Archive for December, 2010
Road accidents with multiple fatalities are a sad fact of life in Thailand.
In May, a pickup full of migrant Burmese workers crashed and killed 13 of the workers; the driver was trying to evade the police. In November, a van drove off an elevated expressway and nine occupants were killed. The driver’s attention had been diverted. Last week, five people died and fifty were injured in a fifteen vehicle pile-up. The list is long, and nobody really gives a shit; apart from those affected by the incidents. We see the news, express regret, and move on. The authorities promise to take action in respect of whatever they decided contributed to the accident, do nothing, and get back to lining their pockets. It’s the way of the world.
Yesterday a car hit a van in Bangkok, the van plunged off the expressway, and eight people died. Just another accident, but the media exploded. Why?
Well, for a start, unlike the thirteen Burmese workers who died, the dead in this crash were Thai university graduates; and we all know that five Thai university graduates are considered of more value than thirteen Burmese workers. And the icing on the media-frenzied cake was the fact that the apparent cause of the accident was a sixteen year old girl, with no driving licence, from a very well-connected family. Oh, how delicious; a perfect opportunity to wring our hands at the enormity of the tragedy and pour scorn and hatred on the girl.
The foreign forums have been stupidly vicious enough, but they have been as nothing compared to the venom unleashed on Thai social media (according to my local informant). By the end of today, the consensus seems to be that she is the spawn of the devil who deliberately caused the crash; rather than an unfortunate young girl who should never have been given the keys to a car, and then made a mistake with a result which will haunt her for the rest of her days.
Of course, if she had hit a van full of Burmese workers, nobody would have paid any attention.
Not a good example of Buddhism in action, Thailand.
Started the day with a joyous trip to immigration for my 90 day report. The place was heaving, with more than a few ignoring the simple rule that you should dress decently when meeting government officials. Last week’s tank top, with matching smells, and a pair of tatty shorts, was the offering from one gentleman. Fortunately, I raised the tone with a bow-tie and silver cane.
Twenty minutes felt like hours, but back home in time to leave for a meeting to discuss a book which is apparently to be adorned with my photos. Just leaving the condo car park and receive a call to tell me the meeting is postponed; shortly followed by another call deferring a photoshoot tentatively planned for this afternoon. This is all good news because it is windy.
Most windsurfers have a few sails at the their disposal, and the smallest sail has always been bought at a moment of optimism; perhaps brought on by a few beers. This little handkerchief of a sail will only work when the wind is really howling, like it very rarely does in the Gulf of Thailand.
But today it was really windy and I was able to brush off a rather dusty and scruffy little sail which I had last used in 2009. I had planned to take some photos, but the session was cut short due to the need to go sailing, and other distractions.
An excellent sailing session followed, after which I was totally knackered and only bleeding from two places. Home to a Magnum ice cream and a most acceptable sunset.
Dinner and a large beer at a local noodle stall, and right now I am convinced that the world is a pretty damn fine place. But I do need to go and lie down for a while.
P.S. How’s the weather in Europe?
When I am out and about with my camera I tend to avoid contact with other photographers. My naturally grumpy appearance tends to discourage advances from others, and why would I want to initiate a conversation with someone when all we apparently have in common is a camera (the obvious answer would include the word ‘breasts’, but she who must be obeyed would not approve).
But if someone is going to try and talk to me, there could not be a worse time than when I am trying to focus my camera on an arse-crack.
We were at Mini Siam, an outing that requires an explanation. I visited the place a couple of years ago, and my conclusion was that it was crap.
So why go back? It’s my wife’s fault (it usually is, even when it isn’t). You may recall her new craze for photographing dolls in a variety of locations. Well, she disappeared one evening and came back after many hours at Mini Siam. This is one of her shots:
Enthused, she decided she wanted to return during daylight and, sadly, she thought it would be a good idea if I accompanied her. This trip was to feature the photographing of a repulsive Barbie doll at assorted unconvincing locations. There was a very real danger that I might be roped in to hold the bloody thing while she shot it; so I wandered off to find something else to photograph. Of course, there was nothing of interest, but the sun was setting and the light was lovely and I chanced upon what was probably a terrible copy of Michelangelo’s David. Unfortunately the sun was behind the statue, so I went round the back and the colours were indeed pleasant.
A strange subject, a rear view of David, but I was bored so lifted the camera and manually focused on David’s arse-crack. I was just thinking “just as well nobody is around to see me pointing my camera at the rear-end of a statue”, when a voice enquired “what are you photographing?”
Oh shit. I took my eye away from David’s arse to discover a young Japanese man stood next to me with an inquisitive look on his face. How to answer?
Just knocking off a shot of a stone bum.
Did you know that an arse-crack is excellent for focusing?
This may look a little gay, but it isn’t.
Fuck off and find your own arse to shoot.
Instead I bumbled something about the lovely light and photographing everything and wasn’t Mini Siam shit and and……
Convinced I was insane, the Japanese man wandered off, perhaps indeed to find his own arse to shoot. And I was left with this:
Regretfully, I think the arse-crack is slightly out of focus.
In my younger days, when the world existed in black and white (or so my wife believes), my weekly rituals included the purchase of The Sunday Times. It was not so much the journalistic content, it was more to do with the sheer size of the thing. Never mind the quality, look at all these supplements.
Sunday morning was not complete without a trip to the newsagents to pick up a copy, which would then be scattered over the sofa for the rest of the day and consumed piecemeal over the following week.
Then we moved from North East England to Scotland, and I was aghast to discover that the ST did not make the journey north until mid-afternoon. So much for Sunday morning coffee and the ST magazine. I should have checked before accepting the move.
Then a transfer to The Hague where I imagined my ST days would be over, and I would be reduced to looking at the pictures in De Telegraaf. But no. A pleasant cycle down to the main railway station on a Sunday morning would find the paper waiting for me at the bookstore. Civilised Sundays were restored, surrounded by more print than I could read, with inky fingers and a feeling of contentment.
But then I came to Asia, and although Kuala Lumpur and other locations offered the ST, it could not be found on a Sunday, was only a re-print of some of the content, and it cost a fortune. My Sunday Times Sundays were over.
Now I have this on my iPad:
Every section of the paper is available (five further sections are not shown above, but they are just a scroll down the screen away). If I am not interested in a particular section, I just don’t bother to download it (no point in reading about sport outside of the Grand Prix season).
And it is beautifully implemented. Scroll down to read an article. scroll right to move to the next. Tap a photo to see it in full screen and, where indicated, scroll to then watch a slideshow. I never felt I was lost, and often felt I was being offered much more than I would receive if all I had was the printed page. The text is crisp and easy to read, the photos are high-resolution, and there are even videos on offer, which are hard to implement in the printed edition.
What’s missing? Just the advertisements as far as I can tell; although there are a few single page adverts included, most of which link to a video and can be easily ignored. And the Classifieds section only has four advertisements; so I am going for the position as Programme Controls Director with Crossrail; which I think means I will work in a signal box for a six figure salary.
The price is $2.99, which means I will not indulge weekly (unless I get the job in the signal box); but it is comforting to know that my favourite newspaper is now available when I feel the need.
And no more inky fingers.
Fresh from the previous post, I was rummaging around the fetid train wreck that is the interior of our fridge and, joy of joys, I discovered a remaining Flake behind what used to be salami but which has over time evolved into a new species.
Of course I had to eat it (the Flake, not the ex-salami, I don’t want to die), but not before capturing it for posterity.
Farewell sweet Flake; you will be missed.