You think we have problems? 

Ok, we do. There was a guy called Murphy – why are they always Irish? – who once predicted “if anything can go wrong, it will.” And that’s happening right now in Malaysia with a vengeance. There are over 3,000 Covid-19 cases currently in the country, and, at the time of writing, 50 have died.

And yes, we have some ministers who think that it’s OK to pander to some man’s sexist and misogynistic ideas of how women should behave and then attempt to pass it off as a national ideal. Alas, we also do have many holier-than-thou people continuing to urge congregational prayer when all the warnings scream against gatherings in large numbers.  

Whatever happened to “God helps those who help themselves”? 

On the other hand, we don’t have a leader who first downplays the pandemic and, on grudgingly accepting its reality, insists on having his say over the arguments of his scientists. It easily might have been worse: we might have had a stable genius at our helm. 

At a time of great national distress, at a time when the United States has the greatest number of infections in the world, at a time when Washington’s Governor is contemplating lockdown, there is this….

…A resident of Washington in the US was arrested following a high-speed chase that left officers dumbfounded after they found the man’s pit bull behind the wheel.

The incident unfolded early in the week after police received calls about a driver hitting two vehicles in an area south of Seattle and then speeding away, state trooper Heather Axtman told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

She said the emergency services subsequently got multiple calls about a car traveling erratically at more than 100 miles per hour (160 kilometres per hour). It transpired later that only people already exceeding the speed limit were the ones calling because they deemed the driver reckless after he’d passed them. 

Axtman said that as officers gave chase, they got close to the vehicle — a 1996 Buick — and were shocked to see a pit bull in the driver’s seat and a man steering and pushing the gas pedal from the passenger side.

The pursuit ended after police deployed spike strips and arrested 51-year-old Alberto Tito Alejandro, who was booked on multiple felonies including driving under the influence of drugs. Mr Alberto said when Raphael, the canine suspect, asked for driving lessons, he did not want to stand in its way. 

The police also noted grimly that Mr Alberto was a cab driver in real life which only went to show that practice did not make perfect. He’d also made the error that all gullible dog lovers do: the fact that your dog thinks you are smart is not conclusive evidence that you are. 

Actually, he seemed to be about as smart as the President.  

“When we took him into custody… he admitted to our troopers that he was trying to teach his dog to drive,” Axtman said. “I’ve been a trooper for almost 10 years, and I’ve had a lot of excuses when I’ve arrested people or pulled people over, but I’ve never had an excuse that the dog was driving.” 

Axtman said she had only one objection against the driver, a female pit bull. Apparently, she’d been on the phone when she was pulled over. 

Maybe it was true what they say: life was a bitch and then you had puppies. 

What’s In A Name You Say? Everything!

British comedian Eddie Izzard was reflecting on unfortunate names thus : “So what do we call our baby son so that he does not get the sh.. kicked out of him at school? OK, I got it.  We’ll call him Engelbert Humperdinck. Yes, that’ll do it.”

But sometimes these monikers are self-inflicted.  A former soldier from the United Kingdom who changed his surname to “Fu-Kennard” for a laugh found out, to his chagrin, that the joke was on him.

The former Kenny Kennard found out that England’s Passport Office took a dim view of his brand of humour and denied him a passport – three times in a row. 

“They used to laugh at me in school when I said I would become a comedian,” the unfortunately-named prankster told pressmen. “But no one’s laughing now.” 

The failed comedian 33, changed his name in 2016 and even got a driving license under his new surname. 

But when his passport expired and he applied for a new one this year, his application was denied because his name “may cause offense.”

The former-soldier-turned supermarket worker from Cornwall has contested His Majesty’s Passport Office’s verdict three times — to no avail.

I read the above news item in the Star on Friday morning and it got me thinking. So I typed “embarrassing names” on Google and the list that emerged was jaw dropping. 

With a name like Chris P Bacon you can conclude a couple of things immediately. One, the guy is probably not Jewish. And, two, you can bet your bottom dollar he won’t get served in a bar.

They usually don’t serve food in those places. 

What were the parents thinking when they named their bouncing baby boy Mr Perv. The picture on the screen showed a smiling, balding man in his mid-40s who looked about as perverted as Tom Cruise looked like Quasimodo. 

He was listed as a scientist. I’m reliably informed that he disliked Harry Potter and when comparing competing theories, he could usually be counted on to choose the one that didn’t involve any magic spells.  

On the downside, he was also the one making nuclear weapons as if there’s no tomorrow. 

We are told there is a Singapore national, now 19, whose race is Javanese and whose name is, less than fittingly, Batman bin Superman. His father must have loved those DC comics. 

Then there is the distinguished doctor of neurology whose father must have known was destined for greatness. Not surprisingly, he was christened Lord Brain. But Mike Litoris cannot have been too chuffed with his parents by the time his first biology lesson rolled around.

Similarly I M Boring came out with a seminal book on the philosophy of Descartes. We are told that it combined the charm of a Lim Guan Eng budget speech with all the excitement of double entry bookkeeping.

I will end this droll, and hitherto true post with an equally true anecdote about one of my former neighbours, a retired Appeals Court Judge justly famed for his bon mots. 

Said Judge was taking some friends from England to May Kian Fatt, a Chinese restaurant in Ampang New Village, famous for its seafood. 

He takes one look at the signboard, does an exaggerated double take for the benefit of his friends and then stalks into the restaurant where he demands to see the proprietor.  

Bewildered owner comes to see him.

Judge, waving his arms and gesturing at the signboard: “I say, that is all very well but, tell me….”

 “…can May cook?”

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold

The famously secretive Michelin guide in France is widely regarded as the definitive guide to haute cuisine. It awards stars to restaurants that it considers good and being awarded three stars is its highest honour, cuisine’s Nobel Prize if you like.

It is said that men who drink herbal teas seldom commit serial killings but it has been very much on Marc Veyrat’s mind these days. 

The flamboyant French chef has been railing against Michelin, demanding that his top restaurant be withdrawn from the guide. He told AFP that its inspectors had claimed he had used English Cheddar cheese in his souffle.

Sacre bleu!” exclaimed the outraged Monsieur Veyra. “I did use a different cheese but it certainly wasn’t cheddar.”

The excitable Frenchman didn’t think much of English fare, secretly thinking that its only contribution to world cuisine had been the chip. 

And it was true that he’d used a different cheese on the day the Michelin inspectors came but, Mon Dieu. It was as French as Brigitte Bardot. 

He’d had to substitute the cheese on the day in question as the shop of his local cheese supplier had burned to the ground on the very day leaving behind only de Brie.

Indeed, its lightly smoky flavour had actually enhanced the soufflé. 

Monsieur Veyrat’s La Maison des Bois restaurant in the French Alps was downgraded to two stars from the maximum three in January and he said the shock had plunged him into a six-month-long depression.

“How dare you take your chefs’ health hostage?” he seethed in a blistering letter to the guide. 

Veyrat, 69, took particular umbrage at inspectors “daring to say that I put Cheddar in our soufflé.”

“We only use the eggs from our own hens, the milk is from our own cows and we have two botanists out every morning collecting herbs,” the horrified chef declared.

“You are impostors,” he fumed, “who only want (to stir up) clashes for your own commercial reasons.”

“We are pulling our restaurant out of the Michelin,” he said.

But the iconic red guide remained unmoved and said Thursday that it would not withdraw its listing, despite Veyrat travelling to the French capital to confront its editors face to face.

The chef is a household name in France because of his culinary genius but it wasn’t always like this.

Indeed, in the beginning. Monsieur Veyrat could not cook at all and mostly left it to his wife. But her incompetence drove him crazy. He finally decided enough was enough after asking himself a simple question after one particularly unsatisfying breakfast.

Was toast supposed to contain bones? 

His rise to become one of France’s greatest chefs was inauspicious enough. Very early on, he mastered the golden rule of haute cuisine: if it looked like a chicken, walked like a chicken and talked like a chicken, it probably needed some more time in the microwave. 

And, along the way, he was bolstered by sudden flashes of genius. On a balmy spring day that made him think that God was smiling and all was well with the world, he suddenly noticed a stray hen looking at some lettuce and a tomato next to each other. 

“Chicken sees a salad,” thought Monsieur Veyrat joyfully and, lo and behold, one of the great contributions to world cuisine was born. 

Julius Caesar himself would have been proud.  

As for the Michelin inspectors, the great chef wasn’t without influence and he knew he couldn’t beat them. 

So he arranged to have them beaten.