1947 And All That

According to Wikipedia, the Tanganyika Groundnut Scheme was a plan to cultivate tracts of what is now Tanzania with peanuts. It was a project of the British government.groundnuts It was abandoned in 1951 at considerable cost to the taxpayers when it did not become profitable. Ground nuts require at least 500 mm (20 inches) of rainfall per year; the area chosen was subject to drought.

This might give the impression that the British Government did not know what it was doing (perish the thought), but they knew what they were talking about, as this extract from the 1947 Order shows;

In the Nuts (underground)(other than ground-nuts) Order, the expression nuts shall have reference to such nuts, other than ground-nuts, as would but for this amending Order not qualify as nuts (underground)(other than ground-nuts) by reason of their being nuts (unground).

Are we all clear on that?


The Last Pirate In Peng Chau

This is an extract from the forth-coming novel. The Last Pirate In Peng Chau. The intention is to publish in digital format on Kindle, and your feedback would be most welcome. Would this work better as straight text or more like a blog post with links and photos? What do you think?

Map of the South China Sea
Map of the South China Sea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In another time, In another place,

A young ghost fellow

Met a young woman.

So much happened.

So many involved.


So whose story is this?

Who is the star

Who outshines the rest?

Who is content

To play the support?

Each has their own tale to tell.

Greed and corruption,

Science and stone-age superstition

Side by side in the

Sophisticated City of Sin.

A duel of magic,

Finding a treasure

Losing an opportunity ……

All this to show,

Or is it really so?

Did these things happen?

Or is it yet to be?

My humble name is Wong,

(Meaning ‘king’,

Not the colour yellow,)

My given name is


And I have the honour

To be the last pirate

In Peng Chow.

He could tell that the engines of the specially adapted junkChinese junk were straining now, as they rounded the headland and saw the bay with its sandy beach stretching between the hills like the arm of a dumbbell. Although this was home, there would be no point trying to make for the harbour. The 2 police launches were not so far behind, and he couldn’t see if either of them was showing the agreed signal.

“Which way now, Dai Lo?” shouted the oldest of the Hakka crew, planted firmly behind the helm.

“Head for The Oysters, and we’ll see if these Gwai Lo have the stomach for proper sailing!”

The 2 younger men laughed aloud as the helmsman adjusted his course.

Not for the first time, the big Chinese thanked his joss for having been born into a sea-faring tribe with much stronger ties than any amount of blood-thirsty Triad oaths could command. His father had been a Shanghainese from Putow province, which was why he stood head and shoulders above all his mother’s kin, but perhaps his very size added to the mystique that already shrouded his reputation as the most successful pirate in the South China Seas.

The cargo currently secured in the junk’s hold would bring a huge price once he could get it to safety and arrange for its subsequent passage to the mainland. It was a god-cursed misfortune that he had stumbled upon a pair of Police launches with nothing better to do than amuse themselves by stopping an honest-seeming fishing junk for a routine inspection. Had there been any way of concealing his cargo, he would have taken a chance and let them board, especially if he could have seen if a red port navigation light was blinking. But the nature of his cargo meant that even the fish-reeking hold would not mask the smell, and so he had turned away, pretending he had not heard the police loud-hailer.

Now they would know that something was amiss, and his only chance was to try and lure them into the shallows round The Oysters and make good his escape.

On board Royal Hong Kong Police Launch TST1, Thompson, the sandy-haired Marine Police officer glanced nervously across to the other launch, which was now beginning to speed away in pursuit of the junk. By rights, being the senior of the 2 launch commanders, he should be directing this operation, but he somehow always felt intimidated by the older man because of his experience gained in other Police Forces.

Of course, rank is rank, and he was the Acting Superintendent, but that cut no ice with the swarthy tattooed inspector who had recently transferred to Hong Kong from Borneo.

And what were those tattoos about anyway? Only squaddies form the ranks or your common-or-garden jack tar would allow themselves to be painted in such a way. No gentleman would ever dream of such a thing. But that is the way the Force was going. Before you knew it, they would be promoting Chinese officers to senior ranks!

Not but what they were extremely capable, of course, and what Station Sergeant Tsang – universally known as The Major because his badge of office resembled that of a Regimental Sergeant Major – didn’t know about the shadowy world of triad gangsters and their various enterprises wasn’t worth knowing.

Actually, he wished Station Sergeant Tsang was on board as his own cox’n instead of the dark skinned Hakka sergeant, Ng. He didn’t really trust Ng, coming as he did from the same background as half the villains they were supposed to be investigating. Tsang, on the other hand, was Cantonese, and much easier to get on with.

However, he was thick as thieves with Godwinson, and had been as soon as Godwinson had arrived at Marine HQ. It was almost as if the two of them had a history, although that was hard to understand, since , as far as he knew, Tsang had lived all his life in Hong Kong, whereas this was Godwinson’s first tour there, no matter how many other Colonial postings he might boast of.

But then, even Acting Superintendents don’t know everything.

Laws for Life


Lion and Thomson's Gazelles
Image by Stig Nygaard via Flickr


Throughout recorded history, societies and individuals have compiled laws and philosophies to guide us in our day-to-day activities and relationships. They range in form from the rather prosaic, such as The Ten Commandments, to the more poetic, such as this African proverb;

Every morning in Africa a gazelle awakens knowing it must today run faster than the fastest lion or it will be eaten. Every morning a lion awakens knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It matters not whether you are a gazelle or a lion, when the sun rises you had better be running.

Sometimes, the advice proffered is so straight-laced and serious that we cannot help making fun of it.

“… and so, Simba, the gazelles eat the grass, and then we eat the gazelles, and thenlion and cub we poop out the gazelles and they go back into the grass. And then a baboon smears Welch’s Grape Jelly on your forehead and that’s how you become king…






But the ultimate rule for survival, whether you are the hunter,

Jack Russell terrier, Rosie, on the alert
By the pricking of my thumbs, something foxy this way comes






or the hunted,

You looking at me?






is something that everyone who has ever served in the Armed Forces , or any disciplined service knows…

The Wild Colonial Boys

These days, of course, the United States weilds the big stick as the self-appointed Guardian of World Democracy.Yes, children, but there was a time when Britain was truly Great and sending a gunboat actuallyGunboat diplomacy stopped almost as many wars as they started.

The legacy of those times lives on for better or, mostly, worse all around the globe, but perhaps nowhere more poignantly than in London itself, once the centre of the universe, and now…

As jaded relics of former glory go, the clubland of Britain’s capital has gone further than most. Let us take a look through the windows of this fine old Victorian edifice. What do we find inside the hallowed portals of the Colonial Club?

Behold the visitors – 3 stalwart representatives of America’s law enforcement agencies. First up, an NYPD Blue, in dubious civilian clothing, apparently trying to impersonate Al Pacino as Serpico.

Next to him, doing his best not to fall off his barstool while riding it like a motorbike (how droll) is a ChiP.

Delicately distancing himself fom tthe other two is the only occupant of the room to wear a suit. Royalty? No, far superior, it is a Chief Special Agent In Charge Of Chiefly Special Agents for the FBI. Slumming.

Their hosts for the evening are 2 pukka sahib types, as alike as peas in a pod. Perkins and Thompson, or possibly Thomkins and Person. They are doing their best to ignore the gin-fuelled mutterings of another Englishman, slumped in the corner of the bar. We will come to him later.

Meanwhile, let us listen to these Colonial Police Officers, for such is what they are, as they entertain their American cousins.

“Well,of course,” says Thompson (or Perkins), “there’s no question that you chaps do a wonderful job where you come from, but I doubt if you have any officers who could match Carruthers (or possibly Carstairs).

Askari soldierHe was a sub-Inspector in my old outfit, the Kenyan Police, during the Mau Mau uprisings. He was in his Landrover with an Askari driver when they came to a native settlement where 50 Mau Mau terrorists were rioting and generally misbehaving.

Well, the driver braked so hard, the Landrover swerved into a ditch and before you could say , er, anything at all, the Askari was offski.

Carstairs was just about to write him a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident when the Mau Mau boys saw him, and one of them threw an assegai that ripped through his stomach and left his entrails spilling out on to the floor.

Did that worry Carrutherstairs? Not at all! He bent down, picked up his intestines, shoved them back in his stomach, drew his revolver and shouted, ‘Disperse, in the Queen’s name’

The Mau Mau were so stunned by his bravery that they all fled. That man’s a Superintendent in our Force now.”

Murmurs of appreciation from the visiting Americans, and loud belchings from the johnny in the corner.

“Pish and tush and similar,” cries Parkinsims. “Our Force has better men than that. Back in The Emergency we had a chappie in the Malay Police,


Malay Police during the Emergency
"Are you a terrorist?"


Probationary Inspector Saunders, who was on river patrol with a couple of Dayak lascars when he came upon 100 Communist Terrorists pillaging and raping a rubber plantation.(can this be right? Ed.)

The native constables lost control and crashed the boat into the jetty so hard that they both went head first through the windows of the estate-manager’s bungalow.

Saunders immediately cited the lascar for breaking and entering, and was about to do the same for the Dayak (nothing queer about Saunders!), when the terrorists opened fire on him with sub-machine guns.

What do you think happened? They blew the top of his head off, and his cranium fell out on to the ground.

Was he bothered? No, sir!. Plucky young Saunders picked up the grey matter, dropped it into his skull, drew his pistol and shouted, ‘Disperse, in the Queen’s name’.

The terrorists were so afraid of this indestructible superman that they fled. Saunders is a Senior Superintendent in our Force now.”

Luckily for our sanity, we will never know what stories the Americans would have invented to match these heroic tales, because, just as they open their collective mouths, the drunk in the corner (remember him?) waves his glass at the others and says,

“You guys think you’re something special, don’t you? Well, let me tellRoyal Hong Kong Police you, I’m from the Royal Hong Kong Police, the finest force that money can buy, and we’ve got more than 100 guys in our Force with no guts, no brains, and they’re ALL fucking Superintendents.”

Amazing Success of Police Quiz!!


clipping from OldChinaHand Times


Scenes of incredulous jubilation greeted this news flash from GoogleMail;

“Warmest congratulations on your outstanding post debut.

In fact, your post “Quiz For Police Officers” was the No. 9 best post about humour!

Here’s how your post stacks up against others:

Post: Quiz For Police Officers
Your Tag Your Rank Time Period
humour 9 All-time
police 4 All-time

Unfortunately, ace  investigator Bill Warrington was unavailable for comment. (Drunk!. Head copy boy)

The Editor was also unavailable, still ROFLHAO from a previous article. (Actually trying to shag a table leg. Head copy boy)

It was left up to the Head (and only) copy boy to make the following enquiries;

Where did the email come from?               Forgot to look.

Who voted for the post?                                 Don’t know.

How many humorous posts were there?     9

How many Police posts? No, don’t tell me, let me guess. 4, right?

Mark Twain probably said something about newspapers that would be relevant here, but you can look it up for yourselves. Great news like this needs celebrating.




Armed police officers outside Buckingham Palace
Image by Trojan631 via Flickr


This is adapted from a round-robin email, so the credit for the original goes to whoever puts their hand up.


You’re walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children.  Suddenly a wild eyed man carrying a large knife comes round the corner, locks eyes with you,screams obscenities, raises the knife, and charges.  You are carrying a Glock .40 and are an expert shot.  You have mere seconds to respond before he reaches you wife and family.  What do you do?

English Police officer’s answer:

“Well, that’s not enough information to answer the question.

Does the man look poor or oppressed?

Have I done anything which could have caused him to attack us?

Could we run away?  What does my wife think?  Should I ask the kids if they are scared?

Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?

What does the law say about this situation?  Does my Force have a Management Policy covering this?

Does the Glock have an approved safety function built into it and am I using it in an authorised Health and Safety fashion?  Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway and what sort of message does this give to society?

Is it possible he’d be content with killing just me and leaving my wife and kids alone?  Does he definitely want to kill me or does he intend to merely wound or maim me?

If I were to grab his knees could my family escape while he is busy stabbing me?  Should I call 999 or try and phone for a taxi?

Why is this street so deserted?  We need to have a paint and weed day and make this a happier healthier area where behaviour of this sort would not be tolerated.

If I raise my gun and he turns around and runs away, will I be blamed if he falls over and injures himself?  Will I, or the taxpayer have to foot the legal and medical bill for any injuries he may sustain?

If I shoot him and lose the court case, would this give him the opportunity to sue me, costing me my job, pension, credibility and loss of my family home?

Am I being culturally sensitive enough and will I be offending his family, ethnic background, racial or religious group if I wound or kill him?  Will I have to defend myself against accusations of racism if I shoot him?

Australian Police officer’s answer:


American Police officer’s answer:

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Russian Police officer’s answer: