the language of a disease …

I’m not entirely sure how to start this particular post, or whether it is appropriate that I should write about the man lying in the hospital bed beside me as if he is no longer with us … One of the things doctors are very keen to get through to you about cancer is that there is no cure; one only discusses the future in terms of survival, but alas for my father, the prognosis is, as one oncologist suggested, ‘very bleak indeed’.

Personally, I find the whole language surrounding cancer very … disengaging to the point of frustration. It is after all, one of the biggest killers of the human race, and so it seems a little disingenuous and totally baffling why people give it pet names like the Big C, as if to call it by its full name might somehow incite the wrath of the god of acronyms and bring about an earlier end for the victim.

At the other extreme, cancer also brings with it a whole unsavoury smorgasbord of technical vocabulary. There are abbreviations that require early familiarisation, cold-sounding terms such as HCC, AFP, CT, MRI, TACE, PEI. You also learn very early on which words are your friends and which ones are your enemies: metastasize, for example, is not a friendly word. And even when the doctors use big powerful terms like Interventional Radiology, Chemo Embolization and Radio Frequency Ablation, one gets the feeling that these action words promise so much, but yet deliver precious little. In the end, there is only one term that matters, and it is associated with a number. Unluckily for my father, his initial diagnosis cited Hepatocellular Carcinoma with a Staging of 4 – which basically means, he was fucked from the word ‘Go’.

I’m spending a second night with my dad who is in the palliative unit at Mount Miriam Hospice, Penang. I’ve heard people talk about the fragility of life before but never really understood its meaning but here, in this dark room I get it, I mean I really get it.

Imagine this setting: initially, your senses are drawn to the comforting hum of the air-conditioning unit which provides a calming backdrop for the oxygen pump which adds a water feature to this happy landscape with what sounds like bubbles dancing on an icy lawn. But this audial nirvana is short lived because you soon learn to look out for the little mechanical ‘whizz click’ sounds made by the automatic timed dispenser as it releases more morphine into the bloodstream. You look out for these tiny clicks because you know that they will take away the frowns from the forehead of a man who is trying not to wince from the pains of cancer that has already consumed his liver, lungs and bones.

But the sound that rips through the quiet hospital corridors in the early hours of the morning and reverberates incessantly around the room is the dyspnea – the hopeless and most pitiful sound of a short-breathed man who is using his entire torso to draw every last molecule of oxygen into his body in order to stay alive.

bokehlicious …

almaviva

What happens when you combine an old pastime (getting phissed on nice wines) with a new hobby (photography) … well, you get this of course 😉 It is so much sweeter when the new hobby came about as the result of winning a new Canon EOS 450D digital SLR on a Swoopo bid for next to nothing.

So peeps, look out for more of the combo above … especially as we are visiting Paris next week.

a new hope …

A wonderful day indeed – especially if your name happens to be Barack Hussein Obama. And what a speech! You go boy … the world is in awe of your ascent to greatness and we are expecting you to deliver on your promises. Not bad indeed for the son of a man who 60 years ago might not have been served in a restaurant in some states in the US …

p.s. Did anyone else think the prayer before the swearing in ceremony was a tad over the top for what is afterall a secular event – you know, references to Israel and the full Lords Prayer. And as for the Aretha Franklin number sung to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen’ – what was that all about?!

on proposition 8 …

Ok, so this is a much debated issue in blogosphere and social networking sites … but I’m bored with it now. And quite how a local ruling affecting Californians was allowed to achieve limelight status on the global stage is just beyond me. Yes, banning gay marriages is probably unconstitutional – but only if you are American and you behold Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal” as your pillar of faith in freedom, truth, justice and the American dream.

But here in Blighty, we have no constitution, and like it or not, our laws are founded on biblical laws (arguably past their sell by date) yet we are not immune to similar prejudices, for example the ordination of gay priests. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that because of our historical baggage, Americans through their Founding Fathers had the advantage of a unique opportunity to separate affairs of the State from those of the Church when drafting the Constitution: Proposition 8 is just one of many thorny modern issues that no one could have foreseen at that time.

So fellow Americans – count yourselves lucky! And just because progressive thinking appears to be drowned by bigots and zealots in the state of California does not mean the system is broken. The fact that you have a constitution should make you better placed to lauch a (hopefully) successful 3rd vote … but spare a thought for other less fortunate citizens around the globe who live in a environment that is still bogged down and handicapped by religious proprietary and legal precedents.

when to say sorry … not

I am confused. It doesn’t happen to me often, but today I am baffled … and for all my efforts to try and untangle and understand recent events, I find myself falling deeper and deeper into this … quagmire of very dark thoughts, drowning in an angry soup of paranoia that I never sought nor deserved. Yet, I must have caused offence somewhere … somehow … sometime. Otherwise, why would I be the recipient of such callous (or perhaps it’s deliberate) treatment from someone who purports to be a good friend?

William Blake observed that ‘It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend’, which if you look at it another way, sort of translates to ‘It is easier to hurt a friend than an enemy’ – hence a friend’s forgiveness is that much more difficult to secure. Well, if that’s the case poor William couldn’t have had many good pals because my definition of a good friend is one I can afford to offend, and yes, sometimes hurt – without intent or malice of course, and more importantly I should be able to be myself, say the things I I feel passionate about, without fear of any recrimination, nor should I feel under constant pressure to apologise for the titchiest remark made, whether in bad humour or questionable taste.

There is a line of course, a boundary of tolerance one should never cross … but for crying out loud, I’m not Russell Brand … I haven’t bedded anyone’s grand daughter nor have I taunted her grand father in public, on live radio … and this is definitely not a resignation matter!

So, I shall soldier on … in ignorance of the cause of this tension, and beligerant to point of becoming an arse that my principles on friendship are sound: that friends are there for hurting, and the best ones are those you can afford to hurt the most, and to receive nothing but forgiveness in return.

the demons of capitalism …

Unless you have retreated to a yurt in deepest Mongolia, it would have been difficult to miss the headlines of meltdown in the global financial markets in recent days. But, tucked in a corner of yesterday’s FT was a curious rallying call by David Cameron to not allow the ‘lefties’ to destroy capitalism by putting the blame of the recent crises on ‘this important part of the British and world economy’. Excuse me???

When Gordon Gecko espoused the virtue of greed in the 80’s, Wall Street was awash with city yuppies with fast cars, and faster incomes. Two decades later, it seems not much has changed – the financial instruments have evolved in technicality but the basic desire to get rich quick is more prevalent, albeit a little less transparent. Today, simple debts have been transmogrified into complex securities and bonds, to the point that no party in the food chain fully understands the risks … until it’s too late, when bad creditors default on mortgage payments and savers like you and me start withdrawing our hard earned cash from the banks, thus fueling a bank run like the one we witnessed on Northern Rock. But as someone observed, banks buy long and sell short – that is what a bank does – so when they to use funds from their retail business (our money, and ultimately our pensions) to gamble in complex products in the wider financial markets … AND lose, should we feel sorry when we see images on the telly of jobless bankers and their sad office boxes walking out of the building of a collapsed bank? I think not!

I suppose the irony of the Lloyds and HBOS merger is not lost on the ‘lefties’ either: in the golden days of capitalism, mergers were used to promote growth and now they are being used for reasons of survival, and in the case of HBOS, handed on a silver platter to Lloyds TSB with the full blessing of the UK government. Whilst I agree that administrations have a duty to maintain financial stability, I can’t help thinking that perhaps it may be worthwhile to do nothing, thus sinking the economy in order to teach banks a lesson in liquidity and risk management. The only problem is that the collateral damage in these sorry times are folks like you and me – people who would feel the pain from a greed we never subscribed to. And the medicine used by governments to cure this ailment? Oh, that will be taxpayers’ money too. Someone please explain to me how this is good …

leisure – a myth …

Do y’all know this poem by William Henry Davies?

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Surely there must be more to life than the weekly commute to London/Milton Keynes!!! Ummmm, I so need another holiday …

social networking 2 …

I had hoped to break radio silence with a more uplifting post rather than returning to an old paradox that has been playing on my mind these past few months – that of online friendships. Loyal readers of this dusty corner of blogosphere may be familiar with a previous entry where I contended a somewhat cynical explanation for the explosion of social networking sites; that we use them to actively seek out long lost friends to satisfy ourselves of our comparative position on the social ladder, so that we do not need to feel inadequate in any way about our own modest achievements. 

What utter poppycock!

Perhaps experience hardens our hearts and age softens our judgement but I must admit surprise at myself sometimes for writing some of the drivel I write. You see, on the question of online correspondence, there is and can only be one simple purpose – it is the opening gambit in a game of chess, a prologue to a yet unwritten book, a precursor to something that may become very special, or putting it in terms of today’s financial language – it is an investment for a future wealth that cannot and will not be realised … until friends actually physically meet!

Someone once said, if you want to bring someone into your life, you need to take a step into theirs. And last night, I made a move which hopefully will earn me a place in this person’s life. It helped that we shared some memorable times in the past, but we could have easily continued to ‘message’ each other without ever meeting and in doing so, lose the opportunity to become great friends.

3 skypephone …

I am absolutely loving my Skypephone from 3 – see review here. Ok, it has a few bugs here and there (the most annoying being having to turn it off/on again after losing the dialup connection when using as it a modem) but on the whole, it’s a great gadget and definitely worth the £45 (I bought the discounted twinpack so SWMBO didn’t complain ;)) for the handset on Pay As You Go. A £10 top up every 30 days gives you free skype calling, even abroad in any 3 Like Home countries (e.g. Ireland, Hong Kong etc). You can use the top up to buy the £5 fair use data pack giving you unlimited Internet access at 3G speeds, which you can use with any laptop or PDA equipped with bluetooth. £2 gets you a number of mainstream TV channels (or you can stream live TV from your Orb/Slingbox/Webguide setup) and when you just want to sit back and enjoy some music or a podcast or two, the A2DP profile delivers stereo to your bluetooth headset effortlessly.

Can’t wait to hook this up to my new toy (on order now for over a week) – the ASUS Eee PC … if retailers ever receive any from Taiwan this February, apparently the snow in China is playing havoc with logistics 😦

on social networking sites …

So, good people – are sites like Facebook, MySpace, Friendster and dare I mention Bebo a curse on modern society or an asset? Discuss.

I’ve procrastinated my deliberations on this very topic until now for a couple of reasons: firstly, it was necessary to amass enough entries on one’s ‘my friends’ list to enable useful analysis (afterall, one swallow does not a summer make!) and then, I needed to find and get in touch with an old friend the old fashioned way, i.e. by picking up the telephone.

It is recognised that humans are a gregarious species, so why do we cower behind our computer screens, preferring to deliver one-liners to friends we have recently rediscovered, rather than pick up the phone to arrange a reunion? I partially accept that physical vanity may be to blame – faces do get wrinklier, breasts inevitably succumb to gravity, and tummies and hairlines do the inversely proportional thing of enlarging while the other recedes. Or perhaps, I suggest, there is another more sinister explanation.

The Singaporeans call it kia su [lit. fear of losing] which loosely translates to that western nirvana of not only just keeping up with the Joneses, but to excel and be king of the hill, top of the heap. And whereas it might have been possible for friends and colleagues to disappear after school/university and retreat to places where one is considered a bigger fish in a smaller sea (e.g. the so-called White flight of city dwellers to the countryside, emigration to Australasia etc), today the phenomenon of the Internet has brought us back together with a big awakening bang. Not only has it shattered all geographical boundaries (real and notional), it has also created a global village where peer pressure is now on steroids, and living an ordinary existence is about as appealing as a fungal infection in the groin 😉 You can run, you may even choose to hide … and succeed … but god help you if the commit the mortal sin of coming out and admitting to mediocrity, online or worse, in person!

Tomorrow I have an opportunity to telephone someone I have not seen in over 25 years. Back in those carefree days and what seemed like a lifetime ago, we didn’t have much to worry about – hell, we didn’t even worry about worrying! But I wonder – will we be more guarded on the phone or perhaps there is something to be said for getting through the ice breaking ceremony semi-anonymously via email. Churchill once observed We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty – his comment may yet have some relevance in our 21st century techno-rich world …

this and that …

The kids are back at school at the start of a new academic year … the summer (feels like it) has been & gone … and work is … well, just that … work.

Meanwhile, life is awash with new toys and interests – I’ve been messing around on Facebook and Picasa. Have a quick gander, if you (like me) have been recently struck with the malaise of getting back into the 9 to 5 routine, made considerably worse by the lack of sun this summer. Maybe, I need to dose up on the sunshine vitamin (D) after all.

Ok, boys and girls … back to the grind.

dublin four flowers …

flowers.JPG

When I was last in Ireland a couple of weeks ago, my sis-in-law asked me to put together a web site (domain name registration, hosting and html coding – the full monty) for her flower design studio serving the Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount areas in the prestigious postcode of D4 in Dublin … and thus www.dublinfourflowers.com was born.

Now, isn’t she a talented girl? Get your Christmas orders in now …

home sweet home …

We have moved … and have no plans to repeat the exercise for at least another … oh, say 10 years. Or even 20. As I write, the sun is shining, there is a light sea breeze and from our balcony, I can see the boats motoring by down on the marina, as they negotiate the tight bends into their berths for the night. In short, life is rather good here … and the one thing that can top this lifestyle right now is to be on one of the boats … but ssshhhh, don’t tell J – that 31′ Westerly Tempest is looking very buyable from this angle 😉

And by way of icing on the cake, the company moved the broadband service from the old house and as a result torrents are now fyling down our 8Mbit/s ADSL line like proverbial off a stick! Oh happy days.

compromis de vente …

Yesterday, we exchanged contracts on the sale of our current house and the purchase of our new one. In house buying parlance, this is synonymous to the first few notes from the fat lady’s vocal cords as she delivers her final aria on stage before collapsing from a broken heart, poision or some exotic disease: the end to this dramatic home move is drawing to a close and this Thursday, after 9 glorious years in Wiltshire, we take our final curtain call at Deepwell House before relocating to North Somerset.

With hindsight, I should have maintained a running blog on this move, if only to serve as a reminder to the boys of this eventful period in their lives when change is rife and nothing is stable – but on reflection, this is perhaps one of those life lessons that is better learnt through personal (and at times painful!) experience. I can only thank the designers at EA games for giving us Battlefield 2: Modern Combat – a title that has seen much action on our Xbox 360 in recent weeks and has served as an excellent exhaust for pent up frustration as I frag imaginary estate agents, lawyers and carpet fitters with 120mm shells and FFARs from my virtual Apache helicopter 😉

Roll on Thursday!

Note: Readers should also be advised that I am planning to retire the deepwell.co.uk domain after we have moved – with immediate effect, you should all point your browsers to http://www.ongs.co.uk/ to access this page.

tgi friday …

Ok, it’s been a while since my last proper posting … my sincere apologies to those readers who have had the stamina and a somewhat perverse sense of loyalty to want to come back to this little corner of blogosphere, where the deliberation of nonsense and the articulation of nothingness have almost become a minimalistic art form 😉 Anyway here’s a lame attempt to set matters right with some recent news items from not-so-sunny Wiltshire …

Firstly, our house is sold … subject to contract yada yada. I can’t tell you what a relief that is – actually I can, but the full story would entail more expletives than a Tarantino movie so I’ll just restrict myself to the abridged and relatively polite version. Basically, estate agents (or Realtors for folks living on the other side of the pond) are a fucking waste of space, time and money. That said, a more introspective look into the ridiculous process of moving houses – something both J & I have lots of experience of over the years – established that part of the blame must be self-inflicted because we engaged these people fully cognisant of the stress to follow … “Who’s more foolish: the fool or the fool who follows him?”

And then we had a visit from my friend from Hong Kong, who brought along his bride-to-be to take in the sights and sounds of the West Country. They also took on some unexpected dampness in Bath as the April showers show no signs of abating, yet the hosepipe ban in several water operating authorities (including ours) remains in place. Go figure. Anyway, Waiman and Emily’s wedding plans in July are now at a stage that requires Yours Truly to get off my hind quarters and do something about arranging flights etc. Waiman has chartered an entire tram for the evening by way of a combined hen and stag party. In my mind, I’m trying to visualise the most optimal location on a tram that will deliver the greatest amount of humiliation for a public debagging – a reciprocal act of affection [Ed: are you sure you don’t mean revenge?!] for my semi-naked chaining to the railings on Stephens Green, Dublin during my stag party all those years ago. Buddy, if you are reading this, I would recommend that you go tone up those pecs and don’t forget to bikini wax beforehand … in the meantime, I welcome all ideas for restraining positions although I think the one that involves Waiman lying prostrate on the roof with his testicles in contact with the electricity supply cable would limit his chances for future procreation?! BTW, does anyone know if HK trams have a caboose???

Finally, as it’s Friday, have a look at this guy. Pretty much sums up the way I feel right now, except I suspect I would have dropped all three balls in the first three seconds …

sack cloth and ashes …

So what have you given up for Lent? Work commitments aside, I would have gladly swapped my business gladrags for a hoodie and sustained a rugged, unshaven look for 40 days and nights but alas personal modesty got the better of me and so like millions of glasshouse Christians around the world, I’ve chosen to observe Lent in a more private way … by giving up alcohol. Except now that I’ve blogged it, this little sacrifice seems more … contrived.

Ok, much has happened in blogosphere since my last post – Vixgirl got married in Las Vegas (FX: whistles, fanfare, etc …) and in a cruel twist of irony, Sash confessed to the world in her usual articulate, heart-tugging way that, like the Tin Woodman from the Wizard of Oz, she’s a sex-bot with a fragile heart. Sash, what can I say … the Before Sunset moment seems incredulous right now, especially after falling prey to Felix’s Godiva truffles so soon after an emotional coronary 😉

As for me, I’ve been busy at work on a number of projects that I’ve come to recognise as Nanny McPhee assignments (great film BTW) … you know, the old dichotomy of “If you don’t want me, but need me I’ll stay – but when you want me, but don’t need me I’ll go”. Ummmm, enough said. Anyway, by way of chilling I’ve resorted to Blockbuster therapy and have pretty much raped the shelf holding the latest DVD rentals, and then some … which is how I came to discover Tsai Chin – her harrowing performance of a song called The Forgotten Time in the Hong Kong trilogy Infernal Affairs just leaves you … well, listen to this and make up your own mind.

Update: Well, I was on the wagon for … oh, at least 48 hours before answering the seductive calls of my little half-bottles of Ch. Grand Bourdieu from the cellar. I’m actually quite relieved to be free from this self-inflicted charade – and since I’m deeply suspicious of those who appear to be without vice, I figure a return to the bottle will earn me more brownie points from my peers than an empty declaration of abstinence.

state of the union …

One of the side effects of being weaned off my nightly dose of pain killers is insomnia … and when you find yourself suddenly wide awake at 2 o’clock in the morning, the option to tune into the BBC’s live streaming of Dubya addressing the nation seemed more appealing than staring out at a dark star-less sky, counting sheep. And I’m glad I did, because it was enlightening to see how differently American politicians behave in public compared to their British counterparts. Lose the pomp of the ceremony, the power suits and hundred dollar hair do’s and you are left with a bunch of demure and generally well-behaved folks who seemed genuinely engaged during President Bush’s speech – a stark contrast to the crass heckling of the Ne’er-do-wells and barrow boy antics that British MPs feel obliged to display during sessions in Westminster. There is another big difference: in Britain, support on a given issue is often gauged by the comparative volume of ‘Aye’ over ‘No’ while in the US, congress demonstrate their support on points of policy by applauding the speaker with a standing ovation! A somewhat tiresome trait, but nonetheless visually effective from a television perspective …

I’m in my final days of convalescence. Yipee!!! While mobility has returned (I now find myself able to do normal things … like getting out of bed, taking a shower and making my own lunch), tiredness falls quickly and suddenly … which is enough of a worry to avoid driving – narcolepsy is forgivable behind a computer screen, but alas not behind the wheel of a car. And there is still the little matter of twangs and twinges after a meal, but I am advised by my uncle (a retired surgeon) that these sensations are normal while bits and pieces fall into place.

Other news … our house goes on the market at the end of the week. I can’t honestly say that we have put in our best effort to make it look enticing and compelling to buy – a result of my limited mobility and the fact that demolition works to the pub next door have left the site looking like a war zone, but que sera sera

your number’s up, charlie boy …

Obfuscation – that’s my mot du jour. And rather topically, it was also the tactic employed by Charles Kennedy last night, when he publicly admitted his addiction to alcohol. In a ridiculous performance that was more reminiscent of an aged pop star’s coming out, this fading political star couldn’t be more transparent about his shit or bust strategy if he had tried: either win the electorate’s sympathy by this public admission and in doing so, divert focus away from the fact that he’s crap at his job, or face the collective frustration of his shadow cabinet. Listening to the live broadcast on Radio 4, I imagined a pitiful, little boy at the podium, occasionally seeking reassurance by brushing over the bulge in his trouser pocket – a bulge that no longer concealed his trusty hip flask but a well-thumbed copy of Sun Tzu’s Ancient Art of War, bookmarked conveniently at Chapter 7 …

He who knows the artifice of diversion will be victorious.
Such is the art of manuevering.

Good luck in your leadership challenge Charlie boy, but as they say (rather ironically for you) in the trade, In vino veritas 😉

The start of the year is always a great time for words. And being the clock bitches that we have become today where every second is precious and life is only deemed to be eventful if one is armed with a magazine of monosyllabic descriptors, ready to be emptied on the first person at a New Year’s Eve party who innocently asks So what are your new year’s resolutions for 2006?

HM the Queen chose easy and safe in her traditional Christmas Day broadcast as she looked forward to a better 2006. Now, safe is a direct (and perhaps unnecessary) reminder of the clear and present threat of terrorism faced by the world today – a threat which ripened with explosive and tragic effect on July 7 when Londoners experienced the aftermath of one particular Battle on Ideas. But easy? Ummm, I suppose that’s a somewhat cryptic reference to the natural disasters that have groped the world in last 12 months, starting with the Aceh tsunami, followed by Katrina and the calamity of the Pakistan earthquake that claimed over 70 thousand souls in October. So I’m guessing easy because let’s face it, there’s bugger all we can do about natural disasters.

Sure, I want all those things in 2006 for me and my family. And then there are things that I believe are well within the purview of my capability to influence and deliver. So my promissory words for this new year are healthy and stress-free – chosen with trepidation in anticipation of some big challenges that we will face in the next few months, incuding major events like moving house(s), and some of us going under the surgeon’s knife.

Roll on 2006 …

allegorically speaking …

So who’s been to see Narnia? It seems some critics have found the storyline – a blatant allegory of Christianity – too religious, even for the current festive period. Well, that’s just too bad I say. It is afterall Christmas and if non-Christians choose to look beyond what is superficially an awesome cinematic experience and take issue with the key Christmas messages of human betrayal, love and selfless sacrifice, then that is indeed their prerogative. But I would also like to invite them to jolly well poke off and go join the band of comfortably-heeled PC retards who go about wishing folks Happy Holidays.

Regardless of our religious persuasion, we should understand that CS Lewis himself although not theologically trained was a well-respected Christian apologist – apologetics btw being the branch of Christian theology arguing for the soundness of its doctrines against the objections of unbelievers – and the chronicles of Narnia are simply a means for Lewis to dramatise his own conversion from atheism to Christianity and challenge non-believers in the format of an adventure story. Echoes of Lord of the Rings? Definitely. The man responsible for his conversion is none other that JRR Tolkien himself!

I was first introduced to Lewis’s essays by my uncle when I was in my teens. Cynical, doubting and the immodest owner of what was then a logical and strong analytical mind, I embraced the challenge of Christian apologetics in the same way I had tackled quadratic equations at school. For example, take the ontological question of God’s existence, which apparently can be proved by 4 simple axioms:

1. God is the greatest being, and nothing is greater than God.

2. God has to be real; to be imaginary means there’s something greater than God, therefore 1) cannot be true.

3. God is the ultimate creator. Consider cause and effect. Now, there cannot be an infinite number of creations. If something exists and if nothing cannot cause something, then it follows that something real must be the ultimate creator of life/universe – the first cause if you like, otherwise 2) cannot be true. (Incidentally, this little paradox is something that buddhists find difficult to come to terms with explain on the basis of kharma and reincarnation).

4. God must be the necessary being i.e. something that has always existed without a beginning. Since it is impossible for nothing to cause something, then it is necessary for something to always have been, otherwise 3) cannot be true.

Therefore God exists. QED. Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone!

decree absolute …

Some of you have been a little confused about my last posting: on the one hand, the subject of marriage received the reverence it deserved (even if the delivery seemed a little condescending and a touch sanctimonious) but on the flip-side, I appeared to be quite flippant about my own marital situation, which I hasten to add is nothing like as turbulent as I’ve previously intimated 😉

Ok, let me clarify … there is nothing remotely funny about divorce. It isn’t amusing for the parties concerned, and as a mutual friend caught in the middle of an ongoing divorce between two of our closest friends, there are no attributes about the process of divorce or of human behaviours that I can honestly recommend to anyone. Not even to my worst enemy.

This Christmas, the children of the parties concerned will open their presents by the tree with one of their parents absent. They will eat their celebratory lunch at the dining table that would have been set for one more person. And as is the tradition, they will go on separate walks with each parent on Boxing Day. They will do well to take advantage of this period of grace because in the new year, they will begin a life apart – alternating between each parent every other week. The irony of this sorry existence is that both parents will need to talk to each other more often than of late, to coordinate schedules for dropping off and pickup up children from school and various other activities.

And that’s just the superficial damage that we as outsiders are unfortunate enough to witness. We may never know the full extent of emotional pain of either party or the anguish and insecurity felt by the kids as they are carried along by the due process of law and other formalities … hell, they might as well be treated like chattels in a property transaction. An anonymous 10-year old boy once described his feelings of abandonment and isolation following his parents’ divorce like this: It made me feel like my arms and legs aren’t attached … which I suppose is paraphrasing Margaret Atwood’s famous quote – divorce is like an amputation; you survive, but there’s less of you. So cruel, yet undeniably true.

If you find some quiet time as you wade through the shopping crowds this year, do give some thought to these two girls. I wonder if the clever elves in Santa’s grotto have found a way of boxing up courage and understanding …

wedding bells …

This has been a week of surprises. Our good friend Waiman (previously libelled as general wild oats sower and having a hyperactive libido) is finally getting hitched! All around Hong Kong, women are tearing off their clothes with grief: some from broken hearts but the majority, wallowing in regret that they have failed to entrap the most eligible economic migrant in town and thus secure UK residency through wedlock. Sorry girls but how do I say this … Mr PR has left the building! I could venture to suggest that husbands in the vicinity of his bachelor pad all breathed a sigh of relief on hearing the announcement, but that would be compounding a vicious rumour. No seriously, Emily … if you are reading this, I’m just yanking your chain … the only thing that’s untrue is the UK passport

An erudite comic once observed that marriage is like jumping into the river when all you want is a drink of water. Cynicism aside, I find it refreshing that folks these days still aspire to disprove the rising divorce statistics and enter into marriage for all the seemingly right reasons – love, honour, respect blah blah blah. While the absence of these ingredients is a sure recipe for petty squabbles and general displeasure at home, it is the lack of commitment and devotion to each other that causes a breakdown and makes a marriage irreconcilable. Just as we constantly need water to stay alive, a marriage is only sustainable and therefore successful when each party satisfies the thirst of the other because I am not persuaded that there is another rational explanation for why some marriages work and others do not. And if you accept that we are all born selfish, it would follow that no two individuals with differing Maslowian ambitions for self-actualisation would choose to come together to form a partnership, and promise commitment and self-less devotion to each other, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health … till death us do part. It is extremely hard work to stay married – and it doesn’t get any easier when the blobs come along and add parental responsibility to the list of duties that support the adage that All work and no play makes Pip a very unhapppy bunny.

So boys and girls, if your preference is for intermittently dipping into a number of different wells, then I suggest that tying the matrimonial knot ain’t your thang. However, if taking the plunge is your intention then be prepared for life’s hairiest, always unfair, blameful, intolerant but at the same time most rewarding experience ever!

N.B. Dr Pip’s virtual couch is currently vacant for general counselling sessions. Postcards, T-shirts and an assortment of bodily scars from ongoing cohabitation with Mrs Pip are available for sale/viewing for a nominal charge. Please send your PayPal micropayment to You’re Knackered at imdonefor@marriage.co.uk

thematic attraction …

It’s official – sexual blogging (henceforth to be referred to as ‘slogging’ – Copyright (C) 2005 by pip) is en vogue. And infectious too. A few days after bumping into Sash’s blog, my virtual promiscuity carried me into the contrived continuum of Sarong Party Girl – yet another lurid den of inequity where the literary kimono is thrown wide open to such explicit extremities as to leave nothing to the imagination … down to the bit when vaginal blood was drawn, one assumes from rough and excessive humping.

It is perhaps a little churlish of me to comment on the motives of those who ‘slog’ – afterall, ‘Kiss & Tell’ is an extremely saleable genre at the moment, as the book ratings for Diary of a Manhatten Call Girl self-testify. Plus it would be far too hypocritical (even for me) to deny that I derive no pleasure from reading about the bedtime pursuits of the sexually emancipated female. And at this point, I should also like to declare a discernable sway towards works that carry off ‘chick wit’, rather than the multitude of hormone-busting tomes that carry on the hackneyed form of ‘chick lit’. But I digress …

Anyway, the new blogging currency is traffic … people are mad for it, many crave it for their blogs, and some I daresay, even venture into the land of fiction to secure the statistical nirvana of the most links, the highest number of referrals and the most unsolicited comments. If you have not already discovered Blogshares, then I’m sorry to have popped your virginal naivety by alerting you to its existence. However, remember that the dodo became extinct because it was functionally inept to deal with the predators introduced by early travelers – so if you want your blog to survive globalisation, find yourself a scoop … or the very least, give your blog a theme. And if slogging is your thang, then Amen.

So, a new theme for this blog? Well, actually… no. I’m afraid I going to stick to writing about what I know best … and that’s me. And why ‘banana blogging’, some of you loyal fans have enquired? Well, riddle me this … What is yellow on the outside and white inside???

oriental discoveries …

I’m not really understanding why Sash’s blog (a Babe in Toyland) attracts such vitriolic comments, especially when she writes with such wit and lucidity about her insatiable appetite for cock. Now I don’t know Sash from Adam, colloquially nor in the biblical sense, but find her carnal adventures in her recently adopted home of Hong Kong … well, rather uplifting shall we say F*** it, I’m going to link to her from my blog anyway … even when as a relative noobie, I must confess I don’t really dig this curious practice of blogrolling. When I add a link, I do so to mark *my* approval of the blogger’s written contribution, across a range of loosely subjective criteria … literary style, contextual attraction, humour, artistic inclination, yada, yada. I do *not* blogroll to stoke the paranoia of stalkerphobics or the narcissism of Id-worshiping Freudians, and frankly if I really felt the need to pry into someone’s life, I would rather deploy a number of clandestine technical measures, made easier by the promiscuity of today’s Internet user … we all live in an increasingly dangerous interconnected world. So Sash, if you do come across this link, no malevolence was ever intended. On the contrary, I would have liked to have stared dreamily into your eyes and imagined a future with a harried tai tai with kids in tow, but alas for me that fate has already matured – 2 offspring, a potentially vindictive wife who knows a good divorce lawyer and a general bout of mid-life malaise (read: old spent git) says I will never realise this fantasy. Perhaps, I should put you in touch with my friend WaiMan instead – a like minded hedonist with comparable sexual drive, and currently residing (rather conveniently) in HK.

While trawling in the vicinity of SE Asia, I also stumbled upon Celeste K’s blog and her relentless quest to diss her brother’s new girlfriend, Cipap. Now this one requires an appreciation of local humour, which I’ve yet to find elsewhere. Let me expand on my definition of locale … I’ve been berated recently about my casual use of language and would rather not face a barrage of ill-feeling from people I don’t know. For many Malaysians, being associated with imported things whether they be fashion brands and/or ideology carries the usual rewards of recognition and distinction – an assertion/generalisation that I’m sure will generate some comeback, but one that is not immutably incorrect (bloody hell, three negatives in a row – must be a personal record!). So labeling something as local can often be construed as a health warning to others for something staid, not very it and generally to be avoided, whereas nothing can be further from the truth. If I harbour a regret about my childhood in the Far East, it would be that I left Malaysia before I really got to know the people, their culture and ways of working. Sash called this her Faustian sacrifice but I’m not posh enough to quote contextually apt literature, and besides my personal circumstances were a little more utilitarian – my sisters and I were dispatched to Blighty to become knowledge mules. But I do still yearn for that local living that I feel cheated of, which is why I never miss the opportunity to mingle when I’m back in the country … and also sadly why, without exception, I’ve always stood out like the proverbial digit in these situations … like when I was last at Zeta’s in the KL Hilton after Shirley’s wedding. Ok, admitedly I was in a pin stripe wool suit and feeling severely jet-lagged but in my defence, I had set off from London on a cold January morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

So, two great finds in blogosphere … and hopefully, plenty more to discover. Who said blogging was a one-sided indulgence?!

normality is for whimps …

Waking up at 0500 every morning has given me a sense of purpose and achievement- but now that this bidding cycle is over I shall have to find an equally satisfying activity for the early hours … because it will take a while before my mind and body come to the realisation that it is OK to sleep until 0730. Really.

And there is a lot on my mind. Like trying to find the optimal sequence to buy and sell property without incurring a shameful amount of Capital Gains tax, or working out the best return on long term investment based on SIPPs … and most importantly, obtaining the addresses for the best eateries in Venice when J and I visit this week-end.

But this evening, I shall put my feet up, pour myself a glass of something strong and reminisce on past times and old friends … because I just don’t agree with Liam Fox when he says that the past does not qualify him to become the new leader of the Conservative party. People judge us by our ability to deliver on our promises, and in return, we judge others in advance by looking at previous reputation and old behaviours. Just like on this bid team – there are some folks I will never want to work with again, but then there are others who I would actively seek out to collaborate with on some future project together.

And as we wait to learn our fate on this bid (announcement due in early November), I feel I need to remind myself that often it’s not the destination that matters … but the journey.

future nav …

Is this the future of web navigation? Feeling the need to tear myself away from bid documentation, I decided to check out Google Earth. Now a really cool interface for me would involve overlaying Big Picture over Google Earth, with an option to communicate directly with your handheld GPS device (which also happens to be a mobile phone, PDA, espresso maker, etc.) Picture this, having trawled the net using this new interface, read the reviews and decided on the latest toy you absolutely cannot live without, you can zoom into the retail outlet nearest you and check out the traffic situation before leaving the house and have the location details sent directly to your GPS system cum coffee maker. Oh, if you are really astute, you will have programmed additional criteria into Big Picture to ensure that the gadget shop is adjacent to purveyors of female fashion goods, thereby earning extra brownie points from the significant half who will be chuffed to bits by this sudden display of generosity. And if she does murder you after discovering how much you have spent on said gadget, you will at least be posthumously awarded the Nobel Prize for Marital Reconciliation. Alternatively, you can sit on your fat arse, break open a six-pack and buy it through eBay. It will save you a new pair of shoes and (if you are really unlucky) a handbag.

Speaking of gadgets – if you haven’t yet discovered Gizmodo, check it out here.