Lijadu Sisters


I first met the Lijadu Sisters at a very trying time in my life.  I was working as a technical advisor at a hot air balloon company.  I was trying to get a licence for an on-site priest to marry people at altitude.  I was talking to a government official down the Duck and Drake in Yaxley.  

You can’t get married in the sky, he said.  

God can still see you in the sky, I said.  

I’m not getting into that, he said.  It’s just that the sky isn’t owned by anyone.  

Airspace is a thing, I said.  

Yeah, he said, but that’s just to stop Russians from flying planes over us, it doesn’t cover marriage.  

The sky above a country is still the country, I said.  

Sort of, said the government official, it’s just if you built a house in the sky, who would tax you?  

I don’t follow, I said.  

Look, it’s not going to happen.  

I’m sure you are wrong on this, I said, people get married in planes and boats all the time.  

Sort of, said the official, most people get the legal part done on the ground and then have the ceremony in the air.  

That’s lying, I said.  

Maybe, said the official, but it’s legal.  

So, I said, we register the marriage on the ground and then do the fancy bit in the air?

You’ve got it, he said.  

Fuck that, I said, we can’t sell that, it’s a sham.  

Sorry, said a voice from the bar, but why can’t you just have the balloon tied to the ground while the ceremony is going on?  

I looked up to the source of the voice.  Two women with short hair and flowing gowns were supping on pints of Oakham JHB watching the darts on the telly.  

Did one of you…? I asked, not sure who had spoken.  

It was me, said the woman on the left. I’m Taiwo, this is my sister Kehinde.  

I’m just here for the beer and darts, said Kehinde, not turning around.  

Would that work?  I asked the official.  

Would what work? He asked.  

If the balloon was tethered? I said.  

I suppose, said the official.  

Perfect, I said, and shook his hand. You get the paperwork and we’ll get the priest.  

There is no paperwork, he said.  

Then, why am I taking to you? I didn’t wait for a reply, instead moving to Taiwo.

Hush, she said, before I could speak, this is the final.  

I just wanted to-.  

Hush, said Kehinde.  

I only said that to shut you two up, whispered Taiwo. You were doing my box in and the solution was obvious, now quiet.  

I ordered three pints of Oakham and silently passed the two sisters theirs.  They nodded thanks without looking away from the darts.  After five minutes, Kehinde swore loudly.  Phil was robbed, she said.  

No, said Taiwo, Dennis deserved it.  

Ah, hush your mouth, I’m going out for a cigarette.  

You two look similar, I said to Taiwo.  

We’re twins, she replied.  

Pretty cool, I said.  

Not really, she said, sometimes I wish we’d never started this whole music thing, we end up in some right shit holes.  

You make music? I asked.  

Yeah, we’re doing a gig here in half an hour.  She swept her arm towards the corner where a band was setting up.  We’re the singers, she said.  

I think I’ll hang around, I said.  I did just that, and from the moment I heard the sisters sing Life’s Gone Down Low from their album Danger(1976) I knew they were something special.  After the gig I approached them and said, that was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.  

Thank you, said Taiwo.  

Is this fool still bothering you?  Said Kehinde, and we’ve been friends ever since.




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