Stickman Readers' Submissions July 6th, 2006

The Final Chapter

I had to laugh at your leader / rant this week, simply put just cut out the peasants.

You wouldn't associate with these people back in New Zealand so why here, irrespective of the fact that you are mixing classes, this only goes on to breed contempt and jealousy.

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But how does that square with the fact most farangs take Isaan girls as their prospective lovers / wives? Personally as you know I am one of those few people that does live in a bubble, and from all my experiences with the locals I do not
miss any social contact with them at all.

It defies me to understand how farangs can find anything in common with Thai males.

And male bonding as it happens is very important to most men, so this in itself may well be another explanation why so many guys find it so difficult to settle here in the long term.

I have come here in stages, physically, emotionally, financially, but now for the final curtain.

I have severed my umbilical cord, by selling my property and chattels in Kensington, London. More than half my life I have had a connection with this address, 30 years no less, the end of an era. So as I walked away keyless from my port in
a storm, it was one of those moments that one rarely experiences, swimming without the aid of arm airbags, driving a car alone for the first time, sex without a condom, a certain shiver went up my spine even though I am well and truly established
here in Phuket.

So for those that are still reminiscing about those White Cliffs of Dover, here's a reality check of what you're missing.

Routemaster buses are no more, remember they were the ones that had those open rear platforms, with sometimes friendly ticket conductors that you could ask where to get off in case you were new to the route.

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Their replacements now have a Grand Prix performance start in comparison, throwing everyone ceremonially to the back of the bus, followed by brakes that can stop on a sixpence, so you simply end up back at the front of the bus again.

In case you have missed any of this excitement, don't worry it's all been recorded by the many cameras watching you.

So having eventually settled into your seat, all mayhem is about to break loose at the next stop, and as I look around me all my fellow passengers have already gone into a dive, dive, dive mode.

The cacophony of mobile calls have instantly dried up, iPod head sets are being torn from their owners ears, and without exemption all heads are bowed, as a troop load of hooded hoodlums board the bus. Mary Whitehouse in retrospect was although
we didn't know it at the time, the last bastion of holding up any kind of standards of what a civilised society should expect from its fellow citizens.

The dams have been broken, the flood gates opened to a level of profanity that has got to be heard to be believed, and yes don't even so much as look at the perpetrators from whence all this foul language is emanating from. As that wouldn't
be politically correct in Blair's domain.

And of course it doesn't all end with getting off the bus, as you get home and turn on your TV set you are greeted with just more of the same.

Four letter words have been officially approved as normal language on British television.

So the following day you take solace by a walk to Kensington High Street – RIP.

The death of a high street for those that remember Pontins, Derry and Tom's, Biba's, Barkers, yes even Safeways has closed.

I arrived at the end of the sixties, what an era, the best decade of the century and maybe some to come. Met up with four guys working in Harrods, through a hostel in Notting Hill Gate I was staying in at the time, and shortly after we all
moved to a flat in Kensigton Church Street.

God those were the days, spent my nights checking out pubs, discotheques, wine bars had just started – The Loose Box in Knightsbridge packed with gorgeous women, and of course at week-ends there were at least two parties to go to each Friday
and Saturday night. During the week you could roll into work sometime in the morning, only to be greeted by your boss saying "You're looking tired – hard night".

Nobody thought of careers, mortgages / property ladders, marrying or breeding, everyone seemed to be living for the moment, going for it and having a great time. Fashions were set, fixed and dictated and everyone looked the part. The young
were all politically motivated, and everyone was questioning the establishment.

But just like the dot com bubble era, it wasn't to last.

I started off as a tenant and through luck and good fortune ended up becoming a landlord myself.

Over a period of 36 years I have calculated I have shared my London addresses with over 50 flatmates, sounds a lot but my last place had four bedrooms, and I would say the average tenure of a tenant is 12 to 18 months.

But oh how times have changed, previously it was normal to return home from work by six in the evening, eat, clean up, shower and change, and then the whole evening was ahead of you.

If you weren't going out maybe you'd have some friends round and cook a spaghetti bolognese, washed down by a couple of bottles of cheap plonk.

Over this period I have watched a huge transformation. Started off with pre-prepared meals, then frozen meals, next up it was the fashion to order takeaways, after that on returning to my flat a year later I found the same food in the fridge,
nobody had eaten! Eating in has now been dispensed with, and now everybody's lounge is a Starbucks, not as personal you may say, but there you go.

Needless to say over these years I have many memorable stories and experiences to tell, but the one that sticks out was after I had purchased a large volume of toilet rolls cheaply down in Portobello Road. On asking my fellow flatmates for
their contributions one turned round and refused. To my disbelief I exclaimed "Now come on Tony you crap along with the rest of us", to which he replied "No".

"What do you mean no ?" I replied.

"I crap at work".

One of the few times in my life that I've been lost for a reply.

Stickman's thoughts:

When I think about a return to New Zealand, I sometimes get a bit disappointed, because the New Zealand I used to know no longer exists. Sounds like London is the same.

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