Thursday, 13 December 2007

Back in The West Country

I have just been sung at . I was preparing to eat my carrot soup when behold! tidings of great annoyance and discordance wafted through the latticed windows. A group of anorak people with flattie shoes and specs (women) prominent Adams apples and bobble hats (men) engaged upon an assault on Ding Dong Merrily On High. There is an awful bit that goes Glor aor or or or or or or or or or or ORIA!!!!! which is a real mine field. I am telling you, not one of our homely choristers crossed the sacred territory without great harm being inflicted upon some fine old English traditions My God, it is so Posy Simmonds out here. And cold to boot. Bah! Humbug!
Oh! and off they go now on Away In A Manger! No Crib for a bed? Oh please. Didn't Joseph know things were likely to be booked up at Christmas? Idiot.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Monkey business

Cracking week in Parliament out here according to the Penang Sun newspaper. The speaker refused to allow a debate on the Indian demonstration in KL last week but they debated it anyway apparently "in dribs and drabs' on Tuesday.
The most exciting battle of wits came at the end of the session when Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Ipoh) "hounded Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Dr Mohd Ruddin Abdul Ghani for the price of the Soyuz capsule that the Malaysian government is considering buying" Crumbs. Really?
'Ruddin evaded the question about the capsule which Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, who Kit Siang referred to as space tourist, used in his travel in space and even tried to intimidate Batu Gajah MP with his knowledge of science'
Oh that is mean. Poor old Gaga Gajam. And why's everyone ganging up on parliaments favourite Time Lord, Dr "Muszaphar Ride" Shukor in Space? If he's already had a go in it? Or has he? Can't quite get to grips with this paragraph. Who went into Space? Where? When? In whose capsule? Getting used to the typo's but I think there's something adrift in the punctuation here. However not wishing to intimidate B Zainon Ahmad our political correspondent with a superior knowledge , which I patently have not got myself, I press on, as did the determined little Miss Fong apparently. Bless her
"but Fong was persistent and the duel seemingly unending until Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Yusof Yaacob (What happened to The Speaker? Who shot the sherrif ? Gone off in a huff over the Indian 'dribs and drabs" you betcha) asked them to stop remarking that both of them no longer understood what they were saying.
Hurray! A man after my own heart!!!
Moving right along then to weightier issues than space. Vis.
The Debate on the motion by Kit Sian to deduct RM 10 from the salary of of Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy .
(10 RM is One Pound and Twenty pence).
This debate was apparently 'most instructive in the use of colourful words and insults' Oh goody.
'Kit Siang called Datuk Bung Moktar Raden (BN-Kinabatangen) a monkey for interrupting him and the Sabahan retaliated by calling the opposition leader a pig.' Brilliant! Great stuff!
Dastuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN- Jansin) got into the act then and "called Kit Siang a clown for going on and on (Oh, I do sympathise)and Kit Siang riposted by calling Mohd Said a cyclop and asking him to close his three eyes"
Funny that isn't it? That a cyclop has three eyes and and a cyclops has only one? You'd think it would be the other way round.
Anyway, not wanting to intimidate The Leader of the Opposition by my superior knowledge of Greek mythology and since a large and very real monkey has now appeared in my kitchen on the fourteenth floor and is currently swigging from my carton of grapefruit juice, I shall close in order to fight my own battles.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Strokes Of Luck

Come on! You gotta admire the Head of the Tuition centre in Kepong, in a story in the Penang Sun today. Backed firmly up against the blackboard amidst allegations of the sexual harassment of a 13 year old boy, he has come up with a magisterial defence. Irresistible.
We live in a culture out here where people tickle the stomach of the lardy laughing Buddha on the way out to work hoping to engender wealth. They love a flutter. So how can you turn porn in to a winning streak.? Read on
'At a press conference last week, the boy, accompanied by his parents, related how the Head of the Tuition centre, while sending him home after a tuition at 11 a.m, took him to his house on the pretext of getting his wallet.' (Yeah, Right. Forgot your wallet. Right. I'm sort of OK with that.)
'While there, the boy said the man told him adult stories, asked him to pull his pants tights to show the outline of his private parts and told him to take a shower and masturbate , (more tea vicar?) Which he avoided pretending he was sick' (Smart kid, one should always have an off games note handy - preferably in your back pocket)
OK.! Here comes the defence! The jury are going to suck this up.
The Head of the Tuition centre said ' he was trying to enlighten the boy on sex as he had discovered that his charge was not paying attention in class and he believed he was bothered by questions about sex.' (Well it is bothering isn't it? Sex. Very bothering, if you can be bothered)
'He said he asked the boy to pull the pants tight like he did to show the latter the difference between a boy's private parts and those of an adult.' (Mmm... OK, pretty grisly but OK.)
'He said he did asked (sic) the boy to wash his face in the bathroom but the boy mistook him' ( case for defence gets a wee bit creaky here - no matter - press on)
'However, the man admitted he had wished the boy would take a shower in his home,' (coming clean now!) 'believing it would bring him luck as the last time someone took a both and masturbated in his bathroom, he struck first prize in 4D.'
Well thats worth a shot isn't it?
But 4D? D? Some duffer clearly needs to spend a lot more time in the bathroom

Monday, 26 November 2007

Exit pursued by Buddhists

Coming out of the Gleneagles Medical Centre today I was approached by two beaming young Buddhist monks who thrust a sort of shiny card in my hand and then started to force me to look at this horrid book of runes. I was so tired from my route march down the Burma road from the bank that I just said" no! no ! can't stop!' and returning their card , chugged off.
I have never been chased by monks before. Maybe they were just going my way but I felt I was being pursued and bolting across the road landed in a quag on the other side. Up to my ankles in filthy water. I had to slosh across to the Gurney hotel to sluice down my shoes and feet in the lavs . Bloody monks, fucking ruined my favourite shoes. I've had it up to here with Buddhism. I am well aware that I probably fell into the quag because I would not look at their rotten book, and it was my destiny and divine retribution according to the orange brigade, but in the meantime they can all take their wretched begging bowls somewhere else as far as I am concerned.
I had to buy new shoes at the Gurney!!!.
(They are lovely, backless, grey and pointy medieval , so am well on my way to forgiveness..)

Friday, 23 November 2007

On the buses

Been in bed now for two days with a frightful tropical cold. I must have caught it on the bus. I go everywhere by bus now, it is so easy and I have all the routes down and instead of costing 40 ringgits in a cab a day it costs 3 on the bus.. And I like the bus anyway, full of' local colour'. I DID get very cross last week though.
The bus approached after a rather unusually long wait, it was one of the posh new Rapid buses, not one of the filthy old buses where you throw your coins on a pile of dirty washing when you get in,. It went straight past. I yelled and it slowly came to halt and I had to run down the road to get on. WHEN I got on, puffing, I proffered my 1RM and instead of givng me a 1RM ticket from his new little bus conductors set. (JUST like one I had when I was 5!!) The Malay Indian driver,rather officiously I thought, said "Where are you going" " Batu Ferighhi" says I. "Oh" says he," that is 1.50 RM". I had already put 1RM in his little shiny bus conductors posting box and I knew it was the right fare. "No" I says " 1RM!" "NO" he says, "1.50 RM". Oh to hell with it! I forked a out another oncer and put it down the shute. Then I held out my hand for change. "NO change" he says. Grr! I started to boil, but by this time even the gentle Malays were getting a bit edgy and I was getting some beady looks from some flatty sandalled ex pats. I went grumpily to my seat.
Batu Feringghi arrives and I move to get off at the centre door. The getting OFF door does not open. The other door is by the driver and has a red sticker saying NO EXIT. He opens that door.. SO I have to go all the way down the bus to get off. As I got to his little cabin I gave him a full on blast, lapsing into terrific pidgin English, which you do when you have been here for a bit.. "YOU VERY BAD MAN!!' I cried "YOU BIG CHEAT" I glared at him and flounced off the bus. Behind me I heard shouts and general consternation.
On the way back, waiting for the bus on the other side of the road about an hour later, blow me if the very same bus didn't arrive with the very same driver with a completely empty bus.! Very embarrassing. He stops the bus and leans out to me, our altercation had CLEARLY been rankling him.
"You say Moto Ferry!" he says (or some such place I had never heard of )
" No", I says, "I said Batu Feringghii".
" No" he says.
" No" says I, and so on.
"OK" I said, "how about not stopping?"
"You must put hand up" he says (demonstrating)
OK I can do that. This is new posh Rapid bus rules, just like in England. On the old buses you simply had to be in a five mile radius of the bus for them to stop so desperate were they for passengers. Sometimes we'd wait for five minutes for someone to slouch down the road, navigate the traffic and get on. And then, no" Oh gosh THANK YOU'S or anything like pensioners do In England when the bus driver makes them run the last fifty yards out of the kindness of his heart.
" What about not givng me change then?" I says. In the old buses you just sifted through the pile of change on the laundry yourself for the requisite amount.
"No change" he says," I show!' and with that he gets off the bus to show me the sign on the side which says NO CHANGE GIVEN.
It was not there.
It had fallen off.
OK, but it should be there, right? Yup.
Now to the vexed question of the price. He prised open a little compartment and brings out the new pricing list. On the old buses it used to be painted on the front of the bus, scratched off rather badly, and was finally negotiable. On Rapid it is now 1.50 apparently, even though we don't get all the free carbon monoxide we used to get on the old buses, the great black plume of pollution that used to follow us wherever we went and fog our vision when we disembarked. You get to miss that. That and the string holding the wheels on.
OK, so we were sorted. I apologised for calling him a big cheat and he said he very sorry too and beamed at me. He was going home now which was why the bus was empty but he would give me a lift he said. I hopped on the bus and he drove me home. We big, big friends by the time I get to Miami Green.
1RM is about 14 pence.I think its time I got back to the real world.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The massage parlour

Have found the most wonderful masseuse!
On the way to the Gurney hotel, I got off the bus and walked a bit and passed this little beauty parlour. It looked quite spruce though in a pretty broken down row. Massage, 29 RM for an hour!!!, (That's 4 pounds, Torgo). Well! too too tempting ,don't you think!. So I nipped in and made an appointment at the Japanese restaurant for a "posey" lunch at the Gurney ,which I love. (With respect, Mr Smacks you are so so wrong about raw fish. Right about everything else darling, but seriously wrong about raw fish) Anyway, after I had legged it over there to find the restaurant was closed (closed!! Amazing !Nothing ever closes here except for religious festivals (every week) But there's nothing coming up. What is it? Is it cholera! . What? What? Ah well) made my way hungrily down the road to another of my favourite places, The Song River Cafe where I had fresh Pomfret fish, green beans in delicious sauce, rice and a large water melon juice served to me by an old Chinese friend of mine who runs the place. (Two pounds fifty, Torgo.) It was her husband who drove me last time to the Chinese Meds doctor in Georgetown out of the kindness of his heart. She was pleased to see back and made a nice fuss of me making sure I had all the right sauces and not too spicy la la la. I am just about to wend my way back to the massage parlour when the phone rings. I JUST managed to make out that I wasn't to come because all the electricity had failed. Well! I thought that was what she said anyway, so difficult sometimes on the little mobe in the street, so I made my way there anyway. BUT on the way I suddenly thought Oh good grief! Maybe it is one of those massage parlours, which is why she asked me how many people and why she is cancelling me, in case Miss Jean Brodie turns up, to be spectre at the feast of Onan. Maybe there are drugs involved and hollowed eyed ex pats gathered about singing 'When the snow lay round about on the feast of Onan" Or some such..It is Christmas after all, even though it is in the eighties. Oh dear. And they DID have to unlock the door like you do at the Ann Summers shop and the Eros Massage parlour under the bridge at Camden Town. Anyway, when I arrived it did appear that they were genuinely out of electricity and were not expecting to whack off my husband in a nearby cubicle. Oh the relief, (well you know, not
hand relief, just good old fashioned relief). One can never be too careful with massage parlours can one? In my experience. Which is limited. So I am led upstairs, (slightly anxious about that )and am shown into an OK'ish little room with two beds, and then the rather worryingly named TITI got to work on my body. SHE WAS SO GOOD!! The best massage I have ever had. A young Malay , very very strong, built like a door stop. And the most wonderful thing, when she came upon the two foot scar on my stomach, (she would insist on tugging at my drawers and doing as much of me as she could get at - though I kept my bra on and just loosened it when she did my back, (the hot cross bun not ready for public view YET!) So, she sees the scar and just coolly says , "operation?' and gets on with the job - Didn't faint, cry out or anything. Brilliant. In fact she suggested she massage oil into the .scar for me to soften it To top it all all asked me if it was a baby I just had!! Well you can imagine I left that salon with my head held high! I don't care if it's the local knocking shop , I'm going back on Saturday.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

The Rubber Solution

I had a variously hilarious and touching Deepavali encounter with a huge Indian family in their tiny apartment, (11 children and 12 grandchildren), last Thursday. The mother of all this lot, Ratha, rather took to me and dragged me off to her tiny broom cupboard, which is also her prayer room and shrine.. We knelt down in front of a large elephant with a hat on and rather too many limbs, and she prayed for me (very earnestly I thought) and anointed me with a little dot of henna between my eyes. (Well, better than a bullet any day of the week). A wonderful woman, who was was sold at 16 into an abusive marriage to a much older man who beat her.. He died last year and everyone was VERY glad. Ratha now leads a spiritual life ( well what other option to these poor women have ) and has been to India and found a guru who (has taught her meditation. She is certainly one of the most serene people I have ever met. Tiny with these long slender brown arms. . Did she work out? "Oh no' says the interpreter," that's rubber tapping". As a six year old child she worked in the rubber plantations tapping for rubber. It strengthens the arms. I do think they ought to introduce Celebrity Rubber Tapping , It'd save a fortune on those gyms and do a bit for the Fetherlite industry at the same time. The Rubber Solution to beautiful arms.
Speaking of which, I read in The Sun today that the Chinese are recycling used condoms into hairbands.
Now that's a bad hair day in my book.

Investigative Journalism at its Best!

Lately I have been very tired. Probably because my darling tick-infested dog sent one of his spare ticks my way - bless him. It was about three days before I found my own pet parasite embedded in my wrist. Two weeks later, I headed to the doctor because I was feeling like crap, and I tested positive for Lyme disease. Oh well...the dog is not really the point of this, but more the cause. The cure was antibiotics.

So, I am very tired in the evenings and tend to sit slumped watching other people being energetic on my behalf -God I love televised sports. But by chance the Inside Edition show was on in a break between sports, and I probably couldn't find the remote...or else it was on the top of the TV where my darling wife tends to store it (which, I maintain, kind of defeats the purpose really)...anyway I digress.

Inside Edition is on and they are about to unveil one of their groundbreaking investigative journalism shows, so I perk up a little. George Bush caught obeying the law? Guantanamo Bay Torture Techniques being reclassified as Scuba Diving lessons? Who knew? But my tired frame certainly livened up a tad.

And then came the teaser...the bit before the ads that is supposed to prevent you jumping ship to another channel...and I was amazed to hear that they were going to "Blow the Lid on Sushi!"

Huh? Sushi fraud? Were they kidding? In a country where 47 MILLION people do not have any health insurance, they were going to investigate the sale of raw fish to people who - to my mind at least - deserve to be poisoned for being poseurs. Sushi is the sort of cuisine that was clearly invented by someone like me - terminally lazy in the food department.

"What's for supper, Dad?"
"Dunno," I reply, "What's in the fridge?"
"Nothing. Oh, wait...there's some fish of some sort. Looks disgusting."
"Nonsense. I'll slice that up really thin and I bet it will be delicious."
"Dad! We can't eat RAW fish!"
"Sure you can. It's big in Japan. Plus there's no pots to wash up. I'll finish up the leftovers from the roast Mum cooked yesterday. You two have the sushi, I'll make do with the cold lamb."

Now, it may be no accident that futons were also invented in Japan - presumably again by someone who is as lazy as me around the home. A futon is a bed that clearly fits my model of housework: First off, they are so bloody uncomfortable that you don't want to even go to bed, so there is the first chance to avoid making the thing in the morning. Second, even after you have spent all night tossing and turning on the damn things, there is nary a depression or dimple. They are sort of like a Claes Oldenburg rendering of a Jacob's Cream Cracker in fabric - making the bed consists of flipping them over once a year.

Flipping them over once a year actually brings to mind the third thing about Japanese culture that I might have taken credit for... geisha girls, but I digress, and must get back to the pressing problem of RED SNAPPER FRAUD!

It transpires that this ahem...fraud is widespread, which after I watched the show I am not surprised about on several counts: First, no-one can taste the difference between Red Snapper and Tilapia - apart from a handful of really posy pricks who almost certainly have health insurance as part of their benefit package; second, red snapper costs over $30 a pound - whereas Tilapia is about $3 a pound; and third the poor schmoes who worked in the restaurant clearly didn't know that they were "perpetrating a fraud on the sushi eating public." When confronted by the fearless journalist (who had just spent god-knows how much having the raw fish DNA tested to establish its specie - not red snapper) the restaurateurs, to a man (or woman in one case) ran down to their refrigerators and came back proudly bearing aloft a packet of the fish in question and chanting "Lead Snapper! Lead Snapper!" Whereupon the journalist flipped the packets over and pointed out the label on the back that clearly read "Tilapia."

The expression on the faces of the poor buggers as they read out loud like beginning readers: "Tirrappia? ....Oh? ...Not lead snapper? ....Oh? I just found out today..." was just depressing.

Anyway, there you have it. I had McDonalds for lunch I shudder to think what they would discover if they DNA tested the contents of my Big Mac...

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Weight Loss

Look, all I want to do is to loose 2 ounces of blubber a day. That's a pound of flesh a week. No need to be merciful just take it! Is that too much to ask? I'm prepared to put in the leg work; stumble out of the lift and head for the gym twice a day if necessary, then cruise up and down the pool, 20 lengths under the soft lights strung in the palm trees at night. I can do that. But I need some incentive. I need a weighing machine. These visual checks are discouraging, and a women of my sensibilities can only take so much reality. At present the only gauge I have is the zipper - two bust, and three holding.
So, I went down to the Parkson Grand at the Gurney Plaze and approached the toothless Malay in the Electrical department who was lazily securing a cardboard box with 16 rolls of sticky tape.
'Could someone help me? I want to buy a weighing machine'
'Nobloddy" This time accompanied with sweeping gesture round the vast acreage of the store.
Well, we had a bit of a wrestle about the nobloddy factor. The Parkson is a huge department store by Penang standards with nobloddy in it most of the time, and definitely nobloddy buying, ever.
OK, he'd come and look, so we wove our way over to the tight little corner where the weighing machines were housed and started hoiking them off the shelves. Most of them are simply wrapped in sellophane so you can see the dial, the posher ones are in boxes so you can't. Trouble IS the dial is not on zero and you cannot adjust it so standing on the sellophane your calculations begin.....
"Ah! So I already weigh 23 pounds before I step on.. and NOW I weigh... so, subtract.. and.. then, that, means. NO! That's not possible. Can't be" Try another machine. "Ah! here I weigh minus 2 kilo's and now... I weigh.. so I add on ..which in pounds is.. No can't be."
This is impossible! I just want to know if these machines are accurate. My weight is a closely guarded secret, even from myself. I live in a twilight world of denial. What I need is nobloody to stand on the scales! He looks like a chap who knows his own Toothless FeatherweightChampion of the world requirements.
I pop him on the scales, (his very shiny black pointy shoes look sensational against the pink and white polka dot carapace) but alas! when I ask if he recognises 160lbs as anything near his bodyweight, he shakes his head and says "Too much, much La!"
So ,too, too much la for that machine then! (27 Ringgitts made in HEMEL HEMPSTEAD). We try a few more machines all made by 'I Guess Your Weight' in Hemel Hempstead.
I finally opt for one in a box simply because nobloddy recognises something on the dial that approximates to his own weight.
It is very ugly.
I bring it home.
It has got to be returned.
For two days I have stood peering down at the dial like a myopic heron looking for fish and seeing nothing. I have to crouch, naked, (We're talking ounces here) and only when my nose is about 2 inches away from its dial, and I resemble a ludicrous contestant at the beginning of the Handicap Freestyle Relay can I make out the runes on its face. In pounds, ounces are out of the question.
It has to go back.
Lucky I kept the box.

Saturday, 10 November 2007


My devoted old retainer, my taxi driver Robert (Huat)returned my Bonsai tree that I smuggled back from Viet Nam last trip. It had been in care with him for the last few months. Dear Robert. I was so touched. It had been magnificently tended, re potted from its ugly plastic container into a handsome pottery dish. He can ill afford to buy ME things! Behind the little tree a pretty low growing shrub had appeared from somewhere which looked wonderful, framing the tree in a very convincing way, giving the whole thing some depth. In front of the tree, also a new planting, a tiny slender shoot with about seven broad leaves on it, standing about five inches high. A heavenly little spot had been created.. EXCEPT ..Ah! under the tree in a sort of lunatic 'dejeuner sur l'herbe' were seated, not a languorous nude and her louche companions, or even some bearded seer in serene contemplation but a blue ceramic dog in a red Santa Claus pom pom hat and and a small yellow duck in a blue yachting cap. They looked extremely contented and happy with their lot. One can only imagine the conversation. Santa " Look it's Christmas, you know what I mean? You're a duck. Don't take the boat out for a couple of weeks. Stay in the house. Believe me you'll thank me"
I picked them gently of the knoll and stuffed them at the back of my desk.
in the middle of the night I seemed to hear their plaintive cries. I got up, retrieved them and settled them back under the tree and went back to bed and slept peacefully.
Dear, dear Robert. How fond I am of the jug eared old Chink

Monday, 5 November 2007

We win BIG!!!

Taylors team wins BIG at Culinaire Malyasia crows the Sun today, (Education focus section). Don't we mean BIGLIEST? Anyway, not to detract fromthis famous victory and following as it does hard on the heels of the Japanese rice grinding and Harvest songs. "Students and staff from Taykors College School of Hospitality and Tourism proved they were a force to be reckoned with at the Culinaire Malysia 2007 by winning a total of 11 medals..... Eugene Liew stayed calm under pressure to secure the coveted title of Most Outstanding F & B Personnel. He accumulated the highest overall points after winning the gold medal in fruit flambe, silver medal for table setting and bronze medal for cocktail making, while Siau who competed in the Pastry Showpiece category, took the the bronze for his creation of a three -foot tall colourful clown from sugar"!!!!!!!!!!!
No fair! No one ever makes me a three foot colourful clown in colourful sugar. Ever. What kind of sons have I spawned? They don't write,, they don't phone, they don't make me three foot colourful clowns in spun sugar. I blame the parents. But bronze? What won the gold for Petes' sake! A twenty foot represention of Mao Tse Tung in chocolate with retractable Marzipan penis? Oops sorry, I forgot this was a family blog. "OOh look boys there's a squirrel!" Did your hear about that? A free thinking/wheeling family with a taste for the ribald when visting a straight laced Auntie in Perthshire would be met with a blank stare at the onset of anything not quite 'nice' after which gathering herself she would cry "Oh Look children! There's a squirrel!" It went into the family venacula,r so that anytime after that things got a bit risque, they would cry in unison "Oh look theres a squirrel!'.
Time to wander downto the beach for some grub.
Back again. SHUT. Deepvali has claimed my servants. Bugger!!! . Oh look boys! there's a squirrel!
Ps Good to see Max has joined the team.

When Worst Comes To Wurst

Pigs in Alabama, on the other hand... Lovely though the picture is, it appears to be somewhat Snopes-y.

Pigs in Germany

I just got home from a week in Germany. Saw some nice English laddies in Cologne sporting t-shirts bearing the legend: "RAF EUROPEAN TOUR 1945" rather touching...

Also, couldn't help noticing that pigs have a tough go of it in Germany - menus that feature everything piglike fom Bacon to Bratwurst indicates that the best they can hope for as they approach old age is a decent gravy.


Man Discovers Fire

While my mum tiptoes around the volcanoes, it's been Guy Fawkes' night back in the UK, so the other night we went out to let off rockets.

This was a new experience for me. Firstly because I am, by nature, extremely cautious. I would probably put one of those non-slip mats in the bath if my girlfriend would let me, out of a neurotic terror of falling over and cracking my head open and dying - so obviously I haven't ever let off a firework. On the rare occasions I've help sparklers, it has been with the demeanour of a man holding a radioactive hooded cobra with six-inch fangs.

"It'll be fine," says my friend L, who is not nearly so much of a worrier. He's bought 30 rockets to celebrate his wife's 30th birthday. "We'll just hop over the fence into Stonebridge park, stick them in the ground, light and retire to a safe distance."

I'm eyeing the munitions. 'The love bomb', the climactic pink heart-shaped starburst, is approximately the size of a V2 rocket. If they'd found it in Iraq in 2002, George Bush would have been waving it at the UN five minutes later shouting I-told-you-so.

"Goggles. You have goggles, right? And gloves? Do we need a licence from the DTI? How long is the fuse on this thing?"

"Jesus, it'll be fine! Honestly..."

"But is it supposed to be coming off the stick like that? Seems kind of wobbly."

L has a look. A small plastic flange, whose purpose, we surmise, is to keep the ordnance on target, seems to have snapped. He suggests strapping it to the stick with masking tape. This seems to work fine, from a stability point of view, but suddenly we begin to wonder if it isn't supposed to fly off the stick entirely. Maybe the heat from the rocket is supposed to melt the glue, leaving the pole stuck in the ground? Are we going to be speared by falling javelins of debris as a result of our adhesive hubris? Nobody knows. In the end we decide to remove the tape and just try to make sure it's not pointed anywhere near a major population centre.

The other thing that gives me pause about the whole DIY fireworks thing is that I have always been somewhat of a casual-fireworks killjoy. I like big organized displays, but every year from, oooh, October 1st until February, the estate where I lived until recently is the scene of pyrotechnic mayhem as the ASBO kids get into the spirit of blowing things up. You walk through the gates and your chances of having a Starmine hit you in the eye are pretty good. (This year, before we moved out, it looks like the kids are more interested in setting their vicious killer pit-bulls on each other; although I would not be surprised if tonight one might witness a mournful hound with a Roman Candle stuck in its bum, streaking up St Pancras Way in a shower of sparks.)

Anyway, we clamber over the fence and set up three of the smallest missiles. The spectators retire to a safe distance. L lights the blue touchpaper. At this point, we have no idea how long the fuses are, so it's all kind of tense.

Whoooosh! Bang! OOOOOhhhh!

Damn, that was fun.

In the end we all take turns lighting the fuses and miraculously nobody is killed or maimed. In fact, we elicit OOOOOHS from passing members of the public. I am pretty sure this makes us professional pyrotechnicians, or something.

I may even survive my next bath....

dire straits

We have been sprayed. A huge puffer was wheeled into the compound and belched black clouds of poisonous gas about the place. So now we can go out again,( though some of us never came in, just lay back by the pool with a beer and sucked it up.) I was under the bed.
Anyway, all is excitement here, Deepavali looming, and the chance to win RM1,000 and be a co-host in a seven part TV programme to air in December and January!!!! . Sadly I shall be back in England by then otherwise I was definitely up for nominating 'the most popular Carnation Evaporated Creamer Fish Head Rice Noodles in Malaysia', and writing a 1500n word essay on why its my' favourite and best in the country'. You have to make the story "interesting" it says in the New Straits Times. Easy Peasy! I mean we're talking Carnation Evaporated Creamer here. 'Entries can be sent via SMS by typing and sending CNC (for mandarin) or CNE ( for English) to 39993 to participate in the nominations,.upon successful registration, participants will receive a SMS notification reply. Entries can also be submitted via fax to 03-6203-7504 or e-mail ' Maybe I'll go in for it anyway , even though I won't get to the 'co-hosting with the popular TV personality in a Cantonese language TV show' if I win. Just for the heck of it you know? Of course that all depends on whether my "registration is successful'. Golly never thought of that. I hope I'm one of the lucky ones.
Am a bit cheesed off that none of my friends in the Malaysian-Japanese Friendship Society invited me to the 'Pot Luck Nite'. . Apparently, again according to the New Straits Times, "The event started with a demonstration of the making of Japanese rice cake, or omochi, where members pounded the glutinous rice together with wooden hammers, as they sang Japanese harvesting songs.' I LOVE Japanese harvest songs!! They're my favourite thing. Ah well.
Elsewhere? In Surabaya' more than 25,000 villagers were refusing to leave their homes on the slopes of Mt. Kelud yesterday despite warnings the peak was poised for a powerful eruption. "They believe it will not erupt." said Sigit Raharjo, a local government official. A local myth claims that if residents turn of all the lights and speak softly, then the mountain won't erupt. Scientists fear a buildup of magma under Keluds crater lake could trigger a violent blast, sending a torrent of mud, ash and rock careering down the side of the 1,731-high mountain' But they also note any eruption could be small - or may not happen at all'
OK, I'm switching lights back on then

Saturday, 3 November 2007

The Sun Newspaper Penang October 30, 2007

Concern over 'sensitive' exhibits

Court in momnet of shock when item drops from witness stand.

SHAH ALAM; Thew judge, lawyers, reporters and the public seated in the gallery had of amoment of shock when one of the exhibits dropped from the witness stand.

They had thought that the exhibits, which had been deemed "sensiive' materials, could potentially explode if accidentally hit or dropped.

The exhibits included an electric detonator, a cutting linear charge and a detonator cord.

However, everyone breathe a sigh of relief when the witness, chemist Shaari Desa, bent down and picked up the item

Earlier, presenting the exhibits, DPP Noorin Badaruddin urged the judge, Mohd Zaki Md YassinZake, the court interpreters and lawyers to be careful when examining the items.

As Mohd Zaki took a closer look at the cutting linear charge, Noorin said: "Be careful, don't touch it with your bare hands and don't let it fall, or hit it. These samples are sensiive and can explode if they are hit or if they drop"

Following this when Shaari was identifying some other exhibits, consisting mostly of wire , rubber and plastic strips, one of the packets fell on the wooden witness platform with a loud thud.

After a moment of silence, Shaari continued to identify the item as a blalck rubber strip. Mohd Zaki interrupted him and asked: "Where did you place the 'sensitive items displayed just now?"

Noorin replied that the most 'sensitive ' item was the electric detonator.

"Where did you place it?" Mohd Zaki asked again. He then told the court interpreters to separate the 'sensitive" items fromthe others.

"I'm afraid it may fall if you place it there," Mohd Zaki said and asked that the items be placed on an empty spot on the court interpreters' table.

After Shaari had completed identifying all the items, Mohd Zaki expressed concern over the storage of the "sensitive" items, including a sub machine gun and bullets inthe court storage area.

"We don't have a specail storage area, the court store has all kinds of items in it," he said. Can the police keep the items?"

DPP Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah protested, saying: "No, because this may give rise to accusations of tampering with evidence."

Mohd Zaki turned to Shaari and asked him for his opinion. Shaari replied: "These items are sensitive and can possibily be set off even if a handphone rings, so I suggest you put them in a safety box."

"Do we have a safety box?" Mohd Zaki asked, but the court interpreter shook her head to indicate that the court did no have one.

"Is it okay for the court to keep it?" Mohd Zaki asked Shaari, who replied that he could not give any assurance although nothing had happened so far.

The judge then decided that the items would be retained by the court.

The hearing continues on NOVEMBER THE 5TH.

Bet that court interpreter takes a day off with a headache ......


Well hello and welcome to the sybaritic delights of the Miami Green Apartments. Tropical gardens in a gated compound, 24 hour security, palm trees, pool and private gym. It's good to be back.
We have Dengue fever in Block D.