Shock And Aww

Singapore’s extreme humidity is generally a bad thing for me.

The eczema I’d had my entire life here disappeared completely for the 4 years I was in England, only to return with a vengeance almost as soon as I returned.

I trekked happily through Turkish desert heat with no problems, but every time I perspire here I break out in heat rash.

In England my hair is capable of being fairly attractive. In Singapore it is an unmanageable mess of frizzy curls unless regularly and expensively fried to within an inch of its life.

When I was giving my flat in London the final massive clean before moving out, I spent days surrounded by dust-thick air with not a single adverse reaction. In Singapore the mere act of sweeping or vacuuming renders me snot-nosed (or more accurately, sdot-dosed) for the next hour.

By now I bet you think this is another of my pointless I-hate-Singapore rants and are beginning to think that this blog has seriously jumped the shark.


None of the above is the point of this post at all. It is all merely prelude to my referring you to this discussion on static electricity and the stroking of cats, which has given me the first reason ever to be grateful for humidity.

Yay humidity. Yay fingers and faces buried in warm fur, yay little damp noses on smile-plumped cheeks, yay purring shock-free footrests. Sparks fly daily between my family and this beauty, but they’re all metaphorical.

Girder (Nan Cohen)

From Girder, by Nan Cohen:

“I am a figure in a logic problem,
standing on one shore

with the things I cannot leave,
looking across at what I cannot have.”

This Is KNN

My Civil Procedure paper was wild. Two fiendishly long questions and 40 short questions in 3 hours, each one of which involved frenetic flipping and re-flipping through voluminous notes and statutes, with an exhausted mind that had gone completely blank. I don’t know why anyone even bothers with extreme sports when they could be getting their adrenaline rushes from doing death-defying examinations in Civil Procedure.

So anyway, after an indulgent dinner at Michelangelo (Me: This panna cotta is so wonderful, it’s solid cream! Everyone else: Michelle, that just sounds really gross), I was reading IS on the bus home and found finally, finally, a DJ at Zouk who I’d bother leaving the house for! Meat Katie! He was there last Saturday. Kan ni na.¹

I have to echo Laces’ plea for Zouk to bring in some interesting DJs and stop being so goddamn pedestrian. I want Diplo and Michael Mayer too. Also DJ/Rupture. Also Akufen. Amon Tobin. The Scratch Perverts. And world peace.

As I do every now and then, I was surfing around to find out how London is, and found out that DJ/Rupture was at 93 Feet East with Supersoul on Sunday, Ty is at Cargo tomorrow, and Eclectic Method are doing weekly video mashups at Herbal.

Again I am reminded of my grim theory that if the amount I saw and did over four years in London is anything to go by, the amount I’ll have missed this past year and over the next six is just…depressing. Then why, you shriek in aggravation, do you keep CHECKING UP ON WHAT YOU’RE MISSING, MASOCHIST? The answer is: because one of my biggest fears is ignorance. I would rather know what’s going on where things actually happen, even as it makes me chafe at my limited options here, than escape back to London years from now and be completely out of touch with everything that used to excite me so much.

In the meantime, I’m sitting at my computer listening to Amon’s Solid Steel Presents and shouting KAN NI NA to a funky beat.

¹ Definition here

Herbal Viagra For The Clubber’s Soul

If you haven’t heard of Pojmasta yet, bow down and worship anyway, because he’s in my DJ pantheon and this is my blog. Not content with rocking my subwoofer with his mixes of Toxic (glitchtastic!) and Milkshake (disco!) and Lucky Star (as uncategorizable as the original!), his recent 30 minute Scummer Mix is masterful and creative and groovy as fuck.


Meanwhile, over here Zouk is on some sort of “Most Boring Fabric DJs Ever” trip with James Lavelle and Lee Burridge, the Heineken Green Room Sessions are continuing straight and unerringly down the middle of the road with Thievery Corporation, and from what I’ve heard so far the big hip-hop DJ at Zouk Out this year is Jazzy Jeff, who is good but I’ve already seen him twice.

No one can deny that a decent stream of big-name DJs come to Singapore, and if time and money permit I’m perfectly happy to go see them. It’s just that I feel that where the sort of clubbing music that fascinates me is concerned, London is charging ahead and I’m stuck here doggedly trying to get enthused about the famous but bland, imagining Russ doing his “bored dance”. (Props to Andrew Chow though. Phuture is my little oasis of joy when he spins.)

So, has this been yet another rant about missing London? Mostly, but not totally. There are a few things that help me cope with not being in London, and one of them will soon be here. Normally I’d be gnashing my teeth about not being able to see Pojmasta at Herbal on 8 October, but given that I will be lying on Sibu beach with Alec on that day, I wouldn’t be anywhere else for the world.

Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover

London is the meanest ex ever.

I’ve spent the past year trying to get over our breakup, trying to convince myself that I’m happy with Singapore. Sure, this new relationship may not be as passionate or exciting or bloody-fucking-gorgeous as London was, and yeah there are still awkward silences on most of our dates even a year after we started going out, and yes it’s true that I spend most of my time and energy trying to avoid its hot sweaty hands, but at least Singapore is safe and reliable and it’s trying its best.

Who needs passion once you’re past a certain age anyway? You don’t need fire in your loins, you just need to be able to share a five room HDB flat¹ without killing each other. I can exist in Singapore. Who needs to live?

If I repeat this to myself several times a day I even begin to believe that I believe it. And then I find out that Battleship Potemkin will be shown on a huge screen tomorrow in Trafalgar Square, with a new soundtrack performed live by the Pet Shop Boys. For free.

I know London’s moved on and is having a great time without me, but this is really rubbing it in.

¹ Public housing

Don’t Think Of A Blue Elephant (Tangents Inspired By Love Actually)

A conversation yesterday:
Ken: So, Michelle, how’ve you been doing?
Me: Well, I’ve been having problems resettling into Singapore, and I’ve been missing London a lot.
Ken: Then whatever you do, don’t watch Love Actually.
Me: I’m watching it tomorrow.
Ken: Then watch it with someone you fancy. It’s a great date movie.
Me: I’m watching it with my mum.

Not the most promising prelude to Love Actually then.

Every time I go to the movies with my mum, I always manage to forget that apart from being witty and quirky, British romantic comedies are also fairly crude, or at least more so than their sanitized American counterparts. So there I am in the first two minutes of Love Actually, sitting in a cinema next to my mum as aging rock star Billy Mack gets the words to a song wrong for the umpteenth time and bursts out in a stream of “Oh fuck wank shit arse…” And while she isn’t quite so Puritan as to stand up and walk out or anything like that, she’d probably find it rather strange if I gave into my sudden impulse to sigh in happiness at the sound of those English terms I miss so much. “Wank”. “Arse”. And later in the film, “bollocks”.

Ken was right. The sight of London on the big screen almost physically knocked me back into my seat. The ice skating rink at Somerset House. Panoramas of the Thames. The Millennium Bridge. The Erotic Gherkin. Charing Cross Road. I could smell the winter air, feel the tug of my coat on my shoulders as I stuffed my gloved hands into its pockets, and hear the silence of London on Christmas Day.

The opening and closing scenes of the film make a big deal about how the arrival halls of Heathrow abound with love as people reunite. My first thought: my moments of highest emotion in Heathrow were always spent alone. Forget the arrival halls, every time my plane touched down on the Heathrow runway, I was already bursting with love. In the arrival halls, Russ would usually be there with a big hug and a strong arm for my bags, but the few times he wasn’t, I still walked through the airport, totally alone, giddy with happiness, straight onto the first bus for central London. When I left, forget what I went through in the departure hall saying goodbye to Russ and Alec – at least then I could cry freely. Sitting at the window of the plane as it accelerated and slanted skyward, surrounded by strangers, my face pressed against that tiny oval, and my body turned wholly away from everyone else so they didn’t see it shuddering as I tried to hold back sobs…well, let’s say that’s part of the London experience that wasn’t documented in this film. Unfortunately, it, too, came back to me vividly.

So I sat through this film, filled with scenes of the place I love, sounds of the accents I love, jokes in the humour I love. I didn’t even feel the slightest desire to rearrange Andrew Lincoln’s annoying fishlipped face the way I normally do. Conversely, my usual lust for Colin Firth was wholly overwhelmed by longing just to be walking the same London streets. (Don’t think I don’t realize how crazy this sounds, how mawkishly sentimental, how downright “unpatriotic”. I know.)

And all the time I sensed a creeping dread that at some point, this film had to end. When it did, with those scenes of the Heathrow arrival hall again, and the opening notes of God Only Knows, something triggered a perspective switch, and then only the most rigid control was keeping me from bursting into tears. Because in one week’s time, in the Changi Airport arrival hall, that will be me. That will be Alec. God only knows what I’d do without you. God only knows what I did to deserve you. I have lost London, but I still have so much.

Last of the summer wine

The entry begins as a flippant comment on how it probably doesn’t do much for my indie cred to be giving props to the new Fountains Of Wayne album, but fuck me, Mexican Wine is catchy, and then I think about a line in the song (“but the sun still shines in the summertime”) which is undeniably vapid when considered in a vacuum, but less so when I realize I no longer live in a place where “summertime” has any real meaning; when I realize the last time I had wine, Mexican or not, was the Saturday of the weekend I left England, when we finally went to Incognico and things were said that keep me going on lonely nights here, when we went to the South Bank and the Royal Festival Hall had been transformed from cheerless 60s edifice into a phantasmagoric Bollywood playground (we missed the stunt skateboarders in saris, dammit) and the night was a riot of colour and exuberance next to which my past two months here can only be described as monochrome.

[I realize this represents a bit of a regression from my recent efforts at perspective. It can probably be chalked up to the fact that I’ve had a shitty week, and the weeks to come offer no respite. But fear not. I continue to see the glass as half full, it’s just that right now I happen to be drowning in it.]


Despite having to study an entire Master’s course worth of intellectual property law, mostly from scratch, in five days, I am trying to keep calm. Grooving to mixes from Manitoba and Akufen on The Breezeblock. Splitting my sides at Rent-A-Negro (and revisiting Black People Love Us just to read the stupid people on the letters page who take it all seriously again). Marvelling at this unbearable furriness of being (link found at Marking favourite Margaret Atwood poems with paper clips in my book to see if I can find some of them for you online – More and More was all I could find.

I’m gagging for Thursday to come and the exams to finally end, so I can write properly again instead of all this linking, gosh durn it. I’ve never really found blogs that just link you elsewhere particularly interesting, and am rather frustrated that lately this seems to have become one. But any actual writing I might have done would have been brimming over with I-miss-London angst of the “There’s an ad on TV that features London. I miss London. I’m reading the newspapers about the blackout in London. I miss London. I’m watching BBC World and the newsreader has an English accent. I miss hearing the English accent. Whine whine whine!” variety anyway, so count yourselves lucky. When the exams are over I promise to seek a replacement life.

Home Sour Home

Recent silence is due to the severe illness of my laptop. It happens every summer when I come home – frequent freezing, blue screens of death, restarting itself (and I use Windows 98 so the Blaster worm doesn’t affect me), switching itself off, telling me “Operating system not found” when I try to start it again – and the problems magically disappear when I bring the laptop back to England. Except of course this time there’s no return to England in sight, so I think my baby is toast.

This is just great. Not only does Singapore reduce me to a miserable existence – constantly red eyes, nose won’t stop running, eczema reappears – it also targets one of the few things that makes life here bearable.

As you may have gathered, I am extremely grumpy right now.


I have nothing to say right now that isn’t about jurisprudence (quick summary: love Socrates, hate Dworkin, think Fuller lacks precision, originality and intellect), and outside all is malaise and greyness.

And it occurs to me that I would still rather live here with every day like this than be back in Singapore with no worries and blue skies every day.

I have neither the time nor energy to wade through angst towards clarity, so for now I’m not bothering with either concept. I just want to stay.