That Scream? It’s Just Another Cyber-Munche

By Hector

Last week an incautious forecast emanated from The Diary. It was issued without taking into the account the variable humours, not to say the jealousies, of the cyber gods; or indeed of the universal application of Sod’s Law. It said that readers would not even notice that this week’s Diary had a provenance not of Bali, since in cyberspace not only could no one hear you scream, but they had no idea where you were.

Alert readers may therefore have been a little discomfited to hear the distant echo of a scream from deep in cyberspace on Tuesday. It was (of course) from your incautious and ill-advised Diarist, on being apprised of the fact that his laptop computer had toppled off the perch. Monty Python-sketch-like, it was no more. It was deceased. It had ceased to be. The Monty Python sketch owes its own provenance to an Athenian joke from the fourth century, in which someone is complaining (to the seller of the same) that his slave has died; it turns on the – entirely reasonable – counter argument from the former owner that the slave in question was alive and well at the time of sale.

Today’s slaves are of course computers. Like the slaves of old, blast them, they have minds of their own and a determination to use them. And not necessarily to their master’s advantage. In this case the battery was refusing to charge and the diagnosis – well, post mortem as it turned out – was that neither the battery nor the charger was to blame, but the integrated connection within the motherboard itself. Your Diarist, at heart the uncouth individual you all instinctively know him to be, instantly interposed a six-letter word between mother and board. But we digress.

The result of this unfortunate coincidence of inclement events: Get a new laptop, on cost grounds if for no other reason. Finding a new slave and buying one was likely to be cheaper and less time-consuming than attempting a miracle resurrection of the incumbent. Besides, a few more gigabytes might be useful.

The search is on.


One result of temporary absence from the internet these days is that one’s life falls apart. Well, perhaps not quite. But being suddenly deprived of ready access to The Bali Times website and other good places is a pain. It’s true you can read the papers – though in The Diary’s present location the local paper is not exactly reading material of choice – but absent the web, one feels deprived.

Mind you, a drive down into the wine country of Margaret River is both an admirable antidote and an excursion that should never be forgone. The Diary and Distaff returned last weekend to a fine establishment last visited 21 years ago – that seems impossible but is regrettably the case – at which lunch and a decorous modicum of fine wine was consumed.

It was Woody Nook, a Ruritanian-style retreat just a little to the north of Margaret River itself, where the meals in the Nook are first-class. The Diary indulged in a beef ravioli helped down by a very pleasant red, and left a card lest Simple Simon of the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association should ever drop in.

For two decades Woody Nook it has been Nookie Wood in Diary parlance. Many among the lunchtime crowd last Sunday looked as if they might have had the same idea.

Oh for the Bukit

One desperately tries to avoid visiting southern regions of Australia in their winter. It is far too cold and wet for comfort, especially for those who have trained throughout their lives for the amiable beneficence of the tropical zone. In The Diary’s view, anywhere south or north of Latitude 10 is asking for trouble.

But a summer visit to the West Australian Riviera however is not without its problems either. When you live on the beautiful Bukit (Latitude 8S) and enjoy daily maxima of 28-29C, minima of 24-26C, and thrill to the chill of the occasional 22C morning, 34C-plus in the shade is a tad too much.

Down here on 34S, there’s been all this strange blue stuff above us, too. It seems to be sky. We’re just not accustomed anymore to clear skies over the Bukit. It’s so difficult for it to bucket down unless masses of those woolly grey things get between you and the blue.

Festive Note

It was good to see, in a window of opportunity between no internet access and internet access this week, that Janet de Neefe has been busy promoting this year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. She enjoined us in an email to mark October 5-9 in our diary as the dates of the 2011 extravaganza. We were grateful for this confirmation and have duly underlined these auspicious dates in our calendar.

Bali’s annual writers’ festival, whether or not one of the six best in the world according to some distant glossy journal, is of course an event to be welcomed and applauded, and promoted. We wanted to do this last year but were not allowed to be a participant, having apparently offended someone or other, perhaps by being an actual newspaper that not only reports the news but subjects it to analysis and sometimes – heavens forefend – pens a critical comment or three.

We look forward to an opportunity to promote the event – and subject it to objective analysis – this year. The theme for 2011 is Nandurin Karang Awak, Cultivate the Land Within. Let’s get digging.

Fanatic Note

If it were not so serious it would be laughable that the Iranian government is in such a flux over the outcome of events in Egypt. Its leaders are clearly petrified that the outcome of the inevitable Egyptian “revolution” will not be a triumph for Islamic fundamentalism. Anyone could tell them that, the Muslim Brotherhood notwithstanding, Egypt is about the least fundamentalist nation you could find in the Islamic diaspora.

The Iranian political leader, I’m a mad dinner jacket, has made common cause with the ayatollahs in pursuit of an Iran that the country’s intelligencia reject and which will not work. The genius of Iran lies in its history, its acceptance of modernity, its nationally defined accretion to Islam, and its educated classes (of which their present political leader is an errant member).

The expansive and progressive future of Iran is more perfectly expressed by the life (and unconscionable death) of Neda Agha Soltan than by the man who acquiesced in, if he did not directly cause, her murder by an authorised sniper on the streets of Tehran in 2009.

Indonesia’s own fundamentalists, who wreck churches, kill “errant” Muslims, would put every one of their countrymen in Purdah if they could, and similarly seek to abolish the modern world, might properly and profitably consider this.

In for a Grilling

There are benefits to having a short sojourn in Western Australia. You see all sorts of things. One little chap seen the other day was fixedly engaged on a marathon swim. He was 10 metres offshore and paddling madly, first westwards and then eastwards, while his friends (a man and a boy) kept walking pace along the beach. And he did really well, for a short-haired terrier.

Another little item of interest was fits of ersatz outrage in the West Australian parliament over the absence of National Party leader and minister for something or other Brendan Grylls. He was not at his seat because, sensible fellow, he was having a holiday in Bali.

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