talked a bit more about music and dance for a while, and how samba is really energetic and really good exercise. That's why salsa clubs play it very sparingly to prevent people from keeling over and dying. She was really into fitness and exercise, too. As am I. We were having a really nice conversation

I paused and looked at her pensively.

"Actually- can you help me understand something, please?"
"Of course." She said.
"Why do most people maintain gaseous induction with sevofluorane instead of enfluorane?"

She dropped her burrito.

"How the f@ck do you know that?" She asked.

[actually- that was a slighly inane question on my part. Enfluorane has a slightly higher propensity to cause seizures. But the shock value was worth it :D]

"Did you used to date an anaesthetist?" she continued.

"No- I'm a doctor, too. I'm emergency, but I'm doing my anaethetics rotation at the moment"

"Well, why didn't you say???"

"You didn't ask! And besides- the look on your face was just priceless!"

I told her that I'd also just done some exams, and was currently doing a research project. We were at identical points in our careers. I worked in Manly, while she was in the eastern Suburbs.

"You seem lovely. I'd really like to take you out for a drink. How do you feel about that?"

"I feel great about that" She replied.

We swapped numbers and agreed to speak later in the week. As she left the restaurant, whe turned and smiled at me as if to say "You cheeky bastard!".
I smiled back as if to say "I know ;)".



That actually happened a few years ago when I was living in Sydney. You may know that I live in Melbourne, now. So why am I telling you about it now? I don't know. Seemed as good a time as any.


Until the next time.

Aloha Salsa

Aloha Salsa

Remember last year I was campaigning for Alison, running for US senate in California? We made plans to catch up when next I was in LA, so I planned to stopover on my way to Spain for my class reunion wiht my german friends. Sadly, my annual leave got declined, so the only way I could make the trip happen was to swap out of 2 weeks worth of shifts, meaning working almost every day for 6 weeks straight beforehand. Somehow I managed it, and booked my tickets. After that, however, Alison told me that she had moved to Hawai'i.

OK.

What to do.

Screw it, I thought, and booked an internal return from LA to Honolulu as well. I had 3 days there before connecting to Mallorca. It was a very strange sensation as I landed. “This feels like New Zealand” I though to myself. the landscape, the vegetation, the population- everything about it reminded me particularly of the northern part of the north Island. One of the exits from the airport leads onto Puonamou Freeway. “pounamou…..” I thought to myself, “…that means jewellery in
Loco Moko at Moana Beach House
maori. Why do I know what that means?” Then it hit me- of course. Hawaii is a group of pacific islands with an indigenous population of polynesians, colonised by europeans. Like New Zealand.
Kualoa Ranch (of Jurassic Park fame)
there are so many parallels. There is a lot of truly spectacular scenery, as both landscapes have clearly been glaciated. The beaches are amazing, and the freshness of the food is always something to look forward to. It was suggested that I visit the polynesian cultural centre, to which I responded “Nah- I already did that in Rotorua”. I thought it better to explore some newer horizons.

Waikiki is the main shopping/nightlife area in the centre of town, and I took a look around there, being surprised how glitzy and glamorous it was. Buho Cantina is a famous rooftop mexican bar/restuarant in the middle of Waikiki, and it was supposed to have a salsa band playing that night, but that never eventuated.
The next day, I went to Pearl Harbour and immersed myself in the history there, which was fascinating (it’s amazing how much of geopolitics comes down to money…).
Rumfire is the bar at the Sheraton Hotel, and they did have a salsa band playing that night, so I went and as usual danced to my hearts content. The humidity meant that everyone was sweating profusely, but it was a really positive atmosphere, and everyone was very friendly and welcoming Rachel (Ordinary Girl, How You Make Me Feel, etc…) would complain to me that people never take notice of the band, so I always make an effort to befriend the musicians. After all, I live band makes such huge difference to the night.
Just before closing, I saw a pair dancing together, and it looked like the girl was teaching the guy the basic step. I saw that he was bare foot, so I tossed my dancing shoes over to him, and they landed just by his feet. They laughed, and the three of us got talking. His name was Kelly, and she was Francesca. I told them I had one more night in Honolulu, and they invited me to join them dancing the following night at District nightclub.

The next morning, I went to the national museum and learned more history there, before meeting Alison for lunch. It was nice to spend some one on one time with her away from politics, and it was pleasing, but not surprising to find that she is as genuine as her political views would suggest.
Alison and I at jam night
We got on really well and she invited me out to a jam night that evening, where random musicians and singers get together and play. I bought my guitar and joined in where I could. I asked if people would be interested in playing one of my songs, and I showed them This Game, which we played together, and everyone seems to really enjoy.
It’s always nice when one of your own creations is well received.
I had to leave early, as I had my salsa appointment that night with Kelly and Francesca.

District is more like a conventional nightclub, but Thursday is salsa night, and a decent crowd was there. Not as many advanced dancers as you would find in a city like Sydney or London, but the enthusiasm was endearing and people made me feel very welcome again, and I got a lot of compliments for my dancing. I’ve been doing salsa since I was 18, and have done lots of performances and teaching, so I would hope I could safely call myself and advanced dancer by now…
I asked the DJ to play my favourite song [Otro Opportunidad by Jimmy Bosch], which he kindly did, and I duly went crazy to it.

I had just enough time to squeeze in a helicopter tour of Oahu before my flight back to LA on Friday, and saw some spectacular scenery while avoiding falling to my death.

I had an amazing time in Hawaii, and knew that I would go back again. So, 6 weeks later, I told Alison that my brazilian friend, Zumbi was going to be visiting, and that I would pay for the two of them to have dinner at Halekulani, which is one of the best beachside restaurants in Waikiki. It was her reward for being such a strong progressive activist. I arranged a taxi to pick her up from her place and take her to the restaurant. She arrived at the table to see me sitting in Zumbis place. She gasped and ran upto me, giving me a massive hug. I explained to her that Zumbi was my capoeira name, and that I played him in a theatre production, so technically, I was telling her the truth. We had beautiful meal and spoke for hours about anything and everything before I dropped her back to her place. The rest of the week I spent exploring the island further, including the Dole plantation and turtle Beach, doing beach runs and workouts as well as dancing every night possible. the same band was playing,
Daniel- guitarist in the band
this time at Buho Cantina on Saturday. they played an amazing set, and I talked to the guitarist, Daniel, again, and he told me more about the salsa scene on the island.

I left the following Friday after another fun Thursday night at District, feeling rested, and knowing that I was going to come back again, but trying to consolidate in my mind, why. then I thought to myself, of course you like it here- all you do is sing and dance and run and jump. It’s a pretty fun life. If only I could make it permanent…


The next best thing was to stopover again on my way back to London to visit my family for Christmas.
Which I did. I strategically landed on Thursday and left the following Friday, so I could fit in 2 nights at District on Thursday.
The band was playing again on Saturday night, and I danced my heart out again. A girl came up to me and asked me if I was cuban. “You look cuban, you dress cuban, you dance cuban- I thought you were cuban!” My english accent really surprised her. One of my favourite songs is “Vehicle” by Wille Colon, and I went mental to it as usual….

I noted that her friend was standing by the bar “I haven’t seen you dancing tonight” I asked her.
“My knee hurts” she told me. I dropped down and started examining her knee. “Are you a physician?” she asked. For split second, I thought about saying “Nah- I just go around nightclubs feeling hot womens’ legs”, but then I thought it would be better to just tell the truth, so I just said “Yes” instead.
I did Apleys manoeuvre- she winced. “You have a meniscal tear” I told her. She later had an MRI scan. She had a meniscal tear.

[swish]

There was a latino guy doing the basic step by himself, so I did the basic step alongside him, and for the rest of the song, we were copying each others salsa and rumba moves, and everyone stopped and
Lupe and I
was watching us with interest- I don’t think anyone there had seen a rumba line before.

We bumped into each other again at District on my last night, and did the same, and again, people stopped and stared at us in amazement, and Kelly came upto us and acted like he was writing down our moves. His name was Guadalupe, and we became friends.

I then caught a glimpse of a girl who was built like a brick proverbial, but very graceful and feminine with it as well. We danced, and she was really good. She turned out to be Francescas best friend,
Lauren, Francesca and I at dinner
Lauren. We'd have many more dances to come.

I left the nightclub and some other latino guys who’d seen me dancing before asked me “Eres cubano?
I replied “No- soy de Nigeria, pero trabajo en Australia. MaƱana voy a ver mi familia en Inglaterra”
I knew I’d be back. I love dancing there, and people seem to like dancing with me. After a night of salsa dancing, I always feel like I’m floating (even if my feet are aching).

The lovely Rebecca
I got back to the car park to find my car was missing, as I’d parked in a towaway zone. Rebecca happened to be walking by and gave me a lift to the car pound. We had a nice talk along the way. “What was that line dancing you and Lupe were doing?” she asked me. “It’s called rumba” I told her, and explained that it’s the afrocuban foundation upon which salsa is based. She said she’d be interested in learning from me. I told her I’d be back for sure.

I had to pay $200 to get my car released from the impound, but then I thought  ‘Hey- I’m in Hawai’i’

The song:

 The words: https://victor-thediary.blogspot.com/2019/05/aloha-salsa-lyrics.html

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Aloha Salsa Lyrics

Aloha Salsa

Let me just tell you that I
Never could reason why
You’d wanna fly
From paradise

Tropical trees so green
Mambo set you free
I guarantee
Come dance, you’ll see…

.. on 2 and 3..
.. and constantly…
.. you’ll dance with me…
… and then we’ll say___

Mahalo we say
(to) The salsero today
Aloha por que
Bailar rumba siempre

Mahalo we say
The salsero always
Aloha por que
Bailar rumba siempre

Surrounded by ocean blue
Rhythm is coming through
For me and you
It’s what we do

Tulsi you shining star
True to who you are
Like Kaniela
You will go far…

…With aloha…..
…Ala Moana……
…Kualoa…..
….Just wanna stay______

Mahalo we say
The salsero today
Aloha por que
Bailar rumba siempre

Mahalo we say
The salsero always
Aloha por que
Bailar rumba siempre

This is where you wanna
Go to where you wanna
Don’t be scared you wanna
Rumba where you wanna
This is where you wanna
Go to where you wanna
Don’t be scared you wanna
Rumba where you wanna

[Instrumental]
[Breakdown]

And aloha…..
Ala Moana……
Kualoa…..
Just wanna stay______

Mahalo we say
The salsero today
Aloha por que
Bailar rumba siempre

Mahalo we say
The salsero always
Aloha por que
Bailar rumba siempre

This is where you wanna
Go to where you wanna
Don’t be scared you wanna
Rumba where you wanna
This is where you wanna
Go to where you wanna
Don’t be scared you wanna
Rumba where you wanna

Mahalo we say (to) the salsero today__________
Mahalo we say (to) the salsero always__________

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Call From Australia

This one’s a little political.

Actually, it’s almost completely political. If you have an interest in US politics, then read on…



That was an actual conversation I had with a voter in California from my living room in Melbourne 5 days before the recent California senate primary.

How is everyone? It’s been a while since my last entry, but some of you will know that I was on crutches for 9 weeks (my calf muscle was torn from my Achilles tendon). I was off work and feeling pretty down. Other than my rehab, I couldn’t really do anything active. Following the news and watching movies was pretty much it. With the Orange One in power, US politics has taken on a whole new significance. Watching The Young Turks, and following the Justice Democrats, I had donated money to all of their candidates, as they are principled and not corrupt, representing the only major cohort of candidates who might actually oppose him on policy (as opposed to being the outrage police), as they’re not owned by corporations. 

I got an email from one of the organisers from California saying that they couldn’t accept money from me as I’m not a US resident, but if I wanted to help, I could volunteer to help on the campaign. California is a little far from Australia for me to knock on doors, but they seemed very happy for me to be on their phone banking team. I thought to myself- well… I’ve got lots of free time… I’ve got hours of free international minutes that I never use.. why not? After all- there are only so many Seinfeld episodes you can watch before you start going stir crazy. [“NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!!” ]

I remember watching a Daily Show sketch about political slacktivism and thinking “you know, Victor- you’re actually as guilty of this as a lot of people”. Expressing outrage and posting memes on Facebook might make you feel better for a moment, but in effect, you’re only reinforcing the views of those who already agree with you, and further entrenching those who don’t. The invitation to phone bank was an opportunity to actually do something constructive, and elect someone who is principled enough to bring about real change to America and the world. It would beat fossilising in front of the TV, anyway. 

[Although- having said that, this one was just too good not to share; my sister was at the anti-Trump protests in London last weekend, and even despite the swearing, I have never been more proud to call London home:


The icing on the cake for me is the timekeeper in-between each chorus shouting "FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT!!!"]

Now, where was I...? Ah yes-

I met the candidate and her team on their web forums, and got straight into it. I would call for 2-3 hours each morning (evening their time), speaking to voters, encouraging and informing them to come out and vote for my candidate. To be honest- it was varied in terms of how receptive people were. Some people would hang up on you. Others were just not interested, and a minority were just plain rude, and it really affected some of the other members of the team. I didn’t let those episodes bother me, and sent the group some words of encouragement:




However, despite this, a lot of team members didn’t continue with the phone calls. On the other hand, some of the interactions were overwhelmingly positive. I spoke to the incumbents neighbour who couldn’t stand her, and we had a laugh and a joke about that, another voter spoke to me for about half an hour after reassuring me that he had my vote, which was great, but after a while I was thinking “umm… this is nice, but I’ve got about 3million other voters to try and call…!!”

Election day was June 5th. I was due to visit family in London the week after, but at the end of May, the team announced a celebration night on election day. Everyone on the team seemed really friendly and inclusive, so I moved my flight forward, stopping in LA that day, as it would be a great, and possibly the only, opportunity to meet the people that I’d been helping. Now, parties normally have music, so I reached out to Joe, one of the campaign staffers, to see if he would like me to perform that night, and I was pleasantly surprised that he accepted my offer. 

All of a sudden, I was on a plane to LA! I hadn’t been to LA since 2011, but I didn’t expect it to have changed very much, being an overwhelmingly Democratic state. I was still making phone calls to voters on the way to the airport, and told the guy at the car hire company about my candidate “Hey, she sounds like just the kind of person we need- sure, I’ll vote for her!” That was pretty gratifying :D

I drove to the venue before the party started, to set up the sound equipment, but what I saw on the way there was truly disturbing. There’s an area of Downtown LA called Tent City, which I had heard of before, but had never truly appreciated as a real place. It’s real. Very real. Hundreds and hundreds of homeless people living in tents in the middle of the city. I was in shock. I had never seen first world poverty like this. I couldn’t believe I was in the richest state in the richest country in the world. If ever there was a sign of massive wealth inequality, this was it. This is what this new breed of democrat is fighting against. 

I got to the party later that evening and mingled with the team. Despite the tension involved in waiting for the poll results to come in, it was a very warm atmosphere- everyone was again, very friendly and welcoming. But then, when you are all bound by the philosophy that society should provide fair and equal opportunity for everybody, that atmosphere should come as standard. Abby was the coordinator for the phone banking, and it was lovely to meet her, as well as Joe, who was still keen for me to play later on.

The candidates name was Alison Hartson. I’d seen her on TYT and was somewhat familiar with her. She was kind and attentive enough to introduce herself to me as I spoke with her staffers before continuing to do her rounds. Later on, her mother introduced herself to me, and we actually got on really, really well. After about an hour of conversation, I had to physically stop myself from saying “Wow! Your’e so cool- can you be MY mother??” [sorry, mother- no disrespect intended]
Alison joined us and I told her that I’d been making calls fro her from Australia using my american accent [I reenacted the conversation in the video above], which she was eager to hear, and impressed by. I told her that my brother and I learned acting and voices by acting out our favourite cartoons as kids- my californian accent is actually Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Michaelangelo is actually my favourite, but his voice is a little too surfer-dude to be mainstream), my southern accent is Cleetus from the Simpsons, my scottish accent is Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales, etc…

To date, I’ve only met 2 politicians. Alison Hartson and Tony Blair. I had a summer job in a government office in London as a student, and Tony Blair happened to be doing a tour as prime minister [he didn’t come to see me specifically- he would have needed an appointment for that…]. In a lot of ways, Tony Blair is pretty hip for a politician: he speaks french and plays guitar. However, even despite that, it’s very clear that he is part of an elite establishment, having gone to an expensive private school, then law school, then ascended the ranks within a political party that is supposed to represent ordinary working people. In fact, had I not spent 2 years in private school myself, I probably would have found him difficult to relate to. 
Alison was the polar opposite. While it’s clear that she’s educated (she’s an english teacher by profession), she’s very obviously a much more down to earth person that the regular voter can relate to. She’s only 37, has tattoos and a nose piercing. You simply wouldn’t place her as a politician, but then, maybe that’s exactly the reason why she should be in office: the people who are there already are largely failing on policy. And Alison has all the right policies. As part of Justice Democrats her main ethos is rejecting corporate money, enabling her to stand for policies that actually help people.

I told her that in England, I had never paid a medical bill, as we have universal healthcare, and that I never worry about getting shot, and that mainland Europe was even better, with programs like universal daycare and transparent financing of elections. America is suffering as a country, and the current administration was only going to make it worse. I couldn't believe I was telling americans how great life is outside of America.

Later in the night, as the results came in, it became clear that we weren’t going to win, and we were all disappointed, but still proud of the effort and organisation that we had made as a collective. It was a herculean task- the incumbent was deeply entrenched for over 40 years, and spent $8.5M compared to our $330K. My heart went out to Alison, as she had almost literally bankrupted herself in this effort, working 14hours a day every day for 7 months. You only do something like that if you really care about your cause. And she does. Speeches and presentations were made, and in the end, I never actually got to sing, but I didn’t mind, as I’d made some great new friends. 

I had a pretty chilled out time in LA for the next few days. Ordinarily I’d be hitting the salsa clubs every night, but that’s off limits right now. I jammed at a couple of open mic nights, playing my original songs to and with new people, which is always fun :D

I arrived in London to a family dinner with my siblings, niece and nephew. We always get on like house on fire, and it’s only a matter of minutes before the room is filled with laughter whenever we’re together.



The week in London flew by, especially with the World Cup being played- my 9 year old nephew Nathan loves football, and is actually really good at it. I took him to pick up his player of the season award for his club :D





I actually didn’t realise that one of my schoolfriends works as a doctor in Orange County, so I stopped over in LA again on the way back to see him. Hiren and I both did physics, chemistry and biology together before going to medical school, but we hadn’t seen each other in over ten years. He’s married with 4 kids, living in an amazing house in the OC- life is good for him, but he appreciates that for most people in the US, it isn’t. 50% of people make $30,000 per year or less, and 44% of homeless people have a job. It’s the land of the free. If you’re rich. I hardly saw any homeless people when I was working Bavaria last year. And the few that I did see were blatant scammers from overseas [I’m sorry- if you’re wearing nicer clothes than me, you’re not homeless…]



Of course we reminisced about all the craziness we got upto in class, and how surprised we were to have graduated given all the joking we did. We laughed so much, I think we irritated his wife a bit (sorry!). My eyes are puffy in the photo because I spent half the night wiping the tears ways from them- and we didn’t even make it on to the Simpsons quotes… 

In essence, we’re still seventeen. A part of me will always be seventeen. Actually, screw it- most of me will always be seventeen, but I think I can be serious when it’s necessary.



[but only when necessary]

June 26th saw another primary election in New York in which another Justice Democrat , Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was taking on an establishment giant, rightly known as Corrupt Joe Crowley. Alison had the idea that her team in California help out Alexandrias team in New York, and again I agreed to make calls for her. I still wasn’t able to work, as I had only just come off crutches, and was limping quite badly, so it once again made sense to use my time productively. I spent another week churning through phone numbers from my living room in Australia, again enjoying getting americans to believe that I was also american ;) New York was a little tougher, as East Coast people are nothing like as laid back as people in California- at least nobody in California swore at me “I AIN’T VOTIN’ IN NO F@#KIN’ ELECTION!!!!”. Yikes….
Again, I was on the phones for 2-3 hours a day. Abby thanked me for making so many calls, and I explained to her that I don’t see hard work as an obstacle- in fact, in a way, hard work is actually the easiest thing in the world: you have a pile of work in front of you; you do it; it’s done. There’s nothing really to figure out. What is technically difficult is strategising and figuring out a path to success- that’s what the organisers do, and I don’t envy it. I was more than happy to be a foot soldier.

Watching the poll results come in online was nerve-wracking, as it was with Alison, but Alexandria started out with a narrow lead and this grew and grew as the polls closed, and in the end, she won by 15%, which is massive. This sent shock waves through the political landscape, as she had just come from nowhere to knock out the 4th most powerful democrat in the house. This represents real change, and I was thrilled to have been a part of it. Anyone who’s played football with me at school would know that when I celebrate, I don’t hold anything back (if you thought I was running quickly BEFORE scoring the goal….), so naturally the Tardelli celebration had to be done…


[It's the most famous celebration in football]

Alexandria will probably never know that I was on her team, but to be honest, I don’t really care. I just care about progress and having principled people in power who can effect positive change both domestically and globally. I’m hoping that this is just the first step in a long line of progressive victories.

Until the next time.


Victor.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Greetings From London [And Batman]


Now, mixing politics and music can be risky- it cost John Lennon his life. However....  





How is everyone?

A few things about that- you'll probably know that I work in emergency, and the important part of that is actually caring about people, so I followed the Obamacare debate very closely, and was hugely relieved when the healthcare bill was saved. Also, what you might not know about me is that as a kid, I was a huge batfan, and still am [obviously]. One of my acting demos is of me portraying Jack Nicholsons 'Joker' from the original Michael Keaton movie, which is my favourite. You can find it on YouTube. The villains are such important parts of each movie, and give them so much character, hence why I love portraying them. At the supermarket, I got every strange looks from the woman at the next checkout counter recently, as she overheard me practising my Bane impersonation. I just kept calm and acted like it didn't happen.  

I've been in Europe for the last 2 months, both for work and to visit family. I have one brother and two sisters, and they all live in London, as do my mum and dad. I spent most of the time at my sisters place, as mum and dad were hassling me too much about not being married, and I just couldn't handle it anymore. Normally it takes about 48hours for that lecturing to begin, but this time it took just 12. I had to get out of there. No such dramas with my siblings- we all get on famously, and love each other dearly. I took my brother to the Wimbledon ladies final to watch Venus Williams, and helped my sister look after her 2 children, Nathan and Livia. As part of that help, I thought it my responsibility to teach them my favourite Bane quote, and they did pretty well:






I also had a month in Germany, doing a placement in anaesthetics. 2 of my best friends are orthopaedic surgeons in Bavaria, and so I spent some time working with them in their operating theatre. It was a great opportunity to catch up with them and do more anaesthesia. I love mainland Europe, as it's so full of history and culture, and different languages. It was quite funny- I'd introduce myself to the other members of staff, and start talking business, and then a few minutes in, they'd ask me "Wait- how come you're speaking german???". "Oh- I just studied it myself". I'd respond.

No-one cared who I was until I put on the mask....


I remember backpacking around Germany years ago, and I was having lunch in my youth hostel, talking to a girl from Switzerland, and she said to me "Your german's pretty good- where are you from?" "I'm from England" I said. "Well, in that case, it's AMAZING!!" English people are notoriously terrible at languages, so completely understood where she was coming from.  

The town in Bavaria -Erlangen, has an annual ball to celebrate the founding of its university, which is quite a big outdoor dress affair. My friend Lutz asked me if I had a suit, which I didn't, so he directed me to where I could hire one. I called and asked what colours they had. They said black and grey. "Hmm...." I thought. "You wouldn't happen to have purple, would you...?". As it happened, they did, in the form of a pirate outfit, which they modified for me, and everyone at the ball loved it- I was having my picture taken with lots of random people throughout the night. It was still a suit- just the coolest suit in the place.  

Always dress just a little cooler than everyone else....


In the middle of my placement, there was a work conference in Berlin, and I stayed with my friends parents for the week, and as a thank you, I performed a house concert for them, which they loved. I stayed with them ten years ago, and at the time, I'd never even had a guitar lesson, so for them it was a huge surprise. I love small concerts because you get to sit close to the audience, and people listen very attentively. As you know, each of my songs is a story from diary, and I get to share that with people. It's a much more fulfilling experience than playing a large venue when you're far from the audience, and you can't get much closer to someone than being in their living room.

Heading back from Berlin, I remembered that one of my old salsa friends from Wellington, NZ now lives in Germany with his wife who lured him back there. Ramnish and I would always have a great time on the dance floor at many salsa congresses, and we hadn't seen each other for 7 years. What was even stranger was that we'd never spoken german to each other until that point, but it was awesome to catch up again. He and his wife run a salsa school in a small town [Braunschweig] not far from Berlin, and we had a fun night out dancing with his students and other friends :D

Wellington salsa never dies :D


At the end of my placement, I got a random message from my old housemate from Manly, James, who is on a 2 year world trip, and happened to be in Europe at the time, so we decided to meet up in Italy- Venice, to be exact. It was actually the worst time of year to be there, as we found that the summers are perilously hot, but it was still great to catch up with a good friend in a spectacularly beautiful city.

The tour guide called this statue her 'boyfriend'. Concerning....?



Getting back to London, it was a heartwarming surprise to hear how much my niece and nephew loved my last CD. In particular, they love the title track 'This Game':



 I'm back at work now, but look forward to writing and recording my next album at the end of the year, if you'd like to join me on the journey.



Until the next time.  

Victor.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Trump vs Refugees


I don't know about you, but it's only been 6 days, and I'm exhausted. Keeping up with the chilling actions of the new US administration is both tiring and frightening. Journalists in jail, finding cut for womens health, cuts to the violence against women program, contraception defunded, banning immigrants from muslim countries, scientific researches banned from publishing anything that doesn't fit the governments agenda [read: climate change, effects of marijuhana, effects of guns on violence....], recommencing of building oil pipelines through sacred native american land, cuts to the civil rights division, and the list goes on and on......

As well as every possible civil liberty being threatened, here, one thing really struck a chord with me, and that was the complete suspension of the taking in of refugees. Those of you who've been following me for a while will know that when I first started singing for money in 2011, I nominated the UNHCR, United Nations Humanitarian Commission for Refugees as my official charity, and that any money I made from music, I'd give to them, as I was moved by the work that they do particularly in Rwanda, but also worldwide.

 In the lead-up to the US election last year, I heard a republican senator say that the USA shouldn't take refugees from Syria because of what they 'might be scared of'. "WHAT?????" I thought to myself. 200,000 people have died, and he said that they 'might be scared'.  This inhumanity absolutely made my blood boil. In response, I made this:  
I'm sure you're outraged by Trump, not only for being the person that he is, but also that these regressive policies are certain to harm so many people, including refugees. However, refugees aren't fed or sheltered by outrage. Only aid can do that. And aid can only be brought to them by people who are prepared to take action. As stated in the video, the action I'm asking you to take is to buy this CD, as the proceeds will be going to help those same refugees that Trump and his cronies are abandoning.

For us, it's not a lot of money, but each CD sale can give a weeks food for one person, or vaccinate an entire class of children. You can get yours here: www.victorsteele.com/v-factor I don't usually mention this charity when I talk about my music, as I don't want to seem too coercive in trying to get people to buy it. However, I don't think our generation has seen times like this before, and so I think it vital that I make it an issue and ask you to take some action for the benefit of those less fortunate than ourselves, while getting 6 great songs for your own enjoyment.  

As a great man once said: you may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you didn't know.  

Thanks,  

Victor.  


The link, again, is here: www.victorsteele.com/v-factor

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