Those of you who have been reading my blog for many years will be aware of my ‘rags to riches’ and ‘back to rags’ life story, with my chaotic ‘highs’ and ‘lows’, my appalling choices of women with whom I shared my tortured life and my final descent into alcoholism and depression.
You will also have ‘witnessed’ my ascent from the bowels of hell, as I threw off the yoke of alcohol addiction and met the first truly good woman in my life,who was instrumental in helping me to keep my depressive tendencies in check and to stay away from the demon booze.
In the annals of this blog, my life has been an open book and I have spared my readers nothing.
In more recent times I have shared with you my nightmarish medical problems, including the risky open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve two years ago, the loss of all my savings in an investment scam last year; and this year, my attempts to eke out a living by running a bar.
Recently, I have written that my moods have become increasingly dark and in an attempt to halt the slide I have once more been taking anti-depressant medication which I last took back in 2011.
I can’t imagine how I might be feeling and behaving right now if I wasn’t on anti-depressant medication. As it is, I am still experiencing many ‘lows’ that are proving increasingly difficult to climb out of.
People who come to my bar would unaware of my real state of mind as although I might seem a little less cheerful than usual, I still act in all ways as Mine Host, and give a cheery welcome to one and all.
But deep down, inside, I am often not feeling at all cheerful, especially when we have a succession of very bad days at the bar, which has happened recently, and even more especially when my relationship with Noo starts to fray at the edges.
Last Friday night, with nobody around to talk to and following a particularly bad evening at the bar I wrote the following, at the peak of my depression.
Friday, 22nd August, midnight.
Didn’t we almost have it all?
It’s midnight and the bar is empty, save for one very elderly unshaven very drunken, pot- bellied Englishman who is propping up the bar with the aid of two of our ladies who he thinks he is entitled to maul as much as he likes because he has bought them each a drink for two lousy quid.
I have just put on that wonderful ballad: ‘Didn’t we almost have it all’ by the late and great Whitney Houston – one of so many tortured souls who went well before her time.
She is singing the song in a huge, very cold American stadium. I can tell she is cold because she is wearing a woolly hat and leather gloves. She clutches the microphone through her gloves as if it is the only thing that separates her from life and death.
There is no sign of the backing band on the massive cavernous stage – it must be hidden out of shot – and she sings the first few words to the unseen adoring masses staring up at her, all alone and unaccompanied.
You can somehow sense the emotion running through her as she starts to sing this sad ballad and you can almost predict the self-destruction that is to overtake her in but a few precious years down the road. Those first few words are sung a cappella with a croaking emotion will give you goose bumps or turn your stomach to jelly – or both.
Then her beautiful voice soars through the melody and the still invisible band cranks up the tension with it’s full-on arrangement that perfectly complements the diva’s performance at the front of the stage.
Didn’t we almost have it all?
I have just read a news article about Gazza – Paul Gascoigne – that brilliant but utterly damaged exponent of the Beautiful Game – for whom fame and fortune was simply too much for him to handle, and he pissed it all away and ended up as a common to garden drunk in the gutter, lurching from crisis to crisis, in and out of courts, jail and rehab centres.
I know how you feel Paul – I understand your pain so well.
So many well-meaning folk have loved you and tried to help you, but what they don’t understand is that you can’t be helped unless you want to be helped – and I don’t think that you do. I think you are hell bent on destroying yourself, just like Georgie Best , Hurricane Higgins, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and so many countless, fragile, alcoholic talents before you.
Then up pops dear ol’ ‘Arry Redknapp – the football manager who seems to have been around since the game was invented.
‘Arry has told the press that there is an open offer on the table to Gazza to come and work with him at QPR football club and help train the kids….
‘If he wants to do it I would pick him up every morning at 0545 at the end of his road and bring him in,’
‘He is a great lad and it is just sad to see how he is looking at the moment. I saw him about a month ago and I said :“I will pick you up in the mornings Gazza, come training with me. Do a little bit of work with the kids.”
‘I would love it if he would do that, that is an open invitation to him. I see Gazza around and I love Gazza, he has got a heart of gold. He has probably given his last penny away but that is just how he is. Everyone has tried to help him but the only person who can help him now is himself – everyone has tried.’
When I read that, it brought tears to my eyes…. I don’t know why… it just did…One the one hand we have poor old alcoholic Gazza and on the other we have football’s favourite granddad – forever ducking and diving – moving from club to club, offering to help Gazza out.
Our ‘Arry… so near to the England Manager’s job … yet so far.
But not for him the downward spiral of drink and disaster. On the contrary – he’s so gnarled and cuddly, (one of his less than flattering nicknames is ‘scrotum face’), he is the only manager who can do no wrong as far as the press are concerned . It is typical of the man and legend that he would offer a helping hand to Gazza, another of life’s unconventional beings.
What the fuck am I doing here, at 68 years old, trying to run a bar at the back of beyond in the middle of the night in some strange and semi-lawless land?
We are barely breaking even, fighting like hell with all the other countless bars out here for a tiny share of the business from the fickle residents who will flit from bar to on the merest of whims.
I can’t even legally own the bar – let alone manage one in this so-called paradise.
At any moment some undercover English or German snitch bastard will entrap me and call the cops. They’ve already been in several times, and on each occasion, God has smiled upon me and I was tipped off.
Sooner or later the good lord will tire of the game and then I will be unceremoniously handcuffed and hauled off to the ‘monkey house’ until someone pays a small fortune to obtain my release. Meanwhile, without my meds and insulin I will probably deteriorate quickly -just like Toby, the anti-hero in my novel.
How did it all come to this?
Well… many of you know very well how it all came to this.
Just click on the tabs on the top of my Home page –Mobi’s Story…Mardie…. Azzy and Nid… and last, but not least download ‘A lust for Life’ from Amazon to know exactly how I came to this…
90% of my novel is pretty much true – only the last part, when ‘Toby’ (Mobi) is arrested and thrown in Pattaya jail is an invention of my tortured imagination.
But even that part may yet turn out to be prophetically true; maybe I actually want it to happen. Maybe I’ve got more than a little bit of the Gazza syndrome in me…
I’m near enough to broke as makes no difference,… trying to eke out a living in a sordid bar with its sordid business, having to make small talk with odd balls and the ubiquitous drunken pissheads that stagger through Mobi’s portals around closing time; hoping against hope that I don’t say something that might drive them away, or upset them and get a broken bottle smashed across my face or thrust into my stomach for my troubles….
… while at the same time trying to make myself sufficiently servile so that these pissheads might deign to come back again on another drunken night and spend a few more of their lousy pennies.
Two of our best girls have gone AWOL. They both requested a ‘day off’ three days ago and since then they have been un-contactable.
Both have a string of punters who regularly stop by and buy a few drinks. But for the past 3 days the punters have come looking and then climbed right back into their cars as soon as they realised that their beloved had not yet returned. They don’t even stay around for one drink – they simply fade away into the darkness to seek out new soul mates from one of the countless other bars that straddle the lakeside like giant leeches.
So Mobi’s sales take another hard knock in the process.
The strains on our bar business are creating serious strains between Noo and I.
She is even more exhausted and worried than I am. She has told me to sell up, but I am determined to see it through for six months – but at what cost? – both financial and emotional?
How the mighty have fallen?
‘Didn’t we almost have it all?…’
Yes Whitney, I think we did.
Saturday night/Sunday morning
It is now one a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I am still at the bar and I am still shuddering from the live music emanating from a nearby bar that has been partying all night.
Despite the noise and the incessant, mind numbing, ground trembling bass, I think I feel a bit better and I realise that the situation isn’t quite so desperate as it seemed yesterday at around midnight.
Despite the fact that the close proximity of a nearby party means that not only can I not play my own music, but I also couldn’t play the sound track to the sports events that I was showing, i.e. EPL football and the Formula 1 qualifying sessions.
The last occasion in which the nearby bar through a party, our bar remained devoid of customers for the entire evening, as all my customers gave us a miss and sought out bars in a quieter section of the lake.
Amazingly, despite the very loud music, this time it has been an extremely good night’s business, with many new customers coming in to watch the sport as well as many of our regulars also turning up.
Some came to watch the football and the F1 qualifying, others came to enjoy the female delights that we had on offer and also to listen to the music from the nearby party.
One valued group of returning customers told me they had come especially to enjoy my Saturday night music selections, and although they were unable to do this, they still stayed for a couple of hours.
So they came and went, in their ones, twos threes and fours and Mobi’s till kept ringing the receipts.
One regular, who had a ringside view of the entertainment in the nearby bar, told me that before arriving at Mobi’s, he had dropped by many bars around the Lake and every single bar had been totally devoid of customers – not a single punter anywhere. If he was telling me this to cheer me up, then he certainly succeeded.
Mobi’s girls who have been steadily drinking all evening – courtesy of their customers – are really getting into the swing of the loud Mor Lam music, drowning our ears with its ever increasing volume.
As on the previous occasion when this particular bar had a music party, our girls seem to get more into the swing of things than the customers at the party bar itself.
Fuelled by alcohol, the girls are all whooping and hollering and gyrating away to the up-beat tempo of Issan country music.
We have turned our lights off but customers keep trickling in, including an Arsenal football supporter who asks if we can show the late match, in which Arsenal are playing Everton. I reply in the affirmative and off he goes to have some free drinks at the party bar before returning just in time to see his team go behind by a well taken goal.
Arsenal were two goals down by half time, and the football fan decided to call it a night and go home….
An hour ago, a Thai man in an ancient pickup skidded away from our bar at an alarming speed, and I was told that he had some kind of a problem with one of Mobi’s girls. Everyone was concerned that he might return and take some vengeance, so they took the number the truck and Noo called the cops.
Much ‘palaver’ ensued, the net result of it was that when we close up for the night we will have to drive to the local cop shop and report the incident, just in case…
God! Noo has to get up early in the morning to go and take her end of term school examinations…. She will be exhausted.
I am now almost back to normal and I have just read what I wrote at the nadir of my depression on Friday Night.
I should emphasise that by no means all my customers are ‘oddballs’ and drunken pissheads, and in the past three and half months I have met some very nice people who I already consider to be my good friends.
It is a very mixed bag that we get at Mobi’s, but when I am feeling down, I tend to over-emphasise the bad and forget all the good people who have helped me in practical ways and encouraged me to try and make a success of this venture
They all know who they are – and to all of them I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without your support I would never have got off the ground.
Last night (this morning), we saw the last of customers leave at 2 a.m. and soon after, there was blissful silence when the music finally drew to a close.
After cashing up a very satisfactory day’s takings, (which more than compensated for some of the recent ‘lean’ days), Noo, Mobi and auntie drove to Nongprue police station, where the duty station sergeant was more ‘off duty’ than ‘on’ as he was fast asleep behind his desk and the place was in darkness.
We woke him up, turned on the lights and made our report, for what good it will do. But I wasn’t going to try and tell Noo that it was almost certainly a waste of time.
We finally crashed at around 3.30 and poor Noo had to rise at 7 am. to drive to Pattaya and sit her exams.
She called me at 12.45.
She has finished the first exam session and will start the next session at 1 pm . She thinks she will finish at around 4 pm.
Honestly, I don’t know how she does it.
I think she has one more set of exams to take next month and that will be it – the end of her schooling and she will at long last graduate from high school, at the grand age of 34 – something she should have finished in her youth, if she hadn’t been taken out of school at the age of 12 to help feed her family….
On Saturday afternoon, Noo and I had a long talk about things and we have now cleared the air. We will try not to worry too much about the bar business and just press on and hope that during the next two months we will turn the corner, and start to make some money.
I know now that I probably should never have started this bar – I didn’t do my research thoroughly enough and didn’t realise exactly what it was I was taking on. I guess it was just something that had been bugging me for years – running my own bar – and like thousands before me; I had to give it a go.
Well nobody can accuse me of not trying hard, so what will be, will be…
Onwards and upwards…