Sunday, November 06, 2005

Kente, Lace and Champagne

Pondering a photo and poem to (belatedly) complete the London's Got Soul Trilogy...

Kente Lace country chic

Photographers talk about seeing The Shot, knowing as they press the button that they have captured a great image. I'm not much of a photographer and have only come close to this once, 45 seconds before I took the above photo. As it turned out, it took me that long to find my camera and I missed the shot I wanted when additional people walked into the scene. The occasion was a friend's wedding. Still I think it turned out fine and the sight compelled me to declaim some spontaneous poetry, or doggerel as my friends labeled it.

The first two lines were obvious
Rolling hills of fair Essex
Stately homes and greener pastures
rolling hills of fair Essex

As was the eventual final line
Kente, Lace and Champagne

In between there was what you would expect: musings on the wonder of the Accra style

ken kukua ben issac

and Jamestown posturing melded with East London street smarts.

kobi bride ladies

It appeared to me that all were trying to create high society. One can imagine everyone settling for high tea at Fortnum-and-Mason's what with the costumes and the hats on display. And yet these are all normally unprepossessing Londoners who hustle and bustle on crowded buses and the packed cars of the underground. But give them a happy occasion and a fine setting, and they'll be all Ascot top hats and (relatively) stiff upper lips.

When you mix lace style and kente chic with a London sensibility all that's missing is champagne.

lace style

dad mary-ann

green kente smile

[Update July 7 2020]

I recently recovered my notes on the poem I had written - a kind of covidious dividend, and thought I should share instead of fussing and rewriting them as is my normal wont. Still, I suspect the title is too good and a different piece of toli may emerge later under its banner...

Kente, Lace and Champagne

Rolling hills of fair Essex
Stately homes and greener pastures

They may only see us as their care home cleaners
Invisible workers, some call us your infrastructure

For on weekdays and nights our game faces are firmly fixed
But on such an occasion the ceremonial mask slips

The light shines amidst the grey blandness of exiled time
We escape the torrid zone of the daily bread line

We are royalty back home, our traditions meet modernity
Agona Swedru expatriates dressed here in Jamestown finery

Your fashions were invented in our hometown cradles and pots
You might say cool was a word derived from our plush cloths

In your pursuit of black and all the other forms of gold
Our country chic of shimmering lace hints at our riches untold

Dresses hand sewn by seamtresess with craft and delicacy
We dance in the grand estate and enjoin all in the revelry

These African ceremonies are our relief from immigrant pain
We toast our brethren and sistren with kente, lace and champagne


And while on the topic of champagne and London, I came across this tidbit about the improbable ascendency of British wine in recent international competitions.
Champagne houses eye up English vineyards

From Kent's Isle of Thanel to the Sussex Downs, what began as a rumour, or a bruit as the French might say, may soon become a brut reality.

French champagne houses, impressed by the strong performances of English wines in international competitions, are looking to buy English vineyards.
The French, who have always looked askance at the culinary prowess of their now Channel Tunnel linked neighbours, of course were rather skeptical about this development. But they are nothing if not pragmatic when it comes to money hence they will scope out the competition.

The English reaction to this scrutiny is an interesting blend of stoicism and prickliness.
"Why should we help the French when we are already producing better champagne on our own?" he said. "We have exactly the same soil conditions and thanks to global warming the climate is actually better. The only difference is I'm not allowed to call our wines champagne."

"It's got to be better than growing cauliflower."

"At every English sporting event from Wimbledon to Ascot, we toast the victors with French champagne", he said. "We'll probably be toasting the anniversary of our victory at Trafalgar this summer with French brands too, it really gets my goat."

British wine?

Soundtrack for this note

A short playlist is in order

Kente, Lace and Champagne, a photo album

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Anonymous said...

Salut, j'adore les photos, l'article, mails surtout le titre..!
A bientôt :)

Anonymous said...

Salut, j'adore le titre..!