Life is a glorious cycle of song, a medley of extemporanea in the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee this morning, as I sift through the South China Morning Post and find a rich bundle of international current affairs weirdness.
Good news for China – the world’s most maligned, bullied, hurt and unfairly interfered-with country – as Zambia’s intriguingly named President Rupiah Banda leaps to its defence. Stop picking on the Chinese for shooting our workers, he protests, when everyone else does it too. Bandas are pretty common among despots in that region, but you do have to wonder how he came to be named after an Asian currency, or at least that one. Surely R. M. B. Banda would be more appropriate.
Singapore, the pathologically pathetic city-state left over from a deranged eugenics experiment, might administer judicial torture on an American for overstaying his visa. Of course, if the guy was Vietnamese or Zambian or one of those other people who don’t feel pain much, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But I don’t buy the idea of precious, delicate western buttocks being split open by a flexible rattan cane wielded by a burly Malay jailer in a loincloth for tarrying too long in a country that sulks because most people can’t wait to leave. It won’t happen. (I must admit to a twinge of jealousy: this is the sort of PR tourist-swamped Hong Kong could do with.)
The good people of Burma wake this morning to find to find that their partly Singaporean-backed regime has imposed a new, rather African-looking flag. Actually, this goes back a while. According to the SCMP, the yellow, green and red stand for solidarity, peace and tranquility (which I would have thought is another word for ‘peace’ but what do I know?) There was a time when a yellow flag indicated a place under quarantine. Meanwhile, the green in Hong Kong’s famous dragon logo stands for a sustainable environment. But it’s probably a slightly different shade from Burma’s.
At this point, wild American friend Odell staggers up, drops half a dozen carrier bags on the floor and disappears. When he comes back clutching his wild momordica fruit and fennel yoghurt espresso, he sits down and looks me sternly in the eye.
“This is the big one,” he tells me. “I’ve been tracking Typhoon Megi for several days now ever since it swept through the Philippines. Hong Kong is gonna be smashed to pieces, I reckon. You see that on the news – 250 kilometre-an-hour winds? There’s gonna be trees, satellite dishes and even fishing boats flying around all over the place, and massive flooding right up to Hollywood Road.”
He shows me what emergency supplies he managed to get at the supermarket after battling with hordes of panicking housewives stocking up before the Number 10 Signal shuts the city down. “Five rolls of Scotch Tape to put on the windows in big ‘X’ shapes. Eight cans of Ma Ling luncheon meat. One gift pack of Garden brand Malkist crackers which are broken because some bitch tried to grab them, and a bag of peach flavoured gummy bears with extra Vitamin C – absolutely no bread or rice to be seen. Also, three litres of sesame oil and half a dozen stainless steel toenail clippers. I mean, that’s all there was left!”
“That accounts for two of the bags,” I tell him. “What’s in the other three?”
He pulls them over and shows me the contents. “In this one,” he shows me, “four bottles of King Robert vodka. In this one, four more bottles of King Robert vodka. And, um, in this bag… another four bottles of King Robert vodka.”
I would tell him the typhoon is moving away from us, but I doubt it really matters.