This time last week, I was dancing barefoot on a boat in Croatia with afrobeat legend Dele Sosimi. I had accidentally booked us onto two back-to-back Soundwave boat parties that day and I have to admit that I was slightly weary that morning (after not a lot of sleep) at the thought of having to spend six hours partying on a boat in the blazing sunshine. I am getting too old for this, I thought. Maybe I can grab a seat in the shade and have a snooze. I was, of course, much aware of the absurdity of complaining about spending six hours partying on a boat – such a hard life, I bet you are welling up a bit just reading about it.
In any case my tiredness soon dissipated as Riot Jazz started playing on the first trip – there can’t be many better antidotes for grumpiness than having a brass band play to you on a boat. The second party was even better, despite the fact that Dele Sosimi and his band didn’t actually play (it would have been challenging to find space, and amplification, for his entire Afrobeat Orchestra to be fair). It turned out that a boat party with Dele Sosimi was, in fact, exactly that: a party, on a boat, with Dele Sosimi. And he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as everyone else.
What was already a brilliant day at Soundwave culminated that evening in Dele’s incredible set – if he ever plays in your town, be sure to go. If you don’t enjoy it, I will personally refund you your ticket. (I won’t ever speak to you again though, you joyless philistine.)
Those days in Croatia were incredibly special, from beginning to end (even though headliners Fat Freddy’s Drop were rained off). Dele Sosimi deserves a special mention for his part in that, for dancing with me on the boat, playing an amazing set on Sunday night and livening up the 6am coach journey back to the airport on Tuesday morning by chatting to us and generally emitting lots of positive energy. Thank you Dele, you are a true legend.
When I’m on holiday, I rarely watch the news or read papers – and I usually switch mobile data off on my phone so I can enjoy a few rare days off from my relentless compulsion to check Facebook and Instagram every two minutes. It is blissful, but it does mean that your post-holiday come-down is rather intensified by the realisation of what has been going on in the world whilst you were worrying about having to go on two boat parties in one day.
First came the news of the MH17 disaster – a senseless tragedy that it’s hard to find appropriate words for. Two further airplane crashes have since taken place, although the MH17 crash is set apart by the staggering fact that the plane was shot down. In any case, friends and family of the 450 people airplane passengers who lost their lives over the last week are left to come to terms with their loss. A picture of children’s toys scattered at the MH17 crash site in the Ukrainian cornfields keeps haunting me.
And then there is Gaza, where violence escalated to unbelievable proportions whilst I was eating grilled squid, drinking cheap Croatian beer and dancing. I am acutely aware of my own ignorance when it comes down to the complexities of foreign political conflicts, so I won’t embarrass myself by offering any type of analysis of the situation. Mine is a response that I am sure many of you share: a deep emotional sense of wrongness, helplessness and guilt. Guilt because of the sheer contrast between my life and that of the beleaguered Palestinians who are unable to protect their own children from relentless and seemingly indiscriminate Israeli bombings (please take three minutes to watch this emotional account from Channel 4’s Jon Snow, it is heart-breaking). Helplessness because I don’t know what to do about it, beyond signing petitions and making donations.
There isn’t even a real point I am trying to make here, other than that I am very lucky to have the kind of life where I can spend five days in Croatia partying in the sun, and six months off work to try and ‘find myself’. I am #firstworldproblems personified. A few weeks ago a lady from South Africa commented on my blog to say she admired me for what I was doing but felt some unease at the basic fact of my self-imposed unemployment when so many around her were struggling due to their inability to find work, sometimes for generation upon generation. She is right, of course – my endeavour is a selfish one, only made possible because I am lucky enough to have been born in a tiny corner of the world where prosperity is the norm, into a family that was able to provide me with all I needed and give me a privileged head start in life.
So here I am continuing with my little privileged life, buying tickets for Soundwave 2015 and looking ahead to the last episode of my career break which will finally see me starting with the wonderful Blast Theory next week. I feel very grateful for what I have, and I do want to end this post on a positive note as I’m starting to feel a bit gloomy. It is helpful to put your own life into perspective sometimes, and I will try to remember that the next time I am moaning about something small and insignificant.