It Can Run But It Can’t Hide

A postman by profession, Andrew Waller was a philosophical man. “Life was like a bird,” he liked to say. It looked pretty cute and all until it pooped on your head.

That was what happened to Mr Waller last Monday. Well, in a metaphorical sort of way that is.  While crossing the road to the post office in Paris, Texas, he was hit by a runaway cow which then jumped over him in its desperate attempt to get away from four police cruises that were chasing it.

Mr Waller was shaken but not stirred and otherwise unhurt. But he was shocked. Actually, at the precise moment the steer ran into him, he involuntarily exclaimed: “Be fruitful and multiply” but not exactly in those words.

You couldn’t blame Andrew. This wasn’t New York or Kuala Lumpur where a person might get run over while walking on the pedestrian sidewalk. 

This was Paris, Texas where cows had hooves instead of feet because they lactose. In fact, in that part of rural America, cows outnumbered people and almost never jumped over the moon not to mention pedestrians. Indeed, the only accidents that occurred there occasionally caused people. 

Still, Andrew was grateful to the stampeding bovine, which had vaulted him from Texan obscurity into national prominence. That was no bull either because it won him his five minutes of national fame – it was covered by the national media – and you could say he milked it for all it was worth. 

Without trying too hard, he came across as modest, diffident and deprecating, a latter-day Forrest Gump. 

“I started off with nothing,“ he told the national networks when asked what he was pre-Bessie, for that was the name of the cow that flattened him, “And I still have most of it left.” 

It all started because Bessie was bored and fed up with her lot in life. It was one of those days when everything came in through one ear and out the udder. 

While being loaded on to a sale vehicle, Bessie made a dash for it. It led Texas police on a miles-long chase through city streets and was caught on video hurdling over a pedestrian (read the modest Mr Waller).

A police dashboard camera recorded Bessie, running at a high speed through the streets, and running directly into the hapless Mr Waller. 

Andrew “I Had A Beef” Waller was knocked to the ground and the cow jumped over him in a leap not seen since Carl Lewis. 

Alas, there are no happy endings to this story.

Police said the cow managed to give officers the slip and was on the loose for more than 24 hours before it was hit by a car and killed.

And this being America, people actually mourned for Bessie. Even Donald Trump tweeted that he’d “bet” that the driver of the kill-vehicle was a Democrat.

Bessie was being loaded on to a sale vehicle prior to heading to the abattoir. 

That was why she was running. 

She was running for her life. 

It’s The Smell, Stupid

Talk about a clash of civilisations! 

A recent tweet that went viral recalled an incident where a Malaysian housewife living in Paris and excited about receiving some belacan (shrimp paste) from home, decided to toast it prior to making a curry. 

Her French neighbour called the police. He thought there might be a dead body next door.

The French should understand all about weird food. I mean, take the neighbour in question. Only the other day, she cooked Pancakes for breakfast. 

OK, she was thrilled but you couldn’t say the same for her children. I mean, they were miserable and you couldn’t blame them.

Pancakes was their favourite rabbit.  

The French loved defenceless animals especially in a creamy mushroom sauce. Interesting statistic: the French eat 500 million snails every year.

And they like things like rabbit and all parts of the cow including the brain, the udders and the tongue. In fairness, it must be pointed out that French cuisine is considered one of the best in the world.  

More intriguingly, there is the French paradox. This was a famous 1980s observation that noted that the French people had a very low incidence of cardiovascular heart disease despite having a diet relatively high in butter and saturated fat. 

The observation still holds true although the advent of fast food may have begun ruining a much-envied national trait. 

But we were talking about strange smells. There are many things associated with smell. One wakes up and smells the coffee, for instance. And there are odours that you indelibly associate with freshness and all things nice. Like rain on parched earth, newly mowed grass, the sea: a childhood memory of a sudden scent of jasmine walking past the neighbour’s at night in Seremban. 

And then, of course, there is the odour of belacan.

There is no getting around it. It is grim and very stern.  What do you expect? It’s shrimp paste and as writer and humourist P J O’ Rourke once observed: “Fish is the only food that is considered spoiled once it smells like what it is.” 

And even O’ Rourke could not have known that belacan is made from small shrimp that is crushed and salted and left to dry for several weeks until it stinks to high heaven. 

Now you know the French neighbour was at least half right. 

It’s like durian. Like Limburger or Stilton cheese, it’s an acquired taste if ever there was one. 

While discussing the Paris incident on WhatsApp the other day, my friend Radzuan mentioned that some Malaysian students had to evacuate their apartment in Cumberland in a hurry after the Fire Brigade turned up just as they were about to have a feast of durian.

The neighbours thought there was a gas leak.  

Thankfully, my daughter has never liked durian so it isn’t a staple in my house for which I am devoutly grateful. Food writer Adam Sterling once famously described the fruit’s odour as “turpentine and onions garnished with a gym sock.” 

I agree. 

I confess that I am not quite Malaysian in my tastes. My wife is a Eurasian from Malacca and both she and my daughter love all food associated with belacan. 

As for me, I love mankind: it’s prawns I can’t stand.  

Any Change Seems Terrible At First

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad did not approve of political jokes. He’d seen too many being elected. 

That was why the world’s only nonagenarian leader was perplexed by the Honourable Member from Tanjong Karang. Was he being deliberately obtuse?  No, the doctor thought, he should never attribute to malice what could safely be explained by natural stupidity. 

In a recent parliamentary debate, Noh Omar, the said parliamentarian in question, had offered a whole new definition of morality that boggled the minds of everyone listening except those who firmly believed in it anyway. Incidentally, their numbers were not inconsiderable. 

“Stealing is not wrong, only when you are arrested it becomes wrong,” mused the philosophical Mr Noh. “Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is not wrong, only when the police arrest you it becomes wrong.

Mr Noh was a lawyer, which was mildly disturbing to the profession. But he more than made up by his keenly developed moral handicap. Indeed, if what he didn’t know could not hurt him, he was practically invulnerable. 

Even so, his cogent reasoning in Parliament delighted a select few in the previous administration who knew that stealing was wrong and best left to government. It was also the primary reason why the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the police had never been busier. 

Things had changed in Malaysia. Previously, it had been as Jonathan Swift had described the law as being “like cobwebs capable of catching small flies but allowing the wasps and hornets to get through.” 

At least for now, the wasps and the hornets aren’t getting through.

It is said that Australia is a “Lucky Country.” But if we are really truthful about it, it is actually us that make up the Lucky Country. We are blessed with natural resources and, unlike Israel or California, we don’t have to worry about water as a scant resource. 

We have no hurricanes, volcanoes, typhoons, cyclones or earthquakes. Nature is, has been, and will continue to be remarkably kind to us. Not for us the four seasons. Instead, we have a long hot summer all year around and, while boring, it beats walking to class on a dark, bitterly cold evening in New York City in February. 

Indeed, we have been abundantly blessed and yet we only have to look down south to realise that we have been punching way below our weight for the longest time. 

It just goes to show the importance of good governance. May 9th opened the door to that and the opportunity of seeing people like the Honourable Member from Tanjong Karang no longer occupying the seat of government. 

The problem is that May 9th also came with unreasonably high expectations. Change – serious, profound and irrevocable change for the better – must necessarily take time, and will if it is to make any serious difference. 

We just have to stop bitching and be good natured about the fact that, in the words of Benjamin Disraeli,  “everything comes if a man will only wait.” 

I mean, let’s face it: ceaselessly complaining about yesterday today won’t make tomorrow any better.

He Who Laughs Last Is Usually In Hiding

The Felonious Fatso also known as Jho Low has spent, sorry, sent another missile Putrajaya’s way.

Felonious was outraged over the recent sale of the super yacht, Equanimity by the Malaysian government to Genting Malaysia for US$126 million. The boat, apparently, had cost US$250 million.

Genting, said Felonious who was a stickler for details, had bought the boat for a “steal.”

Lim the Younger agreed that someone had bought the boat with a “steal” – a whopper at that – but he did not think it had been Genting.

Neither did Tommy Thomas and he was very desirous of meeting Felonious, which puzzled the smiling swindler because he’d never known or even met Mr Thomas. Actually, a great many people from Singapore to San Francisco wanted to meet the cherubic charlatan but that, Felonious agreed, was “neither here nor there.”

Indeed, when you got right down to it, Felonious thought he was better off being there than here.

While safely being there rather than in Kuala Lumpur, the pudgy pilferer communicated his ire to the Federal Government by way of his spokesman Benjamin Haslem, the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Messrs Wells, Haslem, Mayhew Strategic Public Affairs.

The firm was an eminent body of public relations’ strategists and one so august that even Felonious, an admittedly well-heeled heel, had to have his cardiologist present when they sent him their monthly bills.

To cut a long story short, Wells, Haslem and Mayhew said that Felonious thought that Putrajaya was both inept and incompetent for selling the boat below market and at a “bargain basement” price.

Of course, the real wonder of it all was the fact that the furtive fatso had so tamely surrendered a billion-ringgit yacht and a multimillion dollar private plane without so much as some kind of fight, even a legal challenge.

“Easy come, easy go,” shrugged the-suddenly philosophical plunderer.

But you had to give the man credit for taste.

The 300-foot Equanimity, the 60th biggest yacht in the world, was truly spectacular. Among other things, it had a spa and a beach club, complete with sauna, steam room and multi-faceted beauty salon.

The spa area led on to a fully equipped gym and Pilates studio. Needless to say, there was a pool and did I forget to mention a helipad?

And it could take 26 guests comfortably with a mammoth master bedroom. It was Hotel California come to life with mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice.

During Felonious’ heyday, the yacht’s larders groaned with the finest French wines and the choicest Parma hams. There were grapes from Spain, pomegranates from Greece, figs from Iran and cold cuts from Portugal. Beluga caviar was consumed like it was going out of style while Cuban cigars were an after-dinner must-have.

The word “equanimity” means calmness and assurance even in the face of crisis. One had to admit that Felonious exhibited the trait admirably in the way he broke the news to his father at the material time Malaysian agents began swarming all over the ship.

Somewhere in China….

A calm Felonious: “Dad, I have good news and bad news”.

Father: “OK, let’s hear the worst of it. “

“The Malaysian government’s just seized our ship in Bali.”

“What can possibly be good about that?”

“We weren’t on board”.