Sunday 29 December 2013

So how unlucky was 2013 for you?

It's called “triskaidekaphobia”.

That’s the fear of the number 13.

For those of you who suffer from this condition, it must a relief that in three days, 2013 will finally be over. It's basically 365 days where every day is Friday the 13th.

I’ve read that in some high-rise buildings, there is no 13th storey. They either call it Floor 12A or just skip to 14.

Sometimes I wish there is no year 2013. We either call it 2012A or just skip to 2014.

But it’s a little too late for that now.

The year started unluckily for me when I struggled to produce a stool sample for my medical check-up in January. Coincidentally, that was the same month as the Punggol East by-election where the People’s Action Party candidate was a colorectal surgeon. Somehow, I believe those two things are related.

Since the colorectal surgeon lost the by-election, I guess 2013 started unluckily for him too.

The year also seemed unlucky at first for MediaCorp actress Joanne Peh when her break-up with long-time boyfriend Bobby Tonelli was reported in 8 Days magazine in March.

Then in April, the publication reported that MediaCorp actor Qi Yuwu was dating Peh, much to everyone’s incredulity, including mine. But now, eight months later, they’re apparently still together just to spite me.

I once tried to broach the subject with their artiste manager, but unluckily for me, the artiste manager headed me off at the pass: “Don’t ask me if it’s a publicity stunt hor.”

I mentioned how my column on Peh’s surprise split with Tonelli seemed to be popular since the article was reproduced on three AsiaOne-related sites, which was a record for me.

The artiste manager replied: “So she helped not only 8 Days’ sales.”

But despite my hard-hitting analysis of the Peh-Tonelli break-up, my greatest journalistic achievement of 2013 is that I’m the first person to use the word “selfie” in a Singapore Press Holdings newspaper article.

I looked it up.

Before I used the word in my Mother’s Day column on May 12 for a “Yo mama” joke (“Yo mama so ugly, she took a selfie with Instagram and broke the Internet”), the only previous appearance of the word in an SPH paper was eight days earlier in a caption for a newswire photo in The Straits Times.

The caption was: “A Javanese dancer in traditional costume taking a ‘selfie’ – a type of self-portrait – on Monday.”

The word was so unfamiliar at the time that a definition had to be provided. Now, mere seven months later, even I’m sick of the word.

Before May, the word never appeared in The Straits Times, The New Paper, The Business Times or MyPaper.

In May, “selfie” was used twice – in the caption and my column. In June and July, four and three times respectively.

Then the numbers surged to double digits in the following months, partly thanks to the emergence of Singapore’s sultan of selfies, Mr Baey Yam Keng, otherwise known as the Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC.

So far in December alone, the word has appeared in SPH papers more than 40 times (not counting this column you're reading), the most yet.

Is it any wonder “selfie” is the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year?

Unluckily for me, I won’t be getting any award for my achievement. But then I’m no Anthony Chen. The Ilo Ilo director has won more fiim awards this year than Mr Baey has taken selfies.

Speaking of films I don’t want to see, whatever happened to the much publicised Ris Low movie, Justice Devil?

The unappealing trailer was released in early September and the movie was supposed to follow two weeks later. Well, it’s now 16 weeks later and still no movie.

Maybe 2013 isn't so unlucky after all.

That’s more than can be said for the new Downtown Line, which broke down on its opening day last Sunday and again two nights ago.

I hope the child who might have caused the most recent breakdown won’t be deported.

But living in Yew Tee, I don’t really care that much about Downtown Line since I'm unlikely to use it.

Closer to home, I'm more concerned that a bag of stool (not the kind you sit on) was left at the back door of the People's Action Party’s Yew Tee branch office two weeks ago.

I could’ve used a bag of stool in the beginning of 2013.

Some guys have all the luck.

I can’t wait for 2014 to get here.

Hold on... isn’t the number 14 also considered unlucky by the Chinese?

Alamak. Maybe we should just skip to 2015.

- Published in The New Paper, 29 December 2013