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SCUBA-L  August 1999, Week 4

SCUBA-L August 1999, Week 4

Subject:

The Duel

From:

Bjorn Vang Jensen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scuba diving discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 25 Aug 1999 21:52:42 +0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (94 lines)

I think is safe to say that Raffles will never be the same. That famous
Grande Dame of Asian Hotels has seen British colonialists nursing hangovers
with jasmine tea, keeping their malaria in check with gin & tonics, and a
tiger shot under the billiard table after soiling the carpets with dirty
paw-prints. It survived 3 years of Japanese brutality, played host to the
crowned heads and movie stars of the world on occasions too numerous to
mention, and, when everyone had written it of as a has-been hotel, emerged
like a Phoenix from the ashes after extensive restoration that lasted 3
years and ended in 1991.
 
Only to suffer this: A ferocious duel, a truly titanic life-and-death
struggle fought with every means at the combatants' disposal, in the most
hallowed of Asian bars, the Long Bar.
 
With discarded peanut shells crunching underfoot and screaming waitresses in
tantalizing cheongsams fleeing in terror, Jean-Marc of the Vitoux Tribe and
Giovanni the Mad Pisan Professor left the Long Bar in a state that had the
duty manager frantically thumbing his Little Black Book for the phone number
of the company that performed the last restoration!
 
Pistols were considered but abandoned as too wimpish, with Bob, Strike and
myself asserting firmly that we had not come this far to see a duel that
could conceivably be over in the blink of an eye. Giovanni contended that
with 3 small children in the Vitoux Tribe, J-M was unfairly advantaged in
any duel that involved poking people with sharp objects, but we held our
ground, reminding Giovanni that it was he who suggested swords in the first
place, and pointing out that warding off students and Italian motorists in
his everyday life would put him on at least an even footing! This was our
first taste of that time-tested Italian battle-tactic, the Back-Track.
 
But a regrettable and unforeseen shortage of swords in Raffles, and a desire
for even closer and bloodier combat, threatened to wreck the event entirely,
until Strike remembered a wild night in Vientiane, where his shipmates,
after being refused anything other than Laotian whisky, took advantage of
the local cooking implements and subdued the natives: So we innocently
placed an order for Kebabs to go with our Gin Slings, and having thus
secured suitable close-quarter weapons, we settled back in the rattan chairs
to watch the carnage unfold.
 
Giovanni, self-proclaimed master swordsman, came on strongly, no doubt in
the hope of scoring a quick win against an unprepared opponent (another
Italian specialty). But JM was prepared (historically quite unusual for the
French in these situations), and jumped for the old ceiling fan, swinging
wildly from side to side to avoid Giovanni's wild thrusts. Spying an
opportunity. Giovanni grabbed a pitcher of Singapore Gin Sling from a nearby
table and hurled it at JM. The pitcher shattered against the ceiling, and JM
fell to the floor dripping blood from a nasty gash on the head.
 
Or so we thought. Cleverly taking advantage of the resemblance of Singapore
Gin Sling to red, sticky blood, JM feigned unconsciousness until Giovanni
closed in for the kill, when he caught the Pisan in a foot sweep straight
out of a Bruce Lee movie. Crashing to the floor and taking a potted palm
with him, Giovanni fought to regain control, a fight made difficult by the
masses of spent peanut shells littering the floor of the Long Bar and now
embedding themselves mercilessly into his sensitive, Latin skin.
 
With a very un-French sense of fair play, JM graciously stepped back to
allow the struggling Professor to regain his footing, and the two
adversaries faced each other across the very rattan chair arrangement in
which Bob, Strike and I were sitting. Sensing that relocating would be a
wise move on our part, we repaired to the bar itself, where we took
advantage of the confusion to secure an area right behind the famous Gin
Sling tap. The barman, one Ho-On-Knee from the name on his badge, had taken
refuge in the beer cooler, from where he teeth-chatteringly observed the
disaster being visited upon his workplace, no doubt wondering which demons
he had offended to bring down these kebab-wielding gwailos on his humble
bar.
 
A quick feint to the left fooled Giovanni, and JM swung to the right,
catching Giovanni with his back turned and on the retreat (another
traditional Italian battle-maneuver), running his skewer straight through
the Pisan's right sleeve, 50 centimeters of cold, unforgiving, beef-smelling
steel pinning him to the wall. Thus deprived of the use of his fighting arm,
and now facing the wall, Giovanni quickly shifted his weapon to his left
hand, but too late, for the outcome had already been determined. A broom
carelessly left in the corner after a peanut-shell-sweeping session earlier
provided JM with a replacement weapon, with which he decisively whacked
Giovanni over his left hand, forcing the skewer to clatter to the floor. JM
bent down, snatched Giovanni's skewer from the ground, and deftly ran it
through Giovanni's left sleeve, irrevocably pinning the Italian to the wall
and in a highly compromising position.
 
Regrettably, just as JM picked up a jar of mustard from a nearby table, and
with a lewd grin proceeded to slowly lubricate the outer 20 inches of the
broomstick, Singapore's Finest finally arrived, and a semblance of order was
restored. Strike, Bob and I crawled out from our hiding place behind the
bar, having completely drained the Gin Sling tap, and disappeared unseen
into the night. No doubt, Changi Prison will be a more amusing place for the
coming 20 or 30 years.
 
So let it be written, so let it be done :-)
 
Bjorn

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