Friday, 15 June 2007

A Brush with Cuba in Summertown

Miladis Diaz shows paintings by Cuban artist Fuster at The North Wall of South Parade, Summertown, Oxford

A stroll into Summertown today resulted in a surprise Indian lunch at the Spice Lounge (a bargain at £4.95!), a coffee in Costa's watching Oxford Uni students spilling out of their Prelims in sub-fusc (and pink carnations...we always wore red or white...since when is it pink?) and then a drop-in to an art exhibition on South Parade where one of Cuba's premier artists, Fuster, is showing his work.

(see The Colours of Life, in Oxford until 24th June)

Miladis and I had a nice chat about Havana and Cuban art. I told her I was writing a book set in Cuba and this morning had written a scene set in a 'country school', where high-school students are used as unpaid labour to harvest coffee for the state-owned industry. I admired her name, as exotic as are many Cuban names.

"The truth is, lots of them are made-up," she said, blushing.
"And they're the better for it," I said.
"I'm not so sure. You get all these silly ones, starting with Y... it's a generational thing," she said. "People in their twenties and younger. Ynieski, Yulieski, Yolexis, Yoanni, Yumiel, Yadel, Yonelki, Yunior..."
It was my turn to blush. "I used the name Yoannis for one of my characters," I admitted, "And I know a Yunior..."

Miladis gave me the phone number of her friend in Havana for next time we're there. Her friend is a biologist who writes children's books, as coincidence would have it!

2 comments:

Ali said...

Might have to stop reading this before go insane with envy at your current lifestyle. While you're swanning around art galleries, discussing names beginning with 'y', I'm on my knees in the sweltering loft, banging my head on beams and hoovering mouse poo out of the corners. And not much time for impromptu Indian lunches either, til I've written the assorted works of fiction that constitute my teaching practice lesson plans, my end of year reports and my diploma research project... Sigh...

The sonic divce for mice is not enough on its own. Had two in operation while we away and still came back to assorted shredded things (they like oven gloves, for some reason) and trails of droppings.

Deborah's phobia is extreme, and when we discovered they'd been in the loft too, she felt surrounded and could barely speak for the horror of it. So now have three large electromagnetic and sonic devices, each meant to be enough for our whole house, plus three baby sonic devices for the bedrooms. Oh, and they forfeited their right to life when they got at the Green and Blacks, so there are a dozen trays of turquoise poison scattered around in corners and we're just waiting for the sweet smell of decomposing rodent to waft up from the floorboards...

Don't tell Kizzie.

MG said...

Well, check the subtitle of this blog...I'm easy on the angst, heavy on the hedonism.

So I'm purposefully NOT writing about all the difficult things in my life and finding the little nugget of joy in every day on which to concentrate.

It's part of the visualisation, babe. And as for your rodent problems, I'm sympathetic but you'll understand from our conversation about The Secret that, yanno, I can't have any truck with negativity.