Our lives

Tong Au

I once worked for a nephew of the king of Bhutan.

This is true.  I didn’t make it up.

His name was Tong Au and he was a genius, though  he was also an idiot.  Tong was living proof of the multiple-intelligence theory.  He had a diploma from Imperial College, a school so posh it doesn’t bother with Ph.Ds, a bit like the way surgeons drop the title Doctor.

Tong had a gold, open-top Rolls-Royce that he used to drive to Monaco where he had an apartment. He was about five-foot four inches tall, and at what he did, he had no equal.  Tong could work out the most complex problems known to man in his head while simultaneously talking utter shite.

He was a millionaire when it was really something to be a millionaire.

He always wore   brilliant white shirts and a tie from some cricket club.

Tong was a genius and an idiot at the same time.  A high-functioning idiot-savant.  He had a perfect grasp of the English language but no understanding of idiom, and though  he was always jolly and laughing, he had no sense of humour whatever.

He was, in many ways, as we used to call him, The Automatong.

On the phone:  Au.  The name is Au!!  A for Apple.  U for Uncle!!  Au!!!

However, he had one marvellous gift outside of his professional area, and that was entirely thanks to his lack of humour.  Tong had the gift  of the apt mixed metaphor.

I know a woman who gets things wrong, and yet they’re still right.  She talks about her enstrangled husband.

She calls militant environmentalists Ego worriers.

Albert Reynolds also had a gift for the mixed metaphor but his efforts were simply absurd and lacked the internal consistency of the true master: What Ireland needs now is razor-edged salesmen at the coal-face to bring home the bacon.

Tong’s gift was greater.  Tong’s utterances made a weird kind of sense.

In Tong’s world, anything questionable, doubtful or dangerous was Hairy.

That guy so hairy.  It all looking very hairy.

We skating on hairy ice.

Genius.  We all sniggered and I scribbled it into the Great Book of Tong.

That guy, he so  hairy, I don’t trust him with a barge-pole.

In many ways, Tong was a likeable guy, and he was right to complain about the money coming in grips and grabs.  After all, he was paying the wages.

I heard  the royal family of Bhutan was wiped out a few years ago in a crazed gun attack by a trusted insider, and I hope Tong survived, but I  can just imagine his reaction.

Oh, that  guy  so hairy. He mislead us completely up the garden spout.



Traditional fishnet  tights

13 replies on “Tong Au”

You have often spoken of Tong and his great sayings. You and I also know a gentleman of the Irish upper class ie Fine Gael, who speaks of ‘damp squids’ when a function isn’t very exciting, and says ‘we’re only prawns in the game’ when he is feeling out-manoeuvred. do we not?


That’s fantastic Bock. What a great character. My ex who we all affectionately now refer to as Satan used to teach TEFL – one of his students stood up in class one day as part of a test and in true ‘Mind Your Language’ form announced that he was so enjoying ‘living in the United Condom’. Ze plane! Ze plane! Happy New Year to you and thanks for popping by the blog a few days ago.

Nice, a very nice pastime it is to play with those words. I think children can be masters too – I especially liked the “Heimlich remover”, or the more surreal “Smokey toes” for mosquitoes. One must try to be imaginative because “A bird in the hand gathers no moss”

of course there the old favourite from when we were growing up: “one in Kate Bush is worth two in the hand”

Not to be a bitch about it but it was the Nepalese royal family that got aired out.

The Bhutanese lot are still going strong. Like something out of a Terry Pratchett novel by all accounts.

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