“if I’m allowed to”


The room is full of vidioettes, those who await a six digit connection to several remote sites by videoconference. There’s a buzz in the room while the remote is sourced, mute is on. Space for wall flowers at the room’s periphery is tight, for those seeking the outer limits of obscurity. Table hugging job grade climbers seek prime locations at the laminated board table edge. These are prime spots in the “look at me” status stakes. Those surer of their status hover mid distance tween table and wall, knowing  their interruptions can always be sustained by a table hugger unmuting the mic for them before they speak.

I  nearly slumber. The previous meeting minutes are skimmed, while I shuffle an untidy sheaf of papers which I know don’t contain the minutes. It appears though I’m better prepared than those who’ve chosen to go to the meeting  paperless and tablet less. Impressions count. Then the call is made,

“Who’s gonna move the minutes?”

Most of the wall flowers have their tongues firmly stapled to the rooves of their mouths, but a Hobart  table edger slips a digit up and says,

“I’ll move ’em!”

“So  who’s gonna second them” comes the disembodied voice from Launceston again. Nothing happens, nothing. The video at North West judders, there’s pixilation from Burnie, slightly less than MCH and I look around. It’s quiet in Hobart.

“So who’s going to move them?” is asked again. After a pregnant pause a soft voice from the Launceston theatre  is acknowledged as a seconder.

It goes on like this meandering through the action list items for which apparently no-one in any of the rooms is accountable. There are waffly self aggrandising minor updates on where the heck they’re going.  At least the meeting form is being followed!

And onto a dissertation on “The Transition,” from the Launceston Revealer. Its long, torturous and rambley, covering old and new ground at the same depth, consistently shallow.  It dawns on me that what she’s talking about convolutedly reverts us nearly right back to where we were just over two years ago. That the change was “nothing much to worry about” while ” we continued with business as usual” allowed us to watch as the change sowed the seeds of its own destruction. Ultimately the new brooms were closeted.

The same description is being used by the Launceston Revealer to describe this new change.  I find myself wondering why senior people who had the means, leverage or gall, decamped to regions unknown only to re appear as the designers/reviewers of “The Transition”.

From the pit of my tummy something stirs. The lyrics sound the same, the melody vaguely familiar. Though there seems circularity and vague symmetry, some folk in fact did worry and were affected. Though in the first iteration the union got involved causing the process to drag and drag the fact that the implementers were naïve to Taswegian practices and mores, conspired to make the whole experience mind numbingly extended. The tricky mass meetings trying to ‘sell’ the idea were a massive waste of time for such a patently self evident need for change. An amalgamation of disparate sites into a cohesive whole wasn’t exactly rocket science. But then again this is health, nudge nudge, wink, wink, and it must be important hey.

So after a further meandering through the peaks of professional status and troughs of divisions at the 42nd Tasmanian parallel, a Hobartian dares query the Launceston Revealer.

” Will this Transition be subject to a change proposal for union consultation!”

After some more waffling, the Launceston Revealer’s response attempts to bat the issue right out into the long grass.

” Is there anyone down there, some senior manager who can take this query off line and explain this to Hobartian enquirer,” she hopes.

Its a little tense, then tenser, Hobart eyes formerly raised are now floor gazing, as its apparent there are no senior managers present. There’s plenty of wannabe acting managers and the otherwise disengaged, two  of whom are already thumbing it on mobiles.

Eventually we hear,

” I’ll take it up with the enquirer,” a Hobartian says. Who it is, isn’t clear.

Sorted, phew, the Launceston Revealer goes on,

“Ok, then I’ll continue about the Transition for the rest of you,” she says, adding ,” if I’m allowed to.”

The muted tone of the slipper sinking in.

Do others hear it? Doubt it. Those who matter to me do.

I jot it down.



Ice Breakers

DPAt the team meeting. Ice breakers.

What a jaded idea. With notice of the meeting we all have to provide two truths and a lie, about ourselves. Hhmm. Is not being able to make up a lie about yourself a reflection on your character? Worse what if you can’t find anything truthful which is at the same time entertaining, not to revealing, but most importantly not boring. If not, are you by definition a boring twat?

Ggrrr. I come up with some trite ideas, none that meet the cut. Then I overhear there are websites dedicated to this! When I get over my amazement, sheepishly I log on! There are reams of this stuff, or nowadays should I say screenfuls.

I choose one site sifting through about eighty three one liners I eliminate most of them through a process I can’t even follow. I get it down to two truths.

The first is

“I have never broken a bone in my body”

Perhaps by adding greater specificity this potential 50/50 truth or lie can be transformed into a more feasible lie

So it becomes

“I have never broken a bone in my lower body, upper body or skull.”

Ah ha I think I’m getting the gist of this. I read a second truth,

“I have more than 20 cousins”

Mhh, more transformation needed so after a quick finger count this becomes,

“I have at least 25 non-transgender cousins”

That should tickle the lie detectors in the audience granting them the space to arc up about the absolute number or the reverse reference to sexual preference or biology somehow at the forefront of today’s social conscience.

Now for a lie! Looking at myself, I can sense a grand opportunity. Starting with,

“I’m a Falun Gong practitioner,”

I reckon there’s gotta be stuff that I can add. What better than Wikipedia! And there it is,

“Falun Gong a modern Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.”

Bugger it, go for it.

So there they are

  1. I have never broken a bone in my lower body, upper body or skull
  2. Falun Gong a modern Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance
  3. I have at least 25 non-transgender cousins

I stick my hand up to go second in the ice break which builds teams and social cohesion. Not like me really but I’m so anxious to try this out. After reading out the statements folk are focused on numbers one and three, both as lies.

I’m chuckling.

Goes to show that appearances can deceive!


Did you say “electric frangipani”

It was warm in the shade of the frangipani. She lay there and wondered where it all might lead. There’d been the passion of the night before and then the afterglow. Ah! the afterglow, the union of souls enmeshed so sort after and rarely spoken of, as if by speaking of it the chimera lifts.
It had been a tempestuous time. There’d been the awkwardness of the meeting. The tension of values and ideals colliding, though none of that said.
She’d seen him from afar, he’d seen nothing.
It was for them to see the connection but that was a long way off.
In the daily grind of the office the chances of the meeting were in fact remote. The proposals she dealt with were at a much more advanced stage and though there were fewer of them the intensity of the research required was deep. He on the other hand led a freer existence. He could come and go. He did. The office was not a place that held him. It was in fact less than a base. His ideal took him to where he really cared, into the outdoors. He wondered sometimes how this had happened. He had always been a wage slave. Bound by the traditions of the office he worried that he too would become karoshi – overworked to death, the commuting each way, the silence of the journey, the vicarious pleasure of over reading another’s manga, in the stifling heat of the commutor train. He recalled how he’s pleasured himself there once amongst the pressed bodies, against the rump and ultimately the breasts of the foreigner squeezed face to face with him that autumn day.
She had in her country’s slang ‘thunder thighs’, but here in this worse than pig pen closeness she was as they say, a chicken for the plucking. Slowly he lowered his hand from the strap hanger. No need to hang on when the train, though at 130kph, was running as smooth as silk.
His brief case on the floor between his legs allowed his hands free access to wander. With the deftness of his ancestor’s samurai sword, he slipped his left hand towards its target. A light gripping of the underside of her left buttock weighted into his palm, ever so slightly heated.
She’d clearly been running and the unbearable softness caused him to squeeze, yielding to his touch like the first of season Kazaguichi peaches. He held it there, while he allowed her to realise it was him, his gaze averted to the ceiling at a point way, way beyond her gaze.
He knew and he knew she knew it was him.
He could see reflected in the fluoro above him through the electric haze, her disgusted yet understanding look, first at him and then at Mudslide. And so he told himself he could pursue his goal. With magical precision he let his right hand slide towards his left. Commutors to the left and right had no idea consciously what he was up to, but all subconsciously had done in their minds, what he was trying to do. Some were already working out their stratagems to have their way with the gaggle of Aussie girl students accompanying Mudslide and his teacher wife Mirasomething on their end of year Japanese trip.
Coloured as he was there was nothing distinguishable to the foreigners that he was not Japanese, though by speaking he would be given away. He was Chinese and in this culture where the cherry blossom held sway, he was a devotee of the frangipani.
As his hands moved lower he nonchalantly gripped her right buttock too.
She startled a little, but Mudslide for the moment was trying to see the train route on in a diagram on the curved plastic wall of the carriage. Another gasp and he was there, crafting her cheeks apart, and she loved it.
A glance over her right shoulder showed her captivators face in full glow.
He was slightly taller than the other carriagemen, and she could tell he was an expert.
As the train rocked on the curve coming into Siekandodo station he whispered to her.
Mudslide was preoccupied with his zits. She didn’t quite hear what he said, hands moulding yet separating her buttocks.
Again he murmured to her
‘…….twic frang…..’
and she wriggled a little more.
‘Electwic fwangaponii’
was that really what he said?
She confronted him directly.
‘Did you say electric frangipani, sir”
and she knew it was a mistake.
For he let fall her cupped buttocks and looked away, as if the train, their contact and worlds had simply slid apart.

….we’re homeless and…..

Filling, the bus is half filled and that’ll be it. Those aboard seated singularly, staring vacantly out of windows decidedly clean.
It’s time to leave but the driver can’t. Loitering at the stop and in the stairwell of the bus are two blokes. One is wearing an orange tee and rumpled baggy cargo pants and he’s closest to the driver. The other grasps the entrance door rail with both feet on terra firma whilst his more forward mate says to the driver,
“…… um we’re homeless and we got no money but can get some at Rosny and then we’ll be able to pay the fare back here to the city where we’re sleeping.”
There’s a strange logic to this argument I think.
The second of the two has darker hair and has seen the hairdresser less and is all in black, down to his cargo pants. He moves up a step higher edging orange tee shirt to one side, possibly to let the driver know there are two of them.
“If they’d not said they were homeless, how would anyone have known”, I find myself thinking.
The driver’s caught in a dilemma. It’s time to go and he’s got to decide what to do!
“We’re homeless and need to get to Rosny so we can get back to the city where we’re sleeping.” Orange tee says this again as if the repetition will improve his chance of a charity ride.
The boarded passengers aren’t restless yet. They will be given a few more minutes delay.
“So you need to get to Rosny mate?” says the driver, looking orange tee up and down and black tee down.
With a backward wave of his left hand the driver signals them into the centre aisle at the front of the bus, and then activates the door close with his right.
The bus swings into the Mall. Orange and black tee grip the vertical chromed rails as the bus lurches through the peak hour traffic. Whilst looking like other Hobartians, the other Hobartians seems to know they’re not. On the right hand arc up onto the Tasman Bridge the centrifugal force causes orange tee to grab at the strap hanger for steadying. It’s a telling moment. The bus slowly fills with the acrid odour of unwashed armpits and unlaundered clothes. Four seats back the waves sweep over me.
“Dear Lord, “I wonder,
“How far to Rosny” I hear myself thinking.
The driver is oblivious, tied up with negotiating the thickening traffic at the East Derwent interchange.
Those folk who were secretly hoping the driver would let these guys on for free aren’t so sure now. Their tolerance is lower the closer they are to the front of the bus.
I wonder at these non paying passengers plight. How’d they arrive at where they are now? Whilst we see them as a couple, perhaps they are only tied by their circumstances. How soon could any of us find ourselves in like situation?
I try hard to rationalise these ideas but the air affects my thinking. It’s the air of desperation carried on the odour. They chat about nothing and about everything and there I am trying to listen in while pretending not to.
Rosny bus station is a change of traffic light away before we are heaving to at the stop. The alighting passengers are strangely reticent to adopt their usual push and shove to the exit, until the homeless go. Then I watch and muse at the situation of the uniformed school kids, miss representative of the commission home folk in her trackies and too short gym top, a matron from an age past, and several well heeled looking clerks or maybe like me public servants.
But unlike orange tee and his mate who I know are homeless I’ve no idea of what the living arrangements of any of these folk are.

The Snap

Far from the solitude of my office others worlds revolve. Folk are going about their important business, never busier than here in public service land. There are all the minutiae to be seen to. Correct template application to appropriate letter phrasing.
With a glance at the clock, not to tell the time, rather to mark the present moment for deduction from a future moment I respond to T’s call,
“Aren’t you coming over to the catch-up with M? We’re getting feedback on last week’s discussion of our ideas on the plans which she discussed with S.”
“Oh “I said with no commitment. I really hoped that maybe they could complete all the mumbo jumbo and let me know where I was gonna sit.
“Do I really need to go?”I continued.
“Well C is coming in from the city”, T replied. Decode, decode, what the heck does that mean? Might be nothing, and then again might be best to be there just in case. It’s always nicest to be at an office party with a pin to pop expectation balloons with your own pin than to see the balloons deflate pathetically over the following weeks
I cleared up what I was doing and followed T’s cigarette aroma across to the cream brick of the
Caruthers Building a minute or so later.
They were all seated already, making the small talk that always precedes such meetings.
“So did you go away at all for the break?” ”No, too busy working”. “Frank’s back was playing up” “ and then there was basketball camp”. “We used to but not this year.”
There was a cacophony of cross talk and irrelevance until the boss gains control.
The meeting droned on.
I was drowning in a sea of concern for us all and the mismanagement we had had to endure. Now another power play, infinitely more calibrated for control of our little group. What was once supported was now anathema. The structure had always been bullshit. Cobbled together from the footnotes of MBA text books and discarded assignments. It looked ok. Then again as high sounding as the words were their applicability to our organisation was irrelevant.
Around the room we went. Ring-a-ring-rosey like. What was each of us up to? Damn I was first! Always have something up your sleeve, and yesterday’s presentation on a similar topic gave me the out. But I introduced it wrong!
“Except for AYDC and RFC most areas are going well. In fact some have shown great progress in the past few weeks, is what I reported to F yesterday.” I said.
I had the excel graph folded into my note book in fact but having learnt that less is more in these situation I chose not to show it.
“Why does F need to know this?” M asked from left field, though she was sitting immediately to my right.
“Um, err, he’s my executive sponsor, I report to him fortnightly, err shouldn’t I?” I gasped.
The conversation moved on to the complexities of medication management and I sank back into a glazed reverie. Then I heard a snap! It was to be sure an elastic snap. It was quite distinct. It brought me back three levels of conscious mindfulness.
I knew my socks were wool knit Explorer blends and the ankle woven bands are overstretched soon to be replaced stretch elastic, so no cause for concern there. The sound was definitely elastic on thigh, an intriguing prospect in a meeting such as this, for ladies and a man.
M in her three and a half inch patent heels was sheer to the waist. A was in a skirt and hose less. T wore sensible slacks and anklet socks, leaving C in the three quarter length swishy skirt with half hose.
Another glance at the clock, 75 minutes!
I admit it, I was wrong! It was the snap of elastic on calf.




A complex tale, the start of a renowned trilogy, which pits Cold War spy masters MI6’s George Smiley against Moscow Central’s Karla. George is seconded from forced retirement to unmask Moscow’s Centre mole within its ranks. All lower level operatives in spycraft are carried along on a needs to know basis as I was for the first quarter until I was submerged in a twisted plot almost too full of characters. Just before giving up I took the bait and was willingly dragged through the labyrinth le Carre weaves.

Written during the depths of the Cold War before the Berlin Wall fell the atmosphere of the times pervades. In scenes of betrayal the writing is taut and very visual. The unresolved tension of George’s love life with wife Anne threads throughout. Numerous plot byways are taken, all with the temptation of self concluding who is the mole. The moles unmasking is managed cinematically and small details matter here in the reading. It’s exquisitely done

Poon Jere Chee 2016




Should I have enjoyed this? I thought so.

Hailed as a must read for Westerner’s doing business in China, Japan Korea. Clearly targeted at the United States business market, some glowing references however are made to the land of its publisher, Australia. As a third generation Chinese Australian perhaps I sought to much?

For insights into politically incorrect ways of thinking its an early masterpiece, though it’s a harped on theme. However, the section relating to recent Asian history provides useful insights. For this part of the world this is three or four hundred years.

The author has a mixed cultural upbringing from amongst the lands speaks of. This is clearly an advantage in dissecting the homogeneity of the dominant Asian cultures she tackles.

Putting down the book for me was a pleasure.

Written in 1988, an update for current times is overdue  

Poon Jere Chee 2016