The French and Saunders spoof of Mamma Mia is absolutely amazing. Even more so amazing that I recognized more than half of the random TV stars doing their cameo.
Watching it got me reminiscing. I remember back when I was in the UK, during some of the weekends when my British housemates would go home or during the long breaks, I’d pop over to see some of my Malaysian friends.
Now one of my Malaysian friends, let’s call Sha, although more appropriately, we should call her the next Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia because she is that talented and smart, would have all these magazines on celebrities. Like proper trashy magazines with the most minor soap celebrities and she knew every single one of them.
And she’d really didn’t look the type that would celeb obsess. She had this hijab on and who comes across as this very stern and unfunny Muslim woman. Which confirmed the cliche, never judge a book by its cover. If you actually got to know her, she’s incredibly well, goofy.
Sha was an odd one, within a year of being in the UK, she spoke with a passable British accent, had all the right slangs and even watched TV like a local. I used to make fun of her for knowing all the Corrie episodes and actors very well. Heck, she watched Big Brother like a cult.
But she was adamant on being a good Malaysian. She would cook all our Malaysian food from scratch and if I ever were craving for something Malaysian (I’m the sort that would eat pasta with pasta sauce and lots of grated cheddar) I’d pop over to her place.
Fast forward a few years. Sha would hold a gathering for Eid every year, which I try to make it to because aside from being an awesome friend, she’s an even better cook. There was this one year, she did this incredible thing where she served pasta, lasagna, pesto for Eid as opposed to the usual fair of rendang and the sort. That year, she said something to me that left me with such an impression:
“I wish I cooked more Western food while I was in the UK. I feel like Imissed out on all the cheeses and stuff. Why on earth did I cook rendang when I could have it here for the rest of my life?”
Considering how she barged through her life with as much confidence as a rampaging bull, it struck me as strange that Sha would have any regrets at all.
But watching Red Nose Day made me feel the same way. Watching Philip Glenister going “Buh buh buh buh” gave me this ridiculous sense of pride. Not for the “Buh, buh, buh” bit but for actually knowing who this incredible actor was.
And it hit me that I’m no different from Sha, I’m watching British telly now because I didn’t back then. I’m reading The Guardian everyday (annoying left-wing preachy paper) because I didn’t then. Five years later and I’m still “living” in the UK. Watching Red Nose Day, Ashes to Ashes and Doctor Who all these give me a sense of comfort that nothing in Malaysia can give me.
I do feel, on occasion, the need to justify myself. Why do I prefer English literature and art more than the stuff of my own countrymen? Hell, why don’t I support our local artists? But after such a difficult week at work, I honestly don’t care. I don’t resent not loving my country as much as I could – I’m just happy that I can find comfort from some other places, even if it means from Doctor Who and Red Nose Day and not from here.
But for those of you who are in the UK – hope you guys donated! Wish I was there too.