Some worries on my day off


Today I had a day off, because my enlightened employer let me have it. (There are two days holiday for Chinese New Year in Singapore, but one of them fell on a Saturday this year, and depending on who you work for, that means you miss out on a day off – unlucky for some.) I had nine and a half hours of sleep and then leapt from my bed, suffused with energy.

Well, I had nine and a half hours of sleep.

Either groggy from sleeping too much, or my body, realizing how enjoyable sleep is, was clinging to Morpheus’ embrace. In either case, I groaned back into consciousness, while my progeny grinned at me, happy for another morning of her life.

I will really be sad when the day comes that my child doesn’t automatically break into a huge smile as soon as she sees me. How long does it take a child to grow jaded? Could I prevent this by buying a series of increasingly outré outfits, starting with an octopus suit and possibly terminating in a hundred foot tall effigy of Charlie Chaplin?

We got up, fed the child and ourselves, then went out. For the last month or two, MacRitchie Reservoir has assumed idyllic status for us: every chance we have, we make plans to go visit it, and every single time we get up too late, or Felicity decides to nap at the appropriate time, or we just dilly and dally until the sun is too high in the sky and no sensible person would go out. Today, like every other day, we failed to get to MacRitchie.

Instead, we went to Espresso Lab, which has just opened in China Square, a mall near us mostly filled with shops selling plastic toys to people who have enough disposable income and a lack of self-respect, that essential combination to possess a sculpture of Iron Man or Optimus Prime or Sailor Moon, never played with, forever pristine.

Espresso Lab have another location, over on Bali Lane, and both have a dense menu of espresso based drinks, plus some decent food. The staff are cheerful and I remembered the coffee being less brutal than Starbucks’ blend, so I thought it would be nice to try them out. As all the joyless toyshops were shut today, they had hardly any customers, so we got served quickly and had our choice of the seats.

I read the paper: front page news was that a cement truck driver had killed two children by driving negligently, and had just been sentenced. To two weeks in jail, and a driving ban for five years, which honestly seems rather slight to me. (This is a state with the death penalty; I’m not suggesting you kill the guy for this, but a week per child doesn’t seem to me to send the "strong message" that the sentence was meant to convey. About a week ago, a man was run out of Singapore for some offensive Facebook posts, and that seems like a much less serious offence. But then I’m not a citizen, so that’s not my call.)

There were two different mitigating circumstances: the driver of the cement truck had children of his own, so he’d feel guilty, and the dead children had been cycling across a pedestrian crossing, when they should have dismounted. The first seems to me like legalistic chutzpah; would you give a thief a lesser sentence if he had a lot of money, so he really understood how it would feel to be robbed? What’s next appeals for clemency when somebody murders their parents, because you should be lenient to orphans? Mind you, run someone over in the UK and from what I remember, you’ll get a year’s suspended sentence, which is like saying "it’s quite naughty to run people over, if we catch you doing it again, you’ll be in trouble", so perhaps this isn’t so lenient.

Or perhaps you shouldn’t ride a bicycle, because that means you’re reckless and at least partially responsible when you get run over: it’s not like cyclists pay to use roads. If the cement truck had run down two pedestrians, would the judge have remarked that people can’t expect to safely cross the road, just because the lights are in their favour?

All of which made me quite sad, as I drank my coffee, and so we went back home and I went back to bed for a while.

My spirits were lifted when the postman came at midday, bearing an entire sack just for us. He passed us brown cardboard parcel after brown cardboard parcel, until we had eleven different packages, each containing a different book. Most of these were Christmas presents for Felicity, but both my wife and I got two books each: an Ian McEwan and a cookbook for me, and a cookbook and a collection of short stories for my wife. This is great, although I’ve just started reading the (800 page) Booker nominee (winner?) The Luminaries, and I’m meant to be reading The Sad Story Of The Brothers Grossblatt to my wife and child, and Zone One, and The Digger’s Game, and American Psycho, so I’m not sure how I’ll do anything but read for the next month. Which is no bad thing; by the end of the year I’ll have improved both my vocabulary and my complexion, if I work through all my facial cleansers at the same rate. Just avoid newspapers and coffee.

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2 responses to “Some worries on my day off”

  1. I’ll let you read The Luminaries first and tell me whether it’s worth starting! I’ve heard that it’s amazing… but also that it’s so-so.

    • Perhaps we can just alternate Booker nominees until we’re all the way through the list. Initial thoughts (on the first 5 pages) are that there are a lot of words. A lot of words. I’m always intimidated when the author feels the need to have a list of the cast at the front.

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