Always look on the bright side of life

Always look on the bright side of life

In difficult times like this it is always a bit tricky writing a light-hearted column supposedly of a jocular nature, although admittedly often failing in that respect. But we have plenty of writers to handle the serious stuff, so PostScript will battle on regardless, albeit in a slightly subdued fashion.

There have been entertaining moments in all the misery. In Rome a 60-year-old lady was not amused when she was arrested and fined for walking down the street with her pet turtle "as big as a pizza", according to eyewitnesses. When she argued that people were allowed to walk their dogs so why not turtles, she was told her turtle didn't have a leash. Considering the speed of the average turtle, it was hardly likely to go sprinting off into the distance. Some Italians are reportedly renting out their dogs to citizens who do not have canines so they can go outside and have a walk without being arrested.

The virus has sparked a host of musically-oriented selfies, some quite classy, others quite awful. Just about everyone is showing off their musical skills even if they haven't got any. Perhaps the most moving musical moment was the Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli singing in an empty Duomo Cathedral in Milan on Easter Sunday. It was watched on live streaming by up to 30 million people. Quite uplifting.

Everyone's doing their bit, including irrepressible Dolly Parton reading bedtime stories for the kids. Now who could resist that? Meanwhile, North Korea's answer to the coronavirus was to fire a series of cruise missiles into the sea. It must be working because it is one of the very few countries that miraculously doesn't have a single recorded case of the virus.

Captain Tom

Hats off to World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore, who at the age of 99, raised more than 20 million pounds for the NHS by pushing his zimmer frame for 100 laps in his front garden in Bedfordshire. Tom, a Yorkshireman, will celebrate his 100th birthday on April 30. On his final laps he was flanked by honour guards from his old Yorkshire regiment. His daughter Hannah summed him up: "He's a typical Yorkshireman, so he's very stoic, very controlled and takes everything in his stride."

Captain Tom seemed genuinely amazed at the response he garnered from the public, saying "I am just a granddad doing a few laps of the garden." He added "it's unbelievable that people have been so kind. The sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away." Tom certainly earned all the "Captain Fantastic" headlines in the British tabloids.

Well done sir -- a true inspiration.

The Dry Mango

Although Songkran was officially postponed, I wondered if there might be the odd covert water-fight somewhere on the back streets of the Big Mango. Thankfully that doesn't appear to have been the case which is quite a tribute to Thai folks, especially the youngsters, considering what normally goes on. Never have the city streets been so dry in mid-April, apart from a couple of welcome rainstorms.

The weirdest Songkran in Bangkok was back in 2009 during the "troubles", with street demonstrations creating quite a serious situation. On my way to the Bangkok Post that week my taxi had to take a very roundabout route. Some streets were blocked by demonstrators, while on others we were thwarted by traffic jams prompted by Songkran celebrants chucking water, blissfully disregarding the tense situation. All rather surreal.

Burnt offerings

These days when you are cooped up at home even the most trivial things can become a major incident, which brings us to extremely trivial domestic news. Last week I burnt the potatoes.

My head was buried in an internet article on how to stop going mad in self-isolation, when the wife asked "what's that smell?'' I had totally forgotten I was boiling potatoes and sprinted into the kitchen to find a blackened saucepan with not a trace of water and two sorry-looking burnt spuds. I must have inherited this culinary expertise from my mum. She was a terrific cook, but now and again she burnt the potatoes, primarily because she was doing several other things at the same time. I think they call it "multi-tasking'' these days. My dad would have his little joke by announcing "mum's burnt the potatoes again", but I gave her moral support with "don't worry, I like burnt potatoes" which actually was true, as long as they weren't totally cremated.

Anyway, if there are any mums out there who have experienced kitchen disasters in these coronavirus times, join the club.

Taking the cake

Burnt food reminds me of a classic culinary cock-up an American diplomat in Bangkok experienced some years ago. It was a Christmas Eve dinner which was to be highlighted by the plum pudding being ceremoniously brought to the table aflame, soaked in brandy. The grand moment arrived and the domestic staff proudly brought out the burning pudding to warm applause from the distinguished guests. There was just one problem. The burning pudding was in fact a burning Christmas cake, rapidly turning into a sorry mess of melted icing, prompting a strangled gasp of horror from the host. Due to a language miscommunication, the kitchen staff had set fire to the wrong item. At least they didn't burn the potatoes.

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Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

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