Jomtien, 18th February, 2010.

Still drinking, I’m afraid. More on this tomorrow.


AZZY – MY LOVE (Part 5)

The next leg of my journey, from the banks of the Niger River, to Enugu, the former capital of secessionist Biafra, was quite memorable, to say the least.

My battered old station wagon was being towed by an even more battered and ancient truck, which rattled along the bomb- scarred road, belching out thick, black smoke from an engine that sounded as though it would give up the ghost at any moment.

Progress was painfully slow – I doubt if we ever exceeded a speed of around twenty miles an hour, and for much of the time we travelled considerably slower, stopping frequently; either at road blocks or to remove obstacles that were littering the road and impeding our progress.

As we neared our destination, the physical appearance of the local populace we saw along the road became forever worse. Skeletal figures, often with large distended stomachs were either sitting forlornly by the roadside or walking slowly along in an aimless fashion, presumably in search of sustenance. It was a shocking and depressing sight – so many starving people, many of whom would undoubtedly die before help reached them.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I also started to see an increasing number of corpses – some of them on the road itself, but mostly they were in the road-side ditches, presumably having been dumped there to clear the roads for vehicular traffic.

Some of the dead were plainly the result of starvation, as I discerned that many of the bodies were in an extremely emaciated condition, with virtually just “kin and bones” holding them together, while others were evidently war victims, with gruesome injuries, missing limbs and so forth.

The ‘fog of war’ was becoming a startling reality for young Mobi, fresh from so-called civilized London.

It was dark by the time we finally rolled into war-ravaged Enugu. Many of the buildings were in a state of semi collapse; the roads were strewn with starving people, some looking more dead than alive, and an air of misery, and despair seemed to pervade the whole town.

We ground to a stop outside a small building, just off the main road, and my two drivers proceeded to disengage their tow rope from the front of my car. I got out and asked them where I was supposed to stay for the night and they pointed to the building next my car.

Upon closer inspection, I realised that the building was a small guest house and bar, but it looked empty, abandoned. I asked them if it was open and they nodded to the affirmative, so I went over to the front door and walked inside.

There was a very primitive bar inside where I saw a few Nigerian soldiers sitting, imbibing the local beer. I also observed a few extremely thin girls sitting around at dirty, ramshackle tables. I assumed the guest rooms were at the back, behind the bar.

I retraced my steps to the car to get my bag and see what my drivers were planning to do for the night. To my dismay, I was just in time to see the truck driving away. I yelled out to them. They probably didn’t hear me but if they did, took no notice and they disappeared from sight in the black Enugu night.

I was all alone in a lawless town, full of drunken, federal soldiers and a desperate, frightened, starving local population.

My lifetime motto must be “fools rush in…”.

All I could think of was having a drink, so I returned to the bar with my bag and ordered a beer, and asked them if they had a room. They did indeed but it was a sorry affair. It was a tiny, dirty, smelly, windowless room with a disgusting looking, wafer-thin mattress laid out on the concrete floor.

It was more akin to a prison cell than a hotel room, but it was all they had, so I had little choice – either sleep in the car, where I would get eaten alive by mosquitoes and maybe robbed or even killed; or take the room, which hopefully would offer me some protection from both the insects of the night, and potential criminals.

Back at the bar, I downed a few beers and ate some dreadful Nigerian food which I had great trouble in keeping down. The soldiers were wsere becoming very  tipsy, and after a short while one of them came over, clapped me on the shoulders and insisted that I join them. Fearful, I had little choice but to accede to his request.

I then became the paymaster, buying a series of rounds as we all became very merry. I was probably fortunate that after a couple of hours my ‘drinking buddies’ decided it was time to return to barracks, and I was finally left alone – with the exception of a couple of girls who had fallen asleep at a nearby table.

I suddenly realised I was totally exhausted and stumbled to my ‘cell’, anticipating a trouble free sleep after my drinking bout. But it was not to be. Within minutes of lying down on the filthy, lumpy mattress, I was attacked from all sides by malaria-ridden mosquitoes. I was being bitten on every part of my exposed skin.

Although there were no obvious areas of the room exposed to the night, I assumed the room was not properly protected, and the insects had gained entrance through cracks in the walls and ceiling.

It was impossible to sleep, so I arose and returned to the bar. The two sleeping girls were still there, but the manager/bar tender had disappeared – presumably for the night. What could I do?

I wandered over to the table where the girls were sleeping and asked them if the manger was still around. One of them woke up. She was very thin, but quite pretty, and she asked me if I wanted to sleep with her. I said I was looking for the manager, but she shook her head, and then repeated her request.

It was beginning to sound like a good idea. If the mosquitoes kept me awake, at least I would have some ‘comfort’ with which to while away an otherwise unpleasant night so I took her hand and led her back to my room.

She took one look at my room, removed her hand from my grasp and disappeared back out into the corridor.

Well, that was that, I thought, even a starving, Biafran whore wasn’t prepared to sleep in such a grubby little room.

I grimly lay down again, awaiting a renewed mosquito attack, when the girl suddenly reappeared, bearing of all things – a mosquito net. She had obviously been there before and knew that we would need protection.

She expertly set up the net over the mattress, tying the net off onto rusty hooks attached to the floor and ceiling, and as soon as she finished she lay down on the mattress and beckoned me to join her. I’m not sure who was the most exhausted, but almost as soon as we embraced, we both fell soundly asleep.

“No sex please I’m British.”

I was awoken by a loud banging on the door.

“Hey Mobi!  What the Goddamn hell’re yer doin’ asleep at this time a day?”

It was a loud Texan drawl, and as I became conscious, I thought I recognized it, but couldn’t quite place it.

The banging became ever louder.

“All right All right. I’m awake! Who’s there?”

“It’s Bill – Bill Wright”

Bill Wright? I pondered, who the h…? Then I remembered. Bill Wright was a huge, very rotund Texan motor mechanic who worked for my company and was based in Warri, in the Mid West.

“What the hell are you doing here? How did you get here? How did you find me?”

“Never mind all that, just get dressed and come out, We’re all waiting to take you to Port Harcourt”.

I didn’t need a second bidding, quickly gathered my things together and looked at the still sleeping girl lying on the mattress. I pulled out some money and put it her hand and kissed her on the cheek. She still didn’t wake and I left her sleeping like a baby.

Waiting outside the guest house were Bill, Daniel, a group of Nigerians in company work clothes, and parked next to my car was a large oilfield truck with a hoist on the back, and a Land Rover.

How did they all get here so early?

I looked at my watch – it was midday. I had slept all morning.

The plan was for me to travel in the Land Rover with Daniel and a driver, while Bill and his crew would hoist up the car and follow later in the truck.

As we drove off Daniel explained what had happened. A few days ago, the Nigerian army had re-opened port Harcourt airport  for private planes, and my company had flown in a number of expats as well as Nigerians from the Mid -West into Port Harcourt to start work on getting the premises and equipment back up and running.

When Daniel had arrived in Port Harcourt the previous evening, he tracked down Bill and arranged for him and a crew to travel back to Enugu with him that morning.

“But how did you find me?” I asked.

“I managed to track down the truck driver who had towed you to Unugu, and he told me where you were staying. Did you have a good night’s sleep?

“In that mosquito infested hovel? You must be joking!”

“Well Bill told me you were fast asleep when we arrived, so you must have managed at least some sleep.”

I didn’t tell Daniel about my special ‘night comforter”, and remained silent. Daniel looked at me quizzically and changed the subject.

When we arrived in Port Harcourt in the late afternoon, it seemed to me that Port Harcourt was in even more of a mess than Enugu. The roads were in a very bad state of disrepair, and most of town had been abandoned by its residents as it had been the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the civil war.

The city had changed hands several times the course of the conflict. It was the very heart of the Nigerian oil industry and was a crucial prize for both sides who were equally desperate win it and to hang on to it.

Oil production in the Eastern region which accounted for more than ninety percent of Nigeria’s output, had ceased since the start of the war, and the government, along with all the committed  foreign oil companies were frantically trying to get things up and running.

But at least there were no dead bodies littering the roads, and the people who were wandering around looked a little better fed than their fellow countrymen in Enugu.

We drove to the only hotel in town that was open, and checked in. It seemed that every expatriate who had managed to make it into Port Harcourt was billeted there, and certainly all my fellow company workers, about a dozen all told were staying there.

The town had no electricity or water supplies, and the hotel was powered by a series of large, external, very noisy generators, which would break down frequently, leaving us in the dark and sweating as the air conditioners and fans would consequently cease to function.

Bill arrived back with my car a couple of hours later, and all of us, minus Bill, assembled in the lounge for dinner and some refreshment.

When everyone was settled at the bar with beer, the huge figure of Bill suddenly appeared in the lounge doorway and he shouted across the bar to me.

“Hey, you Goddamn limey- Mobi, you left something behind at Enugu.”

“Did I?” I rejoined, trying to think what on earth it could be.

“No problems, we brought it along with us in the back of the truck”.

“Oh, what is it. I can’t think of anything I left there.

“Hey Dan”, Bill shouted to Daniel, who was sitting next to me, “Mobi says he didn’t leave anything behind.”

Daniel looked at me and smirked.

“What are you talking about? What did I forget? Where is it Bill?”

“Not where is it, Mobi. Where is she?”

“She? She? What are you talking about”, I asked, starting to fear the worst.

Bill and Daniel burst out laughing.

“You didn’t think you were going to hide that little jungle bunny you had in your bed last night from us did you?”

I blushed a crimson hue and was very embarrassed.

“She was in right state after you left – complained you hadn’t paid her”, Bill told me with a huge grin on his face.

“So we decided to bring her down to Port Harcourt with us so you could do the decent thing.

“But…but I did pay her….”

By this time all those assembled at the bar were having a huge laugh at poor Mobi’s expense.

Bill hadn’t finished. “And right now she’s waiting in the lobby to continue the relationship and to collect what you owe her”.

I was sweating and highly embarrassed. I never expected to see her again.

By now, the assembled group were all exhorting me to go out to the lobby and take care of my business, so I reluctantly got down from the bar stool and timorously made my way out to the lobby. I looked around, but there was no sign of her. Then I turned around, back towards the lounge, and there was Bill, Daniel and the whole gang standing by the lounge door, laughing their heads off.

They had been having me on. The girl was not there, thank God.

We all returned to the bar, became uproariously drunk, and I had very good night’s sleep to celebrate the end of my very first day in Port Harcourt and the conclusion of my momentous journey from Lagos.

Jomtien 15th February, 2010 – not dry but not drunk.

I have put off writing my blog for several days, as I know that when I do I will be  judged as weak and lacking in moral fibre by of many of my readers. All of which is undoubtedly true, but being the alcoholic that I am, I am consumed with my own ego and I hate people to think badly of me.

So why, you may ask, do I write this blog if what I write is going to provoke hurtful criticisms which upset me?

The answer, amongst other things, is that I need these home truths rammed down my throat over and over again, if I am ever going to get this reckless selfishness under control.

I have seriously considered lying inn this blog about my drinking over the past few days, and also my involvement, yet again, with a lady of the night, as after all the undertakings I have made in my blog, even I feel guilty about reneging on my good intentions so easily.

So what has happened?

Well nothing too disastrous, in fact in some ways I feel pretty good about what has happened, but it certainly not what I intended to happen, and time will tell where it will all lead to.

As with most things in my life, it revolves around women and booze.

You may recall Toi of a week or so back – the one who I had great hopes for but became disillusioned when she reminded me one evening me that I had apparently forgotten to pay her that morning.

Well after five days absence I returned to her bar to see what was doing, and she was very friendly to me, and bore no grudges that I had supposedly ‘dumped’ her.

We struck up a conversation, and to cut a long story short, a couple of days later we resumed our relationship, and came to an ‘understanding’ about money.

I know, I swore I was going to stay away from bars and women of the night, but it seems to be in my blood – I just can’t seem to exist without it.

As reported before, Toi really is something special. She is very intelligent, computer literate in English and speaks incredible, ‘non-bar-girl’ English, considering she has never lived with a farang.

She is ethnic Khymer, which may account for her good command of English, as from my observations, the Kymers (at least those In have met in Cambodia), seem to pick up English with far greater alacrity than do their Thai ‘cousins’. Toi also speaks Cambodian (which is slightly different from Thai Khymer) and of course Issan (Lao).

She has a wonderful sense of humour and laughs at herself as well as always making jokes at my expense – something I cannot recall any Thai girl doing before. She seems to have me ‘taped’ and delights in getting me worked up about something, before I realise that she is ‘winding me up’ – only joking.

When I am with her I am happy; she makes me laugh and when she smiles and laughs, which is very often, she seems to light up the room.

She is the de facto manager of her bar, as her boss is the owner of several bars and only pops in for an hour or two every two to three days and she has great managerial skills.

She manages the girls and the bar staff with great tact and sensitivity, and she controls the stock and money and all the other related bar duties. She actually earns a pretty good salary, and I scan see why.

Yesterday, I took her to the market in the morning and she bought a lot of food with her own money and took it back to the bar and spent the afternoon in the bar kitchen cooking up a feast for all her staff to share in celebration of Valentines Day.

All in all a pretty impressive young lady

She hasn’t moved in with me and has no plans to do so. We both maintain our relative independence, and either can break off the relationship at any time.

So I will take it one day at a time, and see how things develop.

On the drinking front, it’s not that great, but not a disaster.

It goes without saying that since I resumed my relationship with Toi I have been spending a fair amount of time in her bar. Toi enjoys her beer, but never seems to get drunk. From my observations I would say that she is a million miles away from being an alcoholic. For the past few days I start off by ordering Coke or water, but after a while decide that a few beers won’t do me too much harm and I make the fateful switch to alcohol.

However, I have been drinking slowly and in relative moderation. I have rarely started on the beer before 10 p.m. and I stop when Toi and I go home. I am not sure how many beers I have been consuming in a typical evening but I doubt it is more than half a dozen small bottles. In the morning I feel a little rough when I wake up, but no real hangovers and I soon feel pretty good, except that my stomach is not appreciating the alcohol I have ingested and is causing me a few problems.

I am making no claim that I have finally succeeded in controlling my drinking. I very much doubt that this is the case as I know that I can drink in a controlled fashion for a while, but sooner or later I will revert and go on a real bender. It is only a matter of time.

So once again I must redouble my efforts to stop.

I am happy with Toi, but there is no need for me to spend inordinate amounts of time in her bar. I can pop in her see her, maybe have something to eat, buy her a couple of beers and then take off. If I can’t trust her to behave then there is no future in our relationship. I must stay out of the bars, and get back to the meetings. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I haven’t been to an AA meeting for a few days now.

So there it is folks – my humble confession. Make of it what you may.


AZZY – MY LOVE (Part 4)

The journey from Lagos to Port Harcourt, in the company of  Daniel Ito, an Ibo, in a battered old station wagon loaded with files and supplies, was one that I will never forget.

Secession of hostilities in a bloody and brutal civil war, had only taken place a few weeks previously which meant that conditions in the secessionist, war-ravaged. Eastern region were pretty diabolical.

At first, it seemed like any other journey I had made out of Lagos, usually to our outpost in Warri in the mid west: numerous road blocks, pot-holed ,badly maintained single track roads, and so on. But once we had left Lagos behind and started to approach what until quite recently, had been a ‘war zone’, we were unprepared for what lay ahead.

The roads were littered with huge bomb craters and bombed out, burnt military vehicles. Along the the sides of the roads were endless columns of refugees, dressed in tatters, going who knows where in search of sustenance; there a very high military presence everywhere, with drunken, menacing looking soldiers waving guns at the refugee columns and even at the few vehicles that were attempting to traverse the obstacle course of a road.

Progress was very slow, and if it hadn’t been for Daniel, I suspect we would never have made it. We were stopped continuously by marauding soldiers, but on each occasion Daniel would talk to them in their native language – usually Yuruba – and whatever he told them must have  persuaded them to let us proceed, unmolested. I dread to think what may have happened if any of these soldiers were to find out that Daniel was an Ibo – one of the hated enemy.

It must have been late afternoon by the time we finally made it to the banks of the Niger River,where the huge bridge that had once spanned the waterway had been blown up up and was unusable.

Daniel told me to drive down a rough, mud track which led down very steep incline to the water’s edge itself

There, on the western bank of the Niger river was a sight indeed. There must have been thousands of desperate Nigerians in threadbare garments, milling around amongst the military who were pushing at them and screaming abuse and insults. Lined up alongside the crowd was a rag tag collection of dozens of dilapidated vehicles, all inching towards the river’s edge, where a a motorised, military landing craft was moored.

We joined the back of what seemed to be a semblance of a vehicle queue, and I grimly realised that it would be hours, if not days before we reached the front of the queue, as the precarious  craft looked as though it could only accommodate about four vehicles at a time.

Daniel alighted from our car and disappeared into the swarming, screaming crowd. I sat alone for what what seemed like an eternity. It was extremely hot and  humid, the vehicle had no air conditioning, and the sun was blazing down unremittingly. To top it all I suddenly I developed a terrible migraine.

I was seriously considering the distinct possibility that some ‘accident’ had befallen Daniel, and wondering what the hell I was going to do without him, when mercifully he re-appeared, together with two high ranking military gentlemen.

Daniel gave me no time to cross examine him on his long absence, and told me to start the car, while in the meantime the two officers started barking orders at the vehicles in front of me in an effort to clear the way to let me through.

It took quite a while,and a lot of screaming and cajoling before I eventually made my way through to the front of the queue, the entire multitude was forlornly waiting to cross the river, courtesy of the army.

The landing craft already had several vehicles on board, and I thought that there was no more room, but the officers beckoned me to drive up the steep, wooden planks that traversed the craft and the bank.

I was terrified. The planks looked very flimsy and the gap between them looked dangerous. If I mis-navigated by only a few inches the me and my car could quite easily end up in the murky, swirling torrent, several meters below.

The officers kept screaming at me, so I had no choice but to proceed. I gingerly throttled the car up the planks, trying desperately to keep the vehicle in a straight line. I was over-revving the engine and nervously feathering the clutch in my panic, when suddenly, true calamity struck.

A burning smell was emanating from the floor of the vehicle, and I slammed on the foot brake as the car ceased it’s progress forward and the engine revved out of control. I was half way up the rickety ramp to the craft and I had burnt out the clutch. The car wouldn’t move. I was stranded!

The soldiers on the pontoon and those on the bank were shouting louder than ever, screaming at me to finish my journey up the ramp and onto the landing craft. Daniel scrambled up the planks and asked me why I had stopped. I told him.

He went back down to the bank and shouted at a group of civilians who were watching the proceedings. They then ran up the ramp to the back of my car and started pushing. I slowly released the hand brake, terrified that I would go backwards and send the assembled gang into the brink, but there so many of them that they succeeded in inching me forward, and eventually onto the deck of the pontoon.

Daniel joined me on board, and I asked him what we were going to do when we reached the other side? He looked at me, and for once, he seemed at a loss for words.

We duly made the slow trip across the mighty Niger on what was a very precarious craft and as we neared the far bank, I could see an even larger crowd  than that we had encountered on the western shore. There seemed to be thousands milling around.

There were indeed many more people – mainly starving refugees, desperate to get out of the war ravaged region and travel to other parts of the country, mainly Lagos, where they may have friends or relatives who could help them. But there was this massive bottle neck at the Niger river, and the only way across was by courtesy of the army, and of course a fee would have to be paid, and many days wait.

When we arrived and the rickety planks were once more thrown down to form the ramp to the river’s edge, I saw to my horror that on the far side of the river bank there was a very steep and very long track that presumably led up to the road beyond. How on earth would I ever be able to get the car up to the road? There was no way on God’s earth that any amount of manual labour would be able to push the heavily laden car up such a long and incredibly steep slope.

I was wrong. Once more Daniel went to work, and with a generous supply of Nigerian coins, he assembled a huge gang of “pushers’. I Have no idea how many there were, but it was certainly several dozen – possible fifty or more.

To start with, a few of them came on board and gently pushed the vehicle, with Mobi at the wheel, off the pontoon and onto the shore.

Then the whole gang surrounded the car and they started to push me up the hill. Progress was slow, and I am not sure if the gang put more energy into shouting at each other or pushing the car. At one point, the car started to slide backwards, and I feared the worst, but with an even shriller timbre of screeching, they managed to arrest the slide, and slowly but surely we progressed onwards and upwards to the top of the slope, and eventually to the road itself.

It was surely a miracle, but we had made it to the road in one piece.

Now what to do? We were still a very long way from our destination.

Once again Daniel performed his disappearing trick, and I was left guarding the car, surrounded by hundreds of starving refugees, who could have attacked me at any moment.

Thankfully I remained unmolested when Daniel eventually returned, sitting in the front cab of a very battered, ancient truck.

The driver and his mate also jumped out and proceeded to apply a tow rope to the front of my car.

Daniel told me that he had negotiated with the driver to tow me to Enugu, the capital of the former Biafra, but would not be able to make the remainder of the journey to Port Harcourt, as he feared marauding, blood thirsty soldiers and locals on the final leg of the journey.

So I asked Daniel what were we to do when we arrived at Enugu, as there would still be well over a hundred miles to go to our destination.

He then informed me that he would not be going with me to Enugu, and that I would be travelling alone. He said that he would take alternative, faster transport directly to Port Harcourt and see if he could find a tow truck there that could come back out to Enugu and tow me on the final leg. He said that the driver had been instructed to find somewhere for me to sleep overnight in Enugu, and that Daniel would make contact with me on the following day.

I protested that I wouldn’t be safe travelling alone, but Daniel was adamant that his plan was the best way forward. He said that we were now in former rebel territory, and the entire local population consisted of the hated Ibos. He informed me that no Ibo would dare travel to Port Harcourt, as the rebels had formerly controlled the town and had ruled it with an iron fist.

The threat of retribution from the indigenous population, who had suffered at the hands of the Ibos, was very real

I was still very young and naïve so I wasn’t particularly bothered about travelling alone in an almost lawless area that had just come out of  losing a bloody civil war, and where most of the local population was starving and extremely impoverished. They had after all been starved into defeat, and as yet few supplies had reached the region to alleviate their hunger. It all seemed like a great adventure.

Also, at that time it never occurred to me how brave Daniel was. He was an Ibo and was totally loyal to the company.

When the war was at it’s height he had stayed in Port Harcourt and done his best to protect the company’s property from the worst excesses of the rebels when they started robbing and looting thousands of houses and other properties which had been abandoned at the start of the war.

Later, when Port Harcourt fell to government forces and the rebels retreated, Daniel managed to keep clear of the military and escaped to Lagos with dozens of vital company documents, having previously made arrangements to protect company’s property by employing a squad of private security guards.

Now Daniel was back in the east, unafraid to negotiate with Ibo hating federal soldiers, and about to make the journey back to Port Harcourt, where anyone from the Ibo tribe was liable to be lynched, if identified as such.

And here was innocent, naïve Mobi, about to embark on a highly dangerous journey; much of which would be undertaken at night, into the heart of the ex rebel area, all by himself, save for two local truck drivers, both of whom must have resorted to many acts of violence during the past few years just to remain alive.

Jomtien, 12th February, 2009

Today I have been sober for five days.

Yesterday I was slightly naughty, in as much as I went to a pub for my evening meal, but I was a good boy because I went home early and alone. At no point during the evening did I feel like a drink.

Th girl who I took home on Tuesday night kept calling me, but this time I resisted. I had a fitful sleep, but still made my 9 a.m AA meeting this morning. There are a lot of visitors in town – mainly North American, and there were some very good ‘shares’.

I am feeling better every day I stay sober – both physically and mentally.

This is especially surprising, when I consider that I am feeling very melancholy about my friend Dave.

Dave’s lady called me this morning. She told me she was calling from Hua Lamphong Railway Station and was on her way back to her parents’ home in the South of Thailand.

She was in a very distressed state, and it was difficult to calm her down sufficiently so that she could let me know exactly what had occurred to trigger her departure.

She said that she hadn’t slept all night and had succeeded in cleaning up Dave’s bed. Then he tried to get up and fell down on the floor again and she hurt her back badly when she tried to help him back into bed.

This morning she made him some breakfast but he threw it all over the floor in a rage, and proceeded to defecate, once again, in his bed. She said his speech was incoherent, and he was continuing to drink.

So this was the final straw, and she decided to leave.

I told her that she should not feel guilty for her decision to go, and that nobody would blame her for leaving. She had done far more for Dave than could be reasonably expected of anyone, and I said she should go home and have some rest.

I promised to let her know if there were any developments.

Dave has been taking Ativan (lorazepan) for a long time now, and the effects of this powerful drug has undoubtedly aggravated an already disastrous situation. He takes them like sweets, and apart from being very habit forming, (and if taken to excess will induce suicidal tendencies), it increases the effects of alcohol, which should never be taken when on this drug.

Today I sent an sms to one of Dave’s friends in Bangkok, advising him of the current situation, and leaving it to him to let other ‘acquaintances’ know, as he saw fit.

I have tried to contact Dave, but he is not answering his phone, so I sent him an sms advising him that his lady had gone, and imploring him to stop drinking – if only for a few days. I have no idea whether he will read this message, but I have serious doubts.

I’m not too sure where we go from here. I will try to keep in contact with interested parties, including Dave’s octogenarian English doctor.

There is no doubt that unless the greatest miracle of all happens, that Dave is on his way to his grave, but how long it will take, and to what depths of pain, degradation and despair he will suffer before he arrives there, is anyone’s guess.

I can only pray.

Jomtien, 11th February, 2010

Today I have been sober for four days.

I am still suffering from the after effects of too much alcohol in my system – it seems to take my body a few weeks to get completely back to normal.

I still experience hot flushes, break out in uncontrollable sweats, have chronic diarrhea, itching all over my body amongst other telling symptoms. I had never realised that all these problems were alcohol related until I stopped for long periods last year and found that after a while, the symptoms went away.

In fact I spent a great deal of time and money having my stomach examined by a whole raft of specialists and from every possible angle, (cameras down my throat and up my arse amongst other uncomfortable procedures), as I had been suffering from chronic diarrhea for years.

I told all the specialists that I drank heavily, but none of them pinpointed this as the main reason for my complaint. I think they were confused because they found many chronic medical problems with my digestive tracts which were causing my frequent bowel movements, but what they hadn’t realized was that the damage to my stomach had been brought about by alcohol abuse.

When I stopped drinking, my digestive system started to work properly again, although I discovered by a process of elimination that have also developed extreme lactose intolerance, which again is down to years of alcohol abuse.

So I am aware that my medical well-being is delicately poised, ( I also suffer from insulin dependent diabetes, coronary disease , hypertension, glaucoma and enlarged prostate), and if I needed any additional reasons to quit the booze, then my health is at the top of the list.

I have been to AA meetings for the past two mornings and I am making a determined effort to get back into the routine of waking up early and getting to a meeting.

I spent all day Monday and Tuesday in my condo and stayed alone, cooked alone and slept alone.

Yesterday morning I went to an AA meeting and then returned home, where I stayed until 6 pm. when I decided to take a long planned, but much delayed ‘constitutional’ along the beach.

I had a good walk of about forty five minutes in duration, but I confess that my walk took me along some of the more ‘seedy’ Sois in Jomtien and as I passed one of my former drinking haunts, a girl ran out into the road and called my name. I knew her – a very small and very cute lady who I had taken home on a couple of occasions.

She wanted me to stop but I signaled that I would return later.

I finished my walk, returned home and cooked my evening meal and did some work on my computer.

The girl from the bar kept calling me, and at around ten thirty, I succumbed, and drove down to the bar to meet her.

I told her that I just couldn’t afford to pay for girls any more – my budget was blown. She told me that it was OK and would go with me for free as long as I paid her bar fine.

So I ask you? What is a horny man supposed to do when offered a free lay by a lovely little lady?

I stayed at the bar for ten minutes, had one coke, then paid the bar fine and took her home with me.

I had a good sleep, and woke up early, dropped her back to her room above the bar in Jomtien, and went off to my AA meeting. I confess I felt guilty and gave some money after all. Not the ‘going rate’, but I couldn’t live with myself if I hadn’t paid her something.

Anyway, I am still sober, feeling pretty good, and remain determined to slowly change my life around and try to keep out of the bars as much as I can. If I can’t stay completely away from bar girls, then I will certainly try to cut back on the number and my emotional involvement with them.

Since yesterday, I have been very concerned about Dave in Bangkok.

Yesterday I tried to call him a number of times but his phone was switched to voice mail. I called his lady and she too didn’t answer my calls. Eventually in the afternoon his lady called me and said that she was very worried about Dave, and said he was talking very ‘strangely’.

She handed her phone to Dave and he spoke to me. He spoke very slowly, sounded extremely drunk, and his voice was little more than a feeble croak over the phone. He was mainly incoherent – just rambling. I couldn’t hold any kind of a meaningful conversation, so told him to get some sleep and rang off.

Later, Dave’s lady called me and told me she was at the end of her tether. Dave had fallen down in the bedroom and it took her hours to get him back into bed, seriously injuring her foot in the process. His bodily functions are out of control and he is lying in his own feces and urine, and she is unable to clean him up. She told me she hadn’t slept for days, was completely exhausted, and didn’t know what to do.

I suggested that she remove all the beer and leave him for 24 hours to sober up a bit, and then see what could be done. She said she couldn’t do that because he would shout at her and abuse her. She also said he would order his own beer over the phone, so I told her not to let anyone into the house, but she told me she couldn’t do that. It is clear she is very scared of him.

I told her that if she couldn’t stand it any longer then she must leave him. Maybe after Dave knew she was gone, he might pull himself together – not very likely but it has been known to happen with alcoholics who are facing certain death.

For those of you who haven’t followed this particular saga from the beginning, let me reiterate that Dave has had a number of good friends who have been rallying around him for many years in an effort to help give his life some meaning, to get him usefully employed and try to persuade him to moderate or  stop his drinking.

He has had numerous crises, where he has been rushed to hospital on the point of death and each time, against all odds, he has made a miraculous recovery, only to return to booze after a brief period to start the destructive cycle once again.

His brother sends him a monthly allowance from the UK, and in particular, Bob, my friend in Australia, and me have tried every way to turn his life around, and have tried over and over to convince him to stop drinking. We have visited him frequently, called him almost daily, helped to support him financially for many years, and goodness knows what else. But all our efforts have been to no avail.

The lady who is looking after him is his ex wife. They divorced many years ago and Dave married again. His second wife left him a year or so back, (after nursing him though a number of his alcoholic crises, and finally deciding that she had had enough) and his first wife came back to Bangkok from the south of Thailand to look after him.

She has been doing this purely out of compassion and has no ‘legal’ more moral responsibility to do so. She has received nothing but abuse and heartache from him for all her selfless efforts.

To sum up, Dave has steadfastly refused every attempt from whatever source to help. He is an extremely stubborn and egotistical person who would probably rather die than admit his shortcomings and seek professional help.

Bob and I believe that enough is enough.

Dave is going to die – quite soon, and he is beyond help. If his lady stays, all she will do is postpone his death for a few days or weeks, at what cost to herself? If she leaves him, he will probably die sooner, but either way the end is utterly inevitable.

I will not go to Bangkok. There is nothing I or anyone can do. He is beyond help, and in my delicate state, if I went to see him, in all probability I would pick up a drink.

I spoke to Dave’s lady again this evening.

She is still there but ever more distressed. Dave has been hovering between sleep and consciousness, and when awake, he continues to drink. She told me that he is completely incoherent and there is no point in me trying to talk to him.

I told her if she decides to leave, she should tell him before she goes, so that he knows he is all alone.

She said she could not do that because he would shout at her and abuse her, and she couldn’t stand it. I said that in that case she should write him a note and leave it next to him when he is asleep. She seemed to think that would be a good idea, and promised to call me when she had decided what to do.

For those of you out there who believe in God, please pray for Dave, and ask God to grant him the peace and serenity that he has been seeking for so long.

I am sorry, but I am not in the mood to write another installment of “AZZY MY LOVE”. Maybe tomorrow.

Jomtien, 9th February, 2010

Today I have been sober for 2 days

I haven’t had a drink since Sunday evening.

Last night, for the first time for as long as I can remember, I stayed home and kept away from the pubs and bars. I cooked myself and evening meal at home, and slept around one a.m, alone

I know this is my only hope to break the cycle of bars, women and booze.

On Sunday I had resolved to stay away from women for one week, yet after stopping for a quick ‘night cap” at a bar near to my home, I ended up bringing yet another girl back with me, and promising her the earth.

Almost every night I resolve to change my ways, and almost every night I end up with a girl in my bed. When I don’t, it is because the girl of my choice chooses someone else, and that in itself triggers yet more drinking.

If was able to drink in moderation, then this behaviour might not be so terrible, but as it is, my alcoholic brain does not act in a normal manner, neither with respect to booze, or women, and I end up getting emotionally involved and ‘drowning my perceived sorrows’.

To give you a flavour of the kind of nonsense that goes on in my pathetic life, here the story of one of the many girls who I have become involved with recently.


I met Toi a few weeks ago, working as a cashier/bar tender in a suburban bar that caters for farang residents, and ‘long term’ vacationers. She is quite tall with a nice figure and an excellent, fashionable dress sense.

Toi was one the very few Thai bar girls who insisted in conversing with me in slow, well considered English with a good level of grammatical accuracy.

She told me her story.

She was thirty five, from Surin and had been married to a Thai man when very young. Unfortunately, as a young woman her eating habits became out of control and her weight bloomed to eighty five kilos. Her husband didn’t think too much about this turn of events and instead of trying to help her , he started playing around and sleeping with other women.

Toi left him and resolved to get her weight back down to a reasonable level. She embarked on a programme of strict dieting and exercise, which involved running at least two hours per day.

She told me it took her two years to get down to her current size, which is less than fifty kilos, and during that time she remained alone, separated from her husband.

One day her husband saw her in the Surin market, and at first he didn’t recognize her. He approached her and asked her if she was really Toi, his wife. He asked her if she would go back to him, but she declined.

After that he became a ‘stalker’ at her parents’ home and kept bothering her and begging her to go back to him, but she steadfastly refused. Eventually he became such a nuisance that Toi’s parents had to call the police to restrain him and stop his continuing harassment.

Toi eventually obtained divorce and moved to Bangkok to become a clothes designer for a garment factory. She told me that she had designed nearly all the clothes she wore to work, which accounted for their unusually striking appearance.

She said she had lived alone for the past ten years, and had come to work at the bar one month previously when her friend had called and asked her to join her there. She had become bored with factory life; her salary was very low and she had enjoyed a very limited social life. So she decided to give the bar work a go.

I didn’t doubt the truth of her story. It was told in a matter of fact manner and with a sincerity that made it very believable. Why tell such a story of it wasn’t true?

Toi told me she had taught herself English from books and language tapes, had her own computer and  was computer literate, and still went for an hour’s run on most mornings. All in all she was a classy woman, and I decided to pursue a romantic involvement with her.

The ‘courting’ went on for a few days, and to cut a long story short, she eventually agreed to come home with me, and we had an amazing night. I wondered if this might be the ‘wonder-lady’ I had been seeking for so long. She assured me that although she sometimes went out with men from her bar, she never slept with them, just went to the disco or a restaurant. She said that if she had a regular boy friend she would be faithful and stop going out with customers.

The following morning I dropped her back to her room off Pattaya Tai, and at the last moment decided to put some money in her bag. I was starting to veer away from commitment, and thought that if I paid her, then there was no liability. I half expected her to express surprise at my action, but she said nothing, so I let it go.

Later she called me to say that she had to unexpectedly go to Bangkok with her sister that afternoon and would be back the following day.

I started to smell a rat, and the more I thought about it the more I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t really trust her after all, and I’d better forget her.

The next day she called me, and sent me messages but I declined to answer.

I didn’t go back to the bar for one week, and when I did eventually return, there she was, on the customer’s side of the bar entwined with a farang and looking like she was enjoying it immensely.

Being the twisted, alcoholic that I am, I immediately became very jealous, and even more so, when after a short while, the two left together.

The next day I returned to the bar and was surprised and pleased to find her once more ensconced behind the bar back at her normal job.

I admitted to her that I was very jealous, about what I had seen the previous day and she laughed a lot. She said she had waited for me for one week, and I had never once called or sent her a message.

I had to admit it was indeed, all my fault. So that night she once more went home with me. This time I did not have to ‘bar-fine’ her as she insisted that I meet her outside her room in Pattaya Tai, when the bar had closed. This I did for the next three nights and on each occasion, I gave her some money when dropping her off in the morning. She always accepted the money without comment.

This bothered me. If we were truly going to be a ‘proper couple’, while recognising that I would have to help her financially, I didn’t want to have to pay her every time I slept with her – it felt too much like she was just a regular prostitute.

So I decided to put it to the test. On the fourth morning I dropped her off but gave her no money. She said nothing and kissed me goodbye.

That evening I went to see her at her bar, and she told me that when the bar closed she would be going out with her friend to a disco in Walking Street, and wouldn’t be coming home with me. That was OK, as we had discussed doing this before, and I understood that she needed to go out with her friends on occasion.

Then she asked me: “Didn’t you forget something this morning?”

What’s that?” I asked, with feigned innocence.

I wanted her to say it.

You forgot to give me any money”, she said, with an embarrassed laugh.

Oh, oh, did I?”

She said nothing more, but I was seething. and confused. I thought that if she had any discretion or good sense,she would have at least brought up the subject of money in a more delicate manner, rather than just telling me straight out that I had forgotten to pay her. I decided that I would pay her and be off. It was all over she was  just another whore.

And that is what I did, and I haven’t seen her or heard from her since.

I haven’t written about my friends lately.

Long time readers of my blog may recall Bob in Australia. You will remember that I had a bit of a disagreement with him on how we dealt with Dave, the alcoholic in Bangkok. I was advised to break of all communications with Dave in a desperate last attempt to persuade him to get some help from AA, but Bob refused to go along with it.

So I broke of communication with both Dave and Bob on the basis that they weren’t doing much for my attempts to stay sober and that I couldn’t do any more for Dave.

Anyway, a short while ago, I decided enough was enough and I have re-established contact with both of them.

I sent the following email to Bob:

“Bob, I want to apologise for my behaviour to you.

You are such a good friend, and I have been an arsehole. I am very sorry for what I have said, and what I accused you of doing with regards to Dave I know you care about him, and you thought you were doing the right thing.

I still believe that if we had both broken contact immediately for a few weeks, it might have been the short sharp shock that he needed to bring him into AA – it was at least worth a try.

But you obviously thought otherwise, and I have to respect your point of view. I shouldn’t have tried to shut you off as a friend, and I will be eternally grateful that you continually refused to accept that is was the end of our friendship.”

As far as Dave was concerned, I just called him and communications were re-established.

Dave must indeed have a charmed life, although I will will be very surprised if he succeeds in lasting through 2010.

I spoke to him a few times in the past week or so, and each time he sounded ever more inebriated. He admitted he had been drinking for quite a while, even though everyone had told him the the next drink would kill him.

Yesterday I called, and discovered that Dave had fallen down the stairs in his house and had suffered severe head injuries. Apparently there was blood everywhere (he is a very large man – 6 feet six, and I would guess well in excess of 120 kilos), and was unconscious when his lady called for an ambulance. This happened a couple of days ago, and amazingly when I called, he was back home in bed. He told me that he had no recollection of the accident or being taken to hospital, but when he came round he insisted on being discharged as he couldn’t afford to stay in hospital.

He has broken an number of bones in his skull, and had an operation to knit them back together. Yesterday he sounded very woozy – hardly surprising considering his current condition and what he had just been through, but today although his speech was even more slurred, he sounded reasonably lucid.

I mentioned to him his slurred speech, and he said he didn’t know why. But then, almost in the same breath, he admitted that he had been drinking beer steadily ever since he had been discharged.

If he didn’t have such a strong constitution, and had inherited his remarkeable “longevity genes”, (both his parents died in their nineties), I am sure he would have been dead years ago. But I doubt even Dave can really last much longer, and in talking to him, I don’t think he expects to either.

I think he has given up.

I am still getting messages from folk, who although well meaning, really don’t understand the nature of an alcoholic and the disease of alcoholism.

They still believe that I can drink in moderation. Yes, of course I can drink in relative moderation (if you call starting at 10 p.m. and finishing at 5 a.m. the next morning in moderation), but sooner or later, a life threatening ‘bender’ will occur. It is as sure as night follows day.

I know this; all alcoholics know this and that is why some of us are desperate to stop, for we know that the next drink may be our last.

Here is an extract from the AA “Big Book”, which I believe, adequately deals with this issue:

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals-usually brief-were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men. We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing a making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet.

Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!

Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums-we could increase the list ad infinitum.

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself, Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.

Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking. But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time. We have heard of a few instances where people, who showed definite signs of alcoholism, were able to stop for a long period because of an overpowering desire to do so.

So I will see if I can manage to stay away from pubs and bars for one week, and likewise the bar girls. It seems to be the only solution for now.

Tomorrow I will try to get back to  “AZZY – MY LOVE”

Jomtien, 7th February, 2010.

Today is the first day of my latest attempt at sobriety.

I remained sober on 5th, and also up to about 10 p.m. On 6th (yesterday)

Then I drove home, parked my car and walked to Jomtien and started drinking.

I ended up at at all night bar near the Hanuman Statue, where I met a nice , very gentle, very polite lady.

I bought her a few drinks and she told me she had just started her first day’s work at a bar, having travelled from her home that morning. She was 45 years old and I felt really sorry for her, having to turn to prostitution at her age to pay for her two sons’ schooling.

She was completely exhausted but had to stay there until 7.30 in the morning when her shift finished. So I paid her bar fine and told her to go home and get some sleep.

I finally staggered home at around 5 a.m. and slept until 11 a.m.

I have to get myself out of this vicious cycle of bars, women and booze. It is destroying me.

I attended meetings on 5th and 6th , but still started drinking.

I may go to Phnom Penh next week for a few days and spend a some time there with my friend who is scheduled to be passing through.

Maybe a change of scenery will be good for me.

Jomtien, 5th February, 2010: I got drunk again, but I didn’t drive.

Today is the first day of my latest attempt at sobriety.

Yes, I know, it’s beginning to sound like a cracked record.

What brought it on this time?

I don’t really know. Ok, I was having a few little local problems with ladies of the night, but nothing serious enough to have triggered a relapse.

The only explanation I can come up with is the fact that I hadn’t been to an AA meeting since the morning of 29th January, despite my intentions to the contrary.

It was Wednesday night and I was out and about for a meal and some companionship, and at around 10.30 p.m. I suddenly decided I was going to have a few beers. The idea just hit me out of the blue and I knew immediately that nothing was going to stop me.

However you will all be pleased to learn that before I started on my binge, I drove home and parked my car, and then went out on foot into the Jomtien beach area, found one of my favourite watering holes and started on the beer.

I drank there for a long while, eventually moving on at around 2.30 a.m. when they started packing up the outside tables.

Then I walked back up from the beach in the direction of Theprasit Road and found some all night bars near the Hanuman Statue, on the opposite side of the road.

By this time I was on the Sangsom and soda. It must have been around 4 a.m. when I sent an sms message to my wife, Dang, and also to my friend in Cambodia who for some inexplicable reason has broken off communication with me.

In the end I bought a bottle of Sangsom with some ice and soda in a store near to my home and staggered back to my room to continue drinking.

I was still drinking at 8.30 in the morning when Dang called me. She had received my message, and called to see if I was OK. I have no recollection of what I said to her, but at about 10.30 there was a knock on my door and there she was, along with her friend and the security guard who asked me if it was OK to let them in.

Even in my very drunken sate I was flabbergasted. How did she know where I lived?

“You told me on the phone?” she informed me.

“I told you? I don’t remember telling you anything!”

“Well you did, and here we are.”

I let them in, but at least I was comforted by the fact that the security guard had intervened, and they would never be able to come in at night as the front door of the condo building is locked and can only be opened by residents with an electronic fob. She had also had to give up her ID card the guard at the front gate.

But I was still shattered that she now knows where I live. Not too smart.

I seem to have got into the habit of calling people when I am very drunk and having no recollection of my conversation. If I am not careful I might call someone and give them the passwords to my internet banking accounts.

Dang cooked some food for me and the pair of them tidied up and washed the dishes.

I told her that we had to reduce the price of the house if we wanted to sell it, and she replied that it was up to me. She told me she had a job at a hair dressing salon in Naklua and she received 40 % of the takings when on duty. She said she had not had a drink for over a month and just wanted to work to take care of her son.

They stayed for a couple of hours and then left me to get some sleep. Dang made no attempts to resurrect our relationship and she appeared completely resigned to the current situation. Like me, she just wants to get the house sold so that we can settle everything between us and move on with our lives.

I slept all day, waking at around 6 p.m. last night. I was starving, as I had eaten nothing since some scrambled eggs in the morning that Dang had cooked for me.

I was still a bit drunk, but I washed and shaved and went out, on foot, for a meal. Once I got some food inside me I decided to have a few more beers to settle my ‘shakes’.

I drank beer slowly, but steadily until 2 a.m when I walked home and had a fitful sleep.

I feel pretty good today and will try to stop again.

I believe the key to my sobriety is meetings, meetings and more meetings. I don’t know why it works but it does. Every time I stop attending AA meetings for just a few days I end up drinking again.

I WILL attend the 5 p.m. meeting today.


AZZY – MY LOVE (Part 3)

A short time after my first  embarrassing and alarming encounter with STD’s I drove down to The Cabana Bamboo one evening and while seated at the bar, giving the girls the the ‘once over” , who should walk in but the beautiful girl who I had seen a month or so back with her expat boyfriend. This time she was alone.

I tried to recall her name, and eventually it came to me – Taiwo.

I smiled at her and she came came over and sat down next to me at the bar. Although I already knew her name, I asked her to tell me, and to my surprise, she didn’t say  “Taiwo” but “Azima”.

“Azima?” I was told your name is Taiwo?”

She smiled at me. “Who told you that? I am Azima, but sometimes I use a different name – for fun. But you can call me Azzy.”

“Where is your boyfriend, Azzy?”

“I don’t have one”

“But I saw you with a man a few weeks ago, and my friend told me you were living with him”

“Oh you mean Mike. I don’t stay with him anymore. We had a big fight and we split up”.

My heart raced. “So you are a single lady?”

“Why you want to know?”

“Why do you think?”

One thing led to another and that night Azzy came to stay with me at my apartment. This was the start of my first, long term, ‘live-in’ relationship with a woman.

As mentioned earlier, Azzy was a very beautiful lady. She could have easily passed as a model; she was slim but with a lovely, curvy figure, and her face was truly statuesque. She also had a great dress sense, and always dressed ‘to kill’ and would turn the heads of every man when she entered a room.

We hit if off on the romantic front from day one and I believe she genuinely enjoyed being with me, although it wasn’t long before what was to become the ‘familiar’ side of all my women started to come to the fore. She became ever louder and ‘bossier’ and within a short while she had me completely under her proverbial thumb.

Azzi’s parents lived in Lagos and she often took me with her when she visited them. Her mother was a Christian and her father was a muslin but in those days there was no Muslim fundamentalism, and the people from the two faiths lived happily and in harmony with one another.

Azzy was from the Yuroba tribe, the predominant tribe in Lagos, and she was even related to Yoruba royalty, some of whom we went to visit from time to time.

But although beautiful, Azzy could be big trouble. Like so many Africans, she was very hot-blooded and had a violent temper.

We would have frequent fights over totally inconsequential matters – often Azzy would be jealous when I so much as looked at another woman – and she would storm out of the apartment and go back to her parents’ house.

I was totally besotted with her, and I would follow her to her parents’ home where I would solicit Azzi’s Mum and Dad’s help in persuading her to come back with me. On occasion I would have to beg and plead virtually all night before she would finally relent and agree to return with me.

This sort of behaviour wasn’t exactly conducive to me performing my work properly at the office after emotional and sleepless nights.

When Azzi wasn’t fighting me, she was fighting anyone who she perceived had insulted her in some way. She would think nothing about getting into physical confrontations with other women, and even men. I was forever trying to drag her away from potentially violent situations.

I had been in Nigeria for about six months when a “Cease Fire” was signed between the rebels and the Federal forces, and the civil war came to an end.

The rebels had had been starved into surrender. The secessionist region known as Biafra, had been cut off from the rest of Nigeria and the rebel population had ran out of food and fuel and other essential supplies.

The kids were badly malnourished and many were dying on the streets so the Ibos reluctantly called time on their desperate fight for independence.

One day, soon after peace had come to the country, I was called into my boss’s office and was told that I had to make a trip down to Port Harcourt, by road. Port Harcourt was the major town in the heart of former Biafra, where all the oil companies were located. I was to take a car-load of supplies and files for the Port Harcourt office in my battered old station wagon, and I would be accompanied by one of the company’s senior Nigerian employees.

He was Daniel Ito, an Ibo who had managed to escape to Lagos during the civil war, and was now returning to the ex rebel area to help get our oil operation up and running once again.

I was due to spend a month or so in Port Harcourt, before returning to Lagos, and with some misgivings I broke the news to Azi that we would have to be apart for a while. At that time,when I considered our ever worsening stormy relationship, it seemed that it wasn’t such a bad idea for us to be apart for a while.

Azzi was none too impressed and accused me of deliberately leaving her behind because I had a new girl friend I would be taking with me. It was nonsense, and there was no way she could go with me, but she continued to provoke fights with me until the day I left with Daniel Ito.

My journey by road from Lagos to Port Harcourt, a distance of over 350 miles over horrendously pot holed roads which were also littered with huge bomb craters, is a trip that is indelibly etched in my memory.

In addition to having to drive along virtually unnavigable roads, we also had to face the challenging prospect of crossing the huge Niger River, as the road bridge had been blown up by Federal forces, several months earlier.

It was an adventure indeed.

Jomtien, 2nd February, 2010-02-02

Today I have been sober for 13 days.

Some of you have been kind enough to offer advice following my recent relapse which was triggered by my ongoing disastrous relationships and attempted relationships with bar girls.

I really appreciate everything that has been said, and would like to publish here some of the recent comments, along with my responses.

Andy, on January 30th, 2010 at 8:01 am Said:

Hi Mobi,

I won’t dwell too much on the drink driving as it is just unacceptable and you know it is. Were it only you who could be injured then so be it but it is not fair on innocent others and I have shopped friends to the authorities for doing this, so strongly do I detest it. Enough on that, you know what you have to do.

Can I suggest that you investigate hired transport? The rip off Pattaya taxis are a rip off but if you could come to an accommodation over fees with them, or even some baht bus drivers or mini cab drivers who ply streets at night, then you would at least have someone to pick you up and take you to where you wanted to go and also to take you back, though as you know, transport back is hardly the problem. It was something I did when living in Pattaya.

As to the drinking, I concede you are an alcoholic but apart from the driving, is it really so bad? Remove the vehicle and have you solved most of the problem?

Of course your relationships have been largely disastrous or ended up that way. No matter how great my wealth, I would never have build a Bt20m mansion and virtually invited my Thai partner, my ex hooker Thai partner in your case, the opportunity to do anything, safe in the knowledge that Thai law states that she should get half upon divorce.

I get the feeling that you don’t have many friends and console yourself in the company of hookers as they will trade temporary friendship for drinks, gifts and cash. Yet I also know that most friends in Pattaya concentrate themselves around the bars, which you see as the greater problem.

I don’t think you are in the right living environment. I lived very near you in very similar accommodation and unless you wanted to stare at 4 walls you went out. That introduces the issue of the car again.

Would a better solution not to be around one of the sois off Sukhumvit as they have bars and some eating places or even to be in a condo in town. Why ? well you either have fellow expats in the village or you are in town and don’t need to drive.

Would a time lock safe be an idea? lock your car key in when sober and then you could not get them out when drunk later on ? Radical but?

No, I think you should think more about your immediate environment. I’m sorry but I don’t see not drinking as a permanent solution and perhaps I don’t see a need to try to manage the problem in that way. I’ve also been around booze enough to know more than a little about what I am saying. Permanent abstinence may work for some but if the alternative is off the booze then benders and then off again, perhaps taking away some of the problems you get into when drunk could be the answer.

You will undoubtedly disagree with me and you may well be right.

Of course, you have to deal with the last Mrs Mobi. Until that is dealt with any drinking will lead to you telephoning her and crying in your beer. You know it is not somewhere you can return to and you need to close that chapter ASAP.

I feel that if you could get her out of your life then you might be able to move on but I see her as the main reason why you jump from abstinence to bender when there may be a middle ground for a more mentally stable Mobi.

Were I around, I’d happily have a beer or a coffee with you . Maybe some day.

mobi, on February 2nd, 2010 at 9:52 am Said:

Andy, thank you for your long comment.

There is no argument about the drink driving. I will do my very best to ensure that I never go back to it.

I believe you are wrong about my drinking. Trying to drink smaller amounts on a regular basis simply does not for people like me – alcoholics. It can work for those who are known as “heavy drinkers” but not for fully fledged alcoholics.

I was trying to do that for years before I finally realised that it would never happen. Alcoholism is a progressive disease; it gradually gets worse, and the person gradually loses more and more control of his/her drinking. Blackouts occur ever more frequently, and he will reach rock bottom, quit, or kill himself. It is a very well documented path.

Many heavy drinkers – and I know quite a few, have trouble understanding why a person can’t decide that he’s had enough and quit for the night. An alcoholic can only quit when he is incapable of taking another drink, and he has absolutely no control over his intake.

If I tried to do what you suggested, I would be on a binge every day of the week, except on those days when I was too sick to drink. This is the alcoholic.

I have met so many like me at AA meetings.

If you are still in doubt, try attending one of the AA open meetings and hear the stories – then you would understand the disease.

You are spot on as far as the future ex Mrs Mobi is concerned. I have seen her once, briefly since I left her last October, and it was OK-ish, but she didn’t miss the opportunity to get on my case a bit. We have also spoken on the phone a few times and she is very keen to remove the intermediary and deal with me directly. I know what she is up to; she thinks that once she deals with me alone, she will find ways to manipulate me. So I am resisting a change in the arrangements.

She is also being very stubborn about the sale price, which is far too high in the present market, and also refused to consider renting, which while not ideal, I think is a very viable interim solution.

So until things are all sown up with Dang, my life will continue to be in a bit of turmoil.

As for friends, well I think it is me refusing to embrace them rather than the other way round. I do have a few very good friends and should use them more for companionship and comfort, but I am not very good with friends. For much of the time I prefer to be alone – it is all part of my disease. Of course in this country, I have learned to my cost that many so-called friends are not all they appear to be, and this is another reason that I exercise caution when embarking on new friendships.

Some of the kindest and most genuine people I have met are members of AA. There is no shortage of good folk there if I chose to let any of them into my life.

I think it is all down to me – as ever.

big skippy, on February 1st, 2010 at 10:48 am Said: Edit Comment

Mobi, I don’t mean to oversimplify a problem i have no experience with, but it seems that once you are able to become emotionally detached from these girls you meet in Pattaya then you’ve contained the demon. For every girl you meet in a bar, do not give them the benefit of the doubt, do not trust them, do not care about them. Perhaps it sounds harsh, but it really seems to be the best approach. Otherwise, your emotions seem to drive you to drink. Console yourself with their short term company for a fee. you have other things to do to occupy your time (such as music and AA). Trying to develop a relationship with any bargirl will be your undoing – have limited fun with them and then move on. Sorry if it sounds like I’m lecturing – it just seems to be a “common sense” approach to living in Pattaya as a single alcoholic

mobi, on February 2nd, 2010 at 6:24 pm Said:

Big Skippy, you are not oversimplifying the problem, and you are not lecturing.

I appreciate your comments.

It is difficult but I will try to follow your advice.

Ace, on January 31st, 2010 at 2:29 pm Said:


Your relationships with the bar girls reminds me of an old story you may have heard before (or variants of it).

On old man was walking home in the dead of winter and saw a snake’s apparently lifeless carcass alongside the path. It was one of God’s creatures after all and he took pity on the poor reptile which was defenceless in the frigid temperatures.

The old man took the snake to his home and put it on a rug in front of his fireplace in hope of a miracle revival and went to bed.

The next morning the old man got out of bed and hurried to the rug by the fireplace.

Much to his surprise, the snake was curled up near the fire happily flicking its tongue in and out, none worse for the wear.

Pleased with himself for his good deed, the man approached the snake to share the joyous miracle.

In an instant, the snake coiled and delivered a fatal bite deep into the man’s leg, the fangs leaving two small red marks in his calf.

Just before the stricken man lost consciousness, he said, “snake, I don’t understand! Why did you bite me, you knew it would kill me. I saved your life last night.

Through his fixed, grinning mouth, the serpent replied, “But you knew i was a snake all along!”

I don’t intend to be critical, but do you think Nong really cared when you called her a liar or said that you will never trust her again? I’ll bet she slept well that night anyway.

I got vexed by my now ex-wife for 12 years and I still struggle with that. I find the Thai bar girl thing liberating in the clarity of the “deal” as opposed to a long term relationship, such as marriage.

mobi, on February 2nd, 2010 at 9:26 am Said

Thank you for the parable.

Of course Nong didn’t care – except that it might have messed up a regular source of income. I know that.

My problem is I too like the clarity of the deal, but I have still have problems to avoid becoming emotionally involved.

I will continue to work on it.


AZZY – MY LOVE (Part 3)

That morning, when Bisi calmly informed me that she was my General Manger’s regular girl friend, a chill went down my spine. I was so naïve that I dreaded what may happen to me if he ever found out – if she told him – that I had slept with her. I might even lose my job!

As it turned out, several months later, it wasn’t me that needed to be concerned about the situation, (yes, I had spent a few more ‘nights’ with Bisi during in the intervening period), but Gerry Robbins himself.

Gerry was married, and his wife was living in Lagos with him, and out of the blue, one day in the office, Gerry called me to one side and said:

“Mobi, I know I can rely on you to be discreet about my relationship with Bisi?”

I was completely taken aback. What had Bisi told him? But I soon regained my composure, and assured Gerry that I would be the epitome of discretion and he need have no concerns on that front.

The subject was never brought up again.

I started to settle in to life in Lagos.

Initially my boss, Steve, used to pick me up from the hotel and take me to the office with him, dropping me back at the hotel at night, but after a few weeks, I was allowed to use one of the company pool cars and started driving myself. This gave me much more freedom to get out and about and explore Lagos.

After a week or so, I ‘discovered’ my hotel’s outdoor bar, where many expats would gather after work and on weekends.

I soon fell in with the drinking crowd, who started to educate me in the ways of Lagos, and in particular the women of Lagos.

In the evenings apart from the odd expat escorting his ‘live-in’ lady to the bar, it was pretty much an all male domain. However, Sunday afternoons were party time. In addition to the single expat men at the bar, many expat families gathered in the hotel garden which surrounded the bar and enjoyed an afternoon of eating and drinking, to the accompaniment of the Police band who would set up on the garden stage. Even the expats who had children would bring them along to the garden and let  them run around and play.

On my first Sunday there, I was also surprised to notice a fair sprinkling of ‘single Nigerian girls’ who also came along to enjoy the afternoon’s festivities, and theye would seat themselves at separate tables, a little apart from the rest of the diners.

Occasionally one of the girls would walk over the perimeter of the bar and greet one of the drinking men who would be sitting and drinking there with his friends.

As dusk fell, the families would slowly depart back to their homes and some of single men would move away from the bar and make their way to the tables where the girls were drinking. Then a few of the girls would come and sit at the bar. Everyone seemed to know each other and I felt a bit out of it.

One of my new found drinking friends, a young Englishman a few years senior to myself – Ian by name –  called out to several of the girls by name, and they returned the compliment.

Addressing him, they shouted back: “Ee-yan, hello Ee-yan!”

“How come you know all these girls?” I asked Ian.

“Oh they are all the regulars from the clubs across town”. It doesn’t take long to get to know most of them.

This was a new revelation to me. I had no idea that there were clubs across town where ladies like this could be found.

“So where exactly are these clubs?” I asked.

“You mean to tell me that you haven’t been out yet?”

“No- not really. Only to my boss’s house for dinner.  Most of the time I’ve been either at the office or the hotel.”

“Well, we’ll have to do something about that. Tell you what, how about meeting me at the lobby tomorrow night, around seven p.m. and I’ll take you on a tour of the night spots.”

I agreed, with burgeoning enthusiasm.

And so began my new adventure with the bars, clubs and whores of Nigeria.

I duly met Ian the following evening, and we started off in the place that was become my ‘second home’. It was a well known, popular club, owned and run by a very portly Lebanese man by the name of Tiger and was situated in the heart of  downtown Lagos, about twenty minutes drive from my hotel. This was The Tavern.

The Tavern buzzed seven days a week, and it was easy to see why. It was a large, well decorated place that had a wall to wall bar, a large dining area, a stage for live musicians and a decent sized dance floor. Music was played by a very lively band very night, the Lebanese-managed restaurant served excellent food, and last but not least, it had by far the largest selection of  beautiful, nubile, young Nigerian ladies who thronged to the bar every night in search of customers.

It was a life that I was to immerse myself in for the entire time I stayed in Nigeria. I loved the happy-go- lucky atmosphere; I loved the wonderful rhythmic, uninhibited music – a mixture of soul, juju, ‘Highlife ‘and Afro-Pop, Most of all I loved and lusted after the gorgeous women.

On that first night, Ian took me to a number of other night clubs, most of them further afield than the Cavern, and not as well patronised.

One club, which I was later to regards as my ‘third home’ was a little way out of the downtown area, and was call ‘Cabana Bamboo’ – for that was what it was, a very large Cabana, made of  bamboo. It had a small complement of young ladies, the music was more subdued than the music dished out at the Tavern, and there was a scattering of western patrons.

However I liked the ambience of the place, and I quite liked the cut of the girls there, even though although they were less of them than at Then Tavern.

It was while we were having a beer at the bar that a couple – a local lady with an expat escort –  walked in and  sat at a nearby table. My attention was immediately drawn to the woman; she was the most striking lady I had seen since my arrival in the country. She had a classical African face and in my humble opinion she would have had no problem being employed as a fashion model. Her figure was perfect and she was showing it off to wonderful effect in tight fitting trousers with bell bottoms that were the fashion inn those days, and a low cut top.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

“Who is she, Ian? Do you know her?”

“I have met her once or twice, her name is Taiwo”

“That guy she is with – is that her boyfriend?”

“Yes, Mobi, I’m afraid so. They’ve been together for quite a while now.”

I had trouble hiding my disappointment. She looked so incredibly lovely, but I guess that would be one lady who passed me by.

Over the next few months, I slipped into a regular schedule and lifestyle.

Work was not particular demanding as there wasn’t too much going on in the oil front. The Company’s main operations in the eastern region were out of action due to the ongoing civil war, and there was  just a dribble of production out of Warri in the mid west region of the country. So I put in my required hours in the office and devoted all my main energies to enjoying myself when off work.

Early evenings would be spent at either the inside bar or the garden bar at the Federal Palace, and at some point of an evening, a few of  us would grab a cab and go downtown to The cavern, and sometimes travel further afield to clubs like the Cabana Bamboo in search of new pleasures and new women.

I had finally moved out of the hotel and into an apartment that my company had leased for me downtown. I also had pretty much unlimited use of a company car.

My first ‘girl friend’; i.e. one who I dated most nights, and on many weekends would go and stay with her at her room in the suburbs, was a lively young lady named Julie. She was pert and very pretty. We had a lot of fun together, and she taught me a great deal about sexual pleasures.

But I wasn’t in love with Julie, and after a while my eyes started to wander to pastures new, and I resolved to dump her. It wasn’t as easy as I had anticipated and there was a fair amount of ‘palaver’ on the dance floor at The Cavern on the night that I broke the news to her, but in the end she got the message and that was that.

It was soon after I dumped Julie that I made my first journey out into the bush.

I had to travel to the company’s field offices at Warri in the mid west to sort out a few financial issues. The only way there was by road – very bad, potholed roads, and the journey had to be completed within the hours of daylight. There was a nation- wide night curfew outside of Lagos, and roadblocks were set up around each town so that no-one could come or go, once dusk had fallen.

If there was a serious hold up en route – an accident blocking the road, or a vehicle break down and so on – sometimes the oilfield workers never made it, and were forced to spend an uncomfortable and dangerous night in the jungle, where even in the Midwest, there was the possibility of rebel soldiers, or maverick, marauding gangs of government soldiers who would think little of robbing and killing white westerners stuck in a stationery vehicle in the jungle at night.

I set off at the crack of dawn, as soon as the daytime road blocks had been lifted, with my Nigerian clerk as a guide, and it was a mad-capped ride at break neck speed along the rutted bush roads to make it to Warri before sunset.

I never really considered the potential dangers involved, and upon reflection, neither my employers. That was simply the way it was in those days in the hard cut and thrust of exploring for oil in not so hospitable, far flung corners of the world.

We lived ‘on the edge’, and indeed some of us died on the edge; there had been a recent incident when two expatriates working for another  Oil Company, who had been shot and killed at an army road block by drunken soldiers after the passengers had tried to complain about being stopped and searched.

For me it was an adventure, and I enjoyed driving the big old American station wagon, and merely regarded it as a challenge to drive to Warri and to make it to my journey’s end before the road barriers came down.

One of the keys to a successful journey was to make sure we had plenty of “dash” and cigarettes to give to the soldiers at the road blocks en route to ensure  we weren’t held up too long – something our colleagues from  the other oil company had failed to do, and paid with their lives.

So we made it with a good hour to spare and found our way to the company’s offices.

Warri was not too far away, across the delta from the secessionist Eastern region, and at that time it was pretty much a ‘wild west’ sort of a town. The power supply was intermittent at best and every major operation, hotels and expat housing had their own generators.

Most of the roads were pitted, mud tracks and crime was rife – especially after dark.

We met the local field manager who escorted us to our hotel – a roughly made, single storey construction with a dozen basic rooms at the back, and a large bar and reception area at the front.

Compared to the relative luxury of the Federal Palace in Lagos, this place was a huge let down. It was dirty, smelly, hot and humid. There was no air-conditioning, and only about half of the rusty fans seemed to work at all.

The staff  were badly dressed and pretty surly.When one of them showed me my room, I  complained about the filthy state of the bed sheet and pillows – but he just looked at me and walked away.

Back at the bar / restaurant area I homed in on the collection of unlikely looking females who were sitting around at tables at the far end of the building.

They were dressed appallingly and didn’t look very comely. I remember to this day that one of them was in a very advanced sate of pregnancy, but was still plying her trade with any hotel guests who might be interested in something a bit different.

I resolved to avoid any intimate contact with these very poor specimens of African womanhood and after a few beers, mercifully crashed alone on my unclean bed.

The next evening, my hormones were starting to rage again, and what I had written off as the most unattractive bunch of prostitutes I had ever seen on the previous evening, were now starting to take on a more tempting appearance. In particular, there was one lady who I spotted who I hadn’t seen on the previous night. Although no beauty, she was a decided cut above the others, in both dress and looks.

I went after her and bedded her. I repeated this on the following two nights.

On my fourth night in Warri I was in a blind panic. I was experiencing sharp pains when urinating, and I had detected a discharge. I knew little about venereal disease in those far off days, and although I realised that I had indeed contracted some form of VD, I had no idea what to do about it.

I was beside myself and highly embarrassed. Eventually I screwed up the courage to ask one of the oilfield hands – a Dutch ‘tool pusher’ who had been very friendly to me – for advice.

He was highly amused at my plight and wasted no time in laughing at me and telling all and sundry that Mobi had the clap!!

I was dismayed at this betrayal of confidence, but after a few beers started to see the funny side of it and ended up laughing with everyone else.

Some antibiotics were obtained from a local chemist and I was put on a heavy dosage, which resulted in me being clean and free of the disease by the time we made the hazardous return journey to Lagos, some ten days later.

I resolved never to take a girl from any of our more ‘remote’ locations, in the future.

I was back in Lagos for two days when I noticed that I was experiencing increased itchiness from my crotch area. That evening I took  a bath and examined what was ‘going on’ down there.

I nearly jumped out of my skin. There were tiny little black creatures crawling around in my ‘nether regions”. I was disgusted and horrified. I had no idea what had happened or what these creature were. I tried to wash them out but it proved impossible.

It was a weekend, so I decided to drive over to the federal Palace and see if I could track down my friend Ian and ask him for advice.

Thankfully he was at the outdoor bar with a few of our mutual friends and I took him to one side and told him what I had found living in my body and that at that very moment, was itching like mad.

Like the tool pusher before him, Ian burst out in a peal of loud laughter and again wasted no time in announcing to the assembled group that Mobi had caught a crab!

Again I was upset and humiliated, but what could I do about it?

I asked the drinking group how I could get of these ‘crabs’ as they were driving me to distraction.

It seemed no one had a ready cure for crabs, but one guy did say that he had heard that mosquito spray should work.

A short while later I drove home, stopping on the way to buy a can of mosquito spray.

I sat on the bath edge and sprayed the delicate area of my skin.

Yes – I know – I wasn’t thinking too well. I nearly jumped through the roof, such was the pain I experienced. I was in agony and hopped around the bathroom for ten minutes until the pain started to subside, cursing the man who had told me to use the spray. I decided that he had been ‘winding me up’.

I took a look at the still tender area, and to my delight and surprise I discovered that the ‘crabs’ were falling out of the folds in my skin. They were indeed dead. I washed thoroughly and let out a huge sigh of relief when I determined that they had all been killed by the spray.  I was now free of them.

I will never know if the guy was ‘winding me up’. The spray did indeed work, but in ‘taking the cure’ I had experienced one of the most painful ten minutes of my life.

It was a salutary lesson. I had contracted the ‘clap’ and ‘crabs’, both probably caught from my Warri lady. Up to that point I had been sleeping indiscriminately with all and sundry and I realised that I would have to clean up my act (literally), if I was to avoid future problems of a similar nature.

Maybe it was time to settle down, once again, with a regular girl friend.

But who and where would I find such a person?

Jomtien, 1st February 2010.

Today is the 12th day of my sobriety.

The author and spiritual teacher,  Eckhard Tolle , about whom I will write more about later, has asserted that we are all consumed with our egos and ‘thinking’. In his writings, he encourages us to be ‘present’ and to enjoy the ‘now’ and in effect to try and stop our poisonous, destructive ‘thinking’.

There are many ways we can momentarily ‘come out of ourselves’ and  enjoy a glimpse of  a new consciousness or enlightenment.

One way is to immerse ourselves in our work, particularly creative work; but it can be literally any job or task that we enjoy doing, that we are able to do well and become totally engrossed in it.

I know that I am a very egotistical person – all alcoholics are; it’s a very common character defect.

When I write – this blog or other creative work – I do become less inclined to indulge in egotistical thinking; I can feel it within myself.

I used to play the piano, (unfortunately I had to leave it behind at my house), and that was another occasion when I felt at peace with the world and with life and I stopped ‘thinking’. I just ‘lived’ and became ‘one’ with the music I was playing.

Similarly, when I listen to inspirational music, it takes me out of myself.

Yesterday, I took a day off from my blog. I have felt increasingly depressed, and in a desperate attempt to counteract the depression I decided to be more active around my condo and to change my routine.

So I busied myself with some long overdue tidying up and sorted out some of my papers.

For weeks now I have had the TV playing in the background – either BBC World or Fox News, or when I grew tired of international news, I would listen to BBC radio from the UK, courtesy of the internet.

I go through these phases, so yesterday it was time for a change and I put on a music video, the first time for quite a while.

It was Andrea Bocelli performing live at an outdoor concert in Tuscany. I had forgotten how beautiful his voice is and how emotionally charged his songs.

It was inspirational, and left me breathless. It was almost as if I was there. He is blind but it never seems to faze him. He seems such a gentle, loving man, and sings exquisitely.

I listened and watched him perform for over an hour and my depression started to lift.

For a short while I had stopped ‘thinking’ and had become really ‘conscious’.

Then I played some more of my favourite music tracks and ‘ripped’ the Bocelli DVD onto my hard disk, and then I ‘burnt’ the audio tracks onto a CD so that I could listen to it in my car.

I was so immersed in my sound and video machinations that I missed the evening AA meeting – yet again. I suddenly realized hadn’t been to a meeting for two days, even though I had resolved to immerse myself in them.

This morning, despite having only about four hours fitful sleep, I roused myself and made it to the nine a.m. meeting.

It was a pretty good meeting.

The sad subject of parents dying was raised by another member and when it was my turn to ‘share’, I spoke about the events surrounding my own parent’s deaths, which I hadn’t mentioned to anyone for many years.

I had been living and working in Thailand in 1982 when I received word that my father had died. I immediately went on a serious drinking binge and became very, very, drunk. I remember to this day sitting in many different bars, all alone, with the tears streaming down my face.

My father was a brute of a man with an uncontrollable, vicious temper who had bullied and dominated his family for literally decades. He was a total bastard by any standards.

Yet there I was, crying. Why? I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel happy. I think I just felt free – free at last from his overwhelming influence in my life. I was crying from relief.

Following my father’s death I have already recounted in “Mobi’s Story” how my then wife persuaded me to return to England to take care of my ageing mother.

My mother had borne the brunt of my father’s cruel behaviour for over forty years. She was such a dear, sweet little thing, who had done the best for her children under very difficult circumstances. As well as bringing up the kids, doing all the housework and cooking, she had worked full time to pay the bills, while my father feigned illness, stayed at home and made trouble for everyone.

Now, at the age of seventy three, frail and sick and lonely, she was at last free of him. Her eldest daughter was living in South Africa, my elder brother lived the other side of the Thames with his own family, and I was the other side of the world in Thailand.

So my wife, her seven year old daughter and I, moved to England to live with and take care of my mum, and try to give a little happiness in her old age.

I like to think that the next six years were probably the happiest in my mum’s entire life. At long last free of her terrible husband, she was able to relax, travel and do things she had been unable to do when married. And she had some family around her to take care of her and give her all the comfort and love she deserved.

In 1989 my mother went to visit her daughter in South Africa and to celebrate her eightieth birthday.

The day she was due back, my brother insisted on meeting her and taking her to his house for a few days, before sending her back to her home with me and my family.

He met her and took her to his house and then went back to his office, leaving her all alone. She called me, and she clearly was very ill. She told me she had had a very bad flight back to England, had no sleep and felt terrible. I called my brother and told him to go home immediately and take mum to hospital.

This he did, but for whatever reason I can’t imagine, she didn’t stay long at the hospital, and an hour later she was back in the empty house, and my brother had once more returned to work.

Around six o’clock, my brother called me in a highly distressed state and told me that Mum had just had a massive heart attack and he thought she was beyond help, but an ambulance was on its way. A few minutes later he called back to confirm that my mother had indeed passed away.

He told me: “There was nothing anyone could have done”.

My brain was numb, and I couldn’t think of anything to say and put the phone down.

I opened a bottle of scotch, and drank and drank, but never seemed to get drunk. I just seemed to remain sober, in full possession of my faculties; thinking about the only woman in my life who had ever really loved me and been good to me.

I was completely shattered. I cried and I cried and I cried.

Later came the recriminations. I suppose I wanted to blame someone for my loss, and my brother was as good a target as I was likely to find. To this day I never said anything to him about it, but I blamed him for Mum’s death. I know she was old and frail and sick and probably wouldn’t have lived too much longer, but she didn’t have to die at that time in his empty house, because he was too selfish and insensitive to her plight to have realised he should have stayed with her.

I carried that resentment inside me for a very long time. In fact I think I have nurtured so many resentments as far as my brother is concerned.

But I have come to realise that I have been in the wrong for all these years. The only person who has been hurt by those resentments is me.

My brother is not a bad person. Nobody is perfect – least of all me. So who I am I to judge others?

He is what he is, and he has certainly lived a better and more fulfilling life than I could ever dream of. I am sure he has never done anything bad with malice or forethought.

It’s just me with my twisted, alcoholic brain that finds fault where there is only human frailty.

After my father died, he was to continue to haunt my thoughts for many years – and he still does to some extent. I had nightmares about him for years and years, but something happened a couple of years back, which seemed to finally expurgate my memory of him. I will write about this later.

So amazingly enough, I no longer feel any resentment for him – my Dad.

They say a son never gets over the death of his mother, and for me that is certainly true. I love her as much today as I did on the day she died and I still think of her every day, mourn her and miss her.

In case you missed it that is the reason I decided to swear on my mother’s grave I would never drink again.

Jomtien, 30th January, 2010 – still sober.

Today is my 10th day of sobriety.

A post script to my ‘bar stories’ in yesterday’s blog.

I returned to my regular pub, quite late last night for a bite to eat. Lek – the lesbian – who had puked her guts out the night before and whose new boyfriend had departed in deep sorrow, was now back behind the bar, fully recovered and looking very pretty.

The boyfriend was also back and the two of them were playing ‘lovey-dovey ‘with each other across the bar. Presumably the troubles of the previous evening had been resolved.

I was too far away from them to overhear what was being said, but suddenly, after half an hour the boyfriend angrily asked for his bill and shouted he was leaving and would never, ever return. Lek leaned across the bar, held his hands and tried to placate him. He duly paid the bill, but by this time Lek had seemingly succeeded in calming him down and he ordered another beer.

It wasn’t to last long. Whatever the argument was about, it exploded again and the boyfriend started shouting at Lek who walked away. I didn’t know what the argument was about but I could hear him accusing her of lying. Surprise surpise!

He ordered more beers and then started talking to Lek’s friends who also worked behind the bar, and he was obviously expressing his anger and I could hear him accusing them of “knowing” and of Lek lying to him.

The result of all this was that Lek bought herself a bottle of beer and started drinking in earnest. Then she actually smiled and spoke to me, Mobi for  the first time since we had fallen out. Then she smiled at some of the other men at the bar and within a few minutes was sitting on the other side of the bar next to a customer who was plying her with drinks.

The boy friend was drowning his sorrows at the other end of the bar.

It was time for me to leave. I wonder what it was all about?

I could guess.


AZZY – MY LOVE (Part 2)

In moments of extreme danger, it is amazing how the adrenalin kicks in and fear seems to vanish. I suppose it’s the brain’s self preservation mechanism that goes into overdrive when your life is threatened.

On this particular occasion I don’t recall being terrified or ‘shitting myself’, even though at any moment I was half expecting a bullet in the back of my head.

In fact I think I remained quite calm while I tried to assess the chances of making a run for it. The dense jungle was only a few yards away, and I could hear the soldiers and the taxi driver shouting at each other.

I speculated whether the unseen mob behind me was more interested in arguing than watching what I was up to, but before I could come to a decision, I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder and was whisked around to face them.

It was the taxi driver. He said:

“Mister, you got any pounds?”


“I wanna pounds. Dey need de dash!” he said, pointing at the soldiers a few feet away.

I was to learn later that “dash’ was Nigerian slang for a bribe but even though I didn’t understand the word,  I realised he was asking for money and took my wallet out from my back pocket and started to remove some crisp English five pound notes.

“No! No! Nigerian Pounds.”

He grabbed my wallet and started rifling through it when one of the soldiers came up behind him flourishing his rifle and took the wallet from his hands. They started arguing and I thought there was going to be a fight when, what I assumed to be an officer, approached the squabbling pair.

He shouted at the two men and the wallet once more changed hands. He rifled through my English money to see how much was there, before dropping the wallet into his tunic pocket.

Then he shouted at the men and they scrambled around, throwing my belongings back into my bags and loading them back into the boot of the jalopy. The taxi driver beckoned for me to get back into the vehicle and I wasted no time in accepting his invitation.

A few minutes later I was on my way once again towards downtown Lagos. I was fifty pounds the lighter, which was a lot of money in those far off days, but I didn’t care; I was miraculously still in one piece.

We hit the main city an hour later. The traffic was manic, the roads were a mass of potholes and the sidewalks were seething with the local populace dressed in all manner of colourful traditional African garb, women with food and other produce piled high on their heads , impoverished sidewalk vendors and so on,  all going about their daily business.

The most noticeable thing of all though was the music. The sound of drums and West African popular music was everywhere – blasting out from everywhere; from tiny transistor radios, from rusty speakers in shop doorways and from God knows what else. There was even the odd live musician, banging away on colourful local, bongo-style drums.

During my three years in Nigeria, I never came across a single place where there wasn’t music playing, people smiling and frequently dancing. You could never be free of it – music permeated the very fabric of society. Music and rhythm is truly the lifeblood of the African.

I had put my total confidence in this taxi to deliver me to the correct destination. Had I been in Nigeria even a few days I would have been horrified at putting such a trust in someone I had never met and who operated an ‘illegal’ taxi service from Lagos airport.

However, as the saying goes, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” and my foolish trust held good, for at long last we drew up at a tall office building in the centre of Bangkok.

The driver alighted and had a verbal exchange with a man sitting outside the building, and then the two of them unloaded my bags and the driver herded me and my bags into the lift. The driver, the guy downstairs and me with all my bags squeezed into the lift and up we went to the sixth floor.

Although I didn’t know it quite yet, there to unexpectedly greet me was the general manager of my company – my big boss. He had been waiting for the lift and was about to get in when the driver mentioned my company’s name to him.

He turned to me.


“Yes”, I replied with a fleeting smile.

“My God! How did you get here? Where’s Steve?” he asked, referring to my immediate new boss – the expatriate financial controller.

“By the way, I’m Gerry Robins.”

I hadn’t met either Gerry or Steve before, but breathed a small sigh of relief that I had finally made contact and at long last had arrived in one piece at my new place of work.

“I don’t know where Steve is. He wasn’t at the airport to meet me so this guy drove me here in his taxi.”

“Jeez! You were lucky he didn’t take you into the jungle and rob and kill you. Come in and take a seat.”

He escorted me to his office where a beautiful, statuesque lady dressed in exquisite local African dress was already seated. She rose.

“This is Miss Femi our personnel manager,” Gerry said.

Femi was absolutely stunning and her traditional costume was draped around her slim body in the most sensuous manner. I was almost too overwhelmed and shy to say anything, but I stuttered a ‘hello’ and Femi graciously gave me a lovely welcoming smile in return.

Gerry told Miss Femi to deal with the taxi driver and sat down opposite me to officially welcome me to the Nigerian operations.

We had been chatting for a few minutes and I was relating my experiences at the road block and the loss of my wallet  when the door burst open and a large western man strode in, looking extremely flustered.

It was Steve.

“Mobi! Mobi! It’s you!  You are here?”

“Yes, Steve, Mobi is here,” said Gerry, “Where the hell were you? Mobi could have been robbed and killed.”

“But he was due in at ten o’clock. I was there in plenty of time but there was no sign of him, so I came back to the office to find out if he had been delayed in London.”

I had arrived at seven that morning and told him so.

There had clearly been some confusion about my arrival times, and Steve, like Gerry before him, told me how lucky I was to have arrived at the office in one piece.

Although my employer had a long established residence in Nigeria, the general public would have had little knowledge of the company or where it was located. It was a minor miracle that not only was my taxi driver basically honest, but that he knew where to take me.

My arrival in Lagos and thence to the downtown office became legend amongst the expats in the smoky bars of Lagos.

Later that day, Steve drove me to The Federal Palace Hotel, located on a nearby residential suburb of Lagos, and which was to be my home for several months.

The Federal Palace Hotel was the only hotel for tse with money to stay at. Built during the later stages of the British colonial era, it was luxurious and palatial, with large spacious gardens, leading down to the nearby lagoon, and which also hosted a popular, outdoor bar.

It was a Friday and I had the weekend to settle into my new life in Nigeria. Steve picked me up again that evening to take me to his nearby home where his wife had prepared a ‘welcome’ dinner for me.

I was twenty three years old, an although I had already had a few adventures in New York and Canada, I was still pretty ‘green under the gills’ as far as expatriate life was concerned in a ‘third world’, tropical country.

In those early days, I was all alone, and I well recall my first weekend in Nigeria.

On Saturday night, I found myself in the main reception/lounge area to have a few beers. When I first sat down it was early and the place was almost deserted, but before long the Nigerian Police band arrived to set up their instruments and entertain us. Within a short while local dignitaries gathered for an evening out to wine, dine and dance the night away.

It was a typical, immediately-post colonial social occasion. Class barriers no longer existed and there was an interesting and diverse cross section of Nigerian society who assembled at the Federal Palace for that and every Saturday night. There were ageing colonial expats in their best bib and tuckers, younger guys in safaris suits and more casual clothes; wealthy Nigerians in either stuffy western attire or traditional African dress; and last but not least a small collection of beautiful, apparently single girls who sauntered in during the evening wearing figure hugging, revealing outfits, and took their place at the long bar.

I had no idea that they were prostitutes. I had never come across any before so how could I know?  I just sat alone at my table and stared at them. I was fascinated and lustful. My hormones were raging, but I would be terrified to go within ten feet of any of them.

The police band struck up. It was part excruciating and part intoxicating. They were all a little out of tune, and slightly out of step with each other, but there was a raw, exciting ‘African-ness’ about their musicianship that seemed to rise above their individual musical shortcomings.

By the time the assembled diners had consumed a few large bottles of local beer, the music was sounding better and better and they started to trip out onto the dance floor and make merry.

There were a few late arrivals; young western men in khakis who made their way to the bar and sat down next to the girls.

In my naivety, I assumed the girls had been waiting for their dates, but something about the way they behaved and danced made me wonder. When I noticed that at least two of the girls had  changed partners since the men had arrived, the penny started to drop and I  realised that they must be ‘ladies of the night.’ My excitement increased.

I wasn’t a virgin – but not far off, and I was certainly a virgin as far as prostitutes were concerned.

I was far too shy to go anywhere near the bar, and later when the beer had done it’s work I called it a night and went back to my hotel room all alone and somewhat titillated about what I had seen that night.

The next day was Sunday, and I was yet to discover the drunken fellowship that awaited me at the outside, garden bar.

I spent the day alone, and in the evening, as there seemed to be nothing much happening in the main bar, I explored some other areas of the hotel and came across the casino complex.

It was quite late, but the casino was in full swing. I wasn’t a gambler, and knew nothing about gambling or roulette wheels, but watched the action for a while, before retiring to the casino bar which was empty.

I noticed that there were a couple of well dressed, lovely ladies sitting with customers, and after a while, one of them got up from the man she was sitting with and came to bar and sat down next to me.

She wasn’t a youngster but she had a beautiful face and a generous, well rounded figure and was wearing a tight fitting,  expensive looking evening dress.

She kept looking me over and after a few minutes she smiled and started speaking to me.

I was terrified, but she was an accomplished lady and it wasn’t long before she put me at my ease and I started chatting freely to her. Her name was Bisi.

I told Bisi that I had only just arrived in Lagos and worked for an oil company.

That seemed to be enough for her, and within a short while she was asking me to take her to my room.

My timidity returned and I began to sweat telling her that it wouldn’t be convenient as I had to get up early; but she would have none of it, and my shyness once again dissolved as pure lust replaced it.

I was acutely embarrassed when we had to go to the lobby and sign my lady in for the night. The receptionist informed me that my company bill would be charged for a ‘double’ fee for the night and I was alarmed at what my new boss would think when he saw the bill.

Once in my room the shyness returned, but Bisi turned out to be a consummate professional, and she led me tenderly and expertly through the excitement of a very enjoyable sexual experience.

She stayed the night and in the morning I paid for my first ever prostitute, the first of hundreds, quite possibly thousands, over the next forty years.

Before she left she asked me what company I worked for. I told her and she asked:

“Oh, so you must know Gerry?”

“Gerry? Gerry Robbins, the general Manger?” I said.

“Yes, Gerry – so do you know him?”

“Yes, why?”

“Gerry is my boyfriend. I usually see him every night, but yesterday he couldn’t come so I decided to go with you. So you are one of Gerry’s boys. How interesting!”