WHO ATE MY UNCLE?

July 28, 2021
Photograph by Tracey Moberly

GREAT YARMOUTH – 2021

Dear Reader,

Someone ate my uncle
And I want to find out who it was
And then shake their hand.
Or at least shake the hand of the nephew of the man who ate my uncle.

And yet…

It is more complicated than that.

What follows are some of those complications…

There are many claims that can be made for Great Yarmouth. Not all of them are true. One of them is that Great Yarmouth is the town within the Atlantic Archipelago that is closer to Berlin, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo than any other.

Those living in Lowestoft might disagree with this claim. 

But…

Lowestoft does not have the Roller Coaster ride that Great Yarmouth has. It is the second-longest Roller Coaster ride in the world. And we all like to ride. Ask Iggy. And it was built in 1932, thus long before you were born, and has been in operation ever since – I know these things.

And…

The reason why I know these things is that my Grandfather took me and my big sister for a ride on the Roller Coaster when I was nine years old back in 1962. It was both the scariest and most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.

Ever since that summer of ’62, I have been searching for something that is both more scary and more exciting. Travelling up the Congo River in 1996, during The First Congo War, was a distant second.

Also, Great Yarmouth is the only town in the whole of the cosmos that could prompt me to ask the question ”Who ate my uncle?”

Sometime during the first Lockdown of the Great Pandemic back in the Spring of 2020, when according to the schedule of The 25 Paintings world tour, I should have been in the city of Bingöl in Kurdistan, I started to question things. One of the main things I was questioning was the whole notion of me stomping around the planet with my big boots and “look at me” attitude. It all smacked of white privilege and smelt of it being a hangover of empire – that one where the sun never set.

Then…

I got an email from Jules and Kaavous, who it turned out were now living in Great Yarmouth and had somehow got the rites to make things happen in a closed-down Debenhams department store and were calling it PRIMEYARC. As in, now that we don’t have to go to department stores anymore ’cause we can get everything from Amazon, excepting interactive art.

Do you have the Ola-Art app yet?
Art to your door within ten minutes anytime night or day
Or that is the claim.
Will it make the likes of Turner Margate obsolete?
That is the question.

And…

Jules and Kaavous wanted to know if I wanted to do something at PRIMEYARC? And across Great Yarmouth?

Of course, I did.

And they also told me that they were working with a community of economic migrants from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. These economic migrants were mainly working in the Bernard Matthews factories killing turkeys for Christmas.

Anyway…

I thought, maybe from here on in with The 25 Paintings world tour, I should not do the stomping around the world with my big boots, but gatecrash people in these islands that have come from distant parts. As in people that really needed to do the travelling across seas and lands to get here. And once here, have enriched our lives and cities and sad & rundown seaside towns, with their ways of seeing things.

Maybe I’ve told you about this before – but anyway.

Then…

One night, while sitting with Tracey in an Uber. This was after Lockdown One and before I got rid of my Uber app. The driver said to us, “Do you mind if I talk to my mate on WhatsApp, we will be talking in Cape Verde Kriol”.

And not only did we not mind, but the sound of this language triggered something. I was already gatecrashing.

“A gatecrashed party is always better than one you have been invited to” Discuss.

The next morning I contacted Jules and Kaavous. I asked them if any of the folk they have been working with talk Cape Verde Kriol. And they said “Yes, she is called Ana. She’s great. She leads a dance troupe.”

And…

Then I got in contact with Ana.

And Ana agreed to translate all the words that I wanted translated into Cape Verde Kriol, so that I can use them on The 25 Paintings for this year’s leg of The 25 Paintings twelve-year world tour.

Today I got the translations back from Ana.

They are as follows. Or at least underneath whatever writing I have yet still to do.

Tomorrow I start to repaint The 25 Paintings from Kurdish to Cape Verde Kriol.

Have you ever been culturally appropriated?

And…

For much of the month of September and even some of October – Global Pandemic willing – I will be based in the former Debenhams, as in PRIMEYARC, in Great Yarmouth. That is when I am not going for my daily ride on the Roller Coaster – care to join me?

Do you like to ride?

Now I know Tracey might not be pleased with the shrinking of my horizons, as she was looking forward to directing the film I wanted to make when we got to Papua New Guinea in a couple of years. As in the film with the folk that ate my great, great uncle – Oliver Tomkins – back in 1901. But I don’t think even Tracey will be wanting to deal with me if I am having one of my brain seizures when we are paddling a dugout canoe down the Aird River and I’m wondering if human flesh tastes better rare or well done. With fries or rice? With chilli sauce or just some pepper?

But…

As it happens my Uncle Oliver was from Great Yarmouth.

Anyway…

This all prompted Tenzing Scott Brown to write one of his plays, it’s called WHITE MALE GAZE. There will be a reading of this play at PRIMEYARC. This reading of the play will also involve some of Ana’s dancing girls.

Does cultural appropriation begin at home?

WHITE MALE GAZE will also be published as a book in an edition of 400. This book will be available from The Travelling Salesman.

Yours Faithfully,

The Elderly Gentleman

Post Script:

What follows are the Cape Verdean Kriol words that I will be using on The 25 Paintings, along with their English translations:

1:
DRUMMOND’S INTERNATIONAL GREY
CINSA INTERNATIONAL DRUMMONDS

2:
MAKE SOUP
FAZI SOPA

3:
ELVIS LOVES BILL
ELVIS T’AMA BILL

4:
BAKE CAKE
ASSA BOLU

5:
INTERCONTINENTAL TWINNING ASSOCIATION
ASSÓSSIASON D’IRMANASSON INTERKONTINENTAL

6:
FORTY MINUTES
KORENTA MINUTA

7:
GREAT YARMOUTH
GREAT YARMOUTH

8:
WHITE SAVIOUR COMPLEX
COMPLEKUS DI SALVADORIS BRANKUS

9:
CURFEW TOWER
TORI DI TOR DI DETA

10:
FORTY SECONDS
KORENTA SUGUNDUS

11:
MAN MAKING BED
OMI TA CONSTRUI CAMA

12:
DANCE
BADJA

13:
ATLANTIC ARCHIPELAGO
ARKIPELAGU ATILANTIKO 

14:
SING
KANTA

15:
MAN SHINING SHOES
OMI TA GRAXA SAPATU

16:
THE LONE SWEEPER
UN BARIDA

17:
WHO ATE MY UNCLE?
KENHA KI TA ODIA NHA TIU?

18:
TWENTY FIVE PAINTINGS
VINTU CINKU PINTURA

19:
TRUE TO THE TRAIL
VIRDADI DI UN LUTA DI VIDA

20:
TWELVE STEPS
VINTI PASSU

21:
MILLION STITCH BLANKET
MILLION DI PONTU

22:
BANG DRUM
TA TOKA NA TAMBOR

23:
BEST BEFORE DEATH
MIDJOR ANTIS DI MORRI

24:
BLOW HORN
SOPRA KIFRI

25:
LIFE AND DEATH OF AN ARTIST
VIDA I MORTI D’ UN ARTISTA