Monday, May 27, 2013

The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

The Green ManThe Green Man by Kingsley Amis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know the feeling. Kingsley seems to be trying to resolve some (health) threat that has triggered fears of his impending death (26 years later) here. He has done this before, but within a ghost story, that is a different path altogether for Amis, and he pulls it off moderately well I must admit. A Stephen King best-seller it is not, and thank God Almighty for that.

Now dying is one thing, it must come to us all (and why we are not paralysed by this prospect is a mystery to Amis's character here) but the persistence of evil into the afterlife is another! All this washed down with a modest triple scotch and water.

There are many examples of the typical Amis-like crackling dry delivery, often at the most unexpected of times thereby guaranteeing a shock, in the mouth of the sex-obsessed, death-obsessed and misanthropic narrator, hotel manager Maurice Allington: a drunker but much more competent Basil Fawlty role. Amis often makes me burst out loud laughing with that wonderfully cynical line, carefully thought-out and poetically knife-pointed to a unimpeachable truth, in this book as much as any of the others I have read.

(My favorite quotation of all time is this, from Lucky Jim; "If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.")

Allington has to deal with a frisky mistress, a taken-for-granted (but still loved) newish wife, a dying to dead father, a drinking problem, hypochondria (that pain in the lower back is kidney cancer, perhaps, now that the brain cancer has cleared up), an mostly uncommunicative 13yo daughter, lost manuscripts, midnight grave robbing, an atheist parson, a shy cat, and all sorts of disconcerting spectral visitors in the woods nearby and in the hotel at night, at least one of whom has a rather nasty history...

He's trying what he thinks is his best in all aspects of life, but his unacknowledged selfishness doesn't help, and that fact he can't tell anyone about his search for the secret behind these ghosts as they'll only think it's the DT's. But his TV watching daughter seems not to disbelieve him...

Loved it.

View all my reviews


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Orwell In Burma

When I was young and had no sense
In far-off Mandalay
I lost my heart to a Burmese girl
As lovely as the day.

Her skin was gold, her hair was jet,
Her teeth were ivory;
I said, "for twenty silver pieces,
Maiden, sleep with me".

She looked at me, so pure, so sad,
The loveliest thing alive,
And in her lisping, virgin voice,
Stood out for twenty-five.

George Orwell - Ironic Poem About Prostitution (before 1936)


Monday, May 06, 2013

War on Drugs (prices)

My Singapore Doctors love me, and I don't mean my customers it should have been obvious by now.

Here is the bill for a shade under four months of tablets for my painful feet (aka idiopathic peripheral neuropathy). S$3.60/tablet on average, seven tablets/day = $25 every day = ~$750 every month.

I could get a Fullers Pale Ale and squeeze of tit lime every day for that.

In Australia the bottom two (same medication - had to get some in from another store) on the list are A$1.00 each (S$1.30). I paid $440 for eight boxes of 56 last week - and I could have bought them cheaper if I had a few days up my sleeve for stocks to get in.

I can save about S$1,000 every four months. Almost worth a drug run to good old Geelong.


It wouldn't be the first [first what? drug run, you idiots], says Officer Dribble of the Kardinia Park Drug Squad.

Max Rooke 2005

Max Rooke 2009


Friday, May 03, 2013


Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa have one of their restaurants in Perth's Crown Casino, Nobu. (Not "De Niro", note.)

No booking, you turn up, no problem - you sit at the sushi bar! Irrashaimase!


There is a thin slice of beetroot amongst the sashimi! WTF, beetroot is everywhere. It's like wasabi and arugola and thick balsamic. Later, you see two chefs working, one reaches across to the other one's plate-in-progress and places a thin slice of beetrot on the pile of grated/julienned white radish. Next to the wasabi and the arugola.

You eat a sashimi tuna taco and a sashimi lobster taco. Of course you do, it's a fusion restaurant, you're paying enormously for this level of weird.

Beer (nice, never heard of it, some white ale), that sweet whiskey cocktail (12yo Yamizaki, green ginger wine, maple syrup), chilled sake: there was now a diffuse glow, an aura of saturated radiance, about anyone who is standing under bright lights. The four sushi chefs, in their white netted caps, glowing like aliens as they peeled leaf after leaf from the coriander stems for the salad, or stacked the maki rolls just so...

Is the waitress Filipina? Or Malaysian? Or Australian? Certainly a beginner - she was being told off trained about the way she described the menu to you. Hamachi with jalapeños? Mm-mm, sounded good to you.

Chef's choice of sashimi. Chef is a boring fuck. Some tuna with ginger and chives is as outrageously adventurous/expensive as you get. And beetroot.

Next. Sliced octopus and mushrooms in a citrus sauce baked in a small paella pan. Too citrusy for you. Nice tentacles though, shame about the face.

You have to go to the toilet and find it around two corners, a large open room, built for one, tough lock, but you get it eventually. The wall behind the cistern is made up of lots of small (max is maybe 4cm across), clear perspex circles, what would you call them, tablets (as in pills), various sizes, set into the gray plaster-like support material. Three ceiling spots shine down. It looks like there are disks of gray material behind, or is it IN, each of the perspex disks at the back, slightly overlapping each other, but no: it was an optical illusion; these shapes were merely the genuine colour of the solid wall behind the disk, while the shadow from the lights has managed to keep clear an arc across the top part of the rear of the disk, one for each of the down-lights. You take one hand from your cock and use it (your hand) to block the light from one of the down-lights and one of layers of posterior/interior disks has gone, this confirms your brilliant insight. It was very cool, very weird and very hard to describe, obviously. You wish you had taken a picture, but you are reluctant to take your phone/camera out in a toilet again, not after that last incident with the Masonic guy and his young piglet...

Pork belly, cubed to chopstick-able proportions with, what is that?, chopped jalapeños again? Still a little bit left on the plate, plus at most a smear of the delicious sauce, just one cube of the pork belly, but the sake mug was empty. Do you order another small carafe and look like a drunk or finish the rather dry pork with a dry mouth? Ah, mineral water. OK, you'll just look at the sake menu again. Hey, why not another whiskey cocktail? Because, is why.

And so you do look at the sake menu again and suddenly everything you've ever known about sake goes flying and you admit to yourself that, while it wasn't all that much, at least it was something, but now you may as well know nothing as what you are looking at makes no sense: ginjo, daiginjo, junmai? they don't help. It's only the regions that they show and you know nothing about that. Nothing.

The small things are in your mind:

- The Ethiopian taxi driver's story of oppression.

- The security guard who walked you all the way over from the casino to the restaurant, was he trying to pick you up?

- The chef placing a dab of (miso?) sauce on a tiny square of coriander leaf on a sliver of jalapeño on a thin slice of hamachi and it caught, and the coriander fell off and the slice of yellowtail was stained with the dripping sauce, and fuck it, that's what happens and he puts it all back together again. And then the pepper shaker is blocked and nothing comes out and he can't decorate the plate, so he goes looking for a toothpick; seriously, this happens.

- The fact you awkwardly pulled out two $5 notes from your wallet as you went to tip the waitress, but she saw you as you pushed one back in.

- The bill, no, that wasn't such a small thing.

OK, just one more whiskey syrup cocktail for the road... Oishi! Campai! Whatever!


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Nothing To See Here

(at Newton Station, Singapore.)


Just don't feel like writing at the moment, even though I have oodles of spare time. Hard to explain. Hard to understand. Jet lag? Homesickness, as in, am I sick of being home?


Lots of amusing, horrifying and uber-boring incident in this three week Tour of Duty around Australia and New Zealand (and Australia and New Zealand again), although lots of fleeting witticisms were lost to documentation (memory of an axolotl) and lots of things observed were lost to wry comment as the brain is just so clogged and I can't seem to find the oomph to start writing anything... (Have been reading about Leibnitz's question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" and my brain has melted.)

And today, (tonight/what day is it?), after this double jump from Auckland to Melbourne, then on to Perth, where I am now, I find that, while I have the computer open in front of me and it's relatively early (Perth time), I am too completely shagged out to share anything of interest and amusement with you... at... this... time... OK maybe this photo from Tasmania last weekend.


Bay Of fires, Tasmania
Lichen on the rocks makes them bright orange.


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