Speaker by Various Artists

Fight Crub

by Greg Wood

Dammit - a guy just shambled in and puked on the floor of the bar, rudely interrupting yet another blog about taxis and how crap they are (let alone their drivers - sheesh!).

I dunno where he came from, because there aren't any other bars within cooee; it's possible he's just been spat out of the 80s, dropped off at the kerb by a Back To The Future-type De Lorean time machine, dressed like that, all salmon shorts and Keith Haring-print short-sleeved rayon shirt and Huey Lewis hair - and, after all, the 80s was famous for drinking till you spew. I should know, I was there.

Anyway. He's tottered in to our unassuming after-work watering hole like the self-soiling octogenarian he'll become in a few years if he keeps drinking like this, looked sadly at the bar staff like a toddler who's just cut teddy's head off with mum's best scissors, and eructated liquidly all down his best tropical gear. And you know what? He's not old and doddery and Asian. He's young, he's a whitey, and he's way outta line. It's only 8.30. People in Singapore don't start vomiting in bars until well after 11 (it's called 'doing a Merlion'), and then at least they do it into the plastic bags supplied by the staff. Oh, wait, yes, instead of throwing things at him and kicking him out the door, they're bringing him a plastic bag. And yes, he's filled it... and yes, he's offering it back to them. How polite.

And how odd. Funny thing is, Pete and Huw and I were sitting here just moments ago comparing fight-in-bar-in-Singapore stories. Pete's got one, Huw's got none, and mine isn't set in a bar, but at a kind of Opera in the Park thing. Now, we've been here three years each, and we drink a lot. And being the tropics, where people get hot and bothered and, well, go 'troppo', you might expect more in the way of shit hitting the innumerable fans that dot our wee Lion City's bars and pubs, especially considering the drink-all-you-can't promos ("Ladies Free All Night!"). But no.

Apart from the aforementioned erstwhile altercation one balmy evening in Fort Canning Park between a drunk fat American and his giant imaginary adversary, I did once see three guys sprinting down the road to see who sideswiped their car, on an alley behind Boat Quay that reminds me of somewhere near Fort Street; I was all excited by the energy for a minute, until the sideswiper came back around the block and turned himself in.

Another blog I've written (but am still mulling over) discusses the same thing, couched in terms of music and censorship, rebellion and creativity. Fact of the matter is, there's not a lot of passion in this place. My ranty blogs are always interrupted by me thinking "jeez, Greg, you're working hard to make this sound interesting - you might even be making some of this up". I wonder what it is: the heat, the simplistic lifestyle (shop, talk about mobile phone, shop), or the stories about how the Gurkhas deal with urban unrest. Whatever it is, sometimes I feel like I live in Disneyland, and writing a blog a week about a place like that would be pretty damn tough: "Goofy accidentally bumped into Mickey in Fantasyland the other day. The papers went off their nuts!" William Gibson summed it up pretty damn well - but only once (and Wired was banned for years as a result). Come and have another go, you Sci Fi wuss; I'm sure you can sneak a reference to how groovy and weird Singapore is into your next book about media manipulation...

Perhaps I'm being a little unfair. Although I am genially confused that the poor old incompetent, epileptic taxi drivers aren't removed from the gene pool at a higher rate - lord only knows how many times I've made that throttling-lunge motion from the back seat, only to be thrown off balance by my oblivious chauffeur having yet another improbably brutal stab at the gas pedal - I must admit there are some genuine horror stories, many of which can be ogled here. This morning's newspaper had two stories about parang attacks and one murder at the delightful Four Floors of Whores. An Australian was knifed for being a drunken bastard at Newton Circus, a genuine microcosm and popular late-night venue for fringe dwellers (hence the sobriquet Mutant Circus). And then there was the very vicious and altogether urban myth-worthy Michael MacRae double homicide last year. Ick. But apart from the ones that were always going to happen, no matter where the protagonists protagonised, I'd come to believe that around here if you don't go looking for it, you'd never ever ever find it.

Until tonight. 80s Neon Vomit Guy has left, but Angry Fighty Pool Table Guy is still here. The discussion about bar fights was kicked off by an encounter with this sad old wanker and his empty life a bit earlier: he accused me and Pete of indulging in girly conversation instead of banging balls with sticks - at 8.15pm, no less. We'd been out of the office for ten minutes after a fairly intense day and I wanted nothing more than to pull out my effector beam gun and erase him for annoying me into rolling my eyes until I sprained one of them, but Pete stepped in and informed him graciously that we were, clearly, humans and that he, Mr Angry, could talk to us about the situation if he felt there was a situation developing in the first place. Mr Angry really wanted to discuss something with somebody; it was a tense little moment (although the tension was on Mr Angry's side; we were just politely confused) and as I stood there, beer in hand, seconds from a bar fight for the first time in years, I thought to myself that at moments like these, perhaps I don't miss silly old Auckland at all. Now that's fighting talk...