Pattaya, 20th July, 2009

Today I have been sober for 25 days.

I’m feeling much better today, but the depression is still there. I was warned about this and they weren’t wrong. I seem to have retreated within myself, and I have turned my phone off and don’t really want to talk to anyone.

I feel bad, because I know there are several friends out there who are expecting to hear from me. Maybe I will make a few calls later today.

I don’t know why, but when I got up this morning my blood pressure was really low, but literally within minutes, it rose. This has been a regular problem since I came back from hospital: when I get out of bed I feel very light headed and dizzy, but as soon as I have been up for a brief time, I feel OK. I have suffered from hypertension for years and take a mountain of pills in an effort to keep it under control.

On my doctor’s advice, I have cut on some medications back since my illness  but as the day goes on my BP gets higher , so it’s a bit difficult to know what to do for the best. I guess I’ll just take it easy for a while, and see if it settles down.

I had been planning to attend to my first AA meeting this morning since I have been ill, but I didn’t have a good night, so have decided to postpone it for one more day. Hopefully, this will be my last day at home.

Pattaya, 21st July, 2009

Today I have been sober for 26 days.

Last night I had a bad “alcoholic nightmare”. Recovering alcoholics will be familiar with them.

They take the form of a dream where I am in a domestic situation where things are going badly and I am so upset that I decide to have a drink. Last night it was a bottle of white wine. In my dream, I had decided that enough was enough and I was going to get gloriously drunk with this bottle of wine. As I opened it and poured it into a glass, I screamed and woke up in a cold sweat. My wife was very alarmed, but it was just a bad dream.

So this morning I woke early and went to my first AA meeting for over a week. Everyone was pleased to see me, and had assumed that I had strayed from the fold and had started drinking again. They were so happy when they found out I had been sick and was still sober. For the first time in days, I felt better about myself, and I had a good meeting.

At the close of the meeting I called one of my friends who had been calling me for days, and we had a good chat. I think my depression is starting to lift.

Now back to “my story”



Soon after my return to Bangkok, I met up with a friend who I had first met here in 1973. He was a professional musician, and apart from several spells in Thailand taking his band around the American air bases in Thailand, he had also played in Hawaii, San Francisco, Japan, Singapore, and his native UK. But now he was settled in Thailand, had retired as a performer and had embarked on a music recording career. He had gone in with a local business partner who also ran a very popular Bangkok FM radio station, and also was trying to promote international pop concerts. My friend introduced me to his partner and I was hired as a sort of business manager. I ran the business side of my friends recording studio, and was also the ‘front man’ to organize the pop concerts. I wasn’t paid much, but I was happy to be back in Thailand, and anyway, I had my little pot of gold to fall back on.

I wouldn’t say that booze was my downfall, but as before, it played a significant part in my daily life, although I never quite realised it at the time.

A typical day would see me up late with a hangover, a walk to the office in Wireless road from my little room in Pratunam, and spend an hour or so killing time before lunch and off to Patpong for my first beer session of the day. Then back to the office for a bit of work, before returning to Patpong for an evening of drinking and carousing.

In a pattern to be repeated many times through the years, I became involved with a series of women who, one by one, relieved me of my money, and it wasn’t too long before I really had to live off my meagre salary. This necessitated a change in my drinking habits, as I could no longer afford to drink in Patpong on a daily basis. I moved to an even cheaper room in the Petchburi suburbs, and spent most of my time with Thai friends, drinking Mekhong whisky at places near their homes. I made a number of ‘drinking trips’ up country, (places like Nakhon Nayok, and Kow Yai), with these new found friends, and it was a period of my life when I was really into Thai whisky, Lao kow Thai spirit and the like. We became a drinking gang who were rarely sober.

Then the concerts started. Basically I was running the show, and had to organize the contracts for the performers, sort out their air tickets, accommodation and personal needs, book the venues, organise the sound systems and musicians’ requirements, head up the box office and God knows what else. They were heady days, but my favourite part was organizing the “green room” with all the requirements for booze and food. It was a wonderful chance to drink with the visiting performers and get drunk, and I needed very little bidding.

Then my Thai drinking gang was all hired as roadies, security and just general labour, and they too enjoyed being paid in liquid refreshment, as well as a few hundred Baht in cash which was quickly converted into yet more Thai whisky.

They were exhilarating times indeed, and barely a sober day when a concert was in the offing.

My fun came to an end when my English colleague (he with the recording studio) and I fell out seriously with our Thai partner. It was inevitable, as many of you, who have had the misfortune to do business with Thai/Chinese businessmen, would know.

Most of these people are unethical, without business integrity, morals or any form of honesty, and will cheat and lie to gain business advantage.

We used to travel to Hong Kong every 3 months to renew our non immigrant visas, and our beloved Thai partner was responsible for renewing our work permits and keeping them current. For some reason the renewal fell through the cracks, but in order to protect himself, he told us to surrender to the court, admit that we had erred, and that we would receive a small fine and then he would arrange for the permits to be renewed. Neither of us spoke much Thai in those days, and we duly pleaded guilty, signed some papers in Thai, and were promptly arrested, handcuffed and hauled of to Lumpini police station, where we were both incarcerated.

Our expat friends were outraged and hired a lawyer to look into our case. It transpired that our wonderful employer had told the court that we had both disappeared up-country with our passports so he had no chance to renew the work permits. It was all a tissue of lies, invented to protect his company from any possible repercussions. In all, we spent three weeks in the jail, before out lawyer managed to arrange for an appeal hearing, when we were eventually released on bail.

The things I will never forget about that time in jail were: the station’s sergeant’s refusal to allow me to have a pillow, (which meant I had to sleep with my head on the concrete floor); the communal, Thai-style toilet; the young, desperate drug addicts who comprised a majority of the inmates; the group of rich Chinese who were arrested one night for illegal gambling, and remained huddled by the front prison bars in a desperate attempt to separate themselves from us, dirty and depraved old lags; and last but not least, the wonderful Thai lady (wife of one of my friends) who brought us large plastic bags full of “iced tea”. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the iced tea wasn’t really iced tea – it was lovely Singha beer.

So I still managed to get drunk – even in jail.

By this time, our beloved employer was starting to  ‘lose face’ as everyone knew what a lying bastard he was, so in order to limit the damage to his reputation, he pulled out all the stops to get the charges dropped and our work permits renewed.

But it was too late.

My colleague was being shafted on his share of the profits, and I just got fed up with all the lies and bullshit my boss spouted with almost every breath.

So we broke away, and with a small investment from an Australian friend, we rented a house in Soi Asoke, Sukhumvit, and converted it into a recording studio. My friend would run the technical side, and I would take care of the business side.

It was around 1976, and Thailand was still a very cheap place to live. This was fortuitous as our business struggled form the very start. We were grossly under-capitalised, and our business consisted mainly of producing and recording advertising jingles. But the Advertising agencies were notoriously slow payers, and our cash flow became ever more critical. We also made a few albums for both local and foreign performers, but Thailand was such a cheap place, that the rates we were obliged to charge for hiring our studio were  excruciatingly low.

Although not planned, our studio was within easy walking distance of the fast emerging Soi Cowboy, and it wasn’t long before I deserted my previous allegiance to the Patpong bars, and switched to the much cheaper and convenient Cowboy. Beers were around 15 Baht a bottle, and when I was particularly short of cash I would carry a small bottle of   Thai whisky in my pocket, and order a coke for six Baht at the bar, surreptitiously topping up my glass with alcohol from the secreted bottle. Another popular trick, of which I am also ashamed to admit, was to throw away most of the chits in the bill cup when no one was looking. It wasn’t difficult to do, as in those days everyone: girls, cashiers, mangers, owners, were all as drunk as were, so no one took much notice of what I was up to.

It was all ‘wild west’. The girls were shipped in from Issan by the truck load and slept, 10 to a room above the bars. They spoke no English, and not many of them were much to write home about. We used to call them “rice pickers”, but what they lacked in looks, they more than made up for in good natured enjoyment of their new found ‘profession’ and great fun was had by one and all. I guess this was the start of the female Issan invasion of the “fleshpots” of Bangkok and beyond.

As for me – well I was an alcoholic with little money to spend, so in true alcoholic traditions, I used every trick in the book, fair means or foul, to stay as drunk as possible for as long as possible…. every day.

As with my previous job, I would wake late, struggle to the office an hour or so before lunch, order some large bottles of beer to drink in the office (paid for out of  petty cash which, of course, I controlled), then off to Cowboy for a lunch time drinking session, back to the office by mid afternoon for some more beers out of petty cash, and then back to Soi Cowboy for the evening drinking session.

But eventually business and cash flow became so bad that I had to supplement my income by making regular trips to Hong Kong and doing some work for another friend who needed an accountant to keep his books, and more importantly, figure out a way to save him some tax. This I succeeded in doing, and he rewarded me to such an extent that he became my sole source of income, although I continued to run the business of the studio and just live on the beer money from petty cash.

Then one day, I received a visit from one of my Thai friends who used to work for my previous Thai employer.

He had an interesting proposal to put to me.

One thought on “Pattaya, 20th July, 2009”

  1. Hi Mobi,

    Definitely a riveting read! Kinda feel like a real boring and dull person now!
    Hope you’ll do well, both health wise and with your other “illness”.

    Makes me feel guilty ordering a beer when you offered me a drink.

    Good luck!


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