22 June 2013

The Time Traveller

I am not sure if I attract crazy fuckers or if subconsciously I seek them out. I met another one today - albeit briefly. There is a disproportionate number of mad people living here in Singapore. The island is full of them. It is quite possible that the incessant heat bakes brains and causes this madness or perhaps it is the insanity of the natives that has a rub on effect.

It could be a combination of both.

It has been a hell of a day. The smoke haze that has shrouded Singapore for the past couple of days has wreaked havoc at my place of work and at all places of work. The air is almost unbreathable. I have been running around trying to get things fixed in my office and I am utterly exhausted. Preventing the smoke from intruding into our building is proving impossible. Our air filtration system is state-of-art but it is in overdrive.

On my way home from work early this evening I stopped at one of my regular coffee shops for a strong hit of caffeine and a slice of wicked cheesecake. The cake was topped with blueberry puree and a generous dollop of whipped cream. It was stonking and it was delicious. As I was licking the remnants of my cheesecake from my plate a very skinny and extremely tall man came and sat next to me. He plonked himself down. I could tell instantly that he was deranged by his boggled eyes and the way that he was waving his hands around. He appeared to be swatting invisible insects away from his head.

The man was wearing a red and white striped tee shirt with cut off blue jean shorts. He had knee-high red and white striped socks on with patent leather sandals. His hair was wild and disheveled and he was wearing round spectacles that were balanced on the tip of his nose. They appeared to be held together by rubber bands and pieces of yellow tape. He was a splitting image of the character Wally from the children's book "Where's Wally?"

Here is a picture of the Wally that I am referring to:

"Where's Wally?" is a sort of a picture book that both my kids used to love when they were little. It is full of very detailed and colorful pictures.  Children are challenged to seek out Wally amongst a mass of people and images. I used to like it myself and I still do. Here is a pictorial example:

Wally is not easy to find.

"Are you alright there big fella?" I enquired to the Wally lookalike as he sat down.

"Non mon frère" he shouted at me.

'Shit' I immediately thought to myself. A crazy French fucker.

"What's the problem Frenchy?" I asked.

I instantly assessed that he was quite demented but that he was likely not too dangerous. I have a sense for such things. I don't mind talking to lunatics. I rather like it actually and am quite used to it. I work with many a moron and I have to deal with them on a daily basis. Crazies are very often quite interesting and entertaining. As already mentioned, I seem to attract them. Like nectar to bees. Like iron to a magnet. I must send out a psychic signal that says, 'come hither all ye crazy dudes'.

Frenchy let loose with a tirade of French. I could not understand a word.

"Merde" I interjected. This is French for "shit".

"Je ne parle pas Francais mon ami" I added. 

This translates to "I do not speak French my friend". Which is a bit wrong actually because I uttered this in French. So I do in fact speak some French - but very little. Un peu.

It did not dissuade him and he continued his tirade in French.

I shrugged my shoulders and gave him a I-do-not-know-what-you-are-saying-you-crazy-fucker look and he suddenly seemed to get it.

"Zees smoke is from a boom" he said.

"A boom?" I asked.

"A boom" he repeated.

"Ze Americans av drooped a boom"

"Oh a bomb?"

"Oui a boom. Zey have drooped a boom on zee Chinese"

"Pas mon ami" I replied.

This is French for, "No my friend"

"This smoke is from Indonesia where there are some very big fires" I informed him.

"Non Non!" he asserted. Loudly. He was gesticulating now and he was waving his hands around.

"Zee American peegs have drooped a boom on zee Chinese"

Any doubts that I may have had that this bloke was not crazy now instantly dissipated. It was obvious that he was as mad as a cut snake. He was as mad as a march hare.

The term 'as mad as a march hare' is idiomatic. A hare is a very big rabbit. The phrase can be traced back to the sixteenth century where it was first recorded in English literature. In a poem in fact. The month of March was the start of the breeding season for wild hares and during the breeding season very horny male hares were apparently often observed to behave very strangely and quite erratically. They would leap into the air and spin around. They would stand on their hind legs and shadow box invisible opponents. They were considered to be quite mad.

The phrase was first recorded in a poem written in the year 1500. The poem was titled, "Blowbol's Test". It included the line, "Thanne bey begyn to swerve and to stare - and be as brainless as a marshe hare". This is 'old English'. Writing it has greatly distressed the spellcheck function on my Mac and I have had to manually over ride the auto correction. In modern English it would read, "Then they began to swerve and to stare - and be as brainless as a March hare"

The March Hare and it's association with madness became much popularized in Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. The March Hare was a very enigmatic character in this tale and he was indeed both mad and erratic.

There is a great deal of speculation about Lewis Carroll and his possible use of hallucinogenic drugs. There is some evidence to suggest that he was a user of laudanum. This was an opiate pain killer that was popular during the latter part of the nineteenth century. I like to think that Caroll just had a very vivid imagination. His writing is wonderful.

"Listen mate" I said to the French crazy.

"I am well aware that the Americans love to drop booms on people but I can assure you that they have not boomed the Chinese. This smoke is from fires that are raging in Indonesia"

"Zee booms have been drooped" he insisted.

He smiled very knowingly at me as he said this but in a demented and a little bit scary fashion. His nostrils were flaring as he grinned at me and a little drool leaked from his mouth onto his chin.

"How do you know this?" I enquired.

I was genuinely interested why he would think such a thing.

"I have seen this and I have seen zee booms being drooped back" he replied.

"Booms have been drooped back?" I asked.

"Oui booms have been drooped back"

"On America?"

"On zee whole world. Eet has been destroyed"

"That doesn't seem very likely" I scoffed.

"We would have seen it on the news. Why do you think such an event has occurred?"

"I am here from zee footure"

"You are from the future?" I enquired.

I ever so subtly pushed back the chair in which I was sitting now. I wanted to put a bit more distance between myself and the dude. The thought entered my mind that he might perhaps be a little dangerous after all.

"You are a time traveller then?"

"Oui. I am from zee footure" he screeched.

"You have a time traveling machine?"

"Non Non!" he yelled.

"I am zee machine of traveling time"

One of his legs then began twitching uncontrollably and his eyes rolled into the back of his head. I noticed that some of the other customers in the cafe had stopped their conversations and were openly staring at us. Some were gaping. I didn't blame them. I sensed that it was time for me to make an escape from this nut - as quickly as possible.

"OK dude" I said.

"I must leave now and get home to the safety of my bomb shelter. I am worried about the booms"

The lunatic laughed and again began swatting at things that I couldn't see. I scooped up my half finished cup of coffee and rose to my feet. Everyone in the cafe was looking at us now and many of them looked quite alarmed.

I was quite alarmed myself.

"Au revoir mon ami" I said to the mad French man as I began to cautiously back away from him.

"Perhaps we can meet here again last Tuesday?" I suggested.

"Before the booms drop"

He grinned manically at me and nodded enthusiastically.

I then turned and walked away as quickly as I could.

I didn't look back.

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