The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Rolling“.
Good afternoon Jon and once again, greetings from Coventry.
Miserable weather in the Midlands at the moment, which I know will give you perverse pleasure.
Summer it may be, but you can’t step outside the door without a fleece and waterproof.
I did two gigs this week with the Harrington Brothers, Horse and Wes, of Large Number Twelves fame and they went over a treat.
I think now England is leaving the EU the poms are looking for friends.
While traveling, I’ve been writing down the stories of some of the people I’ve met on the way, and today the chronicles of a bloke I met in the mountains in the far north of Vietnam, whose name I can no longer recall.
I’m going to relate his story, in the first person, minus the American accent. as it was told to me over a very cold beer.
To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:
People often ask me about my tattoos. They’re a mixture of Hopi, Navajo and Apache symbols, nations whose traditional lands are situated mainly in what is now Arizona.
They are strong symbols of life and hope
My father was a Norwegian prospector who took off when he found out my mother was pregnant.
I was raised by my mother and her family, members of the Hopi Nation, and became interested in native art and symbolism at a very young age.
As my interest grew, I began collecting and trading native art and textiles, venturing further and further afield.
I didn’t consciously set out to travel, I just started rolling, as my mother described it.
Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, right down through South America, the Pacific, Africa, Asia, the middle east – even above the Arctic Circle in northern Finland.
I turned seventy two last March and I’ve been rolling for over forty years now.
I’ve had Dengue Fever, Malaria and several other diseases that don’t even have names.
I’ve been robbed, stabbed and arrested when the taxi I was in hit and killed a cow.
Every time I think I’ve had enough and start to slow down, something turns up and I pick up momentum again.
I send what I buy to my agent in the States and she sends me back the money. It’s not a gold mine, but enough to keep me clothed, fed and on the road.
I don’t stay in hotels, usually hostels in the larger towns and if you ask around in the villages you always find a family who are more than happy to put you up and grateful for the income.
I’ve spent the last year in the more remote areas of Southeast Asia.
When I first visited Cambodia, I noticed the women preening each others hair, which I assumed was a cultural thing.
By the time I realised they were removing head lice I was covered in them.
I decided it was easier to shave my head and I made a rough sort of hat from coconut husk to protect myself from the sun, adding a couple of feathers for the hell of it.
The number of tourists who presumed it was a traditional headdress and asked me where they could buy one – I could have made a fortune.
Before I’d left some of the locals had begun making and selling them from the side of the road.
I guess traditions have to start somewhere.
You learn a lot about cultures, both surviving and extinct, from their symbols.
Values, beliefs, dreams, laws – even their diet.
It astonishes me how often I find similar symbols in cultures who could not have had any contact.
It’s almost as though the human mind has a collective consciousness and visualises feelings the same way.
I sometimes wonder what future generations will make of our symbols.
To be honest, I shudder to think.
© Copyright 2016 Ian Bland
Also have a listen to the songs on “Angel In Reverse”