Patpong for Christmas,
Boxing Day, and the New Year ... Part I

After A Fortnight (Well, Almost) in London and
Before Bangkok Holidays, Part II

December 13-17, 2001

Thursday, December 13, 2001 (PCC AGM minus 6)

Dear reader, we are home again! Actually we made it back to The Oriental late yesterday afternoon. It's now just a few minutes after midnight, Bangkok time, so there won't be anything from the Post or from Morton's darkroom for at least another half dozen hours.

Go have a drink ... and hurry back.

By the way, the staff gave us a nice "Welcome Home".


Hours later:

Wescott:

Lucy of Syracuse
DIED 304

This Sicilian saint's legend provides a tragic illustration of two usual aspects of unmarried women's lives: their heroic devotion to their mothers and their intolerance of love-making. Lucy's mother suffered from an apparently incurable illness; and when, in that connection, they went on a pilgrimage, a recently martyred saint appeared to them and promised recovery for the mother on condition that Lucy be martyred. Without any of the official interference or popular brutality of the third century, this must often be the case.

Later, a young man who wanted to marry her told her that it was the brightness of her eyes which made it impossible for him to leave her in peace; so she tore them out and sent them to him in a dish. Non-Christians of a religious turn of mind are likely to be shocked by the end of the story as churchmen have told it or conceived it: the young man converted, the saint's eyes restored in all their brightness.

Wescott, for the same day, gives us another saint; one whom, also, had eye problems. But, like with Lucy, there was a happy ocular ending. However, neither life looks like one that anyone would envy.

Adilia, or Othilia
EIGHTH CENTURY

This daughter of the Duke of Alsace was born blind. The duke wanted the troublesome little thing to left to die; but the nurse fled to a convent with her; and them moment she was christened, she was able to see. She spent her life praying for the forgiveness of her hasty father's sins.

NEWNES:

Stepping back just one day, to the 12th, Malloy tells us:

Dearest reader, yesterday morning before leaving London I popped over to Christie's (South Kensington) to see what was 'up' with the winter corkscrew auction. Well, not much. Sure, there were a few good pieces ... but, not enough to hang around for. Perhaps I just wasn't in the mood. Anyway, while talking with Dennis Cox (Christie's man in charge of corkscrews) I chanced a glance into the next room; a bunch of deformed heads and hanging-out entrails caught my eye.

All this was part of "The William Bonardo Collection of Wax Anatomical Models" auction. According to Christie's catalog, William Bonardo and Lily Binda were "traveling carnivalists." Lily specialized in "physical anomalies" ... including the "elephant-man" from Algeria, the "lion-man" (appropriately named Lionel), "Atlas the Giant," "Bertha the Giant" (who stood 2.7m tall and weighed 185kg) and a woman with the head of a cow. Lily's most audacious exhibit was a woman who was just a head, but with the tentacles of an octopus.

Though Lily claimed education was her goal: "One did not come in order to laugh. It was a serious attraction. I saw men enter blind drunk, and leave stone-cold sober." ... European laws of the 1960's put an end to "freak-shows."1 So, Lily and Willy were forced to dump their live exhibits and roll out the plastic.

For the next few days I'll pepper my journal with some of the things that Christie's has under the hammer.

The cover of Christie's sales catalog leaves no doubt that its insides will be as graphic as promised. The display room in which the items are stacked is typically Christie's: small and crowded. Heads and entrails are cozy with one another. A 1920's marquee banner promises the viewer much. My first walkabout was not disappointing. Stay around; there will be more.


1 For those of us who grew up at a time when a circus was a real circus: where the "freak-show" tent was the place where every red-blooded boy went first ... well, those days are gone from America and Europe. Today one has to poke around the traveling carnivals of western China and East Africa to find God's little tricks. However, right here in Bangkok, one or two itinerant freaks can usually be found crawling on the sidewalks.


Friday, December 14, 2001

It is a beautiful morning in Bangkok!

The Peninsula, now rebuilt, has a wonderful view of the ... also, now rebuilt (restored?) ... French Embassy. How long has it been? Going on two years, I think. Yes, there is not much left to do before the movers start in with the furniture. You see, once the lawn is laid down ... well, that pretty much marks the end of the heavy work ... only the finishing touches remain [though that 'hole' does seem to be an ongoing problem]. I suppose it is a bit much to hope that we'll be invited to the 'opening'.

NEWNES:

Wescott revisits the Po:

Sabinus
FOURTH CENTURY

According to St. Gregory the Great, this Bishop of Piacenza, at a time when the Po was in flood, asked one of his deacons to warn it to stay within bounds. The reasonable deacon would not undertake any such hopeless business. So the bishop himself wrote a letter to the river, emphasizing especially the inviolability of church property, had it sworn by a notary,3 and threw it into the flood; and the great stream did as it was told.

By now all of the lots at Christie's have probably been hauled away by the new owners. But, as promised yesterday, we'll continue with our walkabout before either the buyers or Cadogan Tate Limited (the official warehousers and shippers for Christie's) finally remove the stuff from our view.4

  1. An Infant With One Eye (commonly known as a 'Cyclops'). The Christie's catalog describes it as "An extraordinary abnormality: a Cyclops. This child was born in Stockholm. It has only one eye, in its forehead, and survived only a short time. The actual child has been preserved in the Royal Anatomical Museum in Stockholm." [US$ 2,200 - 2,600]
  2. Deformation Of Facial Features. "A baby without a nose, whose mouth is in the center of its right cheek. This child died immediately after its birth." [US$ 2,200 - 2,600]
  3. Siamese Twins. The Christie's catalog waxes: "An extraordinary living phenomenon: Italian 'Siamese twins'. This is a pair of twins who easily surpass the most famous Siamese twins. The two upper bodies merge into one common lower body at the sixth rib, so that the two brothers have only one pair of feet. According to doctors' reports, the two boys have separate stomachs, and their vital functions operate separately as well - one sleeps while the other is awake, one laughs while the other is weeping, the right foot follows the right brother's will, the left one that of the left twin. Both children have sensation, see, hear, have reasoning abilities, speak, and eat separately. Both are healthy, jolly and have lively conversations with each other. They are from Piedmont, and currently three years and three months old. They speak with typical Italian vivacity and gesticulate in a very lively fashion. Of course, they have to hold their heads at a very oblique angle. Each of the twins has his own pair of lungs and his own heart." [US$ 4,300 - 5,700]
  4. A Syphilitic Spongiform Growth. [US$ 1,200 - 1,700]
  5. A Male Bladder Stone Extraction. "The stone is removed through the penis utilizing a lithotrite and mallet." [US$ 3,000 - 3,600]


1 My readers will remember Watcharee's visit to his memorial ... just days ago; the same day that we paused in front of the statute of Queen Victoria, at Kensington Palace.

2 A Norwegian coup, yes! But, readers are encouraged to return to these pages tomorrow when we must nod to a sadder anniversary. Tomorrow, however, will not be all glum words: Londoners will have something to raise their glass to. But, shades will be drawn and curtains pulled for ... well ... wait, I am getting ahead of things.

3 Americans are generally 'amused' by notaries. Usually found in the bottom drawer, near check-cashing stores, never proud of their position and often given their temporal 'power' by paying just a few dollars ... no, their niche is not a proud one. In ancient times ... and, even today, in foreign countries ... notaries carry great clout; right up there with lawyers.

4 The 'views': some are mine; some are from the Christie's sales catalog.


Saturday, December 15, 2001

A day for tears?

For some, yes! For the callous: indifference. For a cruel few: relish!

NEWNES:

But, Londoners have something to be cocky about: in 1906 the Piccadilly Tube opened. In Paris, too, there is deserved joy: Gustav Eiffel, engineer, was born in 1832.

Here worldwide glee, for his followers (now mostly very old or very dead) knew no borders:

Wescott:

Eusebius of Vercelli
DIED 370
The adopted son and namesake of Pope St. Eusebius. He was banished from his see because he took sides with Athanasius against the Arians. He would not allow any hermits to live in his diocese, obliging all the clergy to work for each other and for the people. He died a natural death, but is honoured as a martyr, probably because of the trouble the heretics gave him.

Continuing our walkabout at Christie's, today we look at back, head, nose and arm problems. Also, a realistic test for ammunition.2

For newcomers, you should jump back a day or so to see where we have been. All of this has to do with "Un Spectacle"; something "Unique". Shall we move on?

  1. A Surgical Procedure To Remove A Swallowed Ear Of Grain. [US$ 2,700 - 2,900]
  2. An Operation On The Cranium. "Using the trepanning method (with drill) to penetrate the skull." [US$ 3,700 - 5,100]
  3. The Replacement Of A Nose. Christie's goes into detail: "A piece of skin is cut from the forehead, but left attached to the side next to the nose to maintain the circulation of the blood. After cutting the piece so that it fits the shape of the nose, it is twisted around and sutured to the body of the nose. The nostrils are formed by inserting silver tubes. After about two or three weeks the skin becomes attached to the face and the piece of skin attached to the forehead is severed. The skin from the forehead is used rather than the skin from the arm, as the arm would have to maintain a continual vertical position which may lead to partial paralysis of the arm muscles." [US$ 3,000 - 4,400]
  4. An Emergency Tourniquet. Christie's words, again: "The hand of a worker who had the misfortune of putting it too close to the blade of a circular saw. In a flash, the bones of his forearm were cut through just above the wrist. A fellow worker wearing a pair of braces took them off and used them to tie the arm. When a doctor examined the patient after about an hour, he isolated the arteries and tied them, sutured the tendons and nerves, and dressed the wound with an antiseptic cloth." [US$ 3,000 - 4,400]
  5. A Demonstration Of The Penetrating Power Of Steel-Jacketed Bullets. Christie's: "Five sections of a male torso, each showing the passage from the chest through the back of a steel-jacketed bullet from a small bore repeating pistol." [US$ 4,400 - 7,300]
Good news everyone! Don "the Mirth" Bull is on his way to Bangkok. As the #2 Charter/Founding member of the Patpong Corkscrew Club, his presence at the very first PCC AGM (scheduled for December 19th) will give credence to an organization that, frankly, up until now has been viewed as something of an oddity by mainstream corkscrew collecting cartels. Bull's lengthy power-association with the ICCA and the CCCC3 will go a long way to seeing to it that the PCC gets a fair chair at the big round table. Don Departs for Bangkok


1 A few years ago Linda Santarelli and I visited the site of his murder: a house in St. Petersburg, Russia (formerly, Leningrad, USSR).

2 Long before all this PC nonsense about limiting your test shots to anesthetized pigs.

3 To say nothing of his own creation: a mid-Atlantic or mid-Virginia or mid-Appalachia something-or-other that also has corkscrews.


PS Dearest reader: this just in from "Mirth" Bull:

Subj: Re: PCC meeting
Date: 12/15/2001 11:42:02 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: corkscrew@bullworks.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

I'm somewhere in Nebraska now. Terrible snowstorm here. We had to land in a farmer's field. He put us up for the night. We had to promise not to fool around with his daughter.

Will keep you posted on progress.


PPS By return cable I replied:

Subj: Re: PCC meeting
Date: 12/15/2001 12:02:07 PM SE Asia Standard Time
From: Corkscrew@aol.com
To: corkscrew@bullworks.net

Our prayers are with you. May God's hands gently cradle you on your journey across the Great Plains of America.


Sunday, December 16, 2001 (Dingaan's Day, Union of South Africa)

"To the Patpongettes whose work whose use all men confess who love their juice." 1, 2, 3

As you can see from the date stamp,4 "Mirth" Bull managed to break off his farmhouse liaison sometime before the farmer's cock sounded the alarm.

Subj: Bull progress
Date: 12/15/2001 9:14:12 PM SE Asia Standard Time
From: corkscrew@bullworks.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

Alf,

We took off early this morning and as we did a loop around the farm, the farmer ran out of his house pulling his bluejean bib suit on with one hand and shaking his fist at us with the other. And from the upstairs bedroom window, the farmer's daughter was throwing us kisses.

Don's Route (So Far)

Again the weather forced us to put down. After a short flight from the North Platte, Nebraska area farm, we landed at a ski resort near Denver. We're now sitting in the lodge drinking beer brewed from mountain spring water and nibbling on Rocky Mountain oysters. The forecast is for clearer skies this afternoon so we should soon be on our way again.

Will keep you posted on progress.

Don


NEWNES:

Wescott:

Ado
799 - 875

A Burgundian teacher of sacred and profane sciences, the author of a famous martyrology, and a history of the world, from the beginning of time up to date.6


Today's walkabout in the Christie's salesrooms looks at some of the worries of women. Some are as inconsequential as venting the esophagus; some are more cosmetic (and a mighty big range here); the middle two deal with baby making. One handles "Big C." Shall we?

  1. A Surgical Procedure For Opening The Esophagus. [US$ 2,200 - 2,600]
  2. Scrofuloderma. Christie's words: "This illness occurs simultaneously with other scrofulous diseases of other organs, e.g. eyes, bones, glands, etc., or in their aftermath. Most frequently, it affects face, neck and arms, first as a bubo that can reach a remarkable size in or underneath the skin. After some time, the bubo begins to soften, the skin that covers it is ruptured and after the emission of runny pus, a deep ulcer develops which can lead to severe destruction of the skin and the muscles underneath. The disease is tuberculous." [US$ 2,200 - 2,600]7
  3. A Pregnant Woman. The Christie's description is sad: "A lady who desired to hide her pregnancy when going to ball and laced her corset so tightly that she suffered a stroke while dancing." [US$ 12,000 - 17,000]
  4. An Ovarine Pregnancy. Christie's: "This occurs when an ovum attaches itself anywhere outside the uterus." [US$ 7,300 - 12,000]
  5. Surgical Procedure On A Woman To Remove A Carcinogenic Growth. [US$ 3,700 - 5,100]


1 Credit for this goes to Don "the Mirth" Bull. It's his proposed toast to the original charter/founding members of the Patpong Corkscrew Club. Ohmy, Amma and Gift, though not the first card carrying PCC members were the first (giggling all the while) to pull on their new club shirts.

2 "To the bottlescrew, whose worth whose use all men confess who love the juice." [The original toast]

3 "To the corkscrew, for allowing us to get at the contents of the bottle without having to actually break off the neck." [What the original toast means]

4 "SE Asia Standard Time" is a full 12 hours ahead of the Wirtz time zone. The difference between clocks in Wirtz and Nebraska is unknown to me ... but, I'll guess it at 2. Denver may, as well, be 2 hours from Wirtz. If so, then the Bull flying machine must have flown away from the farm some hours before the sun was up. Of course, we have to factor in the actual flying time ... but, that way lays madness. Let's just be happy that the man is now resting somewhere with a beer in hand.

5 Probably no longer a day for fireworks and Champagne and lawn parties.

6 "Much Ado about ... "

7 If untreated it gets worse ... much worse.


PS. This just in from "Mirth" Bull ... do you remember that he told us he was kicked back in Denver enjoying a cold beer and some "Rocky Mountain oysters"?

Well, the man has just cabled us a photograph of some of these strange oysters. Does this look like something that should be in the Christie's catalog? I think so!


Monday, December 17, 2001

Dearest Reader,

I really must postpone our tour of the Christie's salesrooms to bring you ... without interruptions by either NEWNES or Wescott ... these cables from "Mirth" Bull.

Much has happened to the man since his little 'indiscretions' with the farmer's daughter in Nebraska. The poor timing of his arrival at The Mustang Ranch ... storms on the American west coast ... 'explanations' to his long suffering wife, Bonnie ... the horrible plane crash in Iceland ... and God only knows what other things he will have to endure before he arrives in Patpong. But, Don has a dream that he will be here!

Read on, oh dear reader ... let him tell his story (along with a small bit from his wife):

Subj: Landed in Nevada
Date: 12/16/2001 5:11:12 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: corkscrew@bullworks.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

Alf,

After filling up on those Rocky Mountain Oysters, we finally got a break in the weather and took off once again on our journey to the PCC. We flew over the Rockies and had a smooth flight until we got to Nevada where we were brought down by some cyclonic dust storms. We landed at the Mustang Ranch near Reno and thought it might be a good place to spend the night. We asked a raggedy man wandering in the fields for lodging and he simply mumbled something about losing his investment in 1999 when the place when under.

Alas, much to our chagrin, the ranch had lost its previous charm. The girls have been replaced by tumbleweeds and prickly cacti.

We still have a few hours of daylight so we're going to try to get airborne again and shoot for overnight in San Francisco.

Never fear. We'll be at the meeting!

Don

btw...I have been referring to "we" in my trip progress messages. My co-pilot, Fritz, is a veteran pilot who has fought in several wars. I know I could not possibly make this trip without him. I do think he should be considered for honorary membership in the PCC.


Subj: West Coast Storms
Date: 12/16/2001 10:32:26 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: corkscrew@bullworks.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

Alf,

No doubt you've heard about the weather on the West Coast. This from CNN:

Snow, rain to slam U.S. West Coast

Wind, rain and snow threatened to hamper weekend activities Saturday on the U.S. West Coast. The National Weather Service issued high wind warnings for the Los Angeles and Ventura counties in California, while heavy snow and rain was predicted for Oregon and Washington.

In my last report, I told you we were planning to go to San Francisco and if you keep up with weather news, you may have sent up even more prayers for us. Worry not, almighty PCC head! We've done an about face and have decided to fly East to Bangkok instead of West. We took off from Nevada and had a super tailwind speed us Eastward and we have now put down for the night in the comfort of home in Greater Wirtz (http://www.bullworks.net/virtual/newstuff/wirtz.htm).

Don's Path

Tomorrow we shall start our journey anew with a flight plan to Goose Bay, Labrador, on to Ireland and the British Isles, continuing Southeast to Istanbul, then across the mideast, over Afghanistan, and onward to Thailand. Fritz assures me that we will be there for the meeting!

Don

P.S. Patpongette getting ready for the AGM.


Subj: Goose Bay
Date: 12/17/2001 1:30:20 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: corkscrew@bullworks.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

Alf,

We stopped off in Goose Bay.

Cold.

We're outta here.

Don


Subj: Message from Bonnie Bull
Date: 12/17/2001 4:39:11 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: corkscrew@bullworks.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

4:45PM EST - Bonnie Bull logged on to Don's home computer

Alf,

I was really surprised when Don showed up yesterday. He told me the story of his adventure (or misadventure) in trying to get to the PCC meeting. He said the 1140 air miles from Wirtz to Nebraska was tough, the 304 on to Breckenridge wasn't bad, and except for the sandstorm the 731 miles trip to Reno wasn't OK. When he made the decision to go East instead of West, he said he had a very fortunate tailwind guiding him back the 2140 miles to Wirtz.

He left very early this morning and was headed for Goose Bay, Labrador. Thank God he has Fritz with him. I don't think he could find his way on his own! He left his flight plan for me to relay to you:Flight Plan for Don

Wirtz - Goosebay: 1450 air miles
Goosebay - Reykjavick: 1540
Reykjavik - Dublin: 924
Dublin - Prague 902
Prague - Istanbul 902
Istanbul - Amman 748
Amman - Kuwait 721
Kuwait - Rawalpindi 1500 (I am worried about them flying over Tora Bora)
Rawalpindi - Kathmandu 833
Kathmandu - Bangkok 1370

I have no idea how they will accomplish that before the 19th but they certainly are determined to get to the PCC meeting.

Have a hot bath waiting for them, ok?

Bonnie Bull


Subj: Good news and bad news
Date: 12/17/2001 6:28:30 AM SE Asia Standard Time
From: corkscrew@bullworks.net
To: Corkscrew@aol.com

Alf,

Well we got out of the cold of Goose Bay and headed for Reykjavik, Iceland. The bad news is that we crash-landed at the Reykjavik airport. Our little plane was totaled. I got out without a scratch but poor Fritz, my co-pilot, was rushed off to the hospital with a broken leg, a broken arm, and an ulcerated left ear. We've said our goodbyes and wished him well. He wished me a good ongoing journey and sends apologies to the PCC.

Don's Path

The good news is that I ran in to my old friend Bernie Schwartz at the airport. I asked him to lend me a hand. It turns out he is now the right arm to some high-up mucky muck in the military and he found me a seat on a jet for Frankfurt in the morning.

For now Bernie and I are going out for some Puffin Stew and bottles of Viking Beer! To the Patpongettes...!

Don

Next: Part II

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