Singapore Slung

Question: Who wouldn’t love Singapore?
Answer: Gay drug-traffickers who like crossing roads at times of their own choosing.

Singapore is jokingly known as a ‘fine city’. This is because of the number of essentially harmless activities which lead to exorbitant fines. For instance, chewing gum is contraband. Drinking water on a train or crossing the road when the green man isn’t flashing will cost you heavily. Also, homosexuality is illegal. This troubled me until I saw a few hundred men congregated in a park, mincing around with pink balloons, megaphones and banners, without encountering police harassment. In practice it seems homosexuality is illegal in Singapore in the same way that marijuana is illegal in the UK.

I love Singapore. If Singapore was a public school and had a Latin motto, it would surely be Cleanius, Modernius, Efficius. There is no litter in Singapore. There is no antisocial behaviour. Everything runs like clockwork for the benefit of the average citizen. Most people seem to view the successive Governments as paternalistic rather than authoritarian, and are happy to concede a certain amount of personal liberty in return for a very high standard of living.

Food is the national obsession. Singapore has dozens of food courts, which are like shiny, gleaming shopping malls, but instead of GAP and Topshop, it’s Sushi stalls, noodle stalls, gourmet sausage stands, etc. You grab a table, and shovel down platters of mixed origin until you are fit to burst. It’s all so good that you can pretty much choose at random. We have been stuffing our faces, I tell ya. Meal-times don’t exist in Singapore. People who eat only three meals a day are considered unwell. A fat man is desperate to burst out of my skinny-as-a-rake figure.

It’s great to wash everything down with Singapore’s award-winning Tiger Beer after a couple of weeks in Malaysia, where alcohol is sometimes hard to come by. Speaking of alcohol, the ‘Singapore Sling’ was invented by a barman at the Raffles Hotel nearly a hundred years ago. We went there to drink an original. They cost 27 dollars each. I am too ashamed to tell you the price in sterling, but you can look it up on if you’re curious. We sipped slowly.

I also visited the largest book-shop in Asia. It sure wasn’t small. It could probably serve as an aircraft hangar should the need arise. I know I am prone to droning on about Vonnegut, and I’m sorry if my mentioning him yet again is tedious, but I have to mention – they had in stock multiple copies and different prints of every single Vonnegut title – all 25 of them. I picked up one of his later collections of essays and opened it at random. The first paragraph that caught my eye made me laugh so hard that adjacent customers began to regard me with alarm. It read:

I laugh my head off at Laurel and Hardy, but there is something tragic in them somehow. These men are too sweet to survive in this world, and are in terrible danger all the time. They could be so easily killed.
We went to the cinema to watch the Star Trek movie last night. I am neither a movie fan generally, nor a sci-fi fan specifically, but I really enjoyed it in spite of the inevitable presence of a hacking cougher behind me.

Yiddish humour insists that there are two types of schmuck, a schlemiel and a schlimazel. A schlemiel always spills his soup, while a schlimazel has soup spilled upon him. I am the latter schmuck. A hacking cougher is slightly preferable to a seat-kicker, but I’m always in front of one of the two. I do wonder about the so-called Law of Attraction, you know…

Anyway, good as the film was, it occurred to me later that although it felt like it had a happy ending, a happy ending was barely possible after the swift and successful holocaust of 8 BILLION intelligent, peaceful Vulcans. Still, at least Leonard Nimroy was ok. Sequel when?

Anyway. We’re popping – yes, popping – to Indonesia for three days, then back to Singapore for more mountains of food and pitchers of Tiger beer before flying back to London four days later. I’m looking forward to drinking some wine. I’ve had two glasses in six months, which is rather less than my usual two bottles per six days. I also can’t wait for reunions with beloved friends, family members, canines, decent clothes, guitars and Macbooks.

When I’m back I’ll do one post with the best photographs I took along with some commentary, link you to a comprehensive Flickr collection, write some general Asian travel tips for the numerous people who arrive here after typing travel-related search terns into Google and then draw a line under this whole Gogarty-esque debacle.

London friends, please keep the evening of the 6th of June free if you can – I’m turning 30 and will need assistance with the sorrow-drowning celebrating. There’s a Facebook Event coming up, assuming I can secure the services of a dog-sitter.


10 Responses to Singapore Slung

  1. mieke says:

    I am excited you’re almost back and I don’t even live in London anymore!

  2. Charlotte says:

    6th June? But but your birthday’s on the 7th! I am booked for the 6th 😦 Wah. BTW – It’s funny the quote that made you laugh really hard made me want to cry as I thought it was so sad and sweet! Haha xx

  3. Alison says:

    I can’t believe you’re home in a week! Balddy hell.

  4. recoder says:

    Charlotte, I am horrified you can’t make it. As for the date, who goes out on a Sunday night? I might forget the whole idea in case no-one at all turns up and I spend the evening on my own in the corner with a pointed party hat worn at an ironic angle casting a shadow on my forlorn features, wet with tears, as I make one pint last all night.

  5. recoder says:

    Alison, time flies when you’re cuffing chai wallahs. I’ll be round with slides and projector asap – get the fondue pot fired up. My Wii skills are also bound to be rusty – score victory while you can.

  6. keef says:

    date pencilled in…..old man 😛

  7. recoder says:

    ‘Old man’? Listen, boy, in my day we were taught to respect our elders. And if you wanted entertainment, you would have to go into the forest and collect enough wood to whittle yourself a chess set.

    The trouble with your generation is you’ve never known food rationing, and you’re always plugged into those portable gramophones. Eye-pods, i think they’re called, although quite why they’re called that when you put them in your ears I have never understood. Political correctness, no doubt. Offensive to blind people or something. Bah, humbug.

  8. Charlotte says:

    OK, OK I will be there brother dearest… If only to save you from the corner and oddly angled hat. What do you want for your birthday? And don’t say a flat and a job – I don’t even have either of those at the moment! 😉 xx

  9. Ox says:

    Ah ha!

    You’re alive and well. Good.

    I am glad you weren’t the ‘English man knifed to death in Malaysia’ a coupla weeks back. As each day-without-update passed I couldn’t help getting a little more nervous…

    I’m also considering that if you lived out there permanently, your blog posts may dry up altogether; and the only reason they began in the first place was possibly to break the monotony of living in England!

    Hope I’ll be able to make it on the 6th. It ein bischen.


    • recoder says:

      Ox! What a pleasure. I am indeed un-knifed, and hope to remain so at least until I’m back on British soil. I hope you’ve been writing music a-plenty看

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