Readers' Submissions

Christmas: What A Difference A Year Makes



Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

I am a grumpy old fart. I am cynical. I hate Christmas-based adverts on the TV (they seem to start in early November). I hate the mass public hysteria that means that the supermarkets are almost at gridlock as if 25 December will be the end of the world and nuclear bunkers must be stocked. In reality the supermarkets will be closed for less than 24 hours, from late 24 December to early 26 December. I take a sadistic pleasure in the knowledge that by next March some schmucks will still have cupboards full of ‘Christmas stuff’ and are already in serious arrears with the credit card. Some will have started divorce proceedings in early January after the enforced holiday time together in the bosom of the family.

My favourite ‘one-liner’ is ‘I don’t care who you are Fatty, get that ******* sleigh and those ******* reindeer off my roof’.

Bah humbug!

Actually, I can quite enjoy Christmas and some time in the next couple of days (today is December 16) I suppose I will have to get around to buying some cards and sending them to the selected few (no scattergun approach for me). We’ll have our ‘works’ (ha ha) Christmas party early next week which will consist of a few of us doing our best to get through the beer, wine, etc., we personally imported from France yesterday. Rubbish will be spoken until we lose the power of speech, at some time I will play ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (I have amazed people in the past by being able to remember the chords and the words whilst in all other respects being unable to stand or speak) and a good time will be had by all.

December 24, I will be out with my brother, his family, nieces and their husbands, and we will have a ‘Christmas’ dinner. This is being held at a local hostelry and I suspect that we may have a beer or two.

I will spend Christmas Day with my son and daughter in law and my two beautiful grand-daughters. One is just five weeks old (even so, I wouldn’t be surprised if some TV adverts aren’t aimed at her) but the other is a very advanced two and a half. It will be a good day.

‘WTF’ you may be asking (if you are fluent in IM or text-speak) has this got to do with SEA ladies? Well, this time of year does prompt some of us (perhaps especially if we’re a bit older) to look back and to look forwards.

Almost exactly a year ago I arrived back in the UK, bringing my Filipina wife (her first time here). The marriage, papers and visa had taken a substantial amount of time, effort and money. We arrived in an unusually snow-bound Britain to start our new life together – to fulfil the plans and dreams that we’d spent so long talking about and which we’d agreed on (or so I thought).

When we finally arrived at my son’s home (a large and comfortable house in a small rural village) we were made very welcome. The heating was turned up, open fires were blazing, and they had bought us warm furry slippers and ‘cuddly’ hot-water bottles. Grand-daughter was adorable and quickly took to ‘Lola’ (‘grandma’ in Tagalog).

I’ve already recounted in the ‘Told You So’ stories how it went sour (jealousy was the main factor) and from this detached in time viewpoint I can still find no reason for it apart from FP’s actions and attitudes.

Fast-forward a year (and I don’t have so many years left that I can afford to waste and fast-forward them willy-nilly) and here we are. My divorce is still pending and it’s cost me GBP 1120 so far (that’s at lawyer’s ‘friend’ rate) but hopefully I won’t be liable for alimony.

As far as I know, FP is ‘on suspension’ from her job in the nursing home while the government regulators decide whether she can continue to be employed in view of her criminal record (the knife attack on me). I believe that she’s living in a small ‘bed and breakfast’ place about 15 miles from here (close to where she was with her ‘new boyfriend’). She has the savings to stay there for a while. We are not in contact. It’s possible of course (but unlikely) that even in this small rural area she could have found a new boyfriend. I could probably find out, but I don’t really want to.

This time of year makes you think. I will confess that a couple of times I have picked up the phone to call her just to make sure she’s OK. I feel a certain responsibility towards her and of course when things were good they were very good. (‘There was a little girl/ who had a little curl/ right in the middle of her forehead./ When she was good/ she was very very good / but when she was bad she was horrid’ Old English nursery rhyme.) I didn’t marry her without loving her and I thought we shared hopes and dreams. Sometimes (but less frequently as time goes by) I miss her.

I have resisted the temptation to contact her. It wouldn’t do any good and could open a whole new box of troubles. I wish her well, but I won’t be part of her future.

As for looking forward, hopefully the divorce will go through in the next few months. When it does, I will consider myself ‘free’ and think about the options. I have no idea what FP’s plans may be (or even whether she has any) but they are nothing to do with me.

I know that this can be a lonely time of year for many. I speculate that some readers who have found their ‘true love’ in SEA but can’t be with them for whatever reason may find the festivities especially hard to take.

To them, to the Stick readers generally, I wish you a Happy Christmas and a Good (Better, for those who need it) New Year.



Stickman's thoughts:

Here's hoping 2012 is a lot better for you than 2011!