Saturday's MPH Writer's Circle was ... all a bit sad really. What do you do when almost no-one turns up for an author talk and you're moderating it?
Jason Fong was talking about his new book Feng Shui in the City, published by Marshall Cavendish. He had brought along one old friend who had studied Feng Shui with him, who came with his wife (whom we had to wake up before we began). Then there was Julia from MPH and later blogger BP wandered in. (He has captured the whole thing very well on his blog.)
Anyway, I kept the thing going by playing devil's advocate and asking Jason the most difficult questions about feng-shui I could think of, and he to his credit, had a good stab at answering them with talk of ions and radon gas and ground water. (But oh, I would have liked something more convincingly scientific!)
But I actually think Feng-Shui is good stuff, provided that you don't prod underneath the surface too much.
Who doesn't want a nice living environment? Things like trees and water and the flow of air undoubtedly affect us and we undoubtedly feel better when there are elements of the environment that we feel we can control.
I told Fong that I had a lot of fun playing feng-shui expert for my neighbours after reading two books by fellow Malaysian feng-shui expert Lilian Too, telling them off if they had the wrong number of fish in their pond ("Only eight? And you must add one black one to take away the bad luck") and trying to give away a stray cat's ginger kittens, telling them "Your house is very yin. Cats add a yang element, and this gold colour is very lucky".
These guys weren't too impressed with Lillian Too's books, especially with her emphasis on putting little animal statues around the house to bring luck of different kinds. (Ducks in the bedroom for marital harmony, that sort of thing.) "If you do that, your house will become like animal farm ... or like a zoo," Jason and his friend agreed.
If you want a taste of the book, do check out Jason's blog. It's also worth buying as a record of the ugly concrete excrescence that is the Klang Valley's suburban sprawl.
I wonder though if some of the house owners whose properties are photographed might be a little unhappy having their bad feng-shui recorded in a book? It won't do much for their house prices!
I think this is my last Writer's Circle for a while. It used to be a very useful monthly event where folks could come and learn about the ins and outs of publishing. Now it seems to have completely lost focus and frankly, I can think of more useful things to do on those Saturday mornings.