Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

Tradecraft for Dummies

A pair of halfwits keeping us under close surveillance last weekend.

They were sitting on the grass in front of our house sipping their drinks without actually drinking like actors in a US sitcom. Amateursville. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Penis extensions

I used to shoot automatic pistols for Cambridge University, Before the Dunblane massacre you could actually get a Half-Blue for that sort of thing - and you didn’t even have to take aim AT those losers from Oxford. 
I was trained by the British Army’s leading marksman, a colonel in the Military Police who was the father of my best mate at Girton.
I hate guns. I see no need for them whatsoever. I don’t own a gun for the same reason that I don’t own a Ferrari. I am completely comfortable with the size of my phallus. And I am never afraid of the other.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Worst Enemy

Leaning against the jamb of the doorway to the offices of Cargo Express this morning, I felt a slight and somehow satisfying shift in the structure.

Small tremors are so regular here and I have come to welcome them, as might an inveterate sceptic longing for the briefest metaphysical wobble...a barely-perceptible sway in the foundations of reality. 

Major quakes are another thing entirely of course. Last year’s 8.2 was undoubtedly fearsome. But my worst experience of seismic displacement occurred more at the mid-level in 2015 when I found myself halfway up a high-rise tower in Tokyo dozing in my capsule hotel.

Not an experience I’d wish on my worst enemy. Actually, just now, maybe I would. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


It has been our unfortunate fate to live next door to this cave-crawling individual. On Monday night, having apparently acquired some Dutch courage in town, he rode up to up to us on his motita bearing exactly this sort of sinister demeanor. 

He had only lately been outed as a shameless freeloader and the context might be said to have favoured some sort of personal apology, but instead he delivered a nasty and pointedly cretinous insult to my wife and then called me a 'pussy'. 

Perfectly charming. Of course only a pathetic loser would conceive of this sort of repulsive public insolence as 'winning', vulgarly demeaning a woman in the street in front of several of her relatives and then fleeing as fast as he could on his wussy little scooter. 

In much the same way that only an abject specimen would set himself up to live in a comparatively poor nation viviendo de gorra off his neighbours and the local Municipality. 

This was this gribbly's fourth attempt that day to intimidate us. Having kerb-crawled us separately on two occasions, he passed our home around 8pm singing and cackling like a maniacal fool. 

We knew he'd be back and only had to hold our position with a small family group...beneath our security cameras. It felt like a long wait, but he didn't disappoint, and now the whacko boorishness of this patán has been recorded for posterity. 

All I ever wanted was for this ex-pat troglodyte to face up to paying 30 quetzales a month (just over $4) for his water, build the wall the law in this land obliges him to, and sort out his drains. And I gave him a grace period of roughly five years. 

He appears to blame my wife for his current predicament, because he comes across as the sort that will always look to pick on a woman in the first instance, but she actually told me to cut him some slack. Surely there are limits? 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Ten Year Top Ten

Lincoln in the Bardo is by far the best novel I have read in a long while.
So I set about compiling a list of the finest examples of long fiction I have consumed over the past decade here in Guatemala.

I wanted it to be a top ten, but the initial selection was unmanageably large, so I had to resort to the expedient of blackballing dead authors plus those books I had elected to re-read.

And this then is the final ten, in order completed...

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Breath by Tim Winton
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanassi by Geoff Dyer
Bring Up The Bodies by Hillary Mantel
Rustication by Charles Palliser
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
The North Water by Ian McGuire
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Thursday, February 01, 2018


I love Alexander Payne’s movies and his latest, Downsizing , is enormous fun.

It commences rather like an episode of Black Mirror that can afford Matt Damon, with a highish speculative sci-fi concept: that a proportion of the world’s population will choose to be reduced to five inches tall in order to save the planet.

A Norwegian lightbulb that one. Except that stateside the majority that elect to go small do so for reasons not entirely dissimilar to the rationale adopted by flyover Americans for re-settling down here in Central America. The satire in this early section, was for that reason, especially biting for me.

There follows another sequence involving a eurotrash house party straight out of Middle-American dreams/nightmares that was LOLsome. 

Beyond this Payne widens the range of his satirical targets and the screenplay does seem to lose some its tightness. Critics have made waggish remarks about the movie itself requiring some downsizing. But I've known enough Norwegians to have found the final act a bit of a hoot as well.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018


It's where civilisation in this hemisphere originated. And chocolate. 

Yet, rather sadly perhaps, today the state is principally famous for a sauce produced in Louisiana using a variety of chile peppers not cultivated in that part of Mexico. 

In fact, this supposedly perkier version uses habaneros...which don't seem to be particularly prevalent in Havana either.

Drop 'em at your peril

Looks like the Ticos also subscribe to this minor aberration in la lengua castellana...the noisy H. 

Other examples of the not-so-silent treatment that one comes across around here are in silly names of foreign derivation - such as Heniferth - or in place names like El Hato. 

Drop any of these 'haitches' in LAG and you will tend to sound like a bit of a tit.