Hong Kong launderer cleaned $860m in three years.


Plat du jour?

I heard a good excuse to put the shovel down yesterday.  A man I met helped me to come up with a new name for a ‘blog. Instead of Belle du Jour, I could call it ‘Plat du jour’ and then write about food that I’ve eaten, “but in a really sexy way…”.

It took a while for him to leave that alone, fortunately his girlfriend stepped in and rescued him.

An old hack once told me that no one will take you seriously until you have something published. An ouevre is ambitious. Non-fiction has no appeal at all. The mere mention of the dreaded  ‘blog and all that accompanies it makes me cringe. I do not aim to be a part of the ‘blogosphere’ nor a blogger. Is there pressure on a blogger to write daily? I’m not sure. I very rarely feel that type of pressure, which is maybe why I don’t write as much as I could. I have no discipline.

The next few days will be a disciplinary challenge, however. I am working full time. Might take up Suzanna’s offer today, and work from there tomorrow and Wednesday, leaving Papillon on Thursday am.

This will be a breeze. I am on track.

Diving this morning with Jimmy.  We’re heading to Ko Bida, hopefully not on a boat full of testosterone.  (Bikini Bikini Bikini.) Pity none of them could come and talk to me normally.

The last one had never had it that good before. And he’s kidding himself if he thinks he’ll get it again. I’ve spent time this week kidding myself. Maybe he’ll choose me. I want him to choose me. And I need to get my head around what this deal means.

If I hand power over now, then what am I in this relationship? He’s obviously done this before. I doubt that I’m the first or the last. That sinking feeling happened when I saw the intimacy between them. And here I am stood on the side-lines like a pathetic stand in. waiting for a glance, a nod, from the director to take my place. No fucking chance. This is my life, I am no side show, I will not be involved in someone else’s relationship. What the fuck is the future of that? Nada. More of the same.

If you feel bad at the outset, it is for a reason. Trust yourself, don’t doubt that. Your instincts will pick up on something your active mind wants to deny. The consciousness will fill in the gaps to make a bright shiny super glossy animated movie. The reality may be a badly drawn and rapidly fading screenshot.

I was on a boat or on the beach about to get on a boat, there was a hazy ethereal sunlight. There were people in shorts and vests strolling purposefully, or as purposefully as you do in Tropicalia. I was skipping and running, whooping holding my green rash vest and white mask aloft. Excitedly I scrambled through equipment, certain of my purpose yet the outcome had not crystallized in my mind’s eye.

Finding what I wanted and running out to the jetty, I asked a tall curly haired man kitted out in scuba diving gear “So, what’s our host’s name?” It dawned on me instantly that Id stumbled upon a luxury diving boat, and was joining a group heading out from a fine white sandy beach, into the turquoise sea. Was this the source of my excitement?

“He’s over there, ” pointed the curly haired guy. At that moment the dark haired chissled face man turned to face me. It was the man from the Euromillions advert.

I woke a few moments later into the bright morning sun that streamed through the curtains in my bedroom. Elated and conned. Advertising has seeped into my mind since I’ve been in the UK. I don’t have TV in Delhi. I did have one in my room at the farm, I learned a lot about Indian TV stars and commercialism from the advertisements that take up the bulk of airtime. Since I’ve been in the UK, I have experienced a culture shock.

Religion runs through the very fabric of India, like it or not, it’s irrelevant. Tuesdays of absitnence and detoxification, quarterly navratras to purify souls and bodies are followed by millions who would otherwise spend nights drinking strong liquor and in pursuit of the sins of the flesh. Fasting and focus is not uncommon nor raises eyebrows as it would in the UK’s seemingly developed society. Religion and spirituality play a small part in British life, it seemed to me at least. There’s an obsession with spending money, with appearance and with possession. Owning a particular car, or TV or coffee pot, heading to a certain European destination or going glamping (a hideous concept of glamourous camping created by people who ten years ago would never have considered watching a band in a field and now see it as part of the season) at a festival, are all ways in which Brits worship and try to attain nirvana.

Om mani padme hum, Britain. I’m leaving for the airport today, see you in a year.

I’ve spent a weel absorbing the brisk summer of north west England. I’ve seen cousins, family friends and heard stories.

One of the great things about being back in the bosom of the family is hearing the tales of human tragedy, fulfilment, scandal, injury and mirth springing from the lives of the good people of Kirkdale.  Some of them have the listener in a heap of helpless laughter. Others closer to home and decidely darker are shocking and desperate.

On Saturday night, while I sat with an array of aunts and cousins carousing the back yard of my family home, a house three doors down was broken into, ransacked and the residents releived of their hard earned goods. The neighbours were out celebrating the marriage of their eldest son. Earlier in the day, smart looking drivers had stood near  wedding cars outside the family home, waiting to ferry them off to the service. And they had been seen.

Two young men, one tall one short, swaggered and spat their way down the road around the same time. The expertly cased the houses in the street, eyeing up which had an alarm, who had a dog and where glass doors could give them an easy access to the booty inside.

On the same night, someone broke into a van parked in the road. I noticed today that my dad had brought the sat nav device in from the car. Five homes were burgled in this area last weekend. A month ago, a man broke into my aunt’s home and crept upstairs while she was in bed.  She heard him, and her screams frightedned him off.  She knows who it is – she recognised him and has told the police. They are unable to do arrest the man as they claim to have no evidence.

There’s an air of violence and hatred I notice here that I haven’t felt for a long time. And I’ve burned my shins sitting out in the sunshine.

Sausages and coffee around the breakfast bar in my friend’s house, south of the river. The rain followed me from Delhi, I’ve brought the monsoon on the tails of a kurta and almost lost my job as a bridesmaid. Jet lag wasn’t so bad, a day flight is easier on the brain.  I’m still deciding on today’s distraction – writing this is fast becoming the favourite though.

Work’s spinning. There are messages flying in fast and ideas are streaming. In case you didn’t know, I work in Delhi, and write internationally. I could be based anywhere and up until last year, that was my plan. I worked freelance from the UK, Thailand and Nepal and I eventually decided to take a job. I accepted  it on condition I could work from anywhere in the world. The reality is I’m stuck in an office on an industrial estate, which I suppose could do anywhere in the world. The problem is I had envisaged mountains and streams, forests, sands, oceans and skies when I designed my moveable workspace. Right now, my office has no windows and is next to the ring road.

Let’s face it, I’m not the person who moves around cities drunching and dealing over the phone, although I’d like to be. I don’t have a team of assistants to do the details. I do the strategy, the big picture and the small picture and this needs to transform. I enjoy the vision stretching for miles ahead of me. Now I have to let go of the small stuff, learn to hand that over, raise myself up.

I still like looking at the markings of the butterfly that lands and stays on my balcony long enough to study.

I’ve sat here eating pizza, reading, smoking and watching ancient drama unfold.

There’s been a raging storm in the city tonight, my sapling neem trees are happy, and the apartment has partially flooded.

The electricity went off to a near flash of lightening and I opened the windows, letting the cool night air flow in. Outside the sound of the rain has tuned to a hush and the drips from on high make the loudest noise as the last of the heavens rushes over rooves and falls to the earth.

From streets away, the sounds of car horns frantically ploughing their carriages through streets which became rivers in a few moments, as on a Tuesday night in Delhi, millions of Hindus race home from temple to shelter at home.

The elecriticty’s back, time to finish that drama.



I am happy.

I am warming to this city. The constant heat that bakes us all has given my skin a permanent rouge. The olive Indians smile when they see us glowing. I think my body temperature has raised a fraction of a degree.

The light in Delhi adds a veil to every  scene. I feel a distance between me, a bit like a dream happening befire my eyes. Every flyover takes me up over the city to see rooftops and tree tops. Temples and lotues in bright colours and stunning whites, flags flying and voices chanting in devotion to the Hindu gods spring out from the houses and flat rooved offices. From onhigh, it looks like the beginning of Yellow Submarine, when the city is played out in levels that slide together to make a flat landscape for us to get lost in.

It is true that Delhi is home to greater powers.

The sky and the sun can set the mood of the city.

On Thursday, DD Singh collected me at work and we went in search of a garden centre. I have two neem saplings, given to me by a man in a coffee shop. They were still in bags, hanging in water and not thriving. I’m going away for a couple of weeks and they need a good bed to grow in while I’m away.

Driving through the city, there was a strangely autumnal light at dusk in early June. The sun hung low, an irredescent pearl rolling on a sea of turtle dove grey silk. People, trees and buildings between me and the sun were shadows.

The same veil that separates, adds a rich texture, see the pulp crushed in jaws of a squeezer at the nimbu pani stall, grains with chilli in newspaper cones feel moist and refreshing before my eyes, the red and green golden tassled blankets hanging above strings of orange marigolds destined for the shoulders of deities splash colour on the dusty broken pavement and dirt tracks.

I’m away in search of colours today, to find peacock blue and emerald green silver threaded saris amid the flattening heat of a Saturday afternoon. Wish me luck.