Nelson Mandela

Mandela pen portrait is a complete write-off

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 12:00am

Take a look at the photo to the left of this column. Now try and guess what it shows. Is it: A) A couple of fountain pens; B) Antique sewing aids; C) A new form of modern art; D) Nelson Mandela's struggle to save the downtrodden and liberate black South Africans from the yoke of Apartheid? If you didn't pick D, you're obviously too politically insensitive to recognise South African history as told through expensive pen tops.

That picture came to us with a missive from the pen people at Omas, who inform us that this latest batch of doodling tools 'expresses the salient phases in the life of Nelson Mandela and the political evolution of South Africa'.

The firm has pledged to donate part of its profits to the Nelson Mandela Children's fund. They can well afford it.

Each pen set costs between $10,800 and $110,000, depending on whether you think the pain and suffering of the South African people looks prettier in silver, gold or platinum.

Nelson Mandela's life in pens starts with 'Birth' where 'the gentle image of the mother cradling her baby while in the distance huts, a river and two large suns evokes a sense of peace and serenity'. It concludes with the happily cavorting South Africans of the 'New Nation'.

'Africa is offered in sterling silver, yellow gold and white gold'.

We suppose that's one way to pen a biography.

Lai See looks forward to seeing what Omas will offer next.

Perhaps 'The Life of Gandhi and the Struggle for Peace in the Face of Violence' as told through a souvenir set of erasers.

Lai See just returned from holiday in England.

And yes, we did have a good time, thanks very much.

But not as good as our luggage did.

We parted company with the case at British Airways' check-in desk in London's airport express station.

How efficient, we marvelled, as our bag slid down the conveyor belt's tongue and was swallowed into the wall. All those cynical Brits who moan about English inefficiency just don't know what they're talking about.

And that was last time Lai See ever saw her little blue rolling suitcase in one piece.

When our bag stood us up at the Chek Lap Kok carousel, we filled in the obligatory forms describing the baggage, and documenting the regrettable absence of a name tag.

The next day, we were informed that the wayward bag had been located, but that we hadn't described it correctly. It was in fact large, black and made of leather. Oh, and there was a name-tag on it saying it belonged to someone called Percival Watson with an Ap Lei Chau address.

Naturally the luggage sleuths had concluded that this must be the small, blue canvas bag belonging to that woman from Mid-Levels.

Anyway, the right case finally showed up a day later, crushed and twisted, its contents spewing from beneath the ruptured zipper.

Mysteriously, Lai See found that a piece of her intimate apparel had disappeared. More mysteriously, a new bottle of men's Chanel cologne had appeared instead.

Apparently her wayward bag had gone off with some other luggage for a couple of nights in Bangkok.

Bit depressing when your luggage leads a wilder existence than you do.

Lai See should have been the one to roll home smashed, with knickers missing, carrying the scent of a man.

In the spirit of the season, Lai See passes along these tips from a list of 'Ways to Annoy Your Flatmate During Christmas'.

Go to the mall with your flatmate and sit on Santa's lap. Refuse to get off.

Wear a Santa suit all the time. Deny you're wearing it.

Paint your nose red and wear antlers. Constantly complain about how you never get to join in on the reindeer games.

Wake up every morning screaming 'Ghost of Christmas Future, please have mercy on my soul!' Stand in front of the mirror reciting 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' over and over in your underwear.

Watch your roommate when he/she is sleeping. When he/she wakes up, sing 'he sees you when you're sleeping . . . ' Steal a life-size nativity scene and display it in your room. When your roommate asks, say 'I had to let them stay here, there's no room at the inn.' When your flatmate goes to the bathroom, rearrange his/her possessions. Say that Santa's elves must have done it.