The “Home” page is my daily blog. The remaining tabs contain previously blogged, episodic ‘stories’, which are now re-published in chronological order.
I am still sober and have been busy finishing off my Vignette of ‘Nid’ and also starting to pack up my stuff in advance of the big move next week.
Nid (Part 10)
It was quite late at night when Ittiput, a couple of his DJ’s and me – Mobi, arrived at Pattaya beach in Ittiput’s Mercedes Benz. The road to Pattaya in those days was a far cry from what it is today, but the late departure did mean there was little traffic on the mainly two lane highway, so all in all, it was a journey of around three hours. It was approaching midnight when Ittiput parked up, just off the beach and he then led us to the hotel where he had been told that our ‘better halves’ had checked in.
One of the DJ’s spoke to the hotel receptionist to ascertain the whereabouts of the ladies and their escorts. He came back and told us that their keys were at reception and that they must be out on the town somewhere.
The Hotel was facing the beach so we took a short stroll along the beach, keeping the hotel entrance in view for any sign of our ladies. We didn’t have to wait long. In those days Pattaya used to have crude, open air bars erected right on the beach front and it was from one of these that a party of four emerged, heading towards the target hotel.
As they came closer, we could make out their identities. It was almost surreal. Dow, arm in arm with her new Swiss boy friend and Nid, my wife with her arms hugging the tall, lithe figure of a young Arab man.
As with the previous occasion when I had confronted Nid in Pattaya I was transfixed to the spot – totally traumatised and unable to move or do anything. But Ittiput was clearly not inhibited by any emotional shock he might have felt by seeing his long term partner with another man.
As the ‘adulterers’ approached our party and realised who we were, Ittiput did something I will never forget for the rest of my life. He pulled out a gun and pointed it at Dow – his lover. Both groups suddenly became rooted to where they were standing on the beach. No-one moved. Ittiput started shouting very angrily and waving his gun at Dow.
Dow answered him very calmly and was obviously trying to persuade him to put his gun away.
But Ittiput was having none of it and was becoming ever more threatening. One of the DJ’s in our party tried to talk to Ittiput and grabbed his gun bearing arm, but Ittiput shook him off angrily. He seemed determined to bring this confrontation to a bloody conclusion.
My mind was in a whirl. However much resentment and anger I felt about what someone had done to me, I would never want to kill anyone – it just wasn’t in me to do such a thing; yet here was this intelligent, well educated, western oriented Thai, seemingly hell bent on killing the girl who had the temerity to dump him. I realised that Ittiput was a serving police officer with very good family connections, and I knew that the chances were that he could literally ‘get away with murder’, should he choose to do so.
Suddenly Nid decided to get into the act and started screaming at me and at Ittiput. She was clearly drunk and was beside herself with anger. Ittiput reacted badly to Nid’s insults and waved his gun in her direction. I was thinking we may be about to have a bloodbath on our hands when we were all distracted by the arrival of a group of local, uniformed police. They rushed over to Ittiput and shouted at him very roughly, whereupon he produced his Thai Police identity card. Their attitude suddenly changed from being hostile to being obsequious, but they continued to talk to him and were obviously trying to persuade him to put his gun away.
The discussion back and forth, between the local police, Ittiput, his DJ’s and also Dow continued unabated for a long time. I understood little of what was being said but the main thrust seemed to be to persuade Ittiput to settle matters by talking and not by force.
At length I could sense that Ittiput’s anger was draining away and he finally acquiesced, slowly returning the gun to its holster, which I now realised he had been wearing under his Thai-style tunic.
The two ladies and their men moved to go back to their hotel but not before a very drunk Nid started screaming and swearing at me again. Her Arab ‘companion’ had to virtually drag her along with him, still shouting and kicking.
We watched them enter the hotel and disappear in to the hotel lift.
We had come; we had seen; we had confronted. There was nothing more we could do.
Ittiput did not say another word as he led us back to his car and we made the long, return journey back to Bangkok in total silence.
This time my mind was made up, particularly when I remembered the pact I had made with my boss. We had both agreed to finish with our ladies for good.
As soon as I returned to Bangkok I resolved to move out for the last time. At that time there was an Australian who had been working on a freelance basis for Ittiput, helping him to put together a sound system that would satisfy international performers and so eliminate the need to import equipment for every promotion. His name was Billy and had originally been part of the road crew for one of the Australian acts that had recently performed in Bangkok. Billy was being ‘used’ by Ittiput in his usual inimitable manner; persuading farangs to work for ‘peanuts’ by trading on their desire to live in Thailand.
Like Mobi before him, Billy had some savings to live on and was hoping that he eventually would be able to earn a ‘living wage’, working for Ittiput. It so happened that at the time that we had our ‘shoot-out’ in Pattaya that Billy was looking for somewhere to live on a long term basis, so upon my return to Bangkok we agreed that we would rent a decent two-bed apartment in Soi 24, of Sukhumvit.
Speed was of the essence, as I had no idea when Nid might make a return to our home, so within two days of the Pattaya incident, I had moved out lock, stock and barrel for the very last time.
A few days later, Nid did indeed return to Bangkok, her ‘escort’ role having come to an end. Upon discovering my departure from the marital home, she immediately went to my office to track me down. Fortunately, I was having a few, well earned days off from my job and so I was absent from the office when she went looking for me. Billy told me that she had been there several times and tried to obtain my new address form the staff, but only Billy knew the exact address and he wasn’t about to tell her.
I am not sure if the Pattaya incident had in some way damaged my relationship with Ittiput, but within a week or so of me leaving Nid, I was starting to have ever more concerns about working for him. His business ethics were typically Chinese-Thai. ‘Promise the earth’; agree to anything if it may secure a contract, and then break all promises and contracts with impunity whenever it suited him and whenever he thought he could get away with it. I had been intimately involved in many of these ‘promises’ and ‘agreements’ – indeed without my presence as the ‘principled Englishman’, many of these agreements would never have been possible to secure in the first place.
The final straws were the way in which he was trying to cheat my friend, Dave, who had a partnership with Ittiput to run a recording studio, the manner in which he was using and cheating Billy, and the manner in which he cheated countless Thais who were ‘showbusiness-struck’ and believed every promise he made to them.
One day, in the middle of a concert promotion, I decided enough was enough and told Ittiput what I thought of him and his never-ending lies, stormed out and brought to an abrupt end to my first career in Thailand.
My resignation also had the effect of removing the last means of contact that Nid, my third wife, would have with me. Once I had left Ittiput’s employment, there was no way that Nid would be able to track me down and wheedle her way back into my affections. I am sure this was also in the back of my mind when I finally split with Ittiput. I decided it was time to start over – with a new job and hopefully a new woman.
Within a few days of my leaving Ittiput’s employment, my friend Dave also terminated his partnership with Ittiput. Thanks to a wealthy friend in the advertising business who had agreed to invest in Dave’s new business, he was able to form a new company and set up his own studio to produce and record albums and advertising jingles. Dave asked me to join him as his business partner, to effectively run the business side of the business so I was very soon returned to gainful employment.
It was during the early stages of my work with Dave that I met my fourth wife, Noi, who worked as a sales lady in one of the local department stores.
It must have been about a couple of months after I started working with Dave that one day to m y astonishment, a familiar face appeared in my office. It was Nid, looking as beautiful as ever. I still felt a jolt of excitement run though me at the sight of this really bewitching lady, but mentally reaffirmed my resolve not to allow her back into my life.
She told me that a drunken Billy had finally told her where I was working. Thanks mate!
The reason for her visit was because she wanted me to go with her to get a divorce. She told me that she had a new, rich, Thai boyfriend who wanted to marry her and that she wanted nothing from me except to sign the divorce papers. The story sounded convincing enough as I noticed that she had arrived at the studio in a chauffeur driven limousine.
For some reason she wanted to go up-country to her home province to get the divorce and it was agreed that she would pick me up early one morning a few days hence.
On the appointed day we commenced the long journey up-country in Nid’s chauffeur driven car. All morning Nid had been ‘charm itself’ and it had seemed as though she was making a play for me again – maybe just using the excuse of getting a divorce as a ploy to spend time with me. I will never know for sure but once we reached the amphur, we spent the next few hours going through the divorce process. I was totally trusting, as everything was in Thai, but I had no assets so was not particularly concerned that Nid might try to cheat me. She said she wanted nothing – as proved to be the case.
By late afternoon the bureaucratic nightmare was finally concluded and we both returned to the car flourishing our divorce certificates. (Yes, in Thailand, they actually issue a divorce certificates.) I thought we were in our way back to Bangkok but Nid told the driver to make a detour and we stopped outside a car repair shop. We all got out and Nid called a mechanic over and showed him a small dent on the back nearside door. Much discussion and bargaining ensued and eventually it appeared that agreement had been reached.
We all adjourned to a noodle shop while the repair shop workers went about their business. Nid explained to me that her boyfriend would be very angry if he discovered the damage to his car so she had to get it repaired before she returned the car to him the following day.
An hour later, the door looked like new and we once more continued our journey home, except that now we had an extra passenger – the young, handsome worker from the body repair shop. I had no idea why he was accompanying us. Maybe he wanted a lift to Bangkok.
It must have been well after nine pm when the car eventually parked up outside my apartment on soi 24 to let me out. Nid asked what floor I was living on and seemed quite keen to come and see where I was living. I was pondering this quandary – for she was looking particularly sexy and enticing. After all, what harm could it do? We were now divorced. But the decision was taken out of my hands. The young mechanic who had accompanied us was not very happy. He clearly didn’t want her to go upstairs. Then Nid did an extraordinary thing. She smiled at him and stroked his face. The young man smiled back with an obvious sign of relief on his face.
The penny suddenly dropped. Nid was going to pay the car repair bill by giving the young man ‘certain favours’. I smiled wryly Nid; the ultimate professional. As I got out of the car I noticed that Nid put her arm around the young man as they sped away into the night.
It was an hour or so later that I met up with my new ‘potential’ girlfriend, Noi and showed her my glossy new divorce paper.
Noi came back to my apartment that night for the very first time, and she stayed with me as girl friend, wife and mother for the next 27years. But apart from my infatuation with her during those early weeks – undoubtedly during a period when I was still trying to get over Nid – I never really loved her and in time grew to rue my haste in allowing her to move in with me. The story of my life with Noi is related in detail in ‘Mobi’s Story’.
I did see Nid again. About a year after our divorce, quite by coincidence I met a young man from Singapore who lived in the Patunam apartment block where I used to live with Nid. He started telling me about a Thai girl he knew who lived in the ‘rooftop penthouse’ and it didn’t take much questioning to establish that it was indeed Nid, still living there, and not yet re-married.
One thing led to another and after the Singaporean told me that Nid would be pleased to see me as a friend, one day I stopped by the apartment block and went up to see her.
Nid had put on a lot of weight and was starting to lose her looks. It was quite a shock that she could have changed so much in such a short period of time. But she seemed quite happy and was happy to see me. We chatted about the old times and there was no rancour on either side. We had both moved on. Me with Noi, and Nid with God-knows who?
I made a couple of return visits to Nid over the coming months, but eventually I changed jobs yet again, became totally immersed in my new job, and lost contact completely.
I never saw or heard from her again.
As for Ittiput’s promise to break with Dow if I finished with Nid; for a long while it seemed that at long last he had learned how to keep a promise. I heard from my old colleagues that Dow had married the Swiss man she had been with that day in Pattaya and had moved to Switzerland. Then one day, a couple of years or so later, I was driving in Bangkok and happened to tune into one of Ittiput’s old frequencies. I couldn’t believe my ears. There was Dow, doing her radio show like she had never been away. Further enquiries revealed that Dow had returned from Switzerland and had gone back to Ittiput – even though Ittiput was now a married man. They resumed their former relationship and Dow was once more gracing the airwaves with her dulcet tones.
After I left Ittiput in the late seventies, his company went from strength to strength. In 1979 I was invited by some of Ittiput’s ex-colleagues to be the General Manager of a new company that planned to carry on similar activities to those of Ittiput – namely radio programmes ,(but our station was to use English speaking DJ’s), concert promotions and the manufacture and distribution of music cassettes.
We were in direct completion with Ittiput. He fought us tooth and nail in every way he knew – much of it by using dirty, underhand tricks to undermine us and make our business fail.
My three year career with this new company is a story in itself, (related to some extent in ‘Mobi’s Story’) and when I finally left Thailand for good in 1983, my company and Ittiput’s company were both extremely successful, thriving businesses.
Today, both companies are a distant memory. Why? Difficult to say, although I do know that my company lost its contract to run English language radio as the ‘back-handers’ became too high, and once they lost the right to broadcast – the heart of their business – it was only a matter of time before the whole business went down the drain.
As for Ittiput, I understand that not long after my departure to England, the share holders of Ittiput’s company staged something of a ‘palace coup’ and removed him from his position of Chief executive. Apparently even they had become tired of his lying, cheating and plain unprofessional approach to business.
The major share holders were a Soft Drinks Company and Chinese-Thai businessmen and they took over day to day management of the company. But they had no feel for show business. It just wasn’t in their blood.
In the meantime, other Thai entertainment conglomerates were starting to make a name for themselves – run by Thais with a vision for the business and also able to operate from a much larger investment base. GMM Grammy, of course, was heading the rush.
So Ittiput’s company and the company that I managed have long since disappeared without trace. However, I like to think that Ittiput – with all his faults – should go down in the annals of Thai history as the one who initially opened up the wide world of entertainment to Thailand, to say nothing of Dave, who singlehandedly introduced the whole concept of original jingles to the Thai advertising industry.
And then of course there was Mobi, who had a guiding hand in all three businesses.