Our many web readers, like The Diary, no doubt breathed a sigh of relief on reading earlier this week that the drugs-in-socks man, Robert Paul McJannett, had ceased being a drain on local resources and had gone home. We have the story in this week’s print edition too, for readers who prefer newsprint. It was a shame, though no surprise, that when he got home to Perth McJannett then set about immediately bagging Indonesia and its justice system, claiming basically that we’re all a bunch of crooks.
Pathetic individuals such as he so often seek the limelight in a vacuous attempt to justify, or at least excuse, their own bad behaviour. It’s always someone else’s fault if they’re caught – whether with their hands in the lolly jar or in risible Robert’s case, marijuana in his socks – and of course they never get the sort of real justice they’d get at home, do they? Let me off with a caution, M’lud.
McJannett also leaped on that other perennially running bandwagon, the Schapelle circus, by calling for the little Aussie battler to be sent home immediately and saying Australia’s elected leaders should see to this before the country went to the polls later this year. Such is McJannett’s fine grasp of diplomacy, international politics and the need for balance in intergovernmental relations, and such is his intellect, that he saw no problem with achieving this, on his just-off-the-plane (“look, no handcuffs”) timetable.
We have some advice for McJannett, who when he left Bali last Friday did so on a passport stamped with a year’s ban (reviewable in terms of extension) on re-entry to Indonesia.
Our advice is a colourful bit of Australian colloquial terminology: Go bag your head. It should be clear to anyone what this means, but in case it isn’t, it means shut up and go away. He may actually have done us all a favour and taken this advice on board pre-emptively. When he was finally let out of Kerobokan last Friday he caused immense mirth to his jailers by pulling a cotton shopping bag over his head to avoid any lurking paparazzi.
We didn’t want to bother with a final holiday happy-snap anyway.
She Was a Riot
The Diary assiduously reads the Strewth column in The Australian newspaper. It’s always worth a look and there’s generally a giggle in it somewhere. There certainly was last week, when diarist Caroline Overington served up a very special dish as part of her Sydney Writers Festival coverage.
We have our own writers’ (well, writers’ and readers’) festival here in Bali, of course, the annual extravaganza laid on by Ubud luminary Janet De Neefe with a little help from official Australia, which customarily doles out some readies to worthy literary causes at home and abroad.(The 2010 dates are October 6-10.)
And that’s the delicious part of this week’s tale. De Neefe was attending the Sydney show – perhaps she was trying to pick up some tips, or a participant or two – and at the hugely popular Sebel Pier One an affray of some sort ensued. It can be so difficult getting a drink at a busy bar, especially if the barkeep has no idea you’re the queen of Ubud – and the hotel called the police. Five of New South Wales’s finest duly appeared.
De Neefe was reported by Strewth as saying she “was made to feel awful. I have restaurants, and my whole thing is about treating people beautifully. I love to enjoy a festival and I was so excited on the night, and then it happened, and it tainted the whole festival for me.”
She told The Diary this week she was tired, her flight to Sydney having been delayed, that she had already attended the Sydney Writers Festival opening party, and the barmaid at the Sebel was far too far up herself. But it must have been quite a floorshow. Getting five New South Wales policemen to turn out all at once usually takes at least a Cronulla riot.
Riady, Set, Go
We weren’t at the do – the machinations of high finance and the property market are zed territory for diarists – but an old chum was, and he tells us James Riady, businessman extraordinaire, was a big hit at a Q&A session at the 61st world congress of the International Real Estate Federation at the Bali Grand Hyatt last Thursday. He was meant to give a short presentation and then – with a panel including our chum – answer questions from the assembled multitude.
He spoke off the cuff, we’re told, and for some little while beyond the time limit organisers had set. But he was the star of the show. They don’t actually do foot-stomping at such decorous affairs, but if they did, we hear, the crowd might well have outperformed Michael Flatley.
Perhaps the audience was feeling slightly deflated and needed a lift after Vice President Boediono turned up and gave an opening speech that said very little indeed, and specifically nothing of any substance about foreign property ownership. On that issue, he basically said don’t wait up.
We’ll take his advice.
A Robust Little Bill
Lunch at Breeze, The Samaya’s pleasant beachside restaurant at Seminyak, is generally a treat. It was especially so last Friday when an old chum (see the previous item) we hadn’t seen for 20 years was in Bali between appointments and thought we should catch up. It’s amazing how people you haven’t seen for ages seem nonetheless to have worn the intervening years at around the same sort of depreciation rate as yourself. A jest, of course: the party universally looked like the spring lambs they’ve always been.
We talked of many things, as old chums do when fate arranges a brief conjoining of life paths, most of them pleasant. There were two clouds on the horizon, however (and it being a rainy Friday, masses of them overhead, though that’s another matter); they were the inadvisability of doing business in Indonesia, since no one ever does what they say they’re going to do; and the horrendous price of wine.
The party enjoyed a nice little Chilean pinot noir (with the fish and chips, in the Diary’s case) which was a snip at only an arm and a leg. We amused ourselves while selecting the vintage by reading the lovely little note at the front of the wine list, placed there by the courageous management of the establishment, which is rather plainly forthcoming on the perfidy and idiocy of Indonesia’s luxury tax and other daylight robbery laws, and the usurious cost thereof to patrons who order wine.
Brave New World
Clearly, Bali is Conference Island. There was another one on this week, to do with reinventing the consumer society, or something equally navel-gazing. Oh dear, how ho-hum; though perhaps it provides something to do for those among us who would otherwise be flat out erecting a Lego set.
One of the speakers apparently has something to do with ice cream. Wonder if that drips all over your social media?
No Easy Ride
It’s always sad when someone who was seminal to one’s youth shuffles off this mortal coil. Your diarist had barely breasted a quarter century when Dennis Hopper made Easy Rider in 1969. It is said that Hopper was a dreadful man to work for. Well, a lot are. The intervening four decades have certainly made that clear to your diarist. And for that matter, quite a few women have proved less than easy, too.
Easy Rider is a wonderful movie. Like Hopper’s talent, it stood the test of time. Hopper rose to fame – rather rapidly in fact – after directing and starring in the cult dropout film. He was defined as a hell-raiser, renowned for his hard living and drug-taking. He had five wives, one of whom, poor dear, lasted eight days and described the experience as profoundly unfriendly. He was, in that sense, a man of his times. Today’s world is – thankfully – rather more open to the sensible concepts of non-western lifestyles and communal responsibilities.
Hopper began acting in the 1950s and starred alongside James Dean in the classic teenage movie Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. His co-stars in Easy Rider were Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Fonda, until then a friend, broke with Hopper under the strain of making the movie under his direction, and described him as “a little fascist freak.”
A tad tart, perhaps. But being insulted by Peter Fonda is surely an honour rather than a demerit.
Hector's Blog appears, as The Diary, in the weekly print edition of The Bali Times, out Fridays, and online at www.thebalitimes.com. The Bali Times is also available worldwide via NewspaperDirect.