Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Muscat

img00043.jpg  img00034.jpg  img00050.jpg  img00048.jpg

It’s 18th January and Oman have just won the Gulf Cup, beating Saudi Arabia on penalties. Check out the guy’s feet on top of the car in the fourth photo… 

posted by Kirk at 10:15 pm  

Monday, January 26, 2009

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

There’s something darkly inspiring about these buildings, which I snapped on a recent visit:

petronas-towers.jpg

Designed by Argentine-American architect César Pelli, they were completed in 1998, when they became the tallest buildings in the world.

They were succeeded by Taipei 101 in 2004, but remain the world’s tallest twin towers.

It seems to me incongruous that a nation with the vision to commission an inspired piece of architecture such as this could also be so narrow-minded as to ban yoga on religious grounds:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7743312.stm

Funny old world we live in…

posted by Kirk at 4:10 am  

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Number One Under Heaven (63)

Sophie Blake was sleeping snugly in her quarters aboard the Glory, content at having been rescued from the nasty Guilin gang. In her slumber, vague images of ‘Funny’ and ‘Scary’ vied for her attention – they were so nice, these men who had saved her – even if Scary looked a bit… well, scary. They cared for her, had fed her well and provided such a comfy bed… And there were visions of her mother, too – of a beaming Kate boarding the vessel from a launch, rather like she had, and rushing up to her, to hug her and swing her around in a twirl. To kiss her shiny, scented hair… Mummy… Mummy… she could almost hear herself purr…

Bazza, Bazza, Bazza… the former reggae star mouthed to his reflection in the bathroom mirror. What the fuck are you going to do? Wiping the last traces of foam from his newly razored chin, he shook his head with worry. Something Plums had said was beginning to nag him, to gnaw away at his subconscience. Stick to the usuwal stuff… Bazza almost smiled as he mouthed the words, mimicking the affected accent of his Cockney companion of these past few decades. Poor Plums, he mused, wanly. For whilst he loved him as assuredly as night follows day, Bazza knew that Harold Cheeseman had never truly been the champagne to his Guinness. That as a couple, their chemistry had never quite formed the perfect Black Velvet. And this had been the other reason his loyal ginger lover had been forced to witness years of his indulgence – his sordid debasing of child after child as he played out his fantasies in the only way he permitted himself; in the manner he had grown accustomed to, ever since staging that first party for the kids from his old orphanage.

Pursing his lips, Bazza pushed through the bathroom door with sudden purpose. He would make amends for his earlier outburst – seek forgiveness from the one person who had stood by him, all these years. Someone who also, he now realised, had a very valid point with regard to the ‘merchandise’ sleeping soundly in the VIP cabin along the corridor. For until now, it had always been possible for him to justify his errant behaviour on the grounds that his treatment of the child victims on whom he preyed was, on balance, humane and kind. They had always left him with more nourishment in their bellies than when they first arrived, and he was generous with the cash he gave them when sending them off, back to the filthy streets from whence they came. Never mind that many – perhaps all – were murdered before reaching their intended destinations, silenced lest they betray the brutes who pimped them, while handing the slayers all the profit their young bodies had secured. But that was not Bazza’s business.

Tiptoeing past her quarters, the faded Top of The Pops icon thought again of the girl sleeping soundly inside. Someone’s daughter, he reminded himself. Not just some impoverished urchin that’s been plucked from the roadside in some Asian slum. No – Plums was right. This was an unnecessary risk, and he would admit it – would try and quell the turbulent air that now flowed between them.

Arriving at the door, Bazza knocked gently. “Plums,” he half-whispered. “Open up, darling. I need to talk.” Hearing the click of the lock from inside, he paused momentarily before turning the handle and pushing it open, to enter. A rather doleful Plums was sitting on the edge of his bed, staring down at his feet. Bazza moved across the cabin to sit beside him. “Like two sparrows on a telegraph wire,” he quipped, trying to lighten the mood. But Plums was having none of it, such was the depth of his depression. You’re such a bloody woman, Harold Cheeseman, Bazza thought to himself, privately. But the words that parted his lips were kinder. “Plums,” he said, placing an arm around his loyal manservant’s shoulder. “I think you may be right, darling. I’m having second thoughts.” The look Plums flicked him in reward for this confession was truly heart warming. “Oh, guv’nor… Ah’m so pleased to ’ear it,” he replied. “But what the fuck are we going to do wiv ’er, then?” His eyes darted in the direction of the corridor, along which Sophie’s quarters were situated. Bazza dropped his head, the gravity of his mistake now manifesting itself as a crushing weight on top of it. “Right now, I haven’t got a clue, my love,” he almost sobbed. “I think I need a nap. I’m going to lie down for a while. Could you bring me some Panadol, dear?”

A few minutes later, Plums was backing through the portal leading into the Glory’s Owner’s Suite. A glass of milk was balanced carefully in the centre of the tray he carried, together with four white tablets arrayed neatly on a deep blue porcelain saucer. “’Ow’s yer ’ead, boss?” he enquired of the prone figure on the bed. “Don’t worry, Plums, my dear old friend. I’ve fucked up again, I know. Big time, this time. But we’ll find a way out of it. We always do, don’t we?” “So what we gonna do then, guv?” Plums persisted. Bazza, meanwhile, slowly raised an arm, to rest the back of his hand on his forehead. “I just don’t know. I really don’t. Help me out here, Plums. What the fuck are we going to do?” “Why don’t we try an’ get ’er back to China?” “I’ve been thinking of that. Question is: how?” “Can’t we get ’old o’ the same geezers who arranged t’fetch ’er? Ask ’em t’come back ’n take ’er, or somefing?”

Bazza shot up like a bolt and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. At the mention of the men with whom he had originally negotiated in order to acquire the merchandise, there was something he had suddenly remembered. Some terrible oversight. “Shit on sticks, Plums! I’ve just realised something!” he yelled, a look of sheer terror written across his face. “Whassat?” “I haven’t fucking paid for her yet! And if I’m right about the type of men I’ve been dealing with, we’re already in the shit. Deep, deep, deep fucking shit. Fuck!

posted by Kirk at 2:21 am  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On A Lighter Note…

One of the more notable features of the Bahrain landscape is the water towers that are dotted about the place.

This one is known locally as the “Horse’s Bollocks” water tower:

horses-bollocks-water-tower.jpg

Except that this particular horse must’ve been suffering from polyorchidism.

Yeah, go on…

Look it up in Wiki…

posted by Kirk at 3:41 am  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dawn

dawn-in-bahrain.jpg

It’s just after dawn in Bahrain.
In a little under an hour the sun will rise on Gaza.
I’m minded of Lennon’s immortal words:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one…

posted by Kirk at 12:00 am  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Fall

Every child has the right to be shielded
From the evil that lurks within men
But for some there is no such protection–
They’re the victims again and again

As a boy, I’d look up to my father
For example, for guidance and strength
For the innocent children of Gaza
It is terror that’s etched there instead

While the world’s toothless envoys assemble
And the greatest of powers abstains
There are more infant souls slaughtered hourly
By an army that kills without shame

So what rational person among us
Could deceive himself that this is just?
That pursuit of defence is aggression–
That the cause justifies the bloodlust?

And what’s God doing up in His heaven
Hid away from the meek, the unblessed?
Is there meant to be some kind of lesson
For the babies with lead in their chests?

I don’t care that their forefathers skirmished–
That their fathers now settle the score
If we think of ourselves as enlightened
We must end this insufferable war

posted by Kirk at 12:34 pm  

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Number One Under Heaven (62)

“Adam, you’ve got to involve the local police. You can’t do this on your own. You don’t have the resources, the… you know, the guile to take on a whole gang like this.” Blake stared back at her impassively, his arms folded. “Look, you couldn’t even…” But Elle trailed off. “Go on, then. Say it,” her lover retorted, angrily. “Say it!” “Adam. Honey. I’m sorry.” Her voice was quieter, now. “But think about it, Adam. Please. Look – you couldn’t even manage to keep hold of that idiot back there. You took your eye off him when you lost your temper and allowed him to slip away, unnoticed. What’s going to happen if you do the same thing when you’re up against the real snakeheads? I’m scared for you, baby. These guys you’re going to be dealing with are hardened criminals. And whether you like it or not, they’re not dumb, like that lowlife. They’re clever. That’s why they’re at the top of their tree. They’ll hurt you, baby. This guy Din, for example. He’s probably the mastermind. The guy who set it up. Hired our friend and his pals t–” “I’m going to fucking kill him with my bare hands!” Blake burst out, suddenly. He slapped the wall of their hotel room so hard that he felt the sting rush all the way up his arm, to his shoulder. “Adam! Don’t you see that this is what I’m talking about?” Elle screamed at him. “You can’t control your temper! You’re too emotional. Too close to it. To get Sophie back, you’re going to need the help of people who can think objectively. People who’ve dealt with his type before. Professionals. The police, Adam!”

Elle’s eyes sought out his, appealing to his rational side. But Blake would not return her gaze. Turning instead to rest his forehead on the wall, it seemed for a moment that he would break down. “I can’t stand the thought of them hurting my little girl,” he gasped, the helplessness of the situation getting the better of him. “Please, don’t let them do that…” “Come on, Adam,” Elle soothed him, stroking his hair. “She’s going to be all right. Let’s give my plan a try. Look, if the police don’t respond as they should, we’ll do it your way. Deal?” “Ok… Okay,” Blake stammered. Breathing deeply, he rubbed his hands around his face, trying to gain some composure. “But I tried taking the official route back in Guilin, before you arrived. And it wasn’t easy to get past the front desk, even. If these clowns here adopt the same attitude, I’m going to walk away, very quickly, and take the law into my own hands.” “OK, that’s a deal,” Elle confirmed, a little uneasily. But as Blake was talking his thoughts had begun to wander, and he was suddenly reminded of his conversation the previous day with DCI Gai. It now occurred to him that Guilin municipal police force’s second-in-command might have further news to report. “Babe, there’s someone we need to get in touch with. Urgently,” he anxiously imparted. “Who’s that?” Elle quizzed him. “Name’s Gai. Deputy Chief Inspector Gai, of the Guilin police. Spoke perfect English. Knew about the case. Seemed to be pursuing things. Actively. I was supposed to go back and see him this morning, but what with everything that’s gone on, I completely forgot.” “We can ask the local station to call him,” suggested Elle, helpfully.

Somewhat encouragingly, the desk sergeant in Qinzhou police headquarters showed considerable interest in the tale that Elle recounted, turning over the newspaper article in his hands and taking down notes in considerable detail, including the names S-o-p-h-i-e B-l-a-k-e and Bei Din Din. But, flattering to deceive, he ultimately disappointed when dismissing the couple with a simple: “Xie xie.” Thank you. “I will refer the matter upstairs, when my superiors will decide what to do about this… er, case. You may go now.” “What’s he saying?” asked Blake, noticing the deflated look on her face. Ignoring him, Elle continued to plead with the young sergeant, now gesticulating with her hands. “For fuck’s sake!” Blake suddenly screamed at her, causing the officer to jump. “Doesn’t he understand that time is slipping away? Tell him they need to act now, before something… something terrible… Oh, look I told you this is what’d happen!” On hearing his shouts, two or three other policemen emerged from the office situated behind the front desk. Elle, meanwhile, continued to remonstrate with the sergeant; sensing, however, that she was fighting a losing battle. Finally, the young officer stubbornly dug in his heels. “We have a thing called due process here, Madam,” he said to her, officiously. “Due process will be gone through and the matter you have described will receive proper attention, in good time. Now as I said, you may leave.”

“Ask him to call Gai,” Blake instructed, sighing. With some difficulty, he was managing to regain some of his composure. “Could you at least do one thing for us? Before we go… officer?” Elle begged. “What’s that?” “Just place a call for us. To Guilin police. DCI Gai. Please?” At the mention of the Guilin police force, the young sergeant sneered inwardly. What the fuck does she think those pricks can do? he asked himself. Picking up the notes he had taken, he made to turn. “Wait here. I’ll see what I can do,” he said, before swivelling on his heels and disappearing through the door to the office, followed by the other uniformed men. Inside, he handed the papers to a subordinate, with the instruction to search the database of known criminals for the name Bei Din Din. Then, making no effort to contact Guilin’s Deputy Chief Inspector, he sourced their switchboard number from a directory and scribbled it down, before re-emerging behind the reception desk. “He’s not there,” he lied, handing the small piece of paper to Elle. “Here’s the number. You can try later. Zai jian.Good bye.

In the back office, the subordinate had entered the words into the computer’s search engine, drawing a blank. For Bei Din Din had no criminal record. Did not exist within the domain of known villains. Cam Pho, on the other hand, was near the top of both Vietnam and China’s most wanted lists.

posted by Kirk at 8:33 am  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Through The Godless Hours (81)

Captain Farid’s eyes were smarting as he sped back around the ringroad, in the direction of the mothballed housing development. But the stinging there was nothing compared to the mental scars events at Endang’s had inflicted upon him. Scars that would have no time to heal. Taking one hand off the wheel, he rubbed at the salty dryness, something that provided only temporary relief. Although his blubbering had long since ceased, the military man’s expression was hardly one of calm – more that of steely determination, tinged with an element of frustration that it was taking so long to reach his destination. The occasional heavy twitch provided further evidence of the latent energy that seemed likely to burst from him at any moment.

Finally reaching the highway spur, he forced himself to slow the car before swinging through the long sweep that led to the entrance gate. The sound of the car’s tyres was different inside the deserted compound, alternately scrunching over rubble and splashing through the odd puddle that had yet to evaporate following the afternoon’s downpour. Barely noticing, now, the unfinished buildings that had previously stoked such imagery in his mind, the Captain stared resolutely ahead, while the shadows cast by his headlights danced left and right.

At the end of the muddy road he brought the car to a halt, once more facing the untidy patch of land that had once been fertile rice paddy. Captain Farid killed the engine and switched off the lights: the stillness in result mirroring the calm that now descended like a cloak over his body. His mind, equally, had reconciled itself with the inevitable. The end of the road… he repeated in his mind, without mirth. Slowly reaching across to the glove compartment, he took a few silent breaths before quietly opening it and lowering the flap so that it, too, made no sound. It took a moment for his fingers to locate the object for which they searched when once again, cold to the touch, the instrument of death was in his grip.

Bringing up the gun slowly and deliberately, Captain Farid once more pressed the oily barrel against his lips…

Bellies half full of rice, the pair of street kids were kicking through the discarded bottles, cans and other rubbish that littered the lifeless patch of earth in front of the lean-to serving as their home. Raising their heads simultaneously, they were suddenly drawn to the irregular flashing of headlights approaching from over on the other side. Their eyes followed the car until, ultimately, it came to rest. Nudging each other, they began to make their winding way across the wasteland, careful to remain low lest they be detected. The brothers had often crept up on the occupants of cars that made their way out to this isolated spot, where lovers came to grope, or illicit deals were cut away from the glare of prying eyes. They were just the kind of kids Captain Farid had always loathed. The type of lowlife offspring he had, on at least one previous occasion, blithely exterminated. Unaware of the potential danger that sat in wait across the waste ground, the boys’ excitement blotted out all else. Their fervent hope, this hitherto uneventful evening, was to surprise a courting couple and perhaps get a glimpse of some female flesh.

Barely able to suppress their giggles, the boys circled around in a wide arc, undetected as they then approached the Timor from behind. In their excitement, they failed to notice the military plates; the darkness such that the car’s telltale shade of green was also obscured. Stooping, their pace had slowed by the time they reached the rear of the vehicle. There, the brothers exchanged a knowing look, before dropping to the ground. Crawling forward while making as little sound as possible, they monitored each other’s progress by glancing sideways beneath the vehicle until, simultaneously, they came level with the car’s front doors. On a whispered count: one, two… three! the boys suddenly bobbed up either side of the car, their faces pressed hard against the windows.

posted by Kirk at 12:12 pm  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Number One Under Heaven (61)

While essentially an unwelcoming place, Qinzhou’s central post office did at least provide access to the business pages they now scoured. Poring over the Chinese characters, Elle found the entry in the telephone directory listing local car hire firms. “Here. Here they are,” she said, running a finger down the list. “At least fifty, by the look of it.” With a watchful eye on their captive – who he had managed to clean up a little in a nearby public convenience – Blake leaned across to mull over the meaningless symbols. Once again, he was reminded of how important Elle was to the quest to locate his daughter. “Well done,” he said meekly, perhaps still shaken by his actions back in the café. Then, offering her his cell phone, he gestured for her to begin calling them, urgently. But Elle waved him away, already dialling the first number into her own hand held device.

It was almost thirty minutes before she had whittled the companies down to a shortlist of three. Blake and the petty crook had spent the time surveying each other dubiously, while trying to avoid eye contact. “These are our best bet,” Elle suddenly piped up, slicing through the uneasy atmosphere. “Although the conversation I had with this one–” she pointed to the third “–was confusing.” Blake rubbed his chin. “None of the others have a black people carrier, Adam,” his lover finally concluded, looking sympathetically into his eyes. “OK, let’s get going,” he replied, already turning to head back across the large hallway in the direction of the exit, pushing the lowlife abductor ahead of him as he did. Once outside, they managed after some delay to hail one of the infrequent taxis to pass, only to find as they settled inside that the driver had no idea how to reach their intended destination. Thinking on her feet, Elle dialled the car hire firm’s number before passing the phone to her left. Slamming his hand on the wheel a few grunts later, the driver gunned the engine into life. And while Blake was sighing in frustration at the time wasted, Elle was quietly encouraged by the curses the man continued to utter under his breath. For it meant their destination had to be close.

“Get him to wait,” barked Blake as they climbed out a few minutes later. “Tell him I’ll make it worth his while.” Elle remonstrated with the driver, who reluctantly agreed, while once more taking out his annoyance on the steering wheel. Jogging up from behind, she then caught up with Blake and their captive as they were pushing open the door leading into a dingy office, where a portly but otherwise unremarkable Chinaman sat smoking behind his desk. Again, it was Elle who did the talking, but after what seemed an eternity, the heated argument that appeared to have taken place had clearly drawn a blank. Elle turned away, her expression glum, while the man behind the desk simply shrugged. “It’s not the place,” Blake’s lover said, simply. “He hasn’t got any people carriers at all. Just lured us here in the hope we’d hire something else, instead.” Blake glared at him over his shoulder as the three promptly left to jump back into the taxi, which pulled away too sharply, and before the doors were properly closed. “Hey, asshole!” yelled Blake. But Elle was already dealing with the situation, reprimanding the errant driver, who seemed, this time, willing to pay heed.

Pulling up outside the yard of the second shortlisted company, their hopes were immediately lifted: a black Toyota Alphard was parked immediately outside the shack that was the firm’s office. Blake could not resist peering inside as they passed alongside it, without gaining any further clue. Talk to me, Sophie, he silently begged. Talk to Daddy, sweetheart. Moments later they pushed open the flimsy door, where a filthy man with a cigarette stuck to his bottom lip grunted some form of acknowledgement from behind a cluttered counter. Blake noted how the cigarette flapped up and down as he spoke. But for the circumstances, he would have found the sight amusing.

While Elle began talking to the man, appealing for his concentration while she probed, Blake’s eyes wandered about the place, surveying the room and the counter in front of him, searching for clues. Talk to me… After a while, he began to experience a sense that something was out of place. Or that a signal was being received, somewhere within. Talk to me, sweetheart… What was it? He scoured the room again. Nothing. But the subliminal messenger kept knocking. Poring over the contents of the counter, left to right, he suddenly stopped, his gaze instantly drawn back towards the left hand side, as if pulled by some invisible string. There. There it was. Nestling among some keys within a plastic container on the surface was something shiny and white. Blake moved left and reached into it, gripping the object between finger and thumb. He held it up to inspect it more closely. A tooth. The milk tooth of a young child. Sophie Blake’s. His little girl’s. It had to be!

Only vaguely aware of the conversation that was taking place between Elle and the car hire man, Blake suddenly lunged over to grab him by the shirt, half pulling him across the counter. From an inch away, he screamed into the hapless individual’s face: “Who hired that fucking car? Eh? Two days ago! Who hired the car?” Blake’s arm was outstretched behind him, pointing in the direction of the parking lot. “Give me a name, you cunt! Give me a fucking name, or I’ll… I’ll fucking…” Choking, the man was finding it difficult to spit out anything in response. Fleet of foot, Elle had meanwhile taken the opportunity to sprint behind the counter, where she was already leafing through a handwritten register. “Adam! Stop!” she yelled, as her finger hovered over an unusual name. Slowly, Blake loosened his grip, prompting the man to cough before hacking up and spitting a throatful of phlegm on to the ground. “His name is Bei. Bei Din Din,” related Elle, excitedly. “Adam. We’ve got a name!” And it was true: finally, the pair had their first clue as to the identity of the mastermind behind the abduction. The first concrete fact upon which to build their investigation.

But this vital piece of information had been won at a price, for as they turned to leave the petty thief they had picked up back in Guilin was nowhere to be seen.

posted by Kirk at 12:03 pm  

Friday, January 2, 2009

Supermen, By The Kaptain

This song is about the way in which children can be used as emotional weapons within failed relationships.
It was inspired by the individual experiences of some close friends of mine (you know who you are…)
The embittered woman sings the verses; the bellicose male responds in the choruses (in italics).
After the second chorus, the outro (a kind of chant) hints at some form of spiritual reconciliation, as it is sung in harmony by both…

“You say you’ve nothing left to give
This burden cannot be endured
But all the hate I feel inside
Means I will always ask for more

You say you want to stay a friend
That we could share the odd embrace
But when I look at you with her
My hateful heart spits in your face

All the pain, the rage
You suck from their souls
These Supermen will overcome
And your hold over
Their beautiful sons
These Supermen will overcome

You say your life is not a void
Your heart is happy and not sad
But it’s not hard to see the truth
Etched in your face, an absent Dad

And once the boy has flow the nest
Is old enough to form a plan
Will he seek out his long-lost father?
Or attempt to kill the old man?

All the pain, the rage
You suck from their souls
These Supermen will overcome
And your hold over
Their beautiful sons
These Supermen will overcome

Because he’ll be no Superman…
He will not become a Superman…
Let him not become…
Another Superman…”

posted by Kirk at 4:26 am  

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