Viva Formula One! – may your billions be forever tainted…

10 Months, 27 Days, still sober

Mobi babble

On 21st November, Noo and I celebrated our one year anniversary together. In case you are wondering, I know the precise date because the first time she came to stay at my home was on the night of the 2010 Loi Krathong Festival, and she has been with me ever since.

I had known Noo for several months before that date, and had been extremely attracted to her. I felt she was an attractive, sexy, good hearted lady and we seemed to hit it off very well together. The only thing that had been holding me back was the fact in my carefully prepared ‘lady check list’, there was a requirement that my next ‘live-in’ would have absolutely no children.

For those interested, you can find my infamous ‘check list’ – ‘29 questions before marrying a whore’ in my blog of 27th June, which can be found:  HERE)

Anyway, Noo has two kids living with her family in Nong Khai and this encumbrance deterred me from getting too serious with her, but in the end I liked her so much that I decided to ignore my own rules and give her a try.

On the day of our assignation, I had arranged to pick her up from a Loy Krathong party she had gone to with her friends. I almost missed her, as I was a couple of hours late in picking her up. The party had long since finished and she had given up waiting for me. When I belatedly drove up, she was in the act of climbing into the back of a ‘Baht bus’ with her friends to go off to yet another party.

The rest, as they say is history. Still dressed in her traditional Thai costume, we drove back up to the lake where we did a small detour to launch a krathong on the lake near my home. After that we drove home and although I had known her for quite a while, this was the very first occasion that I had made love to her. She has been with me ever since and although I have done a few things during the past year of which I am not particularly proud, I have been faithful to her and have not slept with another woman.

I have recently written at length about how happy I have been with Noo and what a little gem she is, so I will leave it at that.

It remains to be seen if this time next year I will be celebrating my second anniversary. I am actually extremely optimistic.

The Great Gatsby

I finished reading supposedly America’s finest 20th century Novel a few days ago and was surprised to discover how short it was – only around 80,000 odd words, give or take.

I enjoyed it quite a lot as  Fitzgerald is a very fine writer and he writes beautiful prose. I do, however struggle with the assertion that Gatsby is one of the finest novel ever written. ‘Great’ it may be, but I am quite sure there are many others which are greater.

In fact I would even go so far as to say that his novel ‘Tender is the Night’ written some 11 years later,  is, in my opinion, a much finer, deeper and more absorbing novel. For me, Tender is a novel in which the reader can interact on a far more emotional and empathetic level with the characters, than is the case with Gatsby.

I rarely read book reviews before reading a particular book as I wish to form my own opinion without being influenced by others. So when I had finished Gatsby, I scanned the internet for a few reviews of Gatsby  and was amused to find at least one learned reviewer who had opinions close to my own. He commented that Gatsby is generally regarded by the US literary establishment as a finer novel than ‘Tender is the Night’, because the college professors find Gatsby a much easier book to teach, by virtue of its short length and more simplistic plot-line and character development.

I couldn’t really comment on that, never having been to any college, let alone an American college, so have no idea how these things work, but I think I do see what he was getting at. Of course, it is all very subjective and one thing is for sure – I do need to read Gatsby at least one more time before I can really form a proper opinion of its place in 20th century American literature.

I decided to download and watch the 1974 film of the Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford to see how it matched up to the book.

The film has come in for a lot of criticism as well as some praise but as far as I can determine it has been generally regarded as a bit of a flop, both financially and critically.

I actually quite enjoyed it. There has been much criticism of the acting, especially Mia Farrow in the role of Daisy, but for me, it worked quite well. I thought the lead male actors were particularly good and Redford made a sterling effort in portraying the somewhat enigmatic Gatsby on the big screen. The costumes, scenery, design and cinematography were exceptional and brought to life everything in the way that I had imagined as I read the novel. The music, ably orchestrated by Nelson Riddle, was, of course superb and so evocative of the  the Jazz Age era.

Again, reading some reviews afterwards, (which ranged from hating it to loving it), I found several reviewers complaining that the screenplay, by no lesser personage than Francis Ford Coppola, was very mundane and lacked the beauty of Fitzgerald’s original prose. These comments demonstrated to me the wilful deceptions of reviewers who are determined to put the boot into a film they don’t like.

Remember, I had just read the book, and Fitzgerald’s wonderful writing style was still firmly in my mind; so as I watched the movie, I kept thinking to myself; ‘Did they actually pay Coppola to write this?’

Not because it was terrible, but because it seemed to me that he had copied the narrative, word for word, from the original novel. It was essentially a ‘cut and paste’ job. It was quite remarkable how he succeeded in using so much of Fitzgerald’s own prose, whether it was from the mouth of ‘Nick’, by way of narration, or part of the general dialogue.

And even when the writer, (or producers), had decided to include new scenes that were not in the novel, you could barely detect any change in the style of the dialogue from that written by the novelist. To me, far from being mundane, the screenplay was a master class on how to be as faithful as possible to the original book.

As with the book, it is all quite subjective, but I have sneaking suspicion that the film is now held in much higher regard than when it was originally released.

I see that a new version of Gatsby is currently being shot by one of my all-time favourite film directors, “BazLuhrmann. It is due for release next year and I will be most interested to see what he makes of this sleepy, finely nuanced story of the rich and indolent in the early 20th Century.

Kindle-ing

Further to my comments on Kindle, ( KINDLE), a few weeks back, the other day I was searching the Kindle ‘market place’ for a Tolstoy novel, when I found an incredible offer. The complete works of Leo Tolstoy, all for the grand price of … can you believe… one dollar, ninety nine cents? – that’s just sixty Baht, for 33 literary works, by one of the greatest ever authors, including such monsters novels as ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’.

Never, in my wildest dreams could I have ever hoped to possess such a hard copy collection to store on my bookshelves. And what is more, I can take the whole lot with me, in my pocket, wherever I go in the world.

I don’t know about you, but I just love and embrace 21st century technology.

Oh Bernie Eccleston… how rich are you?….

Most professional sports in this day and age have become totally corrupted by the enormous amounts of money that flow through them, to both the ‘players’ and the owners. There are countless examples of this obscene ruination of what used to be sport for sports sake, and without wishing to alienate my Yank friends too much, I believe it is fair to state that the rot probably started in the good old Us of A.

American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey showed the world how it was possible to become multi-millionaires in a few brief years, just by being good in a particular sport. In recent years, sports such as football (soccer), athletics and even the ultimate gentleman’s sport, cricket have become drowned in what appears to be an insatiable drive to pump more and more money into just about any sporting endeavour that may attract punters and sponsors.

One of the chief amongst these is the incredibly boring and pointless sport of Formula One racing. It is run by multi-millionaires, sponsored by many of the richest of the world’s global conglomerates, and pays its drivers obscene amounts of money, to drive a two hour race, every week or so for a few months of the year.

I love sport and have always been a keen follower of almost any sport you care to name but I can never sit down and watch a formula one GP from start to finish. Nothing ever happens, unless of course the camera happens to be distracted for a few seconds. The race appears to be more a question of which team has the best tyre strategy than anything to do with the car or the driver’s ability.

(Yes, I know that I am exagerating, but how many times has a race been won or lost by good or bad tyre strategy?).

It really is a lot of nonsense, but, I am sad to admit that it is a sport that is followed by many millions throughout the world.

So you get this idiotic, obscenely rich multi-billionaire, Mr Bernie Ecclestone, who seems to think that because he owns Formula One, he can do what he likes, where he likes and how he likes, with no regard whatsoever to what is happening in the rest of the world. For Ecclestone, the only world that exists is his rarefied, billionaire’s Grand Prix world of  Formula One. As far as he is concerned, the remaining 7 billion people on the planet can go and take a running jump.

Over the past six months, I have written on several of occasions about the atrocities that have been perpetrated this year in the state of Bahrain; some of the most shocking and brutal of the entire ‘Arab Spring Season’.

I noted at the time my disgust that Ecclestone and such luminaries as Jackie Stewart were still insisting that the Bahrain Grand Prix should go ahead, showing their complete ignorance and insensitivity towards the horrific events that were unfolding in that country.

In the end, the pressure of public opinion was so great that even ‘King’ Ecclestone was forced to cancel, but still, incredibly, held out some hope that the race could be reinstated later in the calendar.

Just in case some of my readers may have missed my comments on Bahrain, here are few, and I do mean just a few, snippets from my earlier blogs.

May 13

…In Bahrain, the response of the authorities has been so brutal and so utterly barbaric and ruthless, that they have successfully managed to totally quell any semblance of protest – at least for the time being – so terrified and battered – both mentally and physically – are the general population….

…I appreciate that it is difficult to ‘grade’ the levels of oppression and illegality, but as horrific as the actions of the ruling authorities have been in Libya, Yemen Syria and elsewhere, I put it to you that the actions in Bahrain have reached a new low in the level of man’s inhumanity to man…

…I am talking now of the arrest, intimidation, torture and rape of female students as young as 12 years old; the mass round up, imprisonment and continued detention and torture of dozens of doctors and scores of medics medics and anyone who gave medical sustenance to the injured protesters…

…Authorities said that 47 doctors and medics will soon face prosecution, apparently in a special military court, for alleged acts that include claims of bringing weapons into the hospital, stealing blood so that protesters could feign serious injury, applying medications to simulate symptoms of nerve gas, refusing to treat injured or ill people who were not Shia and generally “serving the agenda of the protesters”. They said 150 others are under investigation and suspended from their positions. Authorities said they will “reveal details” at a news conference on Sunday…

… It is with much shame that I can only conclude that nothing will be done or said  on behalf of Bahrain’s terrified and suffering populace, as it would be diametrically opposed to  the west’s  interests; they do not wish to upset their Middle eastern allies. This is gutless appeasement demonstrates the total hypocrisy of western politics and their claims that they stand up for democracy, the rights of the individual and human dignity…

…It suits the West’s purpose to become involved militarily in Libya as that country is more or less a pariah state and has few friends. But Bahrain, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates – America and Europe’s close allies, never…

‘So sorry, my little Bahraini’s – we’re afraid you will have to be beaten, raped, tortured and die and because we can’t let anything come between us and our malicious, misogynistic, totalitarian  Arab mates  and their precious oil supplies…’

15 May

The Bahraini government has destroyed a number of mosques in continuation of its aggressive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters….

….At least 28 mosques and Shia religious institutions have been destroyed in the Gulf state since the crackdown on Shia-led protests began in Mid-March

…This Sunni government of Bahrain is fighting the Shia, destroying their places of worship and holy places.”….

Washington, DC – Human Rights First expressed concern about reports that dozens of mosques and other religious property used by the Shia majority community in Bahrain are being destroyed by the authorities in the latest crackdown against protesters….

…..“Bulldozing mosques will only inflame the tensions in Bahrain, not restore stability,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The attacks on Shia places of worship have triggered protest demonstrations in other parts of the Middle East, and these incidents will exacerbate Sunni-Shia tensions throughout the region. The US government’s silence on Bahrain is deafening.  If the Obama …Administration wants to see human rights respected throughout the Middle East, it must speak out against the destruction of places of worship and the rest of the continuing repression in Bahrain.”…..

….According to Human Rights Fist, around 600 government critics have been detained in the last two months and at least four have died in police custody in April…..

… Why, I wonder is the US so reluctant to condemn to atrocities perpetrated by these barbaric Bahraini tyrants?  Well apart from being a close ally of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates (fellow despots), there is the small matter of US naval facilities.

Bahrain has also been a base for U.S. naval activity in the Persian Gulf since 1947. Bahrain and the United States signed a Defence Cooperation Agreement in October 1991 granting U.S. forces access to Bahraini facilities and ensuring the right to pre-position material for future crises. Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The U.S. designated Bahrain a Major Non-NATO Ally in October 2001.

Need I say more?…

8 June

…The FIA made its decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix to the F1 calendar after a report revealed the country’s situation has “stabilised”.

The president of the sport’s world governing body told the BBC the FIA voted unanimously after advice from Vice-president, Carlos Gracia…

“Our special envoy had many meetings in Bahrain, even with the human rights people responsible,” said Todt.

“He found a stable situation, a quiet one, and we unanimously agreed.”

Nabeel Rajab – the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights president had this reaction:-

“It’s a very sad moment. It seems that their benefit and their interest has more importance than the human rights of people in this part of the region. It’s very upsetting, and the people are very upset.”

 

12 June

…Then we have the Royal Princes of Bahrain who are intent on stifling all opposition by killing, imprisoning and torturing thousands of its people, mainly the majority Shiite citizens; burning their mosques to the ground and raping and torturing female students as young as 12 years old; rounding up doctors, nurses and medics from hospitals and their homes and throwing them into jail on trumped up charges…

…What did Bahrain have to say to account for their destruction of dozens of Shiite Mosques?  Oh, they had to destroy them as the Mosques had been built without building permission…

‘Fast forward’ to the present.

I wasn’t the sole voice of reason protesting that the world had ‘forsaken’ Bahrain.

Indeed, Al Jazeera has been trying to bring these unspeakable injustices to the world’s attention for many months, sometimes at great risk to their own reporters.

They recently broadcast a documentary on the problem, entitled: ‘Bahrain: Shouting in the dark.’

It is the story of Bahrain: An island kingdom in the Arabian Gulf where the Shia Muslim majority are ruled by a family from the Sunni minority. Where people fighting for democratic rights broke the barriers of fear, only to find themselves alone and crushed.

This is their story and Al Jazeera is their witness – the only TV journalists who remained to follow their journey of hope to the carnage that followed. This is the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.

This documentary recently won the Foreign Press Association Documentary of the Year award in London and I commend it to my readers.

Bahrain: Shouting in the dark

So now, an independent report, commissioned by King Hamad, and published this week, was critical of both the government and the opposition regarding their behaviour earlier this year. The 500-page report, delivered by the Bahrain Independent Commission, makes no bones about the Bahraini security forces’ use of “excessive force” during the brutal crackdown that followed, in which 40 people died and more than 1,600 were detained without charge.

The exhaustive investigation, undertaken by Professor Cherif  Bassiouni, a former UN human rights lawyer, concluded that many detainees had been subjected to “physical and psychological torture”. They had been blindfolded, whipped, given electric shocks and threatened with rape in order to extract confessions. Even by the brutal standards of the Middle East, this is a pretty damning indictment.

Bahrain’s King Hamad has set up a commission to implement the findings of the report, including an examination of the protesters’ grievances.

But thousands in Bahrain’s Shia village of Muqasha have marched in protest following the release of a report slamming the government for its use of torture to crush protests. The protesters are saying the report fell short of the mark.

The unrest saw the 2011 Grand Prix, which was due to take place in March, postponed, then reinstated and then cancelled altogether following international condemnation.

The release of the report last Wednesday was preceded by further protests, but Ecclestone, in announcing the reinstatement of the Bahrain Grand prix for 2012, said: he did not expect the race to become a magnet for further unrest.

“It’s on the calendar, we’ll be there, unless something terrible happens to stop us.”

…The Bahraini King has vowed to introduce reforms after claiming to be “shocked” by the brutality uncovered by the inquiry. Ecclestone said he had faith in Bahrain’s rulers.

“They have internal politics and I doubt very much whether they’d use international matters to sort out internal politics,”

Asked what he would do if trouble flared up again next year ahead of the race, which is scheduled for 22 April, Ecclestone said: “I’d wait and see what happened and then decide.”

“Up to now they’ve done everything they said they were going to do.”

And questioned on the risk of the sport being drawn into another long-winded saga with a similar conclusion, he said: “Maybe we should have gone this year.”

 

Yes, folks, he actually said: “Maybe we should have gone this year…”

I firmly believe that the troubles in Bahrain are a very long way from being resolved as, I am sure, most sensible thinking people also believe. The Bahraini, Royal despots are probably doing no more than going through the motions in order to placate their friends in the west, in particular the USA, in much the same way that Assad of Syria has continually tried to placate the Arab league with false promises.

I truly hope that I am wrong, but we need some positive action, not words, before we can even begin to believe that changes for the better will really happen. And until the world becomes convinced that Bahrain has ceased its brutal repression and torture of its citizens, then international sport, such as Formula One, has absolutely no business doing business there.

Many of my readers are probably too young to remember, but the largest single factor that finally brought an end to Apartheid in South Africa, was the determination of the world’s sporting bodies to boycott that country.

By insisting on holding a major sporting even in that territory, for the benefit of a tiny number of obscenely rich people, Ecclestone is helping to legitimatise one of the world’s most despotic regimes.

A Lustful Gentleman

Below is another completed section of Chapter one of my novel. I think there may be one, or at the most two more writing sessions left in this chapter. It will be quite a relief to finally get it done and move on to chapter two…..

Chapter One

(continued)

ix

Na was extremely anxious; she hadn’t heard from Mike for more than two weeks. In fact, ever since he had suddenly backed his bags and rushed back to England to deal with a ‘family emergency’, she had not heard a word from him. Nor – even more importantly – had he sent her any of the promised funds.

    She had now reached the point where she had to make a critical decision. Should she sell some of her hard earned gold to raise the necessary cash, or should she simply change to a much cheaper hospital? Mike had promised her faithfully that as soon as he got back to London he would send her the cash for her hospital fees. But now, two weeks later and on the brink of delivery, there was no sign of any money being sent. She had tried to call him so many times, but his phone seemed to be permanently out of order. She had a dreadful feeling that the great love affair of her life was about to collapse in the most spectacular fashion.

    She was about to shake  her mother, who lying next to her, still fast asleep on the huge double bed, to go out and find her into a cheaper, more affordable hospital, when there was a ring at the door. ‘Mama! Mama! Wake up! Someone’s at the door,’ she shouted, shaking her mother quite roughly.

    Dow, still half asleep, rubbed her sand-filled eyes and staggered to her feet. Then she looked down at her daughter. ‘What? What? What’s happened?

    The doorbell rang again.

‘The door, Mama! The door! Go and see who’s there – maybe it’s Mike! she shouted , in a sudden fit of hope and feverish excitement.

    It wasn’t Mike, but the visitor was possibly the next best thing. It was Russell, Mike’s best friend. Na knew Russell very well; he was always popping by the apartment, either alone or with other friends to have a drink and to watch videos. He would even visit on the odd occasion when Mike wasn’t at home. They had all been mates together – Mike, Russell and the others, and of course some of the girls who tagged along, or so she used to think. But she hadn’t seen Russell, or any of Mike’s friends for several weeks, and she had begun to believe that they were all deliberately keeping their distance from her. Yet here he was, as large as life, surely with a message from her beloved Mike.

    The sat down in the large lounge, Na’s heavily pregnant frame sinking down into the deeply leather piled sofa.

    ‘Russell, you hear from Mike?’

   ‘Yes, Na, I just heard from him last night. He called me about two in the morning.’

    ‘Oh, thank God for that. I think something happen to him. I not hear anything since he go back to England. He all right? He have accident? Why he not call me?’ she asked in a worrying tone.

    The young Englishman sat in silence for a few moments, trying to work out what to say to her.

    ‘What happened, Russell? What happened to Mike? Something happened – I know. He OK?’ Na pressed him, in an ever more anxious tone.

    He looked at her, trying to break the news as gently as possible. ‘’Na, Mike is fine…’

    ‘Then why he not call me? Why he not send me money?’ When he coming back to Pattaya?’

    ‘I’m so sorry Na. he’s not coming back.’

    ‘Not coming back!’ she shrieked, ‘Why? Why?’

    ‘Na, I’m so sorry. Mike asked me to tell, you he’s not coming back to Thailand.. He’s got a new job in the city and he can’t get time off like he used to. Its’ a very big job, a promotion,  and he has to stay in London all the time.’

    ‘But…but… what about me? What about my – his baby!’ she screamed.

    Na, I’m sorry to tell you that Mike has a new girlfriend in London and he is getting married.’

    ‘Getting g married? I don’t believe it! He loves me. He told me the wanted to marry me! What about his baby???’

    ‘Na, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but last night Mike said that the baby wasn’t his. He said you had been sleeping around and he was quite sure that baby wasn’t his. That’s why he left you and flew back to England.’

    Na was beside herself with distress, bordering on hysteria. ‘Not his Baby! That’s impossible! He is the only man I have been with for more than a year. It is his Baby, Russell, call him and tell him it is his baby!’

    He looked at the distraught girl with a mixture of pity and disbelief. Mike had been so convincing when he had told him last night that Na had been ‘two-timing him’, but now he wasn’t so sure. ‘Which one was telling the truth?’ He wondered.

    ‘Na, I can’t get in the middle of all this; I am just passing on a message. He told me he wanted to call you but your phone was switched off.

    ‘No! No! That’s a lie! My phone never off. I have wait for Mike to call – all night, all day, since he leave Pattaya.’

    ‘Well I don’t know about that, Na, I’m just telling you what he said. Why don’t you try to call him, then, and tell him he’s got it all wrong?’

    ‘Russell, I try to call Mike every day – his phone never open!’ You call him – you tell him. I need money for hospital – my baby coming very soon…’

    Russell didn’t know what to do for the best. It was clear that Na was extremely upset and who could blame her. It certainly appeared that she was telling the truth and he knew that Mike wasn’t averse to the odd little white lie, when the occasion demanded it. But it was beginning to look as though it wasn’t just a little white lie – it might well be a bit of a monster. Mike was just trying to get out of his responsibly… the bastard….

    Na had broken down in tears and her mother had come in from the bedroom to comfort her.

    ‘Look Na, I’m very sorry, but I really have to be going…’ he said, as he rose to his feet and made towards the front door.

    But before he had taken two steps, Na set out a mighty scream that stopped him in his tracks. He turned to see the two women with terror on their faces. Then he noticed the trickle of blood seeping through from Na’s pakoma and he knew that he was in the middle of a medical emergency.

    ‘Russell! Help me!’ Na screamed, half delirious form birthing pains and the emotional trauma that she had just been subjected to.

    He knew that Mike had booked the expensive Bangkok Pattaya Hospital for Na’s delivery, so he quickly realised that the best thing to do was to somehow get Na into his car downstairs in the apartment car park and get her to the hospital as soon as possible.

    Without further ado, and with Dow’s help, they half carried, half dragged the delirious Na into the lift, and thence onto the back seat of his car, whereupon  he scared the wits out of Dow and himself as he raced to the hospital which was located some 10 kilometres away at the Northern end of Pattaya.

*

    It was a veritable ‘Devil’s Inferno’, with its throbbing, cacophonous disco music and its surrealistic strobes and multi-coloured spots. At its centre, the drunken, heaving masses were surrounding and cheering on a single, beautiful, dark skinned, naked lady, perched on a small, raised platform, who was dancing up a dervish-like storm of wild, seductive gyrations.

    Suddenly a young man broke away from the clinging crowd and tried to climb up onto the small platform. She saw him and pulled him up to her, hugging his body close to her sweat laden glistening skin. ‘Oh Russell… Russell,’ she moaned, as she thrust her upper thigh into his bulging crotch..

    There was a commotion in the crowd as another man broke through and grabbed at the dancer’s ankles. She looked down and screamed. ‘Mike! Mike! – what are doing here?’

    He looked at her with a mixture of disgust and anger in his blood red eyes. ‘You whore ! you whore!’ he shouted, ‘You cheap, dirty whore!’

    ‘No! No! I’m not!’ she screamed, ‘Mike I love you! I love you!’

    He let go of her ankles, turned his back and made an abrupt departure from the small stage, quickly vanishing from sight amongst the packed crowd.

    ‘Mike, don’t go!’ she screamed, and stopped dead in her tracks, pushing Russell away from her. He responded by putting his hands around her waist, trying to pull her towards him once more. She looked scornfully at him, and tried unsuccessfully to remove herself from his frantic embrace, when suddenly, she seemed to acquire superhuman strength and lifted him up bodily from the dancing platform.

    With her new-found prodigious power, she raised the flailing body above her head, holding him horizontally at arm’s length and started dancing again; this time a twirl, round and round the stage, screaming at the punters, desperately trying to locate her beloved Mike. Finally, she came to a halt and with a gesture akin to a double handed javelin throw, she launched the hapless farang into the middle of the baying crowd and watched, with satisfaction as his helpless body crashed through onto the floor and his head split asunder against the nearby bar.

    The crowd became silent, the music abruptly ceased, and the tier of spotlights zoomed in on the lifeless body. The crowd stared at the body, and then back at the still naked figure on the stage. A single voice shouted: ‘Na!’ Then others joined in, ‘Na! Na! Na! Na! The spotlights changed direction again and returned to illuminate Na’s quivering body.

    ‘Na! Na! Na!’

*

    ‘Na! Na!… wake up, Na!’

    At first she thought she was still on stage in that grotesque bar. A shiver of fear ran though her. ‘Oh my God! What in earth have I done?’ Then with relief, she realised that she had been having a nightmare and started to relax. She actually felt quite good; she was still drowsy from the anaesthetic and was feeling a little ‘high.’

    But as the voices and the lights started to pierce her consciousness, the first thing she felt was a sharp pain in her lower stomach. Where was she? What was going on? Why was she hurting? For a moment she thought that she was back in one of those dirty illegal abortion clinics that Klaus had taken her to. Klaus? Oh no! Was she still in his clutches? she asked herself.

    But gradually, as consciousness returned, the full reality of what had happened started to dawn on her. She opened her eyes and saw her mother on one side of the hospital bed and a doctor, surrounded by a clutch of nurses on the other.

    ‘Khun Na,’ the doctor said, ‘how are you feeling?’

    ‘Erm… I’m not too sure. All right I suppose. But I have a lot of pain down here, ‘she replied, pointing to her stomach.’

    ‘Yes, it will hurt for a few days, but you will soon get better. I have given you some medicine to alleviate the pain.’

    She looked around her and saw that she was attached to a saline drip and that her vital signs were being monitored by a nearby machine. Slowly, the memory of it all started to return.

    ‘Mama, where am I?’ she asked.

    ‘You’re in hospital.’

    ‘Yes, I know! But what hospital?’

    ‘You’re in Bangkok Pattaya,’ replied one of the nurses.

    Na’s heart sunk. Oh no, not Bangkok Pattaya, one of the most expensive hospitals in Thailand. ‘Why am I here? What happened?’ she asked, although memories of recent events were fast returning. She feared the worst.

    ‘Khun Na,’ the doctor, answered, ‘you have had a lucky escape. When you were brought in two days ago, it was touch and go whether you would make it, but we managed to save you, as you can see’ he said with a weak smile.

    ‘Save me? Why? What happened?’ But she knew. It had all come back. ‘I was pregnant, I was having a baby…’

    ‘Yes, you were having a baby. You had a baby, which we delivered yesterday  by caesarean section.’

    ‘Caesarean section! You… cut open my stomach…?’ Why? How? Who gave you permission to do that?’

    ‘You mother did. She had to, If not you would have died. You had lost a lot of blood and were in a very bad condition.’

    The whole awful reality of what had been happening started to dawn on her still bewildered and sleep-heavy brain. They had cut open her stomach; she would have a scar! She would never be able to dance again. She wouldn’t be able to work as a go-go dancer ever again! But her baby! What about her baby?

    ‘Mama, what about my baby?’ she asked in a whisper.

    The doctor answered. ‘Khun Na, your baby is fine. You have a beautiful baby girl and she is being looked after by some nurses in the hospital nursery. You can see her when you feel up to it.

    Na closed her eyes and tried to take it all in. The hospital staff who had gathered around her bed assumed that she must have drifted off to sleep again. After a few minutes they left the bedside  and slowly went about their duties, leaving the exhausted Dow on her own..

    But Na wasn’t asleep; she just wanted to lie there quietly and contemplate in silence everything that had been going on with her all too brief life.

    After two illegal abortions she had become a mother, at the age of nineteen. But she now she had an unsightly scar and would never work again as a dancer. Without her knowledge or consent, they had taken her to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital and she had no idea how she was going to pay the bills. Mike had dumped her. Although she still had feelings for him, the realisation dawned that he was a shallow, deceitful man who had treated her very shoddily. She had been completely faithful to him since he had moved in with her over year ago. What’s more she knew that he didn’t really believe she had screwed around. He was just lying to friends to justify what he had done to her.

    But right now, her biggest problem was how to pay the bills. With her operation and post-operative care for her and the baby, she was sure the bill would run into several hundred thousand Baht. She didn’t have anything like that kind of money. In fact her savings account was almost empty. She had actually been keeping Mike for the past couple of months when the money he had brought to Thailand with him had dried up. He had promised her faithfully that he would pay her back as soon as he reached England. The bastard! The fucking liar! Yet again her young life seemed to have taken a downward turn.

    She still recalled those long ago days when she had been lifted out of poverty and deprivation and taken to live at the kid’s mission by Kate and Bill. She had been so happy. Then her mother had come and taken her and after just a single day with her mother, she had been forced to go and live with that terrible farang as his sex slave for a year. The memories of that year were still vivid, but she always tried very hard to stop thinking about it. It was just too traumatic and thinking about it always made her cry.

*

    After Na had had the good fortune to be rescued from the room in Naklua, it was happy days again. Despite a few desperate and unsuccessful attempts by her mother to take her back to the slums, – for God only knows what nefarious purposes – she had stayed at the kid’s mission until her sixteenth birthday.

    By general acknowledgement, she had grown into a very attractive young lady, and in spite of her emotional scars, she had blossomed into a charming and cheerful soul, seemingly full of fun and always ready to see the funny side of things. It wasn’t long before she attracted the attention of  the young Thai men who sometimes came to do volunteer work at the mission and shortly after her sixteenth birthday she announced to the apprehensive Kate and Bill that she was leaving the mission and was going to ‘live’ with her latest boyfriend .

   The affair hadn’t lasted long. When she confided in her lover about her experiences when she was younger, he soon lost interest in her and kicked her out of the room they shared together. There then followed a series of short lived affairs with similar, narrow- minded Thais before Na finally got it into her head that most Thai men would never be serious about a penniless, Issan girl from the slums, with minimal education, no gainful employment and who had been badly abused as a child.

    She was barely seventeen when she got her first job in a Pattaya bar. After the initial culture shock, it didn’t take her long to slip into the lifestyle of a prostitute cum bar girl. She certainly wasn’t a virgin, having been abused by Klaus when she was only twelve years old and then. a few years later, she  experienced some quite enjoyable sex with her various Thai boyfriends, who were all most adept at knowing how to make her satisfied. So the prospect of sleeping with farangs for money held no particular worries for her. For the most part, she would simply lie on her back and let the punters get on with it – the quicker the better, and a vast majority were 9indeed extremely quick, quite unlike the Thai men she used to sleep with. Of course Na was very young and very attractive and these sex starved farangs who flocked the bars of Pattaya were absolutely bursting with testosterone, so for most of them, the act was over before it really begun, but most were too shy to admit it or do anything about it.

    Occasionally, Na would meet a more sexually experienced customer, usually an older man, and with them she would sometimes enjoy an exciting night’s sex – but these occasions were very much the exception rather than the rule.

    Within months, she had ‘graduated’ to one of the top go-go bars in Walking Street, the pinnacle of Pattaya’s red light district. Na – the beautiful, sexy, go-go dancer – had arrived and she had no problems in attracting a coterie of smitten farang customers.

    She was extremely popular. She was in her prime and the men just fell over themselves to bed her and ply her with money. During her most ‘productive spell’ she would have as many as six farangs on her ‘payroll’ at one time. She became adept at structuring her time with them so that no single customer was aware of the existence of the others. Whenever they went back to their home countries, they would send monthly remittances to her bank account. She became a master of deception and even when two or more customers were in Pattaya at the same time, she became more and more inventive at explaining her absences and keeping them all at a distance from each other. She achieved all this while holding down her full bar time job – although for much of the time she was being ‘bar-fined’ and only made the odd, rare appearance at her place of employment.

    This was by far the most fruitful period of her life. She had a goodly sum sorted away in various bank accounts; her velvet jewellery case was crammed full of jewellery and gold; she drove the latest Honda motorcycle and had even bought a few acres of land back in her home province of Khon Kaen, where she was born.

    She lived in one of the better class condominium blocks in Pattaya and used her high earnings as a successful go-go dancer, cum prostitute, to furnish her condo with the best of furniture and all the latest mod cons and conveniences. Her mother, Dow, had come to live with her and in a remarkable ‘role reversal’, she had become her daughter’s cook and general housekeeper.

    At nineteen, she was in her prime.

    Unfortunately, Na was also in a prime situation for yet another fall. She had long learned that Thai men were not for her. Her brief experiences had led her to the conclusion that they were all deceitful, unfaithful, selfish, frequently violent creatures who never had any money. On the other hand she had met many good looking, young farangs who seemed to be so different. They were all rich and they fell over backwards to make her happy and shower her with gifts and money.

    They wanted to spend all their time with her and were so much in love with her that they would literally do anything to keep her in the manner that she had become accustomed. Moreover, unlike Thai men, she discovered that these farang men were so easy to control. They believed everything she told them and would do anything she wished. They would never question her or argue with her – not if they wanted her to remain their ‘girlfriend’.

    But Na knew that she could not maintain this kind of lifestyle indefinitely and it would probably only be a matter of time before one of her many boyfriends caught her cheating on him. Even though she bore more mental scars in her brief life than most do in a lifetime, Na was one of those rare souls who never lost her compassion or her belief in the innate goodness of the human spirit, and she had no real desire to hurt anyone unnecessarily.

    So she concluded that she could do a lot worse than choose one of these fun-loving young men as a permanent partner – maybe even a future husband. In truth, she was growing tired of her life as a go-go dancer and ever wearier of all the lies and games she had to play to keep her besotted, love-struck suitors apart from each other.

    Some of her friends had taken this course and had succeeded in having happy, long term relationships – a few had even gone to live abroad with their chosen spouses. So this might have been a good plan if she had chosen wisely, but unfortunately, she didn’t. She chose a ‘wrong-un’.

    Mike was a smart, streetwise handsome young cockney lad of twenty-six. He was one of the new breed of city traders who survived on his wits and had made a small fortune in the London money markets. He lived hard and played hard and had discovered Pattaya a couple of years earlier when he had made the miraculous discovery that his good looks and long, flowing, blond hair together with a fat wallet would buy him almost any girl he desired, and that included the lovely Na.

    Mike was very much enamoured with Na. When he was back home in the ‘square mile’ making yet more loadsa money, he would send her regular, very generous remittances, just so that he could ‘keep her on ice’, (or so he thought), until his next visit. But this didn’t stop him enjoying the delights of many other girls when he flew back to Thailand. At this point in his life the last thing he wanted was a monogamous relationship. He was enjoying himself immensely ‘playing the field’ and could well afford to do so.

    Never the less, when Na suggested that he move in with her, he was highly flattered. She was one of the most popular ladies in Pattaya. Every time she got up to dance in her glittering, skimpy outfit that left so little to the imagination, all the punters  fawned around her  and queued up to buy her drinks and hold her hand.

    It hadn’t even occurred to Mike to shack up with one of these girls until Na suggested it to him one day. Not only was he flattered but it would prove to be a huge boost to his ego to have Na on his arm whenever he went out for a night on the town. He would make sure all the lads understood that it was, ‘Hands off Na – she’s taken’. They would all be so jealous and as an added bonus, he wouldn’t have to go to the effort of finding a new lady to sleep with every night. So after taking a few moments of weighing up the’ pros and cons’, he readily agreed to Na’s proposal that they live together. It was a recipe for disaster. Na was ready to commit to a full time, serious relationship, but Mike was just after a bit of fun and a means to make his friends jealous.

    The novelty of Mike having a beautiful Thai lady as his very own, exclusive, property didn’t last long. At first, things seemed to go well, but as time wore on, Mike absences to have a ‘night out’ with his mates became ever more frequent. He soon grew tired of bringing Na with him as his testosterone-filled body was bursting to impregnate as many of the lovely damsels of Pattaya that time and money would permit.

    Eventually, a progressively more suspicious Na confronted her boyfriend with his infidelity and he would swear on his life that it would never happen again. But it did – over and over. But by this time Na was already seriously in love with her charming farang so in a fit of desperation, she came up with a devilish master plan; she allowed herself to become pregnant.

    Na wasn’t too sure what Mike’s reaction to the news of her pregnancy would be, but she needn’t have worried. He was delighted. It was proof – as if he needed it – of his virility and he spent many drunken evenings celebrating and bragging to his friends how clever he was to make a baby. After she broke her happy news, for a while they seemed to be happier than ever. Na was blossoming in the full throes of her pregnancy and Mike was being surprisingly solicitous; spending more time at home with her than he had ever done.

    But as her pregnancy progressed – from three to six months, with Na’s inevitable weight gain, Mikes eyes started to wander again. The odd day out alone turned into several days a week, and by the time Na was seven months pregnant, Mike was hardly ever at home. He would disappear, night after night,  sometimes not come home till morning – presumably after having enjoyed the delights of another woman, before crawling home to bed in the wee hours.

    Although most of Na’s non-monetary assets were still intact, the cash in her saving account had grown alarmingly low. For the past two months she had been spending her own money as Mike had told her he had run short of Thai funds. He had assured her it was purely a temporary situation and that as soon as he went back to England he would immediately transfer some more cash over to her.

*

    ‘Hmm…’ she thought wryly to herself, then aloud, ‘And we all know what happened, don’t we, Mama?’

   Her mother, dozing in the corner of the room, woke up with a start.

    ‘What? What? Are you all right, my love?’

    Na looked at her worn out, weak willed, stupid mother. In spite of all that had happened, she still loved her and still cared about her. It wasn’t her fault that she was born like that, she would always end up convincing herself.

    ‘Mama, please ask one of nurses if I can see my baby. I want to see my baby.’

    ‘Oh, of course, I will go and ask someone outside,’

    Dow got up from the chair and walked towards the door. Suddenly she stopped and turned back towards her daughter. ‘Na, what are you going to do?’ How can you pay the bill? You told me you have no money left in the bank.’

   ‘If you knew that, why did you bring me here – the most expensive hospital in Pattaya?’ she snapped harshly at her mother.

    ‘Because…..you….’

    ‘Never mind. Mama. Go and find my baby. I want to see my baby.’

    Na didn’t know what she was going to do, but one way or another she would have to find some money, quickly. She had heard horror stories of babies being held captive at hospitals until their parents came up with the hospital fees.

    But Na gritted her teeth. She was determined that this would never happen to her baby; she would find the money somehow; for her and her mother… and now, her new baby daughter…

***

BUTT… BUTT… BUTT…I don’t give a hoot…

A spooky sit-in by Mobi’s doggies

10 Months, 13 days, still sober.

Mobi Babble

I’ve continued to be a good boy, in more ways than one and I’m actually starting to feel a bit better about things. For me, there has never been and, I doubt, ever will be any dramatic conversion on the Road to Damascus in my personal battles. It really is a long, slow and not very exciting slog to turn my life around since I stopped drinking over 10 months ago.

Those who have been following my progress during 2011, will know that positive progress has been interspersed with periods of retrograde steps, but I do like think that in the overall, I have been going two steps forward, one step back, rather than vice versa.

It has been at least 2 weeks, maybe longer, since I have been near any dens of ill repute and I am very pleased with this effort as the longer I stay away from these places, the more my mind clears and I realise that as long as I patronise these establishments, not only do I stand little chance of getting some real meaning into my life, but I have also been a duplicitous bastard to my ever faithful Noo, who loves and cares for me like no other has done in my entire life.

I received an email this week from one of my friends, who is an alcoholic, but has achieved an incredible 25 years sobriety.  He wrote to me about his forthcoming 65th birthday and I hope he won’t mind if I print below some of what he said:

… My 65th Birthday is Nov 28 and I plan to celebrate big time while in Phnom Penh.

I received some bad news today, a close friend of mine died a few days ago

He was a lawyer who started “in the business” at about the same time I did.  He just turned 65 years old and had no plans to retire and now…

He was the tortoise of the three of us who hung out together.  He started out slow and ended up the senior partner of a very successful law firm in Sacramento.  However, I am survivor of the 3.   The other one died of a brain tumour in his 40’s, which was the result of Agent Orange exposure while he was in Vietnam.

LIFE IS VERY SHORT and I have survived many of my contemporaries and while a bit insane I think I am more functional and happier than those I left behind.

As of Dec 22, god willing, I will have been a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous 25 years.

I like Cambodia since its outsides match my mental insides.  Rough, and a bit lawless; but not too bad, naughty but not very hard; in other words the 3rd world.

As I have told some of you I expect to undergo some emotional growth this coming year. 65 is a milestone and I will need to re-evaluate how I PERCEIVE THE WORLD, MYSELF and ageing.

IN THE MEANTIME I intend to spend 2 weeks a month in Cambodia, and explore other options the rest of the time.

…. As for who am I? Where am I going? And why do I exist?  Those major questions may never be answered but I’ll think about them over the next year.

Since, I don’t seem to get along with any of my children, and since I am determined to not hang out with people who don’t like me very much any-more, I do not expect to see any of them over the next year….

In part, I replied as follows:

…. I had my 65th birthday last June and didn’t tell a soul. I was aware that it was a significant milestone, but only for me, no-one else, so I decided to keep it myself. I wasn’t sad at all, just contemplative.

I empathise with you in trying to figure out just where you are in your life. I have been doing exactly the same thing – I’m 65 and its time to take stock; maybe not too many years left in this old world of ours

Also, like you, I have lost a number of friends of exactly my age and younger over the past few years. It does put things into perspective.

Anyway, I am now in my 11th month of sobriety and feeling just fine as far as resisting temptation is concerned. I really doubt if I will ever go back to the booze again.

It probably sounds a bit pathetic, but now I have found the most wonderful girl, I have decided to put all my whoring activities behind me. As long as I am obsessed with messing around with whores, I will never get around to doing something a bit ‘better’ with what remains of my life.

My lady satisfies all my sexual needs so there is simply no need to look elsewhere. It’s a bit like booze; the longer I stay away from the whores, the easier it becomes to do without them and the more I am inclined to pursue more worthwhile pursuits, such as reading, writing and spending time with my new ‘family’.

I am going to really push on with my novel over the next few months and see if I can’t get it finished….. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one day my blog will go ‘viral’ and then I will have a ready-made customer base for my novel

In my dreams, I know, but I can always live in hope…

I also agree with you about ditching friends you don’t get on with etc. If you have read my blog lately you will know that I have done just that to one of my whore-monger mates. There’s no point in getting out of sorts with people you don’t like, don’t get along with or simply seem to disagree with on most things in life. Maybe when I was younger I had a greater capacity for tolerance, but at my age, I simply have no time for idiots, bigots and ignoramuses….

Of course, 65 is a completely artificial milestone. One could just as easily take stock of one’s life at 30, 40, 50 or 60 or at any age at all and I am sure that many do just that. I guess 65 is significant in as much as many people in the west consider it an appropriate age to retire;  it used to herald the end of middle age and the start of old age. In years gone by, a vast majority of men were dead by the time they were 70

But in these days of miracle medical advances, when more and more  people are living active lives well into their 80’s and even their 90’s, 65 is still a relatively young age for many. But maybe this fact in itself is as good an incentive as any to take stock; with luck, I might have another 20 years ahead of me.

I know, pigs might fly…

Anyway, during the past week I have made some steady progress on my novel, written a couple of satisfying blogs, have taken Noo out shopping and we even went out for an evening meal on two separate occasions. I have finished reading a novel I started a few weeks back and have since started on another one

Last Thursday was Loy Krathong and Noo spent all day making two beautiful krathongs. In the evening, we went out for a meal and then found a nice spot by the lake where we made our wishes and launched our crafts.

I must say that since the lake has filled up and the landscaped areas in Pong have started to blossom with grass and flowering trees and shrubs, the Lakeside area is becoming an ever more pleasant place to live.

A well as pleasant walks northwards  along the lakeside track that I have previously written about, , we have now discovered another walk that takes us up to the 7/11 junction, and then into the huge Wat compound where there are  many beautiful trees that have been planted and cultivated by the monks over many years. The Wat grounds are  now a very peaceful – dare I say it – spiritual place to take a stroll in the late afternoon.

I have been out for an evening walk every day this week with Noo, and Cookie, my very large golden retriever, and, ladies and gents, believe it or not, for the last 5 days, I have also taken a swim in my pool, the first such exercise for over a year. OK, I didn’t swim very far, but every little helps and hopefully, as I become fitter I will increase my efforts.

‘Outnumbered’ by a Doggy Sit-In

I don’t know if any of you watch an English sit-com entitled ‘Outnumbered’. It is amusing  and cringe-worthy in equal measure, and follows the domestic trials and tribulations of a young married couple with three of the most precocious kids ever invented. The title tells it all – the hapless couple are nearly always on the receiving end, as time and again, they are simply outnumbered by their adorable, but oh so naughty, young offspring

I was reminded of that poor couple s few days ago when Noo and I tried to leave the house to go out for our Loy Krathong meal and krathong launching, last Thursday

There was a very large, noisy Loy Krathong Temple fair celebration going on just down the road by the Lakeside, which had attracted thousands of revellers from Pattaya. Unfortunately this also meant that fire crackers and firework displays were the order of the day.

Now if there is one thing that terrifies my 3 dogs – including Cookie – it is the sound of fireworks. So they were already very nervous from all the firework noise when Noo and I tried to leave the house for our evening out. To my utter astonishment, as soon as I opened the front door of my car, Cookie jumped straight onto the front seat and before I could blink an eye, Somchai and Yoghurt, our 2 little shih tzus, immediately followed.

They weren’t about to let us leave them alone with all those horrible firework banging noises going on. Do you think I could get my 40 kilo golden retriever out of that car? Not a bit of it. She stubbornly refused every entreaty to move and when I tried to pull her out, she wasn’t having it and resisted all my efforts. Ditto the little ‘rats’. As fast as we dragged them out of the car, and put them down on the patio, they just jumped straight back in again!

They were staging a ‘sit-in’ the likes of which I have never seen before. Normally, all three dogs, especially Cookie, are very obedient and will always come when called, but on this occasion, they were just not having it. They were staying put – come what may.

Now I know what the bailiffs at Dale Farm in Essex must have felt like when they tried to evict the ‘travellers’

So we had to figure out how to outsmart them. We pretended that we had given up the idea of going out and went back into the house and opened up the patio door, turned on the TV and sat down on the sofa. Then, when we called them, they came running in to join us as they do every evening. While Noo held their attention with some enticing banana tid bids,  I quickly shut the patio door to prevent their exit from the house. Then we quickly ran to the kitchen, shutting the door to the lounge behind us to stop them following us, and made our escape through the back door.

Our ‘babies’ were safe and sound  inside the house, and they had the TV to keep them company for a couple of hours and off we went at last – though I do admit that both of us felt rather guilty at stooping so low to deceive them. That little trick will probably only work once and my little brood probably spent the evening debating how they could get the upper hand next time around.

Spooks and spies

I mentioned in Mobi-Babble that I have just finished reading novel. It was A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré. He is one of the few mid to late 20th Century authors that I really respect – indeed he has been one of my favourite authors ever since I read ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, as a young man. I have been hooked ever since. His expert use of the ‘spy genre’ to write beautifully crafted works of suspense filled, cerebral fiction have provided me with countless hours of enjoyment through the years and surely Tinker Tailor soldier Spy   constitutes the definitive Spy novel, which any aspiring author in this genre should aspire to.

If I had to choose, The Perfect Spy, published in 1986 is Le Carré’s greatest novel. It is the one that extracted by far the greatest range of emotions in me, the reader, and I found it a really profound and exhilarating piece of writing. It is no coincidence that this, his greatest novel in my opinion, is largely autobiographical. If you want to know the real le Carré, read Perfect Spy. At the end, you may not know him, but you will get a very strong sense of the man as you laugh and cry your way through this veritible mountain of a novel.

Le Carré was in some ways fortunate to have lived, albeit briefly, the life of a spy and to have travelled and experienced life in rarefied circles as a young man, which provided him with so much rich material with which to sustain a successful career as a writer. I wonder how he would have fared if he hadn’t been recruited into MI5, who –  I learned only recently – decided to let him go, once his first spy novel hits the shelves. They couldn’t have a successful spy novelist also working as an undercover spy, could they now?

I tend to the view that whatever career le Carré had ended up in, he would have eventually turned his hand to writing and have become a successful author. It is nevertheless a fact that a vast majority of successful pieces of fiction have their roots in a limited list of subject matters; such as cops and robbers, westerns, detective stories, and so on and the certainly spy story genre is near the top of that limited list.

When I was younger, I was less discerning about the types of novels that I read, and for a while I would enjoy best sellers by the likes of Alistair Maclean, James Clavell and even the likes of John Grisham whose Rainmaker,I would still rate as a cracking read, although I haven’t picked up a copy in more than 20 years, so my opinion might have changed.

But these, plus many more famous names that I used to enjoy, have all long since passed their ‘sell by’ dates. I can truly state that my disillusion was so great in the case of all three of the above mentioned authors, that when I picked up their latest offerings one day, and found them so appallingly written, I could not even struggle through to the end of their respective efforts and tossed them away in disgust.

I have often speculated on why this should be. Why should the quality of a renowned author’s work deteriorate so badly that I couldn’t bear to read it any-more? Was it because they had run out of ideas – or inspiration? Was it because they had aged and they simply didn’t have what it took any-more? Was it because they were so rich and lived the good life to such an extent that that the creative juices had just dried up? After all, it is a difficult and essentially lonely, heart-searching existence to write a good novel.

Or was it something more cynical? Were these authors so famous that their name was guaranteed to sell, and as a result, were their latest efforts not actually written by them at all – but ‘ghost written’ by some hack engaged by the publisher?

I will never know the answer to these questions and I actually suspect that it is a combination of any or all of the above that provides the truth of it all.

A few years back, le Carré wrote a book entitled ‘The Constant Gardener’ which was also made into a film. Now I didn’t throw this book away half way through; nor did I think it was badly written, but I did feel very strongly that it was sadly lacking in what I can only describe as having the elements of a ‘good read’. The cold war, of which le Carré is an expert, was long gone, and he clearly was trying to branch out into a different genre, in an effort to be current and capture the imagination of a new, younger audience.

The plot was ingenious enough – as plots go; wicked, super rich   pharmaceutical companies doing their dirty work in darkest Africa and a beautiful young white female human rights activist getting caught up in it all and getting killed for her efforts; leaving her husband to unravel the unholy mess. But although we had some of the trade mark embassy stuff and some typically intriguing, wonderfully crafted le Carré characters, as far as this lifelong le Carré fan is concerned, it just didn’t work as a ‘good read’. The book seemed to be a protest against the ethics of international drugs companies and le Carré was using the device of a novel to get the message across. Nothing wrong with that if it worked; but for me it didn’t.

I was actually amazed that they made a film of it, and this time I confess that although I bought the DVD, to this day I have not succeeding in getting past the opening 30 minutes. For me, it just doesn’t work as a film – any-more than the story did as a book, despite the fact that the gorgeous and brilliant Rachel Weiss won an Oscar for her role.

Le Carré was 70 when he wrote ‘The Constant Gardener’ and I wondered if he had simply lost his touch at his advanced age. Maybe it was time for the great master to hang up his pen and call it a day. Since then, he wrote ‘The Mission Song’ when he was 75, ‘A Most Wanted Man’ when he was 77 and most recently, ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ last year at the ripe old age of79. Pretty good output for an oldie, methinks.

I have read Mission Bell and Most Wanted, but have yet to read ‘Traitor’.

I confess that I wasn’t too impressed with Mission bell. It seemed to contain nothing original and frankly could have been a ‘collage’ of any one of half a dozen of his earlier spy stories, taken at random. That’s probably being a bit harsh, but it was what I thought as I read it. Nothing new, everything seemed to have been borrowed from another book and there was simply no magic. Maybe it was me, maybe I had just moved on – after all there was a time way back when I was teenager when I was enthralled with the likes of Harold Robbins or Denis Wheatley, God forbid!

But in ‘A Most Wanted Man’, at the age of 77, in my opinion, le Carré  has produced his finest novel for many years. He has moved on from the cold war era, but he is back to his best with a riveting, very modern tale of spies and spooks in today’s Germany, complete with petty jealousies and infighting between not only the various national agencies (British, German and American), but also internecine warfare within the same agencies. The tale is riveting and the reader can’t help rooting for the major protagonists, both good and bad. There is even a believable, modern day love story.

Whether he is back to his absolute best is debatable, but Most Wanted is a very good read, I recommend it. I wonder what Traitor will be like?

I recently dusted down the BBC’s 1979 adaptation of Tinker Tailor. Watching it now, it largely stands the test of time; after all, the characters are so brilliantly played by what was then the cream of British acting. The only unsettling part of the production was the music. I very rarely comment on soundtrack music – except to say that I particularly like something – as I never find music particularly distracting. But in Tinker Tailor, it is so strident and so inappropriate that I honestly wonder what the producer was thinking of. It is truly an abortion, but fortunately, it is used sparingly, and most of the dramatic sequences have no background music at all.

A film version of Tinker tailor was recently released and has received rave reviews. I can’t wait to see it.

I have also recently been watching penultimate series of the BBC TV series, ‘Spooks’, (series 9), a spy drama based on today’s MI5.

Le Carré is on record in saying that ‘Spooks’ is total rubbish and, of course, he is quite correct. It lacks any real credibility and I am quite sure that even the faintest resemblance with anything that really goes on in MI5 or the Home Office is pure coincidence.

But it is good, well-acted, addictive, gimmicky, high-tech, hokum. Sometimes it goes way over the top but the romps are enjoyable and the clever plot lines keep you on your toes. The mayhem and intrigues within MI5 itself would surely do justice to a le Carré novel, (Sorry John, but it’s true…). I suspect that if I had seen the previous 8 series, I might well have got a little tired of it long before series 9 came along, but I am where I am and am looking forward to watching the 10th and final series in the coming weeks.

A Most Lustful gentlemen.

Yes, you can see where I got my title idea from…..

It is comforting to know that le Carré is still producing great stuff well into his seventies, so hopefully poor Mobi – a mere stripling at 65- can produce  a piece of work that someone, somewhere would want to read.

Or maybe not!

I am publishing below, the next two sections of Chapter One of my novel. Last Wednesday I published sections i through iv, and today I am publishing v and vi. The chapter is not yet complete and more sections will be added in the coming blogs. Once Chapter One is complete, I will reinstate it under a new ‘Page Tab’.

As ever, your constructive comments are welcome.

A MOST LUSTFUL GENTLEMAN

Chapter One (Continued)

v

Na was squatting on the hot earth, in the sparse shade of her hut, watching the two figures in deep conversation on the other side of the ramshackle building. They couldn’t see her, as she was perched very low on the ground, but when she peaked around the corner of the hut, she could see her mother and a strange, scary looking Thai man very clearly. He was a tall, very thin young man, and his expensive looking, blue designer jeans hung very loosely from his slim hips, above which, he wore a long-sleeved, body-hugging shiny black shirt, which must have felt very uncomfortable in the midday sun. But it was his scarred face that commanded Na’s attention. He had a long, vivid scar running down his right cheek and another smaller but more pronounced horizontal one on his forehead, just above his right eye.  The second scar was so close to his eye that whatever sharp instrument may have caused it, must have  also penetrated his eye, as the man seemed to have a permanent, eerie squint. To little Na, peering at him from the other side of the hut, his overall countenance sent a little shiver of fright and apprehension down her skinny frame.

    He wore a very thick gold necklace from which dangled several ‘Buddha’ amulets. ‘‘Nobody wears gold around here’ she was thinking, ‘It’s far too dangerous.’ Any one of a dozen desperate and starving wretches could appear at any moment and rip it from the young man’s neck. She looked around, but there was no one in sight – nobody seemed to have spotted him – not yet at any rate. Then she caught sight of the large, gleaming white car, parked a few meters away in the soi. She could see that the engine was running and then she saw a second man, sitting in the driver’s seat, and deduced that the young man must have arrived in that car.

    She realised that the man must be someone special – someone powerful, or he wouldn’t dare to stand there dressed like that with so much gold on display for all to see. But what was he  talking to her mother about? A sudden sinking feeling hit her stomach like a hammer blow. Oh no…this time it would be her turn….

    ‘No! not again! No Mama! No…’ she forlornly muttered to herself. But Mama promised me – she promised she would never do it again. Why she was doing it? ever since little Tom had gone, they had been eating quite well and life had been just a bit more tolerable. So, why the need to sell her? Why?

    But as she squatted there, terrified, she actually knew, deep down, why her mother was doing it. For the last week or so, the already meagre fare had been getting less and less and the quality of the food had taken a distinct turn for the worse. She grimly concluded that the money that her mother had received for Tom was now at an end and that her mother was desperate, yet again.

    Na considered briefly the notion of running away, but soon dismissed it. She had nowhere to go, and she doubted if she would get very far before she was caught and returned to her mother. Bravely, she realised that she would have to go with that man and do those unspeakable things that her friends had told her about if it meant that her dear younger sister, Nid, and her mother, were to have enough food to eat.

    ‘Who knows?’ She wondered whimsically, ‘Maybe if I go with the man, Mama will get enough money to get little Tom back’.

     But something told her that it was not going to be like that. She watched them still in earnest conversation. Suddenly, her mother called her name.

    ‘Na, where are you? Come here!’

    ‘This is it,’ she thought to herself, ‘Be calm, Na and be brave.’ She stood up and walked around the hut towards the two adults.

     ‘Na,’ her mother started, her face seemingly devoid of all emotion, ‘Na, I have something to tell you.’

    ‘It’s OK Mama, I know.’

     ‘You know? How do you know?

     ‘Mama, I’m not stupid. I know your money is all gone.

    Her mother stared guiltily at her.

   ‘Its all gone isn’t it, Mama?’

    ‘I am  sorry, my daughter, I have to do what I must do…’

    ‘Na looked at her mother and said resignedly,  ‘There’s nothing to be sorry about, Mama, don’t worry. I am ready. Can I take some of my things with me?’

     ‘Ready? Take some of your things? What are you talking about?

     ‘Mama, I know I have to go with this man.’

    ‘No! No! You’re not going with him!’

    ‘Not going with him? Then what the…?’

    All of a sudden, with yet another sickening jolt in her stomach, Na realised what was happening. She looked at her mother who was trying to avoid her daughter’s searching gaze. As the truth dawned on her, she shouted louder that she had ever shouted in her young life.

    ‘No Mama! No Mama! Not Nid! Please tell me it’s not Nid!’

    Dow looked at her elder daughter. ‘ Nid has to go with the man,’ she said matter of factly.

    ‘But why Nid? Send me, Mama, Let me go – Nid is too young – she’s only seven years old.’

    ‘It has to be Nid. The man only wants Nid. He says you are too ugly and in any case I need you to stay with me and look after me. I’m sorry, but it has to be Nid.’

‘But she is very young!’

    ‘So was Tom. Don’t worry, they will look after her, won’t you? She said to the young pimp who was fast becoming tired of all this family drama that was  playing out in front of him.

    ‘If you don’t get the kid ready to leave in five minutes the deal is off! He retorted sharply. I haven’t got all day to spend in this putrid, steaming slum. Get her here – now!’

    It was all too much for Na who broke down and fell to the ground sobbing and hysterically grabbing handfuls of earth..

    ‘And as for you,’ the pimp snarled, pointing at the broken hearted girl lying on the ground – don’t kid yourself that anyone would ever want you. You’re too skinny, too black and your pock marked, disease ridden skin is disgusting! Not even a revolting, mother-fucking farang would look twice at you!’

    Dow went into the hut and returned almost immediately, leading her terrified sister by the hand. She was a very cute, six year old little girl. The improved diet she had enjoyed over the past year had filled her body out and, unlike her elder sister, she had been spared the skin ravages that so many of the slum kids developed. Her face was very pretty and her skin was smooth and glowing – ideal for the filthy business at hand.

    The man grabbed Nid’s hand and half led and half dragged the poor, weeping girl towards the car. Her mother watched, dry-eyed, as Na, still lying on the ground realised that she was about to lose her last remaining sibling. She jumped to her feet and ran to the car where the man was trying to get Nid to climb into the back seat.

    She grabbed hold of her. ‘Nid! Nid!  You can’t go! Somebody help! Somebody stop them!’ she screamed at the growing crowd of curious spectators who had now emerged from the nearby huts.

    But nobody moved and the man tried to extricate Nid from her sister’s clutches and push her down into the back seat.

    The two sisters hugged each other in terror and for a moment it seemed as though a miracle had happened and they would be let go. The pimp suddenly released his hold on Nid, and walked around to the driver’s door to speak to the driver. But within seconds the driver, a very large and frightening looking man, emerged from the car and the two men returned to the two girls and forcibly pulled them apart – the driver half carrying and half dragging Na back to her hut, while the pimp threw Nid into the rear seat of the car slamming the door with a steely grin of triumph on his scarred face.

    Climbing in the front passenger seat, the pimp barked an order at Dow who came bustling over to him. He reached in his pocket and handed Dow a brown envelope, The driver put the limo in gear, and for a few brief moments, the wheels spun forlornly on the dry mud, but eventually they gained traction and the car sped away, out of the slum and out of Na’s life.

     Na watched transfixed as her sister was taken away. As the car started to disappear into the distance, she emitted a loud, piercing wail. Her mother walked over and tried to comfort her but Na shrugged her off. She didn’t want to be consoled. She just wanted lose herself in her own anguish.

    By now, a huge crowd of slum dwellers had gathered outside Dow’s hovel and even these hardened, desperate people, for whom the only thing that really mattered was where their next meal was coming from, were saddened by the plight of the pock-marked, emaciated nine year old girl. They watched in silence as Na walked slowly down the soi in the direction of the departing vehicle, her piercing wails ripping through the air and her tears seemingly unquenchable.

    At least some of them understood that within the space of a single year, this traumatised kid had irretrievably lost the two people that she held most dear in her brief life.

*** 

vi

    It seemed to Na that she had spent her whole life on top of a pile of rubbish, scratching around and digging for anything useful that could be salvaged and sold for a few measly baht. She was thinner and looked more skeletal and malnourished than ever, notwithstanding the fact that since her sister’s departure, food had become somewhat more plentiful.

    It was six months since Nid had been driven away by the two scary men, and for the first three months Na had barely eaten anything. Her mother had to virtually force feed her with a few spoonful’s of rice every night or surely she would have starved to death.

    After her sister’s departure, she had not stopped crying for two solid days and even now was she was still prone, at a moment’s notice, to burst into uncontrollable tears. She had withdrawn within herself and had no friends, seemingly content to spend her days on the piles of rubbish and half eating the meal that her mother put in front of her every night. In the late evening she would lie on her mat, staring at the corrugated roof for hours on end, before finally succumbing to a few brief hours of sleep. The scars on her face, which had prompted that horrible man to shout at her that she was ugly, had become much worse and had now spread to the rest of her body.

    Dow was concerned for her daughter’s health and sanity but she had no idea what to do about it, nor indeed any real inclination to try. She was a simple, superficial soul, of limited intelligence, old before her time – worn out by the efforts of trying to keep herself and her children alive these past nine years. She truly lived day by day, trying not to worry what would happen when the money from the sale of Nid ran out. She simply did not possess sufficient strength of mind to think much further than her next meal. If she thought anything all, it simply that whatever will be, will be. It would be her karma. Maybe she had done something very bad in her last life to suffer so much in this one. Maybe her next life would be better.

    On this particular morning she was cheered by the familiar sight of a minibus loaded with elderly farangs, who had  just alighted from their battered vehicle and were heading in her direction. The farangs had been visiting the slums for the past year or so and they came armed with desperately needed food, clothing, bottled water and medicines. In particular, they always had a several boxes of formula milk and nappies for the babies in the slum. Before they left, Dow knew they would come over and give her some bottles of water and a small bag of rice.

    From the summit of the rubbish heap, Na also welcomed these visits from these strange looking people. She never went near them , but in her miserable despair, she instinctively knew that these people were inherently good folk. It actually warmed her heart a little to watch them try to communicate with the young children and babies with a mixture of sign language and primitive Thai. She instinctively took to them,  not only because she could see that they were kind and were bringing things to the slum dwellers which eased their plight, but also because they brought a bit of laughter and fun back into their miserable, impoverished lives.

    As she watched, she saw her mother walk over and talk to the elderly woman who seemed to be in charge. Na gazed on in fascination, wondering what her mother was trying to say to the farang.  The white lady obviously didn’t understand because she called one of the well-dressed Thai men who had travelled with them in the bus to come over and translate. They chatted between them for a while and then her mother pointed up to her daughter sitting on top of the rubbish.

    Na’s heart sank, but not a lot. She was so inured to constant emotional trauma that nothing that her mother did to her could hurt her any more. She actually didn’t much care what happened.  The pointing from her mother turned to waving, and it was clear that her mother wanted Na to come and join them outside their hut. Na, got up and slowly climbed down to the ground, idly reflecting on what could possibly be the next instalment in her brief but eventful existence.

    As Na approached the group of farangs standing with and her mother, she feared for the worst, but at the same time another part of her wondered how this seemingly kind, jovial old woman could possibly hurt her or do something bad to her.

    Dow addressed the Thai translator. ‘Look at my daughter’s skin, it is very bad, can you give me some cream to put on it and make it better?’

    Na’s skin was truly a sad state of affairs. Her face was a mess of vivid scarlet  pock marks and scabs, some of them still effusing pus. The farang woman looked at Na with compassionate and then examined her arms and legs which were similarly blighted.

    ‘This girl is in a dreadful state, Khun Suthep, she said to the translator. ‘If she doesn’t get immediate treatment she is going to be very ill; she might even die – she is so thin and malnourished, I doubt her immune system can fight this  disease much longer. Look, it has spread all over her poor little body.’

    The translator explained to Dow what the farang had said.

    ‘So can she help me? Does she have some medicine we can use?’ she asked, plaintively.

    Na observed in silence as the discussion went back and forth.

    At length, the young, Thai translator spoke to Dow: ‘Miss Kate has said that she will help your daughter but she will have to go with her to her Children’s Mission. She says the girl cannot stay here or she will never get better.’

    ‘Go with her! No Never – she has to stay here, with me! She is all I have left and she has to help me and take care of me.’

    The usually jovial farang lady, who Na now knew was called Kate, now looked very serious.

    ‘If she doesn’t leave this slum, she will never get better and she might even die,’ the translator told Dow. ‘Your daughter is very ill and it is too dirty here. Even if we give her some antibiotics and put cream on her skin to stop the scabbing, within a few days the skin will become re-infected. Your daughter is in a very bad condition.’

    ‘But…but… how will I survive. I need Na to earn money on the rubbish heap, the money I got from… from… is nearly gone. I will starve if Na has to go….’

    Dow was quiet for for a few seconds, trying to take in this devastating news. If she let Na go with these people, she would lose her only source of income. But if she insisted that Na stay with her, she might become sicker and sicker and even die. What would she do then? But maybe they are lying to her. Maybe Na is not as sick as they say. What should she do?

    Then a bright idea occurred to her. ‘Unless… unless the farang woman wants to buy Na. Does she want to buy her? How much can she pay…?’

    Heated discussions then ensued between Kate and her translator. Na wondered if they were trying to decide how much they should offer to pay for her.

    ‘Khun Dow,’ the Thai man said at last. ‘Miss Kate wants you to understand that the Children’s Mission does not want to buy Na. They would never buy anyone. It’s a very bad thing to buy or sell a human being – especially kids. She only wants to help the poor children in Pattaya; to feed them if they are hungry and give them a home if they are homeless and try to give some of them an education. She says that if you let Na go to the mission with her, she will bring food to you every week, and you can come and visit Na whenever you want to. And when Na is completely better, she can come back to live with you. How about that?’

    Dow was unsure whether she could trust this group of strangers. She looked at her daughter – she certainly looked to be in a pitiful state. Maybe she would die at that if she didn’t get help soon. What choice did she have? And she knew that these farangs came regularly every week so she knew that she check with them next week about her daughter and make sure she received her ration of food.

    ‘Well,’ she said finally, ‘I agree to let her go, but just until she gets better again. I love her too much to let her go for too long and I won’t be able to sleep till she is back with me.’

    Na looked at her mother with a mixture of pity and a new, darker feeling that was bordering on disgust. But she quickly dismissed the bad thoughts from her mind. It was her duty to take care of her mother, no matter what she said or what she had done to her or her brother and sister.

    ‘So you want me to go with these farangs, Mama?’

    ‘Yes, my child, just for a while, just until you are better. After all you won’t be much use to me if you die, will you …?’

***

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!…

 

A bit of Darkside Introspection

 

 

10 Months, 6 Days; still sober

Mobi-Babble

Yes, there has been yet more Mobi- blog procrastination – occasioned by what?

A number of things I guess.

Firstly, I was ill for a few of days, but who knows, maybe the ‘before’ and ‘after’ effects lasted a lot longer than just a few days.

It all seemed to start with a ‘hypo’ during the small hours. I woke up around 2 a.m. and felt distantly unwell, quickly realising that the cause of my extreme discomfort was a ‘hypo’– low blood sugars. As those familiar with diabetes will know, low blood sugar, or a hypoglycaemic attack can be fatal if not urgently treated.

I quickly checked my blood sugar levels with my meter and confirmed that they were indeed very low, and determining that I was still able to walk, I quickly went to the kitchen and grabbed a couple of Kit-Kats, a packet of glucose tablets and a can of Coke and went back to the bedroom where dear Noo was still sound asleep.

A hypo leaves its victim feeling very ‘low’; out of sorts and weak and I find that as I get older, the recovery period is much slower than it used to be. I sat on the bed and swallowed as much of the sugary items I had collected as I was able and after about 30 minutes, my sugar levels started to stabilise and rose a little.

Eventually, when I was feeling a lot better, I lay down and within a short while, was fast asleep.

I was probably asleep about an hour when I suddenly awoke with a start, and realised I had been choking myself to death. I have no idea how it had happened, but somehow, I had been choking, and quite possibly nearly drowning in my own saliva. The saliva seemed to have got into my wind pipe and I couldn’t stop coughing and choking. My heart was racing, I had severe pains in my chest and a terrible sore throat. I must have sat there for about 2 hours, waiting for everything to subside and for my wind pip to clear, which it did eventually.

Noo slept soundly next to, me blissfully unaware of my tribulations.

So for the third time that night, I drifted off to sleep, only to wake after an hour or so feeling very, very ill. I can’t quite put my finger on the problems, but I felt absolutely shitty and my whole body was racked with aches and pains, I had a high fever and felt too ill to do anything. I couldn’t even sleep.

Noo had now woken up and promptly took charge. She urged me to go to hospital, but as I have no faith in any Pattaya hospital, I declined and determined to see it through at home for a day or so and see if I could shake it off.

In the event, I remained feeling pretty bad for the next 48 hours, after which, the fever abated and I slowly recovered.

Looking back, I have no idea if the ‘hypo’ and the severe choking’ incidents were connected with the subsequent bout of fever; maybe they were all coincidences, or maybe that great director of ‘mortal coils’ had decided that my time was up, but some reason, bungled it badly, not once but three times.

The fever and aching limbs reminded me of my dose of dengue fever a few years back, during which I was hospitalised for several weeks and was within a hair’s breadth of dying.

On that occasion I was only diagnosed as having dengue fever after the doc at Bangkok Pattaya hospital had examined me and told me it was the flu and sent me home with some paracetamol. I subsequently had a temperature of 104 F (40C) and had to be rushed by ambulance to Samitivej in Sri Racha where they immediately made the correct diagnosis.

I now think it is likely that I had a relatively mild re-occurrence of dengue fever. The symptoms fit and even the choking could have been due to a build-up of fluid in the chest which is another dengue symptom.

Of course sicknesses like dengue fever are accompanied by depression and it may be that this contributed to the recent ‘down’ state of my mind and may have even contributed to my lack of self-control a few days back when I lost my cool with Rick.

So I have been recuperating, resting, watching a lot of downloaded stuff on my TV, reorganising my hard disks and computer, but unfortunately for my readers, doing very little in the way of blogging or creative writing.

Just lately, more than ever in my life, I find myself becoming increasingly depressed with events across the world; from the terribly mishandled and ruinous floods here in Thailand, to the US/European/Greek/Italian/UK economic crises, to the lack of inspirational leadership in America and Europe, to the senseless killing and maiming of countless innocent folk throughout this troubled world of ours in the name of religion. I am sure that there have been worse moments in the history of this planet, but for this ageing correspondent, it is difficult to think of one in his own lifetime.

One of the most depressing, and selfish things about all these troubles as far as I am concerned is that even if the world does eventually turn the corner and things start to get better – and this is by no means a certainty, as there is a good chance it could get a lot worse – it will never happen in my lifetime, so in effect, I will never live to see better times.

All this has led me to try and take stock of my life and where I am in the general scheme of things.

On a practical level, if I don’t take my physical fitness in hand pretty soon, I really doubt I will be around for too much longer. I tried to walk a couple of days back, the first attempt in well over a week, and I couldn’t walk more than a few yards before the chest pains started. I am still so overweight that it is embarrassing and it is getting worse and worse. I know that this is one of the ‘depressive issues’ that is entirely in my hands, so this one is really down to me.

On a relationship level, I now know that without Noo I would probably be dead in the water. I don’t know what manner of good fortune brought this lovely lady to my door, but whatever it may be, I think I have to proffer eternal thanks to someone… I wish I knew to whom.

Without Noo, who knows where I would be now. She is the main pillar of my life and by far and away a key influence and moderator of my behaviour. Without her, I simply wouldn’t have any kind of a life at all. Again, this is a situation which is entirely in my hands to direct as I see fit, so one of the crucial decisions that I have  made is to  accept that Noo is here to stay and will be an integral part of my life from here on in.

Having arrived at this crucial conclusion, I have decided that I must treat her with the respect she deserves and I have resolved that I will cease forthwith all my ‘naughty girlie activities’ at the short time neighbourhood bars. In future, I will try my best to devote the time I used to spend in bars on pointless self-gratification in trying to keep my little Noo happy.

I belatedly realise that having a friend like Rick as a fellow whore-monger and ‘partner in crime’ was totally the wrong way to go on this, and as i have now that I have pulled the plug on him, it will be much easier to resist any future temptations.

Meanwhile, The local Wat has been running their annual 10-day Loy Krathong temple fair at the grounds next to the lake, just down the road from my home, and every day the Thai bands and dancers grace the massive stages and the usual stalls and other temple fair activities have sprung up in our little corner of the Darkside.

Two days ago, Noo went to the fair alone, as I declined her invitation to accompany her and when she returned a couple of  hours later, she was weighed down with all manner of stuff, from fluffy toys, to clothes and yes – even a little goldfish in a plastic bag. The smile on her face was a delight to see and she had obviously enjoyed herself – albeit alone.

I felt such a miserable bastard for not going with her, so last night I suggested she go back to the fair, but this time with Mobi and her face just blossomed with delight at the prospect.

So off we went, and she won yet another fluffy doll, but failed to burst enough balloons with twisted bent darts to win yet more. Then she  got stuck into  a dozen games of Bingo without any signs of coming even close to a win.  It wasn’t hard to see why as I soon realised  that all the winners s came  from one  table, one that was situated right next the bingo caller. 

It didn’t matter – she enjoyed it and then we strolled along to the clothes stalls, where she bought herself a nice sexy dressing gown, following which, we watched some scantily clad dancers on the main stage, accompanied by a ubiquitous long haired Thai rock band on a stage which would have done justice to Wembley Stadium; and finally we watched some ramwong dancing by a couple of young dancing troupes on a smaller side-stage.

Eat your hearts out – Strictly!

After the fair, I drove around the lake and stopped at one of the newer bars where I knew they had hot food and we spent a pleasant hour or so, sitting at the bar, chatting to a couple of people I knew and watched Newcastle beat Everton 2-1 on the bar’s TV.

Noo had a large plate of fish and chips and I had an even larger plate of liver, bacon and onions, and there wasn’t much left on either plate – very nice, thank you.

As ever, there was a young lady there who recognised me, but fortunately she had her boyfriend with her, so no need for Noo to get her knickers in a twist, (not that she would, I hasten to add; she is just too nice). I usually recognise most of  these girls that I bump into during my wanders, but invariably I can’t recall their names or where I had met them before.

Most important of all, I often can’t even remember whether I have ever had  intimate relations with them. But on this occasion, I quickly decided that this particular girl was from one of the bars nearby and I was sure that I had in fact had my wicked way with her; but it transpired that she wasn’t from that bar at all and that I had never done anything with her that I might later regret….

Comes to something when you can’t even remember who you screwed….

Incidentally, she was yet another ex-whore who has persuaded her farang-mate to invest in a beauty salon. I swear to God there must be almost as many hair dressing salons as bars in East Pattaya, and neither type of business has a dog’s chance of breaking even. There are just too many.

These chance meetings with ‘old flames’ is one of the reasons that I rarely take Noo out to have a drink and some food around the lake, but she seemed un-fazed by the lady we ran into and was obviously very happy to have a night out with me, so maybe I will start to take her out more often. I have to pay more attention to her, she deserves nothing less.

A week or so back, before I was ill, the two of us drove over to Bang Sare to have some seafood at my favourite restaurant, and afterwards, we drove into the village, parked up and took a stroll out along one of the fishing boat piers, of which there are several. Below, are some of the photos I took from the pier, of the boats waiting to go out for a night’s work, and looking back onto Bang Sare beach, the shore side restaurants and some other notable land marks,

I hope you enjoy them.

Bang Sarae – Views from a Pier