Friday, June 30, 2006

Strangest news story of the week...

Putin kissing a little boy on the stomach.


9 Years ago today....

The 'Handover'


Laugh? I nearly died!.....from Hemlock

It would have been quick and painless. Now, they’re going to get the wrath of Anson.

tying in Bagpuss' involvement in tomorrow's pro-democracy march....and the fact that recently released papers show that in the past Britain was prepared to use nuclear strength (albeit someone else's nuclear strength) if China messed with Hong Kong.


Just about sums it up!!!

From today's SCMP

What World Cup?

The whole world is caught up in the joy and delirium of World Cup football. Excuse me, did I say "whole world"? I meant, "with the exception of a certain clueless archipelago in Southeast Asia". Billions around the globe might party, but Filipinos are utterly unmoved by The Beautiful Game. We're so out of it that, in 1991, when our football team beat Malaysia 1-0, we were as shocked as the Malaysians.

This, after all, is the team Fifa ranks 191st out of 205. We are comfortably ahead of such powerhouses as American Samoa, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, but are strongly advised to steer away from Botswana, Palestine, Guinea-Bissau and 187 others. An online encyclopedia says that in 93 years, the Philippines national side has lost 153 of 173 games; scoring 127 goals while conceding 632.

What Filipinos are crazy about is basketball, which, compared to soccer, has all the international reach of costumed wrestling. Yet, in nearly every town, you'll see the sacred trinity: church, cockpit (for cockfighting) and basketball court. Even so, basketball has been in a sharp decline: American players have to be imported to prop up local leagues.

It needn't have come to this. In 1913 we hosted Asia's first international soccer match, and our team beat China 2-1. It's enough to make you think of other historical what-ifs: Britain held Manila from 1762 to 1764; Belgium wanted to buy the colony in 1875; Germany made acquisitive noises in 1898.

But it was the Americans who ended up our colonial masters. Raphael Bartholomew, an American sportswriter who's trying to understand our passion for basketball, said: "I think the American influence, and the early success of Filipinos in international basketball, helped ingrain it in a way that will be almost impossible to reverse."

Filipinos might ask about soccer: "Where's the excitement in a scoreless game that lasts two hours and has to be decided by a penalty shootout?" But it's not just the sport that they are missing: they're also depriving themselves of the world's biggest event, dwarfing even the Olympics. Only 32 teams appear, yet billions of people root for them around the world.

World Cup soccer can move entire countries, and the passion and joy are infectious. Anyone who sees Brazil play brilliantly can't help but feel their happiness. Then, of course, there's the sheer, shared pleasure of seeing Ghana beat the United States, 2-1.

Anyway, who knows what might happen? Badminton has suddenly become popular here, so there's no reason soccer shouldn't. We just need more warm-up games. Our first priority is clear: find out where the Turks and Caicos Islands are.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

From the news desk....

Israel & Palestine...will it ever end?...

Will Tim Henman ever win Wimbledon?

I'm thinking it's 'no' to both of the above...the former makes me want to weep, the latter...not so much.

Jack Straw probably used the same word as I did when I heard the news.

What is it about the job of foreign secretary that inspires such a sense of shock and/or horror in ministers when they are handed the portfolio?

Margaret Beckett has revealed in a newspaper interview that, when Tony Blair told her she was to be made foreign secretary, the only thing she could think to say in response was a four letter word.

"He told me he wanted me to go on working on climate change issues but to do it from the foreign office. I was stunned," she explained.

Her reaction was "one word and four letters" beginning with an F.

But, I learn, Mrs Beckett is not the only politician to have reacted in such a way to this particular promotion.

Apparently when her predecessor, Jack Straw, was given the job he was also lost for words - apart from one four letter one, this time beginning with an S.

Now what I want to know is what word Mr Straw used when he heard he was being replaced by Mrs Beckett...

From yesterday's Inquirer..Pope knows about Garci..a few questions spring to mind...who told him?, if the Pope there anyone left on the planet who doesn't know?, does the Pope really care? - possibly not given the next link.

MLQ3 on the seperation of the Church and the State...a tough call in the Philippines.

From Saturday's Manila Standard Today...When Filipinos caress their cocks, the world watches in awe ....Seriously....I'm obviously hanging out in the wrong places??!!! (via Manila Journal)


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Verbal fencing

Verbal fencing....for's good entertainment, it's a test of intelligence and wits and above all it's my way of showing affection... for years I have prided myself on being one step ahead...always...even amongst my family who have been, to date, my only really worth 'opponents'...

'To date'...because today I met my match, for the first time ever...with one response I was reduced to silence! And I am still stunned!! In a good way!!


Follow up....

From the BBC today...this article to add weight to E@L's 'discussion' with Caerphilly. And no, I didn't think that you had made it up!!!!

It seems that the Lobster in The Little Mermaid, is not a lobster...but a crab....and his name is Sebastian!

Last night, was the first...and last time I support Australia in any sporting event. I had a bet riding on Australia trouncing the Italians...with my little Italian colleague...and Australia let me down, so I now have to buy the insufferable Italian dinner...I guess it could have been worse, as I was reminded by another colleague...during the wager conversation the Italian asked what would happen if the match was a draw...knowing (and desperately hoping that I was right!) that at this stage in the tournament the end result could never be a draw...I said.."You'll have to sleep with me".....!!!!! Thank God for small mercies!!!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Philippines needs a better PR manager....

Over the weekend, there were three Philippine related stories on the BBC's Asia-Pacific page...none of them painting the country in a particularly good light...

GMA being admitted to hospital with stomach pains eating in a Manila restaurant

The bomb blast in the south...

The abolition of the death penalty....the RC Church is happy, the Pope - particularly so....

but...this comment from the Philippine Star..are they trying to stir the muck, or are they hinting at something that is about to come and bite the Philippines (or GMA) in the arse..?

"The unusual speed in a legislature constantly bogged down in gridlock raised cynical suspicions that lawmakers are in dire need of the Catholic Church's approval and support. For what, the public can only hazard a guess"

On a personal does seem that this legislation was passed with amazing speed, given the speed that things normally happen in this country.

My colleagues are fairly ambivalent about the whole thing...although the general feeling is that with the level of violent crime in the country, maybe increasing the use of the death penalty might have been a better - human rights for criminals or human rights for the law abiding citizens that get caught on the wrong side of violent crimes?

In summary, it looks like the Philippines needs someone to put a better spin on the news coming out of the country....may I suggest....Alastair Campbell.....ok, of course I'm not's just that I have a little crush on him!!!


"My thoughts are, we're going to get somebody who knows what they're talking about....."

Have GWB's verbal gaffes become so much the norm now that nobody really comments on them anymore? Is that why there are so many from this list from Slate that I haven't heard before....

a few of my favourites....

"I was not pleased that Hamas has refused to announce its desire to destroy Israel."

"You never know what your history is going to be like until long after you're gone."

"That's George Washington, the first president, of course. The interesting thing about him is that I read three—three or four books about him last year. Isn't that interesting?"

"If the Iranians were to have a nuclear weapon they could proliferate."

Link from Manila Journal


Monday, June 26, 2006

Just out of interest....

Which of you male readers knows the name of the lobster from 'The Little Mermaid'?

No will spoil the results!


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Through the square window....

As I sat at home yesterday afternoon, I watched the rain clouds move up from Manila Bay into the city, I watched Makati disappear, I watched Shaw Boulevard - just below me, become a vague outline....

I love rain storms...


Friday, June 23, 2006

At last...

Finally, after a rather stressful few months...I am Hong Kong bound! Ok, granted, not for another month or so....26th July to be precise!

I can just smell the pollution, feel the humidity and see the rain pouring in thick grey sheets of water!

And I can taste the banana milkshakes at Al's Diner, feel the breeze on the lower deck of the Star Ferry and 'hear' the sound of silence up on the Peak overlooking the harum-scarum that is Mid-Levels!



Australia through, Italy through...both in one life at work is about to become a living hell....

and....if one more person says..."Well at least England is through"...I shall not be responsible for my actions.... am thinking I might go to work with the St. Andrews painted on my might help them figure out that I am Scottish!

The following still rings true.....

40 degrees - Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Scotland sunbathe.

35 degrees - Italian cars won't start.
People in Scotland drive with the windows down.

20 degrees - Floridians wear coats, gloves, and wool hats.
People in Scotland throw on shorts and a T-shirt.

15 degrees - Californians begin to evacuate the state.
People in Scotland go swimming in the sea.

0 degrees - New York landlords turn the heat on.
People in Scotland have a last barbi before it gets cold.

-10 degrees - People in Miami are extinct.
People in Scotland lick flagpoles.

-20 degrees - Californians all now live in Mexico.
People in Scotland throw on a light jacket.

-80 degrees - Polar bears begin to evacuate the Arctic.
Scottish Boy Scouts postpone winter survival exercise until it gets cold enough.

-100 degrees - Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
People in Scotland wear a vest and pull down their ear flaps.

-173 degrees - Ethyl alcohol freezes.
People in Scotland get angry 'cos they can't thaw their whisky.

-297 degrees - Microbial life starts to grind to a halt.
Scottish cows complain of farmers with cold hands.

-460 degrees - ALL atomic motion stops.
People in Scotland start saying " A bit hill billy ... eh? "

-500 degrees - Hell freezes over.
Scottish people support England in the World Cup


Thursday, June 22, 2006

A splash by any other name....

The other day I was recommending the Tate Modern to E@L and mentioned one of my favourite paintings of all time...David Hockney's A Bigger Splash...which is one of three paintings Hockney produced showing splashes resulting from someone entering a pool.

The Splash has just been sold for £2.6m

A Smaller Splash

The Splash

A Bigger Splash


Hong Kong's very own 'Comeback Kid'

'...former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is undoubtedly one of a handful of ex-civil servants who are still darlings of the media....She (said) the future of Hong Kong's political development lay with establishing a fully democratic representative government. Eyebrows were raised over her remarks, and her political comeback is poised to cause an even bigger stir'

From the SCMP


I couldn't agree more...

Putting life into perspective.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Manila - a city of two halves....

The first half being the half I am fortunate enough to exist in....the other half being this.

In all reality I have got my division wrong.....

And on the other side of South China Seas....Urban Living, government style in Hong Kong at Wah Fu Estate

All part of the BBC's Urban Planet series.


Human rights in Jordan....

'Human rights groups on Wednesday welcomed a decision by the government of the Philippines to stop sending domestic helpers to Jordan, saying such a step would highlight the abuse Philipinos and other nationals are subjected to at the hands of Jordanian families that employ them.'

complete article here


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Things one can learn over a weekend!!!

Mixing beer and vodka does not for a happy next morning make!! You'd think at my age I would have known that already!!!

Dancing is good for the soul!! But not as good for my soul as just being around water...swimming or just being 'on' the water!

It still amazes me (even after a year) how incredibly polite and civil Filipinos are to each other....even to (or particularly to) strangers.....after years of Hong fascinates me! I sat at the airport on Friday watching staff and passengers interact and everyone was so polite!

After years of snorkelling in lots of weird and wonderful places, I finally saw "Nemo fish" out in the 'wild'...!!!

When you fall down the stairs in public, however much you hope that you weren't seen, there is always one person in the distance who will see it!!!

I am quite the control freak and if not in control I need to know what's happening and when....however, sometimes it is good to let someone else take control and just come over all can make for a very relaxing weekend!

Cebu is actually quite a nice city, I saw a different side of it this visit...there are enough fun places to go out to...without being swamped with choice.

I am quite partial to green mango slush! I have tasted green mango on it's own and it does something bad to my palate a slush puppy....its good stuff!!!

When you are with people who know how the country works and anticipate makes life so much more simple....

Parasailing is more fun when there are two of you up there...particularly given my terror of is reassuring knowing that if you are going to plummet out of the least you are not alone...!!! I have parasailed alone quite a few times...and although wonderful it has the edge taken off by the sheer feeling of terror!

I am turning into my mother...!!! For as long as I can remember, where ever we have lived, my mother's idea of a good time is being driven around a city at night...just to see the lights.... practical when you are living in HKG...impractical when living 2 hours south of father however is very obliging...last night being driven back from the airport through Manila I suddenly saw the attraction....!

After going through my whole life thinking I didn't have a jealous streak....I discovered I was wrong...!!

Seaweed in the sea is horrible....and it smells!!

Cebu Pacific is actually a pretty good airline....although they seem to have a fundamental problem with getting their planes off the tarmac on time....allegedly due to the renovation work on the domestic runway at Manila.

And a few pictures....

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside....particularly when it's not Brighton or Bognor!!

And it wouldn't be a travel post without a few pictures of planes....

As we came out of the terminal at Manila, the ground crew said...."second yellow plane on the left"...!!!

There's quite a collection of old aircraft at Manila airport.....not sure how many of them are seeing service still!!

So...all in, a wonderful weekend!


Monday, June 19, 2006

And that was the weekend...

I have returned...!!!

Lovely, lovely weekend.....nice weather, peace and quiet, excellent company, good food, lots of alcohol and dancing....oh yes, there was dancing...!!! Something I haven't done for a long, long time....and damn it feels good!!!

I think I have a vague idea as to the answer to my previous query....but....due to the possible feeling I am being 'read'! Will keep things to myself on that front!! However, thank you for your wonderful comments and suggestions....they have made me laugh...particularly E@L.....!!

Will post a few piccies when I get a chance...


Thursday, June 15, 2006

so how do you know....?

My travelling companion this weekend is a very nice guy, good looking, intelligent, great sense of humour, however, there is a tiny, tiny rumour around that he is gay....

Which is a particular challenge for me...because I am the world's worst person at knowing if someone is gay....seriously, I have no idea! Just to give you some idea of how there is no way I can tell if someone is gay or not is the fact that this afternoon when telling a good friend of mine about the upcoming weekend...her response was...

"Good God, you're the worst person to be dealing with couldn't tell if someone were gay if they either had it stamped on their forehead or stood up in full drag and sang Barbra Streisand songs!"

It's true....I can't...and it is probably because I have such a strong 'live and let live' way of looking at life....but just this once...I wish I could tell!!!!


Better than a slap in the face with a wet fish...!!!

I should be here at the moment....enjoying a pleasant week's holiday with my parents, my brother and his wife, my grandfather and my favourite man in the whole world...

and.....I'm three weeks leave was cancelled due to recent events at work...however, I have been given special dispensation (almost papal in its importance, but not quite!) to escape to over the weekend.

One of my colleagues has invited me to join him and his friends for a spot of partying and island hopping down in we will leave Friday lunch and return Monday evening....

Hmmmmm.... sunshine, alcohol, fresh air, clear blue skies, beautiful night skies and some excellent company.....not quite Moscow and St. Petes but........


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Offside exposure

The boss of the operation in which I work is Australian. And in the lead up the World Cup there have been numerous heated exchanges about Australia's chances in Germany...the most recent being...

Boss: "What day is Australia's first match"
Me"Who cares, its not as if they are going to win anyway"
Boss:"That's just sour grapes because Scotland's not playing"

and there have been many more in the same vein....

So after Australia's, surprising and rather last minute victory over Japan on Monday night I decided to make amends... I decided to wear this little number into work...of course under a jacket zipped up to my neck as wouldn't want to be giving anyone any ideas!!

Unfortunately as it is a rather old T-shirt...(saw a fair amount of time in the previous two world cups) it is now a little on the tight my chest is not on the small side..... I didn't have enough nerve to 'expose' my shirt to the boss!!!!! However, I did to a few others and by the end of the day a number of colleagues were either desperately trying to look down the front of my jacket or were coming up to me and just saying..'lets have a look then'...nodding in the general direction of the script on my t-shirt!!! Keeps everyone amused I guess!!!

Also a slightly bizarre experience of my colleagues is Italian - and apparently a footie fan...yesterday afternoon saw me trying to explain English terminology for scoring i.e. Draw, 1 All, 1-Nil etc.....we got onto the offside rule which he doesn't understand at all... and I ended up having to try to explain it to him....there was no point...he couldn't get it, I ended up so frustrated that I have sworn never to try to explain it to anyone again!!!

I don't think that match fixing and corruption is the only problem in Italian football!! And according to one of my Japanese colleagues, the Japanese football team will be sending four players to Italy for training....I have some serious doubts about how worthwhile that would be!!


Monday, June 12, 2006

Makes you wonder.....!

"Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was the world's most unhinged lunatic. He's now dead. So that moves Ann Coulter up to first place."

David Letterman


Sunday, June 11, 2006

And all because the lady loves….the Milk Tray Man!!!

Recently a friend in need in one country (not the same as the one I currently reside in) texted me that she needed chocolate urgently and to contact one particular person in a third country for the said chocolate… being the obedient friend I am, I did....completely unaware at the time that first friend was under the influence of medically administered drugs!!!!! She has since learnt that chocolate buttons are no substitute for morphine – or at least I hope she has!!

An image sprang to mind of the man from the Milk Tray ad, helicoptering in, scaling walls and delivering requested chocolate. As mentioned before, I do have a fairly vivid imagination!!! Unfortunately in this case the requested chocolate consisted of curly wurlys and chocolate buttons….. not quite the same as a box of milk tray…..and I’m thinking that the only person likely to deliver packets of chocolate buttons would be someone like the Easter bunny….not a real live action hero!!

After relaying this little trick of the imagination to the friend in need of chocolate…we then both went on a little internet search of ‘the man from the milk tray ads’…….. Little did I realize how imbedded the Milk Tray Man was in the British psyche!!!

For those of you who have precisely no idea what I am waffling about… here...

Towards the end of 2003 the powers that be decided to do away with the Milk Tray man…the reaction seems to be fairly strong….from women….and men….

I guess it just goes to show that the average woman does want the all action hero….
I expect the marketing consultant in question is a woman. It's professional career women who spread the lie that girls are less interested in muscular alpha males than they are in Sensitive New Age Guys - or SNAGS for short, and I'm not making that one up. They believe it, too - until they come face to face with a fireman. Then all bets are off, and quite a lot else besides.

If the people at Cadbury's really want to sell more chocolates, they should make an advert in which a wimpy, bespectacled man stands in front of his intended, quoting from Romeo and Juliet. However, just as he's about to hand over the box of Milk Tray, a man in a wetsuit comes crashing through the window, shoves the metrosexual to one side, and grabs the chocolates. Turning to the camera, he says: "Don't worry, ladies. I'm not going anywhere." He then looks at the girl and orders her, in no uncertain terms, to get her knickers off.

hmmmm....a man in a wetsuit....well that has to be the subject of a whole other post!!!!

I would dearly love my chocolate delivered a la Milk Tray ad….but believe me, that man wouldn’t just get to sneak out after dropping the delivery – he would have to stay for a few more 'delivery duties’!!!

So there you have it….we want the action hero, we like the element of danger, not keen on overly sensitive new age guys.…and above all we want chocolate….yes…today’s woman continues to ‘want it all’!!!!


Manila sundowners...

Location: Philippine Plaza terrace
Drinks: Chocolate Martinis - ok..but not as good as Feather Boa
Company: Excellent

For those of you in Manila, this is what the Mall of Asia looks like from along the coast...


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Blue eyes....

It's an odd thing..... you think you are over someone, you think that it is finally at a 'friends' level you can deal with....and then they look at you..... and the world comes crashing down around your ears.


Friday, June 09, 2006

They should.....and they shouldn't.....

The following article from the Jordan Times raises a few issues in my mind; printed here in full.

Police stop live interview with Zarqawi’s brother-in-law

Abu Mussab Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike north of Baghdad on Wednesday evening

By Alia Shukri Hamzeh

AMMAN — Police on Thursday interrupted a live Al Jazeera broadcast from Zarqa and briefly detained the satellite channel’s crew and confiscated their camera and tapes.

The incident took place as Al Jazeera’s correspondent Yasser Abu Hilala was interviewing the brother-in-law of the former Al Qaeda frontman in Iraq Abu Mussab Zarqawi.

Government Spokesperson Nasser Judeh, however, said Abu Hilala had not been held by police, stressing that the live interview was halted due to high emotions among local people.

“Maybe some people felt that Al Jazeera’s coverage or approach wasn’t balanced and so emotions were charged, especially for the families of those who died in the 11/9 bombings,” he said.

The interview was cut off as Zarqawi’s in-law, known as Abu Qudama, was praising the dead Al Qaeda leader and depicting him as a hero.

Al Qaeda had claimed responsibility for the Amman triple bombings last November that killed 60 people.

“In the midst of the live interview with Zarqawi’s in-law, the police arrived and pushed aside our cameras. We did not stop the interview and continued with the audio transmission, then they arrested Abu Qudama and later took me,” Abu Hilala told The Jordan Times, adding that he remained in police custody for half an hour.

The authorities usually ban filming in Zarqawi’s hometown and usually require media personnel to obtain permission.

Abu Hilala noted that he had not sought permission to film.

Al Jazeera crew was just one of many international TV crews who descended on the northern city yesterday in search of a reaction from family members to the Jordanian fugitive’s death announced earlier in the day.

The Al Qaeda leader and Iraq’s most wanted man with a $25 million bounty on his head, was killed in a US air strike north of Baghdad Wednesday evening.

Other TV crews were also banned from filming and from interviewing members of Zarqawi’s family. Some had their tapes confiscated, reporters told The Jordan Times.

The Centre for Defending Freedom of Journalists issued a statement denouncing the brief detention, describing it as a breach of press freedoms and harmful to Jordan’s image.

The centre repeated its calls for the authorities to stop arresting journalists, saying such actions run contrary to the country’s democratic reform process.

“The whole aim was not to arrest journalists, but rather to stop us from filming in Zarqa,” Abu Hilala said.

“Regardless of how people feel, whether they support Zarqawi or denounce him as a terrorist, it’s my job to portray what is going on and show the facts on the ground,” he said.

My thoughts are these:

Press freedom in Jordan should be improved.

Al-Jazeera knew exactly what they were doing when they went to interview the brother in law....he has been an outspoken supporter of Al-Zarqawi in the past and Al-Jazeera were going after the world's reaction for that one.

I understand completely what the Jordanian authorities were doing when when they stopped the interview and removed the interviewers... it is bad enough that Al-Zarqawi came from Jordan originally without showing that he still has supporters there - however few

Do you remember the world's reaction to the televised images of Palestinians dancing in the streets after September 11th - this sort of bad publicity is the last thing that the Jordanian government needs.

Given the number of Jordanians that died on November 9th last year and the amount of damage caused both to property and the image of Jordan by Zarqawi's hand....allowing someone to speak out in support of him is not a good thing.

In conclusion....ethically Catch 22, however....If it were me....I would have stopped the interview as well.

The world is a slightly better place now that Al-Zarqawi is dead.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Can it possibly be true......?

at last.....


Monday, June 05, 2006

guest bloggers.....

Skippy San has a guest blogger....his cat, great idea! Wonder if I could get my two to do that....

then again....maybe not!!!!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

'Hot Peace' and 'Sushi Muslims'

From Prince Hassan's speech at Brandeis University....

My question today is a simple one: "How Can We Live Together?" At a time when political and cultural conflicts threaten us like never before, with dangerous friction between religious communities and competition for resources, when we have witnessed horrific acts of indiscriminate violence, how do 7 billion souls reach a civilized consensus on cohabiting a world so abundant and yet so fragile? How can we ensure that Martin Luther King’s famous "I Have a Dream" does not turn into a nightmare in which billions are born into miserable lives of poverty, humiliation and retribution?


Now that we have moved from Cold War to "hot peace," we must understand each other like never before, and we cannot ignore beliefs that legitimise destructiveness. To deal with such beliefs, a multilayered approach is needed: military, political and cultural. So the challenge didn't end with the collapse of the Soviet Union; that's when it started.It is a question of finding an appropriate and justifiable response. You see, ladies and gentlemen, I am a Marxist — of the Groucho kind. Groucho Marx once said that "military intelligence is a contradiction in terms," and with no disrespect to anyone, we do have to think beyond solving our security issues militarily. To address conflict intelligently, we must identify the complex nature of the risks we face.


Ladies and gentlemen, it's a strange world we live in where we have conquered space and put a man on the moon, yet 35,000 people die of hunger every day.

Transcript of complete speech here


17 years on....

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Place your bets....

2008 is heading our way quickly....and the US (and the rest of the world...who unfortuantely has no say in the matter!) has to go looking for a new leader...

and here is the starter's list.