A Brief Yet Illuminating Return to the Orient
Mighty Joe Cummins 1997!!!!!!
There’s doing and there’s dreaming.
After many a false start, I finally got to have a beer with the Big Man of NEC Cellphones UK.
Mighty Joe Cummins. 18 stone of fighting machine. He’s big, wide and with a leery grin, could have doubled up as Ali’s opponent in that eventful fight “The rumble in the jungle!”
As it happened he was in shorts, bottle – green, a Tommy Hilfilger shirt and Calvin Klein sunshades. This guy was a cool dude.
Joe is the kind of guy you instantly warm to, eminently likeable, like most cockneys. As a sprightly 30 something he greeted me with a handshake that would startle a Grizzly bear. As I was grimacing, all I could hear him say was “wotcha Nick”. “Watcha what?” I replied. “Watcha- drinkin’” he laughed. A drinkin’ man is “Mighty Joe Cummins”
I was back. Back to that twighlight existence. When in Singapore you have to realise that it’s not real. It doesn’t exist, it’s just fantasy. Joe was having difficulty realising this. He was going thro’ the wow phase. I did that on my first trip. I’m not strictly saying he was on a “trip”, well not a chemical induced trip….. I don’t think !!!
Out from the office we had to decide on food. Not an issue you’d think but Mighty Joe don’t like fish, nor veg. In the Daimler, Joe as is usual for travelling NEC staff, sat in first class. That means up front to the rest of us. I had to sit in the back in steerage…. as is usual.
Chattering in fluent Malay or possibly Mandarin, Joe directed the driver to town. Which was odd because he had as much idea where town was as Watford knew how to score goal. In what amounted to more of a threat than an indication of his culinary requirement, Mighty Joe once again mentioned about the fish and veg. The valet parked the car and inside we went.
Resplendent in marble and thick carpets the restaurant was top notch.
Our host rattled off the requirements for the meal in Mandarin and we waited for the food to arrive. I could see Mighty Joe steaming in the air-conditioned coolness.
“Bleedin’ fish” he mumbled quietly to himself.
It was Cold snail with pig’s sinew and Jelly-fish. Followed by steamed sea perch and minced garlic. “I don’t like Perch and I don’t mince, with garlic or without!”
“Don’t be ungrateful” I said as I watched Mighty Joe fumble with his chopsticks. Quite how he expected to use them for the first time with fingers the size of giant octopus- tentacles I will never know. I could of course say that,…. because they were next………..!!.
However, after the food was dispensed with, it was what to do next.
“You like to do kareoke?” was the cry. Like heaven to my ears I muttered “you bet”. With all the finesse of Ari Vaatanen racing to the first corner, we sped into the night. Daimlers are famous for their comfort and speed although not generally at the same time and the leather seats creaked and groaned as we tried to keep still. We finally came to a stop and I extricated myself from the picnic tray, and Joe from the airbag. Steerage doesn’t have airbags, only sick bags.
We alighted and made our way into the opening ahead. Greeted by the most beautiful woman I have ever, ever seen in my life, we were escorted into the dimly lit corridor that stretched out, nay beckoned before us.
Wall to wall beautiful oriental girls dripped from every corner and my mouth dribbled from both. I was beginning to get the picture and Mighty Joe was beginning to melt, even though the air conditioning was set to deep freeze.
We arrived at our room and in we went into Number 9. Inside was the most awesome TV I have ever seen, At least I thought she was a TV!!!!
Not 20 seconds after, we were joined by our “ladies”, a bottle of Cognac and a huge bowl of fruit. Now this was about to get interesting. Fruit games I thought!!!!. I spied Joe out of the corner of my eye and his lady was as close as a close lady can get to you without being as one and her hand was stroking his not inconsiderable-thigh. I kicked the video into life and hurredly murdered a quick Boyzone and was about to start a crucifixion of my favourite Candle in the Wind when Mighty Joe stood up.
“I’ll have to go to the lav”
Now I know that he expected to go on his own but life in the East is not so straight-forward. His escort rose just after him and hurriedly followed calling after him “Baby Joe Baby Joe”
Then, I murdered Candle in the Wind, My escort crooning along, her hand on the mic all the time. It was a few minutes later that I realised he had not returned and so I thought I had better go and find him.
Losing a customer in a whorehouse may just be a little difficult to explain even for me, so I rose, along with my lady friend and we both went to the bathroom…….together. Thankfully or not ….. as the case may be, she stayed outside the door. I went in.
Mighty Joe was there waiting. “This is a whore house we’re in , you know that don’t you”? he said with beads of perspiration glistening in the dim light of the smoke laden night air.
“Calm down” I said
“I can’t go through with it can you”?
Well it was a little close to the bone I suppose, The girls were absolutely stunning and it was for free up to now but he was right, how long could we last as free loaders before we were out of our depth or worse our trousers.
“We need a plan” I said. “I’m trained at doing plans, I’ve done a course”
“I’ll pretend to be ill and we’ll make our exit, how does that sound”?
Joe by now would have said yes to a bite from a crocodile with halitosis, if it got us out without taking our pants off, so I began to look distinctly ill and he helped me out of the bathroom and into the dimly lit corridor. Like a scene from Apocalypse Now the purple haze of stale cigarette-smoke engulfed us wafting around our shoulders and he helped me past the girls who were to their credit, somewhat concerned to see a nights accommodation being wrestled from their long-finger-nailed grasp, not to mention $200 a piece, and we made our way down the warren of corridors to room 9.
We entered our soundproof room and I produced an Oscar winning performance exit for the evening.
You just cant do enough for a good customer.
Of course our host was most worried by the proceedings and because he wanted to ensure we all had a good time gestured that Joe stay behind and have a good time whilst he got me a cab to my hotel.
Barely able to contain my shrieks of laughter at the spectacle of Joe being forced to stay behind, whilst I escaped, hampered my otherwise faultless performance, Joe proffered his enormous bulk by way of a crutch. Like a man about to have his stay of execution removed Joe pleaded for his release so he could help me to bed. Our host was most helpful in calming the girls who were having difficulty understanding why Joe had to leave as well as me and were getting a little hysterical, but we made it out into the night.
What an escape!!!.
Shopping comes easy to Joe. Like a kid in a toy store he has to be chaperoned to ensure he doesn’t spend all on the first day.
We were after a camera. A particular type of camera as it happened. We knew a price and we went for it. We spent the best part of an hour bartering each assistant down until we finally reached the bottom. 300 dollars for a camera complete with case. The trouble was that Joe was not content with his price. He wanted to get ever lower. So low in fact that we were in danger of never actually making a purchase.
Joe changed his approach and began to get aggressive. The heat had drained him so much that he was delirious.
However the final onslaught would be his swansong. In hopelessly broken Mandarin he launched a tirade of abuse at the unsuspecting salesman…. who because no doubt of a lifetimes experience in dealing with idiots like us, completely ignored him. Undaunted by this indifference, from a guy no bigger that Tom Thumb, Joe perspired profusely and grimaced. He was possessed by the Devil, there was no doubt.
“You come back at 9pm tonight” the diminutive man threatened. As he turned away I’m sure he whispered to his equally diminutive assistant “Yes and we will cut you throat” but maybe I was just imagining things.
Did we go? The hell I did!! I was leaving. It was up to the Big man.
The plane rose high into the night sky and with every breath I took we gained another 20 storeys above the neon skyline. We banked over the bay and as we began to straighten up, Orchard Road could clearly be seen, shining like a beacon, drawing the unsuspecting into its intoxicating grasp, to never let you leave.
Suddenly there was a red flash from the end of the main area of Orchard Road. I instinctively looked at my watch..dead on 9pm. Atta boy I thought, Joe had done the deal of the decade…… only offered to pay by credit card!!!!! Top man that Cummins.
Taxi’s, Transvestites and a Massage
I landed again at Singapore airport and it had grown some more. Reclaimed from the sea, soon there would be another runway the size of Essex
I got a London cab to the hotel and retired until the next day.
The Hotel Cab caller, an Indian complete with a turban used a very loud whistle. I nicknamed him “The Whistler”. My cab duly arrived. At that moment I should have refused to get in and walk to work instead. However I got in and that was where it all went wrong. The cab was customarily spotless and had the standard shrine on the dashboard to keep us amused. The driver however was another matter. I passed him a card for my destination only to realise he was blind. He held the card in his weathered hand and shook his head, forced the car into a gear and we lurched off. I was trapped.
I believe the car had 5 forward gears and it certainly had reverse. The upper reaches of the gearbox we were never to visit, in a journey that would ultimately last at least 2 days !!! We edged eerily thro the suburbs lurching with every twitch of the driver’s foot. As we were always in second gear this made the ride somewhat choppy. Finally onto the expressway we hit 3rd gear, what a bloody relief.
It was only really when we went past the last known exit to my destination that I knew things had reached a terribly predictable point.
“Have you the slightest idea where we are going to?” I quietly enquired, rage beginning to rise in my lower chest.
He shrugged his rounded shoulders and gesticulated in such a manner that I could only take to mean no.
“Have you a map then?”
He did but he had left it at home. I was rapidly being sucked into a purple haze of rage and murderous violence.
“Can you use a telephone then?” I casually enquired expecting a similar retort.
He did thank goodness understand the workings of the electronic telephone equipment I was handing him. He began a series of calls, probably all over the Eastern Seaboard of the USA.
No luck there then.
I rang a colleague and pleaded for help. The driver had a conversation with my colleague and the phone was passed back to me.
“Get the hell out of the cab!!! he’s a Psychopath”!!!
I got out, was threatened that if I didn’t pay the meter I’d be visited by theTriad’s in my sleep, and find my own head on the pillow next to me. I paid, and legged it to the train station.
That day, Joe arrived in Singapore. After the days work we met in the Hard Rock Café over the road from the Hotel. The band had just started their act.
“That bloke looks a bit dodgy” said Joe as his beer disappeared. 6 feet tall in black and looking a little like Morticia in the Adamms family he sure had a good voice. In fact on reasonably closer inspection that guy had a chest more in keeping with Britney Spears than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On even closer inspection (for which Joe got a reprimand) there was a definite lack of “tackle”. Still she could sing in tune and was a good few octaves higher than George Michael. A pleasing combination then, she pouted to the crowd. Although called Jeffrey in her previous life she WAS Anjelique from France. I closed my eyes, drunk my beer and tried desperately to believe. What the hell it was close enough for me.
I opened my eyes and Arsenal were on the telly. How civilised. Joe was looking up Jeffrey’s skirt…stars in his eyes!
The next day was a day to remember. Massage by beautiful foreign women has a certain cache about it wouldn’t you say? Joe was terminally worried these days.
First a shower, assisted if you wished! Then a relax in a sauna as hot as I’ve ever been in, a hot tub as boiling as a pan of simmering noodles and a cold pool so cold there was a health warning next to it and a heart fibrulator plugged into the wall.
SHOWTIME. We went in and…..came out smiling. Touched gently and whispered to quietly, covered in oil. What bliss.
Singapore has something about it that borders on the unexplainable. Motorcyclists riding in flip- flops with their jackets on back to front. Near naked girls clinging to their boyfriends on high powered sports bikes. Near naked girls!!
Automatic foot massage machines so painful they make you cry. Then into the nearest cab
The driver was a wizened old Tibetan-monk afflicted with a stammer and had a mysterious shaking manner. We lurched from one lane to another in a random motion narrowly missing disaster by no more than a whisker. The dash mounted temple ringing its bells in protest as we headed for our next victim. A rider with a tea urn strapped to the passenger seat, a chair strapped to the tank and carrying no less than 3 chickens in his left hand and at least 10 balloons tied to the bars. Lucky we were in the cab then!
The Saloon (Bar not Car)
High above Orchard Road is a Saloon bar par excellence. The Country Jamboree is a Mecca for the Watchers and the Players. Ivor, a workmate from England had joined me for this trip.
High on adrenalin from another day in Shopping Paradise, we struggled passed the whores who were prowling around in packs of three, and walked into Orchard Towers. Inside the entrance to as much debauchery as a man or woman or mix of both could ever wish for, we headed for the escalator, the Upstairs-Girls peered over the balcony, breasts at the ready.
We pushed thro the saloon bar door and were greeted by The Deputy. Resplendent in tight fitting denim jeans and an extremely low cut top, she showed us to a table, her star pinned to her chest, like a beacon to a floundering ship.
We put our tongues back in and sat down. She didnt need a message on her T shirt I can tell you.
“Did you see where she keeps her pen?” Ivor asked quietly, which was hard as the County music blared deafeningly out of the speakers. “Sure did I said”.
Like 2 startled puppies trying to break free, her more than ample bosom clenched the pen in what must have been a wonderfully soft heavenly grip.
About to sip our first beer, we were interrupted by Kitty. Kitty came regularly it transpired!!. About 28 (yeh right) and from Thailand on a 1 week visa she had eyes as large as saucers and teeth as white as my soul (right again). She parked her ample backside on to Joe’s naked knee, he was wearing his customary beach attire). She helped herself to one of Ivor’s cigarettes and began to gyrate to the music. This was ok for me and Ivor but Joe was a little concerned and was wishing he’d worn jeans.
Swivelling around on his knee she introduced herself.
“Hello boys I’m Kitty from Thailand.”
As if possessed by some insane desire to get to the innermost depths of her soul, Joe, presumably running on adrenalin or pure fright, began to interrogate her.
“Well then dear, what do you do then?”
“How did you learn such good English, on the job was it?”
“I suppose business is a bit up and down at the moment?”
“Do you get much job satisfaction ?”
With all the sincerity of Jerry Springer, Joe delved deep into her black saucer sized eyes, and without a flinch declared,
“You are a prostitute aren’t you?”
Shocked by the cataclysmic ineptitude of the big man in shorts, Kitty looked longingly at Ivor and whispered in his ear
“ you explain to him,”
With that she said “l have to go now, so I’ll see you later, oh and by the way, having sex with friends is much better than having sex with wives and girlfriends, and you are my friends. I fell of my stool, Joe choked on his beer and Ivor smiled.
Ian Webb’s Watch
Joe needed to start his shopping off. This always brought groans, whenever he said this and we prepared for the worst. What followed has been captured on video and is currently being reviewed and considered by Price Waterhouse as a training video for Management Training.
Joe peered into the glass case and sat on his not inconsiderable haunches to get a better look at the watch in question. Previously assessed, this was the watch required. The only question was how cheap he could get it for.
The assistant came over. A petite oriental lady of about 40 years, she confidently extracted the keys to the treasure chest.
“That’s the one there”, he said and was immediately on the phone to Ian. “I need to send a photocopy of the watch back to England for my mate” Joe said. The assistant took the watch and copied it and enlarged it to get better detail.
Anxious minutes followed as the data was transferred over the miles to England.
“He says it looks a bit big” Joe told me. “But its been enlarged for goodness sake!? I retorted, “come on Joe the shops are closing” Then Joe’s phone went again and a totally unrelated conversation started which lasted 20 minutes. The watch sat on the counter and the assistant had a sleep. Ivor had 4 cigarettes and I had a drink and a biscuit. The call ended and the bargaining began. We haggled over £2.50 for 15 minutes. By this time the assistant had lost the will to live. It had cost her more than she was prepared to give. She gave in, we paid for the watch, Joe smiled, and we left, 2 hours after we entered the shop. A menace, that Cummins.
Sitting in the early morning heat, minding his own business, Ivor was having a smoke. Teetering on stiletto heels and heading his way, she approached with caution. The sort of caution reserved for approaching a sleeping dog.
She struggled to a stop right next to Ivor, who in characteristically British manner, enquired as to her health this fine tropical morning.
Drunk as she certainly was, she was still able to string together the odd word. Trying to find a cab, drunk as a skunk, had not impaired her vision sufficiently that she could not spot a punter.
“I’m Anna” she slurred. “You are English no? she said.
“Sure am darling” Ivor replied.
“I knew an Englishman once” she said. “You must find him when you go home. His name is Brian Wardle. He owes me money”.
It transpired that the cad had unceremoniously shagged her and run off with the cash. Of course Ivor would help her.
Upon getting that part out of the way, she continued… “I charge $50 so you can have me now…..I make you happy”
Ivor not too taken aback by this replied. “Unfortunately my dear girl I have not taken my breakfast, and I always make a rule of avoiding heightened sexual pleasure on an empty stomach.”
“Who said anything about pleasure she slurred, this is business. Ok then $30, just for you, all in, all off, anything you want, anyhow you please”
Gravity had taken its toll on both her chest and her legs, which had given up the task of supporting her body, and she slumped down next to Ivor.
A microsecond of indecision as to what do next, passed, and Ivor stood up, Anna fell sideways onto the bench and began to snore.
Ivor strolled into the breakfast room at 8.15 and smiled. “Have I got a story for you !!”
The exploits of Joe Cummins are now legendary. However there was about to be a disturbing twist to tale.
In an unconscious effort to surpass his previous record of shopping till you drop, he had embarked upon a mindless voyage of spending into town. He had already admitted to me that he only spent when he was depressed or stressed, so the ensuing events, led me to believe that a call to the Samaritans was next on his agenda, although he maybe did not know it yet.
He had a modest shopping list from colleagues, so he had what we call in the business a “soft start”. He had had a few stressful days at the office and the pressure was beginning to build in the lower left area of the brain. When the pressure and stress level was reached at 11.30 am on the Friday morning at the end of the first week, the resultant electrical impulse connection was made without a hitch.
Uncharacteristically he booked a tour trip to Malaysia, just over the causeway. What follows you may find disturbing, but has to be put into print, as a record, just in case the men in white coats get to him before I do.
Armed with Nike shorts, LA raiders baseball cap the wrong way around on his bulging head, he burst out of the Hotel. It was a blistering Saturday morning.
He met The Whistler at the front veranda. The piercing shriek of the whistle reverberated around the marble pillars and the banana trees like a colt 45 bullet did in those old cowboy movies. The effect of this was the immediate arrival of 6 cabs……exactly the opposite of what happens on a weekday. He chose the largest and sped off in the direction of the Largest Continent on earth. Continental Asia. Would he ever return or would he be swallowed into the countryside only to emerge in 10 years time professing to be still fighting in the Vietnam war for the Americans. Only he knew. What a guy!!!!!
He stepped out of the cab on the other side and surveyed to battleground before him. He knew that things in the rear view mirror are closer than you think and things are very seldom what they seem. He would need all his skills of coercement and negotiation about him. He was ready. He wiped his perspiration-beaded brow, and stormed off.
It took him 2 days to get the items below and a week to get over the shock to his visa card.
Read it and weep suckers!!!!!
1. 41 CD’s various titles
2. 1 CD pouch doubling as a posing pouch
3. 3 Ralph Lauren T Shirts (XL…..possibly real)
4. 19 VCD films (definitely copy)
5. 3 Videos
6. 7 Copy watches (various types)
7. 5 CD’s (illegal pirated software)
8. 10 playstation games (copy)
9. 1 Starbuck coffee mug (because it held a pint and it used up loose change)
10. 2 lazer quest gun kits with backpack battery harness and manual (for the kids)
11. 1 bumblebee proyo (for the wife)
12. 1 Set of clinique body care items (for himself)
13. 1 ladies brief….. case!
14. 1 silk tie (Mickey mouse…..for Dave Hoverd (his boss))
15. 2 battery chargers
16. 2 pens (ballpoint, for some reason)
17. 5 flashing handphone antena’s (awesomely good)
18. 1 portable Panasonic VCD Player
19. 1 car CD Tuner (ridiculously cheap)
20. 1 digital camera (halleluya!!! And praise the Lord)
21. 2 Bottles of chilli sauce (by accident… he actually wanted a beefburger but got confused)
22. A pair of Gucci specs (copy)
23. A tub of Breast enhancement cream
24. 1 Ladyshave (presumably for his wife)
25. A bass guitar (he likes deep vibrations apparently)
26. A Crash helmet and pair of leather chaps (why, I cant for the life of me fathom?)
27. 1 deep fat fryer
28. 4kgs of peanuts
29. 2 boxes of orchids (Mother’s day was imminent)
30. A turbo hairdryer (for his golden locks)
31. A Scuba diving holiday in East Timor. This was changed, because of the recent troubles to a week in Afghanistan !!!! (soon to be changed again but he’s running out of safe destinations. However it is rumoured that Sweden is safe!!! Unless you are a wild pig of course)
At a total cost of $3000 this was without doubt the pinnacle of his career. He had finally gone over the top. The depths of depression had been reached, stared at and conquered. He laughed in the face of danger and scorned the weak. He had finished.
The following few days weighed heavily on his mind, which was causing even more profuse perspiration and a visit to the local Church for absolution, was a definite must.
Unable to shed the remotest amount of light on his new victim, the priest at first proposed a herbal smoke and a mixture of oil and fragrant creams. But such was the crisis before him there was only one way out. He invited Joe for a massage.
For those that have seen Apocalypse Now, you will be able to picture the scene. The priest got Joe to strip down so he was only wearing a toga type cloth (large of course) and the walked thro the smoky dark corridors to the back of the church and down steep dark, damp steps crossed only by the odd sacred cow or two, which he later found out were used for sacrificial purposes only.
There was total silence as Joe and the Priest (who’s name was Chi Min but was known as Robert to his flock) entered the small dimly lit room, filled with a pungent odour and a couple of freshly made up mattresses. They went to lay on the crisp white linen in silence. The girls came in and silently began the job in hand.
The pain was a crucial part of the healing process and so pain was duly administered. Toward the end the girl leaned over and offered Joe the customary extras.
Fortunately Joe was asleep and the Priest just smiled. Another convert.
Joe’s room resembled a lock up garage. Boxes were everywhere, some opened and discarded, some just stacked
“Come in Nick, we’ll have some fun. Put this on.” He was wearing one half of the Lazerquest gun kit and looked like he had escaped from the set of Ghostbusters.
10 minutes later we were both dead several times. More worryingly Joe was becoming quiet.
“You’ve done it now “ I said “how are you going to get this lot back? You’ll go to jail. This is smuggling.
“Sod, I’m going for it” he replied with a grin. He hung the “Maid” tag on the door. “She’ll tidy for us, c’mon lets get Ivor and go for a beer.
Once back inside the Saloon, Joe settled down to watch the whores, and seemed to get himself together. As business and competition was fierce, the girls had to work hard for there business. Some did, but some just took no effort in looking good. We called these the Outlaws.
The Sheriff had a tattoo on her right breast. It kept calling to us. She also kept her pen in her cleavage. We wanted to kidnap her and run away. She and her girls worked the customers into a lather, or we wished they would. It was just 8pm and all the whores were in the bar. The game had begun.
As the night wore on and the efforts bore little results, the girls had to try much harder.
With a vice like grip they would try to coerce you into going with them. We just said we were from England and we did not do that sort of thing. They all to a one replied that we must be doing it to ourselves. They may have been right!!
The Gunslinger came over for a chat. He looked after the girls and kept the piece. We took pictures of the saloon and the Sheriff and her team of the Deputy and the Posse. It was our last few minutes in Singapore. We left solemnly. Life will never be the same. Our wives and children will be happy again.