Saturday 26 July 2014

My Last Swim

Nothing like a reality check. Having a relaxing, if lazy Saturday morning in the Sabah Hotel contemplating life as one does when in the middle of a mid life crisis, I decided it was time to try out the hotel’s swimming pool. 
Not to swim mind you, just a quick slash and paddle. Never really having learned to swim, I can with a sort of toad-like breast stroke/ splash for all of 10 metres and if I’m feeling particularly energetic a robotic / cadaver back stroke. No potential olympian here, but a dreamer of greater things.   

Anyway, I rustled through my backpack to find my well-worn-white-activity shorts and my never-been-to-the beach, beach towel. Taking a quick look in the mirror ( it’s always quick these days ) I perused my once manly figure and  after missing a beat or two, darted out of the room towards the lift.

The pool was fortunately devoid of swimmers and apart from a few sun baking ( must be from Europe ) we had the place to ourselves. 

Feeling more comfortable with this fact, I ordered a beer and a mineral water for my dearly beloved. I know before you say it, “You mustn’t drink and swim.”   True, but as I explained, I shimmy rather silly than swim out on a limb. ( sorry, I couldn’t help myself )  

A beer and the tropical sun builds a mountain of confidence.  It was time to take the plunge.

Off with the T shirt, a final adjustment to the leisure shorts and a quick stroll to the pool ladder. Just before committing, I looked up and to my utter astonishment, the pool was now full of 20 somethings looking trim, lean and mean. 

The men were built like Greek Gods and the women came straight from the garden of Eden. Not an ounce of fat to be seen.    

As if to react to this sight, my sea of fat decided to become mobile. Waves of cellulose, starting from the navel, travelled south looking for landfall only to fold up and over my shorts looking much like a melting toy Humphrey B Bear placed to close to the heater. ( You would have to be Australian from the mid 60s to understand that one. )

I slinked down the steps and covered the erupting jelly as fast as I could. 

Now dear reader as i said before, I’m a dip-and-leave sort of swimmer, but I had to endure 1 hour of soaking until the last of the super beings left the pool. 

And before I finish this little ditty I wish to leave you with this image. Remember the old white faithful leisure shorts of mine?  Well, just think of wet and transparent! Not a pretty sight. 

Humphrey B Bear

Friday 25 July 2014

Holiday at home

Early morn and the birds outside the window can be heard as they greet the beginning of another hot and humid day in paradise. The hotel overlooks the extensive swimming pool, the largest in Sandakan proudly announced on the website. Not so impressive when you discover they're the only two hotel pools in town. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. No, this place is quiet apart from those birds. I can live with that. Much preferred to that cacophony of irritating noise pollution that greets me most other mornings. The room is cool to the extent it stimulates the skin into thinking that it's fresh and alive. A feeling that unless you have experienced it in a cold crisp environment is totally alien in the tropics. 
The hotel we are are stopping in, to my mind, is the best in town. It's not the newest, in fact it's one of the oldest. No flat screen televisions here, but what it lacks in modern facilities it gains in space. You can swing the proverbial  cat in this room and not hit the walls. What a combination of space and quiet. It's heaven to me!  
We arrived last evening after an extensive drive of 5 minutes. Yes that's not a typo - 5 minutes. 
You see it's my birthday this weekend and because of work commitments and other circumstances, it was too difficult to go anywhere out of town. So here we are at the Sabah Hotel 5 minutes from home.

"Silly, frivolous," I hear you say and I totally agree.  But "a change is as good as a holiday" as they say and I can attest to that. 

Saturday 12 July 2014

Is This Right?

“Is this right?" Deep within the recesses of my mind, these simple three words radiate into my consciousness. 

“What err agh?” is my slow response. Then, through the clearing fog of sleep deprivation, realisation strikes me like a hammer slamming on an anvil, I’m married to an English Teacher!!

Ok, ok a little dramatic I admit, but when you are sharing a life with someone who lives and breathes English teaching, discussion on the subtle nuances of the English language is never far below the surface. 

My wife teaches English in a Malaysian high school. She is a local and English is her 3rd language. Because I’m a native speaker, I am often relied upon for advice to help correct any difficulties that arise in the spoken and written language that crop up from time to time. 

I am capable in the language, but nowhere near and an expert. In fact, when it comes to editing my own work I’m what you could call, copy blind.  I can read a sentence I have written numerous times and still not pick up an obvious mistake. My wife is much better at it. Where I do have an advantage is in conceptualising whereupon my writing relies on knowledge gained through a life time of experiences and extensive reading.  This has help galvanised my thoughts into a reasonable coherent way when it comes to expressing myself on paper... (you might want to disagree after reading this)

My wife, on the other hand, is the technician; much more structured and defined in content than I. She is more constrained in general usage whilst I, on the other hand, tend to be uninhibited.  In other words, her style is adept for teaching the mechanics whilst mine is better in expressing fresh ideas in free form. (code for crappy in Grammar)

That was a little long winded, but in essence, we compliment each other well when it comes to doing a project together.  But and it’s a big BUT.

I don’t live and breathe it like she does.  So come midnight when I am in la la land and those dreaded words drift over into my dream state, I tend to get grumpy. I’m naturally grumpy and as old age approaches it isn’t getting better. 

Now, I don’t want to give the impression I don't co operate with the request. I do, but I do it under duress.  The way my mind works is that I can’t contemplate anything by just listening to the words.  I have to read what is being said. Needless to say, I have to drag myself over to the desk to help.  After much toing and froing, we come to some sort of consensus. I go back to bed, re enter lala land until once again the spell is broken with those most damning of all words - “Is this right?” 

Me approaching La La Land

Thursday 10 July 2014

A Moment In Time

The Fish Pond

The oval shaped fishpond stood there quiet and serene as the early rays of sunshine pierced the outer layers of the glasshouses exterior. The crisp cool morning air settled deep within my lungs as the shadows and light intermingled on the flat undisturbed water, playing with each other as the Lilly Pads watched on.
 They always did this, I observed, whenever the morning sun was able to break through the gloomy winter cloud. The many pads large and small spread out over the water’s surface, green flat circular serving plates awaiting the day’s meal of sunlight.
 Only a single delicate white flower broke the sea of green, the belle of the ball looking to be asked to dance but alas all the likely suitors were preoccupied, a symbolic wallflower.
 Most of the activity this morning was below the surface. The small silver fish, amphibians and invertebrates stirred into life, darting here and there looking for security under the giant Lily pads as the light penetrated all the way to the  bottom of the red concrete pool.
 All this was happening as a young couple stood in deep thought on the far side. A moment in time shared with some strangers.  Never to be repeated.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

The Day The Internet Died

Headline, headline read all about it, shock horror!

October the 12th 2018 at 9am, the day the Internet died.

Just what if… the unthinkable happened, the Internet stopped. Stopped, ceased to function in its entirety. Computers once again became self-contained isolated islands in a sea of unaccessible information. Good for writing on, doing some sums and playing games. That's it! The smart phone lost its smarts.  The iPad was now a no info dumb pad, only good for games and taking photos.

We have just all become time travellers, back, back...  
25 years to the dawn of information enlightenment.

But why?

Rumours abounded that it was them, the powers to be, who wanted to wind back the clock to a time and place they could control. The drift of power to the people had become too much for some.  Who knows?

For whatever reason it was, it just stopped working one day, gone the next.

As for me? At first, I found it slightly bemusing. It wasn't like everything had stopped. Like, I mean to say, it wasn't the end of the world, not a sequel  to "Day of the Triffids" or anything as dramatic as that. The cars and buses moved along the street. The shops still sold food and other goodies. Life bobbled along as usual. Besides, it made very little difference to the older generation. Most have never really embraced the computer age, the Internet thing.  No siree, made not a jot of difference to them. They continued to watch television and read their newspapers like nothing had happened.

But then the reality for others was quite different.

The young were at a loss. No instant gratification posting selfies or social chat. For many their world is online; no Internet no life. The prospect of having to make personal contact with their distant Internet friends was now impossible.  Those friendships however tenuous were now extinct.  The art of conversation in person had to be relearned and not just that, but eye contact, looking at people instead of a screen; painfully difficult for some.

Now before I go on, I will have to confess something to you. Even though I don't pass off these days as a youngster, I'm not ancient either, but I do love finding out things. You see I'm a bit of an information junkie, so after the initial shock of losing my play thing, I became deeply depressed. After a few days, I was finding withdrawal difficult to handle. My daily fix was not getting met. In fact I was at a lost to know what to do. Relying on the printed media (never watch TV) for my daily dose of info was without doubt unsatisfactory.

I had become over the years skeptical about a lot of the things written in newspapers. The owners political leanings dictated the direction most articles expressed. I know, I know, what you are saying. Can't belief what you read on the Internet too, but there is a difference and a big one at that. I can choose to read what I want and not be restricted to local sources. And more importantly, I can choose different forms of information delivery, social networking versus more formal sources of information, for example. By using both I could decipher, as they say, the chaff from the wheat or to put it more crudely the crap from the good. I had the control, not them. Besides, it was fun trying to work out fact from fiction. I could discuss issues with others of similar ilk with ease and at little cost and come to my own conclusions.

Think of the disputes that will now occur around the dinner table. Mr X says A, Miss Y says that's not true, it's B, Mrs Z thinks they're both wrong it's C, old aunt doubleXX thinks it's all three!  No instant confirmation now. No going to the Internet to solve the dispute. Just a lingering background of unease; life will never be the same again!

I was dreading having to pay the bills!   I used to hate going into a bank or what every public utility at the best of times, waiting in line forever. What a complete waste of one's time. Much prefer being online, done and dusted in a few minutes not to mention the saving on fuel to get there.

The cat had been let out the bag so to speak, but was now securely back in.

Maybe I’ve become a little paranoid.

Oh, well such is life. Think of the positives. Ummm, are there any? Oh yes, of course: books shops would come back into vogue;  I might read a novel (hard copy) in the evenings before bed again; talk on the phone instead of looking at its screen all day; go for a walk to smell the roses. Maybe not all is lost.

It's hard to go back in time and live a way you are used to then, but are not now. Like most things there is good and bad. The scales of right justness will tell us if we come up short or not.

I look down at my lonely white phone and sigh, It was a lovely love affair while it lasted,  but like all good things, it has come to an unexpected end.

Google images