Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I guess it is a cultural thing

Having given away in a recent post that I am well into a fiction based on fact novel set in Belize, I think most of you are aware of the fondness I have for the place.

Several times I searched for any decent blogs from Belize but all I could turn up were the sort written by retirees living in log huts in Cayo district which, while I had the most enormous respect for authors with balls enough to try and make a go of it, were hardly reminiscent of the Belize I knew, an altogether rather more lively place. I only ever went up to Cayo to dig around in Mayan ruins to see if I could find any jade pieces and most times never made it even that far along the Western Highway, preferring to stop off at Big Falls, an abandoned rice station, with a five shot semi automatic Browning 12 bore to blow some wild fowl away. Apart from dropping ducks, I really enjoyed sport fishing and diving and for that I needed the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, the beach bars and restaurants being a welcome diversion.

Finally I found one, the San Pedro Scoop. It is written by an ex Lehman’s employee (I know, ex Lehman’s and living la dolce vita in the Caribbean, but I am sure many of the rank and file were left with no other choice than accepting a sudden lifestyle change or a long walk out through a twentieth storey office window). Her blog is worth it for the photography alone. San Pedro is by no means the only beautiful place in Belize but it is right up there and the San Pedro Scoop really does give the reader a flavour of what it is all about, almost literally when you see some of the food on offer.

In a recent post, “Sailing on San Pedro’s Rum Punch II”, she described a trip on a classic wooden sailing boat, now run more for casual days out over the reef for keen snorkellers and epicureans than serious fishing. Naturally, there was plenty of fresh sea food and booze on board (otherwise, why would anyone want to pay for a bumpy ride through the surf in the first place?) and once again the narrative and photography were mouth watering. All I can say to her is that now I have found her site, she needs to do a quick deal with the Belizean tourist board and claim a percentage of revenue generated from Angolan tourists because the sudden spike now I am showing her site to everyone I know here will have all been down to her. If she is really switched on she needs to quickly set up a legal platform to assist these rather affluent individuals acquire similar chunks of paradise and park the revenue from oil and diamond deals into the safe haven that the Belizean banking system currently profess to offer.

The first comment she had for this lovely post was one complaining that because ten days before she posted someone had drowned for reasons unknown, she should not have written an article in which booze, boats and women were so closely connected. Crickey. People drown all the time. Of course it is sad. I only knew that someone had taken that final dive on my bit of the river and had washed up on the beach because the police came to me asking if my shop sold batteries for their camera. This was yesterday, I had just shot my dog and wasn’t thinking that well so I said no, but I had my own fully charged camera I could lend them. The camera is now evidence so, realistically, I will never see it again. Now this pisses me off more than the history of the body dragged off my beach especially when the police pathologist took one look at this sodden corpse and said, ‘Yeah, skunked and fell off his boat’.

Naturally, I was bloody annoyed and as a certifiable witness getting back to my very busy shop I was grilled by all the rubber neckers that the police no cross lines had diverted to my coolers filled with beer. The shop was packed.

‘You saw the body?’ was the general enquiry.

‘Yes I did. His throat was sliced through from ear to ear and he had two bullet wounds in his back’,

I paused for effect,

‘The police have decided it was suicide’ I finished.

I grabbed a cold one from the freezer and stalked out of the shop but not quick enough to avoid hearing Marcia say, ‘It is English humour, he doesn’t like seeing dead bodies’.

German humour, darling and no dear, what I don’t like is losing yet another bloody camera all because some besoffene Arschloch got smashed and fell off his boat and was then inconsiderate enough to wash up on my Strand. And I bet the rozzers are drinking for free. The thing that really pissed me off, though, was that the uniformed Criminal Investigation police all pulled on surgeon’s gloves but were then very reluctant to get their boots wet so finally I just waded in and dragged the bastard out, after all, if rats and cockroaches can close a restaurant down, imagine what a putrefying corpse would do for business.

I got back to my room and could not find the church key so had to bite the top off my cold bottle of Charlie and then I remembered another San Pedro Scoop Post, ‘Monday Night at Average Joe’s (AJ’s) Blues bar’. Never mind listening to Blues on a Caribbean beach which, at my age, is seriously better than sex, just check out the beer bottle opening rings, I posted a comment saying these were a must have but I never received a reply. Being ex Lehman’s and safe in paradise, I guess she isn’t going to get out of bed for a deal worth less than a million but I really would have liked a box full of those rings.

As I was trying to chew the top off a Carlsberg bottle I noticed that Nice Paul must have come by while I was wrangling the body out of the river because there was the latest edition of Ski-Boat from South Africa lying on my laptop keyboard.

I went for the boat adverts first and then scanned the mag for anything else that might be interesting. It has bugger all to do with water skiing and miles more to do with sport fishing in all the exotic places in Africa. It is brilliant. Then I saw the advert that ties all this shit in together, me finding the best blog about Belize, the comment beasting the lady author because she posted about a trip mixing booze and snorkelling and me dragging a dead drunk off my beach.

This is what Yamaha South Africa think about all that yoghurt knitting touchy feely stuff about Rum and Water not mixing and the exploitation of women as printed in the April 2012 edition of Ski-Boat:



  1. If I were unkind, which I am not, I'd say: Open your horizons.

    Given that you write so very well, extraordinarily well, you will have no problem finding a publisher for your fiction based on fact.

    If I were your editor I'd give you some pointers when and where to tone it down a little, when to up the stakes. On the whole you are doing fine. Just fine.


  2. That advert is seriously out of order. I don't live near water, so what the fuck am I going to do with a boat?

    Fancy giving your camera away. I reckon they found the body elsewhere and decided to pop down to your beach to see what they could fleece from you. They'll be back to borrow a boat next.

    I was in Hoi An during Typhoon Ketsana, and the night after it hit we were told to avoid the beach the next day as there would be bodies washed up. I lost a pair of Oakleys while filming the storm so I had to go down there the next morning to look for them. Luckily there were no bodies, and no bloody Oakleys either.

  3. Sounds like you should investigate setting up a Nikon franchise out there Tom. You would have at least one good customer.

    I would buy your book.

  4. Oh, and those girls look like they've just seen me with my clothes off!

  5. Ursula, OK. You be my editor and find me a publisher. Publishers always want to know if there is another one in the pipeline and there sertainly is, the security guy who gets himself mixed up in diamond smuggling during the war. Who knows, perhapos it's the same guy? Depends on whether the first book has a 'happy' ending...

    IG, you just love dropping these exotic place names...

    Chris, I am sure once over the shock they would come round. If Ursula gets me a publisher I will send you a signed copy hand delivered by one of my nieces. I will make sure that when it comes to bikinis, she is not overdressed like the girls in the advert.

    Joking aside, that advert is crass. Never mind how women may feel at such overt sexualisation, I am annoyed that Yamaha feel that a bloke like me could be swayed by a bit if crude and irrelevant titilation when it comes to something as serious as choosing a boat. Usually I feel that if they have to stoop so low, the product must be crap but I know that Yammies are real good engines so I guess, since this is a South African publication, they have tailored the advert to the average IQ of the target audience. 'Mar God! Luk it dose teets boete, ar gotta buy me e Yammahar'

  6. Tom, you can always self-publish, too. I'd buy your book, even the untoned down version.

    Sorry about your camera, just a shitty day all round for you, wasn't it?

    As for the boat ad, i'm not surprised. It doesn't look vastly different from US beer ads. I ended up getting a boat last year, and yes, seeing an ad like that would make me consider something else. Then again, i prefer sailing vessels to motor boats.


  7. Tom, I'll find you a publisher.

    Where you have lost me: What's with the advert? Two women in a bikini, one a little forlorn in the background. Hardly Brigitte Bardot or Raquel Welch. Sex, even if only on the brain of the beholder, does sell. Titillation does sell. Appeals to basic instinct. Nothing to beat ourselves up about.


  8. Ursula, don't get me wrong. I like tits and bums, I lust after my nieces and quiver at the sight of a well turned ankle but I think adverts like that are naff in the extreme suggesting as they do that a flash of flesh would make me buy something. The only time flashing the flesh has influenced a buying decision of mine is when I was in the market for flesh...

    I don't know if you have checked out that belizean blogger I found, the San Pedro Scoop, but check her out, I think you would like it.

    If you are going to find me a publisher and we are to enjoy a wonderful business relationship until I sue you for collecting too much of my royalties, then you had better tell me what you need from me to flash in front of a publisher, bearing in mind it isn't finished yet. I will need to go back to Belize just to tie up a few loose ends in the research.


    it would be hard to tone me down, I think. I too prefer sailing but yachts are awkward to fish from. The guy who taught me to sail was called John Lawrence. Started in the ranks, became a very distinguished bomb disposal officer when they were needing them, not feeding them and has just retired as a Colonel. He hated the 'bonker' as he called it and used to work his crew hard to sail into port and moor up all under sail. If we fucked up and he had to bear away and go round again he would beat the guilty bastard with the winch handle. Years later I reminded him of that and he said, 'Winch handle? Surely not, Tom!' I said I'd show him the bllody scars. He was a great skipper. I could tell you stories... and I would sail with him any day, even as a fore deck gorilla. He is a born leader.

  9. Sorry Tom but I have to agree with Ursula on the poster thing.

    Why, I've just bought five Yammy outboards this morning and I don't even have a boat!!

    Just sitting here now, waiting for the bikini clad babes to follow...

    ...been waiting all day.

  10. A synopsis will do, Tom.

    If you want a well turned ankle do not look further than mine. If it weren't so far from my mouth I'd bite it myself.


  11. Tom,
    Some publishers are happy with just a synopsis, others want a few sample chapters as well.

    Good luck with that. To date, no one wants any of my creative efforts, and then i see the codswallop that DOES get published, and i wonder.



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