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« Drank with all the Chinamen »

In the days before things went viral at the speed of light I was always tickled by a photocopy of truisms that went around. The pith in an observation like 'Everyone always remembers the day a dog ran into their school' sets me off for no reason. 'There's no panic like the panic you momentarily feel when you've got your hand or head stuck in something' never fails to raise a giggle. Like, 'Bricks are horrible to carry'. To this I would add (as no laughing matter), never underestimate the importance of your passport.

I went on a long walk on New Years Eve to sort things out, and returned avowed and empowered. Strode half way around the filthy sweating coast of Mayotte in the Northern Mozambique Channel. In my 'feet I wrote in wet sand with a stick. By 9pm some gears had blown and I was into my elbows with chemicals and a strapless gown. Some staff crap. Then! The office phone to say India wouldn't let me in without two months on my passport. Really? Ten years already?

As we sailed that night for Singapore, the prospects were grim. The embassy when I got there was leafy, charming and armed, paradise. They wouldn't have done it in a day ordinarily but the old girl went on fire again or some such, requiring an unscheduled overnight alongside. The reprieve, extraordinary, blissful. Like a white light. I embarrassed the lovely Singaporean lady with a box of Tartan Shortbread for her assistance. Realising my insult quickly stuffing it back into my satchel. Then skipped off to Raffles laughing alone in the Long Bar at a large cock-a-tail and peanut satay sticks. There were no taxis and slightly tipsy in a pretty red and white dress and light sandals luckily I was bundled through the port in the back of a truck packed full of armed soldiers. They stared at me swaying in unison on the butts of upright rifles.

It rained. It bloody bucketed. Privileged amongst the stucco I stood to get cheerfully soaked, clutching my passport. Perhaps there was to have been an adventure in it, stranded in Singapore without money, or a job, or a flight, a plan, indeed a passport out. But that's the way of it. Away boys, away boys, heave away.

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