Friday, August 28, 2009


WELL NO, NOT REALLY: Indie singer Tara Hack with her Free Schapelle pitch in NYC. See the item On and On, below.

Stephen Loves Kate:
And That’s Official

KATE Greville, the Sydney-based Australian writer, has dropped out of this year’s Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival line-up, citing security concerns. Presumably she has through this action won immediate promotion on Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith’s reading list. She can be assumed to have reacted as desired to the travel advisories his department keeps issuing urging Aussies to reconsider their travel plans here.
As we know, so many of her fellow citizens fail to reconsider their plans to enjoy themselves in Bali. They just keep on arriving in droves (G’day, good to see you). But at least Mr Smith’s legion of licensed worrywarts can now chalk up one high(ish) profile victory.
Another drop-out is Nobel prizewinning author J.M. Coetzee, the reclusive former South African who now lives in Australia. We hear he has told those who run his life for him: No travel until after October.
He’s on the list for this year’s Man Booker Prize – it’s announced in London on October 6, a day before the UWRF kicks off – and if he wins, will be the first author to win the Booker thrice.
But the writers’ list for this year’s UWRF is a very strong one, headed by Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian writer and also a Nobel prize-winner. The Indonesian contingent of talent is particularly strong. And also on the list are some laughs, including Australian hoax-humorist Tom Cho. Plus we shall be seeing a one-time media colleague of your Diarist, Bruce Dover.

Moral Obligations

IT WAS interesting to read the other day that Tommy Suharto, son of the inventor of the New Order, has put his hand up to lead Golkar, the functional body his father started to assist with ordering the New Order and which, in the post-Suharto decade, has tried – and significantly, has done so largely ineffectively – to transform itself into a real political party.
According to reports, wheeler-dealer businessman Tommy S feels he has a moral obligation to lead Golkar. Others may disagree – especially within Golkar, one might imagine – but he’s entitled to say what he said and to have his views considered. That’s what democracy’s all about, after all.
Speaking of moral obligations, however, given that Indonesia now has a robust and activist democracy as opposed to guidance from above, both Suharto and his party might be better to spend time on working out how a functional structure for apparatchiks can fully reform itself into a mainstream political party.
Indonesia’s political system does not employ the parliamentary system on the so-called Westminster model where there is a formal “loyal opposition” that is in fact the alternative government, a method that tends to keep political parties focused on achievable outcomes.
While parliamentary responsibility is simply not an option (it’s a cultural thing), Indonesian parties do need to devise practices and principles that promote practical decisions – in or out of office – and to forgo the political equivalent of the legal process, where the doors keep revolving forever and virtually no decision is ever final.
On the recent verdict of the ultimate judges, the voters, after all, that is what constitutes the strength of SBY’s historic re-election as President. Indonesians want a new order, not a New Order.

CHEF WILLIAM GUMPORT: Keep it simple, make it tasty

Hey, Great Candy Store

THE new star attraction at the spectacular Dava Restaurant at Ayana Resort and Spa at Jimbaran – apart from the cuisine itself, which we’ll get to in a moment – is new chef de cuisine William Gumport. He says of being a chef in Bali: “It’s like being a kid in a candy store.” Gee, we love the guy already!
Gumport – Chef William in the customary first-name fashion of Bali – joined Ayana, formerly the Ritz-Carlton, in July, and has been wowing diners at Dava with an eclectic new menu combining classic cooking techniques with natural, clean flavours. It includes a degustation menu, de rigueur in such establishments. Hec’s preference is for a good solid meal.
The new man says: “My style is simple and straightforward. I take the best ingredients, locally sourced wherever possible, to create a modern menu that is light, clean and full of flavour, and served with elegance and flair. I prefer classic combinations that are strongly grounded in quality ingredients and execution of technique.”
He came to Bali from three years in America’s casino capital, Las Vegas, after working with many of the leading lights of American fine dining, including Joel Atunes, he of the two Michelin stars, who was guest chef at Dava in July.
One highlight of Gumport’s new menu at Dava that caught your Diarist’s eye is Australian yabbies (fresh-water crayfish) served with baby leeks and seaweed butter.

Out of the Shadows

THE Americans are often unfairly unsung in cultural matters. So it is worth noting that on August 14 the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta formally handed over a US$46,000 (Rp456.5 million) grant to the Wayang Museum to help support the preservation of Indonesia’s Wayang puppetry culture. The embassy’s Counsellor for Public Affairs, Michael H. Anderson, symbolically turned over the award with a plaque to DKI Jakarta’s Deputy Governor for Tourism and Culture, Aurora Tambunan, at a ceremony marking the Museum’s 34th anniversary.
The word wayang simply means theatre in Indonesian and Malay, but is universally associated with the puppetry and shadow puppetry that is a wonderful highlight of Indonesia’s diverse culture.

On and On

THE very easy on the ear crooner Jack Johnson has an album and song titled On and On. It’s a great song and a fantastic album – especially on those “rooster nights” that people who live outside the smog zone have to put with.
But going on and on is also what the Schapelle lobby does. And then on and on, you might say. Their latest appearance in the e-media spam file includes a lovely photo (our main picture this week) which purports to say New York Says Free Schapelle. Doubt it. Unless something flies into one of their icons, Bernie Madoff does a bunk from pokey, or someone suggests NYC is a noisome place that you wouldn’t visit in a fit, the centre-of-the-universe creatures that colonise Manhattan Island tend not to give a damn. Tara Hack, an indie singer, does; and good for her, but so what?
The Schapelle lobbyists, who make nearly as much noise as the lady herself, appear to believe that the Australian government can organise Corby’s instant release from Kerobokan. Prime Minister Rudd just has to ring up SBY, have a neighbourly chat, and do the deal. This infantile – and ultimately cruel – misconception ignores all the facts and instead perpetuates all the fictions surrounding the Corby case.
Twenty years for smuggling ganja (grass, marijuana) is a stiff sentence by limp-wristed western standards. In Indonesia, where in this instance it has been imposed, it’s a fact of life.

We Feel For Them

CONSULAR officials everywhere have a hard life. Even British ones, the chaps who once spent their days dealing imperiously with the local effects of geopolitics and now find themselves fending off such cerebrally challenged subjects of Her Maj as have – unaccountably – been let free to wander the world and find a problem to bitch about.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (there’s another post-imperial affection in the title) has recently given some details of the amazing requests for assistance its officials overseas tend to get from a Brit Cit in the (can’t print it, but you’ll get the idea).
Among them: Help! I've just had my breasts enlarged and I don't like the new size. Another: A woman (in Britain) asked the local British consulate in Florida to help her teenage son pack his bags and give him a lift to the airport because he was feeling unwell.
Stone the crows!

SCRATCHINGS, Hector's Diary in The Bali Times, appears in the print edition of the newspaper every week, out Fridays, and on the newspaper's website every Monday.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Well, Yes, Now You Mention It: Hec’s eagle eye – oh, OK then, cockatoo eye – spotted this promotion for a serial running on the satellite pay channel Showtime. Ordinarily he takes little notice of such things. But the message Nurse Jackie (played by Edie Falco) is giving in this instance reminded him that life tends to serve up a selection of such irritants. Mostly they’re not all that sharp, though.

No Flagging Spirits on Our National Day

INDONESIANS take the annual celebration of the anniversary of independence in 1945 – a unilateral declaration that, among the western powers, was at first supported only by Australia, something Indonesians should not forget – very seriously, and properly so.
So Monday, August 17, was a proud and colourful day, as always. The flag flew everywhere – including at The Cage, possibly to the bemusement of the locals, who of course know very well that the modest little villa in their midst is the habitation of strange alien creatures from another universe – and of course there were all the usual things that happen on Independence Day.
It is a tribute to the commonsense and social principle of Indonesians that the chief commodity on display on the day was goodwill and optimism.
On the issue of Australia’s relations with Indonesia, we should remember too that an original “great friend” of RI, Thomas Critchley, who played a key role in supporting Indonesia during its struggle for independence, died recently in Sydney aged 93.
After Dutch military action against the Republic of Indonesia in 1947, Australia brought the issue to the United Nations Security Council which established a Committee of Good Offices on the Indonesia Question. The Dutch chose Belgium to represent them on this committee (unfortunately Belgium did not employ the forensic focus of Hercule Poirot on this task and botched things as usual) and the Indonesians chose Australia. At critical times, Critchley led the Australians at discussions in the UN Good Offices Committee on the Indonesian Question, later the UN Commission for Indonesia from 1948 to 1950. He returned to Indonesia as Australian ambassador from 1978 to 1981 and was honoured with the Indonesian decoration Bintang Jasa Utama in 1992. Australia’s current ambassador, Bill Farmer, said of Critchley: “His legacy is the strong relationship that exists between Indonesia and Australia today.”
Locally, we note that serial self-publicist Schapelle Corby was among the six foreign convicted persons in Kerobokan Jail who received another snip off their terms in the annual round of Independence Day remissions. So did Renae Lawrence, one of the Bali Nine, who we also note has just broken out in print in the Australian magazine Women’s Day. She is now Schapelle’s keeper, she claims.
Several things about the Indonesian prison system continually amaze. One is that it apparently permits foreign inmates to commune with the media whenever they fancy. Why anyone would bother reading the self-absorbed maunderings this sad alchemy produces is another matter.

Memoir on a Life Well Lived

BARBARA Hatley, the Australian academic, reminds us in an elegant memoir published on the Inside Indonesia website that the death on August 6 of the poet and playwright W.S. Rendra was a seismic event in Indonesia’s cultural and political history.
Hatley, who is professor emeritus of Asian languages and studies at the University of Tasmania – a relatively small campus but one at which the rigours of a cool, damp climate have in turn traditionally encouraged intellectual rigour – says his death, along with that of Pramudya Ananta Toer three years ago, feels like the end of an era in both modern Indonesian culture and wider Indonesian history.
Indeed. As Hatley also notes, during the long years of the New Order regime, Rendra kept up a spirit of cultural and political resistance that inspired a generation. He never forgot – and no one should, either – that in mid-1978, after a bomb exploded during one his poetry readings at the Taman Ismail Marzuki Arts Centre in Jakarta, it was he who was arrested and imprisoned as a danger to the state.
He spent several months in jail on the grounds that his activities threatened public order and, when released, was banned from public performance for seven years. Such was the New Order; and such was its grip on wider reality and of the concept of law as the protector of justice; and such, too, was its understanding of the crucial role of government in promoting advance.
While Rendra in his later years became the grand old man of Indonesia’s literary world, it will be the young iconoclast of his earlier years who will be remembered, in Hatley’s words, as “the daring artist taking on Suharto and the military in his poems and plays, speaking out for a generation who felt silenced by their social and political circumstances.”
The photograph reproduced here is vintage “early Rendra”, history that should not be lost.
Hatley, by the way, is the author of the book Javanese Performances on an Indonesian Stage (NUS Press 2008).

History Lesson: Rendra (centre, in a white T-shirt) and other members of his Bengkel Theatre in 1976, rehearsing at Ketanggungan, Yogyakarta, where Bengkel had its base.

Photo: Barbara Hatley. Reproduced by Permission of NUS

Road Hogs

IN most countries, the sight of a stampede of large motorcycles carrying large, fierce looking men is one to send ordinary mortals scurrying for cover. This reputation is actually unfair, since most bikers – whether or not on iconic Harley-Davidsons – seem to be mild mannered men who are going through some sort of mid-life crisis.
In Indonesia, however, as we have just seen in Bali, a herd of Harleys is less fearsome than the police escort that accompanies them. But we’re used to road-hog behaviour by police escorting someone important – say the deputy assistant to the deputy assistant commissioner of paper-shuffling – whose exalted presence requires all other road users to be loudly commanded to get out of the way.
The crop of police-escorted Harley-Davidsons in Bali at the weekend was taking part in the annual ride of this curious collective. It jump-started in Jakarta, surprised Surabaya, gambolled on the congested wharf at Gilimanuk, and then bothered much of Bali before finishing up with a very loud party at GWK on Monday night.

They Didn’t Go For Greens

SPANISH researchers, who clearly have a lot of time on their hands, have discovered that Neanderthals didn’t like Brussels sprouts. Hector loves ’em. But he claims to be of Cro-Magnon origin.
According to the Spaniards, their findings – from DNA sampling of a gene from Neanderthal bones dating from 48,000 years ago and found at a site at El Sidron in northern Spain – mean they are a step closer to resolving a mystery of evolution: why some people like Brussels sprouts but others hate them.
They have found a gene in modern humans that makes some people dislike a bitter chemical called phenylthiocarbamide, or PTC, also present in Neanderthals hundreds of thousands of years ago.
They say, in a report released by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters: “This indicates that variation in bitter taste perception predates the divergence of the lineages leading to Neanderthals and modern humans.”
Substances similar to PTC give a bitter taste to green vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage as well as some varieties of fruit. But they are also present in some poisonous plants. So having distaste for it is said to make evolutionary sense. “The sense of bitter taste protects us from ingesting toxic substances,” the researchers say.
All very well, says Hec, noting that the Neanderthals died out anyway. But greens are also good for you and the real evolutionary advance is the ability to judge how much “poison” you can safely and beneficially ingest. He’ll have the Brussels sprouts, the broccoli and the cabbage, thanks. Oh yes, and the spinach.

Anjin Bagus

HECTOR has a friend on that other island (the big one to the south) that, he reports, has recently re-proved her worth. The incident is worth recording. Sally is a golden retriever of some vintage, but she still takes her responsibilities very seriously. It is her custom to shepherd people in and out of the house (don’t want them tripping over the doormat, after all) and as for those silly people in their daft cars... well!
The other day, we hear, there was very nearly a Nasty Incident. The lady of the house, in a rush as usual, leapt into her car and began reversing out of the garage. Huge woofs. Oops. The garage door was still shut. Good on you, Sally. You deserve an extra ration of Schmakos.
It’s so much simpler when you just have a carport, but Sally lives in Manjimup in the far south of Western Australia, where it’s 286m above sea level and there’s nothing but cold, wind-blown ocean between you and the Antarctic ice sheet. So an enclosed garage is probably essential, especially if you’re a dog and you want your sleeping quarters to be snug and your blanket to remain unmolested by the blustery eddies of very chill breezes.

SCRATCHINGS appears as The Bali Times Diary in the print edition every Friday and online at every Monday.

Friday, August 14, 2009


HISTORIC DAY: The sun shone in London on Aug 8, 1969, so the Beatles could cross the road.

If the Name Doesn’t Fit,
Don’t Wear It

IN many parts of the English-speaking world the trend towards smart-alec placenames is unstoppable. Australia, just for example, has its own Miami, Coral Gables, and various other chiefly American imports. Many others, for more obvious historical reasons, stem from the British Isles.
Some commemorate elements of the colonial past; such as, just for example, Moreton Bay in Queensland. The delightful cadence of the Aboriginal name for that expanse of water, Quandamook, is overlooked and indeed ignored officially.
Here in Bali there is surely no need for imported placenames – a point made, with some reasonable force, at a conference reported in a front-page story in last week’s edition of The Bali Times – and indeed they are offensive as well as ridiculous. Why would you want to go to Dreamland (far less live there), for example, if instead you could imbue the spirit of Tanah Mimpi?
It’s a bit like architecture, for that matter. If you want to live in some über-modern glass palace, there are plenty of places around the world where you can do so without offending anyone, or at least not too many people.
Last time we looked, Bali had a vibrant and ancient character, tradition and adat (custom) of its own. It’s a great place to live – because of that. People who want to try to replicate the Riviera or other western excrescences should forgo the fake, go away, and find the money to get off on the real thing.

The Bakso Man’s Calling

PRESIDENT Barack Obama’s thoroughly understandable – and laudable – quest for some decent nasi goreng, bakso and mie goreng took a further step forward recently, we hear, when he raised this issue yet again with Indonesia’s ambassador in Washington, Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat.
It came during a reception at the White House for foreign ambassadors. Presumably none of these dishes were on the hand-round plates prepared for the occasion. This is quite understandable. You might just manage bakso as decorous finger food, if provided with the right linen and you remembered not to gesticulate while armed with a meatball, but both the gorengs would be a hell of a struggle.
No date has yet been set for an official visit to the bakso carts of Menteng – so the story has not advanced on that front, although November when the APEC economic forum is held in Singapore is still everyone’s bet of first choice, from the Istana Negara downwards – but it is abundantly plain that presidential memories of four childhood years in Jakarta (1967-71) will get him back here sooner rather than later.

So Confused

LAST Sunday was International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. This created much confusion for Hec – such meaningless indulgences always do – because he had so many options to choose from. To his knowledge his genes are indigenous to Saxon, other Germanic and Scandinavian sources, with a teensy bit of Celt thrown in. And who knows what else might be hiding in his DNA?
Given the Germanic sources, chiefly evident from his taste for Jaegermeister and a past fondness for dressing in uniform and singing marching songs, there may even be some migratory Mongol present. He admits to a long affection for the Ordos region in the atlas, empathises with marmot hunters, and has held a lifelong interest in the free-flowing principles of the horde, with or without the sturdy ponies. Indeed, one family tale has it that a long-ago maternal ancestor was the derisively disappointed woman who forgot the sensible Mongol maxim (“one steppe at a time”) and foolishly scrawled on Samarkand’s famed city walls the inflammatory graffito “Genghis Khan’t”.
And as for the Celt, well, there was substantial intermingling throughout the 400-year Roman occupation of Britannia, so maybe Hec can trace some indigenous roots back to the Alban hills, where he has spent delightful R&R time (no, that’s not Romulus and Remus, but you get the drift). This may be why he’s always loved toga parties.
He thinks it is time to introduce an International Day of the Mongrel. Then everyone could celebrate all at once.

Some Real History

WE’VE had the moon landing’s 40th anniversary, but a far more significant event of four decades ago was celebrated on August 8: the famous crossing of Abbey Road in London achieved by the Beatles and photographed for the cover of what would be their last album as a group.
Last Saturday, at 11.35am London time, precisely 40 years on from the moment the Abbey Road album cover was photographed (see photo), Beatles fans mobbed the most famous pedestrian crossing in Britain to celebrate the iconic image.
Hector wasn’t among them, of course. The weather is so much more pleasant in Bali. But he is among the many thousands who have staged or attempted to stage their own re-enactments of that historic day: a day on which history and the album cover record that it was sunny in London, an event as rare as Mars passing within cooee of Earth.
Some years ago, political business in Queensland, Australia, took Hec frequently to London, where among other things he dined once at the official apartment of someone far more important than himself. The apartment overlooked the Famous Place in otherwise quietly upmarket and inner suburban St John’s Wood. Conversation around the dinner table, fuelled by shared memories of lots of wonderful music and the near narcotic properties of some very passable products of the grape, turned to the feasibility of a late-night re-enactment by the convivial group present, fortuitously numbering four.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, it was winter and the weather was inclement. Also, by the late 1990s Abbey Road had become as perilous to cross as any of the millions of formerly decorously silent side streets in cities around the world are today, now that the motor vehicle and bad behaviour are ubiquitous.
The Beatles, by the way, made nearly all their records at Abbey Road studios. Today a webcam peers down on the crossing, making virtual visits to Abbey Road possible from anywhere on Earth.

Dutch Treat
A MAN from a website called said of Bali on Fox News on August 7, in regard to travel warnings for various countries: “You don’t have to worry. Bali is a Dutch colony.” It was a pre-recorded spot that fills advertising breaks. So we should not be surprised at either inaccuracy or ignorance.
We’re not sure whether he meant that Bali today has many Dutch residents (along with Japanese, Australian, British and American and others), and was using colony is that informal sense of the word. It was, of course, formally and very briefly, a Dutch colony (fully “supervised” only from 1908 until the Japanese, for their own unsuccessful imperial reasons, threw them out in 1942).
Dutch colonialism was never very successful. But they did leave Indonesia with a lovely legacy of cakes and a national taste for sweet things that is a substantial benefit for everyone who now lives in Bali. The Dutch included.

Well, She Would, Wouldn’t She?

LET’S hear it for Strawberry, a cockatoo from Papua New Guinea who finished third in a six-week stock investment contest organised by the Seoul Stock Exchange. Strawberry – her name in her own language is Ddalgi, which is the sort of sound Hec is apt to utter on a good day – won a 13.7 percent gain on her investments just by using her beak to point at good buys.
The average performance by human investors was minus 4.6 percent.

World’s Best Spot, Baaa None

WE read with interest an article in the Jakarta Globe recently – in the Life & Times section, always a must-read – in which Doris Roberts, the actress who played Raymond’s mother in that American comedic family soap Everyone Loves Raymond, says this about New Zealand, where she recently spent four months shooting Aliens in the Attic (the movie, not actual space invaders, and certainly not ET):
“It’s beautiful there, but there is nothing to do. There are 80 million sheep and four million people for the entire country.”
SCRATCHINGS, The Bali Times Diary, appears in The Bali Times each week: in the print edition every Friday and on the newspaper's website at every Monday.

Friday, August 07, 2009


HOW WOULD IT BE? The fine folk at Wikipedia have come up with this fun little simulation of a black hole in the middle of the Milky Way (we’re on the outer edge of the MW here on the third rock from the sun). Scary, huh? But the real question is whether we’d go down the plughole clockwise or anticlockwise.

Triple Whammy for

a Master of His Art?

THIS year’s Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival drawcard J.M. Coetzee, the South African-born, Australian-resident and Nobel-prizewinning novelist, may have something other than a stay in delectable Bali to celebrate when he’s here for Janet DeNeefe’s annual confabulation of good thinkers being held from October 7-11.
He may arrive in paradise having just have won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for a record third time. That should surely be worth something eclectically ethnic at DeNeefe’s Casa Luna, on the house.
Coetzee, who lives in Adelaide, the genteel conurbation in South Australia whose main benefit is that it’s close to some really lovely vineyards, was nominated in July for his new book Summertime, to be published in September by Random House.
If Coetzee wins he will become the first writer to claim the Booker three times, having done so for The Life and Times of Michael K in 1983 and Disgrace in 1999. The only other double winner is Australian Peter Carey, for Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang.
The Man Booker shortlist will be announced on September 8 and the winner on October 6. The London bookmaking firm Ladbrokes in July installed Coetzee as a short-priced favourite at 3-1. The annual competition is open to all (formerly British) Commonwealth writers and those from the Republic of Ireland. Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949 but remains in curious social symbiosis with Britain and the British.

Making a Splash

MADE Wianta started off as something of an enfant terrible on the Bali art scene. But that was then – and then was way back in the dinosaur days, the 1970s – and this is now. As one of our most respected artists he brings to his work an energetic exploration of form and colour.
That’s why it was such a pleasure to join gallery manager Luh Resiki and the throng last Thursday evening (Aug 6) at Ganesha Gallery at the Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran for the opening of his new exhibition.
Wianta has returned to his roots with his latest work, dominating his canvasses with cubes, lines and rectangles: bold as ever (bolder even) but with a measure of maturity that is truly striking.
His exhibition, titled Archetypes, is at Ganesha until August 31, daily from 9am to 6pm. Hec’s recommendation: Make it a must.

You Can Bank On It

HEC hears a sad tale from a mate who has been battling with his bank for months now over his internet login and password. They – or one of them, it’s not clear which – won’t work. The bank’s computer system won’t let him in to do his banking. It says “User ID or password invalid” and locks him out. Periodically it blocks his account.
We all understand that from time to time computers, having been designed by humans (and unfortunately in this case apparently being operated by them as well), have senior moments. But such things are supposed to be fixable. At the human interface, too – the customer support function – little glitches ought to be solvable in reasonable time. No more than major grinding of teeth or petty apoplexy should be required.
Not with this bank it seems – certainly not in this case. Hec’s mate has rung them up, and emailed, ad nauseam. He tells them the trouble (it’s the same one every time) and they provide the “solution” – that’s always the same too and it never works.
Has he forgotten the password? No. Did he use an old password? No. Was his keyboard on CAPS LOCK? No. Is he completely stupid? Well, the customer service people haven’t quite asked this last question yet; but it’s clearly on their minds.
Our chap finds all this rather galling. He has been internet banking for years (hasn’t everyone?) with nary a problem – or if one pops up, it is instantly sorted; though his other banks are not in Indonesia.
But since this hiatus has now existed since May, and since it is now August, we hear a final fix is in the works. After a last attempt to login last weekend (following advice for the umpteenth time that “your login block but now already fix”), he has found a solution: He will take his banking business and his not insubstantial funds elsewhere.
It will be a case of bye-bye BII.

Airman Pickle Axed

THE ham and pickle sandwich, a staple of both old British and passé Anglo-Australian cuisine, has been banned by British Airways, national flag carrier of the country that brought the world the butty. The sandwich was named after the eponymous earl of the time, who in the grand tradition of the 19th century British aristocracy thought it his duty to be remembered and chose to achieve immortality by slapping something or other between two slices of bread.
BA, one of the world’s leading loss-making airlines in these dark days of economic tribulation, announced on July 29 that it was taking a lesson in cost-cutting from its low-cost rivals by ditching meal services on short-haul flights. It stopped serving sandwich meals to its passengers in the UK and Europe from last Monday in a move that will save it £22 million a year ($36 million, which is so many rupes + zeroes that your brain explodes just thinking about them).
Simon Evans, chief executive of Britain’s Air Transport Users Council, sees a rough flight ahead. And this is not just because he can’t fang a sanger between fastening his seat belt for takeoff and promptly undoing it for the unseemly rush for the exit at his short-haul destination.
He says: “The difference between BA and the no-frills carriers is getting less and there is a risk passengers will begin to question why they should pay the extra to fly with BA. If that is what BA has to do to survive, fair enough, but it would be a shame for consumers to lose choice.”
The complimentary bar service will remain. “There would have been a riot if they’d got rid of the free drinks,” said a company insider.


NO need to get in a pickle on the New Age low-fare carriers – especially in our part of the world. They don’t wheel out unnecessary food designed to make you think you’re getting value for the premium fare you paid for your flight. If you must eat, you buy it or you bring your own.
What’s more, low-fare airlines seem to understand the commercial imperative. A recent trip on AirAsia to and from Perth – great going, guys – reminded a Diary spy of this critical factor. Press the service button and someone comes. Press the service button on one of those “full service” airlines and – eventually – a sour expression might appear and ask what the hell you want now.
The new airlines have changed forever the highly protected and over-priced aviation industry. Good on them.

New Jag’s Ninth Birthday

THAT man of fingers in many pies, Bali’s busiest businessman, Kadek Wiranatha, has something special to celebrate on Saturday (August 8). The spot on the beachfront at Seminyak where he likes to park his prized Jaguar celebrated its ninth birthday.
Ku De Ta, which as everyone knows is one of Pak Kadek’s many jags, which is the trysting place of many plotters of personal coups d’etat, marks its “nearly big” birthday with a Rp1.2M-a-pop celebrity glitz gig.

Purrrfect Idlers

BET you didn’t know this: Domestic cats purr at about 26 cycles per second, the same frequency as an idling diesel engine.
Scratchings, Hector's Weekly Diary, appears in the print edition of The Bali Times (out Fridays) and on the newspaper's website where the latest edition is posted every Monday.