stinky fruit

Reuters is reporting that Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is using the APEC summit in Bangkok to pig herself on a favourite childhood delicacy:

In May last year, Thailand used the fruit known as the “skunk of the orchards” to cement relations with Arroyo.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra threw a special “durian buffet” for her, offering an array of delicacies that included three types of Thai durian, durian-stuffed moon cakes and durian ice cream.

Because of its powerful aroma — some people say it smells like rotting fruit in a blocked drain — eating durian is banned from hotels, public places and on buses, trains and planes across southeast Asia.

Real elephants have been banned from the summit, and one worries for its chances now that poor old Baby Apec has failed to make it.

Our local crime novelist, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, also died in Bangkok this weekend, apparently (and in my view unfortunately) in an airport lounge instead of a brothel. His Carvalho novels are actually rather good although, perhaps understandably for someone born here in 1939, his politics remained stuck in a banally moronic Stalinist groove. The old man up in the Eixample who wears a ¡Viva Stalin! cap on holidays doesn’t worry me because the Spanish Communists have, by and large, kept to Santiago Carrillo’s mid-70s revisionist line. It was even more difficult to take totalitarian clichés terribly seriously when spouted by a tubby little balding petit-bourgeois with such an ostentatious affection for cigars and the odd colguel.

You can obtain Joaquim Pomares’ fine Diccionari del Catala Popular i d’Argot here in Barcelona for the modest price of EUR9.00: As far as I know there’s no translation of Montalbán’s The Birds of Bangkok, but Murder in the Central Committee isn’t bad:

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