One More Day
I saw an ad on TV last evening and the question posed was “What would you do if you had one more day?”
It started me thinking and I tried to imagine myself in that situation and began to run through all of the options available if faced with that choice. This is really confronting stuff.
When you reach my age there are niggling health issues that make you think about this on a semi-sub-conscious level – it's something we probably all do from time to time. You know – a pain here, a twinge there, that stab that occasionally hits you like a bolt out of the blue, then you think “That's it – it's cancer for sure, or even something worse.” Geez, what the hell could be worse than that (carbuncles on your dick, maybe)? I don't know – but those are some of the thoughts I'm sure some of you are familiar with.
So, what has this to do with Thailand? For me, it has everything to do with Thailand because, if I were placed in that situation, that is the place I would want to be, without a second thought. I would be on the first Thai Airways flight to Bangkok so fast my feet wouldn't touch the ground. I have already made provision, financially, for this eventuality and have left instructions with my former wife Nat, here in Oz and with her Sister Amorn, in Bangkok. If I were to “croak” in Oz, Nat will see to the cremation and fly the ashes over to Amorn for dispersal. If I were to “croak” in Thailand, Amorn will see to the cremation at a Thai Temple and do the dispersal there. Oh, this is a cheery topic, isn't it? I'm really happy with these arrangements.
Getting back to the subject in question though – it is really only relevant if you definitely know you only have 24 hours to go and that you may be reasonably fit enough to move around freely. Of course, there is always the possibility that a grand piano could fall out of an Eva Air 747 freighter and hit you – “fwump” amid a great tinkling and rumbling of broken strings and wood splinters – then it would be curtains, that's it mate, you've had your chips – ta-ta Ted. But we'll imagine you have had due notice and you know there are 24 hours left on your clock – what would you want to do?
I'll run through some of my options – obviously, not everyone will have the same list of choices.
I have a son and a daughter here in Oz, from my first marriage – my son is 42 and we have a fairly normal relationship, considering that he was 12 when I left home. We have kept in touch several times each year at birthdays and Christmas – and we sometimes have a few beers together. I'm still on good terms with his mother. My daughter is 40 and we have not spoken to each other since October 2001. She was unkind to my Thai wife, Nat, and I said to my daughter that I no longer wished to have any contact with her. Several times, since 2007, I have made attempts to mend the fences but there has never been any response from her. That's it – I tried, so it rests in her court. Funny thing is I don't feel any remorse over this or any emotional stress. The bond is not strong enough for me to want to spend my last 24 hours with them.
From my involvement in music, there is a solid circle of musician friends and instrument makers – some of whom I have known for 40 or more years – some for only a short period. The bond there is the love of music and the respect we have for each other from shared experiences. I guess they are friends – or are they just associates/acquaintances? Yeah, I guess they are friends, mostly. Again, I would not choose to spend my last 24 hours with any of them. Bloody hell, that's like some of the old farts I know who socialise with the people with whom they work. No imagination – creatures of habit!
As I've written, in some of the previous subs, there is a wide circle of Thai friends (in Oz and in Thailand) whom I value and regard as good friends – these are the people whom I hang out with mostly and derive a great deal of pleasure in their company. I have had the occasional e-mail from one or two brain-dead boneheads accusing me of trying to be a Thai (obviously, Farang losers in KRUNGTHEP). What a ridiculous idea – that's like trying to magically transmogrify a Blog Troll into a proper person. Just ain't possible – once a Blog Troll, always a Blog Troll. It merely shows how little they know of Thais and only strengthens my belief that there is a certain element who visit LOS with gigantic chips on their shoulders and never will fit in with Thais anywhere (or with anyone anywhere else for that matter) – waste of good oxygen. However, I would be quite happy if I were born a Thai next time (must talk with God about this) – only trouble is, with my karma, I'd probably come back as a Thai flea on the arse of a Thai dog (He's got a kinky sense of humour, has God). Reckon I might have a few mongers on that same dog's arse with me, along with one or two Blog Trolls (please, spare me). Oh, we could have a jolly time together, couldn't we? I would be quite happy to spend my last 24 hours with some of the Thais I know.
When you move around a lot, as I have done with work, you tend to lose track of people you have worked with (there's been thousands) because of natural displacement through vocation and family reasons – so many of the guys I worked with in the newspaper industry are either dead or have gone into other fields. Some seem to have just dropped off the planet (God knows what they're up to – probably fallen foul of The Yakuza or become brothel masters or money launderers.). Not much there to choose from. You wouldn't want to spend your last day with any of them, would you?
One of the Thai/Farang families, with whom I am particularly close, has a daughter who “adopted” me when she was only 17 and had only just arrived in Australia with limited English skills. Her real father is a European man who lives in Thailand, on and off, and she rarely sees or hears from him – but she really misses him and told me that I look a lot like him. We have always been close friends since the first day she came into our shop with one of her Thai girl friends – and I love her like she is my own daughter – sometimes I really think she is – she always calls me Dad. She is now a successful young adult with a very good job and I am so proud of her – I guess she has been the daughter that I never found in the daughter that I fathered in my first marriage. This girl has always helped me with my Thai and I have always helped her with her English – even now, we get together regularly to work on Thai songs. She is learning piano now and is also learning Western music. I would miss her and her family.
So, back to the question of one more day. It's bloody hard, Isn't it?
OK, if the heavens opened and God appeared and said to me “Chalermchai, get your lazy arse into gear – you've got 24 hours and your time starts now – now get to it, Boyo. After that it's lights out”. What would I do? Something so bloody fast there'd be blue sparks shooting out of my arse, I can tell you. Hopefully, I'd already be in Thailand because I wouldn't want to waste 9 hours on a bloody aircraft, now would I? So, if I were in Thailand, perhaps I'd check into The Sukothai Hotel, BKK, and then I'd call Amorn to let her know where I was. I would leave details with Reception of how to contact Amorn and would leave a substantial bond deposit with The Sukothai Management. Then I'd make sure I had a nice high-class escort to come and stay with me for 24 hours, during which time we would have some quality rumpy-pumpy, good food and plenty of Veuve Clicquot, Mekong and Bia Singha (of course, I would pay the lady in advance). Yeah, I think I'd like that.
Go and sit for a while at Saphan Taksin and watch the ferries coming and going – looking at all the people passing by. I like going there – sometimes I sit there for an hour or two just looking at the Chao Phraya. Maybe catch a ferry up to Wat Arun to walk around there and breathe in some memories of the Bangkok I remember from the past. Then I might go jump a flight up to Chiang Mai to go see Wan – perhaps go have a few drinks and a chat about the past. Yeah, I'd like that. I wouldn't tell her about the 24-hour thingy.
Maybe walk up Sathon Soi St Louis 3 and check out the old apartment Nat and I shared then wander down to Thanon Sathon Tai to grab a Tuk-tuk and go call on Amorn. Wouldn't tell her about the 24-hour thingy. Probably organise a few drinks and some food for that evening back at her home with the family. That'd be nice.
But, you know, I think I'd choose option 1. Options 2 and 3 would be hard – I'm sure I would lose it – and I wouldn't want that. Best thing is to be happy and enjoy yourself with someone who has no emotional ties with you. Yeah, I think that's what I'd do.
The choice of a true monger at heart!
Wonder how God plans to do me in – hope He's not planning to drop that bloody piano from a passing 747 freighter because I'd hate to see The Sukothai damaged or any harm come to my lady friend. Perhaps I better ask him.
“Hey God, hello – anyone home? Sorry to trouble you – it's your old China, Chalermchai. How do you plan to do this? You know, just curious – heart attack, brain aneurism, electrocution, drowning, choking, smothering – terrorist attack, poisoning, killer bees, stampeding elephants? Any of these?”
“Bugger me – can't you lot leave me in peace? Now listen here Chal – I give you 24 hours notice and then you waste my time and your's pestering me. Do you know how bloody difficult it is being God? I have all these dickheads calling me for this and for that – 'Can you do this for me, God? Can you help me win the Lottery God? Please God, can you cure my sister's club foot? Can you get rid of these carbuncles on my dick? Can you bless the new washing machine I just bought?' You don't know what it's like up here – I tell you, I need a holiday. Don't suppose you want to look after things for me while I get a break? No, I bloody thought not. Typical selfish human being. Now bugger off and let me get some work done or I'll cut you back to 12 hours.”
Typical – no wonder everyone stopped going to confession and Mass – grumpy bugger. Looks like I'll just have to play this by ear.