Sihanoukville, 8th September, 2010

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

The last drink I took was at approximately 11 p.m. on Monday 6th September, so I have now been sober for well over 24 hours.

Yesterday was a difficult day. Upon wakening, I resolved to write a long blog in an effort to keep my mind away from booze. In the event it worked pretty well. I went down to the cafe at around 10.30 and took my laptop with me. I was still there as dusk descended, busy with my 6000+ word blog. I eventually retired back to my room and continued with blog and by the time I had proof read and published it, it was almost 9 p.m.

I had spent almost 12 hours on my computer, virtually non- stop, but the time literally flew by and not once did I feel like taking a drink.

Some of you will recall that I am a follower of the spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle, whose two ground breaking books: “The Power of Now” & “A New Earth”, I would thoroughly recommend.

In A new Earth, Tolle writes:

“Most people have moments when they are free of ego. Those who are exceptionally good at what they do maybe completely or largely free of ego when performing their work. They may not know it but their work has become a spiritual practice. Most of them are ‘present’ when they do their work and fall back into relative unconsciousness in their private life. This means their state of presence is for the time being confined to one area of their life.”

I have thought a lot about this statement, as I can recognise it from the times when I was totally immersed in my work as a financial manager; maybe working with huge complex spread sheets to prepare a budget, a financial plan or a complex financial acquisition proposal. I can well recall that during those times I could work for 18 hours at a stretch without so much as a thought for anyone or anything except the task in hand. I was very good at it and always felt on a ‘different plane’ when immersed in such activities. I know it sounds silly – that what must appear to most people to be the most boring and un-inspirational tasks – could produce such feelings. Tolle goes on to write:

“I have met teachers, artists, nurses, doctors, scientists, social workers, waiters, hairdressers, business owners and sales people who perform their work…..They are one with what they do, one with the Now, one with the people or task they serve.”

He doesn’t include accountants, but I think you can follow his gist. In recent years I have had the same feeling when I have been writing; either my short stories, novels or more recently my blog. At the start of a typical writing session, I will often sit staring at my computer and the last thing I want to do is commence any creative writing. I may be hung-over, in a bad mood, or my mind may be in a whirl over the latest series of emotional dramas to beset me. But within a few minutes of ‘forcing’ myself to write, I start to relax and I start to come out of myself, in much the way that Tolle describes in his book. Yesterday, I knew that if I made a concerted effort to spend the day writing, then I would be free of the desire to drink alcohol. So it proved to be the case.

The problems only began at 9 o’clock at night, when I had finally published my piece on the web. A raging thirst for a beer came over me. I resisted, took a shower, changed into fresh clothes and the urge started to recede. I was starving, so I decided to take a motorbike downtown, as I also wished to find a pharmacy. The ‘moto’ driver was very obliging and patiently waited at the downtown pharmacy while I struggled to make the shopkeeper understand what it was I needed. Thence to the pub of two days earlier, where I had waited in vain for Alin.

This was the big test. Could I resist ordering a beer? The answer was a ‘yes’ as I ordered the first of two Diet Cokes. The food was good and the girls were a much better looking bunch than on my previous visit. But I wasn’t going to actively pursue any women. I decided that if it happens it happens; if not it really didn’t matter. Of course it’s ‘sods law’ that when I stopped trying, it would happen. One of the most attractive ladies in the pub walked over to me and asked if I had a girl friend. When I replied in the negative we struck up a conversation which ended in her accompanying me home at the extremely early hour of 10.45 p.m. Her name was Lina and she had urged me to go early and as it suited my determination not to take a drink, (on the basis that the less time I spent at the bar the better), I was more than happy to oblige.

Lina was a pretty, young thing; 24, with a nice body, left pretty much unscathed by the one baby she told me she had had a year ago. But my hopes for a nice little relationship and great sex soon soured. It turned out to be a run of the mill, sordid, very commercial encounter. It was one of those old fashioned ‘wham-bam-thank-you-mam’ affairs and within an hour she was back in her clothes telling me she had to go and check on her baby. I offered her what I thought was the going rate but she wasn’t satisfied and elicited a few more bucks out of me, before disappearing into the night with promises that she would return before dawn. I took no notice of this and as it was now past midnight, I took  my evening medication, settled down on the bed to watch a bit of television before dropping into a deep, alcohol-free, sleep.

I was suddenly awoken by a loud bang. I looked around; it was still pitch dark and was starting to think I had imagined it when a female voice rang out. I realised there was someone at my door. I looked at my watch – it was 4 a.m. I opened the door – Lina had returned! I was still half asleep, so I let her in and immediately crashed back on the bed. Lina took off her clothes, lay down beside me and cuddled me. Her legs were freezing and she smelt of stale smoke. I am sure she didn’t smoke, so I assumed she must have been back at the pub in search of more customers and having failed in her quest, had decided to return to the scene of her earlier encounter.

She didn’t seem to want to sleep. She insisted on fondling my private parts but she wasn’t getting any response. I was too sleepy. After about ten minutes of this, I asked her to stop fondling me as I wanted to sleep. She duly desisted and contented herself with wrapping her smooth thighs around my legs and waist and cuddling my chest. She still didn’t sleep and kept fidgeting and moving around. After a while she started caressing my chest and my nipples. Once again I asked her to stop and she must have complied for soon after I dropped off into a troubled sleep. It was troubled because I was continually being half-woken by a restless Lina who refused to sleep and was tossing and turning continuously.

At long last I was in a deep sleep, when to my horror the sound of then TV blared out at me from the corner of the room. I screamed, Lina laughed, and turned it off again. Having succeeded in waking me, she started her caressing and fondling me yet again! I shouted at her to stop. After a few minutes of restless silence, she got up and started to dress. “Thank God for that” I thought, “Maybe now I can get some uninterrupted sleep”.

When she was ready to go, she shook me and said: “No have money to eat”

“What?”

“Me no have money”

“What about the money I gave you last night”

“All gone. Have to pay for room and baby food.”

It was all too hard and I wasn’t going to argue any more with her. She had been bothering me all night as she was expecting me to have sex with her again so that she could get an additional payment. This was a first for me, but I suppose you are never too old to have a new variation on a very old theme. I fumbled around for some dollars, and finally gave her ten dollars, (about 300 Baht these days). She wanted more, first another ten, and then she reduced it to five, but I was starting to lose my cool. It was already turning into an expensive night and enough was enough.

I said: “No! No more!”, very loudly.

She realised that I meant it and scampered out of the room and off once more into predawn Sihanoukville.

I drifted back to sleep and awoke just before 11.a.m and chalked up my first day of sobriety.