10 Months, , still sober
Sometimes I seem to lose all track of time, but it must have been about 10 days ago or so that Noo, Cookie and I took a stroll along the path by the lake and found that the undergrowth (weeds I guess) had seriously overgrown the track and the going was a little tough. Anyway we soldiered on but by the time we had returned home, Cookie and I were on our last legs, literally.
Poor Cookie immediately went lame for a couple of days, and I felt a nagging pain in one of my calf muscles – I must have strained it when trying to clambering through the chest high weeds.
The next day, I took stock. Cookie was still grossly overweight, which no doubt contributes to her propensity for going lame quite often and as for ‘yours truly’- I was rapidly running out of wearable tops as my stomach continued to expand outwards. My weight was an incredible 98 kilos – by far the heaviest I have ever been, (even when I first took up exercise some 12 years ago after a lifetime of ‘vegetation’ , I was only 90 kilos), and I was still woefully unfit with stiff, creaky joints that took a long while to get going in the morning. As with Cookie, I realised this was hardly surprising, given the increased weight that my ageing joints were being forced to carry.
So I immediately put Cookie on a ‘50% diet’ and I reviewed my own eating habits, and found them coming up seriously short. Although I was eating three relatively medium sized, not too fatty meals a day – cereal for breakfast, a sandwich in the afternoon and maybe a rice dish at night, I was stuffing myself with loads of fresh fruit. I was eating fruit to satisfy my ‘in between meals’ hunger pangs and to satisfy my craving for something sweet – a common problem for recovering alcoholics.
Previously, I had decided that by indulging my craving for fruit – plus, I confess, a nightly, thick, creamy chocolate ice cream – was the lesser of two evils, if I could succeed in my prime objective of keeping off the booze; and in any case, I used to think that fruit is very good for you, full of vitamins. All that may well have been true but fruit is also full of sugar, and I now have learned that an excess of fruit can often pile pounds of fat on middle aged stomachs – which is exactly what has happened to me.
So a week or so back, I finally realised that it was time to move into phase two of my recovery plan – get my diet properly under control, and reinforce my efforts to take proper exercise, which in spite of everything has been somewhat sporadic since my return from the UK. I would also add that apart from being grossly overweight and unfit, as an insulin dependant diabetic, I have been having increasing difficulty in keeping my blood sugars under control which has not contributed to feeling of general well-being. So I cut out all the fruit, except a half apple with my breakfast cereal, and no more ice cream.
After a couple of days of rest, Cookie’ leg was better, and since then, the three of us have taken a long, daily walk around the lake road to the 7/11 junction, through the grounds of the Wat, and then back home again, all of which takes about 30 minutes.
Cookie is already looking much trimmer and in spite of the fact that for most of the past 10 days I have been in agony from the pain in my calf muscle when we take our daily walks, I have actually got my weight back down to around 94 kilos.
Thankfully, over the past two days the calf muscle pain has now receded to a tolerable level, and I am hoping that it will soon disappear completely. Apart from the pain, the thirty minute walk really ‘does me in’ and I feel like I have just completed a half marathon by the time I get back home. Cookie looks just as exhausted – what a pair we are!
I am under no illusions, and it will be a very long haul at my age, but it is imperative that I must now knuckle under and get myself trim and fit. I simply cannot go on like this. Nor can Cookie.
After the first few days of gasping for something to eat, I have found that my hunger pangs and cravings have substantially reduced; I know it’s just a question of ‘re-training my brain’. Every time I feel hungry, I sip some water or have a mug of tea – It works quite well; those of you wanting to lose weight should try it.
So 2011 was the year I quit the booze, and I hope that 2012 will be the year when I got my body back in some kind of half way decent shape. We shall see.
There’s nowt so queer as folk…
Yesterday, Noo had intended to drive her motorbike into town to do a bit of shopping, but we were suddenly deluged with some unseasonal rain which sort of put a dampener on her plans.
She was sitting there, all doled up in her glad rags, waiting for the rain to stop, so I finally felt sorry for her and offered to drive her in.
We went to the ‘Big C/ex -Carrefour’ complex on Pattaya Klang, and I decided to have a coffee while Noo went and did her bit of shopping in the supermarket.
I used to love the little coffee place, outside the AIS phone shop on the second floor because not only do they make very tasty, inexpensive coffee, but it was a great place to sit and do a bit of ‘people watching’.
The ‘Carrefour’- Big C complex has always been a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by –mainly because it is at the edge of two worlds – the world of the permanent and semi-permanent residents of our fair city and world of tourists who throng the nearby beach and beer bars.
If you sit in this Big C at any hour of the day and you will see a veritable hodgepodge of Pattaya’s unique and varied humanity: scantily clad young ladies – either out to buy a few bits and pieces, or even to transact a bit of afternoon ‘free-lancing’, if they can land any well-heeled punters; elderly, pot-bellied farangs, arm in arm with tiny young ladies a third of their age; young, often good looking farangs, hand in hand with some of the ugliest, most outlandishly dressed bar-girls you have ever seen; ancient farang couples who are so old they can barely walk and look as though they might expire in front of you; young Thai ladies with clutches of ‘leuk kreung’ kids scampering along behind them; immaculately dressed Thai women – obviously red light workers – out for an afternoon with their pimp Thai boyfriends; and so on and so forth. What a wonderful place!
So I was somewhat disappointed when Noo returned only half an hour later, her shopping done and suggested we buy some take away Japanese food at ‘Fuji’ down on the ground floor to eat back at home. I asked her why she hadn’t bought some Japanese food in the supermarket and she replied that she didn’t know thyat they sold it.
‘Come on,’ I said, I’ll show you.’
‘But what about the shopping trolley?’ she asked.
‘What about it?’
‘Well we can’t take it back in the supermarket with us and it’s a long way downstairs to the car park.’
I thought for a moment.
‘No problem’ I said, ‘Follow me,’ and I wheeled the trolley to the front of Home Pro, the DIY hardware store, opposite to Big C.
‘What are you buying here?’ Noo asked me.
‘Nothing, I’m just leaving the trolley here,’ whereupon I took the trolley to the customer care desk, where they took care of it and gave me a plastic number so that I could reclaim it when I had finished shopping.
Noo, started to walk into the home ware store. ‘Where are you going?’ I asked her.
‘Well we’ll have to buy something.’
‘No we won’t, come with me,’ I said, grabbing her and leading her out of Home pro and into Big C.
‘But what about the trolley?’
‘What about it?’
‘Won’t they want you to buy something? What will you tell them?
‘Nothing,’ I said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s not a problem.
She said no more and we walked into Big C and bought our bag of Jap food and walked back towards Home Pro.
‘We can buy a piece of plastic fencing for the garden – it costs 200 Baht’, she said to me.
‘A piece of fencing?’ Do we need a piece of fencing?’
‘So you want me to spend 200 Baht for the privilege of having Home Pro take care of our shopping trolley for 10 minutes?’
She looked at me, nonplussed. ‘No… not really…but…’
‘Look, you stay by the escalator and I will go and collect the trolley.’
So saying, I marched quickly over to the Home Pro counter, handed over my number and collected my trolley without a sign of a murmur from anyone. I even got a lovely smile and a ‘Kop Khun Krap’, accompanied by a dainty wai from the pretty young lady there.
It seems to me that wherever you go in the world, people are essentially the same. They are always worried about doing the wrong thing in public or embarrassing themselves – or, in the case of Thais – losing face.
Dear little Noo, who is usually so careful with our money, was prepared to spend 200 Baht on something we didn’t need, rather than risk losing face with the Home Pro staff.
‘There’s nowt so queer as folk’…. But I love them!!…well…Noo anyway.
A Nation held to ransom… but with no money to pay the demands.
Today the public service unions in The UK are holding the largest, coordinated one day public sector strike, since the 1920’s – almost 100 years ago.
We all watched aghast as the Greeks and the Italians stubbornly refused to accept that there simply isn’t any money left in their kitties. We decried the actions of the people in those countries who embarked on violent street protests and public services strikes to show their virulent disagreement with their government’s attempts to introduce long overdue austerity measures. ‘Don’t they understand that whoever may have been responsible, there simply isn’t any money left to pay them?’ we asked ourselves.
Now, in the UK, we are seeing the start of similar, very unhelpful action.
I know and sympathise with many public service workers who see their pension benefits being eroded. It must be particularly galling to embark on a career of public service, understanding that you may well receive relatively low compensation, but always with a guarantee that you would be able to retire earlier than most, with a good pension. Then, after years of dedicated work, you find that the rug is being partially pulled from under you and that you will now have to work longer, will be required to make greater pension contributions, and may even end up with a slightly lower pension.
But to those who are striking today, I would like to put to you the following thoughts.
There is no question that the entire world is in middle of the biggest financial crisis that has ever existed. We are literally on the brink of global financial meltdown and at any moment the Euro may collapse which will have far reaching, devastating effects on the British economy. Is this really the right time to start withdrawing labour and damage our fragile economy even further and create chaos across the land?
As a percentage of its GDP, the UK has more debt than almost any other country in the western world, yet at the present time, its debt borrowing interest rates are amongst the lowest – even lower than Germany.
Why? Because the financial markets perceive that Britain is one of the very few countries who has dared to bite the bullet and take the necessary, highly unpopular austerity measures to reduce its spiralling deficit. So in spite of the fact that the UK is clearly on the right lines, do you still selfishly insist that any cuts should not be extended to public sector workers?
Millions upon millions people in the private sector have either lost their pension entitlements entirely, or have had them drastically reduced, through no fault of their own.For the past thirty years, a vast majority of private sector employees have been obliged to accept changes in their pension arrangements which are now based on defined contributions, rather than defined benefits.
This is because commercial organisations can no longer afford to guarantee a pre -agreed level of benefit – based on employees’ final salaries. All they can do is make contributions to a pension fund, and when they retire, see how much money has accumulated in their ‘pension pot’ to buy them a pension.
So if companies operating in the real world can no longer afford to guarantee a level of pension – and this has been the case for many years now – why is it that public service workers expect that ordinary tax payers will fund guaranteed, public sector pensions that they have no chance of getting for themselves?
How can these public workers justify striking, just because they are having to work a few extra years and will suffer a slight reduction in their income, when millions of people are living close to poverty, unable to make ends meet, and are struggling to pay their monthly utility bills and to put a decent meal on their tables.
How can the public sector justify striking when they still have a job and still have a pension, unlike a generation of young adults who are probably condemned to decades, if not a lifetime of unemployment?
Rightly or wrongly, government pension schemes have never, ever been properly funded. The public sector workers keep insisting that the funds that they have contributed through the years have been used for other purposes. This may well be so, but the fact remains that the level of contributions that they have made over so many years, was never even close to the funding level necessary to meet the pension requirements as has been guaranteed by successive governments.
Pensions have never been properly funded, which is one of the many reasons why we are in the mess we in today. It is very sad and very wrong, but unfortunately you have been unlucky enough to draw the short straws. People are living longer and the gravy train is over. It is long overdue to reassess what public sector benefits the state can afford in a world which is in economic turmoil.
The government is still negotiating with the unions on the details of the proposed changes in the pension arrangements. These talks have not yet reached a deadlock, so why is the union calling a strike in advance of any irretrievable breakdown in discussions?
The answer is simple. Under current legislation once a union has voted to strike, a walkout must be held within 28 days or a new ballot must be held. But once a strike is held, the union then has a legal “mandate” for more strikes or other action until the dispute ends.
Thus, the union has secured its ‘yes ‘ vote and desperately needs to use this vote to strike within the 28 day deadline, just in case subsequent discussions with the government do in fact arrive at a compromise offer which their members might be inclined to accept, even though the union may well disagree.
I suggest that public sector workers should closely question their union leaders about their real motives for calling the strike at this point in time, especially as meaningful discussions are still continuing. Ask yourself why even the labour party, the party of – and supported by – the unions, does not support this strike?
A Lustful Gentleman
Here it is folks, under the ‘BUTT… BUTT…BUTTS‘, you will find the last two parts of Chapter One of my revised novel. I will now quickly move on to chapter two, which will be published over the coming days and weeks.
Some of you may have realised that I continue to fine tune the text, even after I have published it here and this is an on-going process, right up to the time when it is completed. Most of the revisions, are very minor – just brushing up on the syntax or the sentence structure with no material changes to the underlying text.
In the unlikely event that I do make a substantive change which affects the plot lines, then of course I will inform you.
For those of you who read the first five chapters before I withdrew them from my blog and started again, I want to inform you that the character of Bobby Solo, the American lawyer – whose background story was set out in the original chapter two – is no more. I have removed him completely as a character and revised the plot lines accordingly.
There are several reasons for this decision, but the main one is that I decided there were too many principal characters and the plot became too difficult to coordinate. There are now only three main characters; Na, Toby and Ying – and I am very confident that the revised plot works much better with just the three of them.
Tomorrow, I will re-open the novel ‘Tab’ and publish the entire first chapter of ‘Lust’ as a blog ‘page’.
I hope you continue to enjoy my humble efforts.
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!