The Bemusing Nat in Blighty
The telephone call from Iain at MyThai-visa informing me that my wife’s UK visa application had been successful prompted mixed feelings of delight and mild panic. I clearly had not shared the frustrating bureaucratic delays I was expecting and was experienced by Hans Meier in his delightful “Thai wife in Farangland” series.
A subsequent call from my Nat confirmed she now had the coveted spouse visa and had booked her flight to England for 7th Sept. As this was barely two weeks away I realised I may have been a teensy bit remiss in my preparations for her impending arrival. In truth I had done hardly bugger all.
It was maybe time for a little concerted and overdue action.
At Easter I married Nat my Thai lady friend of long standing in an Amphur in Bangkok. This event represented a culmination of a five year journey of self discovery. For those new to the Stickman site and not acquainted with my tale you will find it recounted in a series of shaggy dog stories entitled “The Broken man is repaired” (parts 1 to 8). But for those disinclined to look them up I tender a half a crown reader’s digest version for you.
When my English wife of almost 20 years left me in early 2003 I was in a mess which a downturn in my career and a series of unnecessarily cruel rejections from English women did little to allay. A visit to Thailand in November of that year did much to repair my spirit and restore my soul.
The subsequent 4 years I made a further 8 expeditions to the Kingdom. In early visits I confined my pleasures to good honest mongering among the timeshare girlfriends in the salacious sois of Sukhumvit and Pattaya. However in the later trips I developed new avenues for my modest debauchery. I had been slowly gaining a circle of respectable Thai lady friends that included civil servants, nurses, office girls and teachers who I would arrange to meet at some point on my visits to the Kingdom. I considered them legitimate dates which broke the routine of my customary mongering with bar girls and provided some pleasant and interesting experiences.
These biannual pilgrimages to LOS were the only time I experienced any feminine affection and the only thing that helped me keep my equilibrium and any sense of self worth. For two weeks every six months I lived like a premiership footballer, I got smiles from beautiful young girls. For two weeks every six months I felt truly alive.
Unfortunately it was only for two weeks every six months, the remaining 48 weeks in England remained purgatory.
It was clear this way of life was not sustainable. I was approaching the age where tucking my shirt into my underpants was beginning to feel alarmingly comfortable which is but a short step to pipe, slippers and incontinent pants if one is not careful.
In order to address the issue of celibacy and my lack of companionship I acknowledged I either had to make arrangements with a high class hooker in the UK or import a partner from Asia to live in the UK with me. Whilst acutely aware of the problems involved in bringing a Thai girl back to the West, I was so eager to alleviate my loneliness this seemed the solution. I was even resolved to forsake the mongering life.
Central to my story was a friendship with Nat, a Thai lady I met on my first visit to the kingdom. We had remained friends, corresponded regularly and I would always spend time with her on my visits. She is not a classic Thai beauty but she is affectionate and intelligent with a well-developed sense of humour. She was working for a property development owned by an English company and she entertained aspirations regarding her relationship with the owner. Our association remained mainly platonic in that time, however over the four years our relationship developed from an infatuation into a sincere friendship and had matured into a genuine affection. On my visit in November 2007 with the building project coming to an end she had finally recognized her ambitions with her employer were a delusion. We talked seriously about our relationship. She is enthralling and infuriating in equal measure but no one has ever enchanted me like she does. To be honest she was the only woman I cared enough about to seriously envisage spending the rest of my life with. After considerable discussion she accepted my suggestion we marry and that she live in the UK with me to brighten my lonely existence and share life’s rich tapestry together. At Easter 2008 we married in Bangkok and honeymooned in Chiang Mai. Our plan was to live together in England until we accrue the resources to eventually retire or semi-retire to the Kingdom. Whether the Kingdom would still welcome guys like me by then remains to be seen.
Bugger me she’ll soon be here
Back in the UK for some five years, by necessity I had become a bit of an itinerant journeyman working away in various cities such as Norwich and Banbury so hadn’t felt the urge to lay down roots in buying a house. When I returned to the West Midlands for my current position I moved back with my Mother which was mutually convenient.
Now if any of the Brits of a certain age can remember an old TV series “Sorry” starring Ronnie Corbett about a 50 year old living with a domineering mother they will fully appreciate my situation. When I got married at Easter I acknowledged this could not continue so I rented a one bedroom flat around the corner from my mother. It is a quiet spot in an apartment block mostly occupied by old age pensioners (no comments necessary I am already finding the waistband of my trousers creeping higher up my body and seem to have acquired a collection of beige cardigans).
One of the pleasing aspects of my Thailand adventures is the number of friends I have made in the Stickman/Schoocher community. I received a pleasingly huge amount of correspondence from my last submission “Waiting for Godnose”. I had requested advice and guidance in integrating a Thai wife into life in the UK from those who had prior experience. I received some excellent comments from the usual suspects amongst the Stickman contributors that I have got to know, but I also received some wonderful advice from ordinary Stickman readers. I would like to thank them by mentioning them but feel I should respect their anonymity. There was a common theme to the counsel received which I will allude to later.
Since acquiring the flat in June I had installed a bed and some good wardrobes but little else and had hardly lived in it. A few weeks of frenzied activity saw me fit a new carpet, procure a new mattress, a small dining table and a new settee. I was advised by Poompui and others, to make only minimal alterations to the décor therefore allowing my beloved to build her nest to her own taste. Sensible advice I have followed.
Is it always this cold my love?
In the early hours of Sunday morning before the streets were properly aired I drove to the Balkan enclave known as Heathrow to meet my sweetheart. Heathrow is a dogs breakfast but terminal 3 has its advantages being home to several Asian airlines; there is always the opportunity for a gratuitous ogle at Asian beauties. The plane landed on time but it was two hours before she navigated immigration and appeared through the arrivals door. I am sure many readers have shared the feeling of relief and delight mixed with a frisson of terror at what the future held in store. The doubt evaporated on seeing her little smiling face. She had lost a few pounds and looked good.
As I suspected she had come with just the metaphorical shirt on her back. With typical Thai organisation she had misjudged the weight allowance and had to leave one of her items of luggage behind. The item she brought contained her laptop, mobile, blackberry, and numerous malodorous condiments and spices but left all the “non essentials” like shoes, day clothes, contact lenses, medicines and money. After affectionate greetings we made our way to the car park. I had previously joked that the engagement ring I bought her cost more than my car. On seeing my battered old Ford Mondeo she finally believed me.
I pilot the confusing road system around Heathrow on to the M40 and back to the Midlands. After an hour we stopped at a motorway service area for a coffee. It was a mild autumnal day but after walking a few steps she froze solid. I doubt I will ever forget the look of shock in her eyes, the pursed lips, the chattering teeth and the uncontrollable shivering from head to foot. I observed much to my amusement if she turned blue on a mild September day she had a shock coming when the winter arrived.
We arrive at the flat and much to my relief she loved it despite its modest (but cosy) ambience. She even liked my minimalist efforts and appreciated that I had left her sufficient to do to put her own mark and build a nest.
She is far too good for you!
That first evening we were destined to have dinner at the restaurant in the casino I use as a social club. We collect my two sons from the ex wife’s house in Sedgley. Any hope I held we might escape having to meet the old dragon was thwarted when she came out to greet me. Fortunately with Nat’s innate diplomacy it was relatively painless.
My boys fell in love with Nat immediately on meeting her. On the 20 minute journey to West Bromwich they comfortably chatted as if they had known her for years. Somehow the conversation turned to my writing; my lads know all my stories. A couple of years ago I penned a short story A Snip in time. It is about a middle aged guy who marries a young Thai girl. When she presents him with twin boys, knowledge of his vasectomy makes it clear that it was one of his sons who actually impregnated her. When Matt alluded to this, with a wicked smile Nat explained it was her favourite of my stories.
Her subsequent relationship with my sons has been fascinating. My youngest (19) is a sensitive lad, initially tongue tied in her presence but she has worked on being his big sister and he now clearly worships her. The eldest (22) is a different kettle of fish, a real Jack the lad with politics slightly to the right of Hitler (just left of Genghis Khan) I expected some difficulties. To my great joy he readily accepted her and they quickly became friends. To see him proudly introducing her to his drinking pals and football team mates was both a surprise and a delight.
At the casino my brother and his tribe were waiting. This included his girlfriend, her mom and dad and her two brothers with their respective partners. I refer to them as the “Borg collective” (as in Star Trek) but they are in fact agreeable company. My Nat was wonderfully received and immediately made to feel very welcome.
It has been a common theme that she seemed to charm everyone she met with her engaging smile and pleasant disposition. The general reaction to her has been predominantly positive. As I said before she is not a classic Thai beauty, it has been noted her appearance is more Korean than Issan. She wouldn’t get a second look from the mongering fraternity in Thailand but she has a gift to make friends with people of all persuasions she meets.
Her ability to charm those I had previously considered difficult to charm has been a revelation. One example was the wife of my solicitor mate Kevin. I went to school with her so have known her some 40 years. Liz is a schoolteacher and is actually a very warm hearted person but has a reputation for being a bit curmudgeonly and not liking many people. In the first week we went out for a drink with them. When I introduced Nat to them Kevin took to her immediately. He has been my friend since we were 7 years old and having seen all the ups and downs of my life was genuinely happy that I had found some stability at last. I anticipated a little frostiness from Liz as a couple of years ago she wanted me to date her head of department and I wouldn’t cooperate at the time. As it happened Liz was enchanted by Nat and we had a wonderful evening. It was gratifying when it was reported that Liz had subsequently declared to all our friends that my new wife was absolutely lovely.
Another of my oldest friends Brian is 10 years older than me. When I was a snotty nosed apprentice, Brian was production manager of the Foundry. For some reason he took a shine to me, took me under his wing and we have remained friends ever since. He is a scary character, in his younger days he managed the bouncers at a notorious night club in Dudley. In those days he was likened to Patrick Swayze in Round House (although these days he more resembles an ageing Steve Segal). He has always been disparaging about my trips to Thailand and disagrees completely with my activities there. However on actually meeting my Nat he was totally captivated by her. I was particularly pleased when he stated that for as long as he has known me he has never been impressed with my taste or sense of judgement but he thought Nat was exquisite and at long last I had made a good choice.
The general consensus amongst my friends she has now met in the UK is that “she is far too good for you”.
My mother and the choir
Of particular delight has been the relationship Nat has developed with my Mother. When my Father passed away in January she took to her widow’s weeds with relish and took being miserable and cantankerous to new heights. She had become somewhat of a recluse. How quickly and readily my Mother took to Nat surprised everyone in the family. There is no doubt Nat bought my Mother out of her melancholy and self imposed seclusion. In a short time they became inseparable and even began swapping clothes.
Of central significance is the Male Voice Choir in which my father and I sang together for 30 years. My Father was a member for over 40 years so the friendships made through the choir played a major role in the lives of my parents and was the pivot of their social life. I had taken over from my Father as principal tenor soloist but my Mother had stopped going to concerts. It allegedly upset her seeing me perform the songs my father had made his own over so many years. Whilst this was understandable it unfortunately cut her off from what should have been her major support structure during the distressing days of widowhood. With Nat’s arrival my Mother started coming to concerts on the pretext of keeping Nat company. She regained her old friendships and the process of healing began. It goes without saying Nat thoroughly charmed the men of the choir and most of their wives.
An aspect of the choir is the varied programme we perform from traditional to the contemporary, from Elgar to Elvis and Elton John. As such we are in great demand and in our 60th anniversary year were out singing concerts twice a week. We perform at a variety of venues; Churches (of all denominations) community centres, schools, civic centres and social clubs. The people who follow choral music tend generally to be quite a better class of people, cultured and educated. As such Nat in a short time was exposed to a large number of predominantly middle class and refined people. This seemed to have a profound effect on her. Driving home from a concert one evening quite unprompted she made a quite insightful statement to the effect “I now understand that we Thais have it wrong about respect and face; we think it is about being seen spending money. The hi-so people in England I have met seem not to need money to have respect”. I hope this astute observation is the beginning of her understanding of western values.
Welcome to my world
The first weeks involved putting up curtains and pictures on the walls. Within the first two days our fridge/freezer packed up. The search for its replacement also yielded a new flat screen TV and DVD player.
Once the initial excitement of exploring western supermarkets like Asda and Morrison’s had passed I detected a decided lack of interest in our shopping expeditions. I attributed this to the absence of recognisable Asian comestibles. We took an expedition to Wing Yip, the Chinese supermarket in Birmingham. Upon entering its palatial portals and seeing this veritable Aladdin’s cave of Asian produce and oriental delights I thought she would orgasm on the spot. “This is my world!” she exclaimed as she dragged me on an orgy of spending that would have shocked a Saudi potentate.
With the fridge/freezer and every kitchen cupboard jammed full of strange looking vegetables, foul smelling spices and objects of indeterminate origin she finally felt at home.
With the raw materials in place her mastery of the kitchen was unquestioned and it became her temple. I must admit I have never been so well fed. Every evening I returned from work to be met with the dinner table a riot of tastes, smells and textures. Every meal was a delight. Over time I could sense her slowly acclimatising me day by day to tolerate ever increasingly hotter food. I had to cry uncle when we arrived at full native Issan; my arse felt like a corduroy cap and looked like a flag of imperial Japan. I remember a popular song from my youth about an English chap having married an Italian girl protesting about the exotic (?) pasta dishes she put in front of him. I had a degree of sympathy with the refrain “give me a bash at the bangers and mash me Mother used to make”. Nat is quite sophisticated and over the years has sampled a variety of cuisines including French and Italian but Thais can not help being chauvinistic about the superiority of Thai fare.
Surprisingly she developed a taste for strawberries which I believe are a rarity in Thailand. She also formed a penchant for the British delicacy known as “black pudding” which will take a little more explaining.
Are they speaking English my love?
Communication with a Thai female is an inherent problem that is not just a function of language. Before her arrival she expressed concern that her English was not very good, in fact her English is good and she makes a real effort to use grammar and correct tense unusual in many Thai girls I have met. I told her not to worry because where she was coming to live they don’t speak English anyway.
The conurbation in between the cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton known as the Black Country has one of the least decipherable dialects in the UK. Although somewhat bewildered at first she took great delight in learning the strange new words. She is a gifted mimic, to hear her use the farewell “Tar rah a bit” in broad Blackcountry causes great amusement.
One evening I took Nat and my mother to a large retail outlet out of town to procure a warm overcoat for her. The roads had changed and I got slightly lost. Now an Englishman will never refer to the instructions when assembling furniture and would rather die a slow painful death than actually ask for directions when driving but having two assertive women passengers they made me stop and ask a local. His directions were delivered in the broad dialect of the area. As we drove away with a smile Nat enquired “what language was that man speaking?”
We never purchased her overcoat but I did buy her a pair of knee length leather boots she fell in love with, but more about them presently.
The intimacy thing
One of the great attractions of Asian women is the little attentions they bestow upon us. The finger nail clipping, the haircuts, the bathing, cotton buds in the ears etc are all welcome pleasures. I believe it is more than just a cultural thing and is a celebration of their femininity. I have also felt these little displays of intimacy do not imply subservience but more an expression of ownership, a bit like animals peeing to leave their scent.
Nat is very much the prim conservative catholic girl. I have known her for almost 5 years and we were not intimate for a large part of this time, so sex has never been the driving factor in our relationship. Only a cad or a bounder would discuss sexual intimacy but since we have been married I seem to have awoken a latent sex beast. I have joked she is like a vintage sports car; slow to get started but once she is warmed up and purring away the performance is spirited and exhilarating. She has become so rampant I am thinking of setting a lad on to help me out.
The night I bought her leather boots seemed to turn a switch on. Whilst I was innocently watching Star Trek (TNG) on TV she came in totally naked but for the boots and before I could protest, ravished me on the spot. She didn’t even give me the time to get the West Bromwich Albion (medium ladies size) shirt out.
She has also adopted a strange habit of attracting my attention in public by momentarily catching hold of the end of my foreskin through my trousers. The action is indiscernible to anyone else and out of character but certainly works.
Where do all the farang live?
We made the obligatory visit to London as she had been nagging me to do from the moment of her arrival. We took one of the new Virgin trains down to Euston. It was a very pleasant, clean and comfortable journey and we arrived exactly on time. We took the Underground to Westminster tube station as I wanted to see the look on her face as we came up the stairs to see Big Ben directly in front of her. She was mesmerised by the House of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster and the Abbey. We take a walk down the Embankment and hop on an open topped tour bus. My advice to any newcomer wishing to explore London: this is the way to do it, other than Buckingham Palace all the landmarks are comprehensively covered and you can get on and off the bus at your convenience. Nat loved the day and must have taken 300 photos.
On a recent trip to Birmingham we caught the tram in and spent the morning exploring the public and civic buildings with their imposing Victorian architecture. She was impressed by the canal side developments around Gas Street. The National Arena and Symphony Hall are most inspiring additions to the city. We took lunch in Broad Street and after a light repast, took a stroll to the shopping areas of New Street. I realised how much Thai girls hate walking when she got a little tired and moody so we never got to Selfridges. The streets of Birmingham seemed to be predominantly occupied by West Indian, Chinese, Indian and Slavic faces. We hardly saw any English which prompted the enquiry from Nat “Where do all the farang live my love?”
Falung lady ting tong
I have been asked if I encountered any prejudice being a white man with an Asian wife. I must declare I live in a town that has been truly multicultural for over 30 years. Overt racial prejudice is a thing of the past and barely exists. Generally the reactions from people we meet have been very positive although I have discerned the occasional narrow-mindedness by a certain type of middle aged women. No sub from me would be complete without some reference to the perversity of western women.
At a family christening we recently attended there was one such woman, I do not know her well as her daughter only recently married into the family. She had her husband (beast of burden) dancing attendance on her every whim; the poor bugger never had a moment’s peace. Whilst everyone accepted my little Siamese spouse this lady never spoke a word to us. On a few occasions I spotted this lady furtively observing us with “that look “. This look marked me down as a sad old tosser that clearly could not attract a proper woman so had to go 5000 miles to find a substitute. I nowadays attribute this attitude to a meanness of spirit.
In a previous missive I alluded to some of the girls who work in the casino. Upon learning I had married a girl almost 20 years my junior their attitude and treatment of me changed dramatically. I got huge welcoming smiles and they overtly flirt with me where previously I was treated with a polite indifference. This has continued now they have met my Nat. I have noticed that they can not keep their eyes off her (or me for that matter). I put this down to their wondering what a pleasant young women saw in me and if they hadn’t missed an opportunity. Vic Bitters gave me an alternate explanation that even though these girls did not particularly want me they considered me their property. This is a more feasible explanation.
I had a similar experience when I recently bumped into Maureen. I had taken her out a few times a couple of years ago. Although tolerable she is a little older than me and a bit on the rough side. She led me a merry dance which did little to help my low self esteem at the time. She had not aged well and seeing her was a reminder of the depths I had once plummeted. When I told her I had married she was genuinely shocked. It was clear she perceived me as a sad old tosser who should be broken-hearted and waiting for her to offer her moth eaten old orifice at her convenience.
Sometimes it is difficult to see where you are going but interesting to observe where you have come from.
Matt and the Cougars
One evening we were invited to a birthday party at a working men’s club in the town. My eldest son Matt came with us. Now Matt does not share my genes, he is athletic, self confident and devastatingly handsome with a shock of thick dark hair. When we enter a room heads turn and young women visibly salivate on seeing him. That evening in our company there were a couple of women in their mid 40s I know. Attractive enough (I would poke them) but certainly not as attractive as they think they are. They made a blatant play for Matt all night and he courteously played along with what he considered harmless flirting. But when he politely refused their more explicit overtures they were more vociferous and quite indignant that he should refuse their advances. Matt was amused at their sense of entitlement that, to use his phrase “two fat old tarts” should think a 22 year old would be interested in them. I was slightly more irritated as a few months ago these two predatory females had given me a strident lecture about dirty old sods going to developing countries like Thailand using their money to take advantage of poor naïve girls. This hypocrisy merely confirms my prejudice about certain English women and my contention that western womanhood has completely lost the plot.
I don’t remember killing an albatross
The first two months in the UK together were idyllic and perhaps the happiest of my life but knowing my luck I suspected it wouldn’t last. Sure enough towards the end of October I noticed a distinct change in her mood which initially I attributed to homesickness.
I checked against the list of advice people had given me but could not see any obvious omissions. I had let her make her nest to her own specification. I had given her a weekly allowance and had she wanted for nothing. I took her out to meet interesting people and the issue of other Thai people was irrelevant as we had not yet met any. She expressed no interest in gambling and mischief was not an issue. I must admit I had not taken her to see West Bromwich Albion play, a gross omission I will admit but not sufficient to cause this moodiness. Thai girls are not renowned for articulating or expressing problems so I sat her down and gradually got her to talk to me.
When pressed it transpired it was about money. Now this will come as no great surprise to the veteran aficionados of Thai womanhood. Fundamental to all Thai women I have met; irrespective of background, seem to be the obsession with mammon. Whether bargirls, shop girls or hi-so damsels their fixation with money rears its ugly head at some point.
Forgive the Star Trek allusion, when you get involved with a Thai girl you think you have fallen in love with one of those exotic feminine Bajoran women but invariably you wake up and find you have wed a Ferighee instead.
To her credit in all the years I have known Nat she has never exhibited this tendency, she has never asked me for money. I had always been adamant I would never join the institute of farang patrons who send money to Thailand. However it emerged that she had a few debts in Thailand, principally from credit cards, she had not told me about and was under pressure to repay them. The anxiety was making her ill. My understanding is the financial community in Thailand are even worse than the charlatans in the west and little more than parasitic loan sharks. She has substantial assets in Thailand and whilst I can appreciate her hedging her bets in not disposing of them until she was certain she was happy to settle in UK, it was no less upsetting or annoying.
So in November she returned to Thailand to sort out her debts. I gave her some money to satisfy the most urgent obligations but she would have to dispose of some assets to resolve the rest. I can appreciate the necessity for her trip but it did not make her departure any less agonising. The timing made it particularly painful from a selfish point of view as one of my motivations for marriage was I did not want to spend another Christmas alone. Seeing her off from Heathrow was one of the saddest moments of my life.
The flat is very quiet and lonely without her although I have been able to turn the thermostat on the central heating down by 10 degrees.
The big question I am asked and ask myself is, will she return?
I am certain she loves me and can see a good future living in the UK with me but the thought patterns of Thai womanhood exist in a totally different framework. I will never fully understand them whilst my anal orifice remains intact.
She has been gone over a month and we talk everyday. I have expressed my disquiet that I did not marry her so she could work in Thailand for the benefit of credit card companies. With the Thais doing a wonderful job of destroying their tourist industry and Thailand on the verge of a recession of biblical proportions, she is having no joy selling her shop and has no chance of selling her house. I have assured her I can support her (in the UK) and don’t need her money. I have the concern she will not return unless she realises some assets and has some money to come back with. It is a “face” thing. I hope I am wrong. The thought of her not returning is too sad for me to contemplate.
Just as I thought things were bad enough someone turned off a switch in the British economy and the order book for the company I worked for dried up. For the first month in two years we recorded a loss. Not one to take a long term view the owner decided he could no longer afford me and I was informed I was being made redundant at Christmas. Exasperating considering the contribution I had made to his company in three years. Disappointing in that for the first time in many years I had felt some stability in my life.
In the prevailing economic conditions my prospects looked gloomy. The money I accrued in the past few years had gone on getting married, the visa process, bringing her over and setting up home. With the additional cost of her debt I had said goodbye to around £18k. Marrying a Thai woman is not for the impoverished or faint of heart.
Talk about killing an Albatross, with no reserves things did not look good for me. However my reputation in the industry remains intact and within a few days on hearing I was out of work the network suggested a few positions I should apply for. Unfortunately none of them were in the West Midlands so I seemed destined to become itinerant again.
Just before Christmas I was offered a General Manager position with a small aluminium foundry, another business turnaround project and somewhat my forte. It is in the Cambridge area and I start work the end of January.
As I write this it is News year’s day and I am poised to again start a new year, a new life, a new city, new job, new flat and a new challenge. Will I be doing it alone again or will my Nat join me? I am still not sure but watch this space.
Whoa, you hit us for six there! All is well and then bang! I can feel your pain and disappointment with her returning to clear up financial problems that had not been disclosed earlier. That's a little bit sly, to say the least.
This was a tremendous submission, as all of yours are, but boy oh boy, the feel good factor evaporated in the last section. I really hope that she returns soon and that once again the nest is a happy place.