The “Home” page is my daily blog. The remaining tabs contain previously blogged, episodic ‘stories’, which are now re-published in chronological order.
Another week has passed since my last blog.
My apologies to one and all.
It has been a difficult week and once again I have found life quite difficult.
Last Monday Wan decided to take a lift from her Aunt back to Roi Et for a few days. She was planning to go at the end of the week, but I encouraged her to take the free lift and to go and sort out her personal business. The plan was for her to return with her son for the last week or so of school holidays.
She couldn’t have picked a worse time to go as the floods were reaching their zenith. In all it took her over 2 days to get home after a pretty horrendous journey. The cynics amongst you will have assumed that I showered her with money and that she probably wouldn’t return. Well I didn’t shower her with money; in fact I felt rather guilty about the small amount i actually gave her, but as you will learn below, I wasn’t really in a position to be more generous, even if I had wanted to be.
She eventually returned to Pattaya with her son on Friday evening after a slightly shorter, but still very challenging journey of 15 hours.
I started off the week quite well as last Monday I had a session with my therapist, who was visiting Pattaya and I planned to follow it by attending an evening AA meeting. I had a good session, but once I was back in my car I decided to skip the AA meeting and head off back to the Darkside for a meal and a few beers. This, of course was the start of the slippery slope and I proceeded to get well oiled and crawled home in the early hours.
Part of the reason for my binge was worry over finances.This was as low as I had been in the ready money stakes for as long as I could recall. All my money is tied up in funds and other long term investments and I had arranged for some interest to be released on 1st October which would have replenished my Thai Baht coffers. Unfortunately, I hadn’t appreciated that when the rollover interest was released, it would be credited back to the fund and it would take at least another 2 weeks for the money to hit my sterling bank account. Then I would have to arrange to transfer the money to Thailand.
I had sort of taken my eye of the ball, but I wasn’t overly worried, as I thought that in a ‘worst case scenario’, I could keep myself going through cash advances from my Amex Platinum card. I had taken an advance the previous Sunday, (which had helped to fund Wan’s trip back home) but when I came to draw some more cash on the following Tuesday the ATM machines kept spitting out my card. I called Amex and learnt that the maximum cash I could withdraw was USD 500 every two weeks and I was almost at the limit!
I spent the next 48 hours chasing the interest transfer and scraping cash together from all my semi-dormant bank accounts and then immediately spending it on wine women and song. It was completely mental. On Tuesday night I had enough cash to keep me going for a week or so provided I avoided any excesses. Yet I did the exact opposite. I got drunk at my regular bars, entertained all manner of ladies at short time bars, and even had an incredible ‘blow job’ in one bar that involved no less than three women. That sort of service doesn’t come cheap.
However, my luck seemed to have held and the interest hit my UK bank account last Wednesday evening. I immediately made a transfer order online to get the cash into my Thai bank account. I have been using my current UK bank account for 2 years and during that time, transfers to Thailand made online have never taken more than 24 hours to arrive in Thailand. So I was pretty confident that the cash would be there by Thursday afternoon at the latest. On the back of this I hit the bright lights with a vengeance on Wednesday night, waking up late Thursday morning with scarcely enough money remaining for a good meal.
OF course ‘Sod’s Law’ kicked in. I checked my Thai bank – no sign of the money. I fired off emails to the UK bank asking them when they had made the transfer. I received a standard response: “You must wait 5 working days before requesting a ‘trace’”. I got madder and madder, firing off more emails, telling them that I knew full well about the 5 day tracing rule but wanted to know if and when they had made the transfer. I became convinced that someone had forgotten to make it, as there was no indication of the transfer or CHAPS charges on my online bank statement.
Eventually, late Friday afternoon, I received an email from some guy at the bank telling me not to worry, the funds had now been released and would be with me shortly. I looked at my online statement and sure enough the transfer and charges were now showing. No explanation of why it had taken them 2 days to send the money, and certainly no apology.
By now it was too late for the money to be credited before the weekend and I realised that it would be Monday before the funds were credited to my Thai bank account. There was a small balance remaining in my UK account and I had no choice but to use my UK Visa debit card to draw money at an ATM to provide me with funds until the transfer arrived.
Wan arrived back on Friday night with her son and I’m afraid I didn’t give her much of a welcome. I was depressed and worried about finances, had been drinking far too much and really wasn’t in any mood for company – especially a young, very voluble kid.
So it wasn’t a happy weekend, especially as I decided to stop drinking now that Wan was back. I’m pretty insufferable during my first few days of sobriety and even now, on my 4th day of sobriety, I’m still not in very good spirits.
Of course Monday being a bank holiday didn’t help. I had no idea it was a holiday until I confessed to Wan that I might be having serious money problems. I told her the background of the problem and that the funds had still not arrived at my Thai Bank account. She pointed out that the banks were closed on Mondayand I would have to wait until Tuesday to contact the bank.
So today I logged into my account, only to have my hopes dashed once again. The funds were still not there. I decided to call the foreign exchange desk in Bangkok to see if they had received the transfer. This is no mean feat, as although I speak passable Thai, at the best of times it is always difficult on the phone, and to discuss my transfer with Bangkok Thais who speak no English and are not really interested in helping me is quite challenging.
It took several calls, including being given two ‘wrong numbers’ before I finally spoke to a young lady who was willing to help me. Incredibly, she tracked down my transfer and assured me that the money would be in my account before close of business today. Success at last! (I hope, because at the time of writing – 12.30 p.m. – it still hasn’t arrived).
So I have been sober since Friday night.
What have I been doing?
Not a lot. Going shopping, messing around on my computer and watching countless hours of movies and TV series. I have accumulated a huge amount of stuff to watch on T.V. by downloading on my PC using torrents and watching it through a portable ‘media player’.
Apart from the recent 3 episodes of “Sherlock” from the BBC, (which brilliantly brings the original characters into the 21st Century and has received universal acclaim), nearly all my stuff is from the USA. American series are now second to none and in recent years, so much money has been thrown at them that they have attracted the very best of talent in terms of producers, writers, directors and actors. Shows like “Sopranos and “The Wire” have become classics and the list by no means stops there.
Personally I have enjoyed “House”, “Deadwood” and “Boston Legal” in recent years and I am now becoming a huge fan of current shows such as “Boardwalk Empire” (A gangster series set in Atlantic City during the prohibition era – the first episode directed by no lesser luminary than Michael Scorsese) and “Treme” (pronounced Trem-eh – set in new Orleans, 3 months post Hurricane Katrina. Wonderfully filmed and acted and if you like jazz and other New Orleans inspired music then you will have your senses bombarded by endless virtuoso performances).
Then there is “Madmen” a multi award winning series, now in its fourth year. At first I wasn’t at all sure that I liked it. It can be very slow moving, but by episode 3, I was totally hooked. It is about people working in Madison Avenue, New York, the US centre of advertising, back in the 1960’s. Wonderfully nostalgic, it takes me back to the time I worked for an American Company in Berkeley Square, London in the late 1960’s. I can relate to so much of the behaviour, the incessant smoking and drinking and the chauvinistic attitude of the characters’ behaviour, both in and outside the office – even to the point of patronising the Playboy clubs – a long gone establishment to which I was introduced by my Yankee employers. I can also relate to the ‘ins and outs’ of the advertising industry as I worked in the periphery of this business in the mid-late 1970’s in Bangkok, when I helped to produce advertising jingles and drank and whored with many a farang creative director and account executive. All great stuff.
I can watch this stuff for hours and hours, in high definition picture and the sound emanating from a top of the range Sony Home Theatre system.
It keeps me away from the booze – that’s the important thing.
I know I am rambling today, but better to ramble than to go back to drinking and not blog at all.
On Thursday Wan will go to Bangkok with her son and on Friday will take him back to Roi Et in time for the new school term which commences on Monday. She will probably return next week some time.
So the test for me will be after she is gone. Will I revert to my normal drinking state or will I manage to hold on until she gets back? There is no doubt that having her here helps me to stay sober, but in the end, this is something I must go through totally alone.