Strippers, a tuna sandwich and the Singapore Grip

Image of troops fighting in Singapore during the Japanese attack.

Image of troops fighting in Singapore during the Japanese attack.

Having given myself too much lead-time going to Austin’s airport to pick up a friend flying in Sunday evening, I realized there was still an hour to go until the plane landed, followed by the additional time it would take to disembark.

So no sooner had I parked up, I reversed out, and headed off to find somewhere to have a bite to eat, read some of J.G. Farrell’s “The Singapore Grip,” before heading back to the airport.

The first place I came to beyond the airport’s exit was a bar; I thought some bar-fly food would be fun and so in I turned. But as I parked up, I noticed motifs dotted around the building’s exterior which seemed to depict the silhouette of a woman kneeling down or in some form of cavorting motion.

Possibly not food that they’re serving in there, I thought, and rattled the gear stick back into reverse, again. A stone’s throw away there was a Subway, but upon entering I was told they were closing up. One of the staff clearing up said there was another Subway farther along the motorway. “Good luck,” another worker called out as I left.

Eventually, I got my 6-inch tuna sandwich and read some Farrell–covering an appropriate passage describing the arrival of the young protagonist, Matthew Webb, at the airport and then being driven through the streets of Singapore amid garish sights: “Certain of the women on the balconies above struck languorous poses, or stretched out a slender leg as if to straighten a stocking. One idly lifted her skirt as if to check that her underwear was all in order (alas, she appeared to have forgotten it all together); another forced a breast to bulge out of its hiding and palped it thoughtfully.”

Having thrown my sandwich wrapper into the bin, I headed back to the airport, once again, driving past the cavorting silhouettes on the other side of the motorway lit by the hazy lamp-lights in the dark.