My song today is ‘Hot Stuff’ which Donna Summer recorded in 1979 from her album ‘Bad Girls’. The song was later recorded by in 2018 as a remix by Ralphi Rosario and Erick Ibeza entitled ‘Hot Stuff 2018 and went on to Number 1 on the US ‘Dance Club Songs’ chart.
This song reminds me not of the ‘taste of love’, but some rather spicier food. I used to be very friendly with a man called Balbir Kandola when I lived in Mirfield. Balbir was a devout Sikh and he was also a philanthropist. He financially helped the charitable ventures I organised between 1990 and 2000 on many occasions with his generous sponsorship of several projects.
Balbir, like many immigrants to England, arrived 'penniless', worked hard, and thrived thereafter. The industrious nature of Balbir and his family could be seen in their long hours of work. They were prepared to open their shop when other general stores were closed. The family would manage three general shops between 10:00 am to 10:00 pm daily, Monday to Sunday (inclusively), and every Bank Holiday. They would even open their stores on Christmas day between 10:00 am and noon, as well as 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm in the evening!
Twenty years after arriving in this country in the 1970s, Balbir owned three shops, one laundrette, and at least half a dozen flats which he rented out (all in the Mirfield area). Balbir and his immediate family also occupied a large mortgaged -free house in Mirfield. Everything he purchased was through his own cash. Loans and mortgages were never a consideration for him. He also put his three children through university.
Balbir never forgot his humble roots or the village of his birth, and he would return every year to put some new project into operation which he personally funded. Over many years he had paid for a small hospital facility and a children’s school. Back in India, he was known as a most generous benefactor to the poor, which greatly contrasted with the more disparaging image he had in the ‘white native’ populated area of Mirfield. Being a man who owned much, many people viewed him as being no more than a money-grabbing migrant shop owner who cared more for maximising his profit from the lives of poorer Mirfield citizens. If asked how he had amassed so many assets in so few years he would simply reply, ‘It just doesn’t ‘happen’, you know. It requires hard work.”
The family did not traditionally send each out Christmas cards, but the Forde household always had one delivered personally on Christmas Eve by a member of the Kandola family. Over the years I knew Balbir, never a Christmas morning went by without me paying a visit to his family house in Mirfield where I could never be allowed to leave until I had partaken of some Indian food and drink. On most occasions, I found the Indian food lovely but will never forget one Christmas morning at Balbir’s house. On this occasion, I was offered a nice bowl of curry. Now, allow me to explain, I had aged over 40 years without ever having eaten more than half a dozen curries in my life. I usually, left curry alone as I found all curries too hot for my delicate palate. Anyway, while my wife was cooking a turkey for our family Christmas dinner that we would eat mid-afternoon, Balbir’s wife, Fatmah, was preparing a nice traditional Indian curry for their family Christmas lunch, three hours before my own Christmas Day dinner. Fatmah insisted that I try a small bowl of her curry, and to avoid offending my kind guests, I accepted.
That was the hottest food that had ever entered any human mouth, and it made me jump around like a grasshopper on heat and drink tumbler after tumbler of water, much to the hilarious laughter of all the Kandola clan. Today’s song reminds me of Balbir (sadly long deceased) and their Christmas ‘Hot Stuff’ offered to me that Christmas morning. Rest in peace, old friend.
Love and peace Bill xxx