Dear Friends

DF 10 - Forethought - Kuala Lumpur (April 99)

Kuala Lumpur,
30th. April, 1999

Dear Friends,

After the NATO diatribe in the last (electronic only) 'DF' I'm glad to move on to other matters, with a small piece of advice to our erstwhile leaders (who obviously aren't getting any; advice that is) ...the best reaction to a crisis is forethought.

The shows in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Australia and Malaysia were memorable in all respects, not least of which was my discovery of yet another item to add to the list of 'activities to avoid when naked', namely, using a steam iron.

I've been reading the reviews in 'Highway Star' and those from Carla and Patricia here on Caramba. Thank you all for the time you've taken, it means a lot. I met many friends, old and new, on this trip and I've come home enriched with warmth and ideas. The atmosphere in the band is vibrant and we are all pumped up for the next section of the tour June and July in Europe) and for the later part of the year, which sees us start work on the new album.

I met a small chap named Quinten Callaghan, on a street in Adelaide. I was strolling along (as you do) with Charlie, our crew boss, and Rob, our monitor man. 'Hello' squeaked a distinctive voice from down there somewhere. We stopped and looked at the wheelchair, which had glided to a halt beside us. 'Saw you on the telly mate, y'know Hey, Hey Saturday, bloody good, I really enjoyed it.' There was Quinten, propped up on a cushion, his body not much larger than his head, and, at the end of his short arms, beautiful, long sinuous fingers were idly toying with the controls of his chariot. He was smiling; used to it I suppose. His conversational charm put us instantly at ease, and we chatted for a while.

As we parted company, Charlie, Rob and I did a collective De Niro nod, and counted our blessings. He called me the next afternoon and asked if the invitation to the show was still open. I didn't see him afterwards, so I'm not too sure if he made it, but in any case 'Hi Quinten', and 'Hi' to everyone else I had the pleasure of meeting.

I must mention our fabulous crew; who make life so easy for us. They enable us look and sound better than most circumstances would permit. Also their efforts, over and above the call of duty, in the category 'help the singer'. This is a broad spectrum, but I refer specifically to the willingness, even enthusiasm, shown as they help me with 'field trips'. Unfortunately we didn't make it to Ayers Rock, due to a rare lapse in communication between myself and the management, but there has been no shortage of willing hands to accompany me on many, many other cultural sorties.

Questionnaire: Here's another of those strange enquiries, which come my way, from time to time.

For the sake of filling some space in a newspaper, and getting some publicity, I'm expected to encapsulate my life in small phrases, which will be hurled back at me, and quoted as the inviolable truth, for the rest of my life. As I've said before, it gives me great pleasure, therefore to give different answers to the same silly questions. I really don't mind at all, but, with respect, I can't take it as seriously as many people would like. Therefore, and for your amusement, I cordially invite you to invent the questions (they can't be any sillier), to the answers.

This time it's a competition. The prize for the winner is two backstage passes to the DP show of your choice. The winner will be the briefest and the wittiest, or possibly the most accurate. For example 1) How would you describe a rhinoceros?

OK it's your turn, here are the answers...

1) Horny

2) I'm really terrific

3) a) optimism b) optimism

4) a) co-ordinating movement, b) co-ordinating speech

5) I do one, I do the other, then I do the one again, and so on

6) Auras, in a holistic sense, have infinite varieties. The question doesn't answer.

7) a) ignorance, b) knowledge

8) Lots, but most of them let me down

9) 1967, Wembley, QPR v WBA, great game

10) Only when I'm happy

11) QPR 5, MAN.U. 1

12) I have some dignity

13) Reading, writing and carpentry

14) Thirteen Gun Salute' - Patrick O'Brien. Harper Collins The first in this threaded series is 'Master and Commander'

15) a) To be stripped of office, b) Dinner with the good fairy, c) A new car

16) Guinness

17) The European Community

18) Oh dear me. Now that's a tricky one. Oh yes. You forgot to ask my shoe size. It's 44.

Steve and I will be the judges. We'll publish the original questions in a couple of weeks, at which time the competition will be closed. You can put the answers on the guestbook or, if you're shy, send them by e-mail via the 'links' facility.

Tuesday, April 13th, '99. 'The Australian', a national broadsheet, carried this report from Reuters on page nine. From 'A correspondent in Niamey, Niger'.

Headline Major number one with a bullet

A "Modest and honest" soldier is Niger's new head of State as the military yesterday tightened it's grip on power two days after the assassination of president Ibrahim Bare Mainassara.

Major Daouda Mallam Wanke, 49, took over as military leader as all national institutions, including parliament and the Supreme Court, were dissolved.

Major Wanke was the commander of the presidential guard unit that was reported to have killed Mainassara on Friday at Niamey Airport.

He has spoken only once since Mainassara's murder. He said on Saturday that the death of the president was "an accident" - a version contradicted by all the accounts of witnesses present during the shooting.

People who have met Major Wanke say he is a "jovial" man who enjoys "telling jokes and stories" to entertain his friends. They say, however, that he can be "stern when serious decisions have to be taken concerning..etc.etc.

And extract from 'Gunga Din' comes to mind..

'My Daddy was from Scotland
And I couldn't understand
A single word he said to me
Until I was a man.'

He was a committed Labour man from Govan, politically opposite the distaff. A union man. A shop steward. Full of passion and belief. I was proud of him and his motives. Up the workers, and all that. But then, he wasn't a baggage handler (sic). That peculiar sub-species of primate (niccit orbashit) that will surely predominate the New Barbarians as the Human race divides and mutates in the imminent future. Their venom and malignant fury will bring a fine focus to the arrayed forces of self-righteousness and zeal.

It's not so bad seeing instruments dropped, smashed, turned wickedly contra the signs, and so on. It's not so bad realising that, because of the ubiquitous CC cameras, frustration manifests itself in vandalism; at Thief Row airport in London (as it used to be known) at least your stuff arrives these days, albeit broken.

It's not so bad when you understand the 'Via Miami' syndrome. After the wormhole claims your stuff and transfers it downtown, after all the spittle and ritual, after all the futile form-filling (forgive the alliteration) and institutional glaring 'I'm just doing my job sir, please don't get emotional or you'll be publicly humiliated'. This, in reply to, 'Excuse me, you've lost my luggage'.

Extract from 'Via Miami'...

'I've got a dirty feeling
I need a change of clothes
Where's my suitcase
Nobody knows....
..must've gone Via Miami..

It gets worse when you see cats or dogs 'who can tell what's inside those little travel cages? And who cares anyway?' being hurled into the bowels of the aircraft with the kind of controlled force normally reserved for a cricket ball or a caber.

Of course these examples are merely anecdotal, a tiny few of the things I have witnessed. They wouldn't stand up for a minute against the overwhelming mass of data proving statistically otherwise. I try to look for a positive side, or at least a motive, to explain the behaviour of sociopaths. In this case it must be, quite simply, the perverse pleasure or profit gained from seemingly uncontrollable activities. In this sense, a seasoned observer can discern no difference between the Australians, the English or the Cubans.

'What about the workers'. Indeed; and what about them, you may ask. When corruption is so widespread, it is the misfortune of the good guys to be judged by the company they keep. 'Twas ever thus. So, Gentlemen and Ladies, enjoy it while it lasts. You have abused your power, and we all know what happens next.

You'll become obsolete, redundant, squeezed out, replaced, mechanised, modernised, lionised (for a bit), and then ostracised and, fairly soon, forgotten; because no-one's writing songs about you anymore.

'What about the punters?', I say. Now there's a group of people that need to pull together.

Change of subject...The members of the cabin crew were very pleasant; even more so towards the end of the long flight. 'What on earth can they be doing in there?' offered the confident mincing queen, sympathetic to my awkward stance, waiting for the toilet.

'Giving birth I shouldn't wonder'... He chuckled graciously at my slow-witted response, and said 'Cher was in there for over an hour last week, mind you...' at this point he stopped, ever faithful to his stewardship, but clearly implying that she could have done with a little longer.

On the same flight, a lady of some substance looked up her nose at me whilst enquiring (as if the answer may be to her advantage, in the category: nephews and nieces) 'are you famous?' 'Apparently not madam' I trotted out, and stood aside to let her pass; the smiling rictus confirming her stock.

Cheers for now,

Peace & love,
Ian Gillan
Copyright © Ian Gillan 1999

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