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Friday, April 20, 2018

I left too soon!


Saudi Arabia's ban on movies is coming to an end, with the premiere of Marvel's superhero film "Black Panther". Saudis will also have public concerts and a fashion week, and women will soon be allowed to drive. What next? Pork chops?

It's all part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's so-called Vision 2030, a blueprint for a more open Saudi Arabia, "one that is open for tourism, business, and less dependent on oil". The 32-year-old crown prince, who was made heir to the throne last year, wants to consolidate his hold on power and appeal to a younger audience, what with the majority of the 32-million Saudi population under 30.

"Black Panther" wouldn't have been my choice of a first movie but still it looks like I left too soon. And just as I was thinking back to Saudi Arabia, by some strange coincidence this email arrived, "How are you ? Im Abdulrahman Abdulhameed Mofarrij could you send your phone number please my dad asked about it."

His dad, Sheikh Abdulhameed, is not known for making courtesy calls, so what does he want? Last time he rang, he offered me a job again at our BDEI office in Avenue Kléber in Paris. What with Saudi Arabia opening up, maybe this time he just wants an old copy of "Debbie Does Dallas".



Is it already thirteen years ago?


Is it already thirteen years ago when I went back to one of my most memorable workplaces? "Why did you go to Thursday Island?" people asked me. "Because it's there", I replied. "But so are your comfortable slippers and the TV remote". Q.E.D., I think.

I may have been struck down with what psychoanalysts refer to as G.T.D.S.B.S. syndrome (* Going to do something a bit silly syndrome - source: Freud, Dreams and the Unconscious, published 1896), or it may simply have been a wish to revisit one of the many odd and fascinating places I used to live and work in - and they don't come any odder than T.I.!

There are two words I don't want to find myself uttering as an old man, and they are "If only ...". If only. We all have our own "if onlys". If only we had studied harder; if only we had stuck with that job ..."

My trip to T.I. back in 2003 was to eliminate one "if only" and to confirm in my own mind that I couldn't have stayed much longer on the island even if my then boss, Cec Burgess, had been less of a crotchety old bastard.

Socrates said that the unexamined life isn't worth living. What he actually said looked something like this:

(to which Plato is said to have replied, "Keep it in the jar with the lid on or it will all dry up!")

Here then is the journal of my journey to T.I. and another examination of my own past: click here.



Thursday, April 19, 2018

John le Carré couldn't have made it up


Gone are the days of the highly respected bank manager as a pillar of society, which was the case when I was a low (and lowly-paid) 'Bank Johnny'. These days a 'bank manager' is little more than a commission-paid salesman who works alongside the bank's so-called 'financial planners' who, despite their impressive-sounding title, may well have been second-hand car salesmen in their previous jobs.

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, now under way, makes for gripping viewing of the unscrupulous behaviour perpetrated not by rogue traders and individuals but by whole organisations. I’m watching it for hours, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. They should sell the movie rights.

It has everything: the forensic analysis and youthful confidence of bright QCs like Senior Counsel Assisting Michael Hodge QC working for the grumpy Commissioner Kenneth Hayne AC QC; the hapless and bemused witnesses hung out to dry by their superiors; and a script of lies, deceit and incompetence - click here. (Transcripts, click here. Commentary, click here.)

John le Carré couldn't have made it up.



Terms of endearment


It used to be part of the ambience of certain eateries which also sported Formica tabletops and glass sugar dispensers, but unless it was said by a particularly attractive waitress who leaned low over the table as she refilled my coffee, I've always considered this term of endearment kind of patronizing, to be honest.

And it seems to be increasing along with my age and waistline. Should I take it as a racial slur and report it to the Anti-Discrimination Board? Or should I just leave my scimitar at home?



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Today I'm eating "Wednesday"


At least that's what it says on the lid. Let's see what it turns out to be when it emerges from the microwave. Padma prepared all my meals and stuck them in the freezer. All I have to do is pick the right day. And today is "Wednesday".

It's a bit like playing my button accordion by numbers which is what I do when I'm not reading a book or listening to the radio. Last night I fell asleep before 'Late Night Live' and only resurfaced during 'Counterpoint' until sleep reclaimed me again sometime during 'Between the Lines' (if you're a fan of Triple J, please note I'm speaking of ABC Radio National).

The good thing about ABC Radio National is that if you missed a broad-cast, you can listen to its podcast the next day as well as its repeat which in the case of 'Late Night Live' is at 4 pm. Listen to it here.
(For all past LNL podcasts, click here)

Oh, and "Wednesday" turned out to be curried prawns. Beats "Tuesday".