Stickman Readers' Submissions May 25th, 2011

Down On The Farm

I first met Duncan 9 years ago when he was a 12-year old schoolboy. His family; mother, father, five brothers and three sisters were all living together in a simple farm labourers’ cottage provided by their employer. Duncan, his parents and his unmarried siblings still live there. Their employer’s farm comprises of some 60 hectares of arable land located deep in the rural English county of Norfolk. The farmer’s main source of income is derived from sugar-beet. He also keeps a few animals – mainly pigs and chickens, to provide food for the table. Any surplus meat and eggs are sold at the local farmers’ market.

Duncan’s family have been farm workers for as long as anyone can remember; contentedly living, working and dying within a few miles of where they were born. Few family members have ever travelled outside the county. Some have never ventured beyond the market town of East Dereham. To the best of my knowledge, none of Duncan’s family has continued in education beyond the earliest permitted school leaving age. Even before completing their compulsory education, most cease attending classes due to other more pressing priorities; namely the care of younger siblings and the opportunity to make money ‘cash in hand’, undertaking casual seasonal work on the farm. My first recollections of Duncan as a 12-year old boy were of him wiping his nose on the back of his sleeve before proudly announcing, “I can’t read and I can’t write, but I can drive a tractor!”

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Duncan’s is one of a number of farms for which I prepare accounts and tax returns. This necessitates me visiting each farm two or three times a year. To be honest, I’m glad to have an excuse to get out the office once in a while. I enjoy making these farm visits. Although usually complaining about something; most commonly that the weather is too hot, cold, dry or wet and invariably that I charge too much and will be the ruin of them, most of my clients within the farming community are friendly and hospitable.

Returning to the farm this spring, the arrival of my car is greeted by a small pack of barking and yapping farmyard dogs. Roused by the din, Duncan strolls across the yard scattering the pack with a couple of well aimed kicks. Duncan escorts me across the yard to the farm office. Normally he is keen to get back to his work, but today he lingers in the office. I sense there is something he wants to tell me. I look up at him and smile. Duncan grins broadly and tells me he has had a bit of good fortune. This turns out to be somewhat of an understatement. Duncan has won second prize in the National Lottery draw, matching five numbers plus the bonus ball. Not only does he now have a bank account, but his new bank account has a credit balance in excess of £150,000.

Duncan asks me whether this means that he can now go on holiday. He has never had a holiday before! I explain that with £150,000 to his name, Duncan can most certainly afford to take a holiday. I then enquire as to where he might like to go. Duncan looks down at the floor and mumbles something about the lads down the pub telling him that a young man with means should visit Pattaya. I smile knowingly, innocently asking whether I might assist him in making the necessary arrangements. Duncan looks relieved and nods vigorously. This is clearly the outcome he was seeking.

Duncan takes a seat opposite me and produces two surprising good quality cigars from his jacket pocket. We puff away contentedly, both choosing to ignore the workplace smoking ban. I take the opportunity to explain the basics of travel; namely airports, hotels and currency exchange. I decide to omit any advice specific to Pattaya – I feel confident that the lads down the pub will tell Duncan everything he needs to know and probably a lot more besides. I then make a few phone calls to arrange flights, transfers and the hotel booking. Within the hour Duncan is all set for the adventure of a lifetime!

Three months later, I make a follow-up visit to Duncan’s farm. I am curious to find out how he got on in Pattaya. Sitting once more in the farm office, Duncan opens his wallet and pulls out a well thumbed photograph. I judge the girl to be around 35 years old. She has long black hair and a hard face. Pat, for that is her name, is wearing a short singlet exposing her bare midriff, tight blue jeans and flip flops. There is an indecipherable tattoo on her left shoulder coupled with what appears to be a large dragon etched on her belly. Duncan says he is in love!

Duncan tells me that he met Pat on the second day of his holiday and for the remaining three weeks they were inseparable. He did meet another girl, Lola, before Pat but apparently things didn’t go well between the two of them. Duncan is surprisingly reticent about Lola, but eventually I coax the story out of him. It transpires that Lola propositioned Duncan whilst he was taking an early evening stroll down Beach Road. Duncan describes Lola as being tall, slender and beautiful. She was also blessed with disproportionately large although perfectly sculpted breasts – perfect! Duncan takes Lola back to his hotel room and they share a couple of beers together on the balcony. One thing leads to another and Lola removes her shorts revealing rather more than Duncan was expecting to see. In a state of shock, Duncan picks Lola up by the scruff of the neck (did I mention that Duncan is six feet two, weighs 200 pounds and is as strong as an ox) and hurls her off the balcony into the swimming pool below. I consider it fortunate that Duncan’s room was on the second rather than the twelfth floor of the hotel! Duncan asks me how Lola could be the way she is. Before I can reply, realisation suddenly dawns. A triumphant smile spreads across Duncan’s face. He tells me that one of the lads down the pub has six fingers. This is because he has two mothers – the mother married to his father and also the sister who gave birth to him. Lola must also have two mothers, only she doesn’t have six fingers – Lola has … I decide not to express an opinion!

Duncan meets Pat in a bar beer. She tells Duncan he is “Handsome Man” and sits down next to him without waiting to be invited. Pat then introduces herself and formally shakes Duncan’s hand. Duncan reciprocates and Pat responds “ah Duncan Donut”. She then asks him “Where you from?” Duncan tells her he is from Norfolk, to which she responds “ah Norway”. “No, Norfolk, England” he corrects her. “You like Man U?” – She asks him, returning to her bargirl script for Englishmen. Realising that Pat is on the wrong side of the bar (i.e. on his side), Duncan asks her whether she is a barmaid. “No, I lady bar”, she responds. “You buy me drink?” The bargirl introduction formalities out of the way, Duncan and Pat settle down to become better acquainted over several games of Connect 4. Duncan loses every game!

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“I work bar only two weeks” Pat states conversationally. Duncan asks whether she has a boyfriend. “I no like Thai man” Pat tells him. “Thai man no good. I want to meet foreigner. Foreigner good man, foreigner kind and treat me like lady. I good girl! I not go with customer, just work bar as hostess. You want to pay bar fine, now?”

Duncan asks Pat what a bar fine is. Pat explains that if she is to leave the bar with him, then Duncan must pay a bar fine to compensate the bar owner for the loss of a hostess. “I not go with customer” Pat says again – if she repeats the same lie enough times then it must be true! “I only go with you. I want to go with you now”. The irony of her statement escapes them both!

The first time Pat tells Duncan she loves him is as they exit the tuktuk together outside his hotel. Pat has noted the contents of his bulging wallet as Duncan searches for a 50 Baht note with which to pay the driver. Duncan still hasn’t received his ATM card from the bank. His wallet contains nearly £2,000, in cash.

Duncan takes Pat up to his room where they shower together before getting down to business. Despite technically still being a virgin, he doesn’t think the adolescent fumbling he once enjoyed with his sister really counts as having had sex, Duncan is confident he knows exactly what to do. Being a country boy he has observed the farmyard animals copulating on many occasions and plans to replicate their technique. Pat tells him the hotel bathroom is very different to what you would expect find in a typical ‘Thai style’ house or apartment. Duncan is curious and asks her to explain further. Pat tells him that her bathroom contains two cold water tanks, a big one and a small one. The larger of the two tanks provides bathing water that may be scooped out using a plastic bowl. The smaller of the two tanks provides water to flush the squat toilet by a similar means. She adds by way of instruction that you should not attempt to flush paper down a squat toilet as this will most likely block it. “No paper” she says, waving her hand from side to side to emphasise the point.

Duncan’s friends down the pub have impressed upon him that when in Pattaya he will need condoms – lots of them. Duncan has forgotten to bring any with him from England, so buys a local brand in Pattaya. With their shower now finished, Duncan and Pat return to the bedroom. Duncan has no previous experience of condom use, so he hands the pack to Pat hoping she will take the lead. Pat appraises Duncan’s fully aroused state doubtfully as she removes a Thai condom from the pack. At school Duncan was nicknamed ‘Donkey’ and this wasn’t solely due to his lack of academic ability! Pat gamely attempts to roll the small condom down Duncan’s penis. This proves to be an impossible task so she discards it. “You much bigger than Thai man! Never mind, I love you, only you, so we Boom Boom – no condom.”

Pat deftly adjusts her position to prevent Duncan plugging himself into her anus, instead gently guiding him towards her sex. Given the earlier problem with the condom, Duncan is surprised at how easily she is able to accommodate him. “Now I understand why so many Thai women don’t like Thai men and why they come to Pattaya hoping to meet a Foreigner”, he thinks to himself.

After making love the first time, Pat disappears back to the bathroom for another shower. Duncan turns on the television. BBC World News is reporting the death of Osama Bin Laden. The news anchorman says that Osama has been buried at sea to avoid establishing a permanent shrine for his followers. Duncan recalls the disappearance of one of his near neighbours some years back. She was a young and attractive pig farmer’s wife who vanished soon after he found out she was seeing other men. The police were unable to bring charges due to lack of evidence – her body was never found! Everyone, including the police, knew that the farmer had killed his wife and fed her body to his pigs. The pigs did their job well leaving no trace of her mortal remains, not even a fragment of bone or a scrap of clothing. Duncan asks me why President Obama hadn’t thought to feed Bin Laden’s body to his pigs. It occurs to me that despite causing worldwide offence within the Muslim community, Obama’s pigs could conceivable have guaranteed him a second term in the White House!

Lying in bed with Pat that night, Duncan is unable to sleep. He keeps revisiting their earlier conversation about her Thai style bathroom. Duncan knows his mother has conservative attitudes and is not afraid to speak her mind. He doesn’t think she will be too impressed if she discovers that his girlfriend does not wipe her bottom. It doesn’t occur to Duncan that his mother is more likely to object to Pat because she is a hardcore whore of some 15 years standing – not least because he doesn’t realise this himself! Although ignorant of Thai customs and practices, he has heard stories of Arabs using only their right hands when they eat because of what they do with their left hands. He assumes that Arabs use only their left hands to clean themselves and have no use for soap and water. Duncan decides he must know the truth before he can allow himself to fall in love with this girl. He devises a cunning plan. Duncan goes to the bathroom to put his plan in place. Pat sleeps on.

The next morning they make love once more. Pat then goes to the bathroom and locks the door. She comes out some 15 or 20 minutes later and switches on the hotel’s hairdryer. Whilst Pat dries her hair, Duncan enters the bathroom. He knows that the future of his relationship rests on what he is about to discover. Duncan first checks the toilet seat. He is relieved to see the imprint of two pert buttocks within the talcum powder he had liberally sprinkled over the seat. He was afraid he would find footprints! So far, so good! He breathes a sigh of relief. Finally, and with some trepidation he checks the toilet paper. This he knows is the clincher! With unbridled joy he observes the number 23 written in his hand on the back of the first sheet of paper protruding from the toilet roll holder. My darling has taken a dump and she has wiped her arse he acknowledges happily!

Whilst Duncan is in the bathroom he hears Pat’s mobile phone ringing. She turns off the hairdryer and answers in English. As he comes out of the bathroom she stops talking and then goes into the bathroom to complete the call. This happens most days they are together in Pattaya, sometimes four or five times a day. During their second week together Duncan asks her about these calls. She explains that her brother Somchai is learning to speak English as he wishes to work in a hotel, either in Bangkok or Pattaya. He calls Pat regularly to practice his English which isn’t yet very good. She has told Somchai she is with her English boyfriend. He is very pleased for her and hopes one day to meet Duncan, once his English is better. Somchai is very shy and will lose face if Duncan overhears his poor English, which he is striving so hard to improve. So, for the sake of her brother Pat has agreed to take his calls in private. She loves Duncan and only Duncan so he must understand – which off course he does!

One morning, just after they have made love, Pat starts to cry. At first she won’t tell Duncan what the matter is, only that she loves him too much. Eventually, through heart wrenching sobs, she tells him that the family buffalo is sick. There is no money to pay the vet and her poor old mother who is also sick worries the buffalo will die. Without the buffalo, Pat’s Isaan family cannot harvest their rice crop and without the rice they will all surely starve. Being a farmer’s boy himself, Duncan fully understands the importance of bringing in the harvest on time. Pat tells him that 25,000 Baht will pay the vet and also buy the medicine needed to fix the buffalo. Following a brief visit to Western Union, Pat is all smiles again. Pat’s smile becomes a broad grin after Duncan drops a further 25,000 Baht at the gold shop.

All too soon it is time for Duncan to return to the UK. Pat accompanies Duncan to the airport and they say their tearful farewells. Duncan gives her his remaining Thai money, about 10,000 Baht, for the taxi fare back to Pattaya. In return, she gives him her mobile phone number and bank account details. Pat promises to call him every day. Duncan promises to send her money every month so she can stop working in the bar, study English and then join him in England as his wife.

As good as her word, Pat calls him every day for the first 10 or so days after he returns to Norfolk. “Teerak, I love you, only you.” Then nothing! Duncan calls her repeatedly. Pat’s phone appears to be permanently switched off. A week later, Pat calls again. “Teerak, I love you, only you.” Pat tells him her phone is very old and hasn’t been working properly. Duncan wires £300 to her bank account so Pat can buy a new state of the art 3G Blackberry. Two weeks later, and again Duncan is unable to contact Pat for several days. This time Pat tells him she went to visit her family in the Isaan and was unable to get a signal.

Our conversation is interrupted by a beep from Duncan’s mobile phone announcing the arrival of a new text message. Duncan passes his phone over to me to read the text. The message is from Pat. Pat’s text message is simple and straight to the point, “Teerak, I am pregnant. You are going to be a father.” Duncan asks me to help him get a visa so Pat can come to England. I decide it is time for me to leave!

Driving back to my office, I ponder Duncan’s dilemma. Duncan is uneducated, unsophisticated and unworldly. It is perhaps unsurprising that he cannot see the elephant in the room. But why I ask myself, do men who are none of these things continually put themselves in exactly the same position following a brief romantic encounter with a Thai bargirl?

Any comments or constructive feedback, particularly with regard to my previous paragraph would be most welcome – Soi Dog.

Stickman's thoughts:

Very nicely put together – and spot on with your closing point!

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