Saturday, 1 September 2007

Eating the Band's Nuts

Saturday saw the arrival of the first summer weather I've had this year. And possibly the last. We were invited to a Carribean party ('Flowered shirts, grass skirts, or whatever you were wearing as the ship went down'). Good party, although I felt oddly compromised as the only sailor.

Best of all was the steel band. There were chairs and a table close by the gazebo the band was playing under, with drinks and dishes of nuts. We sat down. We drank the drinks and ate the nuts. The band watched us and beat hell out of their pans. It was as if they were trying to tell us something.

Later they took a break, and joined us at the table. 'We've probably been eating your nuts', I joked.

'Yes, you have', they replied. Not joking.

The band was named Nite Blues. The double and bass pans were played by twins who had come over from Antigua round about the early 1970s. They came from a very musical family. Every child (and there was a history of twins and triplets) was allocated an instrument - in their case, trumpet and sax. Each of the twins wanted to play, and was better suited to, the other's instrument, but they were not allowed to change. Instead, they evolved a unique act in which they crossed arms and blew their own instrument while keying the other's. It went down well.

The lead pan was played by an English-born girl who told us that she was shortly leaving for Ghana with her three children, because the UK was no longer a safe or suitable place to bring them up.

Nite Blues opened the very first Notting Hill Carnival, and have played for Sammy Davies Junior, Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, to name but a few.

They wanted K to go back and get her guitar, but she had a go on the pans instead. She did rather well, so they forgave us for eating their nuts.

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