2001 in Bangkok, Part III

After Part II

January 2001

Saturday, January 13, 2001 (Canute's Day, in Sweden)

The day, falling 'half' on page 285, the 'other' on page 286 (and, publisher's pagination being not the result of a coin flip but; rather, determined by orthodoxy), didn't immediately call attention to itself. Not until I saw how few were the entries on each page ... and their relative insipidy ... did I appreciate how NEWNES might feel when trying to fill his space. Aside from the death of James Joyce (1941) hardly anything else happened today. Sir William Dick, sculptor? George Fox, Quaker? John of Fornsete, composer? The Tatler was first issued in 1771. The Zemstvos, formed In Russia in 1864. It's no wonder that Canute captured so little.


Dear reader, while flipping through old photos I came across this one of the French embassy. It was taken last March 2nd. As you can see, the place looks pretty good from the outside. Hidden from cursory glances are the internal cancers that were probably at a well-advanced stage. Only the building's 'minders' were aware of the telltale plumbing back ups, the frayed electric cables and the nasty ceiling stains that wouldn't go away. Paul, can we park this one in the French embassy file?

Watcharee has shown very little interest in my ongoing coverage of the renovation of our neighbor's property. Content to bury herself in the gossipy pages of the Bangkok Daily News, the architectural challenges next door could just as well be problems with the outer rings of Saturn. Granted, my own interest in the subject might seem excessive. But, is there a person on this whole planet who has a better vantage point ... and a long enough booking arrangement ... to do this better than I? I think not. And, this question doesn't even begin to measure the amount of free time that I have. My only wish is that Yahoo (France) or AOL (Europe) or Visto (Paris) picks up on this. Though I've sent my URL to various French 'overseas' agencies ... places where, I thought, interest in embassy renovation would be high ... the number of 'hits' on this oversight page has remained disturbingly flat. When the German government moved its location from Bonn to Berlin, dozens of web cams recorded every jolt and jitter of the move. Given this Internet precedent, this failure of the French to show any interest in the work done to its Bangkok property is doubly puzzling. Does this have anything to do with the recent 'doings' in Europe? The same 'doings' that have caused the French and the German governments to take stock of their respective positions? Is this 'embassy thing' an early warning?


Sunday, January 14, 2001 – Mallard Day (All Souls: Oxford)

NEWNES never fails to amuse me! Forget the names for a minute ... and whether it's their birth or death that we are interested in. Just concentrate on what these people did. In short, just why do they deserve an entry:

His 'events' are more self-evident:

To help fill the empty space between the reference to the footnote and the footnote itself I have chosen something from the "Far Side" calendar. Today, being Mallard Day, suggests that God holds the 14th as being something special for lovers of the fowl.

Far Side

Today the editors at the Bangkok Daily News have chosen a particularly disturbing photograph for our first-of-the-morning read. Apparently, the shot is of an unattended washroom. Though "Lux" and "Levi" brands are in evidence, this is unlikely to be a sponsored event. As Morton's dots have been employed, blood and gore must be about. But, details will have to await Watcharee's arrival.


1 Only recently have governments felt it necessary to 'apologize' for the acts of their predecessors. Much of this has stemmed from World War II days ... what with Germany and Japan being responsible for most of the hand wringing regrets. American Indians, Korean 'comfort' women, Pacific Islanders, Amazonian rain forest tribes ... they have all learned that along with words of contrition comes money. And, not just small change or rattling loose coins ... no, not just enough cash to cover the wages of a few third-string stone chiselers. No, the 'heirs' to the misery of their grandparents want something more than just a chunk of rock that no one will ever visit. They want the fruits of a great big class action. When the liability door finally closes on this bit of history they want the solace that only big money can bring. Why can't we Norwegians get the same? Tossed around Scandinavia like an abused beach ball, shouldn't we be paid for the suffering of our Grans?


Wow! Just now the senior partner in one of South Florida's shadiest law firms rang me up ... yep, just got off the phone with him ... and, from twelve time zones away! I can't reveal his name but I can tell you how to find him. Turn to the Miami Yellow Pages ... look under "Attorneys." Mark only the ones who bought full-page ads ... the others have to rely on their reputations. Then eliminate those few ads that do not lead off with a heavily doctored photo of an oily and overweight person pretending to be interested in the contents of a thick book. He's perched on the corner of a crowded desk, behind which there is a book-lined wall. Flags of our nation and the great state of Florida are in evidence. Still in the same Yellow Page ad, look for wheelchairs, crutches, IV drips, neck braces, kidney machines ... all stacked up at the right margin. On the left side of the page look for the icons of out of control vehicles, run-away chain saws, ... things that did you wrong.

Mortkiss (we'll call him that for the time being) was worried about the pool's dwindling number of defendants. His firm, being late off the starting line with the mainline apology cases, didn't want to miss out if there was going to be money made in seeking solace for the heirs of saints. His search engine led him to me. What about all these poor souls (saints) who were pushed and pulled into a life of penitence? Deprived of life's little joys? Pulling on hair shirts before their morning tea? Eating thorns for lunch? Nailing themselves to crosses at the end of the day? In short, having every day be a worse day than the preceding day?

(Mortkiss, stabbing at Wescott [the book] with his pointy finger): "The evidence is right here. 366 in this book alone! Go count, if you don't believe me. Heart twisting cases, every one of them. Look at yesterday ... show me a jury that wouldn't bring in big bucks for this little lass."

Veronica of Binasco
DIED 1497

A peasant girl too ignorant to enter a convent. She studied night after night, beside a little oil lamp, without making much progress. Finally the Virgin told her not to bother; all she needed to know was three letters: a white one for purity, a black one for simplicity and making the best of things, and a red one for ardent interest in the Passion of the Lord Jesus. She was admitted into a convent as a lay-sister. It was a hardship not to know enough Latin to sing in the choir with the others. Otherwise the three letters served very well, and she had important visions. In spite of what the Virgin had said, she never ceased making an effort to learn, saying, even when ill, 'I must work while I have the time.'

(Mortkiss, groping the air): "We're talking great, great, great grandchildren. These people are entitled to what was stolen from them. What with DNA testing and all those preserved relics lying about ... bones, hair, teeth ... hey ... the chain of evidence is unbreakable. The deep pocket churches are responsible for all this pain and suffering ... and they should be made to pay. As usual, our firm gets one third (a half if there is an appeal)."


Monday, January 15, 2001

This morning's post contained a reply from my good friend, Andy Page. Last Tuesday, the 9th, I noted that NEWNES was celebrating the birthday of the Rural Party. Knowing nothing of this Party, I, 'footnotedly,' asked Andy for his input. His reply (as well as the query to which he was replying):


2 I hope that Andy Page can help. This is the kind of thing that he is good at.

Can't help you on this one Alf

You missed Queen Vicki's demise 14/01/1901

Andy

As you can see, Andy was not satisfied with a simple, "I don't know." He immediately addressed me quite sharply for not noting in my pages a far more important item: the death of Queen Victoria.

No doubt, the anniversary of the death of Victoria makes anything else pale by comparison. And, the 100th anniversary at that! Good God, what have I done? What has NEWNES done? Tearing open my NEWNES, I rushed back into yesterday. Nothing at all about Victoria. Any deaths at all? Sure ... but none in 1901. And, only five people in all of NEWNES'S world died on this day in history (well, at least right up to 1961, when NEWNES himself died, or became weary of the task. Also excluded are the pre-1800 deaths, as well as that of J.D.A. Ingres who passed away in 1867). They are:

Emboldened with my new evidence ... or, rather ... confident that I had not been sloppy in checking my facts, I dished this off to Andy:

Sorry, NEWNES does not recognize her death on "14/01/1901." If not recognized by NEWNES, it did not happen. Perhaps you would like to try another monarch.

Alf

But, doubts linger. Andy seemed so confident. He's usually right with his research. And, it is (was) his monarch. Moving forward and backward through NEWNES (always with an eye on 1901), little is found ... until January 22:

Off by an even week, Andy's Week-at-a-Glance software almost wiped out seven days of our history. Though bringing Victoria's grand exit celebrations much closer, it unwittingly destroyed much ... yes, much was nearly lost in this reckless rush just to bring about some reverential weeping and wailing in all of us. The Battle of Coruna, not noted ... the reconvening of The Council of Trent, passed ... the publication of The Heidelberg Catechism, forgotten ... the final wave of Von Papen as he was expelled from the U.S.A., not seen. And, that's just the loss of the big guys. What about the little things? Shackleton reaching the South Pole? The opening of the British Museum? The beheading of The Earl of Surrey?

1 We'll come back here again next week. But, perhaps you would like to know right away who were Queen Victoria's neighbors in death: in 1887, Sir Joseph Whitworth, a mechanical engineer; in 1906, George Jacob Holyoake, a co-operator and secularist.


Tuesday, January 16, 2001

I knew her well ... I ate at her table ... I slept in her bed ... I went to her toilet ... and yet, I spoke harshly of her. When she was alive she was a fair target, I guess. But, even after her demise I said cruel things about her. I take it all back. If I only could.

"Why?" you ask.


BARBARA CARTLAND LEAVES AN EMPTY PURSE

LONDON – The British novelist Barbara Cartland, who became the world's best-selling author by churning out hundreds of romantic sagas, has left no money in her will, the Daily Mail reported.

Cartland, who wrote a staggering 723 books with sales of one billion copies in 38 languages, died in May at the age of 98.

But the Daily Mail said her 1.4 million pound ($1.7 million) estate would be worth nothing after her debts and liabilities were paid.

The newspaper also said that Cartland, famous for her love of pink chiffon and espousal of vitamins as the route to health, may have shrewdly distributed money years before her death to avoid her estate's having to pay inheritance tax.

Her 10-bedroom country mansion, once owned by the children's writer Beatrix Potter, will go to her son Glen, a stock broker, although the lease runs out in 2015, it said. Cartland's books and manuscripts will be shared between Glen and her other son, Ian. But there was no mention in the will of her daughter, Raine, who was the stepmother of Diana, Princess of Wales. - Reuters


When Barbara Cartland was born, The Oriental was already 27 years old. Today, the hotel is celebrating its 125th birthday. The day started with a 'trooping' of the monks, 125 of them. It will end tonight with a huge display of fireworks.


Wednesday, January 17, 2001

All else is driven from the front page! A grim 2001 for Asia if the expected American recession hits ... the recent Thai elections ... Estrada’s impeachment trial in the Philippines ... none of this means anything next the news about the Htoo Twins.

Yes ... Johnny and Luther Htoo ... the leaders of God’s Army ... are back in the news again. But, is it the final chapter? Ask their mom and dad?

TWINS CAPTURED AS NET CLOSES ON REBEL GROUP

Maj-Gen Mana Prajakjitr, the division commander, said troops encircled the God’s Army military base straddling the border area in Suan Phung district, Ratchaburi, denying the guerrillas foodstuffs and other essentials.

"We have seized them, including the twins, who are not so healthy following our two weeks-long encirclement sealing the border area, denying them food," said Maj-Gen Mana, who assured the guerrillas that they would not be harmed if they turned themselves in.

Maj-Gen Mana said Luther and Johnny Htoo would be sent to their parents, who live at BanTong-yang.

Here is one last photo of the French Embassy on 1/17/01. What will it look like in March, when we expect to return to Bangkok?

Tonight Watcharee and I are going to fly to Switzerland. At the same time Paul will be on a flight from Seattle. Annie, too. Others, later.

Over to you, Paul.

More to come ...

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