Tales From A Barfly
The following tales were originally written in my “Mobi’s Bar thread” in the Thai Visa Expat forum (Pattaya section).
These have been revised, extended and edited for publication below.
A few days ago, two gallant Aussies travelled all the way from Pattaya City to seek us out. One of them had been reading my blog for many years. And he had even bought my book!!!
A rare event indeed….
It was in the middle of the afternoon, and Lek called me from home to advise me of their presence. When I discovered that they had made a special trip out to see me, I downed tools and popped along to the bar and we had a lively chat for a couple of hours and they assured me that they will return regularly, as I’m sure they will.
That same evening brought out three of my ever faithful regulars, and there was a slow trickle of customers throughout the night. Then just when I thought we were going to be able to close on time, who should make one of his regular late night appearances? None other than Thai Visa’s ‘Raro.’
Sometimes I think the only reason Raro graces Mobi’s is to get his mits on yet another cigarette lighter as he never has one with him; but once he was able to satisfy his disgusting habit, we sat and watched a few interesting music videos that were decidedly out of the mainstream, but nevertheless very enjoyable.
Only at Mobi’s can you listen to Paul Weller and the tragically vulnerable Amy Winehouse singing ‘Don’t talk to strangers’, followed by ACDC performing their classic, ‘Highway to Hell’ followed by a truly inspiring arrangement of Elton’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ sung by the American singer /songwriter Sara Bareilles who accompanied herself on piano, and then a mesmerising, live rendition of ‘One more Try’ by the gorgeous and supremely talented Beverley Knight, and then a sultry, jazzy rendition of ‘Will you still Love me Tomorrow’, by the multi- Grammy Award winning, utterly beautiful Norah Jones…
On and on till the wee hours….
All Mobi’s girls had long since retired for the night as Mobi, Raro and Noo sat in the darkness, and listened to some wonderful music.
As I say… where else?
The next day saw an upsurge in business.
Noo had travelled to Samut Songkhram, (about half way to Hua Hin), to attend the funeral of a close family friend and Auntie was left in charge.
I drove down to the bar at around 7.15 pm to find a couple of customers sitting in deathly silence. No TV, no music – nothing…
I should explain that Mobi’s has no less than three music systems.
The first one we inherited from the previous owner and is a CD/amp system with its own speakers hard-wired at strategic positions around the bar. While not particularly brilliant in quality, it serves as a decent back-up system, and in the absence of either Noo or myself to crank up one of the main systems, then it should be turned on – and is generally used in the day time.
The second system is entirely independent of the first and plays the sound from the larger of the two TV’s by optical cable to a separate amplifier, and from there to a separate speaker system which is also hard-wired around the bar.
We use the second system to play the sound track for TV sports events and also music from one the TV music channels.
The third system uses the same output as the second system (Optical output from TV to amp to speakers) but the input is from video music files stored on a laptop via HDMI cables, which also transmits a video signal for the two TV screens.
So all auntie had to do was to turn on the back-up music CD system, or she could have even picked up one of the remote controls, turned on the TV which was already tuned to a music station (and the amp was also on) and would have immediately played music and video from the TV source.
‘Why no music?’ I asked.
Too lazy to bother, I concluded, like the day last week when she forgot to turn on the Mobi’s street sign when it got dark and everyone thought we were closed – hence no customers….
Without Noo, I wouldn’t stand a chance….
When I arrived at the bar, I was so preoccupied with the lack of music that I responded to all the ‘Swasdi Kraps’ from the girls in a perfunctory manner, without even bothering to turn around and look at which of the girls were greeting me.
One particular girl refused to be brushed off by my offhand behaviour and insisted that I respond to her personally.
I turned around and to my utter astonishment I saw that it was one of Mobi’s star performers, who had departed only a week earlier to set up home with a certain Belgian gentleman.
She had left employment with us with our blessing and although we had concluded that this particular relationship couldn’t possibly stand the test of time, nobody expected her to be back in the fold in the space of a few days.
The young lady – I shall call her Wan (sweet) is a lovely young thing in her early twenties and by general consensus is a bit of a ‘looker’.
She also happens to be a fun-loving person and always has the most winning of smiles on her face, regardless of the time of day and however tired she may be.
She seemed to love the life of a bar girl, and she – along with some of the other girls- would often book a taxi to whisk them off to Pattaya in the small hours where they danced the night away once the days’s work was done.
Wan used to work the bar like no other, and she hopped from customer to customer every day, doing her best to make them all happy and earning a prestigious number of ‘lady drinks’ in return for her tireless efforts.
So it was with much sadness that we wished her well when she announced her permanent departure with her elderly benefactor, even though we knew in our heart of hearts that the ‘arrangement’ couldn’t possibly last very long. The man was probably three times her age and appeared to be very staid and set in his ways and it was difficult to imagine how the two of them could make a life together.
Several more of Mobi’s customers of a ‘certain age’ had also become infatuated with her during the past few months , and in the days following her departure, they would drive up to the bar, and immediately drive away again once they learnt that Wan was no longer working there.
But now she had returned, smiling and laughing just like the old days and it came as no surprise for us to learn that the two had proved to be totally incompatible.
The elderly Belgian gentleman was very grumpy, she told us, and subject to fits of rage when she didn’t understand what he was saying. Within a short time they had agreed to part and here she was, back at Mobi’s, ready and raring to go.
Wan immediately slipped back into her old routine of working the customers.
The jungle telegraph must have been working overtime as within ½ an hour, two of Wan’s most ardent suitors were back at Mobi’s to wish her a rousing ‘home-coming’.
There may be trouble ahead…..
Our resident drunk, the estimable German, Mr Ting tong, was one of Wan’s most ardent admirers, and a certain Englishman, who I shall call ‘Gentleman Jim’ was the other.
Mr Ting Tong got in first, but it wasn’t long before Wan Tired of Mr Ting’s Tongs’ drunken and erratic behaviour and lack of lady’s drinks and decided to transfer her attentions to the much more gentlemanly, Gentleman Jim.
Mr Ting Tong decided to come and sit with me and insisted in shaking my hand every 2-3 minutes, repeating over and over: ‘You Mobi… very good man….’
But he wasn’t at all happy. He was pining over Wan and kept making furtive glances at the loving couple, which only provoked yet more despair.
The evening progressed and Mr Ting Tong became ever drunker, and ever more jealous.
I was busy with my music when I was suddenly accosted by Gentleman Jim who was in state of high dudgeon demanding that I keep Mr Ting Tong away from him.
It transpired that Mr Ting Tong had approached Gentleman Jim and threatened to punch him if he didn’t leave Wan alone and go home.
It was laughable. Mr Ting Tong is about 5ft 6 inches tall, and I doubt whether he weighs much more than 100lbs. Furthermore he was so drunk he could hardly stand.
‘This genial drunk couldn’t possibly be much of a threat to anyone’, I thought to myself, but just in case, I called Noo out from behind the bar to deal with it.
She had just arrived back from her long drive to the funeral and back, and as ever, was game for anything. After all, nobody can break up drunken fight between two farangs like a petite Thai woman.
As expected, Noo led Gentleman Jim back to his seat with Wan at the far corner of the bar and banned Mr Ting Tong from going near them.
Hostilities ceased for a while, but on his way back from the toilet, Mr Ting Tong once again tried to accost his rival lover.
Noo was quickly on the scene, and we decided to refuse Mr Ting Tong any more drinks and suggested that he call it a night; but he stubbornly refused to go and continued to walk around the bar glaring at his rival from a distance.
In the end, Gentleman Jim decided he’d had enough and drove off into the night.
Wan had had enough of Mr Ting Tong and had no intention of letting him pick up where he had left off after the arrival of Gentleman Jim, so she ran out of the bar to hide behind a bush. We told Mr Ting Tong that she had left with Gentleman Jim, but Ting tong wasn’t having any of it, and he ran out to the parking area to see where Wan had gone.
Wan saw him coming and hot-footed it back into the bar by another route and into the rear area, while the drunken Mr Ting Tong kept staggering around outside, looking for her.
And so it went on… Wan running around the environs of the bar and Mr Ting Tong lurching hither and thither trying to catch her.
Wan was having a great game, and Mr Ting Tong was clearly no match for her.
Meanwhile, back at Mobi’s, I had discovered that one of my other customers was an admirer of the Motown music genre and we were busy cranking up the music with a never-ending selection of Motown songs. He sang heartily to song after song – as did I – and the girls started dancing and tapping their feet to the irresistible Motown rhythms.
Keep on running, Reach Out, Higher and Higher, My Girl, River Deep Mountain High, Dancing in the Street, Tracks of My Tears, When will I see you Again?, Heard it through the Grapevine, and many, many more, kept us all on our feet; while the sparring between Mr Ting Tong and Gentleman Jim, which was followed by the Benny-Hill-esqe chases around the bar by Mr Ting Tong and the sexy Miss Wan provided the visual entertainment.
What a night!
Our Motown -loving customer finally called it a night and Noo somehow persuaded Mr Ting Tong take a long walk along the road in a valiant search of his beloved, (who by this time was upstairs’ in bed), and we quickly pulled down the shutters to cash up and leave before he returned.
It almost worked, but just as we were getting ready to depart, back he came, complaining that a cop had arrested him outside another bar, but that he had been released after he satisfied the cop he had done nothing wrong – except get blind drunk…
I have no way of verifying the veracity of all this, and was still busy with my bar business when he finally disappeared. I didn’t see him go, but Noo assures me that he left unaided on his motor bike….
God help us all.
The next day he was back at the bar – drinking coffee – after having settled his large bill of the previous night which he left without paying.
At least the events of that night provided us some light relief and made us forget all our troubles for a short while during these worrying times.