What If I Hadn’t Discovered Thailand?
The question “What would your life had been like if you hadn’t discovered Thailand?” is one I am certain has been considered at some time by most of the readers of this site. Whether the experience has been enjoyable
or unspeakably negative I suspect there are very few men who can state their contact with the kingdom has had no effect on them or the direction their lives have taken.
This introspection was impelled by a series of events but essentially precipitated on my last visit to Thailand at Easter 2011. I had just walked out of the Amphur at Banglamung with a pretty coloured certificate in Thai script in my hand. This document certified I was now divorced from Nat, my Thai wife. It marked an ignominious end to an 8-year relationship that had begun with a great deal of optimism and hope. After 5 years of comfortable friendship we married and she came to the UK with me. Sometime during that time we lived together I had ceased to provide what she needed (lots of money for her debts and family) and she ceased to need what I was providing (affection and modest amounts of money). I therefore became unnecessary to her and she left me to work in London. On reflection the whole venture was a glaring example of blind optimism over experience. The divorce closed a chapter in my life. It also defined a downgrading from what had probably been a pathological obsession with Thailand to a far more healthy simple fascination.
There are many wonderful things about Thailand; its climate and beaches are conducive to tourism and it has a cuisine considered amongst the best in the world. The distinctive culture and spectacular temples contribute to the country’s exotic appeal and you encounter sights and smells that assail the senses. But if we are honest, the principle attraction is the delightful womanhood of Thailand. A unique set of circumstances and accidents of history have created an environment particularly amenable to lonely western men. Starved of affection and feminine attention in our own lands, we are predisposed (and vulnerable) to the delights and feminine charms of this dysfunctional Disneyland.
We are all the product of past experience. How we react to the sensory overload the kingdom presents will most likely be determined by our life experiences prior to that initial visit. So in order to attempt to answer the question, it is necessary to revisit the circumstances before my first encounter with the Kingdom. From this point of origin it should be possible to extrapolate the alternative routes my life could have taken had I not discovered Thailand.
At the beginning of 2003 my first marriage to an English wife had ended. I had married a Lulu lookalike and ended up with Hyacinth Bucket. I moved out of the marital home and was back living with my mother. The house was sold and once I had covered the debts that my wife’s profligate lifestyle had generated, the remaining equity went to her (because our boys were living with her). My world had collapsed and I was in a dark place. I was not quite destitute but my total net worth was less than £400 and skid row beckoned.
My subsequent attempts at attracting a replacement partner were spectacularly unsuccessful and incredibly dispiriting. Whilst the behaviour of the women I encountered was at times reprehensible, on reflection I was predominantly at fault. I was desperately out of practice and had not begun to develop the social skills necessary to interest the new species of liberated western women. I was undoubtedly a wreck and it is now obvious that an emotionally scarred man is not attractive to women anywhere. You give off an air of defeat and desperation that women quickly pick up on. A constant succession of often unnecessarily offensive rejections maintained a self perpetuating cycle of disappointment that resulted in an almost pathological hatred of women. I really must have been a pain in the arse to all my friends at the time.
I had become an embittered misogynist bore.
I made my first visit to Thailand in November 2003 and the rest is geography, as they say. Suddenly there was an alternative to western womanhood albeit 5900 miles away. Rather than receive sneers and derision from strident harridans as I had become accustomed to, I witnessed soft-skinned, sweet-voiced, beautiful, young Thai women administering loving attention and gentle caresses to middle aged and elderly men. It was as if I had died and was in male heaven. I now appreciate it is all a chimera, an illusion, but at the time my senses were totally engulfed and all reason lost.
On my return to the UK I felt the uncontrollable urge to tell all and sundry about my amazing experiences in a newly discovered paradise. I did this with an almost evangelical zeal without any thought of tact or discretion. I believed it is quite understandable that a bloke who perceived he had undertaken a life changing experience would want to share it with friends. The subject of Thailand pervaded my every thought and action. Every situation I encountered would be compared to my Thailand experience. It had become the only topic of conversation I could endure. Friends would take bets on how quickly I could insert the subject into a conversation. I believe the record remains at 2 minutes 45 seconds.
As a result, friends shunned me, stray dogs would cross the street to avoid me and even beggars ignored me in fear I would relate one of my tales of Thailand to them.
I had become a Bangkok bore.
Over the next few years I visited Thailand twice a year. I developed a routine to my vacations. I would spend the first few days in the salacious sois of Suhkumvit in the company of my pals Phil P, Union Hill and Bangkok Barry. I would also arrange to meet up with several fellows I had met through the Stickman site and my circle of friends progressively expanded. I would avail myself of a couple of girls from the go-go bars of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza or even pick up the occasional freelancer from the Thermae or Biergarten. Invariably I would engage a girl from the Golden Bar as a daytime girlfriend. In the later years I would vary the routine by assignations with a few respectable ladies I had met through the Thai love links site. A trip to Pattaya for a few days was also my habitual custom. The delights of Walking Street provided the entertainment and I would regularly endeavour to experience the Thai Girl Friend experience. I would also make the effort to meet Nat at some stage although our friendship remained agreeably platonic at that time. For 8 years my bi-annual Siamese sojourns gave me something to look forward to and I believe maintained my sanity and sense of self worth.
Has my association with Thailand affected how people perceive me?
It quickly became clear that the subject of Thailand is an anathema to western womanhood. Mention of the T word evokes almost violent reactions amongst some British women. This is somewhat understandable. What did surprise me was the attitude of many British men. There exists a “middle England” mentality that any man who is associated with Thailand is a clearly a degenerate.
I went from being considered a pillar of the community to being a dirty old bastard who goes to Thailand twice a year just to shag young Asian women. I do believe this revulsion has now been downgraded since bringing a Thai wife back in 2008. I am now considered just a sad old tosser.
There is however a huge whiff of hypocrisy to these attitudes. Western women understandably hate the thought of Thailand as it represents an alternative to their control. I am always amused at the duplicity that male sex tourists are considered debauched and degenerate yet middle aged women who travel to the West Indies and Gambia for some young black Hampton are merely experiencing a holiday romance.
There is a similar hypocrisy amongst the disapproving men of “middle England” which I suspect stems from envy. I regularly observe outwardly successful men who are in truth little more than beasts of burden to disappointed wives and their ungrateful children. I notice very presentable middle aged blokes quite happy to be seen with women who could easily pass as their mothers. More disturbing is the number of younger men who tolerate rude, disrespectful (and invariably fat) young women as their partners.
In the past 8 years I may not have had carnal knowledge of a white woman but conversely I have not shagged a woman who was fat or aged over 45. The majority of the females I have been intimate with were aged between 30 and 35 although I admit I paid for more than half of them. I suspect a slight envy exists in my detractors as they plug away at wives who resemble overstuffed mattresses. Sight of my photo collection of Thai girls in West Bromwich football shirts (small youth size) is usually guaranteed to prompt a deep antagonism.
The dichotomy of this censorious attitude is that almost all these blokes want to hear my slightly salacious tales particularly at business or social functions. I have always been a reasonably gifted raconteur and have a fund of amusing anecdotes on a variety of non Thailand subjects such as my time working in America and my painful misadventures with English women. These come as a welcome diversion to the conventional middle class conversations about pension arrangements, house prices and private school fees. However it is the tales of my Siamese sojourns that appear to be in demand. Over the years I have moderated my evangelic zeal about Thailand and have certainly toned down the content of my anecdotes quite significantly. I am now acutely aware of the necessary decorum especially at social soirees frequented by middle class people. To which end I have developed a series of quite wholesome stories about Thailand in which I merely allude to the less salubrious without explicitly mentioning bar girls or ping pong balls. The sequence of anecdotes includes tales of katoeys, Thai eating habits and the linguistic misunderstandings of my Thai wife whilst she was in England. I am still considered good value for an amusing tale or two.
I very occasionally experience some misunderstandings. A couple of years ago one guy I know asked me for some details about Bangkok as he was going to Singapore and Hong Kong on business and was contemplating a little detour. This fellow is a senior executive in a prestigious organization and considered a denizen of decency (although I know him to actually be a rather obnoxious and degenerate pervert). I gave him a copy of my “Mongers guide to Bangkok” for which he was appreciative.
I met him recently and he informed me in confidence he was having marital problems, it appeared his wife had turned off the “pussy tap”. He asked if I could sort him out with a bit on the side. I reminded him I had already given him the definitive guide to Bangkok which would guarantee success when he visited SE Asia. However it become apparent he actually wanted me to fix him up with something nearer home. I was quite miffed (which is Brit speak for being incandescent with rage) and exclaimed “listen here you pompous wanker, I may be a devotee of Thai women, but I am not a blasted pimp!”
Has Thailand altered my attitudes to women?
Thailand has completely changed my attitude to women. I always imagined growing old with my first wife. When growing old together the ageing process is not noticed. One effect of my involvement in Thailand is I removed myself (or more accurately was excluded ) from the normal western dating process so for a few years I never got accustomed to dating fat old women.
Like the boy in the “Emperor's new clothes”, being freed of this burden gave me a detachment to observe the vagaries of western womanhood. Most of my English pals were like the frog in the pan of water being slowly boiled to death in the Charles Handy metaphor. They had not noticed the adverse changes in women’s behaviour in the new paradigm. Although my observations were initially dismissed as misogynist rants, over the years many men of my acquaintance have begun to appreciate the validity of my views and I was starting to be considered somewhat of a guru on the subject of western women; their dysfunctional attitudes and conduct.
Much has already been written about western women and their unrealistic expectations and sense of entitlement so I will not add to that body of work. Much has also been written about the differences between Western and Thai women. One important area of disparity is in the area of sexuality and attitude to sex. In Thailand sex is considered as natural as eating and sleeping. I have observed young Thai women get quite frantic if they haven’t been serviced for a couple of days. Young English girls are probably equally frantic if they go without for any extended period; remember the female organ is too far from the ground to feed itself. Unfortunately western culture and the media have brainwashed young women that their sexual orifice is plated with gold and they must always receive something for its endowment. Although Thai girls are known to occasionally sell said favours they don’t have the hang-ups and cultural baggage their western sisters have, which I feel is quite sad for western womanhood.
I very quickly get bored listening to the views and opinions of the majority of English women irrespective of how attractive they are. However should an Asian or Oriental woman hove in to view my interest is immediately roused. I suspect my jasmine fever is now acute and incurable. I also suspect this may be a genetic predisposition. My late Father served in the RAF at the time of the Korean War. I recall him telling me about his colleagues who had married girls from Singapore and Hong Kong, and I remember him describing how enchanting they were with a wistful longing in his eye.
Has my association with Thailand affected any other areas of my life?
A major enthusiasm I have acquired from my association with the kingdom has been a passion for Thai food. Initially this enthusiasm was merely a symptom of my general and irrational obsession with all things Thai. Visiting Thai restaurants in the UK was part of a foolish yearning and I was deluding myself that maybe a young Thai waitress would fall in love with me. At the time there were not many Thai restaurants in the Black Country. In an area where pork scratchings are considered a delicacy, Thai food was far too exotic and sophisticated. My experience with the few UK Thai establishments I did find was invariably disappointing, the food bland, very expensive and the service indifferent. Most establishments were actually Chinese owned rather than Thai. It was most unsatisfying to a Thailand addict and analogous to nicotine patches to a 40 a day cigarette smoker.
My real passion for Thai food began when Nat lived with me in the UK. She was a gifted cook and introduced me to the great diversity that Thai cuisine actually is. She would put veritable feasts before me and explain the regional variations she was presenting. My two sons spent more time visiting the flat during that time, Nat’s food being the obvious attraction. As time went on I did notice she was buying progressively scrawnier cuts of meat and increasing the amount of chilies. This was doubtless to save money that she could ferret away to send back to Thailand. Since her departure I retained an enduring need for a regular infusion of lemongrass and chilies that remained largely unsatisfied.
In the past year a new Thai restaurant has opened in the town where my sons live. It is family owned, pleasant and unpretentious. The owner is an exceptionally talented chef and his food is appetizing, authentic and relatively inexpensive. The place is friendly and welcoming, my sons and I have been regular customers since its opening and have become good friends with the Thai family who own it. A few of my close friends also frequent the establishment and it has become a good meeting place at weekends. Predictably I once asked the owner’s wife if she knew any Thai ladies she could introduce me to, her reply was most illuminating. “I am good friends with you and your sons I would never introduce any of the Thai women I know in the UK to a friend… I would not wish them on my worst enemy.”
Another area of my life that my Thailand experiences have greatly influenced has been the compulsion to write submissions to the Stickman site. In the past I had a few technical articles published in learned journals but had never felt the urge to write anything else. Now I do appreciate it is stretching a point to describe my tedious, incoherent and semi literate ramblings as “writing”. One good friend described my work as “gratuitously overlong missives imparting news no one cares about in a style guaranteed to exhaust and fatigue all but the stoutest heart”. <You're being much too harsh on yourself and are one of the most popular writers with a cult following only shared by the likes of Korski, Dana, Mega and a few others – Stick>
There was a recent submission by Soi “hair of the dog” which I found fascinating. In this he classified the people who made submissions to the site. The categories were defined as Diarist, journalist, auto biographer, essayist, correspondent, creative writer (and then there is Dana). I thought this a wonderful assessment and kid myself I could fall into most of his categories (with the obvious exception of the Dana reference).
I would however prefer to be likened to the image of Ronnie Corbett in the “Two Ronnie’s” sitting in a comfortable armchair imparting gentle shaggy dog stories to a circle of intimate friends.
I can not recall who first introduced me to the Stickman site (so no blame can be assigned) but I posted my first submission in April 2004. Over the past 7 years I have posted 45 submissions to the site. They include short stories, essays and the Brokenman is repaired series. I believe I have a modest talent but admit to doing nothing particularly constructive or productive with it. I acknowledge my frequent contributions to the site are like pissing oneself in dark trousers; where you get a warm feeling but nobody really notices.
In mitigation, my passion for posting submissions and the subsequent correspondence with many fellow Stickmanites has given me a circle of wonderful friends any man would be proud to know. It has also given me an interest that keeps my mind active which will hopefully ward off the onset of dementia.
I do acknowledge I have more chance of getting a blow job off the newly married Duchess of Cambridge than ever getting a green star from the sainted stick, but one lives in hope.
So what would you be doing if you hadn’t discovered Thailand?
Stop rambling on you old fart and answer the question, I hear you say.
Without the Thailand influence my life could have taken many directions.
Prior to my first visit my life was at such low ebb and I felt such irrational despair I may well have topped myself by putting my head on the railway lines, which is the equivalent of the Pattaya sky dive. I would like to think my friends and certainly my sons would have talked me out of it long before it occurred. As it happens the first Thailand trip repaired the Brokenman, lifted my ailing spirits and restored my soul.
I have been consumed by the black dog on a couple of occasions since but correspondence with my friends in the Stickman community has always lifted my morale and kept me on the straight and narrow.
Another great fear is that I may have hooked up with the first English woman who showed me any interest. I often wake in a cold sweat in sheer terror that I could have once again become a beast of burden to an ungrateful and disappointed woman. In those initial months following my first divorce I was an absolute disaster, living with my mother in what was in effect a new town and completely devoid of friends. I would consider it a success if I went out and not receive a sneer from a woman. I often joked if it wasn’t for muggers and pickpockets I would have no physical human contact at all. I was the classic “Billy No mates”.
If someone, anyone, (even a bar’s resident pisshead) actually spoke to me my evening was considered an achievement. Under these circumstances it would have been perfectly understandable if I had ended up with the first female who showed me the very slightest attention or interest.
At best I would have been an old bachelor assuaging my physical needs with cheap prostitutes. I may have developed an arrangement with one of the half caste girls at a lap dancing club I used to frequent in those dark days. If I had the money I would have set up a girl in an apartment and visited her couple of times a week. I know a couple of Indian and several Polish girls who whilst they do not particularly fancy me would have been amenable to this arrangement. I reckon it would have cost me around £15k a year which is considerably cheaper than a wife.
Around the time prior to my first Thailand adventure, one of my pals wanted to visit Russia. Supposedly this was to see historical St Petersburg but I deduced he was actually looking for a Russian bride. If we had made the trip maybe the Thailand obsession could have been Russian instead. I have visions of bringing home a Slavic beauty with snow on her flip flops. It would certainly have necessitated the purchase of West Bromwich Albion shirts in a slightly larger size.
Because of my interest in music in general and singing in particular a few friends suggested I join a mixed voice choir or choral society. The intention being I would be mixing with educated people and could maybe meet a professional lady who shared my interests. I could well imagine becoming involved in such an organisation and their logic was quite sound. I did make a few tentative exploratory sorties into this world but having been spoiled by Thailand it tainted my perception somewhat. In most of the amateur choirs the female front line of the chorus weighed in at 5 tonne. Most amateur choirs remain the province of the elderly and the very rare toothsome single females I encountered maintained the aspirations to a toy boy or to meeting Colin Firth as in the general female population. I quickly established that a love of music did nothing to temper the sense of entitlement and unrealistic expectations of western women in general.
My brother and most of my friends play golf and I could well have become equally infatuated. The joys of the game have escaped me to date but I could well have taken it up. I can envisage allowing it to totally consume my life as has happened with my friends. I am informed it is the only pastime, other than sex that one does not need to be proficient at to derive pleasure from. I see my pals and believe they have a language men can use to avoid talking about current affairs or to fill a void when football talk dries up. I suspect without my interest in Thailand I could have become equally as fanatical. It may have been preferable to my predilection for treating drinking as an extreme sport. I have no doubt I could have become a serious golf bore.
Passions and obsessions apart, of more pertinence to my life in the past eight years have been my financial circumstances. In that time my career and fortunes have seen more ups and downs than a bar girl’s underwear.
Has Thailand affected my career?
I have had 7 jobs in the 8 years since my flirtation with the kingdom. Although my obsession with Thailand pervaded my every thought, I am certain it has not affected or contributed to the decline in my career. Globalization and the indecent urge of western business to export British jobs to low wage economies, have been of greater significance.
The Works Managers job I had for several years at Sandwell Castings in West Bromwich ended when the work migrated to Poland. The subsequent Production Manager position in Wolverhampton ended when the work moved to India and China. I worked in Norwich for a firm of venture capitalists but the job ended when it was found they were using their companies as a money laundering operation (Two of the directors are currently serving time at her Majesty’s pleasure). The jobs in Banbury and the Wheel foundry in Wolverhampton were short term interim assignments. After 3 years I lost the Operations manager job in Tipton I loved, in the global financial meltdown of October 2008. When I took the position in Cambridge the owner had already decided to close the plant and I was deceived into giving credibility to his plans. The last job I had in Stourbridge in 2010 was also a six month fixed term contract.
But there was one job I lost that can certainly be attributed to my Thailand connection.
At the beginning of this year I was approached by an old protégé who asked if I would help him develop (save) his business. He ran a small foundry and pattern shop in West Bromwich. My initial visit and a cursory observation of his operation indicated the place was a real dump. There had been no money spent on the building since the Luftwaffe rearranged the district in the last unpleasantness. Closer observation suggested inertia was the principle mover and the whole enterprise operated within a time warp. The workforce was cowed, dispirited and totally unmotivated.
When he introduced me to his business partner I indentified the source of their problems. He was a hands-on hardworking bloke but had clearly had a charisma by-pass operation. He was a bully and totally devoid of any imagination or personality. For the first time in my career I did not feel totally confident that my management experience and technical knowledge would be enough to save this operation. JC himself would have baulked at raising this particular Lazarus. However I am a sucker for a challenge and being at a loose end I offered to help them. I suggested I work with them two or three days a week and as a gesture of goodwill would work the first month for nothing. In return I asked they keep an open mind to my subsequent proposals. I stated that if they desired something different from their current situation they must be prepared to do something different from what they had always done.
In the initial weeks I set about phoning my contacts in the local foundry industry to drum up some business for the patternmaking side of the operation before embarking on some serious strategic evaluations. I was quite successful and made numerous contacts, got several enquiries and some serious promise of work. I had the use of their solitary (laptop) computer in order to access the internet to assist finding contacts and exploring sales opportunities. All was proceeding to plan.
In my third week I mentioned to my pal that I had submitted a story to Stickman and that I was expecting it to be posted that day. I told him, with his permission I would use the laptop at lunchtime to have a look to see if it had been posted on the site. He told me he had no issue with this and at lunchtime my submission appeared. I even showed it to my friend who found it highly amusing.
The next morning I was not due in work but received a phone call from my friend who informed me that his partner had been checking through the browsing history on the laptop. On finding I had accessed a Thailand website he had insisted that I be dismissed for misuse of company property.
I was exasperated; that this tiresome individual had nothing better to do than check the internet access and disappointed that my pal, knowing I had told him about the Stickman submission did not have the balls to defend me. I was particularly incensed that I was also working for nothing but did not argue the point. If this anally retentive behaviour was the extent of their management vision I could see considerable difficulty with some of the decisions they would have to make in the future. With this mindset I considered I was better off not being involved.
I was quite saddened that with their lack of imagination they had missed an opportunity I could have provided. It was clear their future was bleak but unfortunately their outlook is symptomatic of the management attitudes that have resulted in the West Midlands inexorably becoming a rust belt and totally devoid of hope.
Where are you now?
My association with Thailand has, on balance, been positive. Even the experience with a Thai wife has not embittered me. The few months she lived with me were quite idyllic until I lost my job when the world imploded at the end of 2008. Whilst I would not claim the experience enriched my life I feel I gained something from it and have no regrets. But I must admit to feeling very jealous when I see English/Thai couples who have made a success of the relationship in the UK.
It is 8 years since my first divorce and six months since my second. I have at last withdrawn my head from my anal orifice and started to mellow. About a year ago I came to the conclusion I didn’t need a woman permanently in my life, a decision that was surprisingly liberating. In a recent conversation with my first wife she admitted she now realises she had made a mistake in getting rid off me. My Thai wife contacted me last week and asked for a second chance which I found unbelievable. She did subsequently follow it up with a text requesting I loan her £250 which was more in character. Both incidents are confirmation that all women across the planet inhabit a world as they would like it to be rather than as the world actually is.
Although my finances left much to be desired I felt comfortable in my own skin for the first time in some time and have become more genial and outgoing. With choirs, quizzes, concerts and karaoke I had a full social life with little time for thoughts of carnal relations. Then a strange thing occurred and suddenly women began showing interest in me. I can not claim I had to fight them off with a shitty stick but I was definitely receiving interest. I could probably write an essay on the possible reasons for this but attribute it mainly to my relaxed state and no longer giving off the air of desperation I previously presented. I finally understand what BKKSW and LP have been telling me for years.
I must qualify my statement and explain most of these women are a little older than me. I have previously joked about being described as the number 74 bus because my pals claim it is only pensioners who want to take a ride on me. I have become friendly with several ladies, all are cultured, most have money, some are well travelled, and a few own foreign properties. I am told a couple of them have designs on me. They are pleasant and I do enjoy their occasional company but they are either as fat as they are tall or wear horn rimmed glasses that give the appearance of Dame Edna Everage or Ronnie Barker in drag. Whilst I fully appreciate they may have perfectly serviceable pussys I can not escape the feeling it would be like shagging my aunt Maud. The very thought causes my todger to retract into my stomach so quickly it would look like Obi Ben Kenobi’s cape.
I think I will wait until my next Siamese sojourn for carnal gratification.
What does the immediate future hold?
Since finishing my last contract at Christmas I was once again unemployed and for a few months experienced very little success with my job search. However since my return from Bangkok after Easter I had seen an increase in activity and attended three interviews in May.
In June I attended an interview for a foundry management job and was most astounded to be offered the post at the first interview. They seemed quite desperate to engage me which set off the alarm bells. I assumed they were deeply in the mire and needed a patsy to extricate them from it.
The job was in rural North Essex which is almost 4 hours drive away and meant me becoming a nomad again. However the position was well paid, with use of a company car, a decent stipend for accommodation and a generous petrol allowance. In my current circumstances I could hardly refuse it. I accepted with indecent haste.
When I went down the Job centre to "sign off" the dole I was very surprised at the warm reaction I received from the staff there. Because I am polite I have always received courteous treatment from them. I fully expected to be invited to the staff Christmas party. But I could not fail to be amused at their astonishment that a bloke older than 55 could still get a management job. I felt they wanted to do a “lap of honour” such was their amazement. I could swear my “personal advisor” (an earnest young Indian girl) shed a furtive tear on hearing my news.
The company is owned by a large Asian corporation and produces high pressure die castings and machined components for the global automotive market. The plant is impressive and considered a world class operation with a £30 million turnover. My role was to set up a gravity die facility to produce about £3 million worth of parts for a lower volume but strategically important vehicle programme. They have absolutely no experience of the gravity die process and the guy they initially engaged for the project unexpectedly left them quite abruptly after two months just as the tooling was about to be delivered. This explained the indecent haste in finding a replacement.
When I saw the difficult work they were trying to make and the challenge of having to pick up the project at such a critical stage I feared I may have once again clasped the poisoned chalice. But as always I resolved to give it my best shot. I considered moving to a new town would get me out of a rut. I was beginning to despair of the Black Country; particularly the local industry and the lack of opportunity I was experiencing. I was optimistic a new venture could result in a few misadventures with the legendary girls of Essex and hopefully give me some material for a few new essays.
I put my back into the task and have now completed my first three months in the job. The project is progressing well; the plant and equipment is installed and we have started producing parts ahead of schedule and on budget. I am training a team of raw recruits who are responding well to my unusual management style and I am enjoying the challenge.
I drive down to Essex at the crack of dawn on Monday morning and return Friday evening. I am living in digs in Witham which is a charming little town and the natives are proving quite friendly. I have discovered an agreeable Wither spoons pub and am living on steaks and curries that cost less than £7. Although I have yet to experience any serious mischief I am finding attractive middle aged English women willing to engage me in conversation. I have also found an agreeable Thai restaurant to frequent. I have become friendly with the owner who often invites me to stay for a drink with her and her staff when the restaurant closes. One of the kitchen team, a pleasant Thai lady in her mid 40s has offered her services as housekeeper if I get an apartment in the town.
It is certainly more civilized than Wednesbury or West Bromwich.
Although the managing director has complemented me on my efforts and intimated his desire to expand the gravity die business over the next few years, I do have my doubts about the longevity of the job.
While no one there has the slightest experience or knowledge of the technology involved in the process it hasn’t stopped them interfering or telling me how to do it. The attempts to micro manage me are most wearisome and the histrionics I witness on a daily basis are worthy of the Oscars. I know this conceit and tendency to drama is par for the course with a company that considers itself “world class” but can still be rather irksome. However I continue to smile and keep taking the money.
I have become friendly with the managing director’s PA. She told me in confidence that prior to embarking on the project the company engaged a team of (expensive) professional head hunters to undertake an extensive investigation of the UK foundry industry in their search for a suitable candidate. In their subsequent report they identified there were probably only four or five people in the UK with the competence and experience to undertake the project. I was pleasantly surprised to hear I was number four on that list. It does however make their dismissive attitude all the more bewildering but may explain why my predecessor departed with such haste.
My concern is although I have a rolling 12 month contract they insisted on a six month probationary period. This suggests that they believe I will have the facility up and running in six months and having gleaned enough information off me in that time can then dispose of my services. If so, I fear may they have grossly misunderstood the scale of the task.
Whilst I am enjoying having a few bob in my pocket I am no stranger to austerity and have become somewhat philosophical about such things. I will continue to do a professional job and if I can get a year or more of employment, it would be wonderful, if I get 9 months it will be a bonus, but if I do only get six months …so be it, at least it will take me up to Christmas. What I will do after that I have no idea. I am managing to stash away a few quid which I have no intention of investing or utilising for anything vaguely prudent or sensible.
So whatever happens I will no doubt be seen sauntering the salacious sois of Suhkumvit within a few weeks of the contract ending.
As I have said before in previous missives, watch this space.
Few people do introspection as well as you, and the way you discuss your life in England and how it is inextricably linked to your feelings of and visits and adventures in Thailand is well done.
The way that Thailand has influenced, changed, or even formed the direction our life takes is a submission we could all write – and if written with honesty, seldom would such an account be boring. (Hint, hint, with submissions a little slow in recent times, do feel free to pen your own "Thailand and My Life" sub!)
Here's hoping the new role runs a good period so you can put aside a few pennies for your next Siamese jaunt.