I went Ceramics shopping again.

This time I got myself some nice looking bowls. I swear I have a good eye for picking up some good pieces.

Vietnamese shop owner looks a little chuffed today. Poor chap. We bargained in the usual pidgin English, with animated gesticulation and a torrent of Vietnamese on his part. Funny – i just can’t shake this feeling that he understands more English despite his vietnamese outpourings.

Did I hear “swill breath ” and “dong face” amidst the guttural Vietnamese soliloquy or was it my imagination?

And his vehement “nooooooooo—-” when he protested the figures I punched into the calculator had a faint hint of a clipped British accent ?

I even thought I heard “winter is coming mitch ” muttered under his breath when I disputed his figures and threatened to walk.

And what is that dog yeared copy of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice doing beneath his table ?

I must be losing my mind.



His real Vietnamese name is Phuc Dat Shih.

But when he makes his yearly summer solstice to Wimbledon to snack on strawberries and cream with cool shades and dressed in preppy khaki slacks, designer loafers and a white sweater stylishly slung over his shoulders, his London friends know him as Rupert Dongnavue HCM the third, or Pert for short by the Lads. The Gals call him Dong (with a giggle).

“What a dreary day ” thought Phuc Dat sipping on his earl grey tea with a spot of lemon served in a delicate Royal Doulton fine bone tea cup (“why would anyone use anything else” shuddered Phuc Dat) his little pinky sticking in the air.

BBC was on the air.

In walked a slab of dumb looking man muscle. “Oh it’s Autism boy again” thought Phuc Dat. God he still looks as dumb as an abandoned Hanoi countryside flag post. Look at him lumbering around intensely with that dumb face – he’s going to break something.

Phuc Dat was slightly annoyed. He always enjoyed Lucy Kellerway’s clever ramblings about corporate speak on BBC and didn’t appreciate being interrupted.

And the worse was having to break out into pidgin English. Why do customers think they will get a better deal if he didn’t speak English ?  He majored in literature and higher English at Imperial College for god’s sake. And took Latin on the side for the heck of it.

” Ah xin chào misterrrrr ! “Da khỏe không?”
Everything cheap cheap Gia Re …”.

Rhino boy was at his usual sneering belligerent self. Nevertheless, he parted with good money for a bunch of ugly sad looking bowls in no time.

I did the customary “good eye” gesture. Pointed to the bowls, pointed to his beady eyes and gave the thumbs up signal – duh. He looked pleased as punch and I almost felt bad.

” I wonder what Asswipe does for a living ? ” thought Phuc Dat. ” — maybe a bouncer or a pimp of some sort but wait – he’s way too dumb to be a pimp”.

” Hmm and I wonder if I should bring out the authentic stuff the next time …? But he really doesn’t seem to know the difference between real porcelain and this synthetic melamine I sell to the province industrial canteens so why bother ?”

For a brief moment , Phuc Đạt stopped to contemplate whether to educate deranged dotard about the finer points of Vietnamese porcelain. But he quickly decided against it.
It would be like speaking ancient Urdu to a gaggle of geese – unlikely to produce results and you just piss the geese off.

Moral of the story – Sometimes things are not what it seems. Being woefully oblivious may well be a blissful state of mind.


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