Wednesday, January 25, 2012

HECTOR'S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Jan. 25, 2012

Something in the Air

They’re always at it at Ubud, or so it seems; thinking about navel engagements, that is. A delightful piece by Marie Bee in the latest edition of La Gazette de Bali – the great French language monthly journal for the Francophone community – discusses what one can do when it is the saison des pluies and going out invariably involves getting wet.
     Bee, who is La Gazette’s Ubud scribbler, suggests that the answer is to study the Indonesian language rather than get out your poncho and rubber boots. And that seems fair enough to a dilettante like your diarist. Mlle Bee’s busy little voyage of discovery this time relates to the invisibility of the penis in the Indonesian-French dictionary of 1980 and its discovery (as an item of lexicographical interest at least) by 2001.
     These days, of course, they are ubiquitous in Bali. You can even open bottles with them, though why you’d want to is quite another thing.
     Anyone who reads French should definitely catch up with Mlle Bee’s engaging discourse in La Gazette.  It piques several of the senses. Among other observations, she notes that elements of the search for the lost penis would certainly have interested Proust. It’s on page 30 of the current edition and is headed En Quête du Pénis Perdu (it sounds much better in French, doesn’t it?).
     These are literary matters. And on that topic there’s a couple of interesting writers’ workshops on the books in Ubud. The first is a course, Write for Your Life, being held from February 5-11 with the participation of American penman Jeremiah Abrams. Details are available at
     The second is the work of Australian Jade Richardson, who should by now be well known to Diary readers, since she keeps popping up with revealing ideas.
     She’s offering four short courses for aspiring scribblers in February and March, under the broad subject heading Write Like an Angel: Creative Turbo-Boost is designed to inspire and energise beginners, blocked writers, stuck novelists, lazy poets and cathartic free-writers who want to learn finesse; Advanced Creative Writing in which participants will explore their own work for signs of genius; Travel Writing, for people who want to turn their notes, insights and adventures into travel stories fit for publication; and Erotica, where we assume the cerebral side of sex will get an outing.
     If you’re interested, contact Jade at or by phone on 0958 5727 0858. 

Surf’s Up

A friendly wave is certainly a long-standing part of Bali’s culture – along with the odd unfriendly one – and no more so than on the surfing scene, an invention (like so much else) of the faraway 1960s when the first waves of young riders appeared, appropriately from overseas.
     A whole industry has grown up from the first sprouts of mass foreign interest in the island and its culture planted by young people – like Hector, these pioneers were young in the 1960s – who flocked here to ride waves on bits of wood (they are now mostly artificial material).
     So the next exhibition at Ganesha Gallery (Four Seasons Jimbaran) is of particular interest. It features the work of Olli Fraenkel, the German aficionado of all things Bali. Like many others, he was attracted here by the surf and kept here by his fascination with the Balinese culture that he found when he wasn’t at the beach.
     His exhibition, entitled The 3-Dimensions of, demonstrates his power as an artist of graffiti – is his tag – and reminds us all, old fogeys and others, that art is a very broad church indeed and that the Renaissance painters, for example, were often the rebels of their  era.
     Fraenkel’s exhibition opens on February 9. It’s not to be missed.
     By happenstance Hector will be able a day or so later also to see the Bergamo collection (of originally outré and subversive Renaissance art) at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra. It is an opportunity not to be missed on a rare visit to the Australian capital.

Hey, Sucker!

A friend got a really interesting email the other day, from something called the Thailand Internet Lottery Organization of 88C Phetchamnork Avenue, Bangkok, Thailand. Director General Shompoo Prachapor sent his fonds regards – no, that’s not a misprint – and advised that the email address in question had drawn a prize of US$1,068,000.00 as one of two winners of the jackpot in the fifth category.
     Our friend was advised to contact lottery coordinator Prawatt Wensat, providing personal details etc (surprise!), to claim the money. Mr Wensat was expecting this response by the 30th of next month. Oh dear. February usually ends on the 28th though this year – apparently it’s supposed to be a Leap of Faith year – it stretches to the 29th. What a shame that’s still one day short of the notional deadline for the notional funds.
      Incidentally, shortly after this our friend got a much more interesting email. It came, it said, from the second wife – surely that should now be second widow – of the late and unlamented Libyan leader Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi. It offered to send US$40 million for investment and safekeeping because otherwise those who think unkindly of her hubby might seize the funds.
     This pitch was no surprise. What was a little surprising was the claim by Safia Farkash al-Baraasi, the said second widow, that she had found our friend’s contact details in Colonel Gaddafi’s email address list.

There You Go

One joy of the modern age – there are a few: digital music and books among them – is that you can keep abreast of your interests, of whatever provenance and in a timely way, and of the people who provide this essential life-preserving service. The Diary is a great fan of Sarah Crompton at the Daily Telegraph newspaper in the UK, for example. She writes a weekly email – you have to be on the DT’s list to get it – that is just as eclectic as she. In the fine newspaper for which she scribbles, Crompton writes about art, film and other cerebral matters; and she writes a sports column too.
     In  one recent weekly email – apart from reminding the Diary that leaving was a mixed blessing, by reference to all manner of things that could be enjoyed were it not for the fact that London got a goodbye wave in 1969 – Crompton noted that she loved an odd fact (don’t we all?) and mentioned a couple.
     Did you know that carrots – which as wortel are an important element of Indonesian cuisine – were originally purple and were turned orange by genetically manipulative Dutch growers to secretly show their support for William of Orange, the Protestant princeling who was instrumental in chucking the Papist Spaniards out of the Low Countries? Neither did Crompton; nor your diarist.
     But her favourite fact for that particular week was that the Alsatian film star Rin Tin Tin – a dog, not a Deutsch-Lautsprecher from the west bank of the middle Rhine  – died in the arms of the Hollywood star Jean Harlow.
     It surely cannot have been after this sad event that she famously said, “When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” But Harlow – who as we say in today’s tediously socially aware language was “sexually active” – was certainly no dummy, blonde or not. She also noted: “No one ever expects a great lay to pay all the bills.”

Keep Jogging

Lombok Hash, the fun running group of which Walter Jamieson of Windy Beach Resort – and originally from the Shetlands, magic islands off the north of Scotland whose inhabitants are more Norse than kilted caber-tossers – is a leading light of very long standing, celebrated a milestone on January 20. Its regular run that day was on the 27th anniversary of its first ever event and was held in the same area – scenic Batu Layar just south of Senggigi.

Holey Cake

We are indebted to something called, which alleges it has “The Most Complete Events and Listings in Bali!” – the initial capitals and the exclamation mark are apparently important – for a delicious little heads-up on the plush afternoon tea for those with fat wallets who fancy dropping in at the St Regis in Nusa Dua.
     It says, of this extravagance, that the Classic Afternoon Tea on offer at that establishment is born of a distinctive legacy, since afternoon tea was a hollowed tradition at the original St. Regis New York.

Pun Run

Hector has an old and dear friend, a former Australian senator who now lives in what passes for retirement (Stan is an active chap) in the delightful hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.  In idle moments, he – like Hector – loves a pun. And the other day, being a fine fellow, he sent along a small compendium of them.
     Several had instant appeal. But this one, for some reason, struck your diarist as being particularly apt in present circumstances hereabouts.
     Here it is:
     An anthropologist was recording folk remedies with the assistance of an Amazonian tribal elder who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed doubts about this – apparently in South America it is important to be quizzical rather than gullible – the elder looked him in the eye and said:
    “Let me tell you, with fronds like these, you don't need enemas.”

Hector's Diary is in the print edition of the Bali Advertiser, out every second Wednesday, and on the newspaper's website . Hector is on Twitter (@ Scratchings) and Facebook: Hector McSquawky at

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