Muay thai (Thai boxing) is, of course, Thailand's most thrilling sport, but takraw runs it a close second. (It was actually invented by the Malays, but don't tell any Thai people that.) It's a bit like keepy-uppy; players have to keep a rattan sphere off the ground, using any part of the body apart from their hands and arms. It has several variations, derived from volleyball and basketball, but the purest form consists of nothing more than a few blokes kicking the takraw to each other on any available patch of flat earth. Often, the acrobatic skills on display make Brazilian footballers look like arthritic Cybermen, and they can keep it going for hours (which is more, it seems, than the Brazilians can manage these days).
I mention this because there's a big building near my house. I don't know what goes on there; people come and go during the day, and trucks occasionally arrive at the gates. But there's a Wonka-esque mystery about what's actually happening inside. The only activity anyone can see or hear is a bunch of blokes playing takraw in the car park, all day, every day. Maybe it's a takraw factory, and they're testing them.
There's less mystery about the goings on in the building a few doors down. It's a sauna. Usually, the clients at Thai saunas can have a beer before, after or even while they, um, do what you do in Thai saunas. For some reason, this one doesn't appear to offer such facilities, although there is a bar directly opposite. As a result, it's not unusual to see an elderly, pot-bellied Asian gentleman, wearing nothing but a skimpy towel about his loins and a post-coital glow, strolling across the road for a Singha or two, and then returning, revived, for another session. At 11 in the morning. Land of Smiles, eh?
Where there's sex, there must be death. There's a good line in Tim Hilton's Guardian obituary of sinophile and art enthusiast Peter Townsend: "Avant-garde magazines sometimes change character when editors move to a new pub." And while we're digging out that black tie, anybody called The Reverend Bevan Wardrobe can claim a Telegraph obit on the basis of his name alone, surely?
Also: Salman Rushdie offers Germaine Greer outside; Chuck Klosterman on blogging, irony, populism and the undeconstructible Snakes On A Plane; patriotic Iranians are exhorted by comedy president Ahmadinejad to refer to pizzas as "elastic loaves"; Rod Liddle almost gets Barthesian on Thorpe Park's ass, but bottles it; and, from the mighty Tangents, news that Bob Stanley of St Etienne is putting together a C86 movie. If you have any video or cine footage of shambling/anorak/twee/indiepop* performance from the era, please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Select your pejorative of choice.