Jomtien, 21st July, 2010.

The “Home” page is my daily blog. The remaining tabs contain previously blogged, episodic ‘stories’, which are now re-published in chronological order.

Have my therapy sessions been of any help?

The first session was mainly one of assessment, and I spent more time talking than my therapist did, as it was important that he understood the background of my illness.

My second session was yesterday, and I feel it is far too early to determine whether I will derive any long term benefit from them

My therapist’s initial aim is to use antidepressants to raise my mood level, so that I will be more receptive to his counselling.

With this in mind I saw I psychiatrist last Monday at Bumrungrad, the result of which was that he has changed my medication. The new medication will take time to become fully effective, so it is still early days in terms of seeing any major changes in my moods or lifestyle.

There is no doubt that I have been struggling with depression for a very long time, but when I was younger I was more able to deal with it and continue to function as a ‘near-normal’ human being.

As one of the triggers for depression is addiction to alcohol, there is the inevitable question of which came first – Alcohol dependency or depression?

I feel in my case it was almost certainly depression that came first. My depression was originally identified when I was still in my late teens. My then employer became concerned with my behaviour and suspected that I was suffering from depression.He kindly referred me to a private psychiatrist for evaluation.

This consultation led me to being accepted as an outpatient at a ‘National Health’ mental health care clinic where I attended group therapy sessions for a number of months.

Although I had already commenced my drinking career in those far off days, I was drinking in moderation and in social situations and I very rarely became even slightly inebriated.

I dropped out of group therapy and continued with my career, as recounted in ‘Mobi’s story’, although episodes of quite severe depression continued to haunt me throughout my life. This probably contributed to my downward spiral into alcoholism, but I was able to hold depression at bay by immersing myself in my career. So the depression didn’t really start to take over my life until I took early retirement in 2000.

Since my retirement I have gone through a traumatic divorce from my wife of over 20 years followed by one disastrous relationship after another and of course my continuing descent into alcoholism.

Although it is still very early days in terms of my new medication and my therapy sessions, I do feel that I am already making modest progress. My moods have been better of late, I have been free from alcohol since Monday 12th July, and in general I feel a little more positive about life and less suicidal.

My therapist understands my need for female companionship and has identified some of the specifics that I am looking for in this quest and he does not feel that this is necessarily a bad thing. He understands what I have felt for a very long time – that I have a huge need for a female ‘soul mate’ and when I find one I will then be in a position to get on with the rest of my life. Whether I will ever succeed in this endeavour remains to be seen.

He has suggested that I look at spirituality and also rest and relaxation through meditation. These are matters that I had already been working on, but he has now helped to put my efforts into better focus.

I have been alone now for a number of days. This must be a record for recent years. I don’t really enjoy my own company, but at least for now I am able to exist without the need to get drunk or trawl the bars all night looking for female company.

In any event the new antidepressants are also causing me to sleep a lot, as opposed to the old ones which were known to cause insomnia.


Nid  (Part 2)

Ittiput was one of those ‘larger than life’ characters. He was a very charismatic person who spoke excellent English and was full of drive and enthusiasm for his entertainment ‘projects’. In fact the business of entertainment was his life, and it consumed all his thinking – 24/7.

You wouldn’t think he was a ‘hot shot’ in the entertainment business when you first met him.

He looked older than his years – a short, stout-ish, semi-bald man, with a round, Chinese face, and he wore large, horn rimmed spectacles. But as soon as he spoke, you tended to forget his outward appearance and immediately became captivated by his enthusiasm for the subject under discussion. He had a wry sense of humour and even if you had some reservations on a deal or a course of action he may have been proposing, in the end, his sheer passion always won you over.

Ittiput was from a very reputable, Thai -Chinese family of influence and most of his forbears had held high positions in the military or the police force. So to that extent, Ittiput was a bit of a ‘black sheep’, but as you will as my tale continues, he was far more greyish- white than black.

When I first knew Ittiput, he and his female partner performed all the DJ duties for his myriad radio programmes. He specialised in playing the very latest hits from the UK and USA, and he had built up a huge following amongst the students and younger generation who lived in greater Bangkok.

He had been successful in attracting an number of influential sponsors to his programmes, including a major soft drink company who also took a share in the company he had recently set up to run and co-ordinate his ever growing business activities.

Before my arrival he had arranged Thailand’s very first concert involving western artists. It had been a modest affair in a hotel venue but had been surprisingly successful and tickets for all performances had sold out resulting in a small profit for Ittiput’s company. The success was no doubt due to Ittiput’s 24/7 promotion on his radio outlets. This quickly taught Ittiput the value of radio promotion.

In addition to Ittiput’s successful radio business and fledgling concert promotion business, he was also broadcasting on Thai Televison and had promoted a number of live concerts in and around the capital involving Thai bands.

My friend Dave had been involved in Ittiput’s concerts as a sound engineer and he had also recorded some of the Thai bands using his own mobile recording equipment. So Dave had decided to form a partnership with Ittiput and set up a proper music recording studio at Ittiput’s offices on Wireless Road.

When I came on the scene, Dave’s studios had just been completed and Ittiput’s business was really starting to take off. In another part of the office complex, Ittiput had built two radio recording studios, as by now he had so much air time that it was not possible for him and his partner to transmit every programme ‘live’. As a result,  many hours were spent in these studios, by Ittiput, his girl friend and other recently recruited DJ’s to pre-record programmes that were to be broadcast later that day.

Enter Mobi.

Dave introduced me to Ittiput and almost immediately the wily entrepreneur seemed to take a ‘shine’ to me. I was to learn later that he always exercised maximum charm when mixing with farangs. I think that he considered all farangs ‘marks’ – people who he could manipulate at will and get whatever he wanted out of them. He was a very clever man.

Ittiput suggested that I might like to think about working for him as he was in need of a ‘farang’ who could help in the development of his pop concert promotion business, and also become involved in the general management of his business. When he learned that I had an accounting background, he further suggested that I consider take over management of his bookkeeping and accounts. If he was going to employ me, he wanted his pound of flesh.

For Mobi, having barely been back in Thailand a few weeks, and wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life, this sounded like an ‘idea from heaven’ and I told him that his proposal sounded very interesting.

As was his habit, once he caught his ‘fish’, he deliberately left it ‘dangling’; not fully committing himself to a deal but playing on my good will and desire to work for him in order to obtain  my services, completely free of charge.

At the time of my first meetings with Ittiput, he was negotiating with one of Australia’s most popular pop groups to come to Bangkok and perform a New Year’s Eve gig in one of Bangkok’s upmarket hotels.

This promotion was much more ambitious than the previous promotion (which he had managed to obtain on the ‘cheap’) and he was planning to hold a concert style performance in the afternoon, followed by a luxury dinner/concert in the evening to ring in the New Year.

It was going to be quite an expensive affair, and he needed to charge a high price for tickets in order to make a profit.

There was undoubtedly a high risk in this venture. Nobody had ever paid the kind of price Ittiput was proposing to charge to attend a concert in Bangkok before, and the whole concept of having a new Year’s dinner being entertained by an Australian pop group was a revolutionary concept. There was no guarantee that the ‘hoi polloi’ of Bangkok would be interested in celebrating their New Year’s Eve in such a manner.

But I was totally ignorant of all these risk issues. I was an utterly naive person who had been captivated  by Ittiput’s charm. I believed Dave’s assurances that Ittiput was a good, honourable business man knew what he was doing and was ‘on the way up’.

As the contract with the Australians was being finalised, Ittiput asked me if I was interested in investing in the concert promotion. He showed me the figures which projected a substantial profit if both shows were a sell-out and it took little effort to persuade me to invest a 50% share from my hard earned savings.

Once the contract was signed things almost immediately started to go wrong. It transpired that the Group’s sound equipment requirements, of which in those days I knew absolutely nothing, were simply not available in Thailand.

Ittiput had known this from day one, but had been banking on his powers of persuasion to convince the group to use locally available but inferior sound equipment. This was one of the first lessons of international concert promotion that both Ittiput and I learned the hard way. Western artists will rarely, if ever, compromise on their equipment requirements and once the list is agreed in the contract, they will refuse to perform if the promoter cannot provide what has been requested.

The only solution was to airfreight into Bangkok the requested equipment from Australia, and this became the first of many very large, un-budgeted expenses. The bill to bring this equipment into Thailand spiralled ever higher as Ittiput had to negotiate huge ‘bungs’ with customs to let it all in without delay.

There were countless other unexpected costs – this was the first ‘real’ western promotion that Thailand had ever seen and we were learning as we went.

Ultimately, it wasn’t the additional expense that was our downfall, for if we had succeeded in our aim to have two ‘sell- out’ shows, we would have at the very least broken even.

But the concert ticket prices were too high; the kids weren’t buying them, and the evening dinner/concert was just too unorthodox to capture the imagination of the rich and famous.

It was becoming a disaster and I could see my hard earned investment rapidly disappearing.

In the end, the shows were a long way from a total disaster. The group were very good, the imported sound was awesome and we probably had about a 50% turnout for the afternoon concert and maybe a little more than that for the dinner show.

All who had seen the show were totally bowled over, the ‘word of mouth’ positive feedback plus the ongoing promotion of the group on Ittiput’s radio programmes all conspired to turn a little known Australian Pop group into one of the most popular western bands in Thailand. Their music was played continuously for years, and in those days the ubiquitous juke boxes always contained a number of the groups’ songs which were played over and over again.

The momentum that commenced at that New Year’s Eve promotion resulted in at least three return concerts by that group in the following years, when they played in huge stadiums to sell out, hysterical teenagers.

But poor Mobi had lost all his stake money in that very first concert, and was not in a position to re-invest when early losses were turned into substantial profit in subsequent promotions.

As for Nid, well it was too early in our relationship for her to fully appreciate that her boyfriend had just lost a substantial part of his savings.

Nid was content to bask in the perceived ‘glory’ of being the girlfriend of a concert promoter who was working with the now famous Ittiput group. She knew how to dress and was outwardly accepted by Ittiput and his colleagues, even though they must have realised the nature of her background.

To her credit, Nid was never intimidated or phased by these ‘hi-So” people I was working with; she gave as good as she got and seem to mix in very well.

Sometime later, when our relationship was well established, her appearance at Ittiput’s offices to visit me was considered perfectly normal and she was always treated with the respect  deserving of the girl friend of one of Ittiput’s senior managers.

In fact one our newer DJ’s, a Hi-So lady from an extremely wealthy Thai- Chinese family, (who by the way spoke incredibly fluent English, as she was educated in the USA from a young age), was due to have a large society wedding reception at the Oriental Hotel. Incredibly, both myself and Nid received a formal invitation for this auspicious occasion.

We duly attended the ‘event’ but as neither of us had been versed on how to behave on such occasions, we made a few fopas which even today provoke a slight cringe.

The worst one was when we handed over a gift wrapped wedding present the bride’s parents as we took our turn at the head of the reception line. The order of the day on such occasions is to bring an envelope containing money. I still recall the look of embarrassment when they took our gift, and quickly put it out of sight under a table before turning their attention to the next guest in the line.

But in those heady days, in spite of losing a great deal of money, I was relatively happy. I was involved in an exciting business and Ittiput, after falling over himself to apologise for my concert losses, finally put me on the payroll of his company. Mind you the salary he paid me was a pittance – nowhere near enough for me to live on.

I didn’t mind as I still had some savings remaining and I felt sure that ‘something would come up’. Then, to top it all, I was living with this stunning, feisty lady who I was fast becoming totally infatuated with.

Little did I realise the troubles, emotional trauma, lies, deceit and my descent into a drugged hell that was waiting for me just around the corner.

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