Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Guitar lessons

DH has been taking guitar lessons for over a year now, off and on as dictated by his work. The tutor, Beefy, is very laid-back. There isn't a grading structure or anything, it's just about showing him tips and tricks to get the right sound. He's doing really well, and I can hear improvements every night when he practises.

DH asked me to come along to the last few lessons too, to add the backing so that he has more confidence to make mistakes, and Beefy can go off on one of his solos without putting DH off. It works well, and I'm having fun too.

At the moment he's learning Dire Straits' So Far Away From Me and last week we did Lady Writer. We've done Let It Be and Imagine, and the Eagles' Tequila Sunrise, and a pile of other songs like Hey There Delilah and Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. And of course Hotel California because you have to, but not with Beefy - he's had an overload of that over the years! The other song that DH loves is Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight, but he has to do that one alone with Beefy because it's on my list of worst ever songs, along with Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red haha!

I can hear DH playing the intro to So Far Away From Me. I'm going to have that song in my head all day now!

Monday, 30 March 2009

It's not my birthday but...

...look what came in the post last week! It's a bumper pack of handmade, acid-free metallic papers for my card-making and scrap-booking.

It just said inside "I saw this and thought of you" - isn't that the sweetest thing?
Thank you Anmarie! XXX

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Some people have way too much time!

I was sent this on Facebook, and I think it's one of the best videos I've seen for a LONG time. See what you think.

It's clean, I promise.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Singapore Flyer

Here is another layout that I did for Scrap Whispers Challenge 20. We had to scrap-lift this layout:

Scrap-lifting means taking an existing layout (LO) and copying it, using your own photos and papers/embellishments. The design can be rotated or flipped, and actually doesn't have to bear much resemblance to the original except for the inspiration. I stayed fairly faithful to Georgina's design:

Friday, 27 March 2009

Friday funny

Do you ever worry about the NHS at all? You should... These are sentences actually typed by medical secretaries in NHS Greater Glasgow.

1. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

2. Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital.

3. Patient's medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.

7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

9. Discharge status:- Alive, but without my permission.

10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert, but forgetful.

11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

12. She is numb from her toes down.

13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

14. The skin was moist and dry.

15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.

19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our care for physical therapy.

20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

21 Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

23. Skin: somewhat pale, but present.

24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

25. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

26. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

27. When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.

28. The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel and crashed.

29. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

30. She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.

31. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smith, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

32. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.

33. By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better.

(with thanks to Tony...)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Good deal of cards

My friend Lorraine called me the other day. She said that at her local shopping mall a scrap-book shop had set up a sale stall until Sunday. Stickers, rub-ons and embellishments were going for S$10 for 10 items which is value indeed. DH took me there on Saturday to have a poke around. On the $10 table I picked out 2 packs of 5 pre-embossed card blanks and 8 packs of various things for my $10. When we got home I had a fun afternoon playing with my new toys. Here's what I created.

Thanks Lorraine!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Entertainer?

I just realised that I forgot to update about my piano lessons. I've signed up for a course of 10 half-hour sessions at the local Yamaha shop. It's not designed to give a grading or a certificate, but they do aim to teach you how to play a piece before the end of it - depending on how much practise you put in of course.

I love Scott Joplin's music. I really wanted to learn his Sunflower Slow Drag, but we couldn't find the score. Or the Maple Leaf Rag - but that has a scary amount of black notes. So we've settled for The Entertainer, which is in C major.

My teacher is a lovely Japanese girl. We spend rather more time clarifying language problems than we should, but that's OK if she doesn't have any lessons after mine! She's set me scales and exercises to practise too, and I'm noticing an improvement already.

There's one thing I can't get my head around though. She's given me the first 9 bars to learn! Now anyone who knows anything about music will know that it's mathematically rhythmic. You can't just stop after 9 bars. That's like singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and stopping just before the second "little". Ouch. You can learn 8 bars, or 12 bars, or all 20 of the first phrase, but NOT just 9. So I'm being a teacher's pet and learning more because the soul in my body won't let me cut it short.

So far it's just about recognisable, but as fast as Grandpa Simpson on dope. My next lesson was supposed to be this afternoon, but I just had a call to say that the teacher is "on MC" (?) and can they "cancel" it until next Wednesday, same time. See what I mean about the communication trouble? Well, I have another week now to see if I can get the speed up to sound more like the effort of a severely arthritic tortoise.
Listen up Heffalump Child. Revenge is sweet. LOL

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Revenge on Heffalump Child

DH was sitting in our lounge on Saturday surfing on his new MacBook, when Heffalump Child started clomping around upstairs and dropping small metallic objects that bounced across the marble floors. We exchanged a few pointed comments about why the parents can't buy the kid a foam play mat. We wondered whether it would be diplomatic to buy one and leave it outside their front door with a message on "with love from your downstairs neighbours". Teehee.

I confessed to a small black mark on the ceiling where I'd lost my temper with a broom handle. It worked though. The noise had stopped instantly. DH looked at me with interest, then got up from his chair and put a CD into the player. Possibly a little louder than was strictly necessary. The clomping paused, then continued. DH turned the volume up just slightly.

Now whether we drowned out Heffalump Child with it (and remember that construction work and a thunderstorm combined couldn't manage that) or whether it was surprised into silence, we couldn't quite tell. But something worked.

We discussed the piano again (I haven't played it since the German twinkle episode) and DH said yes OK they could probably hear it but there's no way they would be bothered by it at the volume level I have. Phew. That made me feel lots better.

Then we got ready to go out. To my surprise, DH didn't turn off the CD player. We grinned at each other and left...

Monday, 23 March 2009

Junk food

DH and I were in this Japanese food court a while ago. There was a local girl in there wearing this fantastic t-shirt with a logo across the chest saying "SAY NO TO JUNK FOOD". Wow, I thought - I need one of those!

On our way home, we stopped off at a shopping mall which had a lot of designer t-shirt shops (and a Mac shop, which may or may not have been DH's reason for actually suggesting that I looked for clothes - hehee!)

One place looked particularly likely: New Urban Male, the home of the Roger Hargreaves Mister Men and Little Misses t-shirts amongst other wacky brands, AND they were doing a buy-2-get-20%-off. We browsed and each found a t-shirt that we liked - DH's had Scooby-Doo playing a rock guitar and mine was Little Miss Curious. Very appropriate!

I asked the Singaporean lad about the t-shirt. I said I'd seen this fantastic t-shirt logo which said "say no to junk food", and had he heard of it and did they stock them here? He said "yes, over here." Well my eyes just about popped out. Seriously? I'd hit the jackpot in the first shop I'd tried? He lead me over to a clothes rack and waved his hand "all these". ALL these? Hmm. I looked. None of them had that logo on the front. Hmm. What could he think I meant? I looked closer. Aha! The labels! This whole range of t-shirts had the brand name "junk food". I've never even heard of it. I suddenly felt very elderly indeed...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Scrapbook of a scrapbook

I've been working on my first mini-album. My first scrapbook was of DH's parents' Ruby Wedding Anniversary. That was what got me started in scrap-booking, and the album was a gift for them. I took photos of all the pages, and logged how each page came together, but that wasn't enough for me - I wanted that physical album to look through again! As the album is 6000 miles away in their home, I decided to make a mini-album for myself, journalling the making of that album and using the photos of the pages, as well as papers and embellishments left over from it.

Here is the finished result.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Promoted out of the bathroom?

Every Thursday a group of 7 friends get together and paint at our condo. One, Lorraine, is an artist, and she introduces us to new techniques and guides our attempts at making beautiful art. We've been meeting since 2005 and we began working with water-colours, then last year Lorraine started us on acrylics.

I don't think I'm alone in being dissatisfied with many of my paintings. Most creative people seem to feel that way about their own work - but that's good because it makes you want to improve. I joke whenever I bring home my latest attempt, that here's another one for the bathroom wall.

Patricia brought in a beautiful double-panelled painting that she had bought on holiday last year, and the whole group fell in love with it and wanted to paint their own. Everyone had different ideas and used individual techniques, which was fascinating. I finished my own 2-panel piece using gesso, acrylics and Chinese ink yesterday. It's one of my favourites ever, and I really think it might make it out of the bathroom!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Funny of the day

One day my mother was out and my dad was in charge of me. I was maybe 2 1/2 years old. Someone had given me a little tea set as a gift and it was one of my favorite toys.

Daddy was in the living room engrossed in the evening news when I brought him a little cup of 'tea', which was just water. After several cups of tea and lots of praise for such yummy tea, my Mum came home.

My Dad made her wait in the living room to watch me bring him a cup of tea, because it was 'just the cutest thing!' My Mum waited, and sure enough, here I come down the hall with a cup of tea for Daddy and she watches him drink it up.

Then she says, as only a mother would know,

'Did it ever occur to you that the only place she can reach to get water is the toilet?'

(with thanks to Sarah for sending this to me)

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

It's a maid's life

Yesterday when I was walking down to the supermarket, a young Filipina maid stopped me to talk. Her employers were leaving the country and she was asking around to find new work. She obviously didn't trust her agency to find her something. She said she looks after a 3-year-old, and when I asked if she had children of her own she said she had two, of 8 and 10, who live with her parents in the Philippines. She is separated from her husband, and hasn't seen her children for 2 years. She was desperate not to see them again, but to find work so that she could send money home to feed them.

This sounds awful, but it's an all too common story. The women are expected to work to feed the family, while the men... well... do what they want to. This often seems to involve smoking, gambling and drugs with their mates rather than working. Children are cared for by their grandparents. Of course I have only the women's versions, because I don't meet a lot of Filipino men here - but maybe that tells its own story.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Piano pianissimo

I got into the lift after my run today with our German neighbour from downstairs. I asked him how his guitar lessons were going and he said he was having trouble finding a teacher. I mentioned that DH had lessons and he lifted his eyebrows in a little questioning German twinkle (I only just caught it) and his fingers played an imaginary piano. I rattled on about no that was me, DH played the guitar, and where, and the conversation (if you can call something that lasts 18 storeys that) went back to guitars, then he got out.

Since then, my mind keeps returning to that little German twinkle, and I can only conclude one thing. They can hear our digital piano. And I've been banging on and on about the noise that Heffalump Child upstairs makes. Oh the shame of it - I'm blushing as I type. My only consolation is that I haven't really played it that much, and not late, but um... possibly a little louder than normal. Well you have to try it out don't you?

My piano lessons start this week. So the next gadget on it that I'll be trying out is that headphone socket.

On a more uplifting note, I've finished the ScrapJazz March Layout Challenge: to create our own background using stamping, painting etc. instead of using patterned paper, and to use bling in the title. As water-colour painting is another hobby of mine, I've been meaning to do something like this for a long time. I love how it's turned out!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Crafty Sunday

Today DH has been trying to catch up on his rest after a hard week of early starts, late finishes and late nights. He hasn't been noticeably successful, bless him, because Heffalump Child has brought some similarly hooved little friends home with it and thunder clouds have started rotating above the apartment.

Meanwhile I've been having fun in the craft room. This is for a challenge on ScrapJazz, a chance to use the new DCWV Citrus paper stack I got last week on offer, and to make a card for a friend's birthday. I had so much fun that I couldn't stop at one card, and there are several more similar cards in various stages of completion.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Rainbows and Moonbows

Earlier it suddenly started rumbling (the sky, not the construction) out of an apparently blue sunny sky. It does this sometimes. You have to go and look out of the window on the other side of the building to see the storm-clouds. And there were two ends of a lovely rainbow. Of course, being the tropics, by the time I got my camera it had faded to this:

Can't see it? Neither can I, but it's there, just above the two buildings on the far edges. Ah well.

We did better with the moon. On Wednesday it was full moon. Full moons in the tropics are incredibly dramatic and compelling. (They also seem to herald the craziest driving behaviour, but that's another story!) A few nights later we were just going to bed, when I saw a bright rectangle of light on the floor and went to the window to look up. You kind of have to, don't you?

And there it was, just past perfection, with the top left "corner" clearly showing its craters. The mackerel clouds around it glowed with muted rainbow colours, and I ran for my camera. Although it was past bedtime and DH had to be up at stupid o'clock in the morning, he was just as enthusiastic and went to get his proper camera with the telephoto lens and fancy doo-dahs.

Here's my moonbow photo:

Here's his fancy schmancy beautiful crater photo, without a tripod:

Just wow, huh?

Friday, 13 March 2009

What was that? I can't hear you

This has been a noisy week, but today is the worst of all.

Have I mentioned about Heffalump Child? It recently moved into the apartment above us, along with High Heels Mother. It runs races with itself from one end of the apartment above us to the other, several times a day for about half an hour. So I hear bang bang bang bang bang bang BANG BANG BANG bang bang bang bang bang bang, over and over again. It also has a fondness for wooden blocks, and child and maid seem to spend more time throwing them around the marble floors than seems strictly necessary.

The Wednesday mosquito "fogging" has now been changed to Tuesdays and Fridays, so for an hour on those mornings we get what sounds rather like an industrial leaf-blower. This signals that it's time to close all the doors and windows, stay inside, and whatever else I do, DO NOT put anything down the rubbish chute if I don't want to get a cloud of stinking insect repellent blasting up into my face.

You can't call the daily thunderstorms exactly quiet, either.

But all this (except Heffalump Child - NOTHING drowns that out) has been eclipsed by the renovation work to the lift lobbies on floors 4, 14 and 16. They're hacking up the quarry floor tiles and replacing them. They're using jack-hammers. We're on floor 19, and it sounds and feels as if they're working right outside my front door. The warning notices said this would be 9-4:30 (except Saturday afternoons and Sundays) from the 4th to the 11th, but it didn't start until the 11th so I suppose we've got this until next Wednesday.

And on that collection of discordant notes, I'm going out! Actually on second thoughts, I think I'll wait until after the fogging's finished, and hope the rain holds off.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Automated system FAIL

I can post about this now that the gift has arrived. I couldn't before, just in case Mummy and Daddy were reading this blog - teehee!

Let's say you placed an on-line order for a surprise present for someone's beautiful, special baby in a different country. It needs batteries so you order those too from the same company. Both items are showing as available and in stock. You've paid extra for gift-wrapping, so presumably they've worked out that it is, in fact, a gift.

Then you get an e-mail from the company saying that the batteries have been dispatched and the main item will be sent later. DUH. Spoil the surprise, why don't you??? Didn't it occur to you that a pack of batteries arriving in the mail unannounced might possibly give the game away? Or even worry the recipient?

I'm off now to find a "banging-head-against-the-wall" emoticon.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Lesson of the day

I will not try to put hair into pony-tail while walking through a doorway...

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Safe keepers

My DH is so sweet to his craft nut. Last week he brought home a couple of little plastic soy sauce lidded pots for me. He'd saved them from his and his colleague's lunches, thinking that I might be able to use them for storing things in. And he's right - they're great for my small but chaotic sequin collection.

As a contrast, earlier that day I was in our local scrap-booking shop and the woman in front of me in the queue was spending nearly S$200. She asked for her purchases to be put into a brown paper bag rather than one with the shop's logo on.

Wow. Thank goodness I'm married to my DH! But then I didn't spend S$200, and my purchases were all in the 25% off sale, so maybe he's thanking his lucky stars he's married to me!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Not running right now

Is this a good enough excuse not to go for a run just yet?

12 minutes later:

An hour and a half after the first picture, it's still raining and like twilight:

It's 5 hours later now and it's still raining. No run today me thinks.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Brisbane therapy

I realise that my screwed-up brain needs to get this out into the open, to stop the pattern of mulling over and over it. Every time someone mentions Brisbane (sorry Kazzam!), our little holiday incident bubbles up and an hour later I'm still feeling angry over it. This bus-driver has a lot to answer for.

We're at the end of our holiday-of-a-lifetime. We've been to Australia! We've seen Uluru, Sydney, Australia Zoo, Surfer's Paradise and Magnetic Island in the Whitsundays on the Great Barrier Reef. We're now on our final day before flying back to Singapore. We had a superb meal in a fish restaurant on the waterside the night before, but the hotel is in the cruddy end of town, and is seriously bad. You can't really blame the tour operator: all they go on is stars, and the owner of this place must have slept with someone fairly influential to achieve their rating. The inside looks like and smells that smoke-stained concrete you get at football stadiums, with a/c water running down it. The buffet breakfast is run by foreigners who are unable to provide any food I could eat and won't even cook up an omelette for me. No apologies, just irritated shrugs. We're back in our room, thankfully packing and planning a walk in the park before a leisurely taxi-ride to the airport.

We're interrupted by a call from reception. There's a mini-bus outside waiting to take us to the airport. We know nothing of this. The tour operator must have booked it without telling us. DH cuts his toilet time short and we finish flinging our stuff into the cases and hurry downstairs. DH still has to check out and the bus driver is very impatient. After 3 minutes he's threatening to take our stuff off the bus again. He demands to see our booking slip, which we haven't got. I apologise and explain. He throws up his hands and marches back to his seat muttering. DH gets on the bus full of apologies which are completely blanked. We raise our eyebrows at each other as the bus takes off at full speed, rocketing us all around. The other passengers are shooting us looks too.

We get to the airport. DH off-loads our bags, while the driver holds out his hand to me. Oh right, so the travel agent hasn't arranged payment then. I ask how much. He answers $14 in a oh-for-f's-sake voice. Well we're about to leave the country so we haven't got a huge amount of change. DH offers him a 50. He looks at it as if it were used toilet paper and says "I'm not changing THAT". DH finds a 20. He throws up his hands again and stomps off saying all too audibly "I'll pay it my f***ing self then" before roaring off in a cloud of smoke. We realise at that point that he must have meant $14 each. Oops. I was jangled for hours afterwards.

I'm now going to put myself into the bus driver's shoes. He's late. Again. Every flipping person he's had to pick up has been late. And then his boss threw this last-minute pick-up at him on the opposite side of town. He can't let 15 people miss their planes, or he'll be sacked. And glory be, they're not even ready! When they finally appear they haven't got their paperwork in order. Then at the airport he's got to deal with a pair of idiot Brits who don't seem to know their asses from their elbows. Frustration over-flows into angry words of which he's thoroughly ashamed so he runs away.

It was a shame, because that was the only time we experienced anything less than down-to-earth friendliness from the Australians. It was more of a shame because it was our last and lingering memory of our visit there, and the rest of it had ranged from pretty good to superlative. (Apart from a Saturday night in Surfer's Paradise aka Vomitsville but somehow that doesn't stick in my craw so badly.)

Well thanks for reading, if you've got this far. Hopefully having got all that out there, I can lay it to rest, and maybe one day think nicely of Brisbane again. Your comments are very welcome to aid my recovery!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The evil kiddie-scarer

I didn't know whether to laugh or be upset in the pool yesterday. I was the only person there, so I put my towel on a table on top of my keys, and got in the pool. After a few lengths, I turned at the "deep" end and saw a maid just strapping arm bands onto two yellow-haired pink-faced little girls dabbling around in the shallow end. The maid then dumped all her clobber down at the same table as my towel! Um, why? You have 20 empty tables to choose from all round the pool, and you have to pick mine?

I breast-stroked slowly back, watching to make sure she didn't touch my stuff. I was gradually aware of a look of alarm on the faces of the little girls as they watched this red face getting closer and closer to them through the water. I changed direction slightly so that I wouldn't be swimming straight at them, but they stood up and stared at me then ran back to the safety of the maid. Of course I then had to get out and go to "their" table to get my things. They stared at me as if I was Jaws himself. I felt awful!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Running out of health

I go to see an osteopath fairly regularly, just to stay lined up. Last time he told me that my joints were as stiff as an old lady's and that I really needed to exercise. And no, walking to the supermarket and back with heavy bags 3 times a week did not count. Neither did walking 20 minutes into town instead of taking a bus. Doh. The thing is, I'm small (5'2.5"/160cm, and 112 lbs/8 stone/52kg - depending on what language you speak) and naturally fairly muscular, so you wouldn't automatically think just from looking at me that I needed to lose weight or get fit.

So I set myself a goal of exercising twice a week "to start with", I thought optimistically. The first week I swam. Boring boring boring. So I wondered about jogging, which I haven't done for years. You have to understand that jogging in 31 degrees of heat is not a thought that makes me spring out of bed in the mornings.

But Royal Sporting House are doing this deal where you trade in your old running shoes and get 25% off a new pair of selected brands. Cool. So I... er... got the bus into town yesterday with my old trainers and chopped them in for a snazzy new pair of purple Reeboks. And... er... got the bus back. Well it was raining.

And today I took my new Reeboks for a run. Oh my. I must be woefully out of condition. I was red-faced, leaking out of every pore, hammering heart, wobbly legs - aagh! My first run was 2km followed by a quick change and 4 lengths of the pool just to cool me down. A bit pathetic really. I'm planning on building it up to a point where I don't have to keep stopping and gasping for breath. There's hope. I mean I didn't know whether I'd keep up the blogging, but I'm still here, aren't I?

Apparently blood type Os like me are supposed to need exercise. Well this fitness regime had better pay off...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Ugly Naked Guy

We live on the 19th floor of a condo block. This occasionally affords us unsought but tantalising glimpses into other people's lives. Anywhere I have lived, but especially in this country where public nakedness is actually illegal, I find it bizarre that people would allow their unclothed or intimate moments to be seen by anyone who might happen to be glancing casually in their direction. I mean, we close the curtains - don't you?

So the couple who spent one evening lying on their bed watching TV together in the altogether, with the light on, the windows open and the curtains and goodness knows what else blowing in the breeze was a bit of a surprise to us. In that strangely compelling attraction of Big Brother, every time one of us got up to get a drink, we'd just have to glance out of the window and comment "they're still there".

There's a guy in the block opposite us, a couple of floors down. We've seen him before, taking off his socks and hanging them up to dry. We've never actually caught him putting them back on again, but you can't help wondering, can you?

I was talking to Mum on the phone the other day. Now I usually wander from room to room, looking out of the various windows while we chat. I had to interrupt her account of the shocking weather in England to tell her about a much more exciting event unfolding opposite. Sock Man was out on his back balcony, taking off his clothes and putting them into the washing machine, garment by garment. It was one of those train-wreck, can't-look-away moments, you know?

And do you know what? They don't have tan lines.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Happy Harry and friends

In our last condo, we had Happy Harry the car cleaner man. I have no idea what his real name was, but he was a little, very dark Indonesian who had the widest smile and the whitest teeth I've ever seen. He also had a convenient command of English. That is, he understood "S$50 a month to clean your car sir", but he didn't understand "but my wife says you didn't clean it once during my 2 months' business trip away so I'm only paying for October..." He'd just give that enormous innocent smile until DH coughed up the dosh. He also had this amazing ability to beam and wave cheerfully at us as we drove into the underground car park under lobby A, and somehow manage to be waiting for us as we parked up under lobby J without being out of breath at all. On payment days. Of course. Maybe he had a colluding twin brother.

Often as we wove our way through the car park pillars, we spotted Shirt On Pipe Man. He was a Chinese Singaporean who would park up after a day at the office, unbutton his shirt, then take a coat hanger out of the car boot and hang his shirt up on one of the water pipes that hung from the ceiling. Sometimes I would come back down to the car park to deposit my bottles and newspapers in the communal recycling bin, and the shirt would still be hanging there. We never saw whether he walked to his apartment half-clothed, or whether he had a t-shirt in the boot.

Another person we never actually saw was Scary Merc Parker. We only had the evidence: the silver Mercedes abandoned across a selection of parking spaces, so that it effectively took up at least two if not three spaces. This was a head-shaking, eye-rolling, forehead-smacking habit that had the most impact when the car park was full. As it would.

Give me time, and I shall acquaint you with some of the characters from our new condo.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

My hair is a science experiment

Today we decided to go for a walk at Peirce Reservoir. DH had seen monkeys there when he was last driving past, and he wanted me to see them too. So we set off armed with mosquito repellent, sunscreen, umbrellas, sunglasses and a spare pair of shoes. As we drove out of our south-facing condo we got our first sight of the drama unfolding in the northern sky. Think of bright cream and white sunlit buildings against a purplish navy backdrop with pale grey candy-floss wisps racing across at building-top level. Think of tropical monsoon season. Think of the barely believable daily 3 o'clock downpours reported by holidaying friends and on those National Geographic documentaries. Yup, we were going to get very wet indeed.

We headed north, with me oohing and wowing in the passenger seat, and DH watching the road ahead for the first signs of buildings disappearing into a sudden haze of water. We saw a girl hailing a taxi by the roadside, her long black hair blown into a rippling banner with the ground-gusts that herald the rains. Then the bucket tipped on top of us and the flashing and crashing started. We saw an entire bus shelter crammed with what appeared to be a motorcycle learner's class, and suddenly we were driving through lakes the width of the road. The windscreen wipers couldn't go fast enough. It eased off as we turned off onto the road through the rain-forest to the reservoir. Those pre-storm winds had brought half-trees down onto the road. And there were the monkeys, sitting in little bedraggled groups around parked cars. As we watched, food was thrown from the windows, in blatant disregard to the signs up everywhere.

We carried on and parked up near the reservoir to watch the storm. We could see the lake, a light apple green in the dim light, and the swathes of rain turning the trees on the far banks into tinted mist layers. Treetops appeared, then vanished again. We suddenly saw a building roof which hadn't been there before, and then the tops of two red and white transmitter towers emerged from the haze - but not the bottoms. The lightning forked and flickered around us, and with the car engine switched off, we could feel the thunder through the soles of our shoes. A big group of at least 14 youngsters was hanging about under one of the rain shelters, but they were taking photographs, studying together, laughing and talking - there was no sign of mischief. We sighed, wishing it could be like that in England.

After the conversation we always have between my restless and impatient self and my calm electrical engineer DH about the dangers of umbrellas and thunderstorms, he finally agreed that the storm was calm enough to go for a short walk. We set out along a straight path, with the water on one side of us and fields and trees dropping down, down to the distant Kallang river on the other. We were fish-spotting. It was still spitting, rumbling and flickering. DH suddenly looked at me differently. He said "your hair". I said "what? I know it's a mess" smoothing it down. He said "it's sticking straight up" Huh? I have long, heavy, curly hair tied into a pony-tail. It simply doesn't do "up". But it was.

Did you ever play with a Van-de-Graaf generator in Physics lessons at school? You know those gadgets that you put your hand on, and they generate a static charge, then you touch someone and they get a shock and scream? And those little hairs on your head stick up? Well that was what mine was doing. Then there would be a lightning bolt and it would go down again. Then rise back up until the next strike. DH stared around at the ominous skies, and decided very firmly that we shouldn't be there any more.