These were two words uttered quite loudly earlier to me this evening.
I was seated at the time at the Spinelli café - on my way home from work. It is something I do everyday.
I consume a short double shot vanilla latte with now only a half a teaspoon of brown sugar.
I was also consuming a bowl of steamed seasonal vegetables I had bought from my favourite Hokkien restaurant in the Novena shopping centre.
I eat there at least once a week and know the two sisters who own and run the place very well.
They are delightful company and most excellent cooks.
When the “Hey Poida” was repeated it was this time only inches from my face.
The voice was male and booming and I knew immediately to whom it belonged.
I was wearing my headphones at the time and listening to music.
I do this often.
Wear my headphones.
Listen to music.
I heard the first “Hey Poida” and chose to ignore it.
Willing it to go away.
Knowing it wouldn’t.
I could not ignore the second “Hey Poida” as it was directly in my face.
I am “Poida”.
It is the name “Peter” spoken in the Australian Bogan dialect.
The Russians I know call me “Pyotr” and my crazed now ex Danish neighbour Jens refers to me as “skeepy”.
Jens is not no-longer Danish – nor is he no-longer crazy.
He is my former neighbour by virtue of the fact that I have moved abode.
I respond to all number of labels and have been called many things far worse than “Poida” or “Pyotr” or “Skeepy”.
Call me what you like.
I don’t give a fuck.
The utterer of “Hey Poida” is a Bogan I sort of know who lives somewhere in the region. I see him every now and then around the place and on occasion stop and have a yack to him.
His name is Barry but he likes to be called Baz.
So I call him Barry.
Baz the Bogan has been living here on the Island for only a couple of years and is employed by some random Australian Insurance Company.
I am not sure exactly what he does there but he has most likely told me before.
Baz is very Australian.
If you don’t know what a Bogan is Google it.
I don’t care either way.
I typically see the Bogan Barry after work hours and he is always wearing the same pair of khaki shorts and very similar singlets. The singlets are emblazoned with beer advertisements.
Singa Beer, Victorian Bitter and Fosters are the dominating brands although I once saw him with a Heineken version and I jokingly asked if he was all dressed up.
He told me that he was.
He was deadly serious.
Despite being an office worker of some sort Baz always wears work boots.
I think they are Blundstones - which are an iconic ankle length lace-less boot we Australians affectionately call “Blunnies”. Tradesmen and builders wear them for they are tough and durable and have a steel cap.
To protect the toes.
If you are kicked by a bloke wearing Blunnies - you stay kicked.
There is no place for them in the tropics of Singapore yet Barry belies this.
He loves them.
He really does.
Dress wise - when trying to envisage Baz – think Crocodile Dundee.
I kid you not.
Given Baz and his “Hey Poida” was right in my face, I had little option other than to remove the headphone plugs from my ears and give him a, “Gidday Barry owzitgoin mate?”
This is a standard Bogan greeting for which the typical response is “yeahgoodmateowzitgoinwivyou?”
When one responds to a question with a question the potential for endless diatribe is significant - so I immediately let it go.
Release was easy.
“Youse till workin’ for those Pommy bastards?” Baz enquired with a big grin on his face.
He always asks this of me.
“I am indeed working for the Pommy bastards Barry” I replied.
I told Baz this because I am.
Working for Pommy bastards.
There is no getting around it.
“Youse havin’ dinner and a coffee then?” Baz enquired.
Asking the bleeding obvious is a Bogan thing. No harm is intended and no offence was taken.
“I am mate” I responded.
“Yep” I retorted – pausing whilst I stuck some Bok Choy in my mouth.
Barry visibly cringed.
As a rule the Bogan does not like veggies.
The exception being the potato.
Fried or mashed.
Bogans are meat eaters.
“Fuckin footy soon hey?”
Baz loves his footy and so too do I.
I am talking Australian Rules football here – not soccer or rugby or anything similar.
The season is soon to commence.
Barry barracks for Richmond and my team is Geelong.
It is our main common denominator.
My team is better than his and has been for a long time.
I have been to the pub on a few occasions to watch the Tigers play the Cats. It is where Baz and I bonded.
It was our mutual love for the game.
Whilst I am quite fond of Barry - I have had a very long week dealing with the Pommy bastards for whom I work and I was in no real mood for a protracted conversation.
Not only was my dinner being interrupted, but I was also enjoying listening to music that I had illegally downloaded the previous weekend.
At the time of Baz’s first “Hey Poida” I was halfway through the song “Rappers Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang.
The original extended version
Not the remix.
Yes I am that old.
I knew that if I continued to small talk with Baz he would inevitably start to tell me about how many local sheilas he had rooted (Bogan for having sex with girls), what Ink he had done (Bogan for tattoos) and then invite me for a few beers (Bogan for about 37 glasses of lager).
He always invites me to come with him and his mates for weekends to the island of Bataan – an Indonesian island just off the coast of Singapore best known for debauchery with nasty hookers.
Baz and his mates go there often.
To root sheilas, get ink and have a few beers.
Not my cup of tea.
I have known Baz for nearly 3 years now and even though I have been to the pub with him to watch the footy – he simply refuses to accept that I don’t drink – nor do I ever wish to go to Bataan.
“Go on mate aveabeer”
“I don’t drink Barry – I don’t like the taste of it or the effect of it”
“Youse are fuckin’ kiddin right?”
“I am fuckin’ not Barry”
“Come to Bataan then mate’
“I will not”
This exchange has occurred more than a dozen times.
He is nothing if not persistent
So it was at that moment I decided I would speak to Barry only in the lyrics of Rappers Delight.
I have used this ploy with Singaporeans before - using quotes from Hunter S Thomson – one of my favourite authors – with great success.
By success I mean that it amuses me and confuses them.
There is very little joy in my life these days.
I grab small moments when I can.
“So youse want to come for a beer Poida?” Baz predictably enquired.
“There’s a time to laugh and a time to cry – and a time to live and a time to die Baz” I replied in a deadpan fashion.
Barry looked momentarily puzzled but he grinned and added, “Gorn mate – just a couple. The footy might be on”
“There’s a time to laugh Baz and a time to cry – and a time to live and a time to die” I repeated.
“What that then mate?” he asked
“So after school I take a dip in the pool which is really on the wall. I’ve got a colour TV so I can see – the Knicks playing basketball”
“Basketball Poida? Fuckin pooftas game”
I hit straight back with, “Now I’m feeling the highs and you’re feeling the lows and the beat starts getting into your toes Barry. Then you start popping your fingers and stomping your feet – and moving your body while you’re sitting in your seat”
“No worries mate” he grinned.
“Youse alright?” he added – somewhat nervously.
I could sense his growing discomfort and my mind was scrambling for more lyrics.
“I don’t mean to brag I don’t mean to boast but I’m like hot butter on a breakfast toast,” I chanted to the Bogan.
To his great credit he simply beamed at me.
“Fuck yeah” he said.
“So youse want to come to Bataan on the weekend Poida? Get pissed and root some Asian chicks?”
“Baz from sun to sun and from day to day – I sit down and write a brand new rhyme because they say that miracles never cease – I’ve created a devastating masterpiece”
I felt like a bit of a dick but was actually beginning to enjoy myself.
Poor Barry was a bit stumped now and he stood up and looked around and made ready to leave.
I took the opportunity to wolf down a forkful of broccoli and bok choy.
My vegetables had unfortunately gone cold.
“So no beers or Bataan then Poida?”
I took a deep breath and unleashed:
“Like a can of beer that's sweeter than honey
Like a millionaire that has no money
Like a rainy day that is not wet
Like a gambling fiend that does not bet
Like Dracula without his fangs
Like the boogie to the boogie without the boogie bang
Like collard greens that don't taste good
Like a tree that's not made out of wood
Like going up and not coming down”
I wanted to continue but Barry waved and walked off.
I took a sip of my now luke-warm coffee and hummed, “To the hip hop, a hippie to the hop – to the hip hip hop and you don’t stop a rockin’ – of the boogie to the rhythm of the beat”
Reading this now and reflecting - there is no doubt about it.
Six long years of the tropical sun is wearing me down.
The relentless heat is paying a toll.
The relentless heat is paying a toll.
I am losing my fucking mind.