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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Daphne Tells It Like It Is.


E@L is trying to catch up with his reading schedule for Goodreads this year. 7 books behind! And just over three months to go: 21 books! He thought he'd sorta cheat and grab some short stories and novellas to make up the numbers...

~~~~~

“I remember being swept by a feeling of profound distress. I saw myself; for the first time, as a very worthless, very trivial human being, travelling here and there about the world to no purpose, doing unnecessary business with other human beings as worthless as myself; and to no other end but that we should be fed and clothed and housed in adequate comfort until death.”

 

Excerpt From: 


~~~~~

Thanks for cheering us up, Daph! Back to bed, to hide under the covers crawls 

E@L

(Actually E@L finds this sort of despair quite entertaining, in a schadenfreudian way - He loved reading the early Celine, Beckett, Svevo back in the day, then Pessoa, Platinov, etc...)

Monday, August 30, 2021

Epigram For An Unwritten Expat Novel

 

Sex in them is twisted, broken: their desperation with the little dreams between birth and death feeds sex to a famine and a flame. 

Doris Lessing - Shikasta (1979)*

Not sure exactly what it means yet, though perhaps it could apply to a few expats E@L has met over the years. Famines? For example? Flames such as, say, those licking at one's feet in the Firehouse bar in Wanchai?

If only someone would sit still long enough to write a novel that explains it all to 

E@L

~~~~~~

* Full title: "Canopus In Argos: Archives. Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta. Personal Psychological Historical Documents Relating To Visit By Johor (George Sherban) Emissary (Grade 9), 87th Of The Period Of The Last Days." Phew.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Meaning (Cavafy)


The years of my youth, my sensual life --
how clearly I see their meaning now.

What needless repentances, how futile...

But I didn't see the meaning then.

Out of the dissolute life of my youth
my poetry's aims grew,
my art's realm was drawn.

That is why the repentances were never steadfast.
And resolutions to hold back, to change
lasted two weeks at most.


C.P. Cavafy (1917 or 1918.)






~~~~~~~~

"Youth"? ... it was his dissolute life from age 40 to 62 that provided meaning to the unpoetic blogging of

E@L

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Days Of Past Futures: Parte the Seconde



[Please check Parte The Firste first.]


“Oh no, no no, you don’t need to apply for PR. That’s not necessary,” said HR person at another ambush [E@L means "meeting"] the following week.


~~~~


Over the prior weekend, E@L had pressed SEND on a letter to the CEO and the HR person about his situation regarding the Expat Package he’d been on since he negotiated it and they (the same *they* as they ever was, in the sense that The Four Tops are still The Four Tops despite complete personnel change several times over) had signed it nine years earlier.

E@L suggested in his email that the CDHCC4 (CosmoDemonic Health Care Company #4*) make some changes to the offer that had been thrust under his nose the previous week, specifically to support him in a belated request to the Singapore Family Government for PR (Permanent Residency), the successful receipt of which would provide them with a more benign way of castrating his lifestyle. 


Would they support his application for PR, and/or, OK, wait until Xmas to implement said changes even if PR had not completely come through, he suggested by way of reasonable compromise. 


Only then all those wonderful features that make life worth spending on would be cast asunder. The money that enabled him to buy delicious craft beer as his drinking cohorts wallowed in such mass-brewed poisons as Tiger, Asahi, or even Carlsberg (“I am not a pauper,” he would say as he paid $20 for a small bottle of zesty craft XPA or sour while they paid a bargain $9 for 2-4-1- pint of their shudder-inducing brew.); that enabled him to travel to Europe for a fortnight each year; that enabled him to put money away for a rainy day, such as the financial tropical thunderstorms that deluge one should a serious illness occur (again, heaven forfend). 


PR had some benefits - he would be able to stay in Singapore for 6 months without a work visa, should the bottom fall out his employment (ha, as if), and look for re-employment (maybe CDHCC#2 would have him back?). He could legitimately win the lottery, or buy an apartment (shoulda bought a place in 2005/6) with lower stamp duty. He could get cheap health-care. (As if he's gonna need that.)

PR had at least one limitation - he would have to contribute a fair chunk of his already greatly reduced salary to the CPF (Central Provident Fund), the country's pension. And by all accounts it would be difficult to get it all back, if and when he decided to leave Singapore.


~~~~~


But HR person cast his suggestions for support  in a PR application and a delay until Xmas aside with an amount of eagerness and urgency, E@L thought in retrospect eighteen months later. 


“No no no, you didn’t need to apply for PR! That’s not necessary. 


"After considering your letter, we agree it is a too sudden a change for you [You smug, overpaid, under-performing leech - E@L could hear under her voice], and we have decided to delay the retraction of your housing allowance and utilities allowance until the end of this financial year. So you will still have your allowances for another six months, and that will give you time to find a cheaper apartment. However, [pause]... we will be stopping your business class flights.” 


Shock horror. He hardly travelled anymore anyway since his change of role. [Did E@L mention that?] 


Of course E@L didn’t wish to lose E@LGHQ, and said as such, without the acronym. He explained that he had already sent an email to his USA-based landlord asking for rent reduction due the CEC (Current Economic Climate), and if a sub-let of one of his bedrooms could be made official. The rooms were already taken on part-time/full-time sub-rosa terms, but he thought he should make at least one room official. The landlord later replied in the affirmative for both suggestions, allowing a 15% cut in rent - down to merely outrageous - and he just needed a work-permit for the proposed "new" tenant, to check over, for legal reasons, with the condominium’s management.


HR lady and silent CEO were fine with this. "We're OK with you staying wherever you can afford. It will no longer be our concern."


~~~~~


A reprieve, therefore, temporarily, for 


E@L



* OK all you smarty-pants, what's the reference?


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Singapore Expat Resigned To Being “Unable To Save Them All.”




E@L stood in the taxi queue outside of the 4FoW and another Large Expat, a wobbly stranger with a working girl on his arm, introduced himself as Bruce. His accent gave him away as one who hailed from the USoA. He smiled, at first tentatively, as if apologising for the interruption to E@L’s train of thought [that thousand yard stare of his, focussed to a vacant infinity] then hung his head as he admitted to E@L that, while he absolutely loved Singapore, he felt defeated by it.

His five-year plan to rescue all of the working girls in The Towers by giving them money for their sexual services had not reached anywhere near its anticipated pinnacle of success since he had commenced it eleven years ago. “I am unable to rescue all of the girls here,” he slurred, like a true, yet failed, saint.

In order to boost these ladies and their families out of that cruel cycle of poverty in the rural areas of South-East Asia, Colombia, Azerbaijan, and Nigeria, he had made many personal sacrifices. Towards this noble goal, selflessly, he had diverted money from his children’s education accounts in order provide reliable cash-flow to as many ladies as would give him blowjobs in the dark corners of bars such as Girl Next Door, FMH, and [most of the others too, but their names escape E@L at this time].

He had let the rent on his 38th floor penthouse apartment in Zone 11 fall behind, as the $300 tip he gave for a happy ending at one of The Towers' Chinese Massage Parlours would fed the masseuse’s family for a month [if not a year], plus it helped pay the loan for her or his breast augmentation, which he adjudged the morally superior use of his money other than to encourage Singapore landlords from extracting outrageous rents from naive expats. Twenty or so massages per month and pfft, there goes half of the rent. 

However, even though his wife had divorced him and taken what was left of his retirement nest-egg, and even though his four children refused to speak to him from their grand-parent’s house in rural Pennsylvania - he wasn’t certain they had access to technology post the 17th Century, which would explain that - he felt that he had to keep trying. 

He still had a well-paying, honest job as an FX trader and, once he economised on clothing, travel, and food other than the Thai meals on the third floor restaurant behind Club Romeo, he could come to the Towers most nights, get hammered, and pump some financial well-being into the purses of some of the Assisted Ejaculation Industry's hardest workers, before they exchanged their Singapore tourist visas for Thailand, Hong Kong, or Taiwan tourist visas.

Yes, he confessed to E@L, he had one particular girl that was special to him for the moment, and she no doubt loved him very much in return, although her memory for names was damaged through chronic tequila body-shot abuse. Her name was Suzy, and her family in Cebu were very grateful for their new tractor, although the tyres were a bit worn. Whenever Bruce had money unspent after paying for tractor tyres, or after paying board for his small room in the apartment on Joo Chiat he shared with an Australian who travelled half the time and a HK-based New Zealander who only needed her room one week a month, he would bring Suzy home for a long-time (overnight) and pretend some of the furniture and ornaments were his own property.

He admitted that when she wasn’t available (out of town or/and in someone else's bedroom), he might expand his charitable heart to encompass, in the warm glow of his alcohol fuelled lust, some of her close friends in FHM, and here he indicated the girl at his side (she had been holding her gaze steady into E@L’s eyes for quite a long time, then checked her watch and looked him in the eye again with one of her eyebrows raised in enquiry), and on occasion he brought back two at a time in order to be fair and equitable. 

Yes, he admitted, the struggle was long and any hint of success just a momentary lapse. He shook his head, groped at his girl’s buttocks and, with a half grin, half grimace, admitted again, “You can’t save them all.”

~~~~~

True, but who will save

E@L


Friday, January 01, 2021

Farewell 2020, But F*ck You 2019.



While everyone is celebrating the farewell of 2020, and looks worriedly ahead to 2021, I just want to point out that 2019 was the year that fucked me over.

Last year's lockdown and COVID was a breeze in comparison.

Retirement investments in HK were fucked over by the extended and futile protests, the violence of which only exacerbated the problems there. There went a potential seven figure boost, my all in one egg-basket smashed by a HK police baton.

Then there was a very major health issue which fucked over any chances of reemployment and therefore residency in Singapore with my well-established (if diminishing with the usual expat curse of impermanancy) social circle of 16 years, and it has fucked over any future employment. At all. 2020, 2021... 20untilIdie, tearing through my savings until I qualify for a pension. 

Just saying. Looks like I'm stuck on my balcony, musing over a G&T and another sunset.


I found a Beefeater Gin bar-set in a local antique mega-store. Awesome. The highlight of 2019 

~~~~~~~~

I've been planning to write about all this in detail for a while now. NY resolution is to fix that ommission. 

Hopefully this year you'll hear a lot more frequently with shit-load of clever self-deprecating wit flying (with appropriate humility) in the face of overwhelming adversity from 

E@L

Monday, December 28, 2020

QOTD

 

Mario wrote very seldom; in fact, for a long time past, the only signs of a writer about him were the pen and blank sheets of paper always lying ready on his desk. Those were the happiest days of his life, given up to dreams, and free from teasing practical problems; a sort of second childhood, more desirable even than the maturity of  a successful writer, whose words flow too glibly and with too little effort to the paper, leaving an empty husk which mistakes itself for ripe fruit.  Italo Svevo, The Hoax. (1929)

 

You see? You see? This is why E@L keeps loads and loads of books. Boxes and boxes of them. He picks up a volume at random and this gem of a paragraph unfolds before his eyes. How can one not relish that contradictory idea: the happiest days of his writing life were when he wasn't writing, even though he still thought of himself as a writer. So self-depricating in its contrariness, so freshly thought, so pretentiously unpretentious, so oxymoronical, so... so Svevoesque (new word, first in a long time!). 


This volume also contains The Story of The Nice Old Man and The Pretty Girl - a classic...

Sigh. E@L doesn't write anymore, but, unlike Mario, he doesn't kid himself/others that he's a writer either. 

Happy days for 

E@L



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