The Brokenman Is Repaired Part 14
My last submission Brokenman 13 saw me complete my assignment in China and arrive back in Thailand. After a few days in Bangkok
I made my way down to Pattaya for a few days of sea air and gentle mischief. I left my reader at midday on Sunday as I depart Sin City and take the aged Volvo they call a limousine back to the Nana Hotel for my last few days in the kingdom.
That evening I had arranged to meet a couple of Stickmanites but unfortunately they didn’t turn up. This happens occasionally, people have to alter schedules and priorities change in Asia as in the rest of the world. So I made my way to Soi Cowboy to see Phil and Barry. Union Hill was in the UK attending his daughter's wedding but had left a note from his mother to excuse his absence. Barry was with the third member of his harem that evening, the enchanting Miss Tuk. She has the sweetest ass in Suhkumvit like two goose eggs in a handkerchief. Barry’s energy always amazes me and I would love to run a set of jump leads off the old bugger.
I repair to Sheba’s, a bar I have always enjoyed in the past. This visit they have a young Thai male mamasan who they integrate in some of their interesting and unusual shows. One show involves him being soaped down by naked girls wearing only a pair of budgie smugglers. For some unknown reason this mamasan took a rather unhealthy interest in me. There was more than “a touch of lavender” about him; he was as bent as a nine bob note. I had terrifying visions of being reamed by the proverbial stoker with the faraway look in his eye. I checked bin and departed with alarming haste.
On the Monday I was half expecting Sa, one of my ThaiLoveLinks girls to turn up. We had been corresponding for a couple of years when I persuaded her to return to college to improve her prospects. Four years on she had gained a business degree and had converted her hairdressing salon into a successful restaurant in her town in Eastern Issan. Although we have never physically met we regularly chat via webcam and I can see she is an extremely beautiful girl in her late 30s. But she is also very conservative. For a few years she has expressed a desire to meet me and every year I come to Thailand I suggest we meet in Bangkok or Pattaya and I offer to pay her fare. But every time her apprehension at being seen with a decadent farang prevails over her curiosity. This year was no exception and once again she chickened out at the last minute. This story will no doubt continue. I am convinced someday we will meet although by then I will be too old to do her any harm.
I did however receive a call from my ex-wife Nat asking if she could come and see me before I went back to the UK. We had kept in contact since our divorce twelve months ago. She was well aware there would be no reconciliation as she was unlikely ever to get another UK visa. She also knew I was no longer a source of money to her. But in truth although she had caused me some grief when she left me I still had affection for her and cherished her friendship. I was more than happy for her to spend a couple of days with me and quite prepared to entertain her even though I knew the episode would be of a completely platonic nature.
She had finally been declared bankrupt which had at last lifted her burden of debt. She cannot get credit but this might not be a bad thing as it may curb her appetite for living beyond her means and “cutting the big” which was always the source of her problems. She had initially made a living selling street food at a day market and selling clothes on the night market in her native Issan. She had always been a resourceful girl and in six months accrued enough funds to rent premises and start up a five table restaurant. With no access to credit she has to run it on cash flow alone but to her credit she is managing to do so.
I still have occasional contact with her mother. Her mother is a retired schoolteacher, educated by missionaries and a devout Catholic. She told me they were deeply saddened at the way Nat had treated me and that it had made her father very angry. The father is Buddhist and a highly respected ex Thai boxing champion (a sort of Thai Henry Cooper). On his 45 birthday he handed his haulage business to his eldest son and retired to a monastery. When he heard about why Nat left me he sent for her and severely admonished her. He made her serve two weeks in his monastery as penance to teach her some humility and to change her materialistic mindset. This went some way to explaining her repentant demeanour when we met up last year to get divorced.
When Nat appeared at the Nana Hotel I sensed a distinct change in her. She was more relaxed and it appeared the simple life was doing her good. I was very pleased to see her. She was extremely honest with me that although she took great pleasure in running her restaurant she was not particularly enjoying the hard work and long hours involved. She was also very lonely and welcomed the opportunity to see me as a respite knowing I would amuse and entertain her. She knows I have always been able to make her laugh.
What did astonish me were her amorous overtures when I took her to my room. Her request “Lick Djihm” came as a complete surprise and I am ashamed to admit rather than summon a constable I obliged her. I was somewhat taken aback at the hunger she exhibited. I suspect she had not had any sex for quite some time and my speculation is a major motive for meeting me was she needed an old fashioned seeing too that she was not getting in the Issan. I would have never believed an ex wife would become a “friend with benefits”.
That evening I took her for dinner at the Heidelberg restaurant for a wonderful fillet steak. We later visited Angelwitch which I should have known was a mistake. I have always enjoyed the shows but hate the poor service and hassle I have frequently received in the past. I was disturbed the deterioration had continued. There is one particular dek serve, an old dragon that kept checking my bottle every 2 or 3 minutes. I have been known to drink a few beers but found this forcing of drinks quite annoying. She also constantly pressured Nat to get me to buy said harridan a drink. This is certainly not the first time I have experienced this conduct. I have taken girls in with me in the past and they also reported similar treatment from the same dragon dek serve. As this practice has been going on unchecked for over five years I can only assume it is a management policy. We left after only one drink so the tactic is clearly counter productive.
Nat wanted to see a Katoey bar so I took her to Casanova. I was extremely disappointed, it was a really crap bar and the couple of ladyboys there were totally unconvincing; they looked like old Bert from maintenance who wore his wife’s frocks at weekends. It was certainly not the exciting venue I remember when my pal Dr David took me there on my first night in Bangkok some 8 or so years ago. However on reflection that may have actually been a completely different bar.
I later took Nat to the Las Vegas which I told her is the best bar in Nana. The show was outstanding and there is one show girl named “Much” who is quite exceptional. She is probably the most striking girl in the plaza if not in the whole of Suhkumvit. I notice she spent most of the evening in the company of two stunning and extremely credible katoeys. When I asked some of the serving staff about this they requested I keep quiet and assured me I was mistaken as they did not allow ladyboys in that bar.
The next day was my final day and that evening I took Nat to Soi Cowboy where we met Phil in the Tilac. Phil has known Nat for some years and they chatted comfortably. I made my farewells to Phil promising I would hopefully be visiting again later in the year and took Nat to Baccara. Although it is not to my taste she loved this bar and was absolutely fascinated by the young light skinned pretty girls who dance there. When I finally extricated her we found our way to the Country Road bar at the Asoke end of the soi. It had changed a little since I used to take her there, the band was more proficient and the music more funk than country but equally enjoyable.
We have the usual aggravation with the taxi mafia asking for extortionate prices but as there was one of our “boys in brown” standing nearby I stuck my guns until they agreed to a more reasonable 80 baht for the trip back to Nana. Nat informed me her menses were impending which always precipitated her need to consume the most hideous fiery Issan offal imaginable. I suggested she do so in the room alone whilst I had a last couple of beers in the Golden Bar.
Wednesday morning I was due to catch the flight back to blighty. We awoke early and Nat insisted I give her a last servicing before we checked out. The last couple of days with Nat were very pleasant and her ardour was an enjoyable surprise but I knew it was too late for us; it would be like returning soured milk to the fridge. I was however delighted our relationship had entered a new phase and we had regained the wonderful relaxed friendship we had before we married. She came with me to the airport to see me off.
The flight home is always a gloomy experience but gave time to reflect on the past 10 days. I had met some old friends and made some new ones. I had met a few nice girls but the nearest I got to a Thai girlfriend experience was with my ex wife.
The flight landed a little later than scheduled but the expected delays with immigration at Heathrow reported in the media proved not to be and I breezed through. I took the National express coach back to Birmingham and a taxi to Wednesbury which got me back to my flat at 0130.
The next morning I went to see my mother and gratefully accepted her offer to do my washing. I phoned my sons and my brother to inform them of my return. I later contacted my Thai lady friend Noi who I had been seeing in the UK prior to my trip to Asia. In the three months or so we were stepping out no intimacy occurred. She was at great pains to explain she did not want a sexual relationship with any man. Although I felt she was probably using me to entertain her and generally pass the time in the absence of anything better being on offer, she was good fun and I was comfortable in her company. She was financially independent so there was no question of “taking care”. I was assured by her friends that she enjoyed being with me. I rationalised the situation and decided to go with the flow.
I was therefore disappointed to hear she had found a new man whilst I had been away. I was rather upset and felt dumped. I will admit this attitude was completely irrational. I had merely lost my place in the queue but I am only human and my ego is as fragile as the next man's. She was returning to Thailand on the Sunday. I resisted my usual inclination to be stoical and go to see her to say goodbye. I let her depart without any further contact. This may seem churlish and out of character but sometimes one can get really tired of being a nice bloke.
In a submission a few years ago I bemoaned the fact I seemed to have more friends in Asia than I had in my home town. I resolved to do something about this and made a real effort to put myself about and meet more people in my own district. Two years on I am happy to report I am no longer “Billy no mates” and now have a wide circle of people I know. The weekend was understandably busy catching up with mates. Most of the time was taken up with me boring everyone with incessant tales of my travels. The other news was that West Bromwich Albion’s chief coach, the sainted Roy Hodgson, had been appointed to the England manager’s job. Although I can not see it I am reported to look a bit like him and it was suggested I could earn a new living as his lookalike opening supermarkets and performing kissograms.
On the Friday I went to see “Yam-Yam Elvis” at the village pub opposite my flat. He is an Elvis Presley impersonator who makes no concession to the king’s Memphis roots and introduces his songs in a broad Black Country accent. He is an ugly little bugger but has a large following which includes a big contingent of attractive middle-aged women so it is always a good night. I sang a few songs on the karaoke at my local the Welded Wallet on the Saturday and had the customary session of drinking too much and talking drivel with my eldest son and brother on Sunday.
The next week was equally busy. I did a concert with my male voice choir at the church my first wife’s family attend. I get a perverse pleasure letting my ex mother in law see I am still alive. We also did a concert at the Black Country Museum mentioned in a recent submission by J Hatchet. I had a job interview and a meeting of an educational trust I sit on. By the end of the week I had forgotten about Noi and my prevailing thought was “lucky escape”. If she didn’t fancy me so be it.
It did however get me thinking about the east west divide. Totally ignoring the smug and self deluded men who claim they have no difficulty pulling white women, the average bloke above the age of 50 has real problems of invisibility in the west. This can be illustrated by internet dating sites. On dating sites “interest” is defined when you receive a reply to a letter sent or receive notification that someone on the site is interested in you. On the western dating sites a bloke in his 50s will rarely receive interest and only then from white women aged 60 plus who are invariably obese. I do not need to describe how unappetising these dried up old relics are to a man spoilt by a Thailand experience but one must just accept this.
One of my karaoke pals persuaded me to go with him to a “divorced and separated” evening and it was quite an eye opener. There were no woman under the age of 55 and most were quite scary at first (and second) glance. Unfortunately they did not get to look any better as my intake of beer increased. There were quite a few slightly younger guys dancing attendance on these fossils and doing everything but stand on their heads to gain their attention. I had an epiphany that these were the same species of bloke who tell me they have no problem pulling women in the west and employ the epithet “Loser” to fellows like myself. If this is the calibre of women they refer to they are welcome to them.
In the past year or so I have kept an open mind and have had dates with some of these older women. They have the same unrealistic expectations as their younger sisters and still consider their fannies are lined with (antique?) gold. They have annoying and vacuous opinions on almost everything that they stridently express without tact or forethought. They are understandably set in their ways and many of them had pet dogs that they allow to sleep on their beds. You are expected to share their adoration for these cosseted canines. My only preference with dogs is barbecued or roasted.
With regard to Asian dating sites I am still a member of Thai love links and now Chinese love links. I receive several interest notifications from TLL every week from girls living in Thailand. With CLL I receive a similar number from interesting interested ladies living in China. However, if you contact Thai or Chinese females living in England the response is disappointing. The girls in Asia obviously want something from you be it money, security or marriage. Once in the west Asian females quickly adopt the same attitudes as their western sisters. They don’t know what they want but they want it now and don’t want what is on offer. I am resigned to the fact I will probably not find love and affection in the west. I did however have a date last Tuesday with a 40 year old Chinese girl who lives in a nearby town. I have no idea how this will pan out. She was quite lovely but very difficult to please. She did not want to go to a pub, theatre, cinema, and shopping mall, hear a band or even eat at a restaurant (except McDonalds). If I thought Thai women were contrary Chinese women are a different species. I am not holding my breath.
I have now been back in the UK for three weeks so it is time to catch my breath and reflect on my situation. I am amazed at the difference a few months has made to my circumstances. I feel this improvement is probably reflected in my submissions. I imagine the difference in the tone of my submission “Loser” and the subsequent missives Brokenman repaired 11, 12, 13 and 14 is quite noticeable. Back in January I was against the ropes sucking in air waiting for the referee to give me the mandatory count of 8. My doctor was so concerned about me he sent me to see a counsellor. The two months away from the UK has restored my equilibrium and lifted my spirits considerably. I went to see same counsellor last week and on seeing my progress she discharged me within 15 minutes of conversation, which was probably the first time she could get a word in edgeways.
I went for an interview at a foundry in South Wales. I know the owner; although a little older than me we attended the same foundry college. However even a cursory assessment suggested they had problems. They were making a large part for a prestige car maker using a sophisticated tilt cast machine but were experiencing 30% reject levels. I watched the casting cycle and immediately tendered the observation to the owner that the orientation of the running system was completely wrong for the tilting technique he employed. He smiled and told me he knew that when he inherited the equipment. He was however amused that of the large number of consultants and technical experts who had studied the process since, I was the only one who had picked up on it immediately. I know I had impressed them but they continue to prevaricate about engaging me. I suspect it is my age and the high number of jobs I have had on my CV in the past 10 years that is deterring them.
I often experience this attitude at interviews and invariably reply “it reflects my wide and varied experience” but what I would really like to say is “where have you been whilst the industry has been collapsing for the past 10 years you smarmy twat”.
Although I am considerably more confident about my prospects now I still feel the change in the paradigm that has occurred in UK manufacturing will prevent me finding long term employment in a conventional job. I will continue to live on a six month horizon. I must make a dreadful and intimate confession that there is a slightly darker dimension to my reluctance to employ a long term perspective. My father, his brother and a close cousin all developed Parkinson’s disease in their late 50s. Within five years they had lost all their faculties although they lived into their 70s. This does not auger well for me.
Nevertheless I am now solvent for a couple of months. I am using the time to research the latest developments in cast metals technology. I am also trying to improve my Thai and learn Chinese. I can not sign on for unemployment benefits until the dispute I have with the authorities is resolved. I am still waiting for a date for the tribunal and have been told it will probably be September. Because they are seeking to recover £12k from me (that I don’t have) I am resolved to fight them although I am advised my chances of winning are slim. I may have to quickly hightail it from the UK if I lose.
I have been approached by head hunters for a job in Devon and an assignment in the UAE. I believe the Kunshan operation in China may ask me to return later in the year and I can hopefully tie it in with an assignment at the foundry in Chonburi if that materializes. I also had a very interesting and exciting proposition from fellow Stickmanite Wilhelm for working in China that I need to give careful consideration to. I believe that Asia will remain the continent of opportunity for me and over the next few years can see me spending an increasing amount of my time working there.
I went to a meeting of the educational trust I have been a member of for many years. It was from a fellow member that I got the original tip off for the China job and it remains an avenue for networking. The reports that the Indian National foundry college (which was set up to imitate the British model that closed in 1966) were actively seeking students from the UK provided a source of ironic amusement amongst the committee. The trust provides bursaries to metallurgical students and is funding Bradford University to develop a foundation degree that includes modules in Cast metals Technology. But of more interest to me was the news that our professional institute has been commissioned to examine certificate and diploma courses to train technicians and supply prospective students for the degree course.
This development is the result of demand from the remaining UK foundries that have finally woken up that the acute skill shortages (they say) they are experiencing is the result of the total absence of vocational education in the UK. I will not bore you with my opinion that these same companies must take a huge share of responsibility for this situation ……”enough said at our Elsie’s wedding “as the saying goes.
This development could present an opportunity for me. I have always envisaged seeing out my twilight years lecturing at a foundry college teaching a new generation of foundry men and cast metal engineers. I have some previous experience of teaching management subjects. I can visualise expounding pearls of wisdom to eager young students and boring them rigid with my interminable anecdotes. This is still some way off but I have already offered my services.
It will mean initially committing to hours of unpaid work in helping the institute to develop the courses. It will also involve returning to college to obtain teaching qualifications. But it is a project that would give me both a sense of purpose and opportunities along the way. I believe it is a sense of purpose greater than personal survival that has been missing from my life for the past few years.
This current cycle of submissions started with “Losers” and progressed through Brokenman repaired 11 to 14 (with a harmless little essay about the Nana Hotel in between). After 33,264 words I think it is now time to give the readers a rest from my interminable and self indulgent ramblings….at least for a couple of months.
I leave you with a few questions I have asked myself. In less than 90 words I have saved another long rambling submission. Eat your heart out Ernest Hemmingway.
Q. Do I still believe I am a loser?
A. Not anymore.
Q. Have I at last begun to get my act together?
A. The jury is still out on that one.
Q Have I finally seen the last of my bouts of melancholy?
A. I would certainly like to think so.
Q. Will I again be seen sauntering the salacious sois of Suhkumvit in the future?
A. I think it is probably a very safe bet.
Q. Am I likely to make a Pratt of myself with a woman in the foreseeable future?
A. I would imagine that is a stone cold certainty.
Q. Will I continue to report on my rosy cheeked capers and misadventures?
A. You can count on it.
Q. Will those reports be made with my usual disregard for prudence and discretion?
A. Watch this space.
Very nicely put together, as always.
Good luck securing a decent position and do let us know how it goes!