Books : Irish Wit, Scottish Wit, Welsh Wit

It is not often that I find different books in the same series on the same library shelve at one go, so I was excited to find these three little books by Tom Hay last week.  These books contain quips and quotations that are humorous, funny and wise:




  • Why don’t you write books people can read? (Nora Joyce to her husband)


  • The Irish love to be loved, except by each other. (David Kenny)


  • It were a bold man who ate the first oyster. (Jonathan Swift)
  • The only reason I went to America was because I saw a sign saying ‘Drink Canada Dry’. (George Best)


  • A man who says his wife can’t take a joke forgets that she took him. (Oscar Wilde)
  • Marriage is forever – like cement. (Peter O’Toole)


  • The only really dirty four-lettered word is ‘work’. (Brendan Kennedy)
  • Money can’t buy friends, but you get a better class of enemy. (Spike Mulligan)


  • Life is a long prepartaion for something that never happens. (William Butler Yeats)
  • The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life. (George Carlin)


  • An undertaker is the last man to let you down. (Jimmy O’Dea)
  • A doctor’s reputation is made by the number of eminent men who die under their care. (George Bernard SHaw)
  • Funerals in Ireland are so jolly, they should be called funferalls. (James Joyce)


  • The weak are a long time in politics. (Barry Egan)
  • He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That clearly points to a career in politics. (George Bernard Shaw)


  • Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed in one’s luck. (Iris Murdock)
  • Memories are a well-known form of fiction. (Frank Harris)
  • A poet can survive anything but a misprint. (Oscar Wilde)




  • Freedom and whisky go together. (Robert Burns)


  • Of all ghosts the ghosts of our old loves is the worst. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  • Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes. (Robert Louis Stevenson)


  • It is not real work unless you would rather do something else. (J.M.Barrie)
  • Work is the meal of life, pleasure the dessert. (B.C.Forbes)


  • To marry is to half your rights and double your duties.
  • Get what you can and keep what you have; that’s the way to getting rich.


  • Problems are only opportunities with thorns on them. (Hugh Miller)
  • Temptations come, as a general rule, wherever they are sought. (Margaret Oliphant)


  • Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life. (R. L. Stevenson)


  • Life’s more amusing than we thought. (Andrew Lang)
  • Life is a long lesson in humility. (J.M.Barrie)




  • When asked if her husband could cook, Catherine Zeta-Jones said, “No…But he’s really good at making dinner reservations.”


  • My advice if you insist on slimming: eat as much as you like, just don’t swallow it. (Harry Secombe)
  • I like to drink to suit my location.(Tom Jones)


  • Due to industrial go-slow difficulties, grave-digging this week will be done by a skeleton crew. (Sign in a Welsh cemetry)


  • The Welsh are all actors. It is only the bad ones who become professional. (Richard Burton)
  • Books write authors as much as authors write books. (Dick Francis)


  • I’ll keep swivelling my hips until they need replacing. (Tom Jones)
  • You don’t get older, you get better. (Shirley Bassey)


  • Things which do not require effort of some sort are seldom worth having. (Ivor Novello)
  • There is no point in asking a man a question until you have established whether he has any reason to lie to you. (Ken Follet)
  • A kleptomaniac is a person who helps himself because he can’t help himself. (Henry Morgan)
  • Man’s mind is a watch that needs winding daily. (Welsh proverb)
  • Bad new go about in clogs, good news in stockinged feet. (Welsh proverb)
  • The only thing we guard with real success are the secrets of our shames. (Gwyn Thomas)



Book : Peace

Published by Hatherleigh Press in 2013, this book contains prayers, quotations and meditations to heal our world. Words spoken in favour of peace are among the most powerful sentiments ever expressed by man. This book shows us that we have the power to help create a more peaceful world so we must hope for peace, believe in peace and work for peace, beginning with a quote from Mother Teresa: Peace begins with a smile, which is also used in the final section called “Finding moments of peace every day”. Other quotes include:

  • Peace is always beautiful. (Walt Whitman)
  • Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy. (Thomas Jefferson)
  • A peace above all earthly dignities, a still and quiet conscience. (William Shakespeare)
  • You cannot find peace by avoiding life. (Virginia Woolf)
  • Peace and love are eternal. (John Lennon)
  • Until he extends his circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace. (Albert Schweitzer)

On The Importance Of Working For Peace:

  • Peace is costly but it is worth the expense. (African Proverb)

On The Pursuit Of Peace:

  • Peace is its own reward. (Mahatma Gandhi)
  • Peace may sound simple – one beautiful word – but it registers everything we have, every quality, every strength, every dream, every high ideal. (Yehudi Menuhin)

On Peace From Within:

  • Peace comes from within. do not seek it without. (Buddha)
  • It you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. (Lao Tze)
  • Nobody can bring you peace but yourself. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • When my heart is at peace, the world is at peace. (Chinese Proverb)

Overcoming Hate and Living in Peace:

  • When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will be at peace. (Jimi Hendrix)
  • All we are saying is give peace a chance. (John Lennon)

Movie : Love Lifting (DVD; 2012)

Inspired by a true story at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, this movie features Taiwanese actress Tien Niu, whose movies I grew up watching. It has been at least a couple of decades since I last saw her on the big screen. This is also the first time I’ve watched a movie starring To Chapman and Elanne Kwong, who also sang the theme song in the Cantonese dialect.

Kwong plays Li Li, a professional weightlifter asked to quit the sports because she had diabetes. She goes to Hong Kong to start a new life and meets Shi Yun at Tien Niu’s house. They fall in love, got married and had a kid and lead a simple but happy life. As the 2008 Olympic Games approach, Li recalls her dream of being an Olympic medallist. Yun is supportive of her ambition and convinces her to take up weightlifting again. One day, Yun is unexpectedly knocked down by a fast-moving van across the road where Li is waiting for him. This is the most touching scene in the entire movie. Before he succumbed to his injuries, he tells Li of his last wish to see her shine at the Olympics. Li is determined to fulfill his last wish.

I am more impressed by Tien Niu’s landlady role than the two leads. I hope to see Tien Niu in a meatier role on the big screen.

Book : Whatever Your Are, Be a Good One

The one hundred inspirational quotes, hand-lettered by Lisa Congdon  from Socrates, Lewis Carroll, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Austen and others, are simply refreshing and wonderful. Some of these are:

  • Wisdom begins in wonders (Socrates), with a sketch of an owl;
  • Imagination is the Eye of the Soul (Joseph Joubert), with a drawing of an eye;
  • Three things in human are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind. (Henry James), with a drawing of a sunny face;
  • If a thing loves it is infinite (William Blake), written as a label of an unique jar;
  • Be curious, not judgmental (Walt Whitman), written on another unique jar;
  • Everything that is lovely is but a brief dreamy kind of delight (William Butler Yeats), with drawings of five withering flowers;
  • Let me listen to me and not to them (Getrude Stein), with a pair of headphones;
  • Talent is chaeaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work (Stephen King), with a drawing of a salt shaker;
  • Wishing to be friends is quick work. But friendship is a slow ripening fruit (Aristotle), with a drawing of a ripening fruit;
  • It is not the length of life, but the depth of life (Ralph Waldo Emerson), with a drawing of a dolphin at sea.

Movie : Hail, Caesar!

This movie is like a tribute to Hollywood in the 1950s – there is the autocratic studios (the fictional Capitol Pictures Studios), singing cowboys, dancing sailors, water ballet, Bible epics and powerful gossip columnists. It is at the same time a satire, and a joy to watch.

It is also a delight to watch so many stars in the same movie –

  • Josh Brolin (as Eddie mannix, who trouble-shoots, delivers bad news, mends star spats, soothes egos and kills rumours),
  • George Clooney (as Baird Whitlock, a Matinee idol who is kidnapped during a shoot),
  • Scarlett Johansson (as Dee Anna Moran), star of synchronised swim extravaganzas who has a crisis of reputation),
  • Ralph Fiennes (as director Laurence Laurentz, and one of MY idols),
  • Tilda Swinton (playing dual roles as sisters who are both gossip columnists about to reveal a career-wrecking piece of information),
  • Channing Tatum (as a singing sailor-on-shore-leave) and
  • Jonah Hill (as a solicitor).

There are several memorable lines:

  • Everyone of us has a little bit of good in us,
  • There is unity in division and division in unity.
  • All the writers write but their works are owned by the studios.
  • It’s nice to be wanted.
  • People don’t want the facts. They want to believe.

The biggest bonus is the music. There are so many beautiful songs and nice music (whether sung a capella, by a choir, or played by a solo instrument like the cello, or by the entire orchestra) that I lost count. Three that left the deepest impression on me are

  • Jacques Offenbach’s Bacarolle from Tales of the Hoffman,
  • Lehar’s The Merry Widow Waltz and
  • Billy Hill’s song, The Glory Of Love.

Book : The Flavours of Love

This book by Dorothy Koomson has been sitting on my book shelf for many months. When I decided to read this, it took me less than two days to finish it. The Prologue and first chapter got me hooked, especially the lines

“…your life can be devastated on the whim of the wind, the change of mind…”; “…your life can change when you’re looking right at it but don’t notice the tiniest cut in a major artery”.

Joel Mackleroy, a father of two, was fatally stabbed before he finished the cookbook (The Flavours of Love) he started. His wife Saffron decides to finish it and everyone thinks she is coping well without him. Yet she has been hiding a secret, her daughter has confessed another devastating secret and Joel’s killer, who was never caught, has started to write to her, with the message that “what goes around, comes around. It’s a really hard lesson to learn.”

Other than the rather surprising twist at the end, what left the deepest impression on me were

  • about love : “Love doesn’t stay the same, it changes like we do, it is shaped by our experiences, by what we do, who we meet, what we learn.”
  • about widowhood : “It does get better. The pain doesn’t go away but it does get easier to live with. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to consume you for every moment of every day, It’s muted a little.”
  • about the death of a loved one : “Fynn lost his sister, that was why he knew the pain didn’t go away, it simply gets easier to live with, to slot in beside the rest of your life, allowing you to continue.”
  • about attention-seeking : “Fynn sometimes wonder if what his sister was doing was a way of screaming for him and his parents for attention, for them to notice her.”; “… like Phoebe’s desperate need to be loved which has resulted in her being pregnant at 14.”

I have one more book by Dorothy Koomson sitting on my book shelf, among many other books.

Book : The Sound of Sch

The first time I met Danielle Lim, the author, was at a private gathering of writers, would-be-writers and like-minded people eight months ago. Then I was fortunate enough to attend a talk she gave to the participants of a Memoir Writing Class a week ago. I read her book yesterday, in one sitting.

The Sound of Sch : A Mental Breakdown   A Life Journey  has as its theme a man’s (her uncle’s) struggles and torment with mental illness and the sacrifices, love, courage and dignity of his caregiver (his sister, the author’s mother). It is an honest and moving account.

Some lines struck a deep chord in me:

  • Arthritis can really squeeze the tears out of you;
  • Does life ever go on the same way with each passing day? Something in the world changes, and this changes something within us, we are no longer the same…
  • Grief is a strange phenomenon;
  • Life is always flowing, moving forward, history is about moving forward, not just abour the past.

Lim wrote on the last page that : It took one day for her (mother) to make a promise but it took thirty years for her to honour a promise. This, for me, was the most impactful of all.


Book : When A Flower Dies


Josephine Chia is a Singapore author of both fiction and non-fiction. I have read her memoirs Frog Under A Coconut Shell and Kampong Spirit, Gotong Royong – Life in Potong Pasir 1955-1965 and her novel, My Mother-In-Law’s Son. When A Flower Dies is her second novel, published in 2015. It reads like a historical fiction, incorporating themes like community spirit, heritage, kampong days, Peranakan culture, Medisave, BTO (Build-To-Order) HDB (Housing and Development Board) flats, the Pioneer Generation Package, an old person’s loneliness, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and what Lee Kuan Yew did for Singapore.

The section that I enjoyed most reminds me of the authors and poets studied in school: Shakespeare, Dickens, Thackeray, the Bronte sisters, Austen, RL Stevenson, Keats, Tennyson, Shelley, Blake, Eliot, Frost and Wordsworth. I also like the witty lines such as:

  • Beware the barreness of a busy life” (quote from Socrates) when she wrote about the irony of modern modes of communication, and
  • Literature is about a place within us that we can’t easily reach. An inspired work of art takes us there. A painting, a good piece of music, or a poet’s and author’s words become a vehicle for us to make that inner journey.”

Best of all, however, were how the words of my favourite poet, William Blake, were worked into the novel:

  • from Auguries of Innocence:

          To see a World in a Grain of Sand                                               

          And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And Eternity in an hour

  • on possessive love:

Love seeketh only Self to please

To bind another to its delight

           Joys in another’s loss of ease,

           And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite

One other line that stood out for me is: Children are their parents’ unconscious attempt to amend their lives and to grasp immortality.



Movie : The Kid from the Big Apple



I watched this movie because I wanted to see Tommy Tam on the big screen again. Tam, also known as Ti Lung, was very famous for his classic wuxia (martial arts) films in the 60’s and early 70’s. He won a Best Actor award at the 7th Macau International Movie Festival (2015)  for his role as a grandfather here.

The movie also won for Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Hester Hsuan), Best Newcomer (Tan Qin Lin -really good and convincing in her role as the grandaughter) and Best Screenplay (Jess Tong).

The music in the opening scene is reminiscent of Erik Satie’s (1866-1925) Gymnopedies, especially in the first sixteen bars or so.

Ti Lung is a respected traditional Chinese medicine physician whose estranged daughter (Jessica Hsuan) returns to Malaysia (I suspect it’s the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur) from New York and dumps her young daughter Sarah (Tan) in his care for months. Due to language and cultural barriers, the grandfather-grandaughter relationship is immediately rocky and both sides must gradually adapt and make compromises to get along.

The acting is superb; I was moved to tears at more than a couple of scenes. Humour and laughter was also present throughout the movie. There are many hidden gems, for example values like respecting the elders, proper decorum and manners, the importance of being happy, life is beautiful if we believe in our dreams, learning is never-ending, it’s fate to be a family so treasure it and be happy, it doesn’t matter where one lives where there is love and the most quoted one (also used in publicity posters): you are like the stars, not always seen but for ever there.

Besides the emotional, heart-tugging moments, there are also scenes that bring laughter, especially those with a local (Malaysian) flavour. (These have to be seen to be appreciated.)

Another nice surprise is the music. I especially like an old classic called at‘Wonderful Night At Sea’, the emotive ‘Sunset” (a Japanese melody with lyrics by Dr Liang Wern Fook), another xinyao song (with a familiar tune and lyrics but whose title I just couldn’t recall), a child’s a  capella rendition of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and the lovely Plaisir D’Amour (by Martini-Paul de Senneville).



Movie : Kung Fu Panda 3


I had wanted to watch this movie since the day after pianist Lang Lang walked the red carpet at Hollywood for the Premiere. As I did not like Kung Fu Panda 1 and did not watch Kung Fu Panda 2, I did not harbour any expectation for Kung Fu Panda 3. So I was not disappointed that I did not enjoy the story, and, hard as I tried, I could not recognise the voices of Po (Jack Black), Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) or Kai (JK Simmons) until the credits came on. I still do not know which characters were voiced by Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Kate Hudson, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan).

I recognised only a bit of Richard Strauss’ (1864-1949, German composer) Sprach Zarathustra. The music by Hans Zimmer was lovely throughout but I could not really hear Lang Lang’s playing with the orchestra. I love the solo he played at the end credits. I also like the cello solo, the orchestra and the choir. I hope I can get hold of a copy of the soundtrack soon.

Other than the music, I enjoyed the visuals which were really colourful, stylish and arresting. I’m really in awe of the people working in the Art, Effects and Animation Departments!