Pattaya, 16th September, 2009

Today I have been sober for 17 days.


Now, the continuation of my “catch-up” that I started yesterday.

So I started attending regular meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Pattaya from June 25th, a date that transpired to be the penultimate occasion that I stopped drinking. (As of the time of writing this blog)

For the first few days of my sobriety, I attended the evening meetings, which commenced at either 5 p.m. or 7.30 p.m. After a couple of days, a fellow attendee suggested that I try the morning meetings. I don’t know why he said that, but as time goes on, I find more and more that random events seem to happen, with no apparent reason, which in retrospect, seem to have been nudging me along a particular path.

I was a little unsure of this advice as one of my original AA friends, who had first accompanied me to meetings back in January, had told me at that time that the morning meetings would never suit me. Firstly, he pointed out, I rarely arose before 11 in the morning, and secondly, in his opinion, the AA morning group were not the kind of people I would identify with, or be comfortable with.

But being the perverse alcoholic that I am, when I am told that I can never do something, I go out of my way to prove that person wrong. Anyway, I thought it might be a good idea to switch to the mornings, as it would encourage me to rise at an earlier hour, and also, I reasoned that by changing my meeting schedule, I would suffer the  minimum disruptions to my daily life – whatever that ‘daily life’ happened to be.

After six or so years of rarely getting up before noon, and for most of that time sporting morning hangovers, it was a bit of a shock to the system to wake up before 7.30 a.m., shower and shave and then take the 25 minute drive into Pattaya.

But I stuck at it, and I started to enjoy these “early morning” gatherings – they started at 9.a.m. I did indeed prove my friend wrong as the morning group is a grand bunch of people, mainly Americans, with many years of sobriety between them and also with a liberal sprinkling of other nationalities, principally Irish, British and Australian.

Most of the core members, who consider Pattaya their “home group”, have been in Thailand for many years and far from me not being able to identify with them, the opposite has proved to be the case, as our recent histories have so much in common, and we all can share similar experiences, good and bad, of our lives in Thailand.

During the next few weeks,  I started to chalk up ever more days of sobriety;  sober days that were a volatile and emotional combination of “highs” and ‘lows”.

The meetings, which involved listening to people “sharing” their experiences,  “sharing” myself, and  trying to absorb the wisdom of the members with many years of sobriety under their belts, was helping me a lot. And I was learning more about AA; reading their excellent literature, starting to understand the “twelve Step” programme and how it was essentially based on moral, ethical and selfless principals. Some of the major facets of the AA programme involved trying to remove our character defects, recognising and dealing with our burgeoning egos and  trying to understand and  put into practice genuine  humility in our daily lives.

But clearly I had a very long way to go in the programme. The first thing all new members have to do is to find a “sponsor” – someone with maturity and experience, who would act as an adviser and counselor and guide the new person through the twelve step programme. Well even as of today I have yet to find a sponsor, although I did have one for a few days, which I shall write about more in a few moments.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, my wife was sliding into a familiar pattern of disappearing every weekend to Bangkok, on one pretext or another, usually leaving on Friday morning, and sometimes not returning until Monday or Tuesday of the following week. Most of her drinking was being done away from home, in Bangkok, and on the few occasions that I spoke to her in the afternoon, I could hear very clearly that she was still drunk from the previous night’s excesses. Although on the one hand, I was happy that she was away and not causing me any trouble, but on the other it bothered me that she was continuing to behave like this, as it made the prospects of a viable  future together so uncertain.

I finally resolved that sometime soon,  when I managed to gather up sufficient courage, I would sit down and talk with her about a divorce and how we could divide our assets between us, as there seemed little chance that the marriage could hold together for much longer

The penny had finally dropped that she was a hopeless alcoholic, and the likelihood of her making a recovery were next to none. This was especially so as most Thais have difficulty even in accepting the concept of alcoholism as a disease. Furthermore, she was never going to change her social habits which  revolved around “Bai Tio” (going out and having a good time), which inevitably  meant getting drunk with friends and family, all of whom had  a like mind.

So although the meetings were helping me, I also had some very “dark” and depressive days when the temptation to “pick up” again was very strong; but I managed to resist. I also realised that the AA meetings were the only thing keeping me from the demon booze, and after a week or so of switching to the morning meetings, I  decided to also attend the evening meetings . Two daily meetings took a huge chunk of time out of my “daily life”, probably in the region of  6 hours, including travel time, twice a day, there and back. But it now suited my purpose admirably, because it kept me away from the bars, and used up my spare time during which I might have  given in to temptation.

Towards the end of August, I decided to make a trip to Chiang Mai to visit with two friends who were also members of AA and  attended daily AA meetings there. I thought it would be a good break for me, and would help me get away from my daily routine and mentally prepare myself for the task of confronting my wife with a divorce proposal.

I drove to Bangkok for some business, stayed overnight, and the next day drove on to Chiang Mai.  Unfortunately, going to Chiang Mai wasn’t one of my more successful ventures. I arrived in one piece, and one of my friends met me on the outskirts of the city and led me downtown to my hotel.

Since returning from Chiang Mai, I have been rebuked for publicly relating the incident that occurred at the Chiang Mai AA meeting that eventually caused me to pick up a drink. For AA is what its name implies: anonymous, and everything that transpires in an AA meeting should stay there, and not be broadcast to the outside world.

So by way of explanation of what actually happened, let me start by saying that for most alcoholics, one of the features of their early days of sobriety is the development an increasingly volatile temper. Just the slightest thing will set us off into almost uncontrollable rage. I am told it is because we had previously used alcohol to assuage our anger, bitterness and resentment, and when this “medicine” is voluntarily removed from our reach, our egos take over and our anger becomes ever more difficult to control.

I was certainly no exception, and in the weeks prior to my trip to Chiang Mai I had become all too keenly aware of my anger getting the better of me. I had never lost my temper in a public place prior to this recent period in my life, and it was with alarm that on several occasions I “saw myself” yelling and screaming at some poor victim in a public place, for virtually no reason at all.

So at my very first meeting in Chiang Mai, I had only been there for a few minutes when I suddenly exploded over some inconsequential matter and stormed out. I embarrassed my friend, who was chairing the meeting, and probably burnt my bridges forever as far as the Chiang Mai morning fellowship was concerned. I have since apologized to my friend, but I am sorry to say that he no longer considers me as a friend.

After I returned to my hotel, I continued to fume about what had happened. I knew I was in the wrong, but I was in denial. In Bangkok, a couple of days earlier, I had finally taken on a sponsor – the friend from Bangkok who had met me in Pattaya and persuaded  me to go to regular meetings. In my anger, I sent an email to him, effectively sacking him, then an email to my Chiang Mai friend telling him what I thought of his f’ing meetings, and I even copied the email to a number of my other AA friends for good measure.

Having now “cleared the decks”, as my ex-sponsor was to tell me later, I went out and proceeded to get uproariously drunk.

They say that alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful. My friends also tell me that I picked up a drink because I wanted to, and everything that preceded that first drink in Chiang Mai was a manipulation of events on my part to create a justification for drinking. I have no doubt that is absolutely correct.


(I have an alcoholic friend in Bangkok, who I will write more about later, who would only drink beer in the mistaken belief that he would never harm himself if he didn’t drink the hard stuff. Then, not long ago, he started drinking gin, and it wasn’t long before he was on a bottle a day. He claimed that the only reason he switched to gin was because he had a ‘bladder problem” and that if he drank beer, he could not go out and do his shopping before needing to go to the toilet, and the shops he patronized had no loo!  In his twisted logic, if he drank gin, there was less liquid in his bladder and he could make it home in time before needing to relieve himself. Today he is in ICU, his liver shot to pieces, fighting for his life, and he still believes that crazy piece of fiction.)


I drank for 3 days, more or less non-stop, in Chiang Mai and then had to make the supreme effort to remain sober long enough to make the journey home.

My wife had called me while I was still drinking in Chiang Mai, and said that she missed me and was waiting for me to come home. This precipitated my departure, and when I was half way home, I called her and was taken aback when she told me that she was no longer at home and had gone to visit her mother!!.  If I had known, I would have stayed in Chiang Mai and continued my drinking spree.

Anyway I returned home and waited for her. The next day she still hadn’t returned, so I sent her message suggesting that she come back so that we could talk about things. I continued drinking for the first two days I was back in Pattaya, and also went to AA meetings, sometimes drunk, but on August 30th I drank, what is currently, my final drink. I consumed it at around midnight in Pattaya after a night of carousing, following the evening AA meeting.

My wife returned the next day. I was out at the time, and she called me to come home and talk to her. When I arrived, I could see that like me, she was very hung over, and it certainly wasn’t the best moment to discuss divorces.

I declined to talk, but she insisted, so I related my plans to get divorced and what I considered a fair division of assets, which would involve the sale of the house.

At first she seemed to behave in a reasonable manner and asked me a few questions about the details. Then suddenly she erupted, and told me in no uncertain terms that she would never agree to a divorce, would never leave the house, and if I couldn’t stand it any more, then I had better leave. Of course I also became very angry, and once more the shouting, insults and vile accusations started to fly back and forth. Her son fled, the maid fled, and even my 3 dogs cowered in the corner of the garden.

But it was soon over and after a while, when our anger was spent, we sat down and talked almost normally. We agreed that we would stay together, but that in future she would live her life, and I, mine. We agreed that we wouldn’t fight each other, wouldn’t ask each other where were going, or where we had been.

I told her that from now on the first priority in my life was my sobriety, and that came before anything else. She didn’t like this much but I think she took it on board.

For my part, I agreed to this ‘accommodation’ because I had no choice. I needed “piece of mind” and a quiet life if I was to consolidate my sobriety. In AA they tell you that whenever possible, you should not make any major, life changing decisions in your first year of sobriety unless you have absolutely no choice. Well I probably have no choice, but I can wait a while – a month or two – and see how events unfold before I try yet again to part permanently from my wife.

One thing I know – with absolute certainty – is that we will never be happy together, and sooner or later we will have to go our separate ways.

Pattaya, 15th September, 2009

Today I have been sober for 16 days


It is 54 days since I last wrote in this blog.

A few irritating little  “odds and ends”  have occurred in my life, all of  which, one way or another, conspired to keep me away from my Blog.

On the 22nd July, the last time I blogged, I wrote that I had been sober for 27 days. Well I actually made my first goal of 30 days, and went on to stay sober for 60 days before eventually succumbing and picking up a drink.

In all, I drank again for a period of just 6 days, and stopped once again on 30th August.

What happened?

Well I have a little time to spare, so I will fill you in on some of the more recent background of alcoholic Mobi, before, opening the doors once again on my past life of drinking.

One of the many crosses that I have had to bear in this life is the fact that for the past six years I have been married to an alcoholic Thai lady – my sixth wife. And as anyone will tell you two alcoholics married to each other can produce a very potent and combustible relationship.

About a year ago, a close friend, who happens to be a qualified therapist, suggested to me that all my marriages seem to have followed a familiar pattern, in as much as I always seemed to be seeking a wife who in essence behaved like my father, in some desperate, subconscious attempt to change them, and thereby correct all the wrongs that my father had committed.

He is probably correct, as all my wives, to varying degrees, have been control freaks with domineering personalities and terrible tempers.

The present one is probably head of the class.

Almost from the first time that I met her, she displayed irrational behaviour, which as time went on, became volatile, and even violent. In the early days of our relationship, (when we lived in Bangkok) she would never return home at the promised time, and would invariably arrive back very late, drunk, and pick a fight with me. After a brief period during which I would patiently wait at home for her, I resumed my own carousing activities, becoming as drunk as she was, and when we finally met up at home, the inevitable storm would erupt.

All this was before we were married, and even on the odd occasions that we both went out together, often with friends, there would reach a point in the evening when the alcohol would suddenly, without warning take control of her and her whole personality would change from a pleasant, fun loving girl friend, to the “girl friend from Hell”, and she would shout and fight with me as though I had just tried to murder her.

I threw her out several times during this period, on one occasion she left for several weeks, but my drinking was also out of control and in my melancholy and lonely states, I would eventually relent and ask her to come back.

We certainly had some terrible fights in those first 3 years, and as time went on, she became more and more violent and used to punch me and hit me with whatever was to hand. In the days following these fights I would often drown my sorrows at one of my locals, sporting a black eye and cuts and bruises all over my face and arms.

To give you an idea of how bad it was, we lived in a large rented apartment off Soi 31, Sukhumvit for the first 2 years of our relationship, but were eventually obliged to move as the owner had had enough of our fights and noise late at night, and after several warnings (including a penal rent increase), he threw us out.

During this period I was slowly becoming aware of the concept of alcoholism as a disease and the need for me  to do something about it, and I even ‘Googled’ the AA website one day, and read some of the information posted there. But that’s as far as it went. Never the less, I guess the seed was sown.

But it was much, much later, in fact only very recently that I finally realised that my wife was also an alcoholic. I was fooled into thinking she was just a heavy social drinker, whose “bad side” came to the fore when she drank, and also because she was a binge drinker. She didn’t drink every day. She would drink sometimes for several days, and then she became so ill that she would stop for several days, or even longer. I thought that if she could stop at will, something I couldn’t do, then she couldn’t be an alcoholic. It wasn’t until I started going to AA meetings and reading their literature, that I realised that binge drinkers are every bit alcoholics, as those who drink every day.

So not only did I continue to hope that things between us would improve, I also became convinced that I was the cause of all the conflict, and that if I cut down on my drinking, everything would be fine. Of course I was deluding myself, aided and abetted by my alcoholic wife, who insisted that she never did anything wrong and it was my drinking and drunken temper that caused all the problems.

So 4 years ago we were legally married, and we had a huge party in her home village, during which she got drunk out of her mind, had a fight with her closest friends who had driven up from Bangkok to attend the ceremony and to this day has not made up with a couple of them.

A year later we moved into a huge house that I had been building near Pattaya, not far from the Mabprachan reservoir.

If it were possible, things became even worse when we moved to Pattaya. My wife was insanely jealous every time I went out somewhere by myself, convinced that I was “short-timing”. (Later I realised that it wasn’t so much jealousy, but all part of her control freak mentality, and also the fear that I might find someone better than her, and kick her out).

She made a few friends in Pattaya, and, more significantly, her friends from Bangkok would make regular trips to Pattaya, whereupon she would drive in to go drinking with them, and often I wouldn’t see her for days. There were many occasions when she would go to Pattaya one afternoon for a shopping trip, and several days later I would find out that she had gone to Bangkok. Even on the occasions when she came home, she would never arrive before 4 or 5 in the morning, often much later,and  she would be completely drunk, invariably sleeping for days on end.

She was also “playing around” I had already caught her on a couple of ocassions before we moved to Pattaya (she left her phone at home one day and a farang sent her an SMS. When I looked her messages I found a great deal of incriminating evidence). Then after we moved, I managed to establish that she was screwing around on a more or less regular basis, both in Pattaya and in Bangkok. I also used to travel to Bangkok with her on numerous occasions as I had hospital appointments, and I can’t think of a single occasion when she didn’t go out, get drunk and not return to the hotel.

On many occasions she caused me to miss my appointments, and I had to drive back to Pattaya and re-schedule the appointments.

Her violence was also on the increase, and she would attack me and she would destroy property in my house, including furniture and even pull plants up by their roots. After one drunken rage, I took some photos of the destruction she had caused, and it looked like a tornado had passed through my house. My mobile phone and car were also frequent targets of her rage, and I may well qualify as being the most regular purchaser of new telephones in Thailand.

I could go on…and on…. but I think  that the foregoing has given you a “taste” of what I have had to put up with for the past 6 years, and why her behaviour has not been conducive to my own attempts to stop drinking.

Last year I succeeded in stopping drinking for almost nine months, but eventually went back to the bottle as the result of my wife’s outrageous behaviour. I believe  the incident that was the final trigger was when I discovered that she had been staying with a farang in Bangkok. I too went to Bangkok and got gloriously drunk and didn’t return home for a couple of weeks.

Then, towards the end of last year I left her again after another incident of a similar nature, but this time I was drinking very heavily, and my state of health and impaired mental state eventually drove me back home.

I should also mention that during last year, I had a horrific accident in my Toyota Fortuner when drunk, and was lucky to escape with minor injuries. The car was a write off. Then I rented a car and had another bad accident in that, and at long last started to realise I was reaching the end of the line with my drinking. I had been a drunk driver for longer than I cared to remember and had never has so much as a scratch; well – maybe one or two scratches – but certainly nothing that was in any way serious. I used to pride myself on it. I was invulnerable – I could be paralytic, almost unable to walk.  But still manage to climb behind a wheel and drive home safely. Well that arrogant, foolish, selfish and evil allusion was finally smashed.

Being the perverse alcoholic that I am, I then went promptly out and ordered a new, shiny black BMW with incredible acceleration and a top speed of 260 kms/hr. Apart from one or two crunches, praise God, it is still in one piece.

Early this year, I left my wife yet again, and I drove to Bangkok and stayed there a couple of nights before flying to Cambodia. On the second night I got very drunk, and woke up the following morning in my hotel to discover that there was nasty crunch on the car’s wing. I thought hard, but eventually, all I could remember was standing in the middle of Sukhumvit Road in the early hours and paying some money to a Thai whose car I had hit. I remembered nothing before, and nothing subsequent to that.

I got very drunk during my journey to Phnom Penh and luckily my friend, who is a sober member of AA, met me and took care of me until I sobered up, after another night of hard drinking in the bars of Phnom Penh. The next day we drove to Sihanoukville where my friend lived, and I confessed to him that I had reached the end of the line with my drinking and that if I carried on, I would surely die or kill someone else.

The next day I attended the first and the smallest AA meeting I have ever been to. Just me and him, in his house, and I heard enough at that meeting to convince me that I had indeed better stop if I was to live to old age.

But stopped for one day only, as the next evening I went to the local bar and ordered a Diet Coke, but they gave me a beer, and I said to myself: “What the Heck?”

The next morning I woke up drunk, on the beach, which was several kilometers away from the bar where I started drinking, and had no recollection of how I got there. The blackouts were coming fast and furious.

So once again I decided to stop, and this time I was more successful, and managed to stay sober for quite a while.

I returned to Pattaya, and returned to my home. My friend from Cambodia, plus another friend who I had met over there came to Pattaya soon after, and they both took me to my first AA meeting in Pattaya. This was in January of this year. I went to several meetings with them while they were here, but I didn’t really get too much out of the meetings, and when my friends left Pattaya, I stopped going. I had been sober for several weeks at this point, and felt that I didn’t need AA to remain sober. I thought I had it licked. There was no way in the world I was going to even pick up a drink again.

Things were still bad on the home front. My wife were still fighting, she was still going out and getting drunk on an ever more frequent basis and still disappearing for days at a time.

So I eventually concluded I would never stay sober in this kind of environment and made a decision to leave her for good, and employ a lawyer to negotiate a divorce settlement.

I moved a lot of my personal stuff to a friend’s house (without her knowledge), and one day when she was out on the razzle, I packed up and left for good – or so I thought at the time. I stayed a while in Pattaya and then went to Bangkok, and finally flew back to Phnom Penh, while my lawyer back in Pattaya went to see her and tried to negotiate an amicable settlement.

At first, negotiations seemed to go well, and it appeared that she was going to be reasonable. But nearly three months later, just before she was due to sign the divorce settlement agreement, something happened, and she changed her mind and refused to talk to my lawyer any more. I had returned to Pattaya this point, to finalise matters, and was of course extremely upset at this turn of events.

During my 3 months away from home I had spent time in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines, and near the end of my time away, when I was in The Philippines, I started drinking again. I am not sure what precipitated it, but it happened and that was that.

I hadn’t spoken to my wife for  the best part of three months, but when the agreement fell through I decided to contact her to see what I could salvage, and as a result of that initial contact, she begged me to come home and promised that she would truly change.

I believed her.

Upon my return we sat down and had a long “clear the air” session, and tried to work out a new basis for a happy relationship. A few weeks later, on my birthday, I stopped drinking again. Soon after this my wife stared to get up to her old tricks: going out, getting drunk and not coming home.

Ground Hog day had truly arrived.

Towards the end of June, a particularly bad incident happened – she had gone out, was getting drunk and was clearly lying to me about where she was and who she was with on the phone, and I fell off the wagon and got very, very drunk. I hadn’t drunk for 3 weeks and my tolerance was low.

I became so drunk that I could hardly walk, and I was walking around my swimming pool near my fish pond in the wee hours of the morning, and lost my balance and fell head first into the fish pond. My head was under the water and I couldn’t move. I was drowning; and would have drowned if two Thai men, who I had been drinking with in my garden annex, hadn’t heard me fall in. When they realised what had happened they rushed over and pulled me out. I got unsteadily to my feet, retraced my steps to the annex, and resumed my drinking. It was only several days later, when I was completely sober and free of alcohol withdrawal, that I realised how near I had come to death.

The next day an AA friend from Bangkok met me in Pattaya, and we had a long talk, the result of which was that I made the decision to stop drinking once again and started to go to AA meetings on a regular basis.

This was on June 25th 2009.

(I shall try and complete this “catch -up” tomorrow, and then get back to “Mobi’s Story” over the next few days.)



Pattaya, 22nd July, 2009

Today I have been sober for 27 Days.


I was feeling even better today and I got up early and went to my 9.a.m. AA meeting. It was a good meeting and everyone was very kind and friendly.

As I have been sober for less than 30 days, at every meeting I am invited to report the number of days I have been sober. Today it was 27 days, and I always get a round of applause when I report my continued sobriety.

Of course I am not obliged to say anything, but I don’t mind, and I always get encouragement. So only 3 more days to go, and I will no longer need to volunteer this information. I will become a real member of the ‘sober gang’.

Now to continue with my story.


MOBI’S STORY (Part6)

BANGKOK – “THE MUSICAL YEARS” (continued


He was Thai and his name was Joe, and he represented a group of Thais who used to work with me when I was running the recording studio/ pop concert business with the dishonest Thai business partner.

Joe told me that he and his friends were setting up a new company which was in negotiations with a government ‘figure’ to run the first English language radio in Thailand for many years. They were also building recording studios, and planned to do live concert promotions, manufacture music cassettes under license and had many other entertainment related activities on their list of objectives.

They were looking for a General Manager to head up the whole business, which was being bank-rolled by a very wealthy Chinese merchant family. Joe invited me to their new offices in Siam Square to meet everyone and discuss the new position.

Clearly, it was too good an offer for me to turn down, and I reluctantly said farewell to my current partner and ‘jumped ship’ to become GM of the new enterprise. (I didn’t leave him completely in the lurch, as I had set up all the systems required to run the business, and I had already trained his wife to do most of the work. I just oversaw everything, and drank beer paid for out of petty cash).

The next few years were intense, traumatic, and very exciting.

We duly obtained the radio license to broadcast English language radio on FM 107, but from the start it was an uphill struggle. The Nation newspaper decided they didn’t approve of what we were doing, and got their teeth stuck into us. Day after day, week after week, they would attack us in their columns for being ‘illegal’ (foreign language broadcasting was still technically illegal in those days), and not a day passed when we were not in fear and dread of being raided by the police and shut down.

But the head of the government department who had arranged our contract had ‘friends in high places” and somehow we carried on and weathered the onslaught. Of course the Nation was just jealous of our business, as for years they had been harbouring plans to become involved in English language broadcasting and they were determined to eliminate any competition. (Some years later, they did indeed became involved in English language television, but eventually had to close it down as it proved unprofitable).

Our radio slogan was “Soft and Warm – the Quiet Storm”, but  for the first year it seemed like we were fighting an ‘uncontrollable tornado’ – nearly collapsing under a mountain of debt; including the cost of buying and shipping a new transmitter for FM 107 from the USA , which, incidentally, is still in use today.

But from those dark days, we gradually saw the light. Our radio station started to become extremely popular. Not only were all the farangs living in Bangkok tuning in, but thousands upon thousands of Thais absolutely loved our new, revolutionary, American style format, and they started tuning into FM 107 in droves. We had installed a very powerful transmitter, and our signal covered the whole of the Bangkok metropolis, and also stretched as far as Chon Buri in the East. Suddenly the advertising agencies and direct clients were queuing up to advertise on F.M.107. The major hotels, shopping centres and malls, airlines, travel companies, restaurants, shops and so on were all anxious to get in on the ground floor of English language radio and advertising, and at long last we started to turn the corner of profitability.

Then there came the rock concerts – our very first was The Scorpions at the Hua Mark stadium, which was a run away success, and the “Quiet Storm” started to make it’s name in the Bangkok Entertainment industry.

At about the same time we signed contract with a number of international record labels, and we built a small high speed cassette recording facility, and started producing and selling legitimate western music cassettes into the Thai market. Of course this was during a brief period before the CD was born, and mass pirating subsequently took over forever.

You may be thinking that my drinking career might have taken a back seat during these hectic years, but, I regret to say, not a bit of it.

I was still living to the same drinking pattern. I stayed in a room in Pratunam, which I shared with my then fifth wife. I would get up late, and drive down in my old jalopy to the offices in Siam Square, arriving around 11 a.m.  I would put a few hours of work in before my fellow managers would gather in my office at around 6 p.m. and then the drinking would start. One of our number, and often our investor, would produce a bottle of Scotch or brandy and we would start the evening’s drinking. Food would sometimes arrive later, but for the most part it was pure liquid refreshment.

At some point in the evening, some of us might adjourn to a Thai restaurant for further drinking and a bit of food, or, more often, I would part company with my Thai colleagues, and head off in my car back to my old haunts in Patpong, which, from Siam Square was only a short drive. So the drinking would inevitably continue to the small hours, and many is the time that I saw the dawn breaking as I nibbled on ‘kow tom’ in Soi 24 and had a couple of ‘cleansing beers” before retiring for a few hours sleep.

My car ownership during this period however was short lived. This was the start of my drunk driving – which continued for many years into the future, but it wasn’t the driving that stopped me in my tracks – it was the fuel. I ran out of petrol one night, just a few yards from my office, and thinking I carried a spare can of petrol in the boot, I proceeded, in my drunken state, to fill up the tank from the can. Once I had emptied the can, I suddenly remembered that it wasn’t petrol at all – but water!!. One ruined engine, with no spare cash to fix it. Back to taxis, and given my drinking habits, probably just as well.

During the third year in my new job a significant event occurred. My father died. He was 81 and his heart gave out. When I heard the news I cried. I don’t know why, because I hated him so much – he had caused me and my family so much misery and despair. Maybe I cried from relief that I was finally free of him. But I was to find out later that I was never really free of him – for he continued to ‘haunt’ me in my alcoholic dazes, in my dreams and nightmares, and even to this day, I am not totally rid of his all pervading influence on my life.

It was just before Christmas, 1982 and I went with my wife back to England for the funeral. I didn’t care about my father, but I was very worried about my mother, who was very old, not well, and suddenly all alone after 45 years of being dominated by a bully of a husband. We returned to Thailand after a couple of weeks, I resumed my job, promoted some more concerts and started to steer the company into the path of stability and prosperity.

I didn’t realise it then, but my time in Thailand for that part of my life was soon to come to an end.

I truly believe that if had been left to me I would never have left Thailand, but my wife had other ideas. She had seen what she thought were greater prospects for her husband in England. In her view, I was stuck in a badly paid, “dead end “ job, and could do much better if we relocated.

She ‘worked’ on me for month after month, and gradually wore me down. The issue that tipped the scales as far as I was concerned was the plight of my mother, whose health was deteriorating and really needed someone to take care of her.

My then employers were not as unscrupulous as my former one, and they truly appreciated all the hard work I had put in over the past couple of years or so. One of the investors (the guy who controlled the money) came to see me a few days before I left Thailand, and told me under Chinese tradition they wanted to award me a departure bonus in recognition of my contribution to the Company. Of course, I was delighted, but my joy was short lived. The guy pointed out that I still owed the company for my airfares to England, and on top of that I owed a considerable amount of cash that I had “advanced” over the past year or so for business expenses which I had never cleared. (Of course I couldn’t clear my expenses, as all the money had gone on booze). The bottom line was that the company was going to write off all my debts as full settlement of my bonus! (Bang went my nest egg!)

So in September 1983 I had an extremely drunken farewell party with all my colleagues in Siam Square, and a few days later my wife and I were jetting across the skies to take up permanent residence at my mother’s council flat in East London.

I was 37 years old, with no money in the bank, and had arrived back in England during a period of recession and high unemployment. Thatcher had just come to power, and the prospects for Mobi, an unqualified accountant, who had been out of the UK job market for most of my adult life, were bleak indeed.

Pattaya, 20th July, 2009

Today I have been sober for 25 days.

I’m feeling much better today, but the depression is still there. I was warned about this and they weren’t wrong. I seem to have retreated within myself, and I have turned my phone off and don’t really want to talk to anyone.

I feel bad, because I know there are several friends out there who are expecting to hear from me. Maybe I will make a few calls later today.

I don’t know why, but when I got up this morning my blood pressure was really low, but literally within minutes, it rose. This has been a regular problem since I came back from hospital: when I get out of bed I feel very light headed and dizzy, but as soon as I have been up for a brief time, I feel OK. I have suffered from hypertension for years and take a mountain of pills in an effort to keep it under control.

On my doctor’s advice, I have cut on some medications back since my illness  but as the day goes on my BP gets higher , so it’s a bit difficult to know what to do for the best. I guess I’ll just take it easy for a while, and see if it settles down.

I had been planning to attend to my first AA meeting this morning since I have been ill, but I didn’t have a good night, so have decided to postpone it for one more day. Hopefully, this will be my last day at home.


Pattaya, 21st July, 2009

Today I have been sober for 26 days.


Last night I had a bad “alcoholic nightmare”. Recovering alcoholics will be familiar with them.

They take the form of a dream where I am in a domestic situation where things are going badly and I am so upset that I decide to have a drink. Last night it was a bottle of white wine. In my dream, I had decided that enough was enough and I was going to get gloriously drunk with this bottle of wine. As I opened it and poured it into a glass, I screamed and woke up in a cold sweat. My wife was very alarmed, but it was just a bad dream.

So this morning I woke early and went to my first AA meeting for over a week. Everyone was pleased to see me, and had assumed that I had strayed from the fold and had started drinking again. They were so happy when they found out I had been sick and was still sober. For the first time in days, I felt better about myself, and I had a good meeting.

At the close of the meeting I called one of my friends who had been calling me for days, and we had a good chat. I think my depression is starting to lift.

Now back to “my story”


MOBI’S STORY (Part5)


BANGKOK – “THE MUSICAL YEARS”

Soon after my return to Bangkok, I met up with a friend who I had first met here in 1973. He was a professional musician, and apart from several spells in Thailand taking his band around the American air bases in Thailand, he had also played in Hawaii, San Francisco, Japan, Singapore, and his native UK. But now he was settled in Thailand, had retired as a performer and had embarked on a music recording career. He had gone in with a local business partner who also ran a very popular Bangkok FM radio station, and also was trying to promote international pop concerts. My friend introduced me to his partner and I was hired as a sort of business manager. I ran the business side of my friends recording studio, and was also the ‘front man’ to organize the pop concerts. I wasn’t paid much, but I was happy to be back in Thailand, and anyway, I had my little pot of gold to fall back on.

I wouldn’t say that booze was my downfall, but as before, it played a significant part in my daily life, although I never quite realised it at the time.

A typical day would see me up late with a hangover, a walk to the office in Wireless road from my little room in Pratunam, and spend an hour or so killing time before lunch and off to Patpong for my first beer session of the day. Then back to the office for a bit of work, before returning to Patpong for an evening of drinking and carousing.

In a pattern to be repeated many times through the years, I became involved with a series of women who, one by one, relieved me of my money, and it wasn’t too long before I really had to live off my meagre salary. This necessitated a change in my drinking habits, as I could no longer afford to drink in Patpong on a daily basis. I moved to an even cheaper room in the Petchburi suburbs, and spent most of my time with Thai friends, drinking Mekhong whisky at places near their homes. I made a number of ‘drinking trips’ up country, (places like Nakhon Nayok, and Kow Yai), with these new found friends, and it was a period of my life when I was really into Thai whisky, Lao kow Thai spirit and the like. We became a drinking gang who were rarely sober.

Then the concerts started. Basically I was running the show, and had to organize the contracts for the performers, sort out their air tickets, accommodation and personal needs, book the venues, organise the sound systems and musicians’ requirements, head up the box office and God knows what else. They were heady days, but my favourite part was organizing the “green room” with all the requirements for booze and food. It was a wonderful chance to drink with the visiting performers and get drunk, and I needed very little bidding.

Then my Thai drinking gang was all hired as roadies, security and just general labour, and they too enjoyed being paid in liquid refreshment, as well as a few hundred Baht in cash which was quickly converted into yet more Thai whisky.

They were exhilarating times indeed, and barely a sober day when a concert was in the offing.

My fun came to an end when my English colleague (he with the recording studio) and I fell out seriously with our Thai partner. It was inevitable, as many of you, who have had the misfortune to do business with Thai/Chinese businessmen, would know.

Most of these people are unethical, without business integrity, morals or any form of honesty, and will cheat and lie to gain business advantage.

We used to travel to Hong Kong every 3 months to renew our non immigrant visas, and our beloved Thai partner was responsible for renewing our work permits and keeping them current. For some reason the renewal fell through the cracks, but in order to protect himself, he told us to surrender to the court, admit that we had erred, and that we would receive a small fine and then he would arrange for the permits to be renewed. Neither of us spoke much Thai in those days, and we duly pleaded guilty, signed some papers in Thai, and were promptly arrested, handcuffed and hauled of to Lumpini police station, where we were both incarcerated.

Our expat friends were outraged and hired a lawyer to look into our case. It transpired that our wonderful employer had told the court that we had both disappeared up-country with our passports so he had no chance to renew the work permits. It was all a tissue of lies, invented to protect his company from any possible repercussions. In all, we spent three weeks in the jail, before out lawyer managed to arrange for an appeal hearing, when we were eventually released on bail.

The things I will never forget about that time in jail were: the station’s sergeant’s refusal to allow me to have a pillow, (which meant I had to sleep with my head on the concrete floor); the communal, Thai-style toilet; the young, desperate drug addicts who comprised a majority of the inmates; the group of rich Chinese who were arrested one night for illegal gambling, and remained huddled by the front prison bars in a desperate attempt to separate themselves from us, dirty and depraved old lags; and last but not least, the wonderful Thai lady (wife of one of my friends) who brought us large plastic bags full of “iced tea”. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the iced tea wasn’t really iced tea – it was lovely Singha beer.

So I still managed to get drunk – even in jail.

By this time, our beloved employer was starting to  ‘lose face’ as everyone knew what a lying bastard he was, so in order to limit the damage to his reputation, he pulled out all the stops to get the charges dropped and our work permits renewed.

But it was too late.

My colleague was being shafted on his share of the profits, and I just got fed up with all the lies and bullshit my boss spouted with almost every breath.

So we broke away, and with a small investment from an Australian friend, we rented a house in Soi Asoke, Sukhumvit, and converted it into a recording studio. My friend would run the technical side, and I would take care of the business side.

It was around 1976, and Thailand was still a very cheap place to live. This was fortuitous as our business struggled form the very start. We were grossly under-capitalised, and our business consisted mainly of producing and recording advertising jingles. But the Advertising agencies were notoriously slow payers, and our cash flow became ever more critical. We also made a few albums for both local and foreign performers, but Thailand was such a cheap place, that the rates we were obliged to charge for hiring our studio were  excruciatingly low.

Although not planned, our studio was within easy walking distance of the fast emerging Soi Cowboy, and it wasn’t long before I deserted my previous allegiance to the Patpong bars, and switched to the much cheaper and convenient Cowboy. Beers were around 15 Baht a bottle, and when I was particularly short of cash I would carry a small bottle of   Thai whisky in my pocket, and order a coke for six Baht at the bar, surreptitiously topping up my glass with alcohol from the secreted bottle. Another popular trick, of which I am also ashamed to admit, was to throw away most of the chits in the bill cup when no one was looking. It wasn’t difficult to do, as in those days everyone: girls, cashiers, mangers, owners, were all as drunk as were, so no one took much notice of what I was up to.

It was all ‘wild west’. The girls were shipped in from Issan by the truck load and slept, 10 to a room above the bars. They spoke no English, and not many of them were much to write home about. We used to call them “rice pickers”, but what they lacked in looks, they more than made up for in good natured enjoyment of their new found ‘profession’ and great fun was had by one and all. I guess this was the start of the female Issan invasion of the “fleshpots” of Bangkok and beyond.

As for me – well I was an alcoholic with little money to spend, so in true alcoholic traditions, I used every trick in the book, fair means or foul, to stay as drunk as possible for as long as possible…. every day.

As with my previous job, I would wake late, struggle to the office an hour or so before lunch, order some large bottles of beer to drink in the office (paid for out of  petty cash which, of course, I controlled), then off to Cowboy for a lunch time drinking session, back to the office by mid afternoon for some more beers out of petty cash, and then back to Soi Cowboy for the evening drinking session.

But eventually business and cash flow became so bad that I had to supplement my income by making regular trips to Hong Kong and doing some work for another friend who needed an accountant to keep his books, and more importantly, figure out a way to save him some tax. This I succeeded in doing, and he rewarded me to such an extent that he became my sole source of income, although I continued to run the business of the studio and just live on the beer money from petty cash.

Then one day, I received a visit from one of my Thai friends who used to work for my previous Thai employer.

He had an interesting proposal to put to me.


Pattaya, July 19th, 2009


Today I have been sober for 24 days.

I have been ill with Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever since last Thursday and was finally released from hospital yesterday as I had been free of fever for 24 hours. I am still extremely weak, have lost about 5 kilos in weight and my blood is not in good condition. I will have to take it very easy for a few days and try to build up my strength. Yesterday I gave my teeth a very gentle brush and ended up with a mouth full of blood, so things are not yet quite right.

I also have terrible diarrhea every time I try to eat, but have now discovered that it seems to be bread that is upsetting me. The only thing I can keep down is rice

My friend tells me that the hemorrhagic strain of Dengue has a 40% death rate. Glad I didn’t know that before – it might have bothered me!!

I am very concerned that I haven’t attended any AA meetings for over a week, as I was making such good progress, and starting to build up friendships with some of the regular attendees. I now fear that when I am well enough to go back to meetings, I will have to start all over.

But such is life. At least I am alive!

But now back to my story.


MOBI’S STORY (PART5)


‘BLIGHTY’ AND BEYOND

So it was back to miserable ‘Blighty’, stony broke, thin to the point of emaciation, and stuck in my parents council flat in East London.

My father was well into his 70’s, and although he had mellowed slightly, he was still a mountain of a man who would blow up with a frightening temper at a moment’s notice. In spite of this I was made sort of welcome (by my mum anyway), and she lent me a few quid to get me to get me down to the social security office, and for the first time in my life I signed on the dole.

I trawled through the situations vacant every morning, and within a few days I had arranged an interview with an oil exploration company who was looking for a chief accountant for their operations in Tripoli, Libya. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the prospects of going back to the Middle East, but it sounded like a sure fire way to make some quick money, so it was worth a shot.

The job called for a married man, and came with a large family house in downtown Tripoli. For some reason, the company had been struggling to fill this slot with a married man of relevant experience, so they decided to take me on as the “married ” accountant, even though my wife was a ‘phantom’.

For those few weeks I had spent in England, I had lived and drunk on my dole money. I had no friends to speak of, but every evening I would walk to the nearest pub, drink pints of revolting English beer with whisky chasers, and eventually stagger home at closing time

Thence to Libya; an interesting, ancient city, with a lot of history, and some lovely beaches.

The only problem was the Libyans. Colonel Gaddafi was at the peak of his strident anti western rhetoric, and he exhorted all his fellow countrymen to assert themselves and treat us westerners like dirt. Before the Second World War, Libya was an Italian colony, and during the colonial era the locals were treated like 3rd class citizens by the arrogant Italians, and it was hardly surprising that they were now getting their own back. (During this era, Libyans had to get off the sidewalk and walk in the gutter if an Italian was walking anywhere in the vicinity).

Apart from the attitude of the Libyans, there appeared to be one major problem – no booze!!! Oh my God!

As luck would have it, one of my previous colleagues, who used to work for me in the Arabian Gulf, turned out to be also working in Tripoli. He was living there with his wife and family – all living downtown, not too far from my own, large and very lonely villa. We hooked up and renewed old friendships, and his family immediately took me under their wing, and for a while I virtually lived in their house, where my friend’s wife cooked up prestigious amounts of wholesome western food in a valiant effort to fatten me up.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long before I  became introduced to “white lightning” – that home made, pure alcohol that when mixed with orange juice, became the staple, liquid diet for all us alcoholic expatriates.

After a few weeks, I met a young, stateless, ethnic German. The authorities had long since expropriated his passport – Egyptian I believe – for some infraction of the law, and who had become the sort of “pet” of the expatriate community. He had no job, no money, and no home, and survived by putting himself at the beck and call of families as an odd job handyman and he would sort out the various problems in their houses, pools and gardens, in exchange for a few days room and board.

We became friendly, and it wasn’t long before he moved into one of my spare bedrooms, and proceeded to install a large ‘pot still’ in one of my spare bathrooms. We were going big time into the liquor making business.

Not afraid to do things by half, we installed second still in the spare bathroom, which had now became a fully fledged distillery, and we immediately went into production. The only problem was that it got pretty hot in that bathroom with two stills going full pelt, and it wasn’t a very pleasant way to spend our idle hours. So we constructed a beautiful bar in the main lounge, and wired up a closed circuit black and white video system in the bathroom with the camera aimed on the temperature gauges, and the video monitor installed on the bar. Thus we could sit in the bar and knock back our ill gotten gains, and as soon as the temperature on the stills started to rise, we would race into the bathroom, and adjust the heat, just in the nick of time, before the stills blew up!!

Not content with making some of the highest quality alcohol in Tripoli, we also branched out into the home made beer business.

Cans of malt extract were available by the case load at the local grocery stores, and with the addition of smuggled in hop extract, we also started to produce some of the finest home made lager my drinking buddies had ever tasted.

How the authorities never caught on when we would turn up at the grocery store in a large pick-up, and proceed to purchase sugar by the sack load, and cans of malt extract by the case load, I will never know.

Basically the liquor was for sale and profit, and the beer was for consumption, and nearly every evening, a group of us would gather at our bar and get absolutely pissed out of our minds on our very strong home made beer. But somehow, we always managed to get up early the next morning and perform our daily work duties.

But all good things must come to an end.

We had become so bold that we started selling booze to the Arabs. At first, just a few ‘trusted’ friends from work. But those ‘friends’ told their friends, and before we knew it there was a constant buzz at the heavily fortified  front gate by Arabs we had never met, who wanted to buy our prized white lightning.

I suppose you could say I lived a charmed life, for if I had been caught, I would have certainly spent many of my best years rotting in a Libyan jail. But one of my closest Arab friends at work tipped me off one day, and told me that the authorities were onto my illegal activities, and it was only a matter of days before the house was raided and I would be arrested.

I couldn’t leave the country without an exit visa, and it was a race against time whether I could get the visa issued before the police closed in. As it turned out, I was in taxi, with only  the clothes on my back and a brief case of cash under my arm, on the way to the airport as the police had finally got round to raiding my premises. My itinerant friend had been tipped off and was already in hiding – not that the police knew he was involved.

So almost exactly nine months after my arrival in Tripoli, I was on a plane winging my way back to Europe, having escaped by the skin of my teeth,  never again to return to that part of the world. All in the name of booze.

A few days of R&R in Amsterdam, and then back on a plane to Bangkok, with yet another little “pot of gold” to lose.


Midnight, Sunday, 12th July.

SAMITIVEJ HOSPITAL, SRI RACHA.

To those who have started to follow my blog, my apologies for the 4 days of silence.

Unfortunately, I have been in hospital since last Thursday, suffering from Dengue Fever. Not a pleasant experience. The docs say I have to stay for at least 2 more days until the fever has run it course and make sure my blood platelets will not cause any internal hemorrhaging.

I have been through hell, and am still very weak. I will try to post more tomorrow.


Pattaya, July 9th, 2009

Pattaya, July 9th, 2009


Today I have been sober for 14 days.

I don’t know why, but once again I woke up feeling terrible, and even had a splitting headache, which is unusual for me. Anyway I was determined to get up and get into Pattaya for the 9.a.m. meeting, so I swallowed some paracetamol, gulped down a mug of hot coffee and set off.

I’m very glad that I did, because today was probably the best AA meeting I have ever attended.

There were 18 people there all told; mainly Americans, with the odd scattering of Irish and English, and their ages ranged from maybe their mid thirties, to over seventies.

One of the attendees was celebrating the anniversary of his sobriety – 14 years. So he was 14 years sober, and I was 14 days sober. We both received congratulations and applause.

I have no idea if it is true, but it is said that many alcoholics are highly intelligent people, and to some extent it is still a mystery, that despite their undoubted intelligence, and often considerable talents and abilities in other respects, that they succumb to the illness of alcoholism.

My fellow alcoholics this morning all had the opportunity to “share”; that is, give a brief address to the meeting on any aspect of alcoholism that they care to talk about. The wisdom and experience which came out of the “sharings” this morning was, for me, very inspirational.

As time goes on, I will write more and more about these meetings, and relate to you some of the heart rending, and inspiration stories (suitably disguised), that are shared daily by members.

But for now, I will continue with “Mobi’s Story”


MOBI’S STORY(PART4)


BACK IN BANGKOK (1975)

So I arrived back in Bangkok, very, very,  hung-over, (thinking back, I now realise I had the “DT’s”), jobless, but with a few thousand dollars in the bank which I was determined to put to good use in having the time of my life.

I was back in the old drinking and whoring routine, but a few months and a few avaricious girlfriends later, I was on the point of destitution, having now moved into a cheap “Thai” apartment, which was already a far cry from the air-conditioned hotel room that I used to stay in, and eventually I had to do a “runner” one night as there was  no money left to pay the rent.

When you are broke, thousands of miles from home, you know who your friends are, and I had very few. The ones that I did have were in no position to assist me financially, but one did advise me of a commercial college in the “boondocks” who had a vacancy for an English teacher.

So I had few options other than to give it a go, and in any event I had always fancied myself as a teacher. So I applied for the vacancy and was put to work straight away. Of course they paid me very little, barely enough to pay for my food  – which by this time consisted of 8 Baht noodles, and 5 Baht rice dishes from the road side stalls – and a nightly ‘band’ of Mekhong whisky. As for accommodation, well I was down at the bottom of the pile, and the only room I could afford was a small, extremely hot wooden room, in a Thai house on stilts, in old Soi 22, Sukhumvit, now long gone. I even had to pawn my radio cassette and wrist watch to raise the money to pay for the room deposit. My neighbors in the adjacent rooms were ‘ladies of the night’ – 2 or 3 to a room. They were friendly, but that’s as far as it went. Once they realised I had no money, they just weren’t interested in spending much time with me – why should they?

Pawning my meagre possessions became a feature of my life in those desperate days. I would pawn stuff during the month to raise money to get drunk, and redeem them at the end of the month when the school paid me. I found that by drinking as much Singha beer as I could afford, followed by quickly knocking back a bottle of Mekhong, I could achieve a state of intoxication that kept me going until the next day.

After a while, I realised that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher, and I found it more and more frustrating that I was trying to teach English to students who just weren’t interested in learning. They didn’t care. Their parents had sent them to this 4th rate college, in the hope that their recalcitrant offspring may change their “errant ways”. There were some exceptions – a few over eager Chinese teenage girls who were keen to get ahead and learn English. Their parents weren’t rich (hence their attendance at a fourth rate college), but they were determined to make the best of things and build worthwhile careers. They used to engage me to teach them privately in small groups at their homes in Yawalat, (China Town) and the income from these special lessons became significant extra ‘booze money’ for me as time went on.

But enough was enough, and I reached rock bottom. It was the school holidays, so no work, and no money. My visa had long since expired and I was an illegal in Thailand. It was time to pull myself together and take some action. I wrote to one of my good friends back in England and asked him if he would lend me the money for an airfare back home, and to cut the story short, he very kindly came up with the necessary funds. Through my friends in Bangkok, I made an arrangement whereby I surrendered to the immigration authorities in Suan Plu, the same day as I had a confirmed ticket back to England. In those days, as long as you had a ticket flying out the same day, you could go to court, pay the overstay fine, and they would let you go, assuming and trusting that you would take the  booked night flight out. All went as clockwork, and I made the sad journey back home to London, and thence to my parents flat in East London .Yes, my father was still alive.

I hadn’t seen my parents for several years, and indeed had been out of touch for most of that time. My mother, a dear, sweet lady who had suffered terribly through the years from my father’s rages and domineering and cruel behaviour, took one look at me and burst out crying. She said I looked as though I had just been released from Belson – so thin and emaciated I had become.

Pattaya, July 8th, 2009

MOBI’S  STORY(PART 3)

JAKARTA.

I’m not too sure about these days, following the rise of Muslim fundamentalism, but in the 1970’s Jakarta was not a town which I would recommend for those with a drinking problem.

As the resident expat financial controller, I was given a whole house to myself, complete with servants and fully stocked bar, located in the up market, (expat) area of Kebayoran, within walking distance of my office.

If my boss, who I had previously worked for in Port Harcourt, wasn’t an alcoholic, then he was the best imitation of that condition that I have ever seen. On top of that, he was totally addicted to sex, and would pick up girls at any hour of the day or night, on a whim, and whisk them off to a hotel or any room which happened to be available for an hour. I recall once taking a business trip with him to Singapore, and he could rarely get out of the hotel lift without finding something to his liking in there with him and then persuading her to having a quick fling in his room.

Anyway, when I arrived in Jakarta, I was welcomed with open arms, and was immediately ushered out  to a local massage parlour, within site of the office, whereupon  we immediately took our places at the bar, and spent the afternoon drinking and whoring. When he finally determined that we had better make an appearance in the office, he introduced to me to his ‘expenses system’, whereby I paid all the bills, would subsequently claim them on expenses, which would then be approved by none other than himself – the General Manager. What a wonderful arrangement!

Needless to say, I embarked on yet another wild, drinking career. With all the money and ‘expenses’ I could ask for, I caroused with  some of the most beautiful women I had ever set eyes on, and drank myself silly in a feast of bars, nightclubs and massage parlours.

There was a large pub/tavern near the office which was run by a British couple who co-owned it with a Indonesian General. It was the ‘in’ place for expats, and had good western food. There was a very large circular, central, bar, and they even had live music of an evening. It was one of those “wonders of Asia’ where freelance whores would rub shoulders at the bar with expats, husbands and wives, and respectable Indonesians – male and female.

My day would invariable start there, with my boss, and a ‘liquid’ lunch. The pub had a number of very attractive, seductively dressed waitresses, who were eager to serve. My boss would sit there and look at them, trying to decide which one to chat up. He would say: “Mobi, have you humped that one?” I would shake my head, not really being in his league. Then he would say: “How about that one, have you humped her?” And so on, and all the time getting more and more pissed. After a couple of hours we would adjourn to his favourite massage parlour, where more drinking and whoring would follow. On good days, we might spend as much as an hour or two in the office. On bad days, we never saw the inside of it.

By the way, I should mention that my boss, an American, was also married to an American, and she would wait patiently at their Jakarta home every night for him to return, every day. Rarely, did he do that before midnight.

Of course this situation couldn’t last forever, and word started to get around that the General Manager wasn’t doing a great deal of ‘managing’.

Around two months after my arrival in Jakarta, my boss was summoned back to California for ‘business discussions’, and never returned, and I never saw him again. His wife was still in Jakarta at the time, and it was several weeks before she departed, as she was left to pack up all their stuff and tidy up all the loose ends. I felt quite sorry for her, because she knew what her husband had been getting up to. She knew that I was one of his “partners in crime”, but for some reason she took a liking to me, (or maybe took pity on me – who knows?), and she took me under her wing for those few weeks  she remained in Jakarta, and was very kind to me. I was still drinking like there was no tomorrow though, and I remember to this day the struggle I had to get out of bed and go with my driver  to her house and escort her to the airport to make sure she flew out without any hitches. My hangover was enormous, but I owed it to her, and I gave the send-off she deserved.

After she left, things went downhill rapidly. Up to that point, in spite of all my drinking and whoring, I had just about been able to keep up with my work, but the drinking got worse, and it wasn’t long before the books were hopelessly behind, and the monthly finance reports to head office started to dry up. For a while I made up the numbers, but even those ceased eventually, when it became clear that Head Office was having problems in accepting that the figures were based in any kind of reality.

As my work situation deteriorated, along with my drinking, I rarely went to the office. If I went at all, it would be after 6.p.m. California time, to make sure they couldn’t call me on the telephone. It was still the days before fax machines, but they sent me ‘yards’ of telexes every day, demanding to know what was going on, but I never replied.

Eventually, I realised the game was up, and it was only a matter of time before I would be fired, and a replacement  sent to sort everything out. So I decided to ‘jump before I was pushed’ and gave in my notice. It was accepted, no doubt with a great deal of relief, and one of my old mates from my drinking days in  London, was sent out from California, (he was now a senior honcho in Head Office Finance), to arrange a hand over.

Before he arrived, I had an attack of conscience, and started a valiant attempt to get everything up to date. I was only half way there when my old friend arrived, but together we worked day and night, and within a couple of weeks everything was back where it should have been and the books were spick and span.

It didn’t change anything regarding my future employment, but at least I felt better in myself. My departure date was booked, and I spent the remaining days, packing and arranging my shipment to the UK.

I was still drinking, often with my old friend from California, but I guess it tapered off a little to allow me to do what I had to do.

In all, I was in Indonesia just under a year. I had travelled extensively during my time there, had learnt to speak passable Indonesian (I am blessed with an aptitude for languages – even when drunk), and had many adventures with women. Oh yes, I had even spent the obligatory night in a Jakarta jail. The details are vague, but I believe some Indonesian Mafia were after me for something I had done in a drunken state, and from what I recall, I was locked up for my own protection.

Finally, I clambered onto the plane that would take me away from Indonesia forever, and I remember it vividly because I was so hung-over, that I never thought I would make it alive to my destination, Bangkok. I was shaking like a leaf; I was drenched in sweat, and my head felt as though it had been cracked open with a sledge hammer. But make it, I did.

Yet never once did I then and for many years to come, even consider the possibility that I may have a problem with alcohol, or that I was an alcoholic and couldn’t control my drinking.

I was just a young man enjoying life to the full.


Pattaya, 8th July, 2009.

Pattaya, 8th July, 2009.

Today I have been sober for 13 days. I hope that 13 is not an unlucky number!!

As I have done for the past 13 days, today I woke up at 7.30 a.m. showered, shaved and dressed, made 2 steaming mugs of coffee, and at 8.15 I got into my car and made the half hour journey to Pattaya for my morning AA meeting.

I have been sleeping very late and waking up late for so long, that I really find it a huge effort to get up early, in spite of the fact that I actually fell asleep before midnight.

In my working days, I was a very early riser, but these past two weeks I have felt like shit when I wake up, even though I am not hungover. But by the time I have arrived at Pattaya, and the caffeine has started to kick in, I feel much better.

(All medical experts will tell you that coffee is very bad for recovering alcoholics, but I have yet to meet one – and believe me I have met a great number in the past few months – who doesn’t ‘down’ copious mugs of coffee from early morning, and sometimes all day. Let’s be realistic, drinking coffee is still a million times better than taking that first drink.)

Once I am in the meeting with my new found friends, I instantly start to feel better, and by the time the meeting has closed, an hour later, I really do feel mentally charged, ready to face the day, and all set to embark on yet another, hopefully booze – free 24 hours.

But more about these meetings later.

For now, I will continue my “background” story, which I pray will provide a timely warning to any heavy drinkers out there, of the dangers of descending into a life of alcoholism.


MOBI’S STORY (PART 2).


BANGKOK

It was 1974, and before I travelled to Jakarta to start my new job, I took a long, (2 month), break in Bangkok. By this time I had travelled to Thailand a number of times, and I soon 1slipped into my familiar routine.

The very first time I had arrived in Bangkok, I had booked myself into the Siam Intercontinental in Siam Square, (now sadly no more). But I never stayed there. I quickly discovered that five star hotels did not approve of “ladies of the night”, and it wasn’t long before I opted for the much more down-market, two and three star hotels that were scattered across the metropolis.

After trying out a few, I eventually settled on the Fortuna Hotel, on Soi 5, Sukhumvit Road. It was old even then, but it had a fine, 24 hour coffee shop, decent rooms, and even a swimming pool. But most importantly, in true “Cheers tradition”, it was a place where everyone knew my name. The staff were very friendly, and even the owner used to talk to me as he somehow had got into his head that I was very rich, and he was keen on marrying me off to his cute little Chinese daughter who worked behind reception. I’m not sure that she was too keen, as all that she saw was a young, long haired ‘hippie’, who drank too much beer and never slept alone, and never with the same lady for more than 2 nights in a row.

The Fortuna was conveniently located across Sukhumvit from a large massage Parlour, called HP Massage, and next to the parlour was an “illegal” go-go bar that was open all night and, even in those far off days, used to have naked ladies to provide the dancing entertainment. The Chinese owner had it all sewn up;  any ‘masseurs’ who were not otherwise employed, would gravitate to the bar next door after work, and try their hand at dancing, in the hope of snagging a late drunken farang.

So my two months were largely spent within the confines of HP Massage, the bar next door, and my hotel room. Drinking would start at Noon, when I would sit at the bar of HP, peering at the girls behind the window, and choosing my ‘wife of the day’, followed by lunch in the hotel, and thence to bed for an afternoon nap, and a bit of ‘nookie. Most days, I would wake up in the early evening, kick out my ‘wife of the day’, go back over the road to the illegal bar, and spend half the night there, making sure I didn’t sober up, and sometimes taking my second wife of the night back to the room for ‘part two’.

In a pattern to be repeated through the years, I eventually got my ‘comeuppance’, in the form of a gorgeous little thing, who I fell for ‘hook line and sinker’. Within a week I was married to her, and on the first day of my marriage she was kidnapped, outside the Fortuna Hotel, by a couple of young guys in a black taxi. I was beside myself with distress, and drank more than ever, awaiting news of my beloved. After a few days she called me and spun the yarn that she was being held by a gang and they had demanded a ransom to set her free. To cut a long story short, I duly paid the ransom to a guy on a motorcycle at Victory Monument, but the lady never returned – of course. I did track her down later, and when she disappeared yet again, I even travelled up country to a communist infested village, east of Ubon, where I found her mother living a lovely little house with a bright, new shiny roof. The best house an otherwise totally impoverished village. But no sign of the wife.

(By the way, the present day Landmark hotel is located on the site of the old HP Massage and bar, and many years later I stayed there one night, and could have sworn I heard the ghostly laughter of all those girls I knew as I lay in bed in an advanced stage of intoxication.)

I digress.

I eventually made the plane to Singapore, and thence to Jakarta, very hung-over, poorer, broken-hearted, and not a lot wiser.

My name is “Mobi”; I’m an alcoholic!!!

This is the start of my very first blog.


The subject of this blog is alcoholism, and in particular, my alcoholism, and what I am doing in my life to combat this sickness.

The purpose of this blog is twofold:

First and foremost – and I make no apologies for this, even if it does seem to go against AA principles – is that I find it cathartic to write about my problems, and further, that there may be folk out there who may read my blog, maybe offer encouragement, and by so doing, give me the strength and determination to continue along my chosen course.

Secondly – and this is certainly in keeping with AA principles, there may be many alcoholics out there who will be encouraged, inspired (dare I hope for such a thing?), and even learn (Oh my God I’m getting too cocky by half!), from my ramblings.

I sincerely hope – whether I succeed or fail miserably – that you, dear readers, may derive some benefit from reading about my life and exploits, as it pertains to my ongoing attempts to stop drinking.

There is one point I wish to make clear at the very outset. The very nature of my story necessitates that I have to be extremely discrete when writing about the people I encounter and interact with in my quest for sobriety. This means that you must take it as ‘read’ that all names and any information that could lead to discovery of those to whom I refer, will be fictionalised, in order to protect their anonymity.

So please, no speculation on anyone who is mentioned, as I can assure you that in all likelihood you will be way off the mark, as I am quite inventive.

But for me, Mobi, I will be an open book, and accept that as the price I pay for writing this blog.


Pattaya, July 7th, 2009.

It is ironic, (or maybe divine guidance?) that I am starting a blog on alcoholism on the first day of Khao Phanzer, or Buddhist Lent, the time of year when Buddhists, and even some ‘farangs’, try to refrain from alcohol for a period of 3 months.

Today I have been sober for 12 days. This isn’t the first time I have tried to stop drinking, but I sincerely hope it is the last. All previous attempts were carried out more or less on my own, using my own ‘will power” to stay sober, and as I now believe, all these attempts were destined to fail, sooner or later.

On this, the first day of my blog, some background to my life of drinking is in order.


MOBI’S STORY(PART1)

THE “DEVELOPING” YEARS

I am not exactly sure how old I was when I first tasted alcohol, but I suspect I was in my pre-teens when my father handed round the Christmas glasses of cheap Spanish wine, at our rented flat in East London. I recall with amazing clarity, not the drinking of the wine, but the buying of it. It was such a tortuous, frightening and traumatic process, as was more or less any event that was somehow connected with my brutal bear of a father.

He knew this cheap off license, a couple of miles from where we lived, and he sent me to buy the wine, with strict instructions on what to buy, and how much to pay. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. The prices had changed, and when I returned home, with the wine and the incorrect change, all hell broke loose. Not only did I and the whole family suffer from a raging abusive father, but he went back to the off license and physically assaulted the poor shop owner, and, not being satisfied with that, smashed in the plate glass on the front his shop. This was not an uncommon occurrence in those days, when my life was totally controlled and dominated by my father.

Enough to drive any unsuspecting child to drink, you may think. But in spite of my almost continual fear of violence and intimidation, I was strong in other ways. I think abused people often find an inner strength to somehow survive and the thought of getting drunk was totally alien to me. If I had been a child of the 21st Century, then maybe things would have been different, but in those far off days of the early 1950’s, England had barely recovered from the Second World War, and alcohol was neither easily available nor cheap enough to draw me into alcoholism at such a young age.

So we had the obligatory wine with our Christmas lunch, a totally miserable time of year for the whole family; what with being fed some scrawny, undercooked goose that my father had picked up from the butcher just before he closed at half price, some sweet, warm cheap Spanish wine and all to the accompaniment of a mean and cruel man who never let up with his irrational temper tantrums.

My next memories of alcohol are being taken into the local public house with my father and elder brother when I was around 15 years old, and being given a pint of draught beer, which I found the most foul tasting liquid I had ever experienced. But I didn’t dare not drink it – after all, my father was there to make sure I was a “man”, and could take my drink.

I left school when I was 16, even though I had been fortunate to go to a grammar school. I was looking for some elusive independence from my father that working full time may afford me. But of course nothing much changed. Most of the meagre pittance that I earned working as an articled clerk to a Chartered Accountant in the City, had to be handed over to my family to pay for my “keep”.

I was a lonely person in those days, but did keep a few friends from my school hood days, who I would see occasionally. Over the next year or two, by doing a paper round as well as my full time job, I managed to save up enough to buy the cheapest most ramshackle jalopy of a car you would ever see, and it used to become a regular occurrence to take out my friends on a Sunday evening to one of the pubs scattered across the Essex countryside, where we would ‘down’ a few pints of beer in time honoured tradition.

I was the start of my love/hate affair with alcohol, although I didn’t know it at the time. I think even in those days I was fast developing an unhealthy ‘taste’ for it, although I was still a long way from being a fully fledged alcoholic.

I recall the first time I was really drunk – I guess it was the first time of literally thousands. I was probably around 19 or 20, and was still working as an articled clerk and was paid a pittance. (My servitude was 5 years). I was auditing the books of a major motor dealer in the East end of London and was in their offices with a junior colleague, a couple of days before Christmas. (It’s weird how Christmas seems to come up again and again along my path to alcoholism). We were busy ticking their account books with our nice bright red pens, when the office manager came into our office, sporting a large bottle of scotch, and invited us to join him in a Christmas toast.

I achieved several ‘firsts’ on that cold, miserable, December day. It was the first time I had tasted scotch; it was the first time I had become totally intoxicated; it was the first time I had driven while in a state of extreme intoxication, (I remember to this day driving home, hanging onto the steering wheel, and moving at about 10 miles and hour – weaving all over the carriageway – it was a miracle I didn’t crash, or get arrested); it was the first time that I puked my guts out; it was the first time that I had gone to bed and the walls and ceiling of the room went round and… round…. and …round; and it was the first time that I woke up with a hangover.

Needless to say my father was distinctly unimpressed, and you can imagine what happened, for the day had not yet arrived when I would escape from his control.

The five years were finally at an end, and although I failed my final exams, I still managed to get a well paid job in the oil industry, for this was the “swinging sixties”, and jobs were aplenty.

I went to work in the company’s prestige offices in Berkeley Square, and I earned the princely sum of 20 pounds a week – a positive fortune to a poor east end lad, who rarely had more than a quid in his pocket in his whole life. So I started to live life ‘on the hog’. My new work colleagues helped me to break the chains of my previous life, and it wasn’t long before I was frequenting the pubs and clubs of the west end, and I even joined Playboy club on Park lane which was the ‘in’ place to be in those days. The influence and control of my father had finally started to wane; many is the time that I didn’t get home till dawn on a weekend, and within a year I had rented a room in Bayswater and moved out – although I was still so terrified of my father that I virtually had to do a “moonlight flit”.


So booze was becoming an important part of my life. We would drink at lunch times, and we would drink after work. Sometimes, when we were ‘burning the midnight candle’ in the office, we would go out and get drunk at 5 p.m. and at around 7 p.m. we would return to work, pissed, but still able to work.

A feature of my life then, and for a great many years to come, was that I was able to imbibe large amounts of alcohol, and still manage to work and hold down high pressure jobs.

After a couple of years, I became emotionally embroiled with a girl from New York who had been working for me as a temporary secretary. I was so besotted with her beauty and ‘New York charm’, that when she returned home at the conclusion of her contract, that I promptly quit my job and followed her over there.

Much happened to me in New York, but the romance collapsed and I ended up by moving to Montreal in Canada, where I was first incarcerated at the border on suspicion of being a US draft dodger, and then got into trouble with the authorities by trying to work without the proper visa, (shades of Thailand). Anyway, that is all another story, but suffice to say that booze kept me in good stead during this difficult and emotionally draining period of my life.

I suppose that most peoples’ lives contain ‘life changing’ coincidences, but whether or not that is so, it is certainly true of my life.

I had rented a nice apartment in downtown Montreal, I had beaten the Canadian immigration service, and was about to start a well paid job. I phoned a friend in London from my Oil Company days and told him what had happened and where I was located. Within 24 hours the oil company had contacted me and offered me a new position in Nigeria.

It didn’t take me long to decide to accept the offer, and within days I was winging my way back to London, and thence onwards to Lagos, Nigeria.

So to a new life, a new experience in a West African Country which had recently become independent from Britain, and was at that time immersed in a bloody civil war.

In all, I spent over 3 years in Nigeria – Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri – and had many adventures, including being one of the first westerners to enter the secessionist Eastern region at the end of the war, being thrown in jail and beaten up for being drunk at a road block, marrying (and eventually divorcing) a Nigerian lady, and many more…. But they are not the subject of this blog.

Suffice to say, my drinking habits in the hard bitten ‘wild west’ of the oil exploration business became more entrenched and I could stand my booze with the best of them, and still report for work the next morning.

After Nigeria I spent over 3 years in the Arabian Gulf – principally in Abu Dhabi, but also in Oman, and Dubai. More adventures, more bloody noses and black eyes, more jails, and a lot more drinking. For the first 2 years of my time in Abu Dhabi, I lived in a caravan in the desert – one of literally hundreds that made up ‘base camp’, which at that time, was the largest centre of population in the country. There were no women, but all the beer you could drink. So we worked a 12 hour day, and as the evenings cooled down, we’d sit outside our porta camps, downing dozens of cans of beer and throwing the empties into the sand and at the mangy wild dogs that circled the camp. Every day we would pass out drunk, and often fights would spring up, for no real reason, other than alcohol, frustration and boredom. Strange to tell, this is one of the fondest memories of my early adulthood. For there, in the desert, I discovered a camaraderie I had never found before, and I could drink as much as I liked, every day. Eventually we relocated into the fast developing Abu Dhabi city, where I started to drink more than ever, and as was becoming my custom, spent the odd night or two in the local jail after drunken altercations in the only night club in town.

It was during the period that I was in Abu Dhabi, that I made my first forays into Thailand – The “land of Smiles”. In fact, my introduction to Thailand had come some years earlier, when working in Nigeria, as one of my drinking friends had recommended that if I ever had the chance, I should definitely give Bangkok, and in particular, Patpong, the ‘once over’ and he had even written down the name of his favourite bar for me.

So it was that when working in the Middle East in the early seventies, that I started my 36 year ‘love affair’ with ancient Siam, and those oh so beautiful and captivating ladies. I used to take a round trip flight to Bombay (now Mumbai), and thence another round trip flight to Bangkok, as this was the only way of flying to Thailand, other than going via Europe.

My R & R in Bangkok consisted almost entirely of drinking, whoring, sleeping, drinking, whoring, sleeping, drinking….. for 3- 4 weeks, and then back to work in the desert. Not very cultural, but there again I was a hot headed young lad who had spent the past few months in a desert devoid of women, and with only hard drinking oilfield men and camels for company!!

Does anyone remember ‘Thai Heaven’?

(However, I do recall being taken to the Rose Garden on one occasion, and on another, made a very long journey by non air conditioned taxi to Chiang Mai, in the company of a lovely young lady, who insisted on stopping every hour or so to eat. It took two days to get there and another two to get back to Bangkok. I think we spent one night in Chiang Mai.)

From the Middle East, I moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. This move was to become ‘little piece of heaven’ and, I regret to say, more than a chunk of my descent into what became my ‘alcoholic hell’.