Guest Shooter – Alison Raynor – Gob Smacked

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I’ve barely had time for a night’s sleep here in Nandi, Fiji since I arrived. So, I’m going to give my crazy friend Ali Raynor a guest shoot today. It would not be possible for me to think of anything funnier than this, let alone write it, so I’m going to give you Ali’s email to me along with some images which will either look very familiar to you or will blow you mind, according to where you live. – Enjoy!


Hey Jan,

Look out . . . I’m back!

I am slowly sifting through the thousands of pictures I took in PNG. (No G11 quality here, but I like to imagine that I have some interesting mementos.) I thought you would probably be one of the few people who might appreciate the attached. They are something you no doubt see on a daily basis, but not something you are not likely to see on a PNG postcard.

These guys came up to me at a POM 2nd hand clothes market and asked very politely if I would take their photo, which of course I agreed to do. I got them together and told them that I would “snap” on the count of three. They nodded and posed normally, but on three, the following is what happened!
You can imagine my surprise followed by my gales of laughter, when the guy on the left gave me this “right royal red gob full” and followed up with “Welcome to PNG”

His mate was pretty taken back at first, (as you can see in the picture) but when he saw my laughter and reaction, he got over his embarrassment and decided to get in on the act “Numba 1 Buai Man” was really amazed by my complete amusement and he started to laugh hysterically as well. He was so happy that I thought he was “COOL” rather than rude (as he may or may not have initially intended to be????) He was also happy that I asked for another picture. We parted laughing and pointing (at each other) and it was quite a lovely moment. Laughter is such a leveler.

In all my travels through PNG , I have tried in vain to capture a good shot of someone with a really fantastic (bad) “buai mouth” and even tho my chosen subjects have had no idea that I am secretly interested in their outstanding GOB, rather than their “beautiful face” (ha ha ), I have always found them to be totally self-conscious of the way their mouth looks, and will always shut their traps tight as soon as they agree to have a picture. Very frustrating indeed! So this little episode was a real blast for me!

How’s their shock value? How’s the humour? How’s the reality? I loved these guys!

Am I boring you yet? Tell me to stop!

PS  – Bad news about the fire, but well done with photos by your Lois Lane . . . they are quite spectacular!

Love Ali


Well, I can’t compete with that. However, I can show you what Eunie is up to:

Eunie is in the middle – look for the platinum blonde hair. One thing which encouraged me was that women made up a very significant proportion of the attendees.

Sounds boring, but it’s not. I’ve been sitting here all morning listening in. These folks are discussing some amazingly complex and interesting issues.

There have also been a few good laughs.

I’ll have more about it later.

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8 Responses to “Guest Shooter – Alison Raynor – Gob Smacked”

  1. Steve Bennett Says:

    Ahhh Betelnut, where would PNG be without you?

  2. Ali Says:

    ha ha ha ……Maybe a little less “In the RED” Steve?
    Ooooohhh that was bad!

  3. MadDog Says:

    Steve, when we came almost thirty years ago, the daily, all-day chewing of betelnut was uncommon. Now a shocking proportion of people have a wad of meme in their mouths on the way to work and stoke up again at every opportunity. I honestly don’t think that a serious enough effort has been made to really educate people of the horrible health risks to which they are exposing themselves. The list of potentially deadly conditions which are caused by betelnut is as long as your arm. The problem is that these don’t usually show until years of heavy use have already caused the damage.

    I’m sad to make the prediction, which I sincerely hope will prove wrong, that betelnut use is going to be, in about ten or twenty years, the cause of the majority of serious illness and death in PNG. From what I have read, a lot of medical authorities agree with this. That will be about the time frame during which the widespread daily use of betelnut will begin to kill huge masses of people.

  4. MadDog Says:

    Well, Ali, I think that you can read from my reply to Steve that I am very concerned about the all-day, every-day use of betelnut. However, that takes nothing away from your charming story. If I hadn’t found it amusing and thought that my readers would too then I would not have posted it.

  5. Ali Says:

    Appreciate that Jan and thanks for the guest spot I am quite honoured to have made the cut!
    Jokes aside tho, I agree entirely with your prediction and concerns for the habit. Over the last 30 years I too have noticed that the number of people throughout PNG who “chew” is definitely on the rise and even more alarming is the number of kids who chew.
    It used to be that you would only see the occasional child crunching on the husk or perhaps the nut, but now it is commonplace and accepted for youngsters to run the whole gamut of daka and kambang? That’s a real problem.
    In fairly recent years we have sailed with friends thru some more remote islands in PNG and saw what we could only assume to be advanced cases of mouth and jaw cancer. (The family of the sick would usually tell us that the illness started from a toothache or an abscess and just got worse!)
    Generally, nobody seemed aware or considerd the possibility that Buai might be connected to their pain.
    Of course, these people have little or no medical assistance available and although we had the means to stitch wounds, dress ulcers and treat basic infections; the worst of their problems seemed to come as a direct result of the long time habit involving the dreaded nut.
    We could only offer compassion and the odd panadol for a placebo effect.
    Perhaps it should also be said that many local PNG people smoke pretty serious tobacco, either home grown or the packaged (Mutros or Spia) either of which would rot the bottom out of a cast iron pot ! (I know, I smoked Mutros once). …Don’t ask!
    It has taken the western world a few good centuries to figure out that we are killing ourselves with tobacco, so I guess it’s going to take equally as long before these guys put 2 and 2 together at their favorite Buai or Brus stand.
    I asked a man once (who seemed otherwise healthy, but for a blood red mouth full of rotting teeth) if he had any mouth pain? He insisted that his mouth only hurt when he was not chewing betel nut… What can you say? It will always be a vicious circle of pleasure and pain.
    I think the only way to begin easing the problem is to start with early childhood education and tell the kids that one of the most iconic, social pass times of their country is going to kill them and why.
    Hey!!! What would I know?

  6. Steve Bennett Says:

    I’ll start by apologising about my flippancy. Sorry. My dear Motuan friends would tell me how Betelnut was used on special occasions, when long lost friends visited, when bride-price was discussed and when land issues were of a concern. These same friends tell me how the Highlanders came to Moresby and they commercialised the nut and made it widespread.

    I agree, the nut is a poison in this society, which runs a similar vein as corruption and greed, and it flows from the top down.

    I guess my comment was double-edged. More power to Powes Parkop and his dream of removing betelnut from the street of the Nation’s Capital.

    Now, where’s my SP gone???

  7. MadDog Says:

    Coudn’t have put it any better myself, Ali. The use of betelnut is so deeply connected with PNG culture that it is difficult to proclaim any kind of health message that does not meet with strong resistance. That’s one reason which I wanted to use your images in a post. Sometimes I just toss something out and see who steps in it.

  8. MadDog Says:

    No need for apologies, Steve, we’re all friends here. Sometimes we come at things from different directions. No harm – no foul!

    Your analysis mirrors my own. Ceremonial use was common when I came nearly thirty years ago, but someone who chomped buai all day was like a “stoner” and not taken seriously. It is supposed to be illegal to sell buai within the town limits of Madang, but that is a joke.

    Personally, I don’t care who has a red mouth and is goofy on buai. What bothers me is the length of time that the person is removing from his time on earth. A lot of people believe that the health risk warnings are just so much b.s. Look how long that the tobacco industry successfully denied any health risks for smoking.

    By the way, that cold thing in your right fist – that’s your SP. Enjoy!