11 Months, 14 Days, still sober.
I know it’s still early days, but, health-wise, things definitely seem to be on the up and up.
I can well recall, way back in 1999, when my diabetes and coronary problems were so bad that I was told by my two Harley Street specialists that if I didn’t give up my high pressure job and adopt a new, healthier lifestyle, that I would probably be dead within 10 years.
There then followed a planned process towards early retirement,which occurred in June 2000, and was followed by my determined efforts to take some exercise and lose some weight.
For a number of years, in spite of my pre-disposition towards alcohol abuse, I was a bit of a medical success story. Subsequent medical check-ups revealed that I was a fine example of what could be achieved if the patient was sufficiently determined and dedicated.
I well remember those early days and weeks, when I was so unfit that I couldn’t even walk down the driveway of my home without breaking out into a sweat, experiencing chest pains and my legs aching from the effort.
Yet slowly, day by day, things started to almost imperceptibly improve. It really seemed at the time that the ‘mountain I was trying to climb’ was so great, that I would be unlikely to achieve anything beyond the simple ability to take a short stroll without dropping down dead.
But within weeks I was heading off on brisk daily walks into the East Northamptonshire countryside, gradually interspersed with short periods of jogging, and within months, I was actually jogging, non-stop for up to thirty minutes a day.
Along with my ‘sensible’ eating – without really depriving myself or going on a specific diet, (just watching my sugar and fat content and cutting out sweets, cakes and so on), my weight came down, from 90 kilos to about 78. So did my blood pressure and sugar levels, and despite my continued drinking, I actually started to feel healthier and fitter than I had for many years.
Over the next few years I did try quite hard to keep to this healthy regime, but the break-up of my fourth marriage, my subsequent move to Thailand, and my disastrous 5th marriage all took their toll.
But even as recently as around 2006, I was still using the tread mill, (which I had bought in Bangkok, as jogging is so hard to do in Thailand, what with the soi dogs and many other distractions), and also did a daily swimming routine. But inexorably, my emotional and drinking problems got the better of me and in the end, all efforts to stay healthy evaporated and my body weight and health embarked upon a five year decline.
Up to recently, apart from a few odd ‘miracle’ occasions, such as the one when I travelled to the UK earlier this year , I have felt like a very old man, with aching, stiff limbs, unable sometimes to get up from my sofa or from sitting on the floor, without assistance.
I haven’t been able to walk more than a hundred meters without being in pain from chest and joints, and my weight has been higher than at any time in my entire life – almost 100 kilos. (15 stone to you Brits), with a belly so pronounced that nothing fits me any more.
But during the past few days I have noticed a marked improvement on all fronts. My weight has dropped to about 93 kilos (14.5 stone), my ‘belly line’ has gone in a couple of inches, and most of all, I feel quite a bit fitter.
For two days in a row, I have experienced no ‘muscle/joint’ pains and hardly any ‘heart’ pains during my evening walks, and I have felt so much better, that I have actually extended my walking time by around 50% and have still felt pretty good when I arrive back home. In particular, the pains and aches in my leg joints seemed to have more or less vanished and I feel much more able to get around and stay active.
Anyway, it’s onwards and upwards, and it is now important that I continue to build on these encouraging signs. It is fortuitous that we have now entered the ‘cool’ season here in Pattaya and it is extremely pleasant to take our evening strolls with temperatures in the early to mid – 20’s, with low humidity and a nice breeze wafting across the lake. It could almost be a stroll in the English countryside on a nice summer afternoon.
Our trip to Bangkok and Nong Kai is still on and I am looking forward to taking long, cool evening walks along the Nong Khai waterfront promenade that looks out across the Mekong River to Laos.
This morning, even my sugar levels and blood pressure were better than they have been in weeks, so all in all, I think it really is time for some cautious optimism.
I don’t have to tell you how much this has improved my mood, and I am already thinking about becoming more active in the home, rather than being permanently stuck to my computer chair and TV sofa. I actually want to get up and so something useful.
I am now dreaming about a time in the New Year when I might even be able to do a bit of jogging….
Yesterday, I had a call from a car dealer in Bangkok who said he had a buyer for my car and wanted to see it in Pattaya that day. I quickly re-arranged my plans for the day, sorted out all the car papers, took the car for a wash and drove to the agreed meeting point in Pattaya for the afternoon inspection.
Five minutes before the appointed time, the dealer called and said that his buyer could not make it and requested to reschedule for the next day – today.
Whether or not he is playing games with me to try and drive the price down, I have no idea, but I don’t really care. I have no great desire to sell, and I am not prepared to be messed around by effing farangs who break appointments with impunity. So I have told the dealer to forget it.
I still have it advertised on Thai Visa and another expat website in Bangkok, so I’ll see what happens in the New Year, but if it isn’t sold by the end of January, I’ll probably take it off the market and keep it for another couple of years or so.
I have just finished reading John Le Carré’s ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ (see review below) and have now started reading something very different; Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness.’
Our Kind of Traitor
One of my all-time favourite authors, John le Carré, seems to be back to something approaching his best, at the ripe old age of 79. ‘Our Kind of Traitor’, published last year, is a welcome return to his more familiar ‘British espionage’ genre, peppered with wonderfully crafted, typically ‘Le Carré’ characters and a relevant, topical plot, which for the most part has sufficient credibility to hold the reader’s attention.
Hand on heart, I can’t honestly say that it’s quite up to the standard of some of his best works, notably, ‘The Spy who came in from the cold’, the ‘Tinker/Smiley’ series, ‘Perfect Spy’, ‘Night Manager’, ‘Little Drummer Girl’ and a few notable others, but it’s a good yarn nevertheless.
The book seems to have been generally well received by the world’s press, and most agree with my view that it is a welcome return to the Le Carré of old.
The only issue I have with the book relates to the ending. Obviously I am not going to give the plot away, so I will simply say that, to me, it is almost as if he lost interest, and in my view the end is a bit of a ‘cop out’.
I feel that if he is going to write an absorbing story that will hold his readers’ attention, then he owes it to his readers to wrap up the events in some kind of satisfactory manner. That doesn’t mean it has to be a ‘happy ending’ – or indeed a ‘sad ending’ – but frankly, in ‘Traitor’, it is almost as though the final chapter is still waiting to be written.
I hasten to add that this is purely my opinion, as no one else has seen fit to take him to task over it – but there again, they are professional reviewers with maybe a slightly different literary perspective – I am just in it for the fun and enjoyment of reading a good book.
The Flood aftermath
I have already written that I believe that Thailand will probably suffer some short term adverse effects to its economic growth, but in the long term, in all likelihood, its economy will recover completely and probably go from strength to strength.
This is because all the underlying fundamentals for a thriving economy are still in place and once they carry out the necessary infrastructure investments to ensure there is no repeat of the 2011 floods, then the world will once again be their ‘oyster’ with their growing industrial based exports, agricultural and commodity exports and ever flourishing tourist industry.
The ‘fly in the ointment’ has been the horrendous floods and as the water finally recedes, serious action must be undertaken if the economy is to get back on course. Failure to act quickly and decisively will result in a damaging economic slowdown.
But in the final analysis, it is the world’s reinsurance companies who will call the tune. Thailand’s key manufacturing auto and electronic industries are largely owned by Japanese and South Koreans. These international conglomerates have invested heavily in plants in Thailand, but they will not continue to operate their factories if they are unable to obtain adequate flood insurance.
The availability of flood insurance cover will depend on whether or not the major re insurers of the world are willing to take on, (i.e. re-insure the local insurance companies), up to 90 % of the underlying flood risk.
Without re-insurers’ participation, there is no insurance cover, and if the businesses are uninsurable, the Japanese industrial giants will move elsewhere. The re-insurers have already put Thailand on notice that they will not take on new flood risks unless action is taken to introduce and build effective flood prevention controls.
So it is clear that the government must indeed take urgent action, and I believe that they understand all this very well. The only problem is that most governments, and the Thai government is no exception, are only interested in short termism.
The investment required to ensure Thailand’s industry is flood proof will be enormous by any standards. Will this government have the courage to do what is necessary, or will they simply continue to feather their own little nests, and trust that the future will take care of itself?
There is much to commend the notion that in Thailand there is always a huge enthusiasm to launch major infrastructure projects, as they provide the ruling elite with so many opportunities to skim the ‘cream’ off the top of lucrative construction contracts.
But a word of warning: these days, there are so many people and organisations in Thailand of all political hues, who are fully aware of the potential for corruption and corrupt practices, that the fear of getting caught with their ‘hands in the cookie jar’ may outweigh the politicians’ passion for grafting easy money.
We shall no doubt watch it all play out over the coming months.
In the meantime, in the flood aftermath, the Japanese electronics giant, Sanyo, recently gave a salutary warning to Thailand on the kind of action to which they may increasingly become victim.
The company says it will lay off about 1,600 workers and close its plant in Thailand permanently. Sanyo Semiconductor (Thailand), which has operated since 1990 producing semiconductors, transistors and large-scale integrated circuits, has decided that it would have to spend too much money repairing or replacing the flood-damaged machinery.
It was determined that given the severity of the flood damage to the production facilities Sanyo ‘operates in Thailand, and the excessive cost required to recover and reconstruct these facilities, it is not financially viable for them to fully restart the assembly and test operations in Thailand for an indefinite period, if at all.
Sanyo Semiconductor (Thailand) is a business unit of US-based ON Semiconductor Corporation. The disruption at Ayutthaya’s Rojana Industrial Park had an impact on the supply chain of ON Semiconductor worldwide.
Sanyo’s Thai operations are estimated to have produced about 5-10 per cent of ON Semiconductor’s worldwide output as measured by revenue of US$905.8 million (Bt27.92 billion) for the second quarter of this year.
The bulk of the company’s Thailand operations will be permanently transferred to other existing ON Semiconductor facilities that have available production equipment capacity and excess floor space, and to some external subcontractors as appropriate.
The Sanyo Semiconductor case confirmed the concern expressed by Thailand’s Electrical and Electronics Institute that some electronics companies would leave Thailand because of the damage they sustained from flooding.
The Institute is keeping an eye on whether other electronics plants decide to close and flee Thailand because of the disaster.
The Sanyo decision follows that of Maxon Systems, a South Korean electronics firm, which recently decided to move one of its operations to Cambodia to avoid the planned rise in the Thai minimum wage to Bt300 per day in April, as well as uncertainty over future floods.
The institute said it was not clear whether other electronics companies would close their operations, as some of them were still evaluating the damage from the floods.
It is expected to be a month or two before a clear picture develops. Electronics companies are currently evaluating the damage, so the result of that assessment should come soon.
The Thai electronics industry employs 500,000-600,000 workers.
Let’s hope the government acts quickly and decisively…….
A Lustful Gentleman
For those of you who may be wondering, I have I have written another small piece of Chapter two, but I have decide to publish these ‘tracts’ on days other than my normal blog days, just to keep the blog going and not have my ‘best work’ hidden’ at the foot of a long blog!
So tomorrow, or maybe on Friday, I will publish some more of my novel in progress.
I am driving to Bangkok on Sunday so I doubt whether I will publish a blog on that day. An alternative may be to write it on Saturday, but I’m making no promises. If all else fails I will write my next blog once I am settled in the north-eastern kingdom of Nong Khai….
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!..