Posts Tagged ‘ innocence ’

I’ve hit pay dirt… again

Sometimes I receive messages in the spiced ham folder of my email that get me so excited I feel like I want to climb onto the tallest building in the suburb and shout my exhilaration to the world. I’m always reluctant to do that because I also feel like I could spontaneously combust at any moment and the tallest building in the suburb happens to be a school, and I wouldn’t want to scare the kiddies, or spatter them with charred human meat.

I think the closest I’ve ever come to climbing the bell tower at St Mary’s with post-email elation was after reading this little doozy. But today I received a piece of electronic correspondence that blew Jean Fafona’s effort out of the water. Some of that water happily sprayed onto me, putting out the fire that had started on both of my arms.

Here it is:

Dear partner,

I am James Francis from Florida USA I was the personal account officer of  late Libyan Leader Omar Muammar al Gaddafi for 25year, before his dead last year 2011 he ask me to transfer a very huge amount of money about $20m (Twenty Million US Dollars) to a Commercial Bank in Malaysia (Chase Bank) for a twenty five story’s building he wanted to buy in SARAWAK MALAYSIA without a beneficiary name  because of the nature of his country, Since after his death  no one has come for the claim of the money due to the fact that there was no beneficiary to the fund.

Now the Bank (Chase Bank) is asking me to present the beneficiary of the money that they need to transfer the money back to the owner since the account is dormant for a long time now.  After going through your profile and that of your company I believe you are the right person for this job since your company’s business correlates with a kind of business I would like to invest my own share of the money when is finally transferred.

But right now my healthy condition and security in my country I can’t transfer this fund to my personal account rather I want you to assist me to receive this fund” If you would assist me with this I will compensate you with 30% of the total sum and at the same time invest my own money in your company’s business. More details will be sending to you when I receive your interest response.

You are free to call me for more information.

Thanks & Best Regard
James Francis,
H/P: +1-732-659-5513

Here’s what I sent back when my arms stopped smouldering:

Dear partner (indeed!),

First, congratulations on getting to the silver anniversary under the Colonel. Fair effort, that.

Now, let’s get down to tin tacks: I like the sound of this deal for three reasons:

  1. It’s straightforward and makes perfect sense.
  2. You’ve obviously done your research.
  3. It dovetails nicely with a similar transaction I’ve been looking for a partner to help me complete.

When you say you’ve been through my profile, I presume you mean you’ve read my blog. (You and half the rest of the world!) Before I go on, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Now, be honest – is it the best thing you’ve ever read? A few people have told me it is, but I get the feeling they’re only saying it because they want something from me. It would be great to get the opinion of someone who has no ulterior motive.

In any case, I really believe that investing in my business is a financial decision you won’t regret. At the moment I make an annual profit of A$0. Your generous cash injection will ensure I can maintain the operation’s stability and I am extremely confident that I can continue to post similar profits into the foreseeable future.

Now to the money. US$20 million is certainly a very huge sum. But not as big as the sum I’ve been looking to transfer from an account in ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA for the last decade or so.

You see, my story sounds remarkably similar to yours.

I am, as you well know, Jonathan Rivett from Melbourne Australia. I was the financial adviser to the late Idi Amin. (We might have even bumped into each other at one of those Swiss alpine retreats Idi and the Colonel went on together, now I come to think of it. Do you have thick red hair and a small scar on your left cheek?) Before he died in 2003, the big fella asked me to mortgage Uganda and transfer the proceeds into a commercial bank in northern Asia. I said to Idi, I said, “Idi, you silly fat fuck, you can’t mortgage an entire country. Get serious, please.” (By the way, when I told that to Forest Whitaker while he was doing research for The Last King of Scotland, he laughed so hard he fell off the chair he was sitting on and thought he’d dislocated his shoulder, but it turned out to only be a minor subluxation and he was fine.) So Idi returned to the realms of possibility, did some  stock standard embezzling and told me to transfer the resulting US$97 million into a commercial bank in Mongolia (Khan Bank) for the purchase of a mountain.

Because of the nature of the toiletries industry at the time, he made the transfer into the account of his invisible friend, JimJam Jones, a gigantic talking prune with predilection for stamp collecting and brightly coloured bow ties. Now, JimJam Jones owned a concrete business operating out of Libya (you may even have purchased some concrete on behalf of the Colonel from him) and was away on business at the time of the transfer – Idi demanded that I make the transaction without informing JimJam. When JimJam discovered the money in his account (now holidaying in Cancun) he made the assumption that he had won the lottery, despite never having bought a ticket. He became reckless, decided to go waterskiing for the first time in his life, even though he was an invisible prune and didn’t have opposable digits, and was killed in a spectacular explosion involving an offshore oil rig (JimJam was smoking two cuban cigars as he skied). While this was all happening, Idi’s kidney’s were playing up; he died in Saudi Arabia not long after the last of JimJan’s delicious remains washed up on the beaches of Montego Bay, Jamaica. This meant that nobody was left to claim the money now lying dormant in a dead figment’s Mongolian account. Of course there was me, but everyone knows foreign banks only let you transfer large sums of money if you have a complete stranger into whose bank account you can make the transfer and, until today, I didn’t know any complete strangers. But now I do. His name is James Francis, and I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (By the way, I’m referring to you, not another James Francis.)

OK, so here’s the deal. I will give you 42.87 percent of the US97 million and will invest 12.43 percent  into your Miami pineapple growing business. All you need to do is send me a statement of your interest, followed by your bank account details, followed by your left hand.

You are free to email me for more information:

With a jiggly wiggly sense of anticipation and a yearning to trade despot stories, I remain faithfully yours,


PS: I once bench pressed a fully grown cow.

PPS: Who do you think will play Gaddafi if they make a movie about him? I think probably Fassbender.

Wouldn’t it be good if he replied?

Haught fact of the day:

Until recently, I thought Mongolia was like Siam and Abyssinia and Ceylon and was now called North China or South Russia. What a bogan, eh?

What’s happened to the Grape Men?

A lot of people have been enquiring as to the whereabouts of the Grape Men. I’ll write a full post about it later, but in short grape season is over for another year and their allotment of land no longer resonates with the word “putana” or the gentle stop and start and stop and start and stop and start of engines.


Who stole the cookies? [The Mike Lamprill Incident]

At primary school, a boy whose real name I won’t reveal (I’ll call him Mike Lamprill) took our collective seven-year-old understanding of honesty to a new echelon during a game of Who Stole the Cookies From the Cookie Jar.

For those who don’t know the game, it goes something like this:

Kiddies sit in a circle and create a beat by clapping their hands then slapping their knees in unison – hands-knees, hands-knees, hands-knees, etc. The teacher then gets the game started in earnest by singing “Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?” followed by “Li stole the cookies from the cookie jar.” This brings that child into the game, and their response to the accusation must be “Who me?” which is immediately followed by the whole group baying for blood: “Yes you!”, then back to the accused who pleads their innocence with “Couldn’t be!”, then back to the group of shockingly fickle accusers who, instead of broadening their line of enquiry just give up, and together ask “Then who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”, which gives the now-innocent child the chance to make their own evidence-free allegation: “DAVID stole the cookies from the cookie jar!” And so on and so forth.

If you’re still not sure what the hell I’m talking about, I highly recommend Wikipedia’s description, which includes a superlative use of the word “apocryphal”.

Who Stole the Cookies had a chequered history at my primary school. There were rumours that in the mid 1980s a girl who had indeed thieved baked goods just prior to a round of the game began to  hyperventilate during the song and collapsed when she was inevitably accused. A few years later, so the primary school lore said, a racist teacher had tried to casually introduce the words Who   Shot the Coolie in the Coolie Bar into the game. In the early 1990s a young boy now sometimes known as Haught decided to attempt some paradigm shifting and demanded that the song be Australianised – Who Stole the Bikkies From the Bikkie Tin didn’t manage to capture the imagination of his NBA-worshipping, Nike-wearing, Disney-obsessed peers. And then there was the Mike Lamprill Incident.

I remember it vividly. So vividly that I fear I may have unconsciously darned the holes in my memory that time had worn into existence, and darned them so well that the story I’m about to tell you, which I honestly believe to be true down to the very last detail, is in fact mostly fabrication.

I was in Grade 2. My class gathered in the little room beside the Marble Tree (whole ‘nother story there) for Music and the Music teacher told us as soon as we’d entered to form a circle. There were excited murmurs. The teacher waited until everyone was seated with legs crossed before asking for guesses as to what we might be singing. Sally Atkins put up her hand and guessed ‘Crocodile Rock’. Nobody laughed because our Music teacher was a goddamn trailblazer and regularly asked five year olds to smash out some Elton John. The teacher said it was a good guess but not the right answer. James Prendergast put up his hand and guessed ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo‘. Everybody laughed because he had a lisp and couldn’t have chosen three worse words to pronounce. The teacher told us to be quiet and again praised the guess. Steven Bellis put his hand up, tried ‘Botty Botty Cuttlefish’ and brought the house down.

The teacher, above the hysterics, yelled “NO! NO! SILLY! NOT FUNNY AT ALL! QUIET!” but with only limited success. Through my tears I noticed that Mike Lamprill had stopped laughing and put his hand up. Hoping that he might be considering one-upping Steven’s work of genius, I watched intently and saw the teacher wave his hand away while she continued to yell things like  “EXCUSE ME!” and the archetypal teacher’s “UUUH!” Mike kept his hand up and as the laughter from the rest of the class abated, I thought he might get his chance, but the teacher dismissed him once and for all: “NO MIKE! HAND DOWN! Silly Steven has ruined it for everyone.”

Mike looked understandably distressed.

The teacher told us that we were playing Who Stole the Cookies. There was an exact fifty-fifty split between disgusted groans and overenthusiastic YES!es (accompanied by obligatory fist pumps).

The teacher got things started – hands-knees, hands-knees, hands-knees “Grade Twos. I was looking in my pantry this morning. And do you know what I found? I found that someone had stolen some cookies from my cookie jar. So, I’ve got a very important question I need to ask you all. Grade Twos… Whooo stole the cookies from the cookie jar? Ahmed stole the cookies from the cookie jar.”

“Who me?” asked ultra-reliable Ahmed Massri, knee-hand rhythm remaining impeccable the whole time.

“Yes you!” yelled the few members of the class who had managed to get into the swing of things and weren’t distracted by their own nostrils, or their immediate neighbour’s hair, or the vestigial hilarity of that magical cuttlefish line.

“Couldn’t be,” Ahmed assured us.

“Then who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”

“SARAH stole the cookies from the cookie jar,” Ahmed suggested.

“Who me?”

“Yes you!”

“Couldn’t be!”

“Then who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”

“STEVEN stole the – ”

At this point the teacher intervened, out of tune “NO! Steven didn’t steal the cookies. I think …” and then returning to the pattern of the song said “Wei stole the cookies from the cookie jar.”

“Who me?”

“Yes you!”

“Couldn’t be!”

“Then who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”

“MIKE stole the cookies from the cookie jar.”

“Who me?” Mike asked, back straight, hands meeting then falling to his knees in a regimented fashion, face suggesting something was terribly wrong.

“Yes you!”

“Couldn’t be!” Mike managed, still keeping time, but looking as if professions of innocence were the furthest thing from his mind.

“Then who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?”

Suddenly facially relaxed, still keeping the hands-knees, hands-knees, hands-knees beat going, Mike departed radically from the script, while valiantly attempting to retain the song’s meter: “I’ve got two poos inside my tracksuit pants.”

And he did.

From that moment on, certainly for as long as I was at primary school, Who Stole the Cookies was a write-off. I remember emergency teachers coming in and innocently setting up a game (and being visibly cheered by the positive response it received from the students) only to become mouth-agape horrified when the class clown  flung in Mike’s now-legendary line like a gigantic purple dildo at a Boy Scout’s meeting.

Is it immortal? I sometimes think I should return to the school pretending to be a social researcher and find out whether it became a rock-solid cultural institution like “No way! Get fucked! Fuck off!” in ‘Am I ever gunna see your face again’ or whether it’s a moment from another time, the only evidence left being the darned recollections of a childish blogger.