Today I have been sober for 42 days.
My apologies for the break in transmission.
I have been kind of busy doing this and that. I’m sure you know how it is for us people of leisure, never enough time in the day to get through our daily tasks.
Then, before you know it, two days have passed and I haven’t blogged.
So let me try to recall what has been happening in the exciting life of Mobi.
My suspicions about my wife coming home on Friday proved to be correct. I knew that her attempts to get me to talk to her nephew on the phone, together with all the noises in the background when she called, established beyond doubt that she was finally at her Mum’s house.
That meant she wouldn’t be staying too long.
So she duly arrived late Friday evening with a car load of relations, older half sisters, and several kids of various ages. It is the Thai equivalent of “half term” and all the kids are off school for a few days.
I actually don’t mind these family “invasions”. I have a huge house, with loads of large bedrooms, and as long as they keep out of my office, and my favourite area on the terrace where I sometimes watch TV in the evenings, then they are welcome to come and enjoy the swimming pool, play on my pool table and generally relax. It’s kinda nice to see them all so happy and contented and playing happily together, and I will certainly miss that part of my life when I move out.
I am hoping that my wife will drop them all back home to the village in a week or so, as that will almost certainly be my best opportunity in the near future to leave for good. But I will play it by ear, and be patient for the right time to occur.
On Friday evening I was a bit screwed up. I had all the time in the world to attend the evening AA meeting, and duly turned up at around 7.15 p.m., only to realise when I arrived there that the Friday meetings started at 5 p.m. not 7.30. Doh! But I had attended the morning meeting so it could have been worse.
Yesterday, (Saturday), following the morning meeting I drove to the BMW dealer at Chonburi, as my on board computer was telling me that the rear brake pads needed changing along with the engine oil. BMW Thailand provide the owners with a free, three – year warranty for all repairs and service, with the exception of tyres and batteries, so I wasn’t expecting to have to fork out any money, as my car is only 15 months old.
Unfortunately, the charming service manager called me into the service bay, where my car was perched up on a “hoist”, and showed me that my front, “run flat” tyres were completely devoid of tread, and in addition, one tyre had a nasty tear in the side. I asked the manager who many kilometers is normal before tyres need replacing, and he replied that BMW state 60,000. But I had only driven 30,000 kilometers. I looked quizzically at the man. He looked quizzically back at me. After an awkward silence I said: “So I suppose it’s down to the way I drive?” He nodded back, sagely.
“16,000 Baht per tyre.”
“Christ – that’s expensive. I only paid around 10,000 when I replaced one in Pattaya, soon after I bought the car, due to a puncture”
(Run flat tyres cannot be repaired)
Then he told me that he didn’t have any in stock and it would be a week before he could replace them. After a short while, he had obviously decided that I would almost certainly have them replaced in Pattaya so he came back to tell me that he did have some brand new, unused tyres in stock, but that they had been removed from a new car, and were dated 2005. He said I could have them at half price, so the deal was struck. They were still bloody expensive – even at 8,000 Baht a pop.
I used the 3 hours I was stuck in the showroom waiting for my car to do some AA “step work”. I am now on Step Four, which reads as follows:
4. “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
My sponsor has told me to list all the people in my life to whom I bear resentment. The format for making this list is:
Name of person I resent
The cause of my resentment
How this resentment has affected me.
He has told me also to include all those who have hurt me in any way, even though I may no longer feel any resentment.
I have been working on this list for a few days now, and my long wait in the showroom enabled me to all but finish it.
When I returned to Pattaya, I had a brief meeting with an old friend up by the lake and then drove into town to attend the evening AA meeting. For the past few days, both morning and evening meetings have been getting more crowded. Most of the newcomers are visitors to Pattaya, and many of these are Americans, some of whom return every year.
After the meeting I went for a meal, and my wife phoned me (also from somewhere downtown) and started an argument with me about what I was doing. I lost my temper for the first time in weeks and told her that I knew her tactics were just a ploy to start a fight so that she could justify going out and getting drunk with her sisters. I must have hit a raw nerve, because she hung up, and then called back about ten minutes later and told me she was on her way back home. I will never know what her real intentions were, but as she never denied it, I think we can assume that I was probably correct. After six years of putting up with her lies, deceit and bullshit, I am starting to read her like a book.
Now back to “Mobi’s Story.
MOBI’S STORY – (PART 14)
THE INSURANCE YEARS (CONTINUED)
Some of our senior reinsurance underwriters were already travelling to Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America and Asia in order to service and expand our worldwide reinsurance business, but all this business was transacted out of our London office and effectively was UK (worldwide) business.
The next step was to obtain approval form the US authorities to transact “direct” insurance business within the United States, and due to the mountain of insurance regulation in that country, not only did we have to obtain authorisation from the “central” authorities, but before we could transact any business, we had to obtain approval from State Insurance Commissioners on a state by state basis. Each state had its own specific regulations and requirements, and each application had to be accompanied by a mountain of legal documents. So we started with the most profitable Sates, like California, and slowly worked our way through. It took years before we had the authorities to write insurance in all the states on our ‘wish list’.
Europe was a different state of affairs. Thanks to the then recently enacted EU treaties, all authorised insurance companies in the EU were entitled to write insurance business in each others territories. However, it wasn’t quite that simple, as every country had its own little idiosyncrasies, and each one required a formal application for local approval before the companies could go ahead and do business in that country. So, like the USA, we had to take each country in turn, and get the appropriate approvals, but in general these were not as onerous as they were in the US.
What all this meant for me was that in had to have a whole new department to deal with all these applications and follow up, but at then end of the day, once approval was obtained, it provided us with new and expanding market for the London based insurer.
While this was all going on, we opened some representative offices in a number of European territories, including France, Belgium and Italy, and then the big one – we set in motions plans to open a large office in Paris.
We recruited a prestigious and very experienced French Senior Underwriter/Manager and together we prepared a business plan for the transaction of insurance and reinsurance business in the French Market. The “direct” insurance business would be mainly French, but some would also emanate from other European States, and the reinsurance business would be both French, and world wide, with the bulk of it drawn from French speaking territories.
It was an ambitious plan, but such was London’s growing “stock and reputation” in our company, that we received the go ahead, with barely a murmur. The French operation was to be a branch of the London Company, so there would be no need to commit more capital to finance the new French operations. It was now possible to do this, following the aforementioned, recently enacted EU insurance “freedom of trade” regulations, but of course, France being France, even though we, as British, were allowed under the EU laws to set up a branch in Paris, there was still a mountain of French bureaucratic crap and red tape to wade our way through, before we could open our doors for business.
Such was our growing confidence, (some were daring to suggest arrogance!), that we opted to lease prestige offices in the heart of Paris in the Place Vendome, right opposite the prestigious Ritz Hotel. These were grand offices indeed, having been converted from private apartments for the wealthy into beautiful, ornate offices. The high ceilings contained carvings and paintings, and the walls were adorned with ornately carved, gold – edged columns. Murals and original works of art adorned the walls. In fact our new Paris offices had all the trappings of extravagant opulence.
Working in conjunction with our new French GM, we recruited a number of French staff, many of them known personally to the French GM, and others with good market reputations, who we had poached from other French insurers.
As you can imagine, Paris became a regular item on my itinerary, and as with Ireland before, I was now spending half my week in Paris helping to set up the office and get the business off on the right foot. First Class travel on Euro Star was the order of the day, as it proved more convenient and quicker than flying, as well as giving me better conditions to continue my work.
I had previously visited Paris a few times as a tourist, and had even attended a few conferences there, but when we opened the Paris office, for a while it became my second home. We relocated a number of our London based (and Irish based) staff to Paris to help with the setting up process and instill our colleagues with our Anglo Saxon culture, which included a much harder work ethic than our new staff had been previously accustomed to.
In retrospect, it is a toss up between Ireland (where you may recall they wanted to kill me and I was damned from the Sunday pulpits), and France, as to which was the biggest nightmare, and which presented my biggest challenge.
For sure both nationalities presented us with extraordinary personnel and cultural issues, and my boss and I spent many sleepless nights trying to resolve the myriad problems and grow the business profitably.
Also in retrospect, it is hardy surprising, that an admitted alcoholic such as me would continue to seek solace in booze at every occasion. My French colleagues were all heavy drinkers, and they introduced me to a whole new world of French wine, and we even had our own “company” champagne bottled which was always flowing in the Paris offices on a daily basis.
And the French night clubs were something else again. Thank God my boss never queried my expenses, or I would have gone bankrupt.