Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Chicken's Revenge

"Don't finish all of the gravy"

These where the instructions I received last Saturday as we sat in SUNTEC's food court finishing a meal of Vietnamese chicken curry.

As the shard of bone embedded itself in my throat my wife's instruction was still ringing in my ears. There are few words to describe the feeling when you instantly know that you have ignored sensible advice and are about to suffer the consequences.

So began my week. For the first couple of days I was of the opinion that the offending shard would make its own timely exit. By Tuesday I was not so sure and on Wednesday I took myself off to the company-designated doctor.

Waiting in a Singaporean doctor's is an interesting experience - very efficient and if you have three hours to spare you could try for a walk-in appointment (which isn't an appointment at all).

My first visit resulted in a the classic probing by spatula and a packet of strong medicinal lozenges. I have been anticipating that the medico might assault my larynx with a length of flexible tubing but this was not to be. An X-ray was suggested but I declined.

The next day I returned saw another doctor at the same clinic and took the X-ray. No bone fragments were in evidence but just to be sure you recommended I visit an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at Mt Elizabeth hospital.

As this second consultation had taken most of the morning I decided to press on with the specialist appointment mid afternoon. At least I would have piece of mind.

Punctually at three o'clock I arrived at the E&T clinic. One can always spot the difference between a doctor's and a specialist clinic.

The doctor usually has one online machine to extract payment from your credit card, whereas the specialist will often have up to four at reception to make sure that they can extract their fee from what ever card you choose to use.

The other thing about specialists' clinics is that they are often small and have their walls festooned with graphic charts and diagrams of the body parts that are about to examine. My specialist had these illustrations in 3D extruded plastic.

The half hour examination was nowhere near as unpleasant as a colleagues had predicted it would be. The laryngoscope is a miniature camera attached to a very fine cable which was fed down my nose.

As the patient in the chair you are able to watch this 'Journey to the Bottom Of My Throat" on a large screen at the same time as the specialist soothingly describes the procedure. I have to say that normally the last thing I want to see on any screen is an operation. I prefer to channels but this was not going to happen.

No chicken bone was in evidence so we can assume that what I was feeling was the after effects of the bone - a phantom effect which is not uncommon.

Having carefully extracted the wafer thin tube the good doctor then proceeded to burn me a disk of the investigation for my personal record. Thus far I have resisted the temptation to share it with others on YouTube.

$300 poorer I made my way to the surgery door. Full of assurance he said that it would appear the offending object had departed, but he couldn't be totally sure as sometimes small bones get covered by skin very quickly.

I could always come back and see him if need be........

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Cramping One's Style

Here in Singapore the sport of choice is soccer, or football as it is termed by all concerned. Coming as I do from a rugby loving nation, the term 'football' applies to the New Zealand national game and that is not soccer.

It is the S league that dominates in these parts and it is about the only thing worth watching on local television.

There has been a bevy of scantily clad young women that have recently appeared on our small screens mid week, but I expect their tenure will be short lived as their 'show' S factor has been universally panned.

I digress. The S league is lively and it is noticeable that there are large numbers of imports in all teams; aging Europeans, wiry Koreans and the odd Australian (and I do not mean this in the literal sense). There are a good smattering of Malay and Indian players but very few Singaporean Chinese.

Inter country rivalry is also to the fore when Singapore plays other countries such as Myanmar or Indonesia. It is not uncommon for players from the opposing team to violently object to a refereeing decision, manhandle the Ref and watch off the pitch en masse.

Playing at altitude is not a problem in Singapore, although the same cannot be said for a local Brazilian team. Their team doctor has decided to prescribe viagra for all players in the belief that the little blue pill will improve blood circulation.

One can only imagine that this well meaning prescription would very much cramp their style and their stride.

The other thing that is cramping everyone's style here in Singapore at the moment is the return of the heat. The past week has brought brain-curdling heat with little respite. We must just hope for a refreshing thunder storm or two to drop the temperatures a couple of degrees.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

There's Money In Muck

.... or more precisely in old sewing machines.

According to a story on the BBC today there has been a collecting frenzy in Saudi Arabia.

The item of choice, old sewing machines. No doubt the Saudi populace were placing enormous bids on EBay for these items as well.

If the details are to be believed the asking price for these vintage treadles has gone as high as $50,000.

Why might one ask has the humble Singer suddenly become so collectible? The answer is simple; they were victims of a hoax.

A mythical substance called red mercury was believed to be present in these old machines and the lucky owner could make a fortune as it purportedly can help with the discovery of old gold or the making of a nuclear bomb.

How do you know if your machine has this substance? There is a simple test. If you place your mobile phone next to the machine's needle and the line cuts off, that proves the existence of the substance.

What this story actually proves is not the existence of 'red mercury' but just how gullible people are. I doubt very much that President Ahmadinejad has been stockpiling sewing machines but one cannot be sure.

Could this whole story be a CIA fabrication to divert attention away from plutonium?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Spam Print .............................................................. Roger Smith

It's Good Friday, the weather is hot and humid and we have just returned from a lunch at Redhill market - satay bee hoon from the best purveyor of this fine cuisine in Singapore. There are some who claim that a stall on the East Coast is better, but for my money Redhill is best and it is only one stop down the MRT line from where we live.

On the subject of food (is there any other subject in Singapore?), not such good news regarding the deaths of two people and the hospitalisation of nearly 150 others from food poisoning at a hawkers stall.

The Indian Rojak stall at the Geylang Temporary Market was the offender and from the accounts coming out in the media the hygiene standards in the market have been simply appalling - surely an indictment on the levels of supervision from the inspectors who are meant to be monitoring these eateries.

According to the Straits Times it is the Vibro parahaemolyticus bacteria caused by the cross-contamination of rojak and raw seafood ingredients that caused the outbreak. It probably does not help that the market is also rat infested - 51 caught in just one night.

Speaking personally, I will not eat from any Indian hawker stalls, based on my observations of their food handling (and I mean handling) and the upset stomachs that result. Most Chinese stalls have reasonable standards as do the Malay, although in the case of the latter I have had a bad dose of "Delhi Belly" during my time here from eating at a Malay stall.

Even the Health Minister has come out and bewailed the deteriorating standards in Singapore, although this belated commentary will be of little comfort to the families who suffered and are continuing to suffer from this food poisoning outbreak.

It goes without saying that we have never had any such problems with the Redhill satay bee hoon stall.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Singapore, Crossroads of the East

This clip is from the Travel Film Archive and shows Singapore before the Japanese occupation.