In today’s blog:
Mobi-Babble – Still in the grip of a bitter winter, but Spring is just around the corner
Family Visas Update – Still waiting but a chink of light??
Tales from A Barfly – News on some New Creative Writing from the Pen of Mobi.
Mobi’s Life of Drinking – Part 3 – the final part of my story relating my struggles with alcohol.
Pics from a nearby Nong Khai tobacco plantation, Leks resident cattery, and Stone, Staffordshire.
Mobi-Babble – 9th February 2018
So far, 2018 has been bleak and cold. It has been a bitter winter back here in England, with temperatures dropping below zero on most nights and a fair bit of snow. Apart from the odd mild day, the infamous British weather has maintained its reputation for being unremittingly disagreeable. Every day I shiver in my boots, but my spirits are lifted in the knowledge that spring is just around the corner.
It is one of the true wonders of nature that even while the snow is thick underfoot and the wind is whistling around my ears, I can see green shoots appearing on the bare branches of the trees and bushes. If there is a God out there, he hasn’t totally forsaken mankind – at least not yet.
Last week, on one of the most miserable days of a miserable winter, I ventured out in my trusty little Peugeot 107 to the wilds of flat Lincolnshire near the mouth of The Wash. I went there to attend the funeral of a friend I first knew back in the 1950s and who I last saw 7 years ago in Northumberland when I was on a visit to the UK.
When I arrived at the crematorium the sun was shining and I thought that Roy’s family had chosen a lovely day to consign their favorite son to the great beyond. But as soon as I ventured out of my lovely warm car, the ice-cold wind almost blew me over and I soon retreated back from whence I had come.
It wasn’t just me. I was early, and I sat in my car for the next thirty minutes, watching others arrive. It was somewhat comforting to see that I wasn’t the only one to run back to my car to seek protection from the horrendous conditions.
Eventually, I joined the mourners in the crematorium and was quite astonished to find that so many people had come to mourn the passing of my dear friend. The chapel was jam-packed and there was a huge overflow standing at the back. People who had known Roy had traveled from all over the country to attend the service; it was a fitting tribute to a wonderful man who had led a very full life and was loved and respected by so many. His wife and family must have taken much comfort from this outpouring of feeling.
The return journey back to relative civilization – to my eldest daughter’s place in Birmingham – was a bit of a nightmare. For the first hour of the journey, the sun had disappeared behind dark clouds, the heavens opened and the single track, potholed roads started to flood.
Night descended before I made it back to decent roads, but my relief was short-lived. The traffic-snarled M6 motorway, which had finally loomed out of the night storms, led me inexorably towards Birmingham’s evening rush hour, where I was seemingly bogged down forever.
If it wasn’t for Mr. Google and his trusty maps, I would probably still be shunting around Birmingham’s never-ending urban sprawl.
Family Visa Update
We are all still waiting for the result of our visa applications and it won’t surprise you to learn that it is really starting to get all of us down. As we hadn’t heard anything by mid-January, (which was the expiry of the ’60 working days’ immigration benchmark), I decided to make a call to the Sheffield Immigration call center.
These people charge £1.32 a minute to call them, and after I had connected with an Indian who I could barely understand, I concluded that I was almost certainly speaking to someone in India. I was on the phone for ages as everything had to be repeated several times. He asked me a whole load of questions before we got to the crux of the matter – what was the status of my visa applications?
It transpired that the Sheffield center considered that my application had been duly ‘actioned’ within their target 60 WORKING days, because on 17th January, they had requested the agent to send some “missing documents” – which they had lost in the first place. The call center guy told me I might have to wait up to another 15 WORKING days before they will look at the file again. The call cost me over 30 quid! It’s all very depressing.
Anyway, this week we had a bit of good news. Sheffield sent an email to my agent with a request for me to pay the outstanding NHS fee for my stepdaughter, which I paid the same day. We have been waiting for this request to pay since mid-January, and the agent assured me that now it has been paid, we should hear the result of our applications next week.
I have heard this story before, so I’ll believe it when I see it.
Tales from A Barfly – Some New Creative Writing from the Pen of Mobi.
After a long break, I have started writing creatively again. I’m not writing any more novels, as they take too long to write, and it is pretty clear that my style of writing and my subject matter do not interest the modern-day readership.
Selling only a few hundred copies after working on a novel for anything up to a year is not exactly encouraging. I now accept that I am never going to sell many novels, but I still have the desire to write. So I am going back to the genre I first tried some 18 years ago – short stories.
Some of you may recall that back in 2014 I decided to buy and run a bar in Pattaya. I had many memorable moments – some happy and some not so happy – during the six months I owned the bar.
For the record, I gave up the bar because it was proving to be a massive drain on my health, and not because the venture was a failure. I won’t claim it was a raving success either, but we did make enough money to pay the bills and I am sure that if I had stuck at it, it would have grown into a successful little business. But it wasn’t to be – my health came first.
I will never forget those magical six months, and in particular, all the people I met – good and bad. I made many new friends, some of which I still correspond with to this day, and not a few enemies who tried to ruin my business and get me arrested, which is the nature of the bar business in Thailand.
But my brief career in the bar business provided me with some rich, hair-raising incidents and I met many fascinating characters, all of which I can now convert into stories. I have already written the first story, and it will be published in my next blog.
I have no idea how many stories I will write, or whether one day I might put them into a short story collection and put it for sale on Amazon. But the main reason I am writing them is just for fun and to hopefully provide some light amusement to my blog readers.
So keep a lookout for my next blog, as it will contain my very first ‘fictional’ barfly story –“Fearless Freddy and the Pink Pussy Club.”
Mobi’s Life of Drinking, Part 3 (Final) –10th February 2018
I will now conclude my tale of how I finally made the transition from a practicing alcoholic to a recovering alcoholic.
From 2004 to 2009 I lived with an unfaithful wife who was also a binge-drinking alcoholic who made my life a total misery.
During the 5 years of this marriage, I made several serious attempts to leave her – I once left her for over a month – but I always ended up going back to her. Each time she would promise to behave and change her life around. I was still totally besotted with her and she knew it, so all she had to do was to smile her beatific smile, tell me that she loved me, needed me, and would change her behavior and I was slap bang back in the nightmare.
It was at this time that some friends introduced me to “Alcoholics Anonymous” in Pattaya and I started to go to regular meetings – usually every day. I made new friends at AA, and during the early months, I made a lot of progress in my attempts to quit drinking for good. I accepted the AA teachings and I believed that the 12 steps could work for me. I even started to accept that there was a “Higher Power” who would ultimately help me to find the “true path.”
I suppose I was ready to accept their philosophy because I was desperate and was in a very vulnerable mental state.
Blog pics – Cats Misbehaving, Nong Khai’s Tobacco industry, and a chilly Stone in Staffs
Once more the pics below are mainly from Nong Khai in Thailand, but I did manage to shoot a few snaps on a recent, very chilly trip to Stone in Staffordshire (near Stoke)