Have you seen the film Whoops Apocalypse? It was made during the height of the Cold War and is a hilarious though highly vulgar production (I therefore strongly recommend it). In it the British premier is a lunatic. I used to often wonder as to how it would be if a head of state goes insane and nothing can be done about it. We now know, with the daily blathering of Donald Trump. The latest is this theory that we should be ok if we injected ourselves with disinfectant and followed it up by shining a UV light ( through which orifice Sir?) into our innards. It prompted Reckitt & Benkeiser the pharmaceuticals giant to issue an appeal against such things. In the 1990s, this used to be Reckitt & Coleman and Lintas, where I worked, was the ad agency for it. It was a laid back company then and it appears to have been stirred up by this pronouncement.

Veena Dhanam

Anyway, that is not the burden of my story. The latest from Trump reminded me of a Veena Dhanam tale. The great lady, towards the end of her life, was a guest of honour at the house of Jalatarangam Ramaniah Chetty, in Thatha Muthiappan Street, George Town. This was a joint family with lots of infants going about doing their business and Dhanam frequently wrinkled her imperious nose. One evening however, guests dropping in were surprised to see her all smiles. The house was also eerily quiet.

The terrace of Ramaniah Chetty’s house, once a venue of some memorable concerts

It transpired that Ramaniah’s elder brother, overcome with business losses, decided to attempt suicide, which let me add here, is never a good solution. There is a lot of promise in life no matter how desperate things seem. Anyway, he drank half a bot of phenol, was rushed to hospital and saved. But not before he had vomited all around the house much of what he had ingested. “Thanks to Periya Chetty,” concluded Dhanam, “the place is so fragrant today.”

It’s a pity Don Trump will never know of Veena Dhanam.