2 June 2013

Brass Monkeys

I have once again had a consultation with the Mr. Tan who is the Manager of the building in which I reside. The consultation was this afternoon. According to Mr. Tan a further complaint has been lodged against me and this time the complaint was lodged by the Security guards of the complex and not Jens my deranged and dangerous Danish neighbor.

This afternoon Mr. Tan rang me on my mobile telephone and politely asked if I could come down to the Building Manager's office to discuss a matter with him. I replied that I could and I went down straight away.

I had a fair idea before I went down to the office what was going to be discussed. Yesterday morning I arose very early and left my condominium to do a Big Walk for a fund raising event for a charity. I have described this walk in a previous article and the walk in which I partook was madness and I am suffering badly from the after effects. Walking down to the office caused me a great deal of pain as my legs are still aching from the grueling exercise that I undertook.

I awakened yesterday morning at 5.00 am and I left my apartment complex a little before 5.30 am. This was very early for me. As I departed the complex I rapped on the window of the security guard's office to awaken the two sleeping guards who were inside. These guys are always asleep. Day and night. As I have also described in previous articles I have been engaged in a battle with these men for quite some time. I make a point of waking them whenever I arrive at or leave from the complex in which I live. They get annoyed by this.

It amuses me.

Despite my sore legs I rode my bicycle over to Starbucks this morning for my usual Saturday morning coffee and toast. The ride is not very far and my legs were OK with pedaling. Different muscle groups must be used for walking and pedaling. I was not gone for very long and the security guards were both awake when I returned.

The boom gate on the driveway to my complex was up as I rode towards it but it lowered suddenly as I neared the entrance. It caused me to stop suddenly and I nearly fell off my bike. The boom gate is located adjacent to the guard house and I could see that both guards were smirking in delight at my near demise. They had obviously endeavored to lower the boom gate on me and I was not very happy.

I was not very happy at all.

The smirks on the faces of both guards quickly disappeared as I dismounted my bicycle and limped angrily toward them. They both looked visibly alarmed.

"What the fuck do you think you are doing?" I demanded of them.

I said this in a slightly raised voice through the grill of the glass window of the security guard room.

I was quite cross.

"You could have killed me if that had come down on my head"

Both of them looked cowered and one of them said, "It was an accident"

"Yeah right" I retorted and I gave them a withering and savage glare.

"If you do anything like that again I will set you both on fire" I added.

Then I limped back to my bicycle and pushed it up the driveway and into the lift lobby.

I should point out that I do occasionally threaten to set people on fire however I would never - and have never done such a thing. I consider it more of a figure of speech than a genuine threat. I am not a man of violence.

I am a pacifist in fact.

When I arrived at Mr. Tan's office I knocked on the door and I entered. Mr. Tan was alone and was he seated at his desk. The Air Conditioning was blasting at full throttle and it was very cold inside.

It was a very hot day today.

"Good afternoon Mr. Tan" I announced and as he stood I shook his hand.

"Good afternoon Mr. Peter" he replied returning my handshake.

Despite the fact that most of my interactions with Mr. Tan have been complaint related, our relationship has always been most cordial and respectful.

"Are you alright Mr. Peter?" he enquired.

He had noticed me grimacing as I sat.

"My legs are very sore Mr. Tan" I explained.

"Yesterday I did a very big walk and my muscles are battered and bruised".

"I am very sorry to hear that' Mr. Peter" he responded.

"May I get you anything to relieve your pain?"

"I am fine thank you Mr. Tan" I declared.

I was touched by his genuine concern.

"However would you mind turning the air conditioning down? It is very cold. You could freeze the balls off a brass monkey in here"

"A brass monkey Mr. Peter? Balls?" Mr. Tan asked.

He looked both puzzled and bemused.

"It is an expression to say that it is very cold Mr. Tan."

Mr. Tan reached into his desk drawer and immediately turned off the air conditioning unit with a remote control unit.

The term that it is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey harks back to the nineteenth century. The balls that are referred to are not testicles. Naval sailing ships were equipped with cannons that fired iron balls.

Think pirate ships.

These iron ball projectiles were stacked in a triangular fashion on brass racks that were referred to as 'monkeys'. God knows why they were named thus but it was probably pirate-like talk similar to, "Ahoy me matey". 

Apparently when the weather was very cold the metal racks contracted and the cannon balls sometimes fell off.

This is how the term came about.

I related this story to Mr. Tan and he nodded his head knowingly but I could tell that he thought that I must be quite mad.

"So Mr. Peter our security personnel have informed me that you have told them that you are intending to set them on fire'.

"I did indeed tell them that Mr. Tan"

"You must not do that Mr. Peter"

"I never actually would Mr. Tan. However they tried to knock me off my bike this morning because I keep on waking them up"

"They are sleeping?"

"Only sometimes" I said.

I am at war with these guys but I do not want them to lose their jobs or get them into too much trouble.

"It was a very bad joke on my behalf Mr. Tan and I was not in a good mood"

"But they are sleeping?" he persisted.

"I think just once and perhaps I was mistaken. They may just have been resting their eyes and it was very early in the morning"

"They must not be sleeping when they are working"

"I don't think they are Mr. Tan. We have never been invaded by terrorists so I think that they are mostly doing a very good job".

I was back tracking a bit now. I really don't want any of these guys to incur the wrath of Mr. Tan or to lose their livelihoods. The job of a security guard is very boring in Singapore and I would imagine they receive a very low salary. Nothing ever happens that even vaguely resembles a security threat on the Island and they just sit in a small office and do nothing really. Those residents who have cars use key cards to activate the boom gates when they enter and leave and my act of waking them up is more of a game on my behalf and I mean them no harm.

"So you will not be setting them on fire Mr. Peter"

"I most certainly will not Mr. Tan" I reassured him.

"I am relieved to hear that Mr. Peter. That would be a very serious matter"

"I agree Mr. Tan. I will go now and inform the guards that it was a poor joke on my behalf"

We both stood and we shook hands again as I left his office. It was a relief to step out into the heat from his freezing office.

I limped painfully down to the Security guards office where the same two guards were seated. They were awake and fully alert and again looked quite alarmed at my approach.

"Listen guys I am sorry you thought that I would actually set you on fire but I was very pissed off that you tried to lower the boom gate on me this morning" I explained.

Both nodded their heads nervously.

"I will however continue to wake you up every time that I see you are sleeping"

They again nodded their heads nervously and unsmilingly.

I then took my cigarette lighter out of my pocket and I flicked the flame a few times - just to keep them on their toes.

Then I wheeled around and walked my way painfully back up the driveway.

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