‘1984’ – Thai Style.

Mobi-Babble

I have avoided mention of all my myriad medical conditions in recent months, as there has been quite enough to complain… err…write about… without resorting to yet more tomes on Mobi’s ails.

But my latest medical problem has now reached the point where I can no longer remain silent.

It all started late one evening, 2 days before we left Thailand for our trip to the UK.  I experienced the most excruciating pains at the top of my abdomen, which lasted for well over 4 hours and it is no exaggeration to say that I was in absolute agony. (Yes, even worse than my heart surgery, and on that occasion I just wanted to die!). I was pretty sure it wasn’t heart related, and all indications were that it was an acute attack of indigestion, even though I had never experienced anything like it before. The pain eventually started to subside at around 5 a.m. and I fell asleep, totally exhausted.

The next day I stocked up on indigestion medication and assumed it was a ‘one-off’ aberration and thought no more about it.

Fast forward to my trip to England.

I had been in the UK for just over 2 weeks and was staying at my elder daughter’s home in Nuneaton when I had another attack. If it were possible, this attack was even worse than the one I had in Pattaya and my family were so concerned that they took me to the emergency room  at the local hospital.

The hopsital staff then spent the next 2 hours convincing themselves that my problem wasn’t heart related. To be fair, they took one look at my chest scar and positively panicked when I told them I had a metal heart valve. Eventually the duty doc put it down to indigestion and gave me some meds and told me to go home and sleep it off. By this time I had been in hospital for over 4 hours and the pain had more or less subsided.

They also insisted in making an appointment for me to go to the anti-coagulation committee as one the many blood tests they had taken indicated my blood was a tad too thin, caused by the daily dose of warfarin (rat poison) I take to counter the effects of my artificial heart valve. I ask you? An anti-coagulation committee??? Sounds like something from ‘Ever Deceasing Circles’….

Two days later, I was back in hospital again, with yet more excruciating pains. This time I saw a different doctor, and after he had examined the records of my previous visit, he gave my abdomen a sharp squeeze in an area on the right side, just below my rib cage and I nearly jumped through the ceiling – the pain was so intense.

‘Gall stones’ he told me. Probably stuck in the bile duct. You need to have an ultra sound, and if I’m correct, the gall bladder needs to come out.’

It transpired that there was no way that poor old Mobi – as a visitor to the shores of his birth – could be given an ultra sound, or any other manner of ‘sound’ without his GP ordering it. And I couldn’t get a GP because I was non-resident.

Sort of catch-22.

(In case any of you may be wondering, I paid full governemnt  national health contributions and a very considerable amount of tax for my entire working life up to the age 60, when I took retirement. But because I have lived outside the UK for over 3 years, and have consequently placed a zero burden on the UK social services, I am now only entitled to the absolute minimum of basic emergency medical treatment – enough to get me on a plane and out of the country – and my tiny state pension is frozen in time for ever more.)

I told the doc I was returning to Thailand in 6 days’ time, and asked if there was anything he could prescribe that would stabilise the situation until I got home. (I was having visions of having a gallstone attack on the plane and being hauled off the plane in Moscow and stranded there, along with young Ed Snowden.)

He understood the situation perfectly and dosed me up on acid-busters, and pain killers par excellence, which I have continued to buy and take since returning to Thailand.

Fast forward to Pattaya.

I was back in Pattaya about 4 weeks before I had the first recurrence. This was after I decided I was probably cured and that it was time to reduce the dosage of meds. It turned out to be a bad error of judgement and even taking ultra-strong pain killers, I was still up all night in pain. I quickly reverted to the original dose and realised that I had better do something about it  if I didn’t want to take these meds for the rest of my life.

Since then I have been having attacks with increasing regularity and now have them more or less every other day – even with all the meds.

So last Tuesday Noo took me to Queen Sirikit naval hospital at Sattahip and after hanging around for most of the day, I saw a specialist who ordered an ultra sound which I had yesterday, (Saturday). I will see the specialist again next Tuesday.

He has told me that if the diagnosis is confirmed I will need to have my gall bladder removed by laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. I was relieved to be told that it wouldn’t be done by general surgery, (cut open my stomach), as I had been led to believe that keyhole surgery was only done in the major private hospitals. He told me that because of my cardiac history, there would need to be a cardiologist standing by and if there were any complications, they might have to open me up.

I’ll face that bridge when I come to it – or they will, coz I’ll be out cold.

More on this next week….

 

 

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… Part 4

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After our day out to Dungeness, and a trip on one of the world’s smallest working railway, we woke up the following morning to the sight of real English rain – remarkably, our first experience of wet weather since arriving in the motherland.

A quiet day at home was in order, but somehow or other we became persuaded to make the short trip to down town Tonbridge, despite the rain. After all, if you wait for the rain to stop in England before you go anywhere, you might have to wait a very long time.

Tonbridge is an old Kentish town with a fair bit of history (which I won’t bore you with), and despite the mass pub closures throughout the land, it  is still blessed with a grand assortment of drinking establishments, like the two pictured above.

Just off the town centre are the remains of 900 year old  Tonbridge castle, which stands next to a very pleasant public park adorned with flower beds, some very grand old trees, and even the occasional squirrel.

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Undeterred by the  rain, we wandered down to the river Medway, which splits Tonbridge town centre into two. We were surprised to encounter a few of Kent’s finest youth who had managed to drag themselves away from their video games and Facebooks long enough to do something in the real world – like messing around in boats on a wet English summer’s day.

 

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I’m not an architect or anything approaching an expert on buildings, but if this isn’t a good example of utterly forgettable English 1960’s architecture, then I don’t know what is….

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Back in the high street, the rain had finally ceased, and we sat in the waiting area of a high street bank for a while as Sid did a bit of banking. Noo had to fend off sales staff who seemed determined to persuade her to open a bank account! They must be desperate for business.

I wonder what the difference is between American and English Nails?

Note that Noo was still obsessed with English fruit, especially delicious blackberries…

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The next day, the sun was back, and we decided to spend a few hours in nearby Tunbridge Wells.

But before making the short trip to TW, my train-obsessed brother insisted on a brief detour. It transpired that he is a volunteer at a local train society which runs steam trains for fun along a section of disused Kentish railway track. There is even a disused train station where enthusiasts while away their spare time, playing at being ticket collectors, station masters and signalmen.

Sid insisted on showing us around ‘his’ station, Groombridge by name, which we all found absolutely fascinating….well, some of the flowers were, anyway….

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Thence to Tunbridge Wells, and the historic ‘Pantiles’.

Do you think Noo was trying to drop a hint?

I can’t honestly say that I was particularly enthused by the early17th Century, spring, but I did quite like the ancient-looking sun dial, which I suspect is a lot more modern than it looks.

Tunbridge Wells  town centre is a pleasant little place and, as befitting a town in the ‘garden of England’, flowers abound.

 

 

Mobi-Bytes

‘1984’ – Thai Style.

If George Orwell had been writing his ‘Big Brother’ masterpiece in today’s world of social media gone mad, I wonder if he might have written about certain quasi-totalitarian states cracking down on Facebook ‘crimes’?

In 1984 there were ‘thought’ crimes.

In 2013, in Thailand there are ‘like’ crimes.

Below, in an exclusive interview with the Nation Newspaper, the Police commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division defends his agency against criticism over its threat to take legal action against Facebook users who “like” certain messages of a political nature. 

Q : Is clicking “like” on Facebook  now against the law.

A: It will be if you ‘like’ a message deemed damaging to national security. If you press ‘like’, it means you are accepting that message, which is tantamount to supporting it. By doing so, you help increase the credibility of the message and hence you should also be held responsible.

Q : Is this rule the same in other countries?

A: This has nothing to do with foreign countries, because they have different laws. We are taking preventive measures in dealing with this matter. Others may use the principle of law but we use the principle of political science.

Q : Do you think the police have the right to do this?

A: I don’t know. But believe me; I can take legal action against you. The Penal Code and the Computer Crime Act can be applied in this matter.

Q : Which message of the four people summoned by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) was deemed unlawful?

A: Basically they talked about the possibility of a coup, which is groundless and is clearly against the Computer Crime Act. The TCSD action is just meant to have a psychological impact. We don’t want these four persons to be jailed. We just questioned them and it’s okay for them to say they didn’t mean to create panic. After this action, people are now more careful about their Facebook messages. I am mainly aiming at social peace.

Q: So you mean from now on, people can’t click ‘like’?

A: I’m not prohibiting anyone from pressing ‘like’. But if you ‘like’ this kind of message, you will be arrested.

Q : What about “sharing” such a message?

A: There are two kinds of sharing. If you share in a way to support the original message, this is wrong. But if you comment against the message, this is okay.

Q : Will this rule be applied to all cases?

A: We will just focus on cases of political violence. If you don’t prevent it, bad news will be covered by foreign media and confidence in Thailand will be affected.

Q : There has been a campaign that “liking is not a crime”.

A: It’s okay for people to “like” a Facebook page. But they can’t ‘like’ rumours any more. I think I have achieved my goal.

Q : Is the TCSD action intended as a threat?

A: No. We work without any bias about the political colours. Two of those summoned were red shirts, another is a white mask. The last one is Thai PBS editor.

Q : How did the TCSD go about this case?

A: I have a team here [at TCSD] and at the Royal Thai Police HQ. Our team searched for certain keywords and we found posts by these four persons. It was not difficult. We didn’t have a particular watch list.

Q : Do you think police will be criticised for this action?

A: It’s okay. I just do my work and I have achieved my goal.

 

 

 

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… Part 3 (The Nuclear option?)

Mobi-Babble

Of mad dogs and madder Brits….

It truly saddens me to report, yet again, that some of the worst dregs of British society seem to somehow end up in Pattaya and its environs.

Here’s what happened.

On most evenings, Noo and I take our 4 dogs for a walk around the lake and then  along  the village  streets, inside our estate, where we live. We have been doing this for about 3 years, and apart from one belligerent Brit who lived outside  our village who seemed convinced that the only place we took our dogs to walk was the public area in front of his house, (where, according to him, they all defecated ), and a maverick pit-bull who occasionally used to escape from his yard and spread fear and terror over all who ventured near him, our evening strolls have pretty much passed without incident.

(I should add that I subsequently explained to the aforementioned belligerent Brit that we were not targeting his house as a doggy toilet and that in fact his house was part of a long walk, lasting over 20 minutes, whereupon he backed off and apologised. The pit-bull has long since disappeared up its own snarling snout after my doughty Somchai, – the shih-tszu with the Mitzu – chased him away with blood curdling yaps….)

Fast forward to a few days back when we were walking with the dogs  past a house in our estate which we must have passed on hundreds of previous occasions, when we were suddenly assailed from within the garden by what I can only describe as a deranged, rabid Brit. (Sorry folks… truly, most of them are Brits…) He screamed and shouted at the top of his lungs, telling us to keep our dogs away from his house and to never bring them round that way again.

Shocked out of our sleepy somnolence, we stopped and looked at the red-faced, demented farang and asked him what his problem was. He accused us of shouting at his dogs every time we passed his house and that if we ever came that way again we would be sorry.

I should explain that the house boasted two of the most microscopic, non-descript dogs I have ever laid eyes on, and every time we pass his massively fortified iron gate, these little rats push their noses under the small gap at the bottom of the gate and bark their little heads off. The predictable result of this disturbance is to set off our own little pack of Mobi-pooches in a chorus of howls, whereupon we shout stern instructions to our own dogs to back off and desist, and  continue our walk past the house.

We tried in vain to explain to the spluttering, hate-consumed, mad-man that we were shouting at our own dogs, not his, but he wasn’t having it and continued to make dire threats to us and our dogs. In the end there was no point in continuing the exchange, as by this time, even my mild mannered little Noo was yelling words of abuse in English that I never knew existed  in her vocabulary.

Having delivered our dogs back  home, Noo and I resolved to return to the scene of the fracas and see if we couldn’t have it out with this nut case – man to mad-man.

We rang the bell at his front gate.

‘What do you want?’

‘Good evening, do you have a moment?’

After a few moments the guy appeared with one hand behind his back, obviously concealing something.

‘Can we have a chat and clear the air? Quite frankly, we have no idea what we have done to upset you.’

‘You come round here shouting at my dogs, and if you do that again you will regret it!’

‘We weren’t  shouting at your dogs – we were shouting at our own –why on earth would we shout at your dogs?’

‘If you bring your dogs around here again you’ll be sorry!’

‘Why, what will you do?’

‘You wait and see.’

‘Look, we came round here to try and resolve this issue with you like civilised people…’

‘There’s nothing to resolve – keep away from here or you will be sorry!’

And so it went on….  We were getting nowhere, so after telling the nutter that we had every intention of walking wherever we pleased with our dogs, we gave up trying to reason with him.

As we started to walk away, he revealed what he had been concealing  in his hand – none other than a large, black hand gun….which he waved at us and continued to make barely veiled  threats at the top of his voice.

We walked back home, pondering our next move. It is one thing to have a little local dispute over some barking dogs, but quite another when someone starts waving guns around.

For sure, there was no way that this Brit held a licence for a gun. Not knowing what else to do, we called the ‘Chairperson’ of the village who hurried round to the man’s house and confronted the would-be gunman. He told her that the gun was a fake and she told him that even if it was fake, (which we all doubt), he had no business waving at people who had done no wrong. He shouted at her that she was on our side and not his!

At madam chairperson’s instigation, we decided to report him and his gun at the local police station. The station officer recorded all the details in his little book and gave us a copy of the police report.

Noo then asked him if he would send some cops  to the house to find out if the man had a licence for the gun and to arrest him for using it in an unlawful manner.

‘No’, said the officer, ‘we can only take action if he shoots someone.’

Well, we have continued to walk past his house every day with our dogs, and his two little rats have continued to bark at us as we pass his gate,  but sad to say, so far, no one has been shot.  So there’s little more we can do…

What is it about Pattaya that attracts such arseholes?

*

‘A Lust For Life’

I advised in last week’s blog that I had completed the revision of my novel, ‘A Lust for Life’, and I have now posted the latest version onto the blog. The revised novel is now written as a single, continuous  story of 39 chapters, and replaces the four-part novel that I previously posted.

As ever, all comments are welcome.

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… Part 3 (the nuclear option?)

After our first trip to London on 27th July, we returned to Sid’s house in Tonbridge, Kent, where we would stay for another week.

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The wonderful and strangely beautiful  20 year-old Manu was still providing us with endless moggy-poses. After surviving 20 years of Sid’s tender loving care, Manu wasn’t about to fluff it while we were on the case.

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I wouldn’t claim that Sid’s little street is  the most picturesque suburb I’ve ever seen, but it  has a certain charm.

Graced by the lovely Noo, his house and pretty  little back garden  evoke  memories of an era that I sense is slowly disappearing in modern, digitally-obsessed England.

Note that Noo continues to be  drawn to cherries and fauna.

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On Sunday 28th July, we had a grand family reunion and barbecue at Sid’s house.

Cousins, aunts, nieces and nephews and my own daughters turned up from the  far corners of the land to welcome the prodigal Mobi and his lovely partner to the old country. The weather was lovely and a good day was had by one an’ all.

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To say that Sid is a train fanatic would be an understatement.

He suddenly had this crazy idea that it would make a great day out to go to Dungeness  for the day and take pics of one of Britain’s Nuclear Power Stations. It didn’t sound very exciting to me, but I soon discovered why he wanted to go there….to ride on little trains of course.

So on Monday we set of early and drove to Hythe where we boarded the only fully ‘working’ miniature railway in the UK – possibly the whole world, for the longish trip to the Dungeness coast.

I can’t claim it was the most comfortable hour or so I’ve ever spent on a choo-choo – but it was certainly different!

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There they are, in all their glory???  A ‘brace’ of Nuclear power stations. 

Dungeness A is a legacy Magnox power station that was connected to the National Grid in 1965 and was de-commissioned in 2006.

Dungeness B is an advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) power station and is still churning out power for our TV’s, microwaves, fridges, and smart phone chargers. It consists of two 615 MW reactors, which began operations in 1983 and 1985 respectively. They have undergone a number of scheduled and unscheduled shut downs over the years and the station’s final closure date is set at 2018, 35 years after they first went on-line.

Dungeness C??? In 2009, Dungeness was included in a list of 11 potential sites for new nuclear power stations, at the request of the operators of Dungeness B. What say you? At least they are safe from tsunamis…but they said we were safe from hurricanes!

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I confess that I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I found at Dungeness. Sure it’s a bit bleak and wild, and I’m not too sure I would like to be out there on a cold, wet, wintry day, but the weather was glorious and there was something very magical about it all. The whole area is nature reserve.

 I hope that my humble photographs do justice to the beauty and remoteness of this unusual headland.

It never ceases to amaze me that wherever you may go in the British Isles, and no matter how isolated or inhospitable, you will invariably  find a few hardy souls who put down their roots and make it their home.

Just what the hell they find to do in a place like Dungeness beats the heck out of me…

And course no community, however remote,  would be complete without a typical British pub, where we all enjoyed a tasty pub lunch, before making the cramped choo-choo journey back to Hythe and thence to Tonbridge and civilisation…

More pics of ye olde country next week

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… Part 2 – 14 September 2013

September

Mobi-Babble

It’s been a busy week and I’ve been making good progress on a number of fronts.

As ever, a majority of my time was spent working on my novel and I am delighted to report at week’s end that I think I have finally put the bloody thing to bed! The revisions and re-working of the text is now finished and the completed work now stands at a slim 210,000 words, as compared to its previous 215,000.

But it hasn’t merely been a case of removing 5,000 superfluous words as the novel has undergone a major restructure in terms of the chronology of the events, (much fewer flash backs and ‘time-jumps’) , and there is hardly a sentence that hasn’t been re-worked, one way or another.

Gone are the previous 4 separate parts of the novel and it is now one continuous story comprising 39 chapters.

I believe the work I have put in over the past few months has made the novel a much better read, and certainly the text flows much smoother and all the cumbersome, convoluted text has now been removed.

Next week I will re-submit the manuscript to the agent who suggested the changes and I will also been sending it to some more agents/ publishers who are on my list. The revised version will be posted on my blog during the next week or so, and once that is done I will finally call time on what has been a very long and time consuming effort. It will be time to move on…. At last!! Phew!

*

Activity has continued on the house sale front and a couple of interested agents have been there to take photographs and have confirmed to me that they think the house will be of interest to their clients. Let’s see.

My pick-up has been rented out for over week now – so that’s bringing in a bit of income and dear Noo has even done a bit of taxi work in her little Nissan, including a couple of lucrative airport runs for friends and acquaintances, which has helped to pay a few bills.

*

My moods these days are much better as I come to terms with my current situation and stop dwelling on ‘what might have been’. In spite of everything that has happened, I am still in one piece and am now I am fit enough to take a brisk walk of up to an hour a day around the beautiful lake, near my home. I even started jogging a little yesterday – the first time in many months.

I live in a sunny paradise where I can take a dip in my private pool every day, I have a wonderful lady who takes care of me like a baby, four crazy dogs to play with and have plenty of activities to keep me satisfied, occupy my mind and hopefully ward off ‘mad cows disease’.

How long this situation will last is anyone’s guess. If the money runs out and I fail to sell the house and my other money making ideas come to nothing, then one day I may have to return to the UK. In the meanwhile I will continue to live the life of Riley – permanently on holiday in paradise – and I intend to enjoy it while it lasts. Maybe I am becoming imbued with Buddhist philosophy – live for today and not worry about tomorrow. Not a bad idea ….

 

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… Part 2

After a couple of days with my brother in Kent, we made our first of two trips to London, on what turned out to be a very, very hot day.

Sid, my brother, drove us to Tonbridge station, where Noo and I took a train to London Bridge.

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Walking out of the station, the first sight that hits you is the startling Shard , the tallest building in western Europe. There have been many complaints about the Shard spoiling the landscape of London, but to me every building simply adds new and exciting layers to what is already a heady and eclectic skyline.

After taking in our fill of The Shard, Lek insisted in posing next to the obligatory red phone box and then we walked through the glorious Hays’ galleria to the riverbank. In a former life, some 20 odd years ago, I used to have a luxury apartment in Hays, but Noo thought I was kidding when I tried to tell her….

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We headed off east and the views of the City’s ‘square mile’, the WW2 frigate, HMS Belfast, the Tower of London and of course Tower Bridge, ate up mega-bytes on our camera memory cards.

Noo has been an avid fan of ‘The Tudors’ on TV and was in awe when I pointed out the buildings where our ‘Enery had carried out so many of his dastardly deeds. I explained that even to this day, Englishmen are still permitted to lock up their recalcitrant wives in the Tower if they refused to toe the line, but I don’t think she believed me.

 

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We did an about turn at the tower and retraced our steps back to London Bridge.  On the return journey, the futuristic, new London town Hall, a giant marble black egg, (which egg-loving Noo insisting on hugging), the new ‘cheese cutter’ and another view of the square mile were amongst the many targets of our trusty cameras.  

To me, there is no finer city sky line in the world , with its mix of the ancient and modern, with many buildings, such as parts of the Tower of London nearly 1000 years old,  and others like Tower Bridge ,120 years old, and London Bridge a mere 40 years, (yes folks, I actually worked in the City when the previous London Bridge – now in Arizona – was still standing), and all the amazing 20th and 21st century buildings, (such as Lloyds, ‘The Gherkin’ and the ‘Cheese Cutter’), that abound in the city and its environs.

I reckon that Effing, tree-hugging Charlie boy doesn’t know what the SF he talking about!

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Back on the other side of London Bridge, we headed west to the Millennium Bridge, passing en route: a very strange looking drinking wagon full of boozers, a replica of the Cutty Sark, The ‘Clink Prison Museum’, (whatever that may be – I told Noo that’s where we put our wives before shipping them over to the Tower), Noo’s offering to a ‘season of plenty’, St Paul’s Cathedral in the far distance, the incredible reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and finally the famous, or should I say infamous Millennium Bridge.

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I told Noo the story of how the Millennium Bridge used to wobble and had to be closed for ages while the smartest architects and engineers in the world had to figure out why it was wobbling and how to fix it. I bet you Isambard Kingdom Brunel wouldn’t have had this problem.

After much coaxing she eventually agreed to put foot on the ‘wobbler’ and over we went towards St Paul’s, taking a few nice pics of the Thames downstream en route.

Although to some extent St Paul’s seems to be overwhelmed by the taller buildings that surround it, to my mind, the 400 year old building more than holds its own as  the ultimate Wren masterpiece. It is truly a magnificent structure and one of the finest places to view its approach it is by traversing the Millennium Bridge.

We decided to go inside whereupon Noo announced that she needed to go to the loo. 40 minutes later I was still awaiting her return, and purely out of  frustration, I took an illegal snap of the interior.

 I had visions of Noo roaming the London streets for days in search of sustenance, when just as all hope had faded, she magically appeared from nowhere and told me that she had to go down into the dungeons where she had encountered the longest queue to take a wee that she had ever seen in her entire life.

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After leaving St Paul’s, I treated Noo to her first ever underground journey and we took the tube from St Paul’s to Westminster.

It was getting very hot, but we pressed on and wandered around Parliament Square, taking the obligatory snaps of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (17th century), at Margaret’s Church (13th Century), and the nine hundred year old Westminster Abbey.

Whew! Doesn’t it make you feel young and insignificant!

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The sun was unremitting so we took the short walk into nearby St James’s Park where we collapsed in exhaustion and found some shade, luxuriating in the blissful floral environment.

Who would have believed the English climate could defeat us hardy folk from tropical Thailand?

But Noo loved the flora and fauna.

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Our batteries somewhat re-charged, we took a slow wander past Horse Guards Parade and then through St James’s Park towards Buckingham palace.

One of the best things about Blighty is its public parks. Wherever you are in the UK you will never be far away from the glorious green of lush English grass, the beautifully kept, multi-coloured flower beds and – my favourite – the incredible variety of  trees and bushes of every hue and of all shapes and sizes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Royal parks of London and the above selection of pics, barely does it justice – isn’t it just lovely?

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Finally, very hot and hungry, we arrived at Buck House. It was sods’ law that throughout our trek through London we had been assailed by food, but by the time our stomachs told us it was time to eat, the food had all but disappeared.

There was one very busy, very touristy, very expensive hot dog stall, at the edge of the park over-looking Buck House, so taking our lives in our hands we decided to eat the dubious looking ‘horse meat’ dogs, smothering them with mustard and ketchup to hide the taste.

I told Noo that she had to cross the road to take some close up pics of Lizzie’s pad , but she said she was too tired. ‘You go!’ she said.

Me go! She came all the way from Thailand to tell ME to go and see it!

A little bit of gentle persuasion mad her see the error of her ways, but as you can see from the pics, she wasn’t exactly smiling at this point of our long day out.

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We had planned to walk from Buck House to Trafalgar Square. Our hearts were willing but my legs were about to give out, so we made the shorter journey through Green park to Green Park underground station and from there took the tube to our destination.

I noticed that the Scots were collecting money to pay for their forthcoming independence and that the good burgomasters of London have seen fit to put the logo of the finest football team that ever existed on the spare plinth. (The Blue cockerel of Spurs – no less…).

Remarkably, the sun disappeared briefly and we were treated to a sudden and refreshing shower of rain which had the effect of scattering more than 2,000 tourists into the National Gallery for shelter. The gallery hadn’t been in such demand since their exhibition of Ruben’s voluptuous nudes, some years ago.

The Scots piper continued his efforts to fill the Scottish exchequer and yours truly found himself a welcome seat just inside the entrance hall of the National gallery. I told Noo to go and have a look and the ‘pictures’ and I would await her return. Take as long as you like, I assured her, as all I wanted to do after an exhausting day of walking across central London was to sit, and sit and sit.

I’ll never know what rooms she visited or what paintings she looked at or what she made of them, but by the time she returned, I was just about able to make the short walk to Charring Cross station where we took the next train  back to Sid’s place in Tonbridge.

It was a great day out and little Noo loved it.

 

 

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… and more…

Mobi-Babble

For those who are wondering, I’m trying to get back into a weekend blog publication schedule, hence the ten day break since my last blog.

I have been quite busy of late, getting the details of my house to Pattaya estate agents and working on the final edit of my novel.

I have been almost overwhelmed by the interest shown by agents I have contacted during the past week, as in the past they rarely even bothered to acknowledge my request for a listing, let alone express any desire to visit and photograph the property. But now, every agent I have contacted has called me within ten minutes to make an appointment to view the property. I don’t know whether this is due to an increase in the number of potential buyers, or the reduced price I am now asking, or maybe a combination of the two. Either way it is certainly a welcome development so wish me luck folks!

I am also making great strides in finishing off my book, and I am  getting through 2-3 chapters a day. I reckon I am now only a week away from completing this exercise after which,  I am still undecided whether to print off a copy and give it one final read, or just call it a day when  the current go-around is complete.

I will report back next week.

 

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country… and more… (Part 1)

We left Thailand on July 24th for our long planned trip to Blighty, and returned on 16th August, spending some 23 days in England followed by 2 weeks ‘vacationing’ back in Thailand going out most days  with my youngest daughter and her husband.

During the next few weeks I will relate my adventures through the countless pictures that we took, along with a few pithy, mainly light hearted comments.

I do hope you enjoy it, and today I will kick off by describing our departure from Thailand, our transit at Moscow airport, and the first couple of days with my brother in Tonbridge, Kent.

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My trusty mate Mick and his lovely lady picked us up from our home in Pattaya at the crack of dawn (5 a.m.!!!) and took us to the airport where we discovered that we were the only non-Russians who were flying to Moscow at such a crazy hour of the morning. It was a bit disconcerting that a vast majority had got up even earlier that we did. Or maybe they hadn’t slept.

We were feeling fresh and raring to go, whereas the rest of the passengers looked distinctly weary and hung-over; presumably dreading their return to the harsh world of Putin-dominated, modern day, totalitarian Russia.

We checked in without incident and were then somewhat confused by the badly signed new security system which required us to take an escalator aloft for the hand baggage, belt, shoes, and personal body checks, and  to make sure we weren’t carrying any bombs, guns, grenades or chemicals of mass destruction in our bottles of fake Calvin Klein deodorant. After retrieving my jeans from my ankles, we took the escalator back down to the departure floor to go through passport control.

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As you can see, Noo made it into the departure lounge for her first ever trip out of Thailand, and indeed her first ever flight. Not sure if the ‘Do not touch’ sign refers to the weird snake-type sculpture or the beautifully sculptured  Noo. I’ll settle for Noo.

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We had good seats (Window and aisle) and for the first time that I can recall I had an unobstructed view. Noo took to flying like a duck to water, and as you can see, was soon snapping away. The plane was packed to the gunnels but the friendly Russian cabin crew did a sterling job and we received two quite palatable meals on the first leg to Moscow. I did wonder how the staff seemed to instantly know that I wasn’t Russian as they all addressed me in nigh on unintelligible English. One of life’s great mysteries;don’t I look Russian??

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Transiting at Moscow commenced with yet more farce as once again we had to remove out belts, shoes, wallets, chastity garments and God knows what else. Supervising proceedings  was a short,  rotund, middle-aged Russian matriarch who shouted at every passenger in Russian to strip down and throw all their things in trays which were mysteriously hidden from view.

She gave the impression that she would instantly shoot anyone who failed to obey her incomprehensible instructions. Then one poor man, who had been so chastened by the x-ray and body search process that he forgot to collect his hand baggage at the other end. As he vanished into the departure lounge, chaos ensued. He was eventually dragged back and to everyone’s astonishment, the modern-day Rosa Klebb burst into paroxysms of laughter. She seemed to be saying: ‘What a silly-billy westerner, to forget his prized possessions. Whatever could have made him do such a thing!!’

We kept young Ed Snowdon company for 4 long hours at Moscow airport and it was only at the last possible moment that a dementia-ridden Mobi realised that we had been sitting in the wrong terminal. We had to hot-foot it for bloody miles and almost missed our plane.

We arrived bang on time at Heathrow. There was a new system for Brits and I had to put my passport into a do-it-yourself scanning machine.

‘Just like at Tescos’ the three giggling immigration  officers told me as they stood and watched exhausted passengers trying to cope with the latest multi-billion pound immigration technology. I had to put my passport in 3 times – the last time assisted by one of the grinning officers when the entrance gate suddenly swished open and I was back in the land of my birth.

I quickly sought out Noo, who had just reached the front of the queue in the ‘non-EU’ line. She handed the officer the papers that I had carefully prepared for her which roughly said:

‘Hello, I am Noo, I am here for a holiday with my partner Mobi and I promise faithfully not to over-stay and never to engage in prostitution – well not for financial gain any way….. (or words to that effect)…

The immigration officer looked at Noo and then spotted me waiting at the barrier and beckoned me over – back into no-man’s land again. We had a long chat and I assured her that we really did live in Thailand and had far more to lose than gain by not returning to our home in the sun. She gave me some long hard looks and decided that I must be telling the truth and eventually let us in.

(Don’t forget that this was after a three month visa application process in Thailand in which we had to provide two tons of documents, including our life histories and details of our financial transactions since birth, including the days when my Dad used to put a shilling a week in my post office savings book and Noo’s parents put fifty stang a month into her china monkey piggy bank.)

By some miracle, our bags were already on the carousel, and despite the slight delay at immigration, I have to say this was the quickest I have ever got out of Heathrow. My brother, Sid and his wife of nearly fifty years were waiting for us and in no time flat we were whisked off to their home in Tonbridge, Kent where we were to spend the first 10 days of our stay.

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It was July, the weather had been great and Tonbridge was a profusion of summer grass, shrubs and flowers. We went for a walk in Suburban Tonbridge and Noo found a letter box on the local green.

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Back at Sid’s place, some professional photographers had arrived to do a piece on him for the Daily telegraph. He had been very active as a volunteer for the London Olympics and I think the article was along the lines of ‘Where are they now… (if not already dead)…’ or something like that. Clearly Sid was still alive, but barely… having not removed his Olympic uniform for almost 12 months!

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Noo fell in love with the family cat, Manu, although I know not why this ancient moggy was given such a strange name, as Sid, like Mobi, is a lifelong Spurs supporter. The elderly and enchanting Manu, has reached the incredible age of 20, which in catty years, makes her even older than Fergie – also of Manu fame. But Moggy Manu has nine lives, whereas Manu footy managers are only allowed six defeats before they are confined to the footy pooper scoopers of history.

 

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Noo also fell in love with English fruit…..

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The weather was holding up well, so the next day Sid suggested we go down to the coast for the day. I thought maybe Brighton (which I love) or even Eastbourne and Beachy Head, the infamous suicide spot, (I like those kind of places).

He insisted on Hastings, which to me only brought back memories of a terrible holiday I had once spent with a previous wife some 25 years ago when we had driven to Hastings on a freezing cold, stormy afternoon. On that occasion I decided that Hastings was truly the arse’ole of British seaside resorts.

Anyway, at Sid’s insistence I was prepared to give it another go and it turned out to be a very pleasant day out. Sid is a train fanatic, so instead of driving down to the south coast he took us to a station in Kent called Wadhurst, (no, I’d never heard of it either…) and off we went on our choo choo to Hastings.

Despite the pebbly beaches, I reluctantly confess that Hastings had a certain charm – especially on a hot summer’s day. It can’t be all that bad, as it is the setting for the wonderful ‘Foyles War’ TV detective series, which has become one of my all-time favourite crime dramas.

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There was a time when I could never have ridden in a cable car or in the cab of a funicular railway, and I even used to dread using many glass walled lifts, always shutting my eyes tightly during the scary trips.

I cured my vertigo and terror of heights some years back when I was in Canada with my family. I was faced with the choice of waiting on one side of a terrifying gorge all day long while my family took the cable car over to a village tourist spot, or gathering up my courage and going with them. I chose the latter and forced myself to keep my eyes open and ever since then, I have been pretty much cured. Going in the ‘deep-end’ really did work for me.

So this pissy little funicular in Hastings held no terrors and the views from the top were quite spectacular, although I did worry that Sid was trying to get off with Noo….

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I must have eaten the largest plate of fish and chips I’ve ever had in my life at the aptly name ‘Mermaid Restaurant ‘before we made the weary journey back to Hastings station, and thence to Wadhurst.

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As you will see as my odyssey continues, Noo’s obsession with cats and fruit is more than outweighed by her obsession with English flora and fauna. Above is a small selection of flora that we encountered during our first couple of days in England.

Next week, our first of two trips to London… and more….