a crush on terrible Tom

As most of you know the gimcrack is closed while nursemyra soaks up passionfruit martinis in steamy singapore. I’ve not been doing any medical stuff and my search for new corsetry  has been fruitless though I have managed to track down a stuffed pussy at the Asian Civilisations Museum exhibition “Hunters and Collectors“. One of the six collectors, soldier, explorer, writer and film-maker Tom Harrisson (1911-1976) caught my eye…..

tom in middle upper row stuffed pussies

“Harrisson, the most colourful of the collectors, is described as an ‘enigmatic man, a romantic polymath and a drunken bully’. He assimilated with ease into the Kelabit community in Borneo and was given a wife by the chieftain.

However, when he realised his bride was not of a high social rank, he rejected her and insisted on getting a new wife. He had his way.

The curators have used photographs of the handsome Tom as well as letters he wrote and examples of clothing he owned which was woven by the Sarawak people. What they haven’t included are more details of his career that are less than complimentary

“The war months were Harrisson’s finest moment. He was now virtual king over the highlands of Sarawak, and acted like it. He revelled in the power and the violence. Directing a jungle guerrilla war waged by headhunters suited Harrisson’s self-image. Harrisson was an effective skirmisher.

Women were sex to him, and money. Heimann calls him a “cuckoo,” laying his eggs in others’ nests. He stole his wives and lovers from other men–often right in front of them–and left them when he lost interest. His first wife killed herself. His son was diagnosed schizophrenic, and Harrisson abandoned him to mental institutions.

His ethnography, especially in the book World Within, is marred by his fantasy of what Borneo should be, one drunken orgy of sex and headhunting with TH at the center.


Harrisson roamed through a series of semi-serious academic jobs, and finally, after divorcing his second wife, Barbara, married Christine Fornari, a Belgian noblewoman, second World War heroine parachutist and widow of an Italian baron, mainly for her money and to have a sparring-partner. In 1976, while on a visit to Thailand, the bus they had hired rammed into a timber lorry on a dark road, and Harrisson and his wife were impaled.


The image above is not one of Tom’s impaled testicles, I searched long and hard and trust me if such a photo existed I would have found it for you. Instead it’s a picture of Japanese octopus balls which I have been eating on an almost daily basis while in Singapore. They are second only in deliciousness to the stuffed and fried baby pea sized crunchy squid I ate for dinner last night……. 

Published in: on August 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm  Comments (27)  

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  1. From the link ‘As ornithologist, Harrisson made genuine, though minor, contributions.’… I wouldn’t call his mass lusting for the ‘birds’ a minor one???? 😉

  2. I wonder if Harrison got himself a palang
    When I was in Borneo I went to a museum where they had them all on display! I now know why the natives didn’t wear pants! Ouch!

    • oh my god – from his quote I would say that he did. now my crush has grown exponentially

      • Oooh I don’t know, those palangs looked mighty frightening! I think you should approach with extreme caution Nurse Myra…don’t want to get no rip in your stockings, now do you? Or a rip somewhere else!

  3. Women were sex to him, and money…

    At least he did have the one good point then.

  4. Sounds like you’re downing tasty balls with gusto, nice to know there are some universal constants.

    Keep up the good work and happy hols.


    The King

    • have also been checking out mah jong tiles but haven’t seen any as nice as your set

      • My set is a thing of wonder…


        The King

      • I thought the wonderous set belonged to Pil

  5. This guy sounds like Tag Larkin’s dad.

    I think “sparring partner” is a good thing to look for in a woman. That’s what I should put in my dating profile “looking for sparring partner.”

  6. Only our NM would go on a hunt for such interesting and unusual tidbits of native history while on holiday.

    Those balls look delish! Are they chewy? 😉

    • Not as chewy as Turkish Ice Cream. As of today it’s my latest addiction. Never knew there was such a thing as chewy ice cream but now I can’t imagine life without it. May have to move to Turkey

  7. good thing i didn’t run into Mr. Harrison… i’d have started the skewering long before he hit the timber lorry…

    sounds like you’re having a grand time! we miss you!

  8. Really pleased you’re having a lovely time although you have managed to make me wince …… again!!!! *hugs*

  9. actually the food looks like it could be tasty in spite of what it is…i liked your reference to the image btw, funny…i hope you’re enjoying your Singapore Sling….

  10. What a cad ole Tom was. I am jealous, Singapore sounds delicious…enjoy!

  11. Do the octopi wince?

  12. ‘However, when he realised his bride was not of a high social rank, he rejected her and insisted on getting a new wife. He had his way.’

    I keep trying to voice my disapprovement… but when someones that much of a misogynist, you have to applaud them, just a little bit.

  13. This guy sounds like one of Hemmingway’s lovable cousins. I hope you are having an amazing holiday, and taking some pictures to show us as well!

  14. octopus and Squid! Amazing! I have been a vegan all my life 🙂

  15. Singapore? Excellent. I’ve been there several time. Have fun at the Long Bar and the Satay Club. Head over to the island for the touristy stuff. Be sure to see their zoo and head up into Malaysia for some real authentic food. Singapore is beautiful, but crowded downtown. You lucky girl…

  16. Such a lovely man, such a lovely way to end. We probably have him and his ilk to thank for some of the endangered species on earth.

  17. Stuffing pussies used to be a favorite pastime of mine. But, that’s not why I called.

  18. old tom sounds like a real octopus ball.
    i’m glad you’re having a great time on holiday.
    come home safely!

  19. why would you want a pre-stuffed pussy?

  20. What a horrible end to meet. The notion of octopus balls makes me queasy.

    • Well they’re not actually testicles, just dumplings..

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