Watch it

A small tornado bursts through the door of the meeting room.  And stops dead in its tracks.

‘Where is everyone?’

‘Sir?’

‘Why is there no one here?  There’s supposed to be a meeting.’

‘Quite so, sir.’

‘I rushed like mad to get here on time and look, by my watch I am in fact a bit late.’

‘Late, sir?  But the meeting isn’t scheduled to start for another quarter of an hour.’

‘What are you talking about?  Look here, my watch says I’m ten min-  Oh.  Two hours and ten minutes late.’

A cheap digital watch with a plastic strap is given a vigorous shaking in an attempt to make it digitalize correctly.  The strap breaks and watch goes flying into the air

‘Cheap Chinese rubbish.’

‘But sir normally wears a superior chronometer of impeccable reliability.’

‘Yes, well, ever since he decided to shade his eyes from the sun and blinded the media with his bling, the rest of us have had to be careful what we wear.’

‘But since sir made a declaration of all his timepieces …’

‘Well, all I could remember at the time.’

‘So wearing any one the models that were listed in sir’s assets declaration should not attract any attention from the media, let alone opprobrium.’

‘Yes, well, I can’t always be sure which is which so I got that cheap knock-off as a fail-safe.’

‘I see, sir.’  (Gentle cough)  ‘Perhaps, with a few moments before the meeting, sir would like to review the agenda.’

‘It’s just the regular stuff, isn’t it?’

‘Well, yes, sir, but a few last-minute additions have been requested.’

‘What the hell is Item 7?’

‘Ah yes. “Native Canine Economic Stimulus Policy”.  One of your deputies asked for that to be inserted.’

‘Is it some kind of joke?’

‘I fear so, sir.  The Thai Bangkaew dog is of course a native canine breed and it, er, has been the subject of some recent economic interest.’

‘He means those blasted puppies I bought, doesn’t he?’

‘One’s suspicions are raised in that direction, sir, certainly.’

‘So let me get this straight, just to do the future voter a favour, I paid slightly over the odds for 3 of his dogs.  I can’t see what’s wrong in that.’

‘Well, sir, your slight overpayment exceeded the 3000 baht limit for gifts to or from political office holders.  The NAAC have been asked to investigate.’

‘But that should be alright with whatisname in charge, no?’

‘Possibly, sir, but there is the surrounding publicity, what with an election coming up in the next few months.  Or years.’

‘But that’s it, I tried to give two of them away and they tell me I can’t do that.’

‘Well, no, sir.  Your designated recipients are also subject to the same restrictions and whether we take the market price or your own, er, enhanced valuation, accepting these gifts would also trigger investigations.’

‘So I’ll just have to sell them?’

‘That also may be questioned sir.  If you sold them for the price you paid for them, you would again be receiving an illegitimate gift.  However, if you sold them at market price, some might say you were making an improper profit from your official position.  Influence peddling, sir.’

‘So what the hell can I do?’

‘Well, sir, there is always Section 44.  You could condemn the animals to indefinite incarceration and then leave it to the security forces to have them quietly disappeared.  It works for undesirable humans.’

‘But they’re such insufferably cute little things.  The wife and daughters would go ballistic if I had them put down.  As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate.  But I’m not having this discussed at the meeting.’

‘Quite so, sir.  We will remove the item from the agenda.’

By this time, the meeting is almost quorate.  The chair, who has had 15 minutes to get in the mood, makes his introductory remarks.

‘Now see here.  With this watch scandal in the media, which was none of my fault, by the way, and now this dog thing that has been blown out of all proportion, and I haven’t seen any of you trying to help me, I notice, I am beginning to lose patience with the lack of discipline – stop sniggering in the back there! – so it’s got to stop or you’ll regret it.  Do I make myself clear?  Now, Item 1 on the agenda.  Mr Secretary, if you would.’

‘Er, New Year’s Resolutions.  Number one.  Not being grumpy.’

‘Oh for heaven’s sake.’


About author:  Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).