Stickman Readers' Submissions April 22nd, 2009

Brokenman and the curse of Mammon

This is a story that probably was better not to have been written. Although I am famed for a self deprecating honesty I anticipate some criticism for doing so. It is somewhat self indulgent and rambling (no change there) but it was one I needed to write to assemble my thoughts and calm my inner demons.

The story begins with the awakening from a drunken slumber at 0330 in the morning by the sound of my doorbell but has its genesis in earlier tales. The first part has been told before in previous submissions but will stand retelling for the purpose of context and background.

mens clinic bangkok

Early in 2003 my English wife of 20 years left me and I discovered the unpleasant reality of being destitute and back on the dating market aged 48. The western world had changed and the amount of unnecessarily mean spirited rejections administered by English women was testament that it was not to the benefit of English men. A downturn in my career further completed the misery. I was the proverbial Brokenman.

Repairing the Brokenman.

A visit to Thailand in November of 2003 did much to repair my spirit and restore my soul. In the subsequent 4 years I made a further 8 expeditions to the Kingdom which helped keep my equilibrium. Whilst I fully availed myself of the feminine delights of the dysfunctional Disneyland, central to my story was a friendship with Nat, a Thai lady I met on my first visit to the kingdom. Not a classic Thai beauty but affectionate and intelligent with a well-developed sense of humour. We remained friends, corresponded regularly and I would always spend some time with her on my visits, in between my mongering campaigns in the fleshpots of Sukhumvit and Pattaya. Our association remained mainly platonic over the four years but the relationship had developed into a sincere friendship and eventually matured into a genuine affection. By November 2007 I realised I was hopelessly in love with her and wanted to bring her to England and spend the rest of my life with her.

At Easter 2008 we married in Bangkok and honeymooned in Chiang Mai. In September 2008 the spouse visa came through and I collected her at Heathrow airport for the start of our new life together in the UK.

The Brokenman was about to be finally repaired.

A short sojourn in Blighty

I had furnished a pleasant little flat in Wednesbury a quiet town near West Bromwich which she loved. She settled quickly and was made welcome by all my family and friends. She charmed everyone she met in my wide social circle particularly in the Male Voice Choir in which I sang. My sons fell in love with her immediately and the wonderful relationship she forged with my mother was a revelation to all who knew her. I felt great pride in her, I was besotted and my heart would sing every time I looked at her. The first two months in the UK together were idyllic, maybe the happiest of my life.

wonderland clinic

It was too good to last and sure enough towards the end of October I noticed a distinct change in her mood. I initially attributed this to homesickness but when pressed it transpired it was about money. It emerged that she had significant debts in Thailand, principally on credit cards, accrued in building an impressive house near Udon Thani for her Mother. She was under considerable pressure to repay them and the anxiety was making her ill.

So in November she returned to Thailand with the intention of sorting them. I gave her money to satisfy the most urgent obligations but as this was the last of my savings she would have to dispose of some assets to resolve the rest. Whilst appreciating the necessity for her trip it did not make her departure any less agonising. One of my motivations for marrying her was I did not want to spend another Christmas alone. Seeing her off from Heathrow was one of the saddest moments of my life. In the depth of my misery the big question I was asked by friends (and asked myself) was, would she return?

Just as I thought I was feeling sufficiently wretched the British economy collapsed and the order book for the company I worked for dried up overnight. For the first month in two years we recorded a loss. In a panic the owner decided he could no longer afford me and I was made redundant at Christmas. Exasperating considering the contribution I had made to his company in three years. Disappointing in that for the first time since the millennium I had begun to feel some stability in my life.

In the prevailing economic conditions my prospects looked gloomy. The money I accrued in the past few years had all gone on getting married, the visa process, bringing her over, setting up home and with the additional cost of helping her debt I had said goodbye to around £18k in less than 6 months.

Marrying a Thai woman is certainly not for the impoverished or faint of heart.

With no reserves things did not look good for me. Fortunately my reputation in the industry remains intact and within a few days on hearing I was out of work I was offered a General Manager position to start at the end of January. It was with a small Aluminium foundry with problems, another business turnaround project which is somewhat my forte. Unfortunately it was in the Cambridge area 100 miles from the West Midlands so I was destined to become an itinerant again. I knew from experience working away would cost me money.

Christmas passed in the purgatory of loneliness made more acute by that false joviality associated with the season of ill will. I kept daily contact with my Nat by phone but the situation left much to be desired. She was less concerned about the situation and appeared oblivious to my anguish. When she was evasive about her plans to return I joked that her idea of bliss would be for her to live in Thailand and I finance her but without the unpleasantness of actually living with a husband. She laughed but did not deny it.

During one conversation I told her that her returning so soon to Thailand had many people sniggering at me implying there was a problem with us. She berated me that I seemed more concerned what people thought about me than my wife’s problems. It is difficult to reconcile the Thai mentality that Asian face is considered sacrosanct but a western man’s self respect can be dismissed so lightly.

The week before I was due to start my new job I could not get hold of her. I was not unduly worried as this occurred regularly. The last conversation I had with her was the middle of the previous week. In this she reported she had not managed to sell any of her assets. I assured her whilst I understood her reasons for being in Thailand I wanted her in the UK with me. Despite the scale of her debt I suggested I could maybe help her predicament if she lived with me and we worked together. I have always made it clear I would not (and now could not) send money to her whilst she remained in Thailand.

Somewhat tongue in cheek I suggested I would be in the Nana Hotel at Easter if she wanted to meet up sometime.

The return of the prodigal

On the Monday morning I was scheduled to drive to Cambridgeshire to begin my new job. However on the Sunday afternoon I find myself watching football in a sports bar in the company of my brother, my oldest son and a few other reprobates of dubious character. I am easily influenced and we ended up having a serious drinking session. On returning to my flat at 9.00pm I go straight to bed hoping to sober up in time to drive the next day and fell into a deep sleep.

At 0330 I am awoken by the doorbell. I stagger down wondering who it is at this unearthly hour. I open the door to find my beloved Nat on the doorstep with enough items of luggage to employ an army of Sherpas.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement (even by British standards of understatement).

She had taken a flight from Bangkok, the National Express coach from Heathrow to Birmingham and a taxi from Birmingham to Wednesbury. I considered this very adventurous for her as when she was here previously I could not persuade her to take the local 410 bus on her own. I asked why she had not told me or phoned me to collect her from Heathrow. She merely declared “I wanted to surprise you!

I hump all her luggage into the flat and after making her a drink and feeding her we sit and talk for the next few hours. She was her old self again ….the bemusing amusing affectionate girl I married. I knew at some point we would have to talk seriously …but not yet. I was just happy she had made the effort to return; an action I felt spoke volumes for her intentions, I was just happy to see her little smiling face again.

The next morning I contacted my new boss, told him what had happened and that I would not be in that day. I spent the Monday settling her in, shopping for food and basically getting things sorted for her so I could leave her in the flat until the weekend whilst I go to my new job the next day.

So whilst I was in Cambridgeshire digging myself into my latest project my wife was in Wednesbury almost certainly sleeping (and turning the thermostat up no doubt) waiting for me to return at the weekend.

I was on a three month trial so I could not take a lease on a property there and as Cambridge is too far to commute daily I would stay in digs in the week and return to the flat in Wednesbury at weekends. The first week I took a room above a Thai restaurant in nearby Huntingdon…the smell of the drains reminded me of Bangkok …which I thought may give material for a future submission….unfortunately it did not.

The second week Nat accompanied me to Cambridgeshire and I found a pub with clean comfortable rooms close to the plant. The town of St Neots is a pleasant market town on the river Ouse. It has a nice market square in the town centre with a variety of pubs and restaurants. Nat charmed everyone she met particularly the guys at the plant when I took her in one day. We even found a few Thai people for her to converse with. She was quite taken with the town and declared if things worked out she could happily settle there.

However a disturbing trend began when we returned to the flat in Wednesbury. Although we were still intimate she stopped sleeping with me, allegedly because of my snoring. She then took to spending all night on the internet till the early hours and sleeping all day. She also had the annoying habit that if we disagreed she would feign illness and take to her bed.

It was clear I still had major issues with her but the principle one remained money. Not only did she have substantial debts she now had the admirable but unrealistic desire to put her son through university in Bangkok.

My cupboard was bare, so time for setting some boundaries. I was happy to house, feed, clothe and keep her entertained whilst she lived with me. I was also prepared to give her a reasonable allowance to waste as her heart desired. I was not however prepared to fund the Thai national debt. Having already been cleaned out, if she wanted to finance her capricious desires she would have to dispose of some of her not insignificant assets in Thailand (she has three cars for example) <That is fxxxing ridiculousStick> or get a job. I was sympathetic and suggested if she got a job locally or in St Neots she could keep all she earned to do as she wished and I would continue to pay all our living costs. She agreed.

In assisting her search for a job I phoned around every nursing home, restaurant, and hotel and catering establishment in the West Midlands and chased every position I saw in the local newspapers.

Back in Cambridgeshire we approached the Thai friends she had made at the Thai restaurant in the town. They recommended the hotel on the large local golf complex. They worked there themselves on occasions and they always wanted chambermaids and kitchen staff. They did question why the wife of a distinguished sen yai farang engineer needed such a lowly job which appeared to cause her some discomfort and loss of face.

Red flags waving

The third week she decided not to come to Cambridgeshire with me, choosing to stay in Wednesbury till my return the weekend. My mother lived nearby so I knew she would not be totally alone. It was on the Thursday when I phoned her that she dropped a bombshell on me that had the red flags waving.

She told me she had found a job working for a Thai restaurant in West London. She had found it on the internet and when she applied it transpired the owner came from Nongkhai and knew her father’s family. I hadn’t left her much money that week so I asked when she was going. She then informed me she was leaving for London by coach on Friday morning to start work that weekend. She also asked I arrange a bank account for her and top up her mobile phone. I was somewhat peeved (British understatement) at the news she was going away, that she was going so quickly and that it was done without any discussion.

On Friday afternoon she phoned me to let me know she had arrived safely and was sharing a room above the restaurant with two other Thai girls. To compound my anguish she mentioned she was also being taught therapeutic Thai massage in the adjacent establishment her employer also owned.

I knew I could not begin to even try and explain that to my family and friends.

I returned to the West Midlands on Friday evening to an empty flat and a profound disappointment. I was certainly annoyed; however I am a reasonable chap and recognised my misgivings may have been influenced by a thousand Stickman stories which I perhaps needed to temper. Time for rational analysis and some quiet reflection on my current situation.

Nat comes from a good background; her family are respectable decent people. Using the UK social grade definitions they would be C1 (lower middle class). The family business interests include commercial haulage and a small factory. Nat was involved in property development but also had certificates as a Thai chef. Her mother is a teacher and was educated by Catholic missionaries. Her grandmother claimed to be descended from the ousted Laos royal family; a sort of Asian Anastasia. Her father was a respected National Muang Thai champion; an Isaan Henry Cooper.

Nat and I had been friends for some years; I had no reason to believe her affection for me was not totally genuine.

She was taking responsibility for her money problems which is to be applauded. Her place of work is a respectable establishment and she was amongst her own people. I rationalised that currently I could not support her debts so this was a sensible alternative. If the arrangement was reasonably short term I must accept it. If the job in St Neots worked out I could get a property there. London was only an hour or so away by train, we could get together at weekends. Yes it could work; I was willing to give it a go.

The truth was I could not imagine the future without her. If I lost her the alternatives were too painful to contemplate. I knew I would face a lonely future. A chap like me is effectively written off by western women. Asian women living in the west are equally as discriminating. Time was running out for a return to Thailand to search for a new soulmate and I had neither the resources nor enthusiasm to start the process again. Although a return to the mongering life had its attractions I knew this was not the answer for me.

So I gritted my teeth, girded my loins, returned the nose to the grindstone and threw my energies into my new job. The company produced prototypes for the automotive, motorsport and defence markets. The quality of the product was amongst the best I have seen. The offices and facilities were very impressive and commensurate with the image required by the markets they served. Unfortunately it was superficial; mostly “fur coat and no knickers”. Years of poor investment decisions had left the key foundry operation seriously under resourced. The low productivity resulted in a lack of competitiveness which yielded a diminishing order book that was currently half of previous years’ activity. I quickly created a business model, prepared a modest investment plan to raise productivity and competitiveness with short payback periods. I quoted very keen prices in an attempt to attract business and regenerated interest with the main players in the industry. I had the support of the workforce. I knew my plan would work… it just needed a little time.

Amongst many visits from the Automotive OEMs we had one from Lotus and Proton…one of the Proton engineers was a very toothsome little Malaysian girl….it almost had me yearning for a return to SE Asia and the mongering life.

Daily contact with Nat became a routine of her not answering my calls as she was either working every available hour or sleeping. But she would “ding” me at some point most days when she was available to talk, and I was to immediately call her back. It was four weeks before I finally persuaded her to see me on her rare day off. She agreed to come after she had finished work at 9.00pm but needed to return before 9.00pm the following evening. I booked her on a National Express coach from London and collected her at midnight from Cambridge coach station. I saw her face and all my doubts evaporated.

Predictably she is too tired for any intimacy and fell asleep immediately we get to my room. She is still asleep at 0800 so I leave for work as I guess she would sleep until midday. I left her £50 and later that afternoon got a call to collect her from the Tesco supermarket. I took her into the plant where she enchanted the guys from the foundry by making sushi for them in the canteen.

I was so happy to see her but my misgivings were beginning to grow. We had dinner in a small pub I frequent and she demolished a 16 oz steak as if she had not eaten for days. The drive back to Cambridge should have given the opportunity for a pleasant chat but talk of money predominated. She asked me for £1000 so she didn’t have to worry about sending money home that month. I told her I could not; she had already had every penny of my savings. That morning I had given her my last £50 which now put me at the limit of my allowed bank overdraft. I was more interested in when I would see her again. She explained she was so busy she was not sure when she could, maybe in a month's time she offered. When pressed how long she thought this situation was likely to continue, “Until I have paid my debts my love, maybe two or three years” was her response. When her coach departed to London my mind was in turmoil. <You'd already given her WAY too much leeway up until this point but surely, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Sticking at it beyond this point, at least without a long talk and a plan laid out, would appear, with the benefit of hindsight, pure foolishnessStick>

I had the dreadful realisation that I could no longer afford my own wife.

Is that a train I hear coming

Forgive the Star Trek allusion I have used before. When you get involved with a Thai girl you think you have fallen in love with an exotic feminine Bajoran woman but invariably you wake up and find you have wed a Ferighee instead.

Money is absolutely everything, far more important than a mere husband.

The red flags were waving furiously and the runaway train was relentlessly approaching. Did she come back to the UK for me, or, (as has been suggested by more than one of my concerned friends) just to get a job in London. Despite the almost daily affirmations of her love and how much she is missing me, she appears relatively content working in London and being with other Thais. My offers to visit her in London are consistently declined.

Despite my concerns I remain certain she does love me but her debt and aspiration to send her son to university totally dominate her thoughts and actions above all other considerations. She moved to London and gave no thought to consequence or implication of immigration bureaucracy and apparently never gave much consideration for my feelings. “But I am working” is her reflex response to my requests to see her and “You understand me all thing my love” the panacea for all my concerns.

Nat was not a bar girl but like many respectable Isaan girls knows enough about bar girl culture from childhood friends and neighbours in her village. She has an anecdotal knowledge of almost every bar girl vagary and scam found in the annals of the Stickman submissions, from multiple sponsors to leaving farang husbands for a better offer.

The latter issue is a big concern. I am afraid she will eventually catch the attention of some guy in London who can offer her the financial package she needs. She is not a classic Thai beauty; she is in her mid 30s and quite plump and matronly now. She would probably never invoke any interest amongst the mongering fraternity or western guys living in the kingdom where exceptional beauty is commonplace. But she is sweet and charming and compared to the uncouth specimens most English guys endure she would be considered exotic and quite a catch to a lonely fellow of a certain age.

Nat gets very angry with me about this. She maintains I have nothing to fear in this regard asserting “a single hand clapping makes no sound”.

I had great plans and dreams for our life together. I did not bring her to the UK so she could work 100 miles away leaving me alone and only seeing her on rare occasions. I certainly did not plan for her to be even peripherally involved with a massage establishment no matter how respectable or “hi-so” it purports to be. I am perturbed that she is under the influence of other Thais and listening exclusively to their “advice “without a balancing view.

With the long hours she is prepared to work she is making more money in London than she could back in Thailand. This would not have been possible without my spouse visa. Being very selfish and immature I feel the relationship at the moment is very one sided. I am getting very little from it.

What disconcerts me is the care and due diligence I took before getting married. I had met many suitable and eligible Thai ladies and spent a year contemplating my options before finally committing to my Nat. After almost five years I felt we understood each other well. She fully understood my financial situation and her apparent self sufficiency was an obvious attraction.

All I wanted was someone to love and care for me. In return I offered a life in the UK, a pleasant apartment in a good area, a wide social circle and the security of supportive family and friends. I am not wealthy but I could offer a comfortable life. I am a professional man, a decent bloke, affectionate, attentive, quite entertaining and easy to live with. I imagine there would be Thai women who would have been quite content with the life I offered.

Much as I love Nat to distraction on current form I appear to have not made a particularly good choice. The scale of her debts and her aspirations were never disclosed before we married. For all her many virtues I can not feel responsible for providing her mother with a mansion that would shame a Virginian plantation owner or pay for a university education for her son that my own boys would never expect me to bestow upon them.

As one of my less tactful pals asserted for what she has cost me I could have bought a young and pretty one back to the UK. All things considered I may not have been any worse off with a freelancer from the Nana car park.

I had wagered all on a single throw of the dice that was yet to land.

I don’t remember killing two albatrosses

There is never a situation so bad or a feeling of despair so deep that can not be made infinitely worse by events beyond your control. The following week my boss came to see me informing me he intended closing the plant at St Neots by the end of March. Although he was impressed I had begun to stem the losses it was not enough. He claimed he had lost £600K since he acquired the business eight months earlier so decided to cut his losses and close the operation. I am disappointed as I had only been there 9 weeks which is hardly any time to make an impact. I am certain he had already made the decision to close the operation before he had actually engaged me. The barbarians are definitely at the gate for anyone involved in UK manufacturing.

He intended to vacate the site within two weeks which was in my view indecent haste, scarcely legal and certainly immoral. His principle motivation being to minimise his personal liabilities and avoid having to pay £40k rent to the landlord (the previous owner he bought the business from) for the next quarter. It was like a smash and grab raid, I warned him of the legal implication but he was adamant. He promised to pay me up to Easter but he could not promise me further employment after I had closed the plant for him. He insisted I work my notice at his other foundry in Wiltshire showing them how to make the business he would transfer from the St Neots plant.

Closing the plant was a daunting task, handling redundancies is never pleasant no matter how many times I have done it. Working in the depths of Wiltshire in the role he required was a prospect that did not excite either. But I would have to grin and bear it until I could find gainful employment elsewhere.

I am so unlucky fortune tellers shun me, beggars and dogs avoid me in the street. If I were thrown in a bath full of tits I would come up sucking my thumb.

A little diversion

I liked St Neots, the town has a few good pubs and I can usually get a conversation with someone in those I frequent. On Monday night I ventured into town to a pub I know to see the West Ham v West Bromwich Albion game. It is a staunch West Ham pub but the locals accept me as the solitary baggies fan in the town. It was not a particularly good game; the Albion held their own against an ineffective Hammers side but lacked the wherewithal to stick the ball in the net. Relegation from the Premier League looms with an increasing certainty.

However during the first half two Asian girls came in to the pub, one a short chubby Thai girl with a Buriram nose, the other a rather statuesque and classy looking Chinese lady. The Thai girl proceeded to pump coins into some mindless games machine whilst the Chinese lovely sat at a nearby table demure and inscrutable. With more important matters afoot (i.e. the football) I did not give them too much thought. However I could not fail to notice the Chinese lass surreptitiously giving me the eye every time I glanced in her direction. Now there were 20 or so chaps in the bar most of them younger, and significantly more handsome than me, so why did she single me out for attention? I do have a theory on this. I think Asian woman can instantly recognize the western guys who have caught jasmine fever and prefer Asian females over western women… They just know!

At half time I went outside for a smoke (In the absence of Bovril and a meat pie) and surprisingly the two Asian ladies followed me out. Never one to miss an opportunity I introduced myself and engaged them in conversation. The Thai girl had been married to an English guy for some years. She had met him in the Nana Hotel and he was currently at home looking after their baby. The Chinese lady was a different proposition; it transpired she had met her English husband whilst they were working in Dubai. He brought her to the UK some 18 months ago but within 3 months of settling here died of a heart attack leaving her a grieving widow at the tender age of 40.

Cigarette extinguished I returned to the bar to watch the second half of the game promising to continue our conversation at the final whistle.

Now as a rule Chinese birds with their cadaver complexions and flat faces don’t do it for me but I am led to believe the Chinese we see in UK are from Hong Kong and the southern part of China which is famed for the ugliness of its womanhood. This lady was a different kettle of fish and quite stunning. She informed me she hailed originally from Beijing.

At the end of the game I joined her at her table where she continued to demurely sit whilst her Thai friend relentlessly fed coins to the machine like giving strawberries to a donkey. This Chinese lady had long silky black hair which framed an exquisite face with unblemished almond skin. She reminded me of an oriental Amanda Redman (which English guys of a certain age will understand). Although a little overblown she had a well proportioned figure and a shapely pair of breasts. I imagine she was a rare beauty in her youth.

Her English was not too good but I can manage to communicate with most foreign women. We made a date and I took her out to dinner the next evening. She was lovely, well-dressed and exuded class. She made a real effort and was good company. She explained that her English skills had deteriorated through lack of practice and was pleased that I took the time to try and understand her.

As a true gentleman I did not press my attention and took her out again the following evening. Her English was clearly improving and she opened up a little about her widowhood. She explained that she did not feel ready for a “relationship”. In my experience this is the signal she was becoming overdue for a good servicing. At the end of the evening she kissed me on the cheek proclaiming I was a lovely man and a real gentleman.

Although I was in St Neots working over the weekend (preparing for the closure) she was also working and unavailable so we made a date instead for the following Monday. I was not sure where this was going but I was enjoying her company. She had definitely cheered me up and had broken the tedium inherent with working away alone in a strange town.

I could feel guilty being a married man but my intentions were innocent. I had not seen my Nat for a few weeks and was feeling somewhat neglected. She had not contacted me (or answered my calls) for several days. Ironically whilst I was with my Chinese lady she gave me a call because she wanted to talk about money, specifically her son’s university fees. However I believe women have a sixth sense about when a bloke is about to stray… They just know!

We went out on Monday which was to be my last evening in the town. We had a pleasant dinner in a Chinese restaurant and she was a delightful companion. She even joked about her lengthy sexual abstinence claiming it had probably healed up by now. I enquired when she thought she would feel ready. Interestingly she replied she was unsure, maybe next year, next month or even next week. We said our goodbyes and wished each other well.

On the Tuesday the final closure of the plant was announced and I had to deal with an angry workforce, bewildered customers and irate suppliers. By lunchtime I was frazzled. To compound things my boss phoned me explaining he had problems with the company liquidators and asked me to stay another evening and perform the hand over to them the next day.

I phoned my Beijing beauty, told her I was staying a further night and asked if she would join me for dinner. She agreed with an unexpected enthusiasm. I took her to my local pub where the food is home cooked, and good value. She was relaxed and somewhat flirty and when I asked if she wanted to see my room next door she agreed with little hesitation. I gently cajole her and once I had fastened my lips on her nipple it expanded like the proverbial chapel hat peg. Clearly aroused her “I go take shower” was an obvious indication of her intentions. Disappointingly I did not have a West Bromwich Albion shirt (small youth size) with me on this occasion. Once in bed I could not fail to admire her pale flawless skin, soft pliant flesh and neatly shaven quim. I am a gifted and cunning linguist and in next to no time she was as moist as a mermaid’s mudgeon and panting for a portion.

Unfortunately at that moment I was serving boneless pork. It is a thing that can happen to all men at sometime and you know there is nothing you can do about it at that immediate moment. Lollipop sticks and elastic bands present problems of logistics. You know your assertion that “it’s the first time this has happened to me” will cut no ice. I could write a whole dissertation on the possible reasons for my temporary Ascension Deficit Disorder, I was not in the best of health; I have been overworking, feeling stressed or it could even be guilt. She was gracious but clearly disappointed. She understandably did not want to spend the night with me so I took her home. Shame really, she was lovely. But maybe it was for the best. Does intention alone constitute adultery or does a physical insertion have to occur?

Stiff upper lip old chap

On the Wednesday morning I meet with the agents of the liquidators. They were ill-prepared and it took me until lunchtime to get them organised. I went through the formalities and handed over the keys which discharged my responsibilities. By 3.00 pm I was on the road back to Wednesbury. At 11 weeks it was the shortest job I have ever had. It was sad because it represented a lost opportunity and the loss of another unique manufacturing facility for UK PLC. If Britain decides to declare war on the French, (which is long overdue …only joking) we will no longer have the factories to manufacture the arms and equipment. We will have to buy them from China or India which is a sad indictment on what the politicians and bankers have done to our once proud nation.

I travelled to Wiltshire to work the final two weeks of my contract. It was not a pleasant experience; the town it is located in is quite lively and had the potential for gentle mischief but the foundry itself was a dump. The owner is so distrustful and parsimonious it is rumored that when he puts his false teeth in the tumbler at night he also puts in his hearing aid to ensure they are not talking about him. The office was staffed by mean spirited harridans with strident feminist opinions whilst the mostly Polish workforce was apathetic and clearly dispirited. The guesthouse in which l stayed was reminiscent of the 60’s sitcom Rising Damp with the proprietor a ringer for “Rigsby”.

It was all terribly disheartening.

This weekend I have returned to the flat in Wednesbury. Three months of having to travel some distance to work, living in digs and delays in expenses being paid has put me in debt again, I am glad it is over. I am feeling somewhat under the weather, in intense pain from a trapped nerve in my back which I hope a few days' rest will put right.

I catch my reflection in the mirror; the look on my face could best be described as one of a patient endurance unlit by hope. I suddenly feel very old.

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary and Nat has not answered any of my calls. In the 365 days we have been married we have spent a total of 75 days together. With Easter imminent I have no idea when or if she will come and spend some time with me. I suspect she is “shy” (embarrassed) to face my family and friends. She has informed me within the next week or so she is going back to Thailand for a couple of months.

With the best will in the world the current situation is unsatisfactory. I am finding it increasingly difficult to explain away her absence to my friends and family. I sense I am slowly becoming an object of pity to my friends and the subject of ridicule by others.

Things could be worse I suppose. Or maybe I am just fooling myself.

I would like to think we will get through the current difficulty. I still see a good future for us and can envisage us growing old together. I have had a moan now but I am a realist and despite my protestations I know I will continue to live with the situation… at least for the moment. I will give her a year to earn enough money to satisfy her needs. I can suspend my hopes for a year; we are hopefully in this relationship for the long haul.

However at the end of that time I will draw the line, she must return to live with me or at least make significant concessions about the time she spends with me …or maybe we say goodbye. I am a reasonable chap but I am not a total wimp.

Best foot forward

Finding a job is my current priority. I have had an approach from a fellow who owns a specialist operation in Wolverhampton. He is somewhat of a legend in the industry, now in his 70’s and wants to retire and leave the business to his son. His son is a good chap and decent businessman but knows nothing about the foundry which is the key to the venture. They need a bloke like me to run the foundry. The job is probably only for six months but it is a good opportunity as I know just a few months would sort out my finances.

I have also been approached to apply for a job running a large foundry in the UAE in the Gulf. I don’t particularly relish working in an Arab country at present and it has been a few years since I did an overseas posting but it may solve a few of my problems. The competition for this position will be intense but I have been informed by the recruitment headhunter that my application had been well-received and I am apparently on the shortlist for an interview. A tax free expat package for a couple of years could quickly clear my finances and Nat’s debt. The UAE is also half way to Thailand which creates its own attraction and opportunity.

When I married I thought my sojourns to the salacious sois of Sukhumvit were a thing of the past. The past month I increasingly find my thoughts returning to them. Not so much for the sex mongering but I desperately need a holiday and a week in Blackpool or Benidorm will not suffice. What I need is to return to MY village of Sukhumvit and spend some time in the company of my old pals Phil and Union Hill. A few evenings with them in the Tilac or Long Gun on Soi Cowboy would quickly put me right. If things go to plan and I am not profligate with my spending I could save a grand in the next few months.

The sixty four thousand dollar question is, should I give that last £1000 to my Nat and the black hole her need for money represents or should I buy a ticket on the big bird to Bangkok and 10 days in the Nana Hotel… answers on a postcard please.

Stickman's thoughts:

You've had a really rough time of it, about that there is no doubt. The job situation was beyond your control. The situation with Nat perhaps wasn't entirely…

This isn't a site about jobs in the West so we'll leave that part out. From what you have said – and you're one poster who I believe is totally straight up and whose words we really can take as absolute – then it is my opinion that Nat has been a poor wife and has used you. You could argue that she has hardly been a wife at all, but has merely used you for her convenience. The amount of money you have invested, the time, the emotional cost has all been lost on her. I'm sorry to say this about your wife, but from what you have told us I see a conniving, manipulative and cold-hearted woman who is in this marriage almost entirely for HERSELF. One of the major tell-tale signs was that she has three cars in Thailand but refuses to offload one (or all) to satisfy her financial liabilities. But then you have to ask yourself, how much of a problem are the financial problems she has in terms of the big picture. I guess that we will never know.

As an aside, did you know that when you get married in Thailand each partner has to declare their financial liabilities and any debts and money owed? I wonder if she did that. It's worth noting this because if things go bang and she tries to divorce you and makes a grab for 50% of your assets then it is my understanding that you could look into getting the marriage annulled based on her failure to disclose information that was material to what then became marital problems.

I am being more direct than I am comfortable with here. I would cut her free. I really would.

This really was an excellent submission. You have my deepest sympathies at what has happened.

nana plaza