Not too much has happened on the Mobi-domestic front over the past two weeks, except that we’ve been having a fair bit of rain, and for the past few days, another dry spell which has been accompanied by an unwelcome return to high temperatures. The A/C is back on in our bedroom, but so far the kids are still in their own rooms with their fans.
Reflections of a Septuagenarian
The only thing of note that has happened in the past fortnight is that by some miracle, poor, chronically sick, alcoholic Mobi has reached the grand old age of 70. As many of my contemporaries are dropping like flies, I guess it’s something to celebrate.
I’ve always been reluctant to acknowledge the advance of old age, and indeed in my late fifties and early sixties, I still had the appearance of someone much younger. People would be genuinely surprised when I told them my age. It had nothing to do with me or my lifestyle – but everything to do with genes, as my late father still looked to be in his forties when he was in his seventies.
But the vast volumes of alcohol that I had poured down my gullet for much of my life eventually caught up with me in my early sixties. I’ll never forget the day I went to see a good Thai friend who I hadn’t seen for a year and he told me that I had aged ten years since he had last seen me. He was genuinely shocked by my appearance. At the time, I had just left Dang – my fifth wife – and was trying to drink myself to death.
But now I’ve made it to seventy, quite a milestone. I have been 100% sober for over five years and my chronic medical conditions are well under control. Next week I will go and see my GI specialist in Bangkok and I am hoping that he will tell me to start cutting back on my mountain of medications. Over the past month or so I have finally got to grips with doing some proper daily exercise, and every afternoon I walk for around 35 minutes – and I’ve even been doing a little bit of jogging! No noticeable weight loss yet, but I live in hope.
It is very sobering when so many people around my age are succumbing to the call of the grim reaper; such as the Terry Wogan, David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett, Alan Rickman Paul Daniels, Johan Cruyff and the great Muhammed Ali (see separate article).
The list is endless, and give or take a few years, all are in the same age bracket as yours truly.
Long-time readers of my blog may recall a character called Singha John who was the bane of my life when I owned and ran Mobi’s bar for six months in 2014. He was forever creating drunken disturbances and one way or another causing me and mine a lot of grief.
He was younger than me by a month, but he will never reach 70 as he passed away two months ago. We thought that booze would eventually be his downfall, but his second addiction – cigarettes – got there first, and he died a painful death with lung cancer. Here he is in 2007/8, in better days at my house in Pong and at his favourite bar, Mannekinne Pis, in better days.
RIP SJ, you were quite a nice bloke until Singha beer pickled your brain.
At one time or another, most of us think about advancing age and we tend to celebrate certain birthday milestones, particularly the end of decades, as they come and go. I can’t recall my thirtieth or fortieth birthdays at all – but I well remember my fiftieth and my sixtieth.
On my fiftieth, I was still working in the city as the high-flying CFO of an international insurance conglomerate. I had kept it quiet as I was never keen to make a fuss on these occasions.
But somehow my company secretary at the time – Denise – a very dynamic Northern Irish lady in her late thirties – prepared a surprise party for me in an upmarket city restaurant. The CEO and all my senior managers were there and I well recall wining and dining the afternoon away. Denise tried to come onto me, but in the best of English traditions, I rejected her advances. I was already married with two great kids, and anyway, I was in fear and trembling of my fourth wife. Denise left soon after.
My sixtieth birthday was another very drunken affair. I was still living with my fifth wife, Dang, and I was pretty upset that she had completely forgotten it. Sixty years on this earth is not only a significant birthday in western culture, but even more significant in Asian culture as it is the start of the sixth, twelve-year life-cycle.
By this time I was a non-functioning (out of control) alcoholic, So I took this forgetfulness as a good excuse to start drinking myself into a stupor from early morning. I knew which bars opened in the day and so I commenced my marathon bar crawl. At some point during the morning, Dang called me and as I was already pissed, I berated her for forgetting my birthday and rang off.
As the day progressed, Dang called me many times but I refused to answer the phone. Finally, in the late afternoon, I answered. She told me to go home as she had a surprise for me. I assumed her ‘surprise’ was probably another fight, but being a little curious and emboldened by alcohol, I made it back home an hour later.
My little Dang had been very busy. Since my morning call, she had been planning a surprise. When I arrived home, she had set up a huge party in my large garden, with loads of tables and chairs and masses of food and even a live band! Somehow she had managed to contact all my drinking buddies and they turned up with their wives and girlfriends, along with many of Dang’s friends and relations.
As you can imagine – it was quite a night. The food was great, (ordered and delivered from all the local eateries), the music was great and the booze was even greater. How I managed to keep going that evening I will never know, but around midnight, I passed out cold and didn’t wake until very late the next day. I don’t remember going to bed. Maybe I was carried.
Dang was very pleased with her efforts, and I had to admit she had done a wonderful job at very short notice. She hadn’t even started until I told her the previous morning that she had forgotten my birthday.
It cost a packet … guess who paid?
My seventieth birthday has passed quite peacefully. Lek sent me a torrent of ’emoticons’ on ‘Line’ to wish me a happy birthday, and my two daughters did something similar on ‘WhatsApp’ and I assumed that was the end of it. What a digital world we now live in.
But Lek and the kids disappeared in the afternoon to go shopping and when they returned, they brought some back KFC for my dinner. Later, when I was busy on my computer, they suddenly emerged from the kitchen with an ice cream birthday cake with one candle on it and sang you know what….
I don’t encourage extravagant birthdays as I simply can’t afford to splash out so I was very happy and content with the modest celebration. Yet again I wondered at my good fortune in having such a happy, loving family after a life of debauchery.
What odds on reaching eighty?