Good on You, Renae



His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences


Dec.7, 2016


THE indomitable Lizzie Love, who we’ve always thought would have made a first-rate Flapper if she’d been around in the Roaring Twenties last century, is a very fine friend to many in Bali. In particular her interest in prisoners in Bali’s jails marks her as someone very special indeed. She’ll probably cringe when she reads this, because another of her attributes is discretion that often borders on invisibility.

We saw a note from her the other day pointing us to the Australian magazine New Idea. It’s not our usual reading, except perhaps in back copy form in doctors’ waiting rooms. But its latest issue features Renae Lawrence, the Bali Nine drug mule, and her remarkable rehabilitation in the drug offenders prison at Bangli.

Lizzie wrote: “Well done Renae. You have come a long way – no turning back now. I am so proud of you. Fair-minded people will not define you by your past and they will support your efforts and success in turning your life around.”

To which we can only add: Amen.

At Bangli, where the lush surroundings and the prison staff encourage rehab, Lawrence is busy teaching dance fitness classes and training her pet rescue puppy.

The former catering worker has converted to Hinduism and discovered her softer side.  New Idea quotes one long-term prison visitor thus:

“Renae has changed a lot since her arrest and the years she spent in Kerobokan. She has become calmer, healthier and happier, and just dotes on her little dog Ozzi, who’s been with her since he was only two weeks old. He was the runt of a litter brought into the jail so Renae feels he was a bit of a reject, like her.”

There is one other thing to add. Congratulations to the jail authorities, who have made Bangli a model prison.

He’s a Headache

Perhaps Jamie Murphy, the 18-year-old Australian pipsqueak who bought a bag of crushed headache pills from a man in the street who told him it was something that would make him feel good, has by now had an opportunity to reflect on the consequences of crass stupidity.

He spent two days in police custody after being found with the powder at a security check at Sky Garden, a Kuta nightspot. His parents flew from Perth in Western Australia to collect him from his dramatically curtailed “schoolies’ week” trip to Bali.

Everyone is aware that law enforcement here is random and malleable. Even the police ride around without helmets when they’re not on duty. That’s stupid too, but it’s something for another time.

Indonesia’s drug laws are harsh. Everyone knows that too, or should. The Australian government specifically warns travellers of the potentially deadly risk of using drugs and getting caught. The Australian media is full of reports of what happens to drug-using and trafficking miscreants. Even an 18-year-old untutored in life skills and who in the fashion of the young probably thinks he’ll live forever and is excused the need to heed restrictions, should be aware of that.

Murphy wasn’t, and Murphy’s Law caught up with him. Fortunately for him in this instance, he was dumb as well as stupid.

He caused everyone a headache. Silly boy. He should come back and see us when he grows up.

Diva Doings

Christina Iskandar tells us the Bali Divas & Dudes Christmas lunch on Nov. 25, at Merah Putih, Kerobokan, was a grand success. We never doubted for an instant that it would be, despite our enforced non-appearance, or perhaps because of this.

The Divas’ Facebook has some lovely snaps from the occasion, which was sponsored by Chandon and benefited the Refugee Learning Nest and Bali Children Foundation.

The Divas were nominated for best event in this year’s Yak awards, announced on Dec. 2 (they won!). That affray was themed British Invasion. They meant the music. Which is the best. One intending reveller noted that he might go as Keith Richards, since he wouldn’t need to dress up for the role. Chief Yakker Sophie Digby asked us if we might go as Freddie Mercury. We’re not mercurial enough was our modest response. Though perhaps someone from The Zombies might have been a fit.

The Yak party was at Vue Beach Club, LV8 Hotel & Resorts, at Canggu.

Pizza Special

Joy and Greg Hamlyn, proprietors of the Mudstone Spa Retreat at Yeagarup in the karri forests near Pemberton, Western Australia, are exemplary hosts. We were at the property one evening on our recent WA trip. We weren’t paying guests – though we’d very willingly be such – but present because they are connections of our connections. It’s a sort of 1.5 degrees of separation thing.

It was chilly the evening we were there, unseasonably so according to the locals and certainly a tad on the frigid side for thin-bloods from Bali. But the pizza feast they put on was magic. So was the wine. The additional presence of a young couple whose lack of job prospects had forced them to flee economically comatose Venice in Italy enlivened conversation even further.

It was far from our only culinary delight. In Perth we returned to Clancy’s Fish Bar at City Beach for fish and chips and a very nice pinot noir. We dined on gourmet burgers at Jus Burgers in Subiaco and sampled Papagallo at Leederville, with melt-in-the-mouth pasta and in fine company. Later in the trip we dined at Phoever, also in Subiaco, one of a chain of restaurants serving pan-Asian soups, curries and stir-fries, plus café fare. The beef meatball pho was to die for, as was the tofu stir-fry we had afterwards.

There were chopsticks on the table, since Australia’s addiction to exotic cuisine has substantially eliminated fear of these implements. The presence also of standard western cutlery did though remind us of an incident long ago, in a Japanese restaurant in Paddington in Brisbane. There, the waitress looked at us doubtfully and asked: “Would you like two fork?”

On that now distant occasion the Distaff kicked the Diary sharply under the table and managed to reply in the negative before the waitress went away and she allowed herself a smile and a fit of the giggles.


Well, the Diary’s back in Bali, which is lovely. A two-week break in Australia is good, but there’s no place like home. We arrived on schedule, on Jetstar, unlike a friend, Clare Srdarov, who that day was flying Air Asia and finally left Perth seven hours late. We chatted briefly in the departure hall and left her contemplating a rather nice Merlot that she thought might ease her pain.

Our return was not without incident, however. Jetstar views cigarette lighters as incendiary devices (Australian ones work more than once, just by the by) and won’t carry them. And on arrival at Ngurah Rai Officer Jeffry of Customs put on a politely official scowl and relieved us of an opened and partially consumed bottle of Jack Daniel’s finest, which he found in our checked-in baggage and deemed excess to the authorised allowance.

He insisted that we watch him pouring it down the drain they have in the customs area for such ceremonies. We’re not quite sure what he made of the smile and the thumbs-up we gave him when he demonstrated how gravity deals with bourbon from an opened upturned bottle. But we hope that it helped make his day.

Must Improve

We wrote ourselves a stiff note the other day, just after our return from that big island away to the south. It went like this:

The Cage, Nov. 30, 2016. The garrison will have to improve. The morning patrol today took 33 minutes. This is fully five minutes longer than the acceptable standard. Clearly, two weeks of flat terrain and formed footpaths and roadways in Another Place have reduced performance. On the plus side, the local dogs seem to have remembered us; they didn’t bark, but then they do swing between fury and languor, so perhaps they’re just having a dolorous day.

Calendar Date

It’s Pearl Harbour Day. Dec. 7, 2016, is the diamond jubilee of the mistimed event by which the Japanese started the Pacific element of World War II, an imperial adventure which, in due course, they discovered had not gone entirely to their preferred plan.

The international dateline seems to have been the trouble, not the surprise attack, which whatever one’s other views on the matter may be, was less an act of infamy than of legitimate war.

It was Dec. 8 in Tokyo, the date the Japanese government had set for its declaration of war. Unfortunately it was still Dec. 7 in Hawaii.


Hector also writes a diary which appears in the Bali Advertiser.

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