Can POTUS trump PMOM?

Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Abdul Razak, must be feeling tremendously superior to his alleged erstwhile golfing buddy and recently-elected President of the United States, Donald Trump, even without a chance to play a round with him recently.

Because, however many courses Trump owns, and however close to scratch his game might be, he’s competing at world-class level according to US and international rules in full view of a global gallery, and thus has no chance of hiding just how green, gruesomely handicapped and doomed to defeat that he thus far appears to be.

Whereas Najib plays mostly for Malaysia on a minor circuit restricted to such similar small-timers as North Korea and Zimbabwe, who all consider themselves winners because they not only make-up the rules of the game and fake their own scorecards, but also feel free to club any who dare criticise or oppose them into silence or submission.

Or, in some special cases, to death, as in the current case of the alleged hit on a member of North Korea’s Kim family at a Kuala Lumpur airport, or the murder and C4 dismemberment of Mongolian ‘model’ Altantuya Shaariibuu in KL a decade ago.

No wonder POTUS Trump is so mightily teed-off at the way he’s thwarted at every stroke as he strives to triumph over obstacles like that mother of all sand-traps, the Middle-East, and looming water-hazards like the South-China Sea, while simultaneously trying to deal with domestic challenges ranging from hostile Democrats and disaffected Republicans to hostile news media and intractable courts.

At least you’d imagine that a golfer as avid as Trump so evidently is would be aware of Theodore Roosevelt’s proverbial advice to himself and successive US presidents to ‘speak softly and carry a big stick.’

But apparently not, as in the blustering press conference he held recently to praise his own allegedly ‘fine-tuned’ administration’s bumbling, stumbling performance in its first few weeks, he seemed rather to be still resorting to speaking bigly because he’s getting so much stick.

And if he’s even slightly sincere in his avowed desire to ‘make America great again,’ he can look forward to getting even more stick in the future, in light of the fact that two of the principal principles that have contributed most to America’s self-perception as ‘great’ are the freedom of the press and the doctrine of the separation of powers underpinning the independence of the judiciary.

And it is right here, of course, where Najib’s Umno/BN regime, North Korea’s Kim dynasty, Zimbabwe’s Mugabe-figureheaded Zanu-PF gang and the similar dominant players in countless other no-account countries well and truly have the wood on Trump attempts to run the US.

Because while Trump can only endlessly and impotently repeat his lying refrain about the forces of ‘fake news’ that he claims are so ‘unfairly’ ranged against him, Najib, the Kims and Mugabes can, as they so efficiently have done, abolish independent news media, fake or otherwise, and create fake news in their own favour.

Thus, to refer back to the headline of this column, Najib easily trumps Trump in the management of negative or hostile news and views by the simple expedient of making sure there aren’t any. None that can be printed or broadcast, at least, as Umno/BN either or both owns and controls all of Malaysia’s ‘mainstream’, or in other words traditional news media.

This blacking-out of bad news about Malaysia’s ruling regime is reinforced by an Official Secrets Act so severe as to cover virtually every activity of the government, the civil services and crony so-called ‘government-linked corporations’ (GLCs), and of course backed-up by regime domination of what should by rights be Malaysian citizens’ final bulwark against the misrule of their country by the Umno/BN kleptocracy, the courts.

Admittedly this game-winning strategy has one tiny flaw, which is that former Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir, the man who devised and from whom Najib has inherited it, was so keen to create a world-class IT complex he grandly conceived as ‘Cyberjaya’ that he promised global players like Apple and Microsoft that he wouldn’t censor the internet.

Cyberjaya, like so many of Mahathir’s megalomanic projects, never really took off. But at least the internet has surprisingly remained relatively free in Malaysia, and thus I can write what I like, or rather what my editors deem not so dangerously politically provocative as to get Malaysiakini raided or banned, in this column.

But Najib and his Umno/BN accomplices and supporters are apparently quite prepared if not happy to tolerate this relatively minor annoyance, as it gives them a pretext on which to pretend they permit at least some slight degree of press freedom.

And in any event they must figure that however much bad news gets out about them, they can keep buying enough voters to keep them in power with money they SK1M from the public purse to fund annual hand-outs billed as BR1M, which Najib recently boasted increases in amount every year.

Or, to put this another way, there are always enough Malaysians prepared to be so D1M as to accept BR1M and in return to pretend that they’re unaware that Najib, like every one of his fellow Umno/BN members and cronies, is a KR1M.

In short, though Najib Abdul Razak might seem to the embarrassed, embarrassing and deeply-embattled Donald Trump to be a winner in the contest between himself and the essential democratic institutions of truth, transparency and justice, the Malaysian people are the sure-fire losers.

Just as the American people will be if Trump and his gofers can’t be persuaded or if necessary forced to finally get themselves on the ball, stop playing around like dimwit banana-republic demagogues and realise that there’s as huge a gulf between their performance so far and true world leadership as between hit-and-giggle golf and the real thing.

 

 

 

 

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Be my Vladentine?

With St Valentine’s day due next week, my thoughts naturally turn to love. And given that a column is no place for portraying or pursuing my personal amours, I’ve been getting lots of vicarious, indeed voyeuristic enjoyment from observing some of the most passionate love affairs currently being conducted publicly, if not pubicly, by various famous or notorious figures.

To me the most extreme of these, and by far the most excruciating because it’s impossible to avoid incessantly watching, reading and hearing about, is the absolute orgy of self-regard, adoration, infatuation, call it what you will, between New US President Donald Trump and himself.

The man personifies and projects narcissism to such a pathological extent that it’s almost beyond caricature. And in any event all the countless attempts to caricature him only seem to accentuate the crush he has on himself.

Just as those who swoon over him are genuine and only doing him justice, he seems to reason, those swine who refuse to swoon are just revealing how justifiably jealous they are of his supreme excellence.

And every time the media rebut one of his pathologically-lying statements, he feels entitled to justify himself with the flagrant falsehood that he’s the innocent victim of ‘fake news’.

At this juncture I imagine some readers will be thinking I’m being a bit unfair to Trump, as on the face of it he does appear to have feelings for some others, like, for example, First Lady Melania and First Daughter Ivanka, even to the point of flagrantly un-presidentially promoting the latter’s fashion brand.

But I’m not prepared to believe that Trump sees these or any others who belong to him as people in their own right, but only as part of his desperate narcissistic need to feed his love of ‘me’ with as much as possible as he can get of ‘my’ and ‘mine’.

That being said, however, I can’t deny one glaring piece of evidence against my thesis that Donald love only Trump and Trump loves only Donald. And that’s the curious fact that, while he hates just about everybody but himself, or possessions, extensions or supporters of himself, he has the total hots for the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.

Given the plainly-evident fact that Putin runs a kleptocracy as corrupt as inept as any on earth, including my perennial bugbear, Umno/BN’s Malaysia, and is an ally of Bashir Al-Assad in his all-out bloody war on the Syrian people, this is a very curious love-fest indeed.

So much so, that as I wrote on Trump’s inauguration, or, more accurately, Inughuration Day, I’m amazed that the penny or rather rouble hasn’t dropped with conspiracy theorists that he could well in real if not TV reality be a KGB operative named Trumpski, and thus the first Russian agent to not only successfully and safely breach US security, but to actually run for and seize the Presidency into the bargain.

But whatever the rationale for the bizarre blip, flaw or anomaly in his constitutional narcissism that enables Trump to feel something that looks for all the world like romantic love for the highly-undesirable Vladimir Putin, as far as I’m concerned I can’t help thinking of February 14 2017 as international St Vladentine’s Day.

Though of course members and supporters of Malaysia’s Umno/BN regime won’t agree with me at all. Firstly because in their attempts to appear supportive of Islam, the religion they so disgrace, these crooks choose not to recognise St Valentine’s Day or any variant of it because it’s Christian.

And secondly they would surely claim that the love that dares not speak its name between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is far outshone by the relationship between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and any significant world leader who deigns to give him a game of golf.

As he’s already boasted that Donald Trump did years before he even thought of running for president, although as far as I’m aware Trump himself has no recollection of this event.

In any case, as his supporters can persuasively argue, Najib is every bit as big-time as Trump is in the self-love stakes.

It was Najib, after all, who, earlier in his premiership, lavished heaps of public money on signs proclaiming ‘I love PM’ and on paying crowds of people to carry and display them.

And Najib, allegedly, at least, who even arguably trumped Trump in the self-love department by arranging to have RM2.6 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds into his own, personal bank account(s).

But then came Najib’s big mistake in my book. Any world-class narcissist worth his salt would have welcomed revelations of these payments with the comment that he was entitled to the cash and worth every cent of it, but Najib failed the test by claiming that it was a ‘donation’ from some anonymous ‘rich Saudi’ benefactor.

In other words, Najib’s pretence to pure, narcissistic Trump-style self-love is fatally marred not only by his lust for other people’s money, but also by his complete failure to take responsibility for, let alone to show pride in this self-indulgence.

So, even though as I recall giving him a dishonourable mention in ‘Be my Villaintine’ back at this time in 2014, and he’s clearly right up there with Trump and Putin when it comes to self-love, he’s clearly not a party to their special relationship, and thus, however hard he might be Valentryin’, he’ll never be a candidate for Vladentine.

 

 

 

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Crasstianity on the march.

In a piece a couple of days ago on Donald Trump, I made the point that the man’s single apparent saving grace, probably because his extreme narcissism prevents his perceiving any other real or imaginary being as superior, let alone supreme, is that at least he’s not a God-botherer.

In other words, in his thrusting lust for power and profit, at least he’s openly and unabashedly crass. Unlike most other right- or rather wrong-wing conservative Western politicians like, for example, those in the so-called ‘Tea Party, who self-interestedly pervert Christianity into a contemptible Crasstianity.

A concept that brings us to South-Australian Senator Corey Bernardi, whose self-description as ‘socially conservative and economically liberal’ places him in such polar opposition to Christian values of compassion for the meek, the mild and the poor in spirit and contempt for the worship of money, as to make him the very model of a Crasstian.

He’s demonised Islam as a ‘totalitarian, political and religious ideology,’ clearly without realising that the very same words would just as aptly describe the Catholic religion or most of the myriad other allegedly Christian sects.

He’s derided the idea of gay marriage by suggesting that it would logically lead to the acceptance and normalisation of bestiality.

He’s deplored the phenomenon of single parenthood, and by comparison praised his own mother for remaining a housewife and staying at home to look after him.

Little realising, apparently, that most mothers, single, or out working or otherwise, would be horrified to have raised a child that turned-out as big a Crasstian bigot as he has.

And as for Bernardi’s adherence to whatever ‘totalitarian, political and religious idealogy’ he personally prefers to Islam that forbids abortion, all I can say is that it inspires in me the so un-Christian as to be almost Crasstian thought that I wish abortion could be made retrospective, and in Corey’s mother’s case compulsory.

He appears unstoppable, however. And now, reportedly emboldened by US Crasstians’ elation at the ascendency of Donald Trump because in his however ungodly way he shares their deeply un-Christian views on religion, race and gender, and supports their creed of unbridled greed, Bernardi has decided that it’s time for him to make his move.

To abandon the Liberal-National coalition that he’s increasingly seen as far too wishy-washy for his Crasstian taste, and march at the head of his own party. On the one hand I regret his defection from the coalition, as it’s such a rat’s nest of other falsely ‘Christian’ Crasstians that it richly deserves his destructive influence.

But on the other hand I’m enjoying the prospect of seeing him march off into the South-Australian wilderness, hopefully to the same pitiful and richly-deserved fate that Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has already suffered once, and, as the Senator or rather non-Senator Rod Cullerton fiasco has already foreboded, will eventually suffer again.

 

 

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Trump’s rumble with ‘Trumble’.

If there was anyone in the world yet to be convinced that Donald Trump is a disgrace to the US Presidency and a disaster for the country he claims to be capable of making great again, the fallout from the now infamous phone conversation with the Prime Minister of Australia should have done the trick.

This loud-mouthed know-all can’t even get Malcolm Turnbull’s name right, let alone stop telling bare-faced lies about what happened in the course of the abusive and abruptly-abbreviated phone call between them last week.

Having leaked or either ordered or approved the leak of the report of the call to the Washington Post, presumably as evidence of what a tough-talker he is on America’s behalf to some small-time, pissant ally presuming to insist that an agreement be honoured, he then claimed that, far from throwing a tantrum (tantrump?) on the phone and prematurely cutting the call short, the talk he’d had with Turnbull/Trumble had been ‘cordial.’

And now he’s tweeted his thanks to Turnbull/Trumble for going along with the ‘cordial’ story, when in fact the only comment the latter has made has been ‘no comment’, a remark that didn’t in any way support Trump’s barefaced lie that the original story based on the White-House leak was an example of ‘fake news.’

Australia hasn’t emerged from this ludicrous situation looking too special, either. Though Turnbull/Trumble certainly managed to keep his prime-ministerial cool and thus not totally trump himself as Trump did, the spectacle of his government’s so desperately trying to rid itself of a couple of thousand refugees that it should by rights (and under the terms of international treaties) accept as immigrants, was pathetic.

Keeping these helpless, guiltless people in semi-permanent limbo on Manus Island and Nauru for the purpose of placating right-wing, or in other words wrong-wing, elements of the Liberal-National Coalition in particular and the Australian electorate at large, is a crime against human decency.

Not to mention against the Christianity so many right- or rather wrong-wingers claim to believe in. These people exhibit none of the humility, compassion and charity of true Christianity. Quite the opposite, in fact. They employ their alleged faith in Christ and the prophets in their pursuit of power, privilege and profits.

In short, they’re not Christians, they’re Crasstians. An observation that brings me to the only saving grace I’ve yet be able to discern in Donald Trump.

Unlike most other US Presidents, indeed US politicians in general, at least he’s not forever going on about God this and God that, and God the other thing, and as a confirmed agnostic I find this a breath of fresh air.

Even though I’m all too aware that Trump’s lack of evident interest in the Almighty is most likely due to the man’s narcissistic, monomaniacal belief that he outranks all known divinities, including God the Father and Jesus Christ, and especially the one whose followers believe is the hottest competitor for Trump and America in the greatness department, Allah.

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Mudlaysia, Mucklaysia, Merdelaysia.

I must confess to loving coining puns on the word Malaysia, as I know how much it upsets those legions of hypocrites who don’t seem to mind Umno/BN’s having spent six decades so comprehensively corrupting the country as to make its name mud, muck or merde in the global community, but are driven to frenzies of fury by my merely corrupting its spelling.

So if you’re one of those people so deranged as to delude yourself that Malaysia has any dignity to stand on, or deserves any shred of respect from me or anyone else after so many dreary decades of dreadful misrule by the criminal Umno/BN regime, I suggest you go read something else.

Or, better still, deal with your shame and shaky self-esteem by attacking not me, the messenger, but the agents of Malaysia’s disgrace, the misleaders, members, accomplices and supporters of the misruling regime.

One of whose senior members and literally as well as figuratively ugly faces, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, earlier this week had the unspeakable arrogance to claim that ‘Umno doesn’t practice corruption.’

Responding to a televised warning by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Dzulkili Ahmad that the MACC ‘has corrupt politicians in its crosshairs,’ Adnan was quoted as saying that ‘well..the warning, to me, is a warning. It is quite good for us all to be careful, to be aware.’

‘But we don’t practice corrupt practices so please don’t practice corrupt practices,’ he continued, clearly with his lying tongue planted firmly in his lumpy cheek as he played his part in his hopelessly corrupt regime’s latest laughable attempt to portray itself as clean.

Of course a great many and indeed possibly the majority of Malaysians are perfectly well aware that the MACC’s latest alleged anti-corruption drive is yet another regime attempt to fool the ignorant.

As lots of far-from ignorant Malaysiakini readers scornfully commented, the Umno party itself, and by extension the Umno/BN regime it dominates, has no further need to ‘practice’ corruption, having perfected it years ago.

Perfected the practice of corruption not only in and for themselves both individually and collectively, but also perfected the art of perpetuating their perfectly corrupt system by riddling so much of the rest of Malaysia with the rot of corruption, and in the process so euphemising and otherwise ‘normalising’ it, that even the most cynical of citizens would surely be astonished at its degree and extent.

For example, it seems to me that most of us observers of Umno/BN’s expertly-perfected system of corruption tend to see it as exemplified by the countless massive financial frauds, scams, embezzlements and outright thefts that have characterised the regime’s seemingly endless misleading of Malaysia.

But actually these large-scale larcenies are just the tip of the iceberg (or, as I’ve suggested before, heistberg), because they overshadow and distract our attention from the continual, day-by-day, hour-by-hour squandering and stealing of public funds in every department of government, at every level, as at least partially revealed by the Auditor-General in the totally-ignored report he makes every year.

Then there is the massive corruption that’s absolutely intrinsic to Umno and indeed all the component parties of Barisan Nasional.

While commonly minimised or mitigated by the culprits as ‘money politics’, this is nothing more or less than the blatant purchase of party positions and other posts for cash, with the result that money trumps merit at every level of so-called government, or rather grubernment.

And every level of government/grubernment, and every one of the so-called civil services, and indeed most of Malaysia’s civil, social and religious institutions are also corrupt.

Or, in other words, according to the definition provided by my Oxford Dictionary ‘willing to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.’

Thus, all the so-called ‘journalists’ and all the managers and members of staff of the regime-complicit ‘mainstream’ ‘news’ media are, as evidenced by their willingness to dishonestly hide or manipulate the ‘truth’ about the regime in return for their salaries or positions, are corrupt.

As are the members and management of the MACC, in their all-too-obvious willingness to act dishonestly by selectively ‘investigating’ minor-league corruption suspects in a bid to make the prime minister and his perfectly corrupt henchpersons appear honest in their pretence to be against the very corruption that they themselves thrive on.

And the same goes for all the other arms, or, more accurately harms, of the perfectly corrupt Umno/BN monster, from an electoral commission that is willing to dishonestly draw electoral boundaries, and dishonestly conduct polls, in return for salaries or positions; to a police force (ie farce) and judiciary, far too many of whose big-wigs and rank-and-file are willing, indeed in some cases eager, to dishonestly skew the institutions of law and order in the perfectly corrupt regime’s favour in return for enough pay, perks or other opportunities to survive if not thrive on.

In short, given the perfectly spectacular levels of corruption that the Umno/BN regime has managed to achieve with decades of dedicated practice, and all the people they have perfectly corrupted into Mudlaysians, Mucklaysians and Merdelaysians in the process, it’s a miracle to me that there are any true Malaysians left.

But there are, and let’s hope for a future Malaysia’s sake that they’re well and truly in the majority, and united in their determination to rescue the country they love from the perfectly corrupt Umno/BN regime when the current perfectly corrupt current prime minister decides to hold the next perfectly corrupt general election.

 

 

 

 

 

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Year of the wake-up call.

As deeply suspicious of superstition as I am, I must say I have a lot more confidence than usual that my annual Kung Hee Phatt Choi wishes will, or at least can, come true for the vast majority of us in this coming Lunar New Year of the Fire Rooster.

Because, in the process of scratching around among the prophecy-for-profit sites for enough grains of wisdom, or at least wishful-thinking, to inspire me to start pecking-away at the keyboard this week, I came across on that declared this Year of the Rooster to be a ‘wake-up call’ for the ‘exorcism of evil spirits.’

Admittedly, for all I know, this message may have been intended to have a mysteriously metaphysical or otherwise other-worldly meaning. But, simple soul as I am, I couldn’t help taking it literally, as I’ve long been conscious of the fact that there are far too many evil spirits existing and exercising themselves at our expense in this real world of ours, and a wake-up call to start exorcising them is way overdue.

And nowhere more so than in Malaysia, where the evil spirits of the Umno/BN regime have been, to switch to more appropriately to poultry-related imagery, treating the country as if was their own foulyard in which to endlessly rule the roost, or in other words their very own dunghill to crow on, for an astonishing 59 years.

Astonishing to many Malaysian exiles and expatriates, perhaps, not to mention us non-Malaysians, but evidently not sufficiently alarming as to arouse the majority of the nation’s citizens from their slumbers.

Certainly there’s a considerable and growing minority of Malaysians who are as wide-awake as can be to the crying need to turn the Umno/BN rule-the-roosters for once and for all into feather dusters as they so richly deserve.

But so far all their efforts at ridding the country of the curse of the Umno/BN’s self-styled cocks-of-the-walk, and thus beginning the long process of exorcising Malaysia of the their fowl influence, have turned-out to be futile exercises in nothing much more than cackling and squawking.

Because far too many Malaysians are still allowing themselves to be lulled into silence or some species of waking stupor, if not outright sleep, by a system so totally cocked-up as to included ‘free’ chicken-feed cash handouts and election-day bribes, unconstitutional laws designed to make most people too chicken to complain or protest, and a ceaseless barrage of cock-and-bull stories from the boss-cockies themselves, their capons in the police, ‘justice’ system, ‘religious’ organisations, civil services, government-linked corporations (GLCs), regime-funded ‘non-government organisations (NGOs) and of course the cock-suckers, or, in case my sub-editors deem this expression too obscene for a respectable newspaper, cockroaches of the so-called ‘mainstream’ media.

And the ruling-regime roosters themselves, far from being fazed by the fact that when sufficient Malaysians finally arouse themselves they’ll be given the chop, neck and crop, and end up as jailbirds, have taken to crowing about being inspired by the election to the US presidency of that supreme coxcomb, Donald Trump.

Attributing Trump’s success despite his Umno-style unpopularity to his dominance of ‘non-traditional’ media during the presidential campaign, Minister Ahmed Zahid Hamidi urged his Umno accomplices and supporters to do likewise.

But as usual Zahid was talking total cock in thus trying to portray Umno and Trump as similarly underdogs and thus birds of a feather, given that Umno has for decades dominated Malaysia’s traditional media, not to mention all the other influential institutions in the nation, including, crucially, in this context, the electoral commission.

And in any case, Umno/BN can hardly emulate Trump in making the kinds of promises, however empty they will doubtless prove to be, that arguably won him the election, media or no media.

The idea of Umno/BN’s promising to ‘make Malaysia great again’ would be ridiculous in light of the fact that the ruling regime has consistently led the nation further toward disgrace than anything remotely like greatness.

And as for the possibility of its plagiarising Trump’s promise to ‘drain the Washington swamp’, surely even Zahid would have to draw the line at promising to drain the Putrajaya cesspit, given that it was Umno/BN who dug the thing, and has spent decades filling this stinking morass to overflowing.

Meanwhile, not to be trumped in the talking-cock department by Zahid, Malaysia’s supreme rooster, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, was busy speaking, or, more appropriately, beaking about national unity.

Addressing a ‘Moments of Unity’ event organised by the Malaysian National Unity Department, he declared that ‘our theme today is ‘moments of unity’. But the truth is, we don’t want just moments of unity. What we want is unity always.’

He then went on with lots more in this tedious vein, before pointing-out that ‘Malaysia is a multicultural nation,’ and therefore ‘unity has to be translated into action and cannot remain as merely words or thoughts.’

All of which came across as a load of typically self-serving poppycock, in light of his infamous threat at an Umno annual general assembly some years ago to bathe his keris in Chinese blood, and his administration’s strenuous efforts since then to keep ruling the races by dividing them, while pretending to promote racial harmony.

But at least there’s one grain of reality in Najib’s call for unity. Never in all the years that I’ve been observing Malaysian politics has any Prime Minister/head of Umno so powerfully and increasingly unified Malaysians in their loathing of himself, his party and his ruling coalition.

And what with the Scorpene Submarine scandal and the Altantuya Shaariibuu murders still unifyingly fresh in our memories, and the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scam still ongoing, and massive ‘leakages’ being revealed in not just Felda and related companies, but also Tabung Haji and doubtless countless other regime-linked organisations yet to come, this Year of the Rooster looks like the most anti-Najib and anti-Umno/BN-unifying year yet.

And hopefully a wake-up call that will finally awaken enough Malaysians and fire them with a burning desire to put an end to this cock-up of a regime, or, in other words, to seal its cock-a-doodle-doom.

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More Mores!

Further to my recent fumings about all the forces unfairly ranged against us cigarette addicts, ‘Butt-out anti-fag nags’ and ‘And now, cigarats!’, I’m absolutely chuffed at the chance to blow some good news your way.

Michael, my old friend, good neighbour, and fellow buffer against anti-smoking huffers and puffers, arrived back this morning from his getaway with his partner Amanda to the UK, Eire and France, and presented me an entire carton of my all-time favourite, flavourite cigarettes, the RJ Reynolds brand More, that he’d bought for me duty-free on his stopover in Dubai.

Though admittedly, following a seemingly endless nicotine-free flight, and in any case having run-out of his own preferred brand by the time he’d successfully sneaked the consignment of my favourite coffin- or at least coughin’-nails through customs for me, he’d been so absolutely gasping for a gasper that he’d had to break-open the carton and one of the packets of Mores and help himself to a few.

But how could I possibly be such a drag as to begrudge him a mere sample of his present to me of so many more Mores that I’d had the chance to feast my eyes on, let alone looked forward to luxuriating in lots of lovely lungfulls of, in living memory?

Of course there are countless anti-smoking snoopers and other such wet-blankets and wowsers out there just dying to snuff-out my and Michael’s enjoyment of the odd More by drawing our attention to the admittedly undeniable drawback that the name of this, my favourite brand, rhymes with ‘mort’.

Which, of course, besides being the French word for ‘death’, has mournful echoes in similarly sinister English words with Latin and Gallic roots, like ‘morbid’, ‘moribund’ and ‘mortician’.

But, thank goodness, hard-core smoke-suckers like me and Michael aren’t fazed by such linguistic coincidences, and so, as soon as my old friend gets his breath back after his trip,  I look forward tremendously to resuming my regular Sunday-morning meetings with him at the local cafe, whose owners, smokers themselves, have reserved a special, sheltered and secluded spot in which we can’t be fined for indulge our filthy habit, and hearing his hilarious tales of his travels and travails.

Over a large cappuccino or two and a More or three or four, naturally, until my smuggled supply runs out and Michael has to revert to his 100-milimetre Horizons and I to my cheap-but-nasty Choice rolling tobacco, unless we can somehow, by hook or more likely by crook, get our paws on some more Mores to stick in our maws, not to mention in anti-smokers’ craws.

 

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