It is a rainy Sunday and God has returned to Singapore. I have just come back from a late lunch with him where I somewhat ironically ate steamed fish with some unleavened bread in what is a continuation of my valiant effort to attack my alarming fatness. God however piled into a prime fillet of beef with a side order of fried potatoes – all washed down with a bottle of French claret. He loved it.
He really did.
My lunch mate God is not the Christian deity. He is my friend Godwyn from the Netherlands. He is a Banker who I have written about previously in an article I entitled “Tulips, Cheese and a Dutchman called God”. God once lived here on the Island however he moved to London a year or so ago.
He forsook Singapore.
I generally enjoy the company of Dutch dudes for they live by an underlying principal they refer to as "gedoogbeleid". Like many Dutch words it is as difficult to pronounce as it is to spell. There is no direct or literal translation of the word but God informs me that it more or less means ‘we-don’t-really-give-a-fuck’ or ‘we-don't-really-give-a-shit-because-there-are-bigger-things-to-worry-about’.
I like the concept.
God is a somewhat secretive fucker. When I asked him why he was back in Singapore he informed me that it was work related but he was unable to elaborate any further. This of course drove me mad so I bombarded him with questions throughout our meal about the nature of his business dealings. He responded with resolute ‘ney’s’ when I asked him if his visit related to bonds, agriculture, metals, and futures but he baulked a little when I mentioned armaments. I therefore strongly suspect that God is now a weapons dealer. I told him that I wouldn’t tell anyone if this were the case and I even endeavoured to play the "gedoogbeleid" card - but the word got stuck in my throat and I near choked on a stalk of broccoli.
God staunchly refused to divulge any further details.
Whilst God was mopping up his gravy with a high calorie white bread roll I excused myself from the dietary temptation of the table and walked down to the Seven Eleven store to replenish my dwindling cigarette supply. When I asked the shop attendant for my particular brand of the cancer causing sticks I was shocked to be asked for my Identification card.
“You want what?” I enquired.
“I need to see your Identity Card la” the bespectacled local shop person replied
“New Law la”
“Since when la?”
A series of withering ‘can’ and ‘can nots’ were then exchanged – interspersed with the obligatory and inexplicable ‘las’ that Singaporeans so love to utter.
The shop attendant then pulled out a document that stipulated effective from the 1st December cigarettes and alcohol could not be sold to anyone in Seven Eleven stores in Singapore if they were under eighteen. This has always been the case but apparently identification is now also required to be provided to demonstrate proof of age if shop attendants believed that the purchasers of these products appeared to be younger than fourty.
Yes fourty. I kid you not.
Some readers who are not familiar with the madness of Singapore may doubt this but I assure you that it is true.
Look it up yourself.
“I look like I am younger than fourty?” I asked
The shop attendant shrugged.
I took this is a yes and reluctantly showed him my Employment Pass. To my chagrin he then wrote the number down.
For the record I am older than fourty.
When I returned to the table I found that God had ordered an aperitif. When I related to him the cigarette encounter he too shrugged in a nonchalant Dutch "gedoogbeleid" fashion and then proceeded to tell me that Singaporean Customs officials had confiscated his electronic cigarette and accessories when he entered the country yesterday.
The electronic cigarette is a diabolical looking contraption that uses some form of non-flammable and odourless liquid rather than tar and chemical rich cancerous sticks. It is designed to assist smokers kick the light-me-up habit, so of course it is illegal in Singapore.
Many things are.
I lit up a cigarette whilst I awaited the coffee that I had ordered and I could tell that God was itching to partake. The sight of me smoking seemed to cause God to lose a little of his "gedoogbeleid". When I offered God a smoke he however declined - declaring that he was determined to kick the habit. I nodded my approval as I blew smoke in his face and I could feel God’s "gedoogbeleid" dissipate further.
I then told God that in my five years of coming and going from the Island I had yet to be stopped by any Immigration or Customs officers at all. Not once. I also told God that I was quite keen to be stopped when I returned back to Australia – purely for the sake of being filmed on the show Border Security.
God appeared puzzled so I had to explain that Border Security was a very popular reality television program where people entering Australia were filmed whilst committing – or being suspected of committing - Customs security offences. This included the smuggling of illegal drugs into the country or more often bringing in prohibited food products.
God asked me why I wanted to be on such a show and I informed him that I had yet to have my fifteen minutes of fame that is owed to every individual on earth and I saw being on Border Security as one of my last remaining chances.
I informed God that in the Border Security show Customs officers named Bruce or Charmaine would interrogate often-terrified overseas visitors in thick Australian accents about why they had secreted a packet of peanuts in their suitcases. They would then mercilessly handcuff them for hours whilst the nuts were being analysed. I told God that quite a few of the overseas visitors could not speak any English and that when Bruce or Charmaine had established this - they would continue to speak to them in English – but now very slowly and very loudly. When God asked me why they did this I shrugged in a "gedoogbeleid" manner and told him that it was the Australian way.
When my coffee arrived I lit up another cigarette and God became increasingly agitated and somewhat irate. I asked him again whether he wanted one and he declined in rather a rude and abrupt fashion. I have seen the wrath of God before and I had no wish to encounter it again so I quickly finished my coffee and I endeavoured to settle the bill. Despite my objections my Dutch Banker friend insisted on paying so I relented.
Who am I to defy God’s will?
I am sitting here now recording all these events and my tummy feels empty and it is rumbling. I seem to always be in a constant state of hunger now as I persevere with this accursed diet – and as I attack the fatness that has engulfed me. Although I was sorely tempted to eat a steak with my Dutch friend at lunch today - or at least take one of his delicious potato fries - I am proud of my resistance.
Despite my deceit about my smoking Mum - I swear that I have been keeping the faith with this diet.
God is my witness.