Tuesday, 17 June 2008

At O'Connell House, Singapore

Over 40 years ago I used to visit O’Connell House in Singapore whenever I got the chance. It was meant to be a place where sailors could drink beer in peace without importuning disturbances from locals. No beggars or prostitutes were allowed in, but itinerant traders turned up now and again. I suppose that they must have bribed the staff to allow them to pursue their dodgy business.

One day I was sitting by the pool with a bunch of guys I had met from a German ship. We were drinking beer and swapping stories, enjoying the cool breezes which lapped across the water. A trader approached and offered to sell us an “Omega” watch at a “discount price, especially for you, today only”.
We all knew, of course, that it was a “clockwork orange”, a fake of local manufacture. Sometimes there were even spelling mistakes in the words cut into the back.
“Is this watch waterproof?” asked one of the Germans.
“Of course, sir, genuine Omega”.
At that, the German threw it into the pool, saying:
“Now I’m going to dive in there and get it. If it’s stopped, you’re going in after it!”
The trader immediately ran off, leaving his tray of “Omega” watches behind him.
The German tipped them all into the pool.

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