Wednesday 8 February 2017

Diary of Inconsequential Being

Saturday 26th November

A sequence of events not connected to one another and yet eerily linked. Early morning and intertwined limbs (my wife’s and mine) disentangle slowly. I get up to go to the toilet and as I sit down the phone rings (simultaneously. Now, that’s what I call a coincidence). I return to the bedroom to find my spouse handing me the blower: “It’s from the BBC”, she says. I grab the telephone and sit on the edge of the bed.

Fidel Castro Ruz has died. The female voice on the other side is calm and reassuring as if she were concerned about my wellbeing. She would like me to come to the BBC World Service studio and do a series of interviews throughout the day. I remember that I have guests coming tonight for my birthday gathering, ten days after I turned forty-five.

I agree to come in but only until twelve noon. After all, no bearded geezer will stop me from indulging in one of my favourite pastimes: cooking for a group of friends. I jump in the shower. A taxi, paid for by the corporation, picks me up.

Later on, as I’m mixing paprika, coriander and other herbs and spices in the pan, I think back to the events of the day. The naïve Dr and writer who alternated slots with me and whose comments were cliché-ridden; the “expert” on Cuba who refused to give straightforward answers to questions related to the socioeconomic and political situation in my island and opted instead for the well-used formula of highlighting deficiencies in British polity to cover up for Castro’s mistakes. I look back on the crowds in Miami dancing on the streets and the poisonous, right-wing Fox News-driven one-sided reports on American television. And I think to myself: Not to offend non-Cubans, but if even a fraction of those Fidel-supporting westerners had thrown their lot with my people decades ago when we needed them, upping sticks in the process and going to live on the island like Cubans, depending on a ration card for their next meal, maybe, just maybe, we would have arrived at the much-vaunted socialist paradise long time ago. Same with those who disparage our right to make our decisions. If, instead of sniping from the sides, they had ended their ineffective blockade decades ago, maybe, just maybe, Fidel’s grip on power would not have lasted that long and he would have not repressed his own people whilst using the embargo as an easy, go-to excuse.

The meal is a success.

Sunday 27th November

My wife has put some seeds out for the birds and through the lounge window I see them eating them. This gives me an idea: perhaps I could film the scene in a sort of Blair Witch Project-style format. Handheld camera capturing nature at its purest and most innocent in metropolitan London. But not today, it’s cloudy and there is not much light. You can barely tell the birds from the trees. It is so overcast that only when the flutter of wings becomes obvious can you be sure that there is animal presence in our back garden. Of the feather variety. Definitely tomorrow.

Monday 28th November

I give up on the Blair Witch Project idea. There aren’t that many birds in our garden and the ones that pay a visit are, how to put it nicely, rather boring. Only when one of the cats tries its luck by hiding in the dry and sparse grass, something interesting happens. But the cats are clumsy and the birds are quick.

Tuesday 29th November

Whilst getting my bike from the side passage I see a couple of wood pigeons behaving strangely. The one I take to be a male pigeon is pushing its beak in between the other’s legs (which I assume it is a female). At first it looks like some sort of game or courtship. But, then I think I spot a look of disgust and fear in the female’s eyes. As if it did not ask, nor want to be a part of this. I stay still, watching the male attempting once more to peck at or grab something from between the female’s legs. The female starts to retreat. I think, rather amused and shocked at the same time: who knows, maybe in the same way I have been watching the birds through the lounge window, they have been watching my telly, following the US election, faces and beaks stuck to the glass, without me noticing them. It might explain also some of the bullying behaviour when it comes to seeds consumption. I consider the Blair Witch Project idea once more.

© 2017

Next Post: “Thoughts in Progress”, to be published on Saturday 11th February at 6pm (GMT)


  1. I think many Westerners were too mentally lazy to think further than supporting the idea of socialism.

  2. I don't have anything to say on this topic, but I wanted to say that I really love your new header. It reminds me of simpler times...where people always said, 'Please' and 'Thank you', and they would take the time to talk with people, face to face. Although we do see this today, I don't see it nearly as often as several decades ago. Sad.

  3. Clumsy cats will never get the win.

  4. Unfortunately there are many Americans incapable of admitting that after half a century the embargo simply did not work, only cementing Castro in power.

  5. Referencing Jenny Wolf's comment, I think that not only are people mentally lazy but in this country(US) they have no sense of being connected to the rest of the world and many only see the country as a force to make other countries behave. This limited worldview has gotten us, at least in part, to where we are right now. The embargo only punished the people of Cuba, many of whom suffered financial, social and familial fracturing as a result. I think it was heartless and cruel and only added to the mounting problems for your homeland.

  6. I love your observations and insights about the Cuban "experts" and Fidel-supporting Westerners. Indeed.

  7. Hi ACIL - obfuscation comes to mind ... now it's monstrously worse - most people will be able to understand, and those in power are mainly self-interested ... we need a few leaders of note. But I like the idea of the birds keeping an eye on life on earth through the window ... cheers Hilary

  8. About the BBC - was the interview live or broadcast later?
    About the birds: if you continue to put out food, and especially sunflower seed hearts, rarer and prettier birds will eventually come to feed.

  9. Creo que al final aceptaste la entrevista y todo fue bien.
    Espero que Cuba conozca la vida normal sin restricciones. Cuba me encanta y su gente más.
    Un abrazo.

  10. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and diaries ~ Keeping a tab on the US politics is entertainment for me ~ Wish our winter here is over so I can enjoy the birds and scenes outside ~

  11. Tuesday's entry is a classic!

  12. I want to read more. Keep going.

  13. your writing grabs my mind.
    never stop sharing such interesting readings from your journal
    through your first para i became to know that you work for B.B.c .taking interviews of different people is far better than reading lots of books .you learn lot about human psychology .

    Fidel Castro served your country and hope is in good book of Cuban public .
    liked the last para more .quite inspirational!

  14. I appreciate your comments about the death of Fidel and envy your guests (it sounds like you had a wonderful meal)

  15. I too think that your birthday gathering guests ate very well and were very happy.

  16. Brilliant post! I like the diary approach, but I certainly wouldn't call it inconsequential. With your insights and word skills, you should write a book.

  17. Brilliant post! I like the diary approach, but I certainly wouldn't call it inconsequential. With your insights and word skills, you should write a book.



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