Today I have been sober for 32 days.
On Tuesday last, I attended the morning AA meeting and then picked up Bob, who had stayed overnight in a Pattaya Hotel with his new girl friend, and then we headed off to Bangkok and checked in at The Honey Hotel on Soi 19, Sukhumvit Road.
We took the Sky train to MBK where Bob had his iphone repaired, did a spot of shopping, and then we went back to the Hotel for a shower before taking off again in the early evening. First stop was for soft drinks and a magnificent view of Bangkok at the rooftop bar of the Centara Grand Hotel next to Central World. Then an Italian meal on Soi Langsuan, and finally to Bangkok Beat on Soi7/1 to listen to some loud and pretty good live music.
A fairly exhausting day, considering it started in the early hours with a meeting in Pattaya, and as a result, I slept like a log.
Wednesday was a more serious time for us. Bob went over to see Dave, our sick friend, who was continuing to recover at his home on Soi 49.
Bob and Dave have known each other for 40 years. They both were professional musicians, and played together all over the world – from Hawaii to Japan, and of course….Thailand, where they worked in the late sixties and early seventies. They both have vivid memories of the Thailand of old, and in particular the far flung US air bases and the perilous journeys they used to make overnight to get there. They also did long stints in both the Pattaya of long ago (the Nippa Lodge, now renamed Nova Lodge), and several of the leading Bangkok night clubs of those times.
When they were in Bangkok they resided at the old Fortuna Hotel on Soi 5, and it was there, when their “playing days” were over, that I met Dave in 1973. He later introduced me to Bob, who was also staying on in Bangkok after they ceased to be musicians.
Dave had always been very interested in sound recording and right from his earliest days as a musician, (initially in the UK), he had been avidly recording his band and other stuff on reel to reel tape recorders. This had continued when he travelled overseas, and when he stopped playing he decided to go into the recording business and opened the first multi track recording studio in Thailand.
Initially he used to go out to night club locations and record some of the big name Thai bands of the day, and later he progressed into recording proper studio albums. I suppose his greatest claim to fame at that time was when he was invited to write the songs for an album that was to be recorded in Norway by the then top band – “The Impossibles”. Dave even accompanied them over to Norway to act as a producer to the recording sessions, and for many years to come, he was proud to receive his annual royalty cheque for his contributions to the Impossibles’ European album, minuscule though it might have been.
But there wasn’t a great deal of money in album recording and studio hire, and although he continued to record the odd album for many years to come, his main line of work switched to writing and recording jingles and background music for the advertising industry. Again, Dave broke new ground in this regard, as he was the first person to provide original music for TV and radio advertising. Prior to Dave’s arrival on the scene, the agencies had only used “library’ music and songs that they ‘stole’ from commercially recorded albums.
Dave’s business thrived for a couple of years, but it wasn’t long before the Thai musicians who worked for him began to realise that they too could do what Dave was doing, only at a much cheaper price, and a number of them set up rival businesses, which undercut Dave’s more “professional” output, and severely damaged the profitability of his business.
There was a period in the late seventies when I worked with Dave full time at his studio in an attempt to put it back on track and provide a decent living for him, and I have written more about this in “Mobi’s Story”. For now, it will suffice to say that once the Thais started muscling in on his business – both as a recording studio and as a sound/music production house for the advertising industry, then it was a never ending struggle for Dave to survive.
There were some who continued to support and back him – farangs and Thais, but these faithful few were insufficient in number to gurantee him a stable business and for many years Dave never knew where his next job would come from, and whether he would have enough cash at the end of the month to pay his rent and other overheads. He did enjoy periods of relative prosperity, but they never lasted long, and right up to the time, a year or so back, when he finally called it a day, he has been obliged to live a spartan existence, with very little money for even the small pleasures of life.
Dave is one of life’s unfortunates. He is a highly intelligent, wonderfully talented man; with a gentle and friendly nature who never raises his voice in anger and would never hurt a fly. But for some reason, he always seemed to make the wrong choices at crucial moments in his life, and the result is that life has just kicked him in the backside every time it seemed that he might be on the way up. Today, Dave has been described as one of the few, true English eccentrics remaining in this manic world.
Of course, alcohol became one of his crutches in life very early on in his career, and as I have previously written, he is a now a hopeless, chronic alcoholic who will surely die if he has one more drink.
Dave still lives in a house which contains his most recent studio, ( I think from memory, this is his fourth location in the past 35 years), but not much is done there except for some minimal copying of vinyl disks, old reel to reel tapes, and cassettes for friends who try to help him out by giving him some work. But also on the premises are priceless tapes that go back to the earliest day of his career and containing recordings of the old Thai bands, Dave’s own band (including original songs) and much of what Dave has recorded at his studio, including much original music over the past 35 years.
So the purpose of Bob’s visit yesterday morning, and the reason that I did not accompany him (apart from the fact that I was still asleep!) was that they were discussing the disposal of the huge tape library after his death. Dave has already ‘willed’ the collection to Bob, but Bob needed some instructions in how the filing system worked, as there are literally thousands of tapes which will have to be shipped to Bob’s home in Australia.
At around midday I met up with Bob and in the late afternoon we headed back to Pattaya.
I tried to call my wife en route to tell her that we coming back a day early, but there was no reply. Unfortunately we hit the start of the evening rush hour on our way out of Bangkok, and it took us almost as long to get out of Bangkok as it did for the remaining journey to Pattaya. We stopped for a meal on the way, and eventually arrived home at 9.30 p.m. My wife wasn’t home (surprise! surprise!) and her son and his friend were watching sexually explicit programmes on the TV. The house boy/baby sitter had gone out for a drink!!
Amazing what you find when you turn up unexpectedly.
We both had an early night, and this morning we headed into Pattaya at 8.a.m., me to my morning AA meeting and Bob to do a bit of shopping.
This afternoon Bob headed off for Ho Chi Min City for a couple of nights, and I dropped him at the airport. Around 12 noon my wife finally called and told me that she was in Pattaya, and that if she had known I was coming home yesterday, she would have come home. I told her I had called her, and she replied that she had called me dozens of times, which is certainly strange, as I have no record of her “missed calls” on my phone log. Maybe AIS is to blame.
Today I had an excellent AA meeting. It was a full house of about 15 people, and there was some excellent “sharing”. I came out of the meeting feeling much better than I had gone in, and to top it all I think I have finally found a new sponsor who will take me through the twelve step AA programme. I will see him again tomorrow after the meeting and take it from there.
Tomorrow, God willing, I will return to Mobi’s Story.