Peace will come – in our time, or in the hereafter?

9 Months, 30 days, still sober

Mobi- babble

I have to say it’s been a funny old few days.  Not funny-humorous, but  funny-strange/ odd /peculiar.

Noo was away for two nights as she took her son, Tui, back to Nong Khai, so maybe this is the reason that I have been a bit out of sorts. Anyway she arrived back yesterday morning and all is back to normal and she is as loving and caring as ever.

So what’s been going down?

I have finally called time on my friendship with Rick. It just wasn’t going anywhere. I know I am a miserable, self-opinionated old bastard and that I don’t suffer fools gladly, but I do try to make an effort to get along with people and by and large I rarely have any falling outs with people that I meet socially. If I don’t agree with what they say but if I feel there is no useful purpose served in debating the differences, then I let it go. Everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case with Rick. I have only known him around 9 months, and when we first met, we seemed to get on really well together. There are many similarities in our careers and past lives and we really seemed to hit off. In particular we both enjoyed visiting short time bars together and playing with all the girls.

But increasingly, we have not seen eye to eye on almost every conceivable subject – however inconsequential. To start with, I took it as just friendly banter – rivalry if you like – out to score one over on the other on a particular line of discussion. But it soon developed to the point where Rick was deliberately taking an opposing view on just about any subject that came out of my mouth and he deliberately created confrontational situations.

I have no idea if he realised what he was doing.Whenever I might tell him anything about my plans he will always rubbish them and be totally negative about anything I plan to do.

I told him a few weeks ago that I was signing up to an internet service which would give me a UK internet address. He completely rubbished my idea, and assured me that it would never work and even if it did it would soon be cut off.

Well, here I am one month down the line and so far it’s still working like magic and I fully expect it to continue to do so. Even if it does get cut off – so what ? Its only 5 quid a month! And if it stops, I cancel the payment. What the big deal? Why did he have to be so negative? Beats me.

He think he is the ‘last word’ on anything related to computers as he has worked in IT for  most of his life; but even in this area we have had major disagreements where it has ultimately transpired that I was right and he was wrong. Sometimes, I have been wrong and have always admitted it and apologised. This is something Rick never, ever does.

He also reckons he is an expert on all things relating to Thais, Thailand and completely understands Thais and their culture. He is always criticising farangs who, he claims, don’t understand anything.

Yes, Rick has been in Thailand 25 years and certainly should understand Thais. But he barely speaks a word of Thai and the only thing I ever hear him say about them is how stupid and lazy they are. In my opinion, he has no understanding of Thais and Thai politics as he seems to think that the Bangkok Post is the fountain of knowledge of all things political.

Every time he has a problem with a Thai business or a company, his solution is to yell at them at the top of his voice in English. We have all seen these guys who behave like this. Quite frankly, he doesn’t know how lucky he is that someone hasn’t clocked him one before now; but he simply doesn’t understand what is going on because he doesn’t speak Thai.

If he did, he would know that when Thais see him screaming at them, they just regard him as a pathetic, ignorant barbarian who is simply not worth getting angry at. They look down on him and he has no idea this is happening.

Recently I have been writing on Thai Visa about how the world’s media is now well and truly focussed on the Thai floods and what effect this adverse publicity may have on tourism. I mentioned this to Rick and he immediately told me that nobody outside Thailand is aware of the floods!

Uh! You’ve got to be joking! He insisted he was right; that he had spoken to some people in England and they told him that nobody had heard about the Thai floods. – it wasn’t on the news.

I told him that on that very day, both my daughters had independently contacted me from the UK as they had seen the flood stories on TV and were worried about me. Last week my brother in South Africa contacted me to make sure I was OK.

Every day I listen to  BBC domestic radio –mainly radios 4 and 5, and for days now the Thai flooding has been on virtually every news bulletin, including reports directly from Bangkok. I have even  watched it on the domestic BBC news channels (via my VPN). Every night there is wide coverage of the floods on BBC World, Al Jazeera (who even had a 30 minute segment about the floods the other day), Fox, CNN, ANC and so on. The world’s print media has been full of stories and pictures. The last thing I do every night before sleeping is read a selection of the world’s press reports and on my BBC ‘app’ which always has at least one new story on the Thai floods.

I told him all this but he still insisted that he was right. He played with his shiny, new 10 inch tablet for a couple of  minutes, got his BBC News application up on his screen and then shouted at me, challenging me to find a news item on Thai floods.

I know I shouldn’t have done, but I completely lost it! I lost my temper big time. This fucking idiot was effectively telling me that everything I had just told him was a lie and that he could prove it by showing me an application where there was an absence of  stories on the floods. He was literally trying to force me to pick up his tablet and find a BBC story. It was completely bizarre!  What a load of shite!!!

Maybe it had been building up in me for quite a while and I confess to you, my dear readers, that I am thoroughly ashamed of my temper tantrum. I have managed to keep it well under control for a long time now and  it makes me quite sad to realise that I am still capable behaving like a child and  ‘blowing up’ in public – something that I thought I had put behind me when I stopped drinking.

I know these arguments with Rick are trivial and pathetic, but it’s not the substance of the argument that matters – nor ultimately who is right or who is wrong – it’s simply the fact that Rick seems hell bent in belittling anything and everything I say. I don’t know why. He must know he is riling me, so if he is truly a friend, why does he do it?

I sat on an armchair at the far end of the bar room and decided to look up the BBC application on my own 7 inch tablet. Sure enough, one of the top news stories was about the Thai flooding, as I knew it would be, so what the hell he was on about?  I will never know.

Later that night, there was yet another flood news update on my BBC application – it was actually running 2 flood stories simultaneously – but mysteriously,  not on Rick’s tablet…I assume.

Anyway I certainly don’t need any more aggravation like that in my life so in future I will give Rick a wide berth.

The only good thing to come out of this silly incident is that at no time during my ‘blow-up’ did I feel like a drink, as I would have done in the past. Even back in the UK when I had the dust up with my sister, I felt like having a drink – but not this time. It just didn’t enter my mind.

Onwards and upwards Mobi…..☺

Movie / TV Reviews: ‘Hereafter’ and ‘The Shadow Line’

I downloaded ‘Hereafter’, a 2010 film, many months ago, as a friend had mentioned to me one day that he had enjoyed watching it in a local Pattaya cinema.

To be honest the title put me off, and I assumed that it was yet another one of those ‘spiritual’ type stories where people in this world are contacted by or guided by someone in the after- life, along the lines of ‘Ghost’ (which to be fair was a pretty good movie but is now quite dated), ‘What Dreams May Come’, ‘City of Angels’ and so on. Frankly this story line has been done to death and I grow weary of movie producers who insist on regurgitating the same old story lines, rather than give their audiences something original to get their teeth stuck into.

Anyway, it was bothering me in my list of ‘UNSEEN MOVIES’ so I decided to give it a go.

I should have known better, as it was produced by that genius of a film director, Clint Eastwood. Who would ever believe that a ‘corny’ macho, deadpan cowboy actor would transform himself into one of Hollywood’s finest ever film makers?

For me, he has never made a bad movie, from Bridges of Madison County, to ‘Mystic River’ and the wonderful ‘Gran Torino’ and of course he has already received several Oscars, most notably for ‘Million Dollar Baby’.

Hereafter’ is a great movie, all the more so because almost everyone connected with this movie, from the writers, to the director to the actors, has publicly stated that they do not believe in the afterlife. The story is beautifully played out, by a tour de force of actors – especially the two French actors, (Cécile De France and Thierry Neuvic), and Matt Damon in quite possibly his finest role ever.

This is not an action or a fantasy movie in the traditional sense, although the horrific opening footage of a tsunami which devastated a South Pacific Resort is truly riveting.

It is a beautifully understated, introspective film which explores the characters and lives of the three principal players, who come from totally different walks of  life and from different parts of the world:  San Francisco, Paris, and London. It is the clever tale of how they became drawn to each other by their varying needs to connect, (or to ‘disconnect’ in the case of one of them), with the so-called ‘hereafter’.

It is a well-crafted film and you can’t help rooting for these somewhat flawed ‘heroes’, and the subject matter is dealt with in  a manner that neither promotes nor disparages the notion that there is something there in the next life. In the end, we are left to our own deliberations.

Yet another masterpiece from Eastwood.

The film cost an incredible 50 Million dollars to make, which although the cost is about par for this kind of major Hollywood blockbuster boasting a ‘name’ actor and director, it does seem to make you wonder where all the money goes, other than in the pockets of the people making it.

I have no idea how much it cost the BBC to make the excellent ‘Shadow Line’ , a 7 part thriller recently shown on BBC, but I’d venture a guess than it didn’t cost more than a million or so.

Anyone who appreciates a good yarn, superlative acting and a story that will keep you riveted throughout its seven hours of screen time, then you could do little better than watch The Shadow Line.

The Shadow Line is a complex story of criminals who kill and double cross each other and of a police force that is as corrupt and violent as the criminals they are trying to put away.  We are not spared generous doses of  horrific violence and the villain-in-chief, a character who goes by the name of ‘Gatehouse’, is so frighteningly malevolent, that he has been compared to Hannibal Lector in his ability to put the heebie jeebies into the viewing public.

I was very surprised to learn that about 2.5 million viewers abandoned watching this series after the second episode, and it has left me in despair as to what the modern audiences regard as good entertainment.

I truly wonder on the length of the average attention span and the level of intelligence of the average viewer can be these days. Sure, on occasion, the plot moved slowly – but only in the interest of character development. Do we really want all our ‘cops and robbers’ to be purely two dimensional people or do we want to be able to relate to them and try to understand what makes them ‘tick’, much as we can in TV series such as ‘Sopranos’ or ‘Boardwalk Empire

And just because a plot has several twists and turns, does that mean that it is incomprehensible to the average viewer? If this old codger can understand it, then surely the younger generation to should be able to follow it in their sleep!

Some professional reviewers claim that this is the best piece of thriller drama produced by British television in years, and I am inclined to agree with them. They certainly pulled out all their stops and the results were exhilarating; But a small word of warning; if you do hunt this series down and watch it – don’t expect anything approaching a conventional ending. And there certainly won’t be any sequels – thank God!

I was interested to note that the entire series was filmed in the Isle of Man, even though it is largely set in London with a few scenes in Ireland. Believe me, you would never have known it. Nor would it have ever occurred to you that they in anyway whatsoever they cut any corners on production costs.

It is a bit of crusade of mine to somehow get Hollywood to drastically reduce the obscene amounts of money they spend on movies. It just isn’t necessary, as we have seen time and time again by all the low budget films and TV series that are every bit as good, and can attract equally large audiences.

If the principal ‘players’: actors, writers, producers and directors alike, refuse to drop their ridiculous pay demands, then go and search out new talent. I’m quite sure that there’s plenty around.

And then Hollywood wouldn’t be screaming so loudly about all the illegal downloads of their products and they wouldn’t be obliged to charge far too much for the privilege of buying a legitimate copy. Get the movie costs down and then charge a sensible download fee that the average Joe can afford to  pay. And everyone will be happy.

I know – pigs might fly….

Poetry in Music

Here’s a topic that I haven’t written on for quite a while.

The recent announcement of troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and the seeming end of the vicious civil war in Libya got me to thinking about this  brutal world of ours and its insatiable appetite for war.

For as sure as eggs are eggs, as one war draws to a close, another springs up somewhere else in this strife riven world of ours and and it is never long before the major powers are inevitably lining up on the side of one of the protagonists or the other. There never appears to be a time when a majority of the world is truly at peace.

The twentieth century, was notable for two of the most terrible wars in history and I was fascinated to recently watch a series of beautifully made documentaries devoted to British artists of the 20th century and learn just how massively their art was influenced by these two, life -altering wars.

The 21st century doesn’t seem to have started off too well, and sometimes I really despair at the folly of the human race, apparently hell bent on destructing itself.

But Mobi is a child of the 20th century and in particular a child of the sixties. When the sixties began I was 14, and at its conclusion, 24, so you could say that I came of age during one of the most influential decades of the past 100 years.

Ah the 60’s – that wonderful, innocent era of The Beatles, The Stones, mini-skirts, sexual liberation, the pill, pot, free love, flower power, swinging England, Carnaby Street  and that indescribable feeling that we were the  new generation who could truly change the world.

But then the Vietnam War came along which put a massive spoke in the whole sixties ethos of ‘Give Peace a Chance’, as John Lennon used to sing. Indeed one of my few remaining friends from those days started off his early adulthood as a draft dodger from the Vietnam conflict, and it was only many years later that he succeeded in getting a pardon from his government for his refusal to participate in that oh so pointless and misguided of wars.

So the sixties became the era of the protest song singers –  from Dylan to Joan Baez to Pete Seeger, to Donavon, to Country Joe Macdonald and so many more; but one of the lesser known singers, whose magical song of that era sticks in my memory was a young American lady with a truly haunting voice, called Melanie Safka.

Melanie is about 9 months younger than me, so these days she is knocking on 65 and although most of you may not have heard of her, she was and still is a wonderful and prolific singer- song writer, who has enjoyed a long, successful career as a performer and recording artist. But she never achieved the ‘super stardom’ that she surely deserved. 

Looking at her repertoire, I could have almost put a pin in the list of songs she has penned and anyone of them would be good enough to qualify for the ‘Mobi treatment’, but the song that still sticks in my memory from that time is the hauntingly beautiful: “Peace Will Come (According To Plan)”

I have searched for Melanie singing this song on YouTube and was amazed by the number of versions that have been uploaded and the high number of hits. It is so typical of Melanie that almost every performance is different,(they are all live performances), and the song length varies from around 3 minutes to an incredible 8 minutes, which was the version sung on – of all shows – the Ed Sullivan show in 1970. The largely upper-middle-class, ‘respectable’ audience was absolutely spell bound.

Unfortunately, none of the performances have particularly good audio quality, but I have selected a five minute version which contains an unusual introduction which I have not heard before and is not sung by Melanie any of the other uploaded YouTube videos. It is an unusual intro which brings the Vietnam War very much into focus.

But the song is every bit as relevant today as it was in the 1960’s when Melanie wrote it.

I have had to transcribe the unusual 6 line opening intro from the You Tube video, as I was unable to find it anywhere else – so I hope I have got the words more or less correct.

Peace Will Come (According To Plan)

My name is Penny Evans

And I’ve just gone 21

Hey I’m a widow in the war that’s being fought in Vietnam

And I have two infant daughters, I thank God I have no son

Now they say the war is over

But think it’s just begun

***


For sometimes when I am feeling as big as the land
With the velvet hill in the small of my back
And my hands are playing the sand

And my feet are swimming in all of the waters
All of the rivers are givers to the ocean
According to plan, according to man

Well sometimes when I am feeling so grand
And I become the world
And the world becomes a man

And my song becomes a part of the river
I cry out to keep me just the way I am
According to plan

According to man, according to plan
According to man, according to plan

For sometimes when we have reached the end
With the velvet hill in the small of my backs
And our hands are clutching the sand

Will our blood become a part of the river
All of the rivers are givers to the ocean
According to plan, according to man

There’s a chance peace will come
In your life please buy one.

I know I am old blubber-mouth, but I still cannot listen to this song without tears coming to my eyes. The sound quality is not good, but somehow it helps to evoke the mood of the song and the era that it comes from.

Enjoy:

 Peace will come

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot…