Martyn loaded Championship Manager on to his computer; he was inquisitive about the infamous PC football management game alleged to be so addictive. He quickly found it was. Within a few hours of launching it he found he was hooked and pretty soon he
was spending an inordinate amount of time playing it. Well at least it kept him off the pornographic sites which up to now had absorbed his time and required the purchase of a left handed mouse. He had already developed “porn blindness”;
the condition when the senses become jaded and one begins searching for obscure sites and subjects to titillate the tired palate. He realised when the sites included priapic Japanese dwarfs and clinically obese women it was time to call a
halt. However addictive championship manager was proving to be, it had to be preferable to that.
His late night vigil of the internet had begun a few months ago and was the result of his wife’s unilateral decision to stop having sex with him. For some time he had endured the irritation of his wife ignoring his amorous advances. After six months his irritation had turned into incandescent anger. Her refusal to discuss the issue merely heightened his annoyance. Every night at 10:00, his usual bedtime, rather than suffer the frustration of lying in bed next to a woman who had withdrawn her conjugal attentions he sought solace in late night computer sessions which would deaden the pain until totally exhausted when he would climb into bed and fall immediately to sleep.
On the game he managed his local football team and in cyber space had managed them for 10 seasons which in real time was two months. He had started well and enjoyed enough success in his first season to initiate an addiction. The subsequent seasons however, as in life he had not seen much success. No matter how hard he tried with tactics, player purchases or team formations he could not advance his team’s achievements. In fact they were now floundering at the foot of the bottom division with little chance of improving. It was as if the programmers who formulated the game knew that his team was inherently useless in real life and this was programmed into the algorithm and codes of the game. The pleasure he was getting was not worth the time and effort he was putting in. He was now as equally frustrated with the game as he was with his wife.
The little voice told him that it was time to delete the game and find another, maybe more productive interest. It had served its purpose.
Sometimes you just have to let go…
It was almost 12 months since he had been appointed managing director of a small family business in the north east midlands. He had been engaged on the instruction of the banks who funded the business. The owner of the company had wrested control from his partner 8 years ago by a series of barely legal measures all of a dubious morality. He had proceeded to milk the business ever since.
After three years of losses the bank had insisted on an outsider being appointed before they would continue to fund the operation. The alternative was to liquidate the business. For the first three months the owner had kept his word and kept his nose out of the business. Martyn has successfully negotiated funding arrangements and a decent line of credit. The operation was potentially sound with a skilled workforce and a loyal customer base which the owner had all but destroyed with his greed. Martyn saw his first job was to reinstate the trust of the workforce which he quickly achieved by honest communication and introduction of incentives.
Martyn’s wife had refused to move more than 100 yards away from her mother and as the company was 100 miles away he was living alone in digs. With no social life he had plenty of time on his hands to concentrate on the business. In the first month he joined the local business networks and visited all the customers establishing their grumbles and needs. The plant had two production units and by a series of simple measures he improved the productivity of the one unit so it could produce the majority of the business. This allowed him to remarket the output of the second unit. Seeing the leaden hand of the owner removed from the management of the operation, the customers responded by increasing their business with the company.
Within 6 months the business had turned around and was making decent profits. The incentive schemes meant the workforce was sharing in the success and the banks were delighted that the business was no longer hemorrhaging cash.
With this new success unfortunately the owner took interest again. A naturally obnoxious character his influence had an immediate and deleterious effect on the business. His wife appeared on the payroll and his daughter closed her hairdressing salon and joined the company as financial controller. They felt it their principle duty to keep control of Martyn’s expenditure and modest expenses. These staff additions were closely followed by the daughter’s husband who identified being sales director (and golf professional) for the company preferable to his career as an estate agent. This interference in the business was unconstructive, unwanted and as much use to Martyn as a piano would be to Anna Franck. After two months the company was once again losing customers and money. At an acrimonious board meeting the owner appointed himself Company Chairman and assailed Martyn about costs and overheads. Martyn countered that most of the company’s excessive overhead sat around the owner’s dining room table for Sunday dinner.
Martyn had his epiphany; the chairman was a good case for compulsory euthanasia and he saw the company was a lost cause. Living away from his family, the expense of keeping two households left him with no money for any social life; Martyn felt his situation unendurable and his prospects limited. The little voice told him it was time to resign and return home. His own voice said “Ok pay me up and I will leave tomorrow”.
Sometimes you just have to let go…
Every night as soon as he walked through the door his wife picked a fight with him. His life had taken on the characteristics of a soap opera and for some reason his wife had adopted the role of the perpetually disappointed woman. She had spent almost 20 years changing him into something she now no longer wanted. She had her children and it seemed once the seed is planted she could dispose of the packet they came in. He could not understand her disaffection, he had provided everything she asked for even the four bedroom detached house on the estate near her parents that she had so coveted. It was becoming increasingly difficult to satisfy the voracious appetite of his wife for keeping up with Jones’s and his children’s need for the latest electronic device. He was considered little more than a beast of burden.
In addition to the long hours he worked in his management job Martyn had begun teaching two nights a week at the local community college to make ends meet. He was constantly exhausted.
For the past few months the argument always ended with her asking him for a divorce which he refused. Their boys were young teenagers at a critical stage and he felt splitting up would have a terrible affect on them.
Tonight she had dispensed with the usual preamble of an argument and went direct to “I want a divorce” as soon as he passed the threshold. Tonight he had had enough; he could fight it no longer. He bowed to the inevitable. The little voice told him she doesn’t want you anymore, you can do no more to please her. His own voice said “Ok you can have your divorce”.
Sometimes you just have to let go…
It had been a year since his divorce, in that year he realised the world had altered. Completely bemused by the change in British womanhood and being totally invisible to them, he had succumbed to advice and took a holiday in Thailand in November 2003. It restored his spirit and probably saved his sanity, it also began a compulsion with the Thailand scene and he made nine visits in the subsequent five years. These Siamese sojourns became the only source of female affection and attention he received. A sex tourist was born.
His body lived in England but his mind and spirit had taken permanent residence on the Sukhumvit road. What had begun as an innocent curiosity had become an unhealthy infatuation of monumental proportions. When he turned on his computer to access his email, 8 out of 10 of the daily items of correspondence were from Thailand. Of the 8 Internet sites bookmarked as favourites, 6 were Thailand related and the only dating site he subscribed to was ThaiLoveLinks. His larder was full of Thai food and a bottle of Nam Pla the most used condiment in his kitchen. His bookcase contained the writings of Stephen Leather, Jake Needham, John Burdett, Dean Barrett and Christopher Moore.
He checked Stickman every day, read most of the submissions and exchanged correspondence with some of the authors. Thailand and those enchanting Thai women was the only topic of conversation that commanded his attention or interest. He felt he was wasting precious time living in the UK. Every moment not spent in the kingdom in the arms of a soft skinned beauty was valuable time lost. Christopher Moore referred to the infatuation with the Sukhumvit bar scene as the “Sickness”. Korski’s contention that it was a clinical condition was probably nearer the mark.
Martyn had recently lost out on a lucrative new job because of his reluctance to compromise on holiday arrangements. His aspiration to make three or more visits a year to the kingdom was becoming a serious impediment. Old friends shunned his company, drunks and dogs avoided him in the street. The little voice in his head told him this obsession was affecting his life. He had become a Bangkok bore. It was time to return some balance in his existence.
Sometimes you just have to let go…
The year had started fine and the company was doing well. He had been with them almost three years, his position was secure and he had just pocketed a nice bonus. For the first time in the six years since his divorce, Martyn finally felt optimistic about the future. He had married the Thai lady he had spent five years developing a relationship with and bought her to the UK.
The initial months were idyllic, maybe the happiest of his life. He had furnished a pleasant apartment which she loved. She settled quickly and was made welcome by everyone in his family and wide circle of friends. She charmed everyone she met. He felt great pride in her and his heart would sing every time he looked at her. The first few months in the UK together were wonderful.
Then Recession; the fifth horseman of the apocalypse descended on the land and Martyn lost his job. This provoked an admission from his wife that she had very big debts in Thailand and desperately needed an alternative income. Within a few weeks she informed him she was leaving to work in London. He was not there to see her go.
She was sharing a room above a restaurant with two other Thai girls and with working long hours she was making more money in London than she ever could back in Thailand. It was several weeks before he persuaded her to see him on her day off. He collected her from the coach station. He was happy to see her and they spent a pleasant day together. When he deposited her on the coach to return to London he asked how long she thought this situation was likely to continue, “Until I have paid my debts, maybe two or three years” was her response. He grasped that he no longer figured in her plans; she had no interest in him, money was her top priority.
The following month her contact with him slowly reduced and she rarely answered his phone calls. He had the dreadful realisation that she probably only married him so she could come to the UK to get a job in London. He had almost certainly lost her already.
He had 5 years of emotional investment in the girl to say nothing of the financial cost of bringing her to the UK. She was his last gamble for happiness and he had lost.
He finally got the message when he asked her if she would return to him once her debts were sorted….the pregnant pause that resulted articulated far more than a thousand words ever could. Her eventual reply "but you can not support me" was sufficient confirmation that he had lost her.
The scales were finally lifted from his eyes. The little voice in his head told him he had been merely fooling himself. She had been slowly draining his spirit. It was now time to forget her and move on.
Sometimes you just have to let go…
The recession became a depression and Martyn having lost 4 jobs in six months bowed to the inevitable and signed on the dole. After a further six months unemployed he found trying to maintain any feeling of self worth was hard. Getting up in the mornings was also becoming increasingly difficult.
He checked his post, amongst the ubiquitous junk mail and adverts for pizza deliveries there was a flyer advertising a psychic convention at a local pub. Amongst the list of tarot readers, crystal healers, clairvoyants and assorted shamans he noticed the name of “Earnest Ernie”. Martyn knew Ernie, having worked with him at a local factory some 15 years earlier. If his memory was correct it was he who gave him his Earnest nickname. In the subsequent years Ernie had given Martyn a couple of tarot readings and had been alarmingly accurate in his assessment of Martyn’s situation on those occasions. Martyn felt Ernie was a decent chap with a genuine gift. The convention was that evening so Martyn decided to go and have a look.
The pub had arranged tables around the room for the psychics to ply their trade. The pub was surprisingly busy with all the tables occupied and people waiting patiently for their consultation. Martyn signed the book for a session with Ernie and ordered a pint whilst he waited. Two pints later his turn came and he took his seat opposite Ernie’s table. Ernie was pleased to see his old friend but was quietly shocked to see how gaunt he looked. Martyn handed over £20, shuffled the tarot deck and passed it to Ernie, who proceeded to deal the cards on to the table. Ernie explained the significance of each card as he placed them in a row.
The first cards confirmed the miserable mess his life had been of late. The next five continued the sorry tale and prompted Martyn to exclaim “Bugger me Ernie, just how many you are a sad old tosser cards are there in a tarot deck? Ernie smiled and replied “it certainly appears that you have been through the mill old mate”. In fact it was not until almost the last card was there any indication of hope. “This card means the worst is over” explained Ernie. “Maybe I should have a look at the crystal ball”.
He pulled a small glass ball from his bag under the table and stared at it intently. Martyn could not fail to notice the look of alarm on Ernie’s face. “I can not see anything in the ball” he exclaimed “I have never had this before. I can see nothing in the future …absolutely nothing”. Martyn felt a wave of anguish overwhelm him and in desperate need for some fresh air made his way to the exit.
It was a warm night and he walked around the car park for some time, his mind in turmoil. He was drawn to the old bridge at the edge of the car park. The bridge was of substantial construction and carried a footpath over the railway to the nearby housing estate. A part of the fence was missing so he stepped through, leaned against a horizontal girder on the bridge structure and lit a cigarette. He could not remember ever feeling so despondent. He had failed as a husband (twice) <No, you did NOT fail as a husband, at least the second time around. You were let down by a woman who had an agenda and did not marry you in good faith – Stick>, failed as a father and he did not have the money for the bills this month. He had been unemployed for six months and most likely he was now on the proverbial scrap heap. At that moment he could not see a future, a situation he had just seen confirmed by Ernie’s crystal ball. He looked down at the railway line some 40 foot beneath him. The little voice in his head told him he only needed to take 5 steps then he would plunge into the abyss and his torment would be ended. He took one tentative step forward.
Sometimes you just have to …whoosh… the rush of the Manchester to London express train thundered under the bridge. The noise startled him causing him to step back in a reflex action, in doing so caught his head on the girder with a loud resounding crack. The last thing he remembered was falling backwards on to a grass verge before he lost consciousness.
Martyn woke up in a hospital bed, his head lightly bandaged. His two sons were sitting patiently at the bedside. His youngest spoke first “Jeez Dad you gave us a scare”. He continued” According to the police, you were spotted by the landlord of the pub when he took his dog for a walk early this morning, he found you lying unconscious on the grass verge near the railway bridge and called for the ambulance.”
“You must have had quite a bump. The doc says you have concussion but will be up and about in a couple of days”. His eldest son was reading a copy of the local morning paper when something caught his attention “Hey Dad there’s a story here, it says Ernest Hampton a well known clairvoyant died last night. Apparently he tripped on the platform at the local railway station returning home from a mediums convention and was hit by the London to Manchester express train. He was killed instantly”.
He didn’t see that coming was the obvious riposte and his eldest son did not fail to make it.
The younger brother interjected “Isn’t that Earnest Ernie, the bloke you know?” Martyn nodded weakly. Poor old Ernie he thought, no wonder he could not see a future in his crystal ball.
“Oh by the way we have been round your flat. There was only one letter” and handed it to his father. Martyn opened it. It was a note from national savings; he had won a prize in the premium bond draw. A cheque for £1000 was enclosed. Martyn’s spirit immediately lifted. It wouldn’t change the world but would come in very useful indeed.
A nurse appears to check on him. Martyn is thrilled to sees she is Asian. She is actually Philippine slightly chubby, early forties with a pretty face. He flashes his most engaging smile and receives a shy coquettish grin in return. He is constantly amazed that Asian women can always recognise the men with jasmine fever, a penchant for Asian ladies…they just know. She spends an inordinate time plumping his pillows and lot more time making him comfortable than was necessary. Is she is giving subtle signals that she is interested? He sees she has no ring on her finger …maybe just maybe.
Sometimes you just have to let go of letting go…and just give it a go.
Nicely put together.
How much is fact and how much is fiction I ask myself….