Nuan is the cat's whiskers at Apec

Nuan is the cat's whiskers at Apec

The most important news emerging from the Apec summit in Bangkok is that it looks like Downing Street's Larry the Cat has finally got some competition in the ranks of feline celebrities. Catching the eye in the Big Mango this week has been Nuan -- a lady cat who has been adopted as the unofficial mascot for the Apec meet.

Nuan has been living in the compound of the Foreign Ministry for a couple of years and appears to be well-trained in public relations.

The friendly feline has quickly built up a good relationship with the reporters at press conferences, nuzzling up to them and "purring" at appropriate moments. Nuan has also been quick to spot photo-ops, readily posing next to Apec posters.

She is definitely more friendly than Larry who has a reputation as a cat with "attitude" although this is probably required in his official role as "chief mouser". Nuan has reportedly also had some success in nabbing rodents.

Unlike Larry, the Thai moggy doesn't have a Twitter account, which is probably just as well.

It is a comforting thought that 35,000 policemen have been deployed to ensure nothing goes wrong at the meet. Let's hope that the crooks in the rest of the city are thoughtful enough to take the weekend off.

Naturally the roads to the convention centre have been cleared for the delegates. You could even feel a trifle sorry for these VIP visitors who are whisked around the city without a hint of a traffic jam.

They might feel that they've missed out when they return home without heroic tales of battling horrendous gridlock. A mighty Bangkok traffic snarl ranks up there with a war wound as a conversation piece at dinner parties.

Banking on Bangkok

One of the first major Meeting of the Minds which Bangkok hosted was the World Bank/IMF gathering back in October 1991 at the same location.

To ensure things ran smoothly on the streets, the authorities sensibly announced an instant long holiday to encourage citizens to leave the Big Mango and head for Nakhon Nowhere.

What they didn't want was for the bankers to experience a Typical Traffic Day in Bangkok.

There were also very real fears of flooding and if there was a hint of soggy socks, VIPs were to be whisked away by helicopter. Fortunately the weather behaved itself.

The big meet at least provided a splendid sign at one venue which read: "Wormest Greetings." Well, the thought was there.

Brolly folly

It also turned out that the World Bank people at the 1991 event didn't have as much money as people might have first thought. This could only explain why, out of 1,000 umbrellas loaned to them, only a couple of hundred were returned at the end of the meeting.

Of course this was probably just forgetfulness. I mean, international bankers would not stoop to pinching cheap Thai umbrellas, would they?

Gently Bentley

Last Monday the BBC celebrated the centenary of is first radio broadcast on Nov 14, 1922 which carried a news bulletin featuring London fog, an Old Bailey Trial and billiards results. Those were the days.

That was even before my time but I do have fond memories of BBC Radio while growing up in the 1950s. In the days before our house acquired its first television in 1953, the radio was my family's main source of entertainment.

On chilly winter nights I recall my dad sitting in front of the coal fire chuckling away to the popular Take It From Here, billed as a show "in which anything can happen and probably will". Starring Jimmy Edwards and Dick Bentley, it produced one of the first and most enduring catchphrases when Edwards came out with his cautionary "Gently Bentley" exhortation. Anyone whose surname happened to be Bentley had to put up with that retort for years to come.

The voice

In those early years there were some splendid voices on the radio. The great thing about radio was that it didn't matter what you looked like as long as you had a good voice. Hence the old joke "You've got a good face for radio". Winston Churchill's stirring wartime radio speeches would not have been nearly so effective if it wasn't for his rich voice.

The voice I must have heard most regularly was that of newsreader Alvar Lidell who was a regular from 1936–72. His voice was the personification correct BBC English. This was quite remarkable considering his parents were Swedish.

Lidell became a household name during WWII. After 1939, fearful of impersonations by enemy propagandists, the BBC ordered all newscasters to give their name over the air at the start of the broadcast. Thus "here is the news and this is Alvar Lidell reading it" became a familiar and comforting message during the war.

Fair play

On to something else very British. After a two-year break owing to Covid, the Ploenchit Fair returns next Saturday from 10am to 9pm at Bangkok Patana School. Door tickets are 300 baht for adults, children 150 baht. Organised by the British Community in Thailand Foundation for the Needy (BCTFN), it'll be a terrific day.

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.

Email : oldcrutch@gmail.com

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