Chai, Shankar, Covering Letter #1

Free will is bollocks. As a veteran of Asian travel, I am compelled to wander around the house in loose-fitting clothes listening to Ravi Shankar and drinking Indian-style Chai. This is sweet, milky tea with added spices such as cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn and cloves. This brew has been piquing my post-travel nostalgia almost as much as Geoff Dyer’s latest novel, ‘…Death in Varanasi’.

People keep asking me where my favourite place was, and I can only answer Varanasi – also known as Benares – the ancient Indian holy city on the Ganges. I wrote about it here, but my prose does not compare with Dyer’s. It’s a great book, all the sweeter for me having been to Varanasi, frustrated at being unable to describe it adequately.

Along with a refreshed reading list, my return to England is enhanced by all the new music I have to listen to. NOFX have a new album – Coaster – heavy on the comedy now that Dubya has been vanquished. Favourite line: ‘I wanna wake up without feeling sick, but I can’t cuz I’m a drug-abusin’ alcoholic.’

Therapy? have also returned with their 12th album. 12 albums! I’m so old, I disapprove of my own tattoos. They’ve been a bit hit-and-miss for a long time now, but this latest album, Crooked Timber, is a fine piece of work. The title is Kant: From the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Speaking of cynicism, I’ve been enjoying the political pantomime very much. All the moat-cleaning, duck island expenses are brilliant as entertainment, and also present the outside possibility that politics might clean itself up for a few years. We might also get electoral reform so that people’s votes might actually make a difference. I said ‘might’!

I wrote my CV. I kept it to one page, and I think it sells me well. It’s hard to tell empirically though, as I’ve only applied for one job, and they haven’t called me back yet. I feel like a jilted lover staring at an unringing phone. But we’re meant to be together!

Unemployment angst is greatly alleviated by the joy of catching up with friends. This is me and Alison doing the classic forearm skin colour test. She swears this is straight from the camera, no processing.

I gave up smoking nearly three weeks ago. It’s thumb-sucking for adults. I started smoking because a) Slash from Guns n’ Roses smoked, and b) It made me 40% more popular at school. Slash now has a pacemaker, and school is a distant memory, so smoking no longer serves any purpose. Don’t worry, though, I’m not going evangelical. I’ll always be there to help you roll. I had intended to stop smoking at the beginning of my trip to India, but failed five minutes into a journey on an Indian motorway.


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