Thursday, September 22, 2011

HECTOR’S DIARY in the Bali Advertiser, September 21, 2011

Literary Moments

On its first reading, 50 years ago, Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage struck your diarist as an immensely clever narrative and its chief character – he is not the hero of the tale by any stretch – Philip Carey as a vaguely annoying young man. At that time your diarist was a vaguely annoying young man himself.
     Now, via the new world of Kindle, a second reading is being attempted.  This is a hard task because in the intervening half century Philip, who is possibly as selfish as Madame Bovary, has turned into an absolute wretch; a crucible of indecision;  a fulcrum of foolishness. Where, before, you could (albeit barely) sympathise with the young man’s obsession with Mildred Rodgers, or at least understand it, now you can’t. The fellow’s an idiot.
    Of course, on that first reading all those years ago, faint echoes remained of the English world of (then) 50 years before that Maugham sought to describe. There was still an essential civility about things in the 1950s. The empire was but newly dead – its corpse barely stiffened, you could say – and there remained some certitude upon which one could fix one’s gaze while hoping for the best.
    This is no longer the case. England is now run by Mildred Rodgers’s.  Wastrels like Philip Carey have disappeared and have been replaced by a “good-thinking” class of very dubious provenance. One supposes Maugham might be rolling in his grave to think of this.
    But never mind, he still tells a good story.

Bank on it (Again)

This year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (October 6-9) was thrown a life-ring on September 1 when PT ANZ Panin Bank – the Indonesian subsidiary of the big Australian bank – fronted up with lots of naming-sponsor money. We can all be glad of that, because the UWRF is now an institution as well as a perennial calendar date and it does a marvellous job of reflecting Indonesian writing to the world as well as bringing international literary interest here.
    ANZ is justly reputed for its support of the cultural and sporting world. It backs Australia’s famed Archibald prize (for portrait art), the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Australian Open tennis. Its commitment to commensurate levels of sponsorship here, through Panin, is very welcome indeed.
    UWRF director and founder Janet de Neefe said in her September 1 announcement:  “On the eve of launching what we believe is our most enthralling and inspirational programme ever, we take great heart from knowing that ANZ, our newest and most generous sponsor, shares our aim to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
    Last year’s festival was sponsored by Citibank in a deal promoted as a three-year naming-rights arrangement, though apparently this was on the basis of an unsigned email. Ah well, this is Bali.
    Citibank then ran into a few little difficulties with grand theft within its precincts and revelations that its outsourced credit card debt collection service left rather a lot to be desired, since in one instance it converted a defaulting account into a deceased account.
    Perhaps unsurprisingly, it later pulled the pin on the UWRF. Now that ANZ has filled the breach – in a rather more generous way, we understand – De Neefe and her fellow fiestanistas at Ubud can probably allow themselves two sighs of relief. One for the money and the other for the departure of a sponsor whose public image is perhaps not quite in line with the festival’s preferred position on literature, social responsibility, and several other things.
     De Neefe said:  “This is a happy, happy day for this, our eighth Festival. When our 2010 naming rights sponsor defaulted at almost the eleventh hour, we were devastated, but determined that Indonesia’s premier literary event would go ahead untarnished and proud.”
    ANZ’s local CEO, Joseph Abraham, said of the deal: "We are pleased to support the ANZ Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, rated as one of the world’s top six literary festivals. The festival also enables us to show our support for Bali and the development of Indonesian literature and culture. It is also a great proposition for our customers, especially our retail customers and credit card holders," stated Joseph Abraham, ANZ CEO Indonesia.
    Visit for full details of UWRF2011’s programme of events.

Good Works

Those among us who do good works in support of the Balinese community are being very active at the moment. On September 23 Christina Iskandar and others are staging Heartstrings, an artistic showcase by the children of the YPAC centre for the handicapped. It’s at newly refurbished Warisan restaurant in Seminyak.
    The event is sure to be fun – especially since we understand that Bali’s dishiest spruiker, Diana Shearin, is emceeing – and those who fork out Rp450K for the set menu dinner will do so in the knowledge that a portion of those proceeds will go to YPAC. There are other entertainments involved, including an hour-long cocktails and canapés session, further fundraising efforts, and entertainment later by special guest stars Ozlem and Andy, Jasmin Suteja and Lisa Soul and Band.
   Fund-raising of a more energetic kind has been set for September 22-25 with a four-day barefoot walk – the first Bukit Walk for a Sustainable Future. The ROLE Foundation and SoleMen have joined forces to support children and women’s education and Bali’s environment.
    SoleMen Robert Epstone, Daniel Chieppa with his Balinese wife Yatna, and Beat Schmid de Gruneck will walk barefoot a circuit that will take them around the Bukit peninsula. During the event they will visit the Bali Life Foundation orphanage on the Bukit and a non-profit waste management project, Eco Surf Rescue Uluwatu.
    During the walk, ROLE Foundation hopes to attract new students. ROLE has invited unskilled women from the Bukit area to sign-up to its free education programme with courses in literacy and vocational skills training.
    The Bukit Walk for a Sustainable Future starts from ROLE’s Town Leaning Centre in Jl Siligita at Nusa Dua on Thursday, September 22, and passes through Ungasan, Pecatu, Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Dreamland and Jimbaran. The final leg includes Tanjung Benoa and Nusa Dua and ends with a children’s fun day at ROLE’s Eco-Learning Park at Sawangan on Sunday, September 25.
     ROLE was founded by Michael O’Leary in 2007. It is a registered charity in Indonesia.

Set for a Scrum

The rugby world cup is in full swing, which we expect will shortly create some difficulties at The Cage since we are to host an old and dear friend visiting from Australia. No problem there, but this fellow has remained a New Zealand citizen, which is also not a problem unless rugby is involved. We expect some interesting exchanges as the competition progresses.
     In Bali, of course, we have our own rugby completion. The 2011 XP Xclusive Property Bali Rugby Fest is on at the Canggu Club over the weekend (September 24-25) organised by the Bali Rugby Club. As before the competition is in three divisions: Open Men's 10's; Indonesian Men's 7's (Incorporating the Indonesian National 7's championship); and Open Women's 7's.
    It might not quite match the shenanigans in New Zealand, but it’s always fun. Details are available from the Bali Rugby Club.

Diary Date

Don’t forget the Bali Pink Ribbon Walk. The annual trot-out is being held on October 23 to raise awareness of breast cancer. There’s a bazaar, music and entertainment, an auction and raffle, children’s activities – and spa cabins and food stalls provided by leading hotels in the Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa areas.
     There’s a modest registration fee for the event, which starts from in front of the BTDC office at Nusa Dua. And you get a free T shirt. Hector’s a starter.
     Details are available from the Bali International Women’s Association. They’re on Facebook and the web.

He Said It

Former Australian prime minister John Howard issued a statement after the death in mid-September of former Liberal minister and long-serving federal MP David Jull, who made a name for himself in many worthy ways during his political career but is mostly remembered, by those who keep a tally of demerits, as the minister who had to resign early in the Howard years for not knowing some of his colleagues were rorting entitlements. It was an embarrassment for the then new PM.
     Here’s what Howard said: "He was a widely liked MP who enjoyed friendships across party divides. Janette and I extend our sympathy to his family and many friends, who will miss him greatly."
    Jull, a bon vivant and well known to Hector in his former political years, was 66. He died of cancer.

Hector's Diary appears in the Bali Advertiser, out in print every fortnight, and on the newspaper's website

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