Trending fashion for Fall 2012: Lederhosen!

When we bought our current house three years ago, we inherited the mail order subscriptions of the previous owners. And try as we might to stop the monthly flow of clothes catalogues, we are still regularly inundated with bizarre fashion magazines.

None, however, reached the heights of the latest arrival.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you THE fashion statement of Fall 2012:

Lederhosen are back!

And when you’ve finished laughing, check out the prices — these guys are serious! The lederhosen alone cost 250 euros!

And for the ladies … I’m sorry to say that I’ve already thrown out the issue with the Bavarian hunting smock with felt cap and falcon feathers, but this is still pretty … amaaaazing:

Ladies' fashion Fall 2012

Snoods are back!

Product placement

Practical product placement at our local drugstore. I’m curious to see if they offer a crossover deal, such as “Buy one vibrator with lubricant and get a free pregnancy kit”.

Product placement

Blue and yellow

Back to work on Monday after an exhausting IKEA weekend: long trip to the mainland on Saturday, then six hours shuffling round the blue and yellow megabox, sustained only by Swedish meatballs and a family-size bag of Daims; Sunday busy with the allen keys, baffled by pictogram instructions simplified for our 23-language community.

What did we buy? Well, after Mr B decided that we’d made too many hasty decisions (during our six-hour visit), you can already find half of the stuff on, the local, most popular equivalent of eBay.

Mr B is right, of course; IKEA specializes in the borderline of the acceptable; the grey zone of style where no one feels exactly at home but is at a loss for anything better, or affordable.

As part of my extensive research for this post, I came across this song by The Used.

[audio: The-Used-Blue-and-Yellow.mp3]

As far as poignant adolescent longing goes, it’s … apparently much appreciated by fans who bicker about whether the lyrics refer to romance, friendship or dope. Of course, it’s none of those things. Check out the lyrics from the chorus:

Should’ve done something but I’ve done it enough,
by the way your hands were shaking,
rather waste some time with you.

The references are so obviously IKEAN: the tension between the desire for Scandinavian design (kräap) and the fear of having “an IKEA house”; the way your hands feel after screwing together several flatpacks of mdf with a 4mm allen key;

… and the realization that time could have been better spent with the ones you love.

Life’s too short to visit IKEA.


Today is the most important national holiday in Senegal, Tabaski, the Wolof word for the Festival of the Sheep, known elsewhere in the Muslim world as Aïd-el-Kebir. It is a celebration of an event that is also important to Jews and Christians, that is, the sacrifice by Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) of his eldest son. If you recall the story, Abraham, aged 80, was still childless, and so promised God/Allah that he would sacrifice his firstborn if He would grant him a child.

(Don’t interrupt. I know it doesn’t make sense.)

A single child is born, Ismael. Years later, God reminds Abraham of his promise. Abraham is a man of his word and so prepares to sacrifice his son to God. At the moment Abraham’s knifeblade touches Ismael’s throat, the Angel Gabriel does a quick switcheroo and in the place of the child, puts a ram, whose throat is promptly slit.

As a reminder of Abraham’s act of faith, Muslims reenact the sacrifice of the sheep each year. Every head of the family (male, of course), is obliged to provide a sheep for his family. The obligation is not enshrined in the Koran, rather it is a social pressure to “keep up with the Jones'”, or the Dioufs, perhaps, here in Senegal.

Sheep envyWith the cheapest, scrawniest sheep costing about 2 weeks’ pay for many people (50,000 FCFA or 75 euros), I asked an acquaintance of modest means why he didn’t just buy a leg.

“Ah,” he sighed. “It’s not for us, the adults. It’s for the children. They can’t show their face at school if their father didn’t have a sheep for Tabaski.”

So 2000 years after the sacrifice of the son by the father over a point of honour, today’s fathers have to sacrifice themselves, often running themselves into debt for the rest of the year, in order to preserve their children’s honour. Sweet irony.

Of course, such subtleties are lost on the sheep. For him the story ends the same way.

Le mouton qui pleure

Gone crazy gone mad

Following the previous post about poor service, I felt I should balance it with a post about how difficult it is to run a small business in Jamaica, particularly when it comes to getting a loan. Shortly after we arrived in Jamaica last year, we considered taking out a loan to buy a car. Our bank was heavily advertising a loan promotion for buying a new car from certain local dealers. The way it was presented you’d imagine the interest rate was the lowest figure ever quoted in the history of financing. It was 18.75%.

We asked about loans for other purchases (we wanted, still want, some bookcases). In that case, the interest would be 33%! We were fortunate enough to be able to get a loan in Europe … at 6%, but few Jamaicans have that possibility.

I remember visiting a small town in Alsace many years ago. One section of the town had been the Jewish quarter. In the Middle Ages, only Jews were allowed to loan money (usury was considered sinful for Christians), and, what with the rising costs of financing military adventures overseas (plus ça change …), the local princes were all soon heavily in debt to the lenders. No problem. The princes simply banded together, whipped up some anti-semitic feeling, and slaughtered all the Jews. Debts cancelled.

And I bet they charged less than 33%.

Here is another example of high interest rates presented as if you should be amazed and grateful.

Gone crazy shopper

At this rate you can’t wait? In any case, after your “grace” period at 29%, you may freak out when you learn the normal rate is 49.5%. Ooops! Forgot to mention that, did they?

Look at that woman. She looks positively demented, or at least seriously unbalanced, judging by the way she seems to be staggering.

Gone crazy shopper (head)And what about her face?
Is she really happy
or is she actually
running away

(This is the kind of chain-mail I get in Jamaica)

This is to warn persons who intend to go shopping in the plazas this Christmas. Please be very careful, and ladies don’t walk alone. My cousin was held up yesterday (Friday, 8th December, 2006) in the Springs Plaza at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Three teenage boys came up to her, one hugged her (I guess to make it seem like they all know each other) the other two walked up to her then before she could say anything, one with a knife and the other with a bottle of acid. They took her phone and $6,000.00 that she had.

The police are saying this is the new trend of stealing in the Half Way Tree plazas this Christmas season.

Stay sharp!

I had already planned to avoid the area because of the almost permanent gridlock in the car parks at this time of year. Having suffered miserably last year while trying to do Christmas shopping, this year we did everything online. Result: no traffic jams or parking stress, no threats of violence, better quality products and much more choice. The only loser is the Jamaican economy because, apart from local shipping costs, every cent has gone overseas.