Yesterday it rained: I put on my old Nike shoes, because I hate hate hate the feeling of wet toes (germs and wriggling micro bugs thrive in rain water rushing of roofs onto pavements onto streets, right?), opened my checkered Burberry umbrella and walked to the library as planned. Don't get me wrong, I love a tropical rainstorm. The greyness, the clean, oyster coloured light that gives the burnt colours of the shophouses along my street the clarity of a glossy photograph. And I love the smell of the rain, both loamy and fresh, a smell like no other. And it got cool, so walking fast felt natural, and freeing; It felt like I was having a free day in Paris in the middle of fashion week.The rainstorm inspired me to look at Joseph Conrad's (top) collection The Eastern Stories, including The End of the Tether and The Lagoon. The introduction is written by Ban Kah Choon, who thought me English when I was in school. Dr Ban's jeans were always slipping down his back. And that was before rappers made bum cleavage de rigueur. One shelve below, I picked another book by Conrad, Victory. I had just read somewhere that Joan Didion read this book every year. It's set in Malaysia, in the year 1915.I wanted to read a Shakspeare for the end of the year, and I picked up King Lear, (again because) I read somewhere that Ernest Hemingway (above) read this tragedy annually. I would otherwise have picked Twelve Night - more bawdy and Christmas-sy, and anyway I prefer comedies.
My friend O met me at 5 o'clock sharp at my favourite McCafe, a block down from the library. He recalled that X often took him here on dates, when they were still dating, a long time ago. Now X is a body builder, and lives in New York. The rain had turned to a drizzle, but it wasn't quite dark yet, neither day nor dinner time, and so we drank iced Milo and O showed me pictures of his Mom on her birthday. And I told O that BG used to feed chickens from a red plastic pail, round about this time (dusk), when he was growing up in a farm in Chua Chu Kang. BG's chickens would flock to him when he called them "Beeek... Beeek..." and he would lead them into their wired coop, and lock them safely in for the night. And that when I was working in Bukit Merah, we would be walking to lunch and chickens would be scrabbling under the huge Casuarina trees that lined the road, for worms and such. I wonder if the chickens are still there - I haven't seen them in almost a year.After the rain stopped, O and I went next door to Bras Basah Complex and we looked at books and magazines and I bought the new Self Service, which had such a nice (Jurgen Teller) story on Kate Moss, and some Bruce Weber pictures of a model O said was called Rob Evans wearing Philip Treacy's hats. O knew such things.I settled in for the night. And just as the rest of Singapore was putting on their dancing shoes, and my friend B was getting safty pinned into a Marie Antoinette dress for a house warming costume party in Johor Bahru, climbed into bed, as safe as one of BG's chickens, and drifted off reading Kazuo Ishiguro's Artist of the Floating World. The rain had stopped.