Year End


It’s the last working day of the year. Like many, I feel like I’m dragging myself to fall across the finishing line. I’ve been exhausted (or feel like I’ve been) for weeks now. I’m looking forward to Christmas not just because it is a wonderful time of the year, but also because I can look forward to some time of rest.

There will be a Christmas party in the office around noon. A spit roast has been organised for the outdoor cafe area, and I’m curious to find out what that’s going to look like. I have also responded for a request for volunteers to help with the set up but somehow, I’ve been roped in for the clean up instead. That’s ok – I can use the activities one way or the other.

Kiddo and Mic are visiting – they arrived last Thursday, but headed out to Tassie the next day for a wedding last weekend. They came back to Melbourne on Tuesday so it has been wonderful with them staying with us.

With covid still raging, St Alf’s has placed limits on number of participants at Christmas services and organised more services to make up for it. So instead of the usual Christmas Eve service, we’ve registered for one tonight. It’ll be a mixed feelings event – on the one hand, it’d be great to be in church singing carols and listening to readings again, but on the other hand, to have so few people – maximum of 250, but only about 170 registered for tonight – will be a bit unusual.

After a tumultous and eventful 2020 and 2021, I wonder what 2022 will bring. It is always interesting to see what God has in store around the corner.

30 years ago…


20 December 1991.

That was when I was admitted to practice in the Malaysian Bar. This photo was taken outside the High Court building in Kuala Lumpur.

I remember being totally broke, as I had spent my last few remaining ringgit on the suit, robe and shoes. All that, after 9 months of earning the measly salary as a “pupil in chambers”.

30 years ago, that was…

Barbie at home etc…


It was our first Saturday in months, when there wasn’t an early start in the form Padawan’s obedience training school. The night before however, we treated ourselves to having people over for dinner. It was the first time in a very long time, that we did that.

Jason and Mel messaged us about catching up for dinner on Friday night. As Tress has been stressed of late, whenever we were away from home for a little while, I thought it would be better if we got them over to our home instead. That way, the little Padawan would not be seen sitting at the window, waiting for us to return from wherever we found ourselves.

I did a barbeque with some veg, Mel did a salad from her home veg patch (mainly) and we had a good time just catching up at home. We talked late into the night and so slept in (only a little) the next morning.

The night before (Thurs night) our home group had a year-end break up dinner. We went to Enrik’s, as we did the year before. It was nice just chatting in person again, having “met” online for the most part of 2021. It was very pleasant but it did mean a little stressful time for the little Padawan so that was another reason we (more I) thought a home dinner on Fri would be kind of nice.

Tress had a hairdresser’s appointment on Sat morning so I took my time vacuuming and cleaning and generally pottered around the house straightening out this and that. Then it was off to lunch and grocery shopping before we returned and took both boys out for their walk. That night, we settled down to watch Chris Pratt in “Tomorrow’s War” – a crash bang time travelling shoot them up fare… (nuff said)…

On Sunday we headed off to St Alf’s again, and the usual pre-covid lockdown routine of St Alf’s/Lunch has well and truly resumed. After lunch, I headed out to Bunnings and got my Weber gas bottle replaced, in preparation for the turkey I’d be roasting for Christmas. Later in the arvo, I did some of my freelancing work, before we took the boys out again for their walk. It turned out to be a near perfect day in so many ways. I really hope we have seen the last of covid lockdowns.

Pup Test, and Reunion


The Little Padawan has grown on us. Each night, as we settled down on the sofa to watch some tele to wind down the day, he’d burrow his head under our laps and go to sleep. He would have tired himself out after running around in the oval across the road, and chasing his senior (the Jedi Master) to mouth and lick him all over. He would have been a little terror and having exhausted his energy, he’d snuggle up to us, stick his head on or under our laps, and go to sleep. He tugs at your heartstring that way.

On Saturday however, the Padawan caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety. The final class of his puppy training would see him undergo several “tests”. To pass (and earn the right to progress to the next level of training), he had to pass each of half a dozen components. Each of those components score 5 points, so an Einstein of a pup would scorea total of 30 points. The highest scoring one in his cohort had 27 points. Padawan scored 17. He was fifth in class. 5 pups showed up for that final class. So yeah he sort of claimed bottom spot. He passed 5 of the 6 components. The “drop/stay” bit let him (and us) down. When I got back into the car, I rested my forehead on the steering wheel and closed my eyes. Well, at least we manned up. We showed up. There were 4 other pups who didn’t show up. It could have meant we claimed 9th spot instead of 5th, but the facts will show Oreo was 5th in a class of 9. Forget the fact that 5 pups were in that final class… He was 5th in a class of 9…

When we got back, I made Tress and I a large mug of coffee each. I then got to work to clean up the mess that the storms on Thurs and Fri had brought. I also trimmed the lemon tree and camelia bushes. When the raking, sweeping, mowing, etc all done, it was well past 1pm. Our decision to buy something, instead of cooking a dish, for the dinner party later that night, felt totally vindicated. I was both too emotionally traumatised and physically washed up, to whip up anything half decent.

Just before 6pm, I picked up the dish from Mekong (one of Tress’ and my favourite local places) and waited for Seng Huat to arrive at the Nunawading Station nearby. We then drove to Berwick for that dinner party amongst the La Salle old boys who’re in Melbourne. It was at the home of Andrew and Esther. I had reconnected with Andrew through work – he was the insurance broker to my ex employer and we chatted regularly over the next 6 years before I left that company a couple of months ago. When we arrived, we parked across the street from their home and as we walked towards their home, I noticed a gleaming new Audi parked in the gararge. The garage door was wide open for a reason I guess. Later, we made the connection between a track day at Sandowne Andrew had, which he had posted on Facebook. New Audi RS owners get a track day with Steve Pizzati, the presenter host of Top Gear, the Aussie version.

Also at the dinner was Alex and Christy as well as David and Agnes. Alex works with The Good Guys and is a constant supplier of home electronics to Andrew. David works with OnSemi in Singapore and travels widely. He said he had spent 3 months in quarantine in the past year, and the grind has been painful. He brought along a very nice bottle of red (a Henschke!), which he drank heartily. Tress (my usual designated driver) didn’t come along so I only got half a glass of that very good drop. David gulping down glass after glass of that very good bottle, suggests the aggregate 3 month quarantine has indeed been a terrible grind.

We had a good time of just chatting and catching up and by the time I got home, it was midnight. It had been a long day but it ended well. I was exhausted but I went to bed grateful. We have invested well in Oreo, and reconnecting with school mates was very precious. I think in many ways, I didn’t fail my tests – at least not too badly.

Phileo Story


Some time last week, an old friend sent me a PDF copy of a book that I have, that sits somewhere on a shelf at home.

The Phileo Story is about the journey of the corporation in Malaysia known as Phileo. I worked for Phileo for a number of years.

When the book came out nearly 20 years ago, I read it and remembered parts of it that quoted my comments. The most poignant one was this:

Every anniversary of September 11, I thought about that experience.

Looking back now, it was such an important part of my working life that I thought I should get this entry in – for posterity.