James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

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James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby Lucky Lucan » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:37 pm

Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey, commander of Lon Nol's Tiger Brigade, invited the poet James Fenton to a battlefield banquet in 1973. He wrote this poem "Cambodia" during his visit:

Cambodia - James Fenton 1973


One man shall smile one day and say goodbye.
Two shall be left, two shall be left to die.

One man shall give his best advice.
Three men shall pay the price.

One man shall live, live to regret.
Four men shall meet the debt.

One man shall wake from terror to his bed.
Five men shall be dead.

One man to five. A million men to one.
And still they die. And still the war goes on.



The poem he later wrote about the topic is more interesting:

Dead Soldiers - James Fenton 1981


When His Excellency Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey
Invited me to lunch on the battlefield
I was glad of my white suit for the first time that day.
They lived well, the mad Norodoms, they had style.
The brandy and the soda arrived in crates.
Bricks of ice, tied around with raffia,
Dripped from the orderlies' handlebars.

And I remember the dazzling tablecloth
As the APCs fanned out along the road,
The dishes piled high with frogs' legs,
Pregnant turtles, their eggs boiled in the carapace,
Marsh irises in fish sauce
And inflorescence of a banana salad.

On every bottle, Napolean Bonaparte
Pleaded for the authenticity of the spirit.
They called the empties Dead Soldiers
And rejoiced to see them pile up at our feet.

Each diner was attended by one of the other ranks
Whirling a table-napkin to keep off the flies.
It was like eating between rows of morris dancers–
Only they didn't kick.

On my left sat the prince;
On my right, his drunken aide.
The frogs' thighs leapt into the sad purple face
Like fish to the sound of a Chinese flute.
I wanted to talk to the prince. I wish now
I had collared his aide, who was Saloth Sar's brother.
We treated him as the club bore. He was always
Boasting of his connections, boasting with a head-shake
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase.
And well might he boast. Saloth Sar, for instance,
Was Pol Pot's real name. The APCs
Fired into the sugar palms but met no resistance.

In a diary, I refer to Pol Pot's brother as the Jockey Cap.
A few weeks later, I find him ‘in good form
And very skeptical about Chantaraingsey.'
‘But one eats well there,' I remark.
‘So one should,' says the Jockey Cap:
‘The tiger always eats well,
It eats the raw flesh of the deer,
And Chantaraingsey was born in the year of the tiger.
So, did they show you the things they do
With the young refugee girls?'

And he tells me how he will one day give me the gen.
He will tell me how the prince financed the casino
And how the casino brought Lon Nol to power.
He will tell me this.
He will tell me all these things.
All I must do is drink and listen.

In those days, I thought that when the game was up
The prince would be far, far away–
In a limestone faubourg, on the promenade at Nice,
Reduced in circumstances but well enough provided for.
In Paris, he would hardly require his private army.
The Jockey Cap might suffice for café warfare,
And matchboxes for APCs.

But we were always wrong in these predictions.
It was a family war. Whatever happened,
The principals were obliged to attend its issue.
A few were cajoled into leaving, a few were expelled,
And there were villains enough, but none of them
Slipped away with the swag.

For the prince was fighting Sihanouk, his nephew,
And the Jockey Cap was ranged against his brother
Of whom I remember nothing more
Than an obscure reputation for virtue.
I have been told that the prince is still fighting
Somewhere in the Cardamoms or the Elephant Mountains.
But I doubt that the Jockey Cap would have survived his good connections.
I think the lunches would have done for him–
Either the lunches or the dead soldiers.


Image
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norodom_Chantaraingsey
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saloth_Chhay
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Re: James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby JJones » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:08 pm

Thanks for posting this. Great reading.
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Postby LexusSchmexus » Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:07 pm

Interesting, I was reading up on Chantaraingsey just the other day and day dreaming about what might have happened to him. Read about the field lunch invite but didn't know much about it.
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Re: James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby karmageddon1 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:25 pm

My Khmer room-mates spoke of a young Westerner living with the monks at Wat Phnom, but I never visited.

Then a couple of months after PP fell, I came across an article by a James Fenton recounting his final days in the city. I have strong recollection of him describing the fear in a Khmer friend who had previously always been prepared to speak positively of the Khmer Rouge to me, but as their day of victory approached he fell into a deep and melancholic depression. When I reminded him of his earlier favorable words, he said rather feebly that he had just been joking when he’d praised the communists. He knew more than most about the Khmer Rouge, and seemed to have just remembered something about them … and I wondered what it was.

Not Fenton’s exact words, but along those lines.

His 1988 book is a fantastic read. Titled All The Wrong Places it was his recollection of being in what were, in fact, the right places. Because he was dedicated to the Khmer Rouge-North Vietnamese cause, after leaving Phnom Penh he went to Saigon with express intent to welcome the NV victors into that city. He even made an opportunistic jump on board the leading NV tank as it prepared to crash through the gates of the presidential palace. This involved quite a bit of luck, as a newspaper article later recounted: South Vietnam's capitulation that fateful day (came) when North Vietnamese Army tank No. 843, a Soviet-made T-54, rammed through the locked iron gates of Saigon's Presidential Palace, knocked them off their concrete pillars, sped through the palace grounds and came to a halt before the palace entrance.
Than, a 29-year-old North Vietnamese Army lieutenant-captain and the tank's commander, jumped out of his 30-foot tank, ran into the palace, rushed up the stairs and hung an oversized North Vietnamese flag from the second floor balcony.
In press interviews following his dramatic feat, Than said that he and his two crew members had become lost when their tank entered Saigon with other North Vietnamese Army elements following their arrival into the city that day … Than made a wrong turn and ended up the Saigon Zoo.
"A woman on a motorbike drove past us, and I asked her the location of the palace. She refused to help at first … but she agreed to help only after we threatened to seize her and we shot into the air.
"When we arrived at the palace, we decided to ram the gate. When I entered the palace, I met a gentleman I knew, Ly Quy Trung, a minister of information in the Saigon regime, and I asked him to lead me to Duong Van Minh, the president of the South Vietnam government," Than told the Associated Press.
"Minh came and told Trung to lead me to the roof, where I hoisted the flag from the balcony," Than stated.


Fenton then scored a trifecta when reports in 1986 of an imminent People’s Power overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos had him hurrying to Manila. On a previous occasion he had been in the presidential palace as an honored guest I believe and so he kind of knew the layout and when the masses stormed the palace their numbers thinned to almost none as it seemed that he alone knew how to get to the Marcos private rooms and from memory (I misplaced the book decades ago) he scored a pair of Mrs Marcos’ legendary collection of shoes.

I do know that he is regarded as the 20th Century’s Renaissance Man. And I’m sure that in his 1988 book he made acknowledgment of a gross misjudgment in having favored the communists during the Indochina War.
.
* my 99 cent Kindle memories of 1974 CAMBODIA: http://www.amazon.co.uk/EXPLAINING-CAMB ... B00L0LC8TO *
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Re: James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby Marmite » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:23 am

Lucky Lucan wrote:Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey, commander of Lon Nol's Tiger Brigade, invited the poet James Fenton to a battlefield banquet in 1973. He wrote this poem "Cambodia" during his visit:

Cambodia - James Fenton 1973


One man shall smile one day and say goodbye.
Two shall be left, two shall be left to die.

One man shall give his best advice.
Three men shall pay the price.

One man shall live, live to regret.
Four men shall meet the debt.

One man shall wake from terror to his bed.
Five men shall be dead.

One man to five. A million men to one.
And still they die. And still the war goes on.



The poem he later wrote about the topic is more interesting:

Dead Soldiers - James Fenton 1981


When His Excellency Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey
Invited me to lunch on the battlefield
I was glad of my white suit for the first time that day.
They lived well, the mad Norodoms, they had style.
The brandy and the soda arrived in crates.
Bricks of ice, tied around with raffia,
Dripped from the orderlies' handlebars.

And I remember the dazzling tablecloth
As the APCs fanned out along the road,
The dishes piled high with frogs' legs,
Pregnant turtles, their eggs boiled in the carapace,
Marsh irises in fish sauce
And inflorescence of a banana salad.

On every bottle, Napolean Bonaparte
Pleaded for the authenticity of the spirit.
They called the empties Dead Soldiers
And rejoiced to see them pile up at our feet.

Each diner was attended by one of the other ranks
Whirling a table-napkin to keep off the flies.
It was like eating between rows of morris dancers–
Only they didn't kick.

On my left sat the prince;
On my right, his drunken aide.
The frogs' thighs leapt into the sad purple face
Like fish to the sound of a Chinese flute.
I wanted to talk to the prince. I wish now
I had collared his aide, who was Saloth Sar's brother.
We treated him as the club bore. He was always
Boasting of his connections, boasting with a head-shake
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase.
And well might he boast. Saloth Sar, for instance,
Was Pol Pot's real name. The APCs
Fired into the sugar palms but met no resistance.

In a diary, I refer to Pol Pot's brother as the Jockey Cap.
A few weeks later, I find him ‘in good form
And very skeptical about Chantaraingsey.'
‘But one eats well there,' I remark.
‘So one should,' says the Jockey Cap:
‘The tiger always eats well,
It eats the raw flesh of the deer,
And Chantaraingsey was born in the year of the tiger.
So, did they show you the things they do
With the young refugee girls?'

And he tells me how he will one day give me the gen.
He will tell me how the prince financed the casino
And how the casino brought Lon Nol to power.
He will tell me this.
He will tell me all these things.
All I must do is drink and listen.

In those days, I thought that when the game was up
The prince would be far, far away–
In a limestone faubourg, on the promenade at Nice,
Reduced in circumstances but well enough provided for.
In Paris, he would hardly require his private army.
The Jockey Cap might suffice for café warfare,
And matchboxes for APCs.

But we were always wrong in these predictions.
It was a family war. Whatever happened,
The principals were obliged to attend its issue.
A few were cajoled into leaving, a few were expelled,
And there were villains enough, but none of them
Slipped away with the swag.

For the prince was fighting Sihanouk, his nephew,
And the Jockey Cap was ranged against his brother
Of whom I remember nothing more
Than an obscure reputation for virtue.
I have been told that the prince is still fighting
Somewhere in the Cardamoms or the Elephant Mountains.
But I doubt that the Jockey Cap would have survived his good connections.
I think the lunches would have done for him–
Either the lunches or the dead soldiers.


Image
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norodom_Chantaraingsey
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saloth_Chhay





Thanks for sharing LL but that second poem has to be one of the worst poems ever written. It makes the works of William MacGonagall look Byronesque by contrast.

Truly laughably bad.

Who is this Fenton guy? Ive never heard of him.
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Re: James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby moethebartender » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:45 am

Thanks for the recommendation on the James Fenton book. Just ordered it.

First time I'd ever heard of him was when I read a book by Redmond O'Hanlon about a trip down the Orinoco River in South America. Had no idea at the time about his time in Vietnam and Cambodia. He seems a very interesting character.
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Re: James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby Lucky Lucan » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:19 am

Marmite wrote:
Thanks for sharing LL but that second poem has to be one of the worst poems ever written. It makes the works of William MacGonagall look Byronesque by contrast.

Truly laughably bad.

Who is this Fenton guy? Ive never heard of him.


It doesn't even seem like a poem, more just a story in short sentences.
I'd never heard of him before either, he seems to have done some interesting stuff though.
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Re: James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby dustytomes » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:56 pm

moethebartender wrote:Thanks for the recommendation on the James Fenton book. Just ordered it.

First time I'd ever heard of him was when I read a book by Redmond O'Hanlon about a trip down the Orinoco River in South America. Had no idea at the time about his time in Vietnam and Cambodia. He seems a very interesting character.


In stock at Monument Books, Norodom Blvd...
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Re: James Fenton and Pol Pot's brother.

Postby moethebartender » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:34 am

Sadly, I'm stuck in Detroit at the moment. Thanks Anyway though, I got a good deal on it through amazon.
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