The digital reincarnation of a national bestseller by KIT LEEE (now known as ANTARES)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Pub Pundit

Whenever I enter a particular pub in Petaling Jaya I'm reminded of poor Prometheus. Prommie who? He's one of the younger, more idealistic Titan gods in Greek mythology. He got into big trouble with The Management (namely Zeus, chief of the Olympian gods) because he figured he'd help speed up Evolution by offering Mankind the secret of Fire (withheld by Zeus for security reasons). Well, Prometheus gets caught and is branded a dangerous subversive (and traitor to the Ruling Class). As punishment he is chained to a rock where each day a carnivorous bird would come down and devour his liver. But during the night his liver would regenerate, and the horrific ordeal would be repeated ad infinitum.

From Mankind's point of view, of course, Prometheus was a great hero - a Bringer of Light, freedom fighter, and icon of noble resistance.

Now, our Pub Pundit is by no means a great hero - except when he's had a few pints in the convivial company of his fellow journalists who have assembled there to quench their thirst and vent their frustrations. If you happen to be a good listener you're guaranteed a generous supply of beer on the pundit's account. He'll curse his bosses and tell dirty jokes about the finance minister and generally rant and rave about the sorry state of the judiciary or the economy - which makes you wonder how he copes with a $600 monthly bill at the pub. His intentions, to be sure, are noble: he would like decency, truth and justice to prevail; he would like the facts made public. Like Prometheus, he only wants to bring a little light to the benighted masses. And, like Prometheus, he is punished horribly for his efforts. The only difference being that it's not a bird that devours his liver each day - it's the beer every night.

No doubt you'll find a few pundits outside of the pubs - but these fellows are much too sober to shoot their mouths off (and how else does one get to be known as a pundit?) Others prefer to get drunk on power, so they end up in politics, playing the traditional game of Poltroons & Panjandrums (such lovely words, look them up in the dictionary) - call it the X-rated version of Snakes & Ladders.

If you wish to avoid getting drawn into controversial debate, there are plenty of pubs without pundits to patronise - where the clientele just lounges around misty-eyed, listening to cowboy songs. And others where you can happily tap your feet and nod your head in jazzy nonchalance, yapping about your unbeatable prowess in Trivial Pursuit and your wild weekend in Phuket.

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