20 Oct

50 Shades of Blue

Shantung & Tulle Dress by Shade Brielle

It’s been a busy last couple of months but I still found time to learn about the different shades of Blue, read a scandalous book on competition in black churches and ramp up my facebook activities on the business page.

On the home-front, hubby picked up his Blackberry this morning and went into the browser. Lo and behold, ‘someone’ had done a google search- how to fake being sick to your school nurse’.

We narrowed the culprit down to either child #2 or child #3. In cases like this I don’t believe in simply asking who did that. That’s too easy. They’ll admit and jump onto the emotional wagon as to the reasons they hate school. I prefer to use ‘small talk’ as my method. My first suspect was #2 because he’d been complaining of a runny tummy for the last week. I even gave him Imodium and Paracetamol. So I stole up to him in the bathroom and casually mentioned that I had been up for hours speaking to the doctor, because I didn’t realise that taking both Imodium and Paracetamol could lead to cancer. He stopped dead in his tracks:

#2: ”Mum, what do you mean?”

Me: Oh it’s only if it’s taken improperly, for example if you don’t have a tummy ache but you say you do, you know that sort of thing. Nothing to worry about.

#2: (Looking very worried); Did he say taking them together or taking them at different times?

I mumbled something incoherent and left him stewing. Five minutes later, he wanders up to me.

#2: Can children have cancer mum?

Me: of course, you know there are lots of Children at Great Ormond Street Hospital with cancer.

#2: What’s going to happen to them?

Me: Oh, some die, some survive you know the usual.

#2 Can cancer show up outside the body?

Me: (slightly confused as to what this has to do with anything) Not really, usually it’s too late by the time it is found out. But you have nothing to worry about, you have Jesus in your heart and you’re really ill. Now go get ready for school.

Then #3 shows up, “Mum, #2 just told me he has cancer.”

Mission accomplished. But I’ll let him stew all day before letting him know he’s been caught out.

#4, Josh has had his first days off sick at school, he had an eye infection. I picked him from school on Wednesday and he didn’t return till Monday. Here’s how the conversation went.

Josh: Mum do I have to go to school today?

Me: Of course darling, it’s Monday!

Josh: Ooooh! Flaps arms about in frustration. Why? Why do I have to go? Every single day I go to school why? Why do I have to go again? It’s not fair!

Me: Stunned into silence wondering what I did to deserve a drama king with mafioso style mannerisms.

I learned an important lesson on friendship this month. I am blessed to have some really good people as friends, that post on friends is coming up soon! But I also discovered something about a friend that revealed what they really thought about hubby and I. Not nice at all. We’re still friends but I’ve placed them neatly in a box labelled ‘one to watch’.

I’ve been nominated for an award- business of the year. I am chuffed about it and when I received the notification I didn’t ask who nominated me for fear of revealing the nagging thoughts that screamed; ‘you don’t deserve it!’. The award is given on merit by a panel of judges and not on votes. Sadly I don’t know the judges’ names as I would have asked my homies to go and ‘have a word with them’ complete with al qaeda threats. So all I can do is pray that their hearts are turned like a watercourse in my favour.

On the plus side I’ll be dining at the magnificent Savoy Hotel in London. That’s how come I got to know about the various shades of blue. I want to wear something in my company colours and ideally would be this navy blue dress by my good friend Shade, but since at $470.00 it’s ‘a little’ outside my budget, I thought I’d find an alternative. It was my search for something similar that led me on an adventure of becoming acquainted with ink blue, midnight blue, navy blue, ice blue, baby blue and kingfisher blue as relatives of the simple colour, blue.  I tried on this dress at Phase 8, but with the lacy bits I think it looks more like a party dress. I want to be taken seriously. So My options are down to a black dress with petrol blue accessories if  I can’t find the perfect blue dress. Which I won’t. Because the perfect blue dress is the one that’ll cost me $470.

I’ll keep you posted!

On the subject of black churches, my good friend Joxy is throwing it down with a series on how to run a black majority church. Please check it out here

And if you are looking for Christ-Centred Inspiration, check out my other blog, InspireMe.

Thank you for reading 🙂

19 Aug

Toks Uncovered

Yesterday found us at a parray! My big cousin turned 60 and we attended her surprise birthday party. It was grand!

I have no idea what the matter is with me but recently I’ve caught myself tearing up so easily. Even a fond memory has me welling up in tears. It happened again when she walked into the hall- all decked out for a party because she knew she was attending one, just not hers. When she walked in and everyone cheered, she realised what was going on and immediately started crying, then I started crying too.

Later when the announcement was made to give congratulatory messages, yours truly shot her hand up because she had plenty to say. The celebrant is a darling, darling cousin of mine and as I grabbed the microphone (which I’m not shy of) to give an epistle of her fabulousness, dusted with good humour in all the right places, I just knew I’d have the guests roaring in laughter and begging for my autograph afterwards. Guess what happened? My eyes welled up with tears again and I never made it beyond the first sentence. The rest of the night was spent kicking myself over and over again. Please if you have any explanation as to why Toks keeps crying, do share. Just to give you a heads-up to aid your diagnosis, life couldn’t be better for me, seriously. I have ‘found my happy’, when I cry I don’t feel sad at all, just happy and overwhelmed. I am baffled.

One reason I’m in a happy place is because I read ‘Who moved my Cheese’ by Spencer Johnson. I recommend it to everyone. It’s a funny little story that shows us what we’re like when we’re forced to change and we resist it. Cheese is used as an allegory for what you want out of life, financial freedom, a happy home, dream career, etc. The 4 characters in the book are all in this maze (life) searching for cheese. Sometimes they find it, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they get lost, at other times they hit dead ends. Either way they keep searching. The cheese station is the site of copious amounts of cheese, which is akin to finally having that dream job or meeting that special person to share your life with. Of course for everyone it is different. When the cheese runs out what do you do? In my case I began to see the truth about an ongoing saga in my life. I finally accepted that a part of my life I had held onto stubbornly for years was well and truly over. That cheese was finished and the crumbs were mouldy, but I remained at the old site of the cheese factory hoping it would somehow show up again. Letting go of the old has been a refreshing, liberating experience for me and  has freed me to move unto bigger and better things.

I met an old friend at the party, he is pretty much family and although we only tend to meet at family functions sometimes as rarely as every other year, we carry on where we left off, no warm-ups needed. He calls me Tokunbo. Most people at the party call me Tokunbo and I respond easily because it warms my heart. Anyone who calls me that has been in my life for a very long time. I tend to use Toks a lot more, but I love being called Tokunbo. It speaks volumes to me, comfort, home, familiarity, family.  Being in a ‘cheese station’ is a comfortable place to be and it’s hard to leave, but there are times we have to get up and move, either because the cheese has run out or our tastes has changed.

On another note, hubby used to call me Tokunbo, then he moved unto Toksi, then Toks and now he calls me T. I’m thinking the next step is to  just imagine my name and I’ll hear him.

Thanks to my dearest friend and sister Iluobe who started me on that path of  ‘happiness’, gave me the word ‘fabulousness’ and has been so kind to remain in my life. You are a blessing in a million ways, I love you sis!

Thanks to my dearest friend and sister Suzy who had my beautiful dress made in record time AND found someone to bring it to me on time for the party. When I think of the words ‘loyal’ and ‘reliable’ Suzy comes to mind. I love you Suzy!

Now let’s see if I have the guts to upload my photo to Pawpaw  & Mango and completely blow my ‘cover’, I do want you to see that dress!

Thank you for reading 🙂

26 Jun

This, That and Part Deaux of Church Wahala

It would suffice to say that the reason for a 2nd part to an April post is of course, my dealing with more church wahala. But I’d be lying, and as I already shared the lie I told in part one, I shall refrain from telling any more. Today’s thoughts and musings are enough to account for my er…intermission.

What hasn’t gone through my mind today? That’s like asking which models of cars drove during rush hour Third mainland, Brooklyn or Tower bridge. It has been a traffic jam of thoughts all day.

The four boys and hubby have decided to come down with a cough and cold, no doubt getting it before me so I’d be the one to nurse them all. I went from feelings of despair at the thought of waiting hand and foot on five men- little ones and large ones- to feelings of joy that I’m the presiding queen blessed to have them all in my life.

A friend changed her facebook profile picture to one taken back in her school days, I marvelled at how pretty she was then and still is. She appears to have perfect features- she’s from the Ashanti tribe in Ghana and has such a beautiful smile! Shout out to you Harriet O!

Son #2 found an unopened sanitary towel in the bathroom, opened it and brought it downstairs to ask what it was. After years of telling them it was part mummy’s make up kit, I told him what it was, straight-up! He knows all about the birds and the bees but I had omitted the towels part.

There are four people in my household who now use mobile phones, we also use the same chargers so there is sometimes a scramble for one. It is both disquieting and satisfying. On the one hand my babies are growing up too fast, the day is coming where we won’t be a young family any more- who am I kidding? The day has come. Son #4 thankfully anchors us to the coveted category of ‘young family’ as we sometimes go out with just him in tow, leading people to think he is our first- we love that. Yes hubby (not me) can be a fraud sometimes, he pretends to have just started a family. The thing is he looks like it too. On the other hand, it is satisfying because this is how it should be, things are progressing in the natural order. Babies should grow and one day turn into adults.

I miss my mum. Very much. She is an amazing, kind-hearted and selfless woman, it appears she has lived her entire life for us her children, and even now still places us ahead of any and everything else in life. I can only hope I do nearly as good as she does as a mother, if I do I’ll win a prize for the world’s’ greatest mum.

I spent Saturday evening with my dearest friend and sister, we watched the movie, Think Like a Man, and then gisted into the night. There is something about having a transparent conversation with a fellow sister that you really click with. I am so blessed to have a number of friends that share a connection with me on an unimaginable level. These are sisters I can comfortably call in the middle of the night without needing to apologise that I disturbed their beauty sleep. I am blessed to have some friends who are selfless and would go out on a limb and for me; and I’ll willingly do the same for them.

I have a half-finished post on the business blog, it remains half-finished because I started by talking about one thing, digressed and lost my way. With that admission, you obviously know where today’s post is going. Nowhere.

So to part deaux of my church wahala. Since the gist is stale, I’ll round it up by saying they incessantly texted and called us inviting us for one event or the other.

One day hubby ran into the man and he declared his undying love for us, shared how broken-hearted they were that we didn’t warm up to them. Don’t you feel the same way for us that we feel for you?’ He kept asking. And if you knew my hubby, he is not the touchy-feely type, Christian brother or not. He’s more like Jack Nicholson in the movie something’s got to give. We are friends, but no strings attached. So imagine his horror when this man went on and on, and in front of the shopkeeper too. Have we offended you? What if something happened to us, you would never have known. You didn’t even check on us. I will not yield to the temptation to type out the myriad of borderline expletives that went through hubby’s mind. Thankfully he didn’t yield either so they remained unspoken.

That’s been it, I am so glad to be back on Pawpaw and Mango- and yes I agree no one drove me away in the first place. I am excited about some help I’d be getting at work which should free me up to do what I love doing, writing.

Thanks so much for reading!

08 Jan

7 Things about me!

I am so glad we made it into 2012, “We” as in you and I. I have always liked the start of something new, moving into a new home, having a new baby, starting a new year and even writing in a new journal. The whole journal thing deserves a post by itself, I love paper. I love books and journals. I don’t just buy a notebook to write in, the cover has to have its own personality. The ones I purchase tend to depend on where I am in my life at that point, it’s almost a ritual. I arrive at the book or gift store in style- with no child in tow. This is a ME!! moment, like going to the spa. One season I picked an Indian baroque style journal complete with glitter and beads sewn in. Then there was a time I got one that was fabric covered in green linen- not just any green, a cross between olive and celery green. I love green, it’s a calming, peaceful colour. Next Journal was a rare 300 page one in a colourful, psychedelic design- you know that 60’s style design used to depict a drug-induced mind. That’s the one I’m still on- and I’m coming to the end. I haven’t started seriously shopping for a new journal yet because I just picked up a really cool day-to-a-page A5 diary. It is covered in a patchwork design that looks like a myriad of odd pieces of fabric haphazardly sewn together and I LOVE it! I chose that because I’ve recently been focusing more on interior design on the design blog. Read my posts here and here and let me know your thoughts if you don’t mind.

Okay I know I got carried away. I love the start of the year because it hasn’t been tainted with disappointments or regrets. It hasn’t even been tainted with sin or ill behavior either. Yankee candle do a scent called Clean Cotton, it really smells like a clean white bed sheet. That’s what the start of the year looks like, a clean white sheet.

Last year (I’m ashamed to say) I was honored to have been tagged and awarded a versatile blogger award by the oh-so-consistent-in-her-blogging blogger, Nita. Nita, you are a stylish and sincere writer and I’m glad our paths crossed! Thanks so much for the award! As you have already guessed I gushed and ah-ed about the award but didn’t write the 7 random things about myself, so here it is:

1) I converse with myself- a lot. Sometimes I do it when I’m alone, at other times I do it when others are around. I used to work with a young lady who would have spontaneous bursts of laughter and say “Toks you’re so funny!” in her sing-song voice. When I asked why, she’d say “you’re talking to yourself, again”. I would start to explain I’m not talking to myself, I’m talking my way through a task, but instead say “never mind dear” with my “this-is-too-heavy-for-you-to-understand voice.

2) I don’t like arguments or confrontations. Therefore you won’t catch me starting a conversation with; “I need to have a word, you offended me the other day”. If the offence is so bad that I can’t overlook it, I tend to drift slowly away from the offender.

3) My favourite childhood movie is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with Sound of Music coming in at a close second. My favourite grown-up movie (I nearly wrote adult!) is Gone with the Wind. I cry when I watch it.

4) I had a happy, flawless childhood, I have no regrets at all about growing up in my household and I owe that to God and Mum and Dad!

5) I hate fish. Okay ‘hate’ is a strong word, but I don’t like the smell, the skin or the bones. My mum had to have surgery to her throat when I was a child to remove a fish bone, maybe that’s where the aversion stems from. I don’t know how people systematically place a pice of flesh embedded with bones in their mouth and somehow manage to swallow just the flesh and spit out the bones in a neat, confident fashion. I don’t care to know either. The skin, I have found to be of an irritatingly sleek and slimy texture, plus the markings resemble that of a snake. As for the smell, I believe there is a part of the fish where all the smell emanates from, it’s that brown part next to the skin. Since I can’t be bothered to extract brown flesh, I just forget the whole thing.

6)  I love to take solo short breaks, no hubby, no child, just me. A the risk of sounding like a Buddhist or new-ageist, getting away helps me get in touch with myself, *insert peaceful, zen-like voice* I would love to go on an all-girls short break soon though, like the ones you find profiled in Essence magazine like The New Orleans Essence Festival or something like that- and short means no less than one week. I do the solo breaks to catch up on work, reading and just to enjoy my own company because I think I make good company 🙂

7) I was supposed to be a doctor- but I got, er sidetracked, we’ll blame hubby for this one. I have a super-retentive memory when it comes to anything to do with the human body or medication, but I’m apt to forget my friends birthdays 🙁

She said seven random things!  So I can’t tell you my most embarrassing moment-ever! (I would have gone on to tell you how I once walked in on my stark naked, middle-aged distant-relative. I was a teen and trying to act so grown up that seeing a grown man in his bathing suit was normal. It was his birthday and I wanted to be nice and give him a card, after all he and his wife had kindly welcomed me to their home when I arrived in Stratford. So when I knocked and I thought he said come-in, I behaved as though seeing him naked was no big deal. I still walked up to him to give him his birthday card while mumbling an incoherent ‘sorry, I thought you said come in’.  A normal child would have flinched and ran back. ) Argh!!!!

But if I told you I’dmlp+be breaking the award rules.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!!!

23 Nov

Regrets

It was 3 weeks ago as we prepared for church that hubby informed me rather solemnly that Joe Frazier had been admitted to a hospice with Liver cancer. I was shocked and sad. Sad for the man who was now nearing the end of his life, and shocked because I didn’t even know he was still alive- that shows you how much I know about boxing and even sports in general. I support Chelsea football club because Chelsea is a fine part of town and also like their jersey colour. I don’t know any of the players. I probably know the names but can’t say whether or not they play for Chelsea.

Anywho! I didn’t let on to hubby that I had no idea theman was still alive as that would have been a new avenue for him to ‘diss’ me. So he wonders out loud why he is in a hospice;  ”abi he has money problems?”  Trust me to quickly wiki him. So I start from the very begining and learned a lot.

He had a rough childhood. He was raised on a farm in South Carolina during one of the most racially charged times in America. He endured the humiliation of Jim Crow and his family, although owned a farm were not exactly wealthy. After he broke his left arm in a nasty fall from teasing their sizable hog, said arm became permanently crooked as his folks couldn’t afford a doctor, the arm was left to heal by itself. By the age of 15 began to fend for himself. Long story short, he got into boxing and that let arm became a weapon in his career.

His rivals were Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, they were the kings. Ali, who has always had a mouth loved to tease and curse, comes with the territory right? Well Somehow all that teasing and cursing didn’t go down too well with Joe and they became enemies. Later on Joe will refuse to have anything to do with Ali, even appearances and events that would have earned him some money. This carried on after he lost close to $1m on a land deal. The trust that held his money went bust and he lost it all. Funnily enough Ali also went through his own financial hell  due to mismanagement and being surrounded by vultures, some employed by him who did nothing but scavenge his fortune. His salvation came in the form of his current wife who fired everyone in sight and set things straight, charging for the use of his name, etc. I don’t know much about Mr. Frazier’s personal life to see if he also had a good woman behind him after he got divorced following a 20 year marriage. I do know however that he did sue his daughter for holding unto contracts and documents that supposedly would have made him more financially buoyant.  Apparently he was in such dire straits that he chose the one option he had. I have no opinion to air on this since I don’t know why the pikin sef was holding unto her papa’s stuff.

Through it all Joe remained bitter towards Ali, even after Ali apologised and said many of the things he said were wrong and were done to promote the fights. Here’s a quote from Mr Frazier during an interview: “I don’t mind talking about the rivalry I had and have with Muhammad,” Frazier said. “I know it’s what most people remember me for.

Well I beg to differ here. You should not be remembered for negativity of any sort. There is no pride in saying your legacy was being rivals with someone else, or worse remaining angry and unforgiving toward anyone.  Bear in mind that he was a heavyweight champion of the world and beat Ali, actually he had 32 wins, 4 loses and 1 draw and was inducted into the Boxing hall of fame. And when Ali lit the Olympic torch in 1996, he apparently said he’d like to throw him in the fire.

When asked about forgiving his opponent, this is what he said:

“Forgiveness? It’s not up to me to forgive him, only the Lord can do that. There’s no forgiveness.

“Who will be the best guy in the final round, who is the one of us two who is going to heaven and who is going to hell? I know which one it is and I sure ain’t the one who is going to hell.”

Folks, this interview was held last year. He was 68 at the time. To allow hatred to marr your life for so long is a tradgedy. It is as if his own hatred robbed him.

So Sunday had me imagining what he was thinking on his death bed. What do people think about when faced with the unwavering certainty that they will not be walking out of the hospital? Or while the nurses discuss about their shifts next week he knows without a doubt that he wouldn’t even be there? Imagine being told you have 5 days to live. Mentally you are stable enough to understand exactly what that means, you can even transport yourself mentally into the next 3 weeks but your living body will never arrive there. Your mind in fact is healthy but your body is dying and as healthy as your mind is, you cannot will yourself to be made whole again.

For some reason the word regret  has been playing around in my mind, i.e I don’t want to regret a single thing at the end of my life. I don’t want to sit and wish I hadn’t wasted my time and expended my emotional energy hating someone else, acting to please someone else or pretending to be someone else. I want to enjoy every moment of every day and be glad and rejoice in it. I want to see the beauty of God everywhere I go and even recognize that my trials are part of the tools needed to shape me into a beautiful soul, so that when trials come I’m not perturbed but happy that work is still being done on me. I want to be an excellent mum to my children and raise them well, while remaining a true friend and companion to hubby. I want to be a dependable friend, the type that has you confident to turn your back because you know I’ll be watching it not stabbing it. I don’t want to stop cracking jokes or being funny. I want to use up all of the gifts that God placed in me, they are many. I want to inspire people and make sure their lives are better because they met me.

I definitely want to keep blogging, but to do so very regularly and not sporadically. Did I mention I was still being worked on?

Thanks so much for reading!

PS;

If you are unsure about how to live free of fear or regret the one solution I have found so far is salvation through Christ. It doesn’t stop you from making mistakes or even physically dying, but it does give you a hope and a future and a new life after death.

18 Aug

Multiple Personalities & a London Street Market

I spent an exciting day at a business workshop in London.

My first shock of the day came when I introduced myself and stretched out my hand to shake one of whom I thought was a facilitator. She said; “no, you don’t need to shake my hand; I’m just here to sort out the video equipment”. My hand’s never been left hanging before. Hmm.

Thankfully I found a friendlier person in Vicky, the facilitator. She spoke slowly, carefully enunciating each word and with a smile. I think I’ll start to speak slower too.

Moving swiftly on I start to guess personalities and life histories of the rest of the delegates as they arrive.

The first to arrive was Sheila. Sheila’s in her mid-50s no doubt, very friendly with a cheery smile. When asked what her business was she proceeded to tell us how the company in which she had worked for 20 years went bust. So she took all her contacts with her and has now stared a business of her own, creating custom business stationery. She said the last two words with a nod. What we didn’t know at that time was she would go on to tell the whole story- nod included, each time she had cause to mention her business name.

Dot.

Dot is a little round with a lovely haircut; she seemed really busy even as she walked to take her place. Everything with her seemed so rushed, like she was only present because she painstakingly edited her plan for the day and managed to squeeze in a few minutes for the workshop. This was further evidenced when she was asked what she hoped to get out of the course. While others listed an average of 5 points, she only had one. What her business was? She had two. The first she’d run for 3 years- a service to transvestites. At that point I crossed out her name from the list of people I’ll be staying in contact with. She went into detail about the fact that she was a naturist turned swinger. I crossed out her name some more. Then she finally told us her second business which was in project management. She talked in detail too about that, I re-wrote her name while trying to see signs of trans-vness in her.

Kevin

Carpet Seller. Bless his heart he came with his daughter as he wasn’t computer savvy so she could help him out. Sweet guy, but had me wondering why he attended the course especially as he kept reiterating he was going to keep doing things the way he always had, even though the course was designed to reduce paperwork and make better use of one’s time.

Ruhul

I don’t think Ruhul knew why he was on the course. Recently arrived from Sri-Lanka, his bosses paid for and sent him on it, without telling him why. Lovely guy.

Lunchtime.

As Vicky wrote out our plan for the day on her flipchart, my eyes lingered on lunch time. You see years ago- in our student days Tinuke and I used to traipse around London, favouring good street markets. One of such markets was Leather Lane. I hadn’t been there in at least 15 years and couldn’t wait to go back. Vicky asked if 45mins was enough for lunch and I resisted the urge to shout NO!!!

Suzy's future bag?

The market has changed so much. Back then we used to buy high-street label clothes and shoes for a fraction of the price tag. There didn’t seem that many exciting clothes  any more. I saw some beautiful leather bags which I priced for Suzy, she needs a tote bag. It was £75 and retailed for £250. He’s usually there on weekdays and Camden market on Saturdays.

Street food.

That's my Daddy Chicken Burrito!!!

I had no idea we had street food in London, besides hot dogs and burgers. The market smelled delicious- Greek, Lebanese, Mexican, Mediterranean you name it all was sold on the street. It was divine. Reminded me of New York.  I went for Mexican and I tell you, it was good. Didn’t quite compare to Willy’s but it was pretty close. Now I had to face the challenge of eating it all up before my time (now 5mins) was up. And I did.

Thanks so much for reading, do come back!

20 Nov

“I remember…”

Excited because I caught up with a long lost friend today.

The best part of re-connecting is that we actually chatted. I mean, we caught up until our chats became separated by yesterday and today. And then she had to go to bed. So we’ll catch up later. Much better than the one who accepts (or sends you) a friend request and then doesn’t respond to a follow up message. And then you wonder if perhaps they do not sign in often but they do because their wall is peppered with hourly tid-bits and comments. Anyway I digress. During the course of our conversation Funmi mentioned the name of a town that I have not been to in well over 10 years. At that point I realised I have a memory for every place I’ve been to. A bit like child number 3 who has a narrative for just about every word he says. I guess he gets that from me, I have a story behind every outfit I own, many times when complimented on a dress, I start at the very beginning.

Stratford  Thanks to a kind family, I lived in Stratford for about a year when I first arrived from Nigeria. But the main memory I have is of the day I went swimming. I had this friend who wanted to date me. I come from the school of thought that belives in playing hard to get, yet I wanted to impress him. So when he asked how I spent my afternoons after school I told him I usually went swimming. He asked if he could come along the following Thursday, I wanted to show off some more so I said ‘sure’. Trouble is I couldn’t swim. Enter dear friend Eva. I grabbed hold of her and informed her that somehow, anyhow, I must learn how to swim by Thursday. Day after day we trekked to the swimming baths in order not to bring a disgrace upon my good family name!

Highbury My cousin lives there. Safety and security come to mind when I think of Highbury. My big cousin always was (and still is) a welcoming face. She loves to cook and entertain and so we have a feast whenever we go there. I remember standing at the bus-stop by the butcher’s waiting for bus 4 or 19. I didn’t mind at all as the butcher was just like the ones you read about in fairytales- fat, jolly and wearing a white stained apron. Next to him was the cobblers. Again like the ones we used to read about, particularly because where I come from they are not called cobblers but shoemakers. 20 years later, the butcher and cobbler are still there, same sign, nothing’s changed. That’s security, un-moved by time.

Elephant and Castle I hate that place. Sorry if you live there but I actually loathe the place. I have memories of dear friend Tinuke and I in our student days, living a student’s less-than-cushy life. Plus it took me a while to realise that the station actually had a shopping centre in it or vice-versa which was unbelievable dinghy, I thought it was an indoor market- then again maybe that’s what it was. Either way I still don’t like it.

Cricklewood  Many fond memories here. My uncle and aunt’s home and I loved living there. One day someone parked in front of the drive-in, Tinuke promptly told him to move his car as he was blocking our drive- not that we had a car. He refused. That night we both made eba (starchy, sticky African staple meal which hardens on exposure to air) and plastered it all over his windscreen then we stuck a note-” See, we told you not to park here!” I am cracking up as I write this! The next morning the oyinbo man came out and as Tinuke walked across the road, he tried to run her over, we burst out laughing! He was lucky it was a slightly damp night, the plan was to have had the eba harden by morning.

There are so many memories, some unbelievably embarrassing with a major cringe factor! Who knows, I might muster up the courage to share some day.  Like the day I walked in on uncle Ade…

Thanks so much for reading, do come back.