FATMA THE BEARDED CAMEL WOMAN
Isn't it amazing what you come across whilst stalking the streets of Tunisia? My mother and stepfather have just returned from a holiday there over the New Year holiday period.
She rang me part way through her stay...
"Hi Mum. Are you both having a good time?"
"Yes it's great. Listen I have to be really quick. I've just seen a David Bowie CD in a shop across the road. It's called 'David Bowie 2000' and it's got lots of tiny little photos all over it. There's only one left and I'm sure you've not got it."
(How the hell she knows I've not got this I've no idea).
"No Mum it doesn't ring a bell. I've never heard of it. It's probably just a CDR bootleg or something. How much is it?"
"Well it's ten Dinars."
"How much is that?" I ask.
"About a fiver. Do you want this or a t-shirt with Tunisia on the front?" she asks.
"Mother what's the point of me having a t-shirt with Tunisia written on it when I've never even been there?"
"Well do you want this Bowie CD or not?"
"Erm... yes please buy it then if it's only a fiver I'll sort you out when you get back. But please don't get me a t-shirt with Tunisia written on the front. It's winter." I plead.
"What about one with Tunisia written on the back?" she asks.
"Mother please - I don't want another t-shirt with anything written on it - front OR back."
I'll interrupt at this point to explain that my mother, who goes abroad about eight times a year, always brings me back a t-shirt with the place name emblazoned on the front from wherever it is she's been to. Why she does this God only knows. I'm sure she's not doing it intentionally just to piss me off. For my holiday we usually get two weeks in Bognor if we're lucky.
Even both my children have ALWAYS called her 'Nanna Greece', not Nanna Babs, or Nanna Barbara, it's Nanna Greece. My son Michael, when aged around two years old, asked where his Nanna was. I explained to him that she was on holiday in Greece, hence the name stuck. A couple of months later and Michael is asking "Where's Nanna Greece?" and I have to explain that Nanna Greece is on holiday in Cairo or somewhere. Good old Nanna Greece. Yes she gets some peculiar and funny looks in the park when either of the kids shout out: "Nanna Greece will you push me on the swing?"
On the very rare, and I mean, very rare times I'm ever forced to wear one of these "non vacational" t-shirts, it's usually when I'm fixing the car or doing the gardening. Next door neighbour Jim - who'll be leaning over the fence - will ask something like: "What was Honolulu like?" or "How was Bali?" or "What was (add any place name) like?"
You can imagine the awkward embarrassing reply to say the least trying to explain that I've never even been to the country in question.
Anyway... back to the telephone call...
"OK then darling. Love to Dawn and the kids. I'll see you all soon. Bye." Mum says.
So we say our tarrah's and I tell her to have a good time and that I'll her see her real soon and so on.
Two days later... phone rings again...
"Hi ya mum. Happy New Year. Everything OK? How's the weather there? It's bleedin' freezing here."
"Yes it's wonderful here. Lovely and warm. Happy New Year Son and stop swearing."
"Happy New Year Mum... wish Brian Happy New Year for me too." I ask.
"Brian says 'Happy New Year'. We've just been on a camel ride and arrived at this place called Soo... Suck... Suss... Sousse... Or whatever its called. Anyway I've been in another bazaar and I've found another David Bowie CD. It's called 'David Bowie Golden Collection 2000'. Have you got it?"
"No Mum. It's probably a bootleg CDR the same as the other one."
"Well it's a different name and a different cover. The cover is lovely. It's made up of (long pause - starts reading) - Black Tie White Nose, Ziggy Stardrops and Eartherlings."
Me laughing: "Stardrops? That's a floor cleaner. You mean Stardust."
"Yes Stardust you know which one I meant. It's ten dinars. They're all ten dinars. Shall I get this one too?" she asks.
"Please yes Mum if you would." I ask still laughing.
"There's lots of the normal Bowie CDs here. But I've only seen these two that are completely different."
(Again how the hell she knows this I've no idea).
So we say our goodbyes and she reminds me to pick them up at the airport at 2:00am on Sunday morning.
Ain't it great when your Mum travels the four corners of the globe and searches high and low for obscure David Bowie items for your collection? :)
I remember the time she came back from Hong Kong a few years ago. She presented me with 'The Best Of David Bowie' CD with rather a kewl looking cover. The CD proclaiming Starnice Limited (SNCD-758) 1993. Ooooo!... Ooooo?... Excitedly I put the CD in the machine. First track 'Jump They Say'. Never heard this version before. 'Wow I'm thinking. What the f**k IS this?' Excitedly I wait for the second track: 'Sound And Vision'. Out from the speakers I hear quite possibly the worst ever cover version of Roxy Music's 'Love Is The Drug' I've ever had the misfortune to hear. Not only that, the guy is singing with a Chinese/Japanese accent.
The remaining twelve tracks are all Bowie songs... 'Let's Dance', 'China Girl', 'Dancing In The Street', 'Under Pressure', 'This Is Not America', 'Tonight', 'Blue Jean', 'Absolute Beginners', 'Modern Love', 'Cat People', 'Day In Day Out' and 'Underground' - all done by this Tokyo Joe or Hong Kong Phooey or whatever this twat is called.
I go back to the opening track to listen very very carefully. Shit yep it's Tokyo Joe but with probably the best ever Bowie cover song I've ever heard. He got me good style and has fooled several other major Bowie collectors since. What a complete twat.
Anyway I digress... over the next couple of days, I'm sat here excitedly asking the missus "How long before my mother gets back?... "What day is it?... "I wonder what these Bowie CDs are?"... and so on and so forth.
Eventually I get the opportunity of getting my arse up from this computer seat and going outside in the freezing cold to pick my Mum and Brian from the airport at two in the morning.
I greet them at the arrivals area with me looking like something the cat has dragged in. I wish them both Happy New Year, kiss me Mum, shake Brian's hand and drive them back to their home. She explains she'll be around at our house after the kids have got home from school later on, after they've had a chance to get some sleep.
As promised, they duly arrive at our house later on that day to tell us all about their holiday and distribute their presents in a way that ONLY my Mother does.
My Mother can only be described as totally "over generous". She really is. She ALWAYS goes over the top in the gift giving department. I am spoilt - the family is spoilt. Everyone says so. Everyone except my mother and I. Obviously I know why she does this but that's another story for another time.
The "gift giving distribution ceremony" is identical every single time. Whether it be Christmas, a birthday, an anniversary, she ALWAYS starts off with a small present, followed by "the surprise". And yes, each time we have to pretend that it isn't coming.
An excited Michael quickly gets thwarted with a selection of Tunisian T-shirts LOL - but is impressed with one featuring the alphabet in English along with the corresponding Arabic characters. Within thirty minutes he's written a short story in Arabic entitled: 'Shoremon and The Knickers Of Sincerity'. Where DID we get this child from?
Jade gets a camel with a scary bearded woman doll sat on it - I kid you not. The dolls passport is dangling from a piece of florescent green wool wrapped around the camel's neck which states: 'I am Tunisian, born in Sousse. My name is Fatma. My clothes are typical and I would like ta visit your country. Let me go with you.'
DAVID BOWIE Golden Collection 2000
Label: Lighthouse UK: CD EMD 1055 (MLN 07/022) 1999.
01. Space Oddity
02. Life On Mars?
03. The Jean Genie
05. Lady Stardust
06. Ziggy Stardust
07. Under Pressure
08. Let's Dance
09. Dancing In The Street
10. Day In Day Out
11. You've Been Around
12. Nite Flights
13. I Know It's Gonna Happen Some Day
14. Little Wonder
15. If I'm Dreaming My Life
16. The Dreamers
17. Thursday's Child (unreleased Rock Mix)
It's a nice picture CD of a 'purpled up' Ziggy. But what a strange choice of tracks.
Next CD is entitled 'David Bowie Gold 2000' - 'Shit I bet it the same thing' me thinks. I'm surprised that it isn't. Another factory pressed CD this time with the 'D's the correct way round - LOL - made in Europe this time. The cover is made up of tiny black and white photographs from the Serious Moonlight tour. The same picture was used on a Spanish postcard a while back.
DAVID BOWIE Gold 2000
Label: Hitsound Europe: CD 07-530077-10.
02. Fame 90
03. Under Pressure 2000 (with Queen)
04. Space Oddity
05. Jump They Say (Dance version)
06. Ziggy Stardust - (live)
07. Let's Dance
08. The Heart's Filthy Lesson
09. Dancing In The Street (with Mick Jagger)
10. Little Wonder
11. Absolute Beginners
12. Black Tie White Noise
13. Hello Spaceboy
14. Young Americans - (live)
15. Thursday's Child
16. Strangers When We Meet
17. I Feel Free
19. Blue Jean - (live)
Now we're all sat there. I'm well chuffed with my factory pressed Bowie bootleg CDs and my smelly wallet, Dawn's happy with her Parisian shoulder bag, Michael is happy as Larry in his own 'stamp world' and then eventually Jade appears at the lounge door. Her face still lit up, doing this kind of sexy little belly dance thing in her white, completely see-through outfit... with no knickers on.
Everyone goes 'awww' and then one by one they realise she ain't wearing no knickers.
Jade's first words were... "Mum. I'm wearing this for school tomorrow."
"But Jade you can't - it's completely see-through."
"Yes I know," says Jade grinning - "That's why I didn't bother putting any knickers on!"
Thanks Mum - you're the best :)
17th January 2002.
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