Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence today, and so far the celebrations have been straight from the pages of a future dystopian novel. Maybe it’ll get a bit wilder and weirder when the fireworks go off this evening. Planes have been swooping overhead, making the most terrifying noise. Mall to mall cacophony.
Amongst the orderliness and shopoholism, you will find occasional anomolies to twist your melon though. Our taxi driver earlier was as mad as a box of black spotted sticky frogs for instance.
“I love UK people…” he said with a caveat clearly on the way, “but I don’t joke with them anymore”.
“Last week I tell a man from the UK that his son is so handsome that I want to kidnap him. He get very angry, so I shut up after that.”
The man’s wife ended up apologising for the angry Brit, and we found ourselves apologising for him as well. The Indian driver has no intention of being quiet today, and I can fully understand why.
“My wife will die today,” he declares suddenly.
Apparently she’s been in a coma for months. Brain cancer. We ask him why he’s working, but he tells us he has no choice. He’s had to pay all her bills with cash, having no cover to speak of. We wish him well and wander into the mall, saddened by this poor man’s distress. Fucking cancer, can’t get away from it. So much pain all over the world. How can there possibly be a god?
Elsewhere people are buying vociferously as Cara Delevingne monitors them from every advertising orifice. A 50ft Foxes lords it over the traffic from a giant hording outside H&M. Accoutrements include Gucci handbags, shopping bags and the new addition of selfie sticks. Taking a selfie used to be a shameful thing, using a selfie stick in public to me is like the government suddenly legalising wanking on the bus. We pass legions of people and they’re all carrying bags. Loyal pooches do what they figure they’re supposed to do. They’re filling the hole left by religious adherence, but it’s a hungry hole and it requires brand after brand ad nauseum. Consume or be consumed.
The juxtaposition of people buying crap they don’t need and the poor bastard in the taxi struggling to pay his medical bills isn’t lost on Claire. To be fair, I’ve just bought a pair of Levis and her a Fjallraven bag, so our misgivings are a little hypocritical. The capitalist draw is just too strong for our feeble spirits to resist, and you look like an alien without bags dragging around your ankles. It’s merely assimilation.
In this Warholian nightmare, Starbucks seems like an oasis of tranquility. I sit there and imagine I’m in London in 10 years time. People often say Paris is sold out, but give me a place where everything’s old and everyone smokes and every shop vendor is a lazy pain in the ass any day of the week. We’ll be back there on Wednesday, and then the prodding and the machinery and the treatment all begins again. I’ll be putting the celebrations on hold this evening.Follow @jeres