Tuesday, May 30, 2006

No Slaving for Bread, Sir

On a bus journey yesterday, a man and a woman got on and sat right behind me. After a few minutes the guy called out to me:

"Excuse me? Excuse me?"
"Yes?" I said.
"Are you Desmond Decker?" he said.

Why would he ask me such a question? Do I look like Desmond Decker? Interesting enough, I read Desmond Decker's obituary in a newspaper two days before. Before the Reggae star Bob Marley became popular, Decker was the most famous Jamaican musician. He had several hits in the UK in the sixties, including the song "Israelites" which is often used in commercials. "Israelites" is also a song that is popularly misheard as follows:

Misheard Lyrics:
Get up in the morning, ache in me head, sir
Taste in me mouth like a parrot that's dead
Ooh, ooh, me ears are alight.

Original Lyrics:
Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir
So that every mouth can be fed
Poor me, the Israelite.

Misheard Lyrics:
Get up in the morning, sleeping for bread, sir
Sold out to every monk and beef-head
Oh-oh, me ears are alight
Why find my kids? They buck up and a-leave me
Darling cheese head, I was yards too greasy
Oh-oh, Me ears are alight.

Original Lyrics:
Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir
So that every mouth can be fed
Oh-oh, me Israelites
Wife and my kids, they pack up and a-leave me
Darling, she said, 'I was yours to receive'
Oh-oh, me Israelites.

Misheard Lyrics:
Get up in the morning
Baked beans for breakfast.

Original Lyrics:
Get up in the morning
Slaving for bread, sir. Am I Right.
Yup, "Israelites" has given me hours of entertainment. I wondered whether I had attracted these passengers because I'd read Decker's obituary. Out of curiosity, I turned round and said to the man, "Are you Desmond Decker?" He said he was. I later realised he had been trying to ask me whether I was a fan but couldn't quite get the words out. He was a huge Decker fan. He said Decker had inspired him throughout his life. I told him I liked some of his music, at least what I could understand of his lyrics.

My new friend introduced me to his girlfriend beside him. He said he even had a Jewish middle name and he's been to Israel several times. I said my name, Enocia, is from Enoch which is Jewish. He said he loved my name.

He said it was a special day for him and he wanted to give me a present. He handed me a watch. He said it was too big for his wrist and he wanted me to have it. I thought he wasn't all there. If he was, he would have noticed that my wrists were even smaller than his. Or as my mother said when I shared the story later, both of my wrists could easily fit into the watch strap. So my mother was exaggerating slightly, she left out my ankles. Hahaha

I thanked my friend and said I couldn't take his watch. He insisted I accept it. He said it would make him very happy. He also felt that I was meant to have the watch as a gift. Oh well, no one's ever given me a man's watch before. I accepted and thanked him.

He asked me if I was in good health. I said I was, thank God. He insisted that I say "touch wood." As there was no wood in the bus to touch I imagined I was touching one. During our conversation he would say something and get me to repeat the word. For instance he said

"Next time we meet, I'll say 'en passant' to you. Say 'en passant.'"
"En passant," I said.

He said he was on some kind of medication. He and his girlfriend were under a community health scheme. Aha! They were on their way to have tea at their favourite cafe. He said he was studying "travel and tourism." I asked him how long his course was for. He said it was indefinite.

I asked him what was so special about today. Because it was a bank holiday. Are you sure you want me to have your watch?

He felt he was having an important conversation with me and he was so grateful to have met me. I said it was my pleasure meeting both of them. I wished them all the best.

Later on my way home on another bus I took out my new prized possession. It's been years since I've worn a watch. Now that I've broken that habit, I don't intend getting back into it. I was still curious to see what model I had acquired. It had the logo CK on it. Could it be Calvin Klein? It was too dark for me to read the logo properly. When I got home I used the magnifying glass. It wasn't CK but GK: Giovanni Kelvin! Who the hell is Giovanni Kelvin? I offered the watch to my mother who collects watches and clocks but even she wasn't interested in a GK watch. Oh well, I'll keep it to remind me that unlike Desmond Decker's lyrics, I don't have to slave for a watch, even if it is a GK watch.

Life is full of wonderful surprises. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Perhaps, an Yvonne St Lawrence perfume, or a Christiana La Cross outfit. All things are possible when you believe, right?