When The Wheels Start To Fall Off


It creeps up on you slowly. Barely noticeable at first until the day you attempt to jump up out of bed and end up rolling out. Getting out of a chair is like raising the Titanic, every joint and spar of the infrastructure creaks, reluctant to leave the comfort of Davy Jone’s locker.
It’s not until I look into the mirror that the true realization (shock) of aging strikes me. Not that I do that very often mind you, maybe once a day as I clean my teeth and brush my receded greying hair. The hair started to change colour way back in my 20s, so I’ve had plenty of time to get used to it.
Must be worst for some; those who spend time putting makeup on. Looking at every crevice and crack in great detail and trying to reconcile the mental image with the physical one.
Apart from a brief look at myself after my early morning shower, I only have to content with the occasional glance from a shop window or the obscure reflection from a computer screen. Not too difficult to deal with. We all get old, but it seems to have happened oh so much quicker than I thought it would. Never mind, the change in appearance I can can cope with more or less, ( I was never an oil painting) it’s the physical decline that’s much harder to handle.

As the years bobble along so does the increasing size of the waist line. I’ve kept reasonable active most of my life, mainly through walking after the active sports stopped in my early 20s, but the weight has increased to the extent you become conscious of the bulging stomach especially when seated and the constant discomfort after eating. It’s comes across as indigestion at first, but becomes more insidious in the mind as time passes by. Hiatus Hernia or stomach cancer?

That’s the problem when you have a little medical knowledge and a vivid imagination, mole hills become mountains. Going to the toilet too often – prostate problems or diabetes. Stiff back, no flexibility – Rheumatoid arthritis or was it all that running I did years ago, wearing out out the joints, a touch of Osteo? Oh well, the days of jumping over a gate with a single bound have well and truly gone.
Is it my imagination I’m becoming a little clumsy or is it the onset of something more sinister, Parkinson or a smidgin of Motor Neuron disease?

Arrh how the mind plays tricks. But it doesn’t play tricks with my eyes sight. Blind as the proverbial bat these days. Anything thing within a metre is a blurry train crash. My constant companion is a pair of never cleaned cheap reading glasses that I invariably look over most of the time when not reading. Way too lazy to take them off. Makes me look distinguish or so I tell myself. “Is that a skin cancer on my left temple?” As they arrive on the bridge of my nose each morning.

It’s not all bad this getting old caper. I long since not worried what others thing about me. I’m resigned to the fact I’m a grumpy old so and so. You know the one at the christmas office party about to retire, always talking about the good old days (as if they ever existed) and complaining about the youth of todays total lack of respect. ( to him of course.)

My heart beat app tells me I’ll live until I’m 93, have no idea how it knows. How come I feel 93 now?
Enough whinging. Time to go for my daily 4k walk in the hot tropical sun. Not dead yet, just practicing.


The Not So Super Supermarket


I am sure most of you have experienced the pleasures of shopping in a modern air-conditioned supermarket with everything you could possibly want on the well-stocked shelves. This is not a story about that. This, my dear friends, is about reality in the deep dark Palm oil plantation country of Borneo.
My local supermarket had, I’ve been told, come into existence a mere 20 years ago, but to the uninitiated, it appears to be at least three score years plus ten. ( older than me)

The owners haven’t felt the need to modernise with a coat of paint or a dab of plaster since construction. The interior has the ambiance of a post nuclear apocalypse, cans and packets of food are strewn across the aisles as the highly motivated staff ( cough, cough) unpack to stack the shelves during all of the opening hours. This would normally not be a problem, but the two-and-a-half-foot wide aisles don’t cope well. Large sections of the supermarket are unreachable on any one visit, so this clever marketing ploy, coupled with the unavailability of most of the common produce on a given day ( tomatoes maybe on a Monday or if not Wednesday or if you’re really unlucky the next week. Lettuce to go with your salad, on the other hand, never arrives the same day) makes you return again and again to enhance the shopping experience.

Yes, it’s a total lottery; as a behavioural psychologist would put it – intermittent positive reinforcement. Nothing like it to make you salivate.

Talking about fruit and veg, the produce, all of it is tightly wrapped multiple times in plastic film. You can look but not touch. This gives the appearance of conformity. The only way to recognise a bulk of it is by colour. Impossible to tell if it’s fresh or not – plastic all smells the same. Needless to say, we do have some little surprises when we open up at home.

The plastic thing reminds me of the time I found cheese with mould growing inside an unopened plastic wrapper. Expiry date was ok. That’s real skill you must admit.

May have something to do with the leaking freezers. The tiles or what’s left of them next to the deep freeze bubble and burp with what I think is rising damp. The owners do their very best to ignore it by throwing broken down cardboard boxes over it. They, in turn get saturated and disintegrate. Word of warning here; never wear flip flops or sandals. Body weight will force the brown fluid over your toes. My wife says it smells like rats urine. I told her I didn’t think so. Never seen more than a couple of rats at anyone time, the stench being so strong it would rot your socks off. You would need an army of rats to create that smell, but I must admit it’s hard to identify. What does concrete cancer mixed with effluent smell like?

Buying sliced bread is a bit of an art form. I used to, back home, feel the bread to see if it was soft and springy to the touch. Being warm was a bonus because it meant it was very fresh; doesn’t work here though. It’s always hot because it sits in the window with the tropical sun as company.

You know what I think?
I have a sneaky suspicion the uncooked dough is placed into the plastic bags to bake by solar energy. How’s that for efficiency!

Check out is well… slow to…. well you know. The cash registers are only a few feet from the first row of shelves and you thought traffic in Kuala Lumpur was bad! No useless modern conveniences like scanners here.
The shoppers who don’t like carrying too much tend to drop off their growing list of items onto the cashiers counter. So when you arrive to pay for your own groceries the counter is already full with others. Very messy indeed. Oh well I only need to do this 5 days in 7………

My Last Swim

Humphrey B Bear

Humphrey B Bear


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.

The 12 Hour Wedding

I have something to confess. In the past year or so, I have attended over thirty wedding receptions. Yes, my dear reader, I’m a wedding junky. Although ‘attend’ may be stretching the truth a tad, as all but one were involuntary. Let me explain.

I live across the road from the local Girl Guide hall. “How wonderful.“ I hear you say with images of young ladies in beautiful freshly pressed uniforms going about their scouting business of learning to tie knots and put up tents etc., but alas in all the time I’ve been here I’ve never seen one nor heard a single ‘dyb dyb: do your best.’

The only function for this magnificent hall appears to be the occasional badminton game and more than infrequent wedding receptions.

This leads me to yesterday’s marathon.

The pattern I’ve observed seems to be a late morning affair that drags on to mid to late afternoon or an early evening into late night.

Yesterday broke all records. I with my wife had been working on establishing this blog when the first strains of out of tune noise, sorry, I mean music permeated the room. Being less than fifty metres from the stage and with the windows opened to allow non air conditioned air to fill the hall, the noise level in my bedroom can necessitate raising one’s voice to be heard to one’s partner. Not a pleasant experience for a few minutes let alone hours.

The music in general ranges from almost listenable to drunken barracking at the football. (sorry Manchester United fans )

I gave a short glance towards my wife with eye brows raised as the first notes of sound reached my ears at 10:30am . It signalled another long day of noise pollution. (The concept of noise pollution hasn’t made it to this part of the world.) A month or two ago during a short holiday period, there were 5 weddings in 7 days. Ugh! I transgress.

Resigned to another day of getting mildly irritated to being an involuntary part of the proceedings; we went about our business. I’ll confess right now this noise issue affects me mostly. Being old and grumpy I require peace and quiet to contemplate the shortening time period I have left on this planet. I understand most people want to celebrate their tying of the knot, but why drag it out? Most receptions here have what appears to be an open house arrangement. The happy couple whom in most cases look anything but happy, sit on stage as guests arrive and depart in dribs and drabs. A large part of the time, the hall seems mostly empty but the band keeps playing on regardless, progressively increasing in volume to compensate for the lack of people.

Come five pm I have almost reached the end of my tether, the fuse is short, the bomb is about to go off.

“Hang in there,” my wife said with understanding eyes. I lay on the bed, twitched, rolled, wriggled, hands over my ears.

“Let’s go out for dinner; by the time we get back they’ll be packed and gone,” I stammered back.

What a good plate of noodles and a mango smoothie can do to soothe the nerves. Ah, I was almost human again when we arrived home to witness to our utter astonishment the proceedings, instead of disbanding, had ratchet up a notch. Long days journey into night – Eugene O’Neill’s addiction without the alcohol.

The funny thing is the music or whatever you want to call it, sounded the same as in the morning. In fact I swear they played the same song continuously with only slight variants all day. The worst part is always the last few hours and especially the last half hour. The paid singer has by this time retired due to exhaustion and is replaced by some of the guests who think they can actually sing. It was singing in the shower with no water and an audience! Yes, only a completely biased mother could truly appreciate the disturbing noise coming out of their offsprings’ mouths as having any relationship to music.

Then, finally the high pitch of the ally cats petered out a little after 10 pm. The marathon came to an end after breaking all longevity records. Can’t wait for the next round, not!!

Well dear reader I have bored you enough, so I shall end this little ditty now. What is that you say? The bride and groom. Oh I suspect they slipped out hours ago and got on with the important part of the day in the peace and quiet of their humble abode.

Ps Just thought of something. If you were a thinking guest, you could have arrived at lunch time eaten, gone home and returned for dinner. Kill two birds with one stone hey.