4 December 2013


I have just returned from the extraordinary meeting of the Owners and Tenants Committee in the Condominium complex in which I live and it was – well extraordinary.

It was me who called for the extraordinary meeting for when I returned to the Island last week I was appalled to discover that an enormous and hideous Christmas moose had been erected in the foyer of the apartment complex. The creature is huge, imposing and unsmiling and I hold grave fears that it will distress the small children who reside here.

It greatly disturbs me.

When I confronted Mr. Tan about the moose and demanded its immediate disposal he informed me that he did not have the authority to remove it. Mr. Tan is the building manager of the complex in which I live. I then requested that an extraordinary meeting be convened of the Owners and Tenants Committee to discuss the matter.

I have previously attended two meetings of the Owners and Tenants Committee and both were brilliant. At the last meeting I elected to speak primarily in Hunter S Thomson quotes and for the session that I have just returned from I spoke as many proverbs as I could.

Proverbs are metaphorical sayings that have been around for a long time. There is a book of them in the bible that are unimaginatively titled ‘The Book of Proverbs”. Chinese culture also has them and a very wise dude named Confucius liked to speak in them. The English however probably have the most recognised number of proverbs.

I like them a lot.

As I had requested the extraordinary meeting I felt obligated to bring some food for the Committee members to enjoy. I had previously bought Tim Tam biscuits that were very well received by all in attendance. These are delicious Australian chocolate biscuits. I purchased a pack of double choc Tim Tams and I also went to the Swiss Bakery and bought a beautiful flan. A flan is a sort of cake thing with custard in it. Despite obtaining it from the Swiss bakery - the flan is an English dessert.

On the Owners and Tenants Committee are four Tans - two of whom are a couple, one is the Building Manager – the little fellow Tan – and there is another man Tan. There are three male Tan’s and one female. There is also a Mr. Sim, a Mr. Lim and a bloke called Howard. All were in attendance for the extraordinary meeting.

Prior to the commencement of formal proceedings I offered up the food that I had bought with me. I took no small amount of joy in re-uttering the question ‘Tim Tam Mr. Tan?’ as well as ‘a slice of flan Mrs. Tan?’ I was even more delighted when they all replied ‘can’. Singaporeans commonly use the word ‘can’ as a replacement for ‘yes’.

I love it and it’s counterpart ‘cannot’ and I use them a lot in general conversation.

I was close to euphoric when Mrs. Tan – who is the recorder of minutes for the Owner and Tenants Committee - asked me if I made the flan.

“Can Mrs. Tan” I lied.

“How do you make it?” she asked

“I cook it in a pan Mrs. Tan” I fibbed again.

When we had eaten our fill we all moved to the meeting room table where the Building Manager Mr. Tan commenced proceedings by declaring that I had raised an objection regarding the Christmas creature in the foyer of the complex. He then turned the table over to me. I thanked the three Tams, the Lim, the Sim and Howard for attending the meeting at short notice then I threw in the first of my proverbs.

“I am aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder however in my opinion the Christmas creature that has been erected in our foyer is an abhorrent and fearful beast and I am seeking the Committees’ input to determine what exactly it is - and then to insist on it’s immediate removal” I declared.

“I believe that it is a Christmas moose that has no place in Singapore and it has the potential to frighten the small children that live here,” I added.

“I believe that it is a Reindeer” Mr. Tan the Building Manager offered.

“It is a mouse,” declared Howard.

He shot his hand into the air when he said this and there was a manic grin on his face. Howard is a seemingly mad individual who I am very fond of. I discovered by happenstance after the last meeting that Howard owns many of the apartments in the complex as well several large Companies in Singapore. He is a very wealthy nut.

“It is the same animal we have every year,” Mr. Lim said.

“Familiarity breeds contempt Mr. Lim” I retorted – successfully using my second proverb for the evening.

"All good things must come to an end."

I added in a somewhat desperate attempt to use another.

“It is a dog,” Howard then declared.

Mr. Tan cast Howard a disparaging glance that deterred Howard not a bit and Mr. Tan then started to wring his hands. I know Mr. Tan well and he wrings his hands when he is anxious.

He is anxious a lot.

There was then a moment of awkward silence where the only sounds in the room were Mrs. Tan’s pen scratching away as she furiously wrote down the conversation in the official Minutes - and Howard loudly licking and sucking the custard of the flan from his fingers.

“I believe the creature to be a Canadian Christmas moose – and a terrifying one at that,” I declared.

“I call for a vote of the Committee to have it removed and to replace it with an animal that is less frightening and more Singaporean

“Fortune favors the bold,” I proverbially added.

Crazy Howard shot up his still flan-covered hands in what I can only assume was a gesture of agreement.

“What animal are you suggesting?” the Building Manager Tan enquired.

“In Australia we have the Christmas kangaroo” I lied.

“Perhaps we should have a Christmas lion?” I then suggested.

Singapore is known as the lion city although to the best of my knowledge no lion has ever occupied the Island – or if it has it has long been eradicated.

There seemed to be a general air of agreement in the room at this suggestion and I think I sparked a degree of national pride.

“Let us vote on whether the Christmas moose should be replaced with a Christmas lion,” Mr. Tan proposed.

Two Tans, the Lim, Howard and myself raised our hands.

“Actions speak louder than words,” I said in what was to be my penultimate proverb for the evening.

“Let us remove the scary Christmas moose whilst we see if a Christmas Lion can be found” I added.

Again two Tans, the Lim, Howard and myself raised our hands.

“I shall arrange for its removal in the morning Mr. Peter and commence a search for a Christmas lion” Mr. Tan responded.

The meeting then dispersed and I was pleased with both the outcome and the fact that all Tim Tams and the flan had been consumed. I caught the lift down with a distressed looking Mr. Tan and a beaming Howard. In the lift Mr. Tan informed me that he didn’t think that Mr. Sim was very pleased with the outcome. As I alighted at the sixth floor to go to my apartment I bid both men good night. However before the lift door closed I delivered my final double-barreled proverb for the evening - and I could see Mr. Tan wince as I declared:

“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs Mr. Tan - and when the going gets tough – the tough get going”

I thought I heard Mr. Tan groan through the closed lift door but it could have been my imagination.

I love the Owner and Tenants Committee meetings.

I really do.

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