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Playing The Game

  • Written by Phet
  • September 21st, 2012
  • 38 min read



Firehouse


It has been a few months since I last sauntered the salacious sois of Suhkumvit and Sin City but such is my acute jasmine fever the memory of them is rarely far from my thoughts. The Stickman site and weekly visit to my local Thai restaurant do help to assuage my affliction with Thailand but they are like Nicotine patches to a 40 cigarettes a day man.

I have a Sunday routine that involves getting up early to read the Stickman weekly column. I make a pot of tea and immerse myself for 30 minutes in a fantasy world. For a time I can delude myself that the news of the nightlife, the special 150 baht beer offers and the gossip from the Plaza and Cowboy are of relevance to me sitting in my flat 5,000 miles away.

Once I have had my Stick fix, during the football season I then make my way to the playing fields of Wolverhampton (having first checked my tetanus shots are up to date) to watch my eldest son play for his local team in the infamous Sunday league. He plays centre half for “Gornal and Sedgley District Labour Institute and Social Society Amateur Athletics and Football Club”. It is a long established and worthy institution but it costs a fortune to get the team name printed on the shirts and quite difficult to get a credible chant started from the sidelines.

The long-established purpose of Sunday morning football is for young men to run off the hangovers from the alcoholic excesses of the previous evening. It has been rumoured the league administrators were considering introducing breathalyser tests to check their alcohol levels before playing. It has also been alleged that if a player was actually found to be sober he would be obliged to consume two cans of industrial strength lager to raise his alcohol level before he is allowed to play. This is of course a vile and wicked calumny.

I recall the happy time when my Thai wife Nat lived in the UK with me and she accompanied me to these Sunday fixtures on a couple of occasions. She was no stranger to the beautiful game as her son once played for his school in Sri Racha in Chonburi. She took me to one game whilst I was staying with her a couple of years before we married and I recognised her as an archetypical soccer Mom shouting daft and unhelpful instructions to her little treasure from the touchline. It was quite sweet really. The standard of football was poor but these Thai lads played with a great enthusiasm and I enjoyed the game. Nat’s son was 16 at the time, a polite and gentle lad; he had a decent turn of pace and a sweet left foot with which he scored the winning goal. I congratulated him after the game and encouraged him by highlighting his strengths and skills. I showed him a couple of techniques to bring the ball under control more quickly and how to use his body to shield the ball. I also introduced him to a couple of professional and highly questionable tricks to gain advantage when going up for a ball with a stronger opponent, much to Nat’s annoyance. He asked if I could get him a game in an English football match if he visited us in the UK. His slight frame prompted fears for his safety in the highly physical “blood snot and sweat” exchanges of an English Sunday morning game. But not wishing to discourage the lad and wanting to please his mother I readily agreed.

The first time Nat came with me to an English Sunday league game was a delight. A naturally sociable creature she introduced herself to the wives and girlfriends of the players and I was both amazed and overjoyed how quickly they accepted her into their sisterhood. I was amused when after watching just 10 minutes of a typically boisterous physical encounter she remarked she would not like to watch her boy playing in such a game because she feared he would get very badly hurt within a few minutes.

She further surprised me when the inevitable fight broke out after a rather late tackle by their left back on our right winger. The two burley protagonists traded punches for a few minutes until their team mates intervened and split them up. Handshakes were exchanged, the free kick given and within 3 minutes the game had recommenced with no further animosity. All through the fracas my Nat seemed totally unconcerned by the violence happening within a few feet of us. I believe because her father was an ex Thai boxing champion she was inured to mindless brutality. She did ask if this happened often at games. I told her it only happened once or twice a season and usually it was only “handbags at dawn”. She laughed and when she remarked that “our right winger had a good left jab but his guard was weak” it was my turn to chuckle.

The past few years after a game I have taken my son to my mother's so she can dote on her grandson for an hour or so. We then go to my flat for a (late) full English breakfast of bacon, sausage, egg, beans, toast and half a pig’s head (only joking). Once suitably fuelled we take a taxi to the casino to meet up with my brother and a few other degenerates to watch the 4 o’clock premiership game on Sky and engage in a gentle drinking session. I sometimes deliver an impromptu football quiz if the conversation falters after the game or threatens to turn to the subject of golf. We usually return to our respective homes in a state of disgraceful inebriation around 10 PM.

Last Sunday saw a change to my usual routine. My son was away with his girlfriend and my brother was with the Borg collective in a caravan in Wales so I was at a loose end. I had just had my weekly fix of the Stickman weekly column when my friend Phai flashed up her presence on MSN. We exchanged our respective news via “messenger”. Phai is a respectable and conservative Thai widow in her late 40s and lives in Amnat Charoen where she is a teacher at a high school. We met on TLL many years ago and although have never physically met we exchange notes every week, usually on Saturdays. I love the simple domesticity of our exchanges. She is very prim and proper which I tease her about. But she is a highly intelligent woman and we have developed a gentle friendship over the years. After 35 minutes she signs off claiming she is going to the temple to make merit although I always suspect it is because she is hungry. 35 minutes is a long time for an Isaan lady to go without eating.

I had hardly switched off my computer when the phone rings. To my surprise it is Nat, my ex wife. She tells me she had closed her restaurant for a few days because of the rains and wanted to hear my voice as I always make her smile. She was clearly bored. I joke with her that I have heard more from her since we got divorced than when we were married.

She had opened a little 5-table restaurant in a small town near Udon Thani a year ago and things were going well for her. She was excited to tell me that she now had quite a few regular farang customers, men who lived locally with their Thai wives. We exchanged news about our respective families and she insisted I go up to the Isaan on my next visit. She told me she had found a local lady who would be perfect for me. This lady, in her late 40s, had never been married, had no children so there was no issue of “taking care”. This matchmaking by an ex wife may seem unusual to a western mindset but she had done this on a few occasions before we married, a couple of times involving members of her own family. My theory on this is that she always knew I did not have the wherewithal to keep her in the manner she was accustomed but wanted to keep me close. Conscious of the cost of the phone call we said our goodbyes with the promise to exchange emails during the week.

They say things happen in threes… I then get a phone text from Thip, another Thai lady in her 40s. I had not heard from her for a few months. She is a chef with a large chain of hotels in the UK and has a reputation for the cuisine known as Asian fusion. We met when she was working at a hotel near Worcester. We went out a few times and I believe the relationship would have developed had her employers not transferred her to a hotel in Manchester. We kept in touch for a year but when she was relocated down to Tunbridge Wells I accepted the distances were unworkable.

Thip is an astute and delightful girl, a little on the chubby side but with an enchanting face and a lovely wicked smile. She has lived in the UK for a few years but unlike many Thai girls who quickly adopt the attitudes of their British sisters, Thip has retained her sweet and gentle nature. She informed me her company were talking of transferring her to a hotel in Birmingham. She wanted to come up within the next few weeks for a look around. She asked if I would meet her at the rail station to show her around the city and maybe have lunch together. The thought of seeing the enchanting Thip again cheered me no end. I felt like a dog with two dicks and a bladder full of piss in a street full of lampposts. I was so immersed in Thai-ness that morning I even cooked myself a green Thai curry for lunch rather than the customary late English breakfast.


xxx


I needed cheering up as the previous evening I had popped my head into my local the “Welded Wallet” to find the customary disco and karaoke had again been cancelled. In the absence of any entertainment the place was like the Marie Celeste and totally empty. This irritated me immensely as it probably meant the eventual death knell for this particular hostelry. I had a soft spot for the place as it was a symbol of my revitalization. Some of my older readers will recall the sad days when my Thai wife left me and finally returned to Thailand. I returned to Wednesbury from unsuccessful ventures in Cambridge and Wiltshire, alone and somewhat defeated. I needed to throw a six to re-enter the game but appeared to have mislaid the dice.

I also had the uncomfortable realisation I had more friends in Asia than I had in my home town. I resolved to address my “Billy no mates” epithet and made a concerted effort to become more sociable and make new friends. The weekly pub quizzes and karaoke at my local were fundamental to this quest and I was happy to report within a few months I had acquired a large number of friends and acquaintances within my local community. I even met a couple of pleasant ladies who would accompany me to the theatre and music concerts on occasions. I was therefore somewhat saddened to see the deterioration of the establishment.

It transpires the reason for the demise of my favourite watering hole is the greed and stupidity of one avaricious man. Although the brewery owns the lease on the premises they had recently assigned the running of the pub to an independent management company. The director of this management company runs the business with the insensitivity of a Victorian mill owner treating his staff like plantation slaves. He has stopped the entertainment budget insisting the managers he puts into the pub must increase the business without any entertainment. In their six-month tenure we have seen 4 different mangers in the pub. Any new incumbent quickly realises they have no chance working for this idiot and leaves with indecent haste. It is self evident that in the current competitive environment a pub with no entertainment can not attract custom and quickly dies.

I have only met the director of this management company once but immediately hated the obnoxious a#$hole with a vengeance. He is the classic smarmy twat, typical of a new breed of barrow boy management who consider their infinite greed and personal ambition is sufficient justification for treating everyone with disdain. Mindless exhortations to performance without providing the means to do so are a common trait of poor management, particularly in the UK.

I recently overhead a conversation (I shouldn’t have) when he made one of his rare appearances at the pub. The latest incumbent had asked why he was stopping all the entertainment when he must know it would reduce takings and eventually lead to the pub's closure. His reply was most enlightening “The brewery pays me a fixed stipend to manage a group of pubs, so the entertainment budget comes out of my own money. If the pub closes that is the problem of the brewery, not mine.” He continued “Anyway, it doesn’t worry me as I make all my money from the gaming machines I have in several establishments. Managing the pubs is a good cover for this sideline and keeps it out of the eye of the taxman”. I could not believe his lack of discretion but this is typical of the arrogance of his type to brag about such activity.

I have a close friend who has been a pal since childhood. He just happens to be the senior inspector of taxes for HM Revenue in the Midlands. My friend informs me that an investigation into the activities of this odious individual will soon be underway. I will take great pleasure in his eventual incarceration at her majesty’s pleasure and take particular delight at the thought of his anal orifice being used as a pleasure park by groups of tattooed Neanderthals in the prison showers.


xxx


Although the Romans completely ignored the area and bypassed it in their conquests, my current hometown has a long history that goes back to Saxon times. This is reflected in the names of some of the hostelries such as The Myvod and the Woden. The town was once famous for the Patent Shaft steelworks, several world class Tube factories and FH Lloyds, the largest steel founders in Europe. Most of these factories closed during Maggie Thatcher’s recession and delusion with turning the UK into a “service” economy. Any subsequent regeneration has been killed by the indecent haste of greedy industrialists to move work to low wage economies in Eastern Europe and China. It has left the town without hope or identity.

I am often asked why I am still living in this town. I am scraping a living, driving a 12-year old Mondeo and living in a one-bedroom flat. I exist on such a short term horizon I don’t even buy green bananas or play an LP record. At least once a week I imagine living in Thailand. Now I do appreciate it is not an unmitigated paradise and 12 or so visits is no preparation for the realities of life in the kingdom. But the thought of a warmer climate and a little regular female companionship remains compelling.

As I have previously reported (ad nausium), in the UK a gentleman of a certain vintage can only attract dried up old relics. When one first marries you hope to grow old together and the ageing process becomes irrelevant to the relationship. All you can look forward to when you find yourself single in your 50s is someone else’s old woman. Invariably one who has had the life and joy drained out of her by that bloke.

I do clearly understand that as an older guy a relationship with a young Thai girl is unsustainable and marrying a bargirl inadvisable. However even a 56-year old can still interest an attractive Thai lady in her 40s. Even in my limited experience I know enough independent educated Thai ladies who are seeking western men to know it is feasible. Many of these ladies have employment as nurses, teachers or government officers; they have their own property and are financially independent so “taking care” is not an issue. They genuinely seek companionship and see a cultured western gentleman as an attractive alternative to an unsavoury type of Thai man who they perceive is merely after their money and property.

I can picture myself living in a small but comfortable house in a little Isaan town with an attractive middle aged Isaan lady who dotes on me. I can envisage keeping active doing a little teaching in the local school and occasionally advising a couple of the small craft foundries in the district. I could start a small enterprise on the internet or do the occasional consulting assignment outside the country. I may even write the definitive Thailand expat novel. Maybe every 2 months I would take the bus down to Bangkok for a weekend of merriment and rosy cheeked capers with my pals in Suhkumvit. I do appreciate in my current circumstances it is just a dream but it is persuasive nonetheless. And one that helps me keeps my equilibrium and sanity.

I still live here in the “rust belt” because my aged mother lives here and I feel obligated to look after her in her twilight years but if I am honest the principle reason may be inertia. My sons live in a nearby town and although young men (23 and 25) they are still of an age were they seek my guidance and are not quite ready to cast me adrift. I envisage they will do so within a few years when they start their own families. This would be the obvious time for me to finally make the commitment to get off my ass and make the move to the Kingdom but will I have the enthusiasm or the energy by then. A stick pal LP (who served the role of kindly uncle for a few years) once told me if I found an English woman prepared to love me my obsession with Thailand would disappear overnight. Maybe my passion for the Kingdom is merely a fantasy and the result of loneliness. Is loneliness sufficient motivation for such a move?


xxx


I bought my sons up to be West Bromwich Albion supporters as my father, grandfather and great grandfather before me. I have always given them a free rein in choices of religion hobbies or careers but living at the time in a town predominantly inhabited by followers of Wolverhampton Wanderers I was always fearful they would revert to the dark side under peer pressure from friends. On their respective 7th birthdays I took them to see a live Albion game and informed them if they ever returned home wearing a Wolves shirt they would be inserted in a hessian sack weighted with house bricks and thrown into the local canal without ceremony. They still laugh about it to this day. It worked, although in their late teens they both had dalliances with soft drugs and minor brushes with the law I am happy to report they are still baggie fans and have never strayed from the righteous path.

I actually have a wonderful relationship with my two sons and although my youngest is currently at University in Portsmouth so I don’t see him much, I see his older brother at least twice a week. I also have a very interesting rapport with his large gang of friends. I recall being voted the “coolest dad” by them a few years ago. I have run some of their junior football teams over the years. I don’t mean just shouting the idiotic instructions from the touchline that seems to pass for coaching these days but administering club finances, attending FA disciplinary meetings with them or getting them out of police stations on Friday nights for transgressions they didn’t want their parents to know about. They still often ask me to join them for a drink in the pub they all meet.

One of the unbelievable aspects is that on occasions some of these 25 year olds ask my advice about women. I do appreciate that many readers will now be rolling about the floor clutching their sides in paroxysms of laughter at the thought of me giving anyone advice on women. I have in fact protested to the lads who seek my counsel that I am the very last person they should ask, with two failed marriages my track record is poor and what I know about women and five and a tanner wouldn’t even get me a haircut. I explained all my recent experience has been in Thailand where attracting women is like shooting fish in a barrel compared to the UK. However it is all about perceptions. I acknowledge my life has become reminiscent of Jim Carey’s character in the film “The Truman show” to the Stickman community. Although I have shared my innermost thoughts and accounts of my many failures with the congregation of the church of the latter day mongers, these lads here do not see me like that and have looked up to me for years. Their impression of me is clearly quite different. But I was concerned and keen to allay their misconceptions so one evening I challenged them to name any women they had actually seen me with.

I was surprised when they all declared they had often seen me with attractive women. They all cited Nat, my Thai wife who had charmed them all from their first meeting. A further example given was Noi, the Thai lady from the Bulls Head I was seeing last year who they considered quite exotic. Another lad, Stu, mentioned seeing me a few times with the lecturer from Wolverhampton University (Jane) who I will admit was an exceptionally attractive woman. My own son pointed out Edwina, the black chef who I knew he had a soft spot for. He did however take the piss out of me about Janet, the 6 foot statuesque black beauty, alluding to cannibals and missionary pots in his account. Mike recalled Mary, the estate agent who he described as a real MILF. They all made reference to my friends Claire and Tracy, two striking blondes who were my constant companions for two years after my first divorce. Although it was only platonic they were both stunning and definitely worthy of mention. John, my son’s oldest pal, commented “We all thought if an old geezer like you can pull class Tottie like that there was always hope for us”. Even though none of these relationships ever developed I could now understand their impression of me. Although for me it was a nice ego trip I was under no delusion about this illusion. I was however determined to help these likeable lads.


xxx


These lads are all polite and well bought up. They are clean well-dressed, presentable young men in regular employment. But out of the 15 there are only 6 of them who have girlfriends. They would often bemoan the hostile attitudes they encountered from young women. They were particularly aggrieved at the rejections from “munters” (fat ugly girls) who appeared to take a perverse delight in voicing gratuitously mean and caustic put downs. It was their belief these girls get aroused by the very act of rejecting young men. Another common complaint was that it appeared women didn’t want nice decent blokes, preferring the guys they perceived as bad boys.

I sympathised but fully understood. When I was young I was a real bastard to women and as a result was very successful with them. I often joke my most successful pickup line in the fleshpots of Tipton was “Bin yow having this or am yow guwin in the cut” ….oops I need my universal translator again….”Are you going to accept my kind offer of sexual congress or do I have to push you into the nearby canal?” The usual reply was “Well I don’t want to get my hair wet so I had better have it”. You could tell when a Tipton girl was having an orgasm because she dropped her bag of chips!

It was only as I got older that I tempered my behaviour and as I became more civilised my success rate diminished rapidly. I retired from the game and got married just before my 30th birthday. I had had carnal knowledge of 36 women of various size, race and beauty, not a great number but enough to justify a reputation as a reasonable player in my time. Of course 19 years of marriage subsequently destroyed any feeling of self-worth I had. I came out of the divorce like Rip Van Winkle into an alien world. It has taken 8 years and numerous Siamese sojourns to regain any semblance of self-confidence and equilibrium.

Some of the lads were becoming so disillusioned with their predicament they had become interested in the work of the internet PUA (pick up artist) community. A couple of the lads were reading “The Game” by Neil Strauss and were dabbling with some of the techniques suggested. Unfortunately they reported they were disappointed with the results and still experiencing rejections.

I knew a bit about this subject. A couple of my Stickman pals feeling I could do with some lessons in self confidence had recommended the work of David De Angelo to me some years ago. De Angelo was one of the leading gurus and made a good living presenting seminars on the subject of picking up women. There is some merit in his message which is a mixture of NPL and cod psychology. He is best known for the “cocky-comedy” routine which advocates using a humorous mock arrogance intended to communicate with a women’s intelligence and her enjoyment of a challenge. However the balance has to be finely judged between being too arrogant and being seen as a clown. It also implies a degree of intelligence in the intended female target which is often a very optimistic assumption.

Further research lead naturally into the other PUAs and I read the book “The Game” myself. The author relates his years of involvement with the PUA community. I was not convinced of some of the techniques such as peacocking (dressing outlandish), reading runes and using magic tricks which I felt somewhat contrived. I was decidedly uncomfortable with the ethics of using hypnosis and felt most of the PUA characters he described were unquestionably weird and creepy. I did however find the “false time constraint” interesting. This is when beginning to chat up a women you declare “I can only stay a few minutes as I have to meet a friend” which counters her thought “how can I get rid of this tosser” and immediately relaxes her.

But what works in a Manhattan wine bar will not work in a pub in Dudley on a Friday night. In the UK binge drinking culture the girls are out to get hammered in the shortest possible time, their idea of a colourful evening is throwing up on the pavement at the end of the night. Some of the lines used by the PUAs such as “Tonight is your lucky night as you get to go out with me….but no touching” or “You remind me of my dog….and I love my dog” would certainly not impress the local wenches and could result in a bed in the trauma unit of the local hospital.


xxx

At the time my interest developed into exploring the psychology of women. I began to research women’s internet sites and writings in an attempt to gain insight into their psyche. I also consulted many of my lady friends. I actually collected a wealth of knowledge but most of it contradictory. The overriding impression was women do not know what they want but they want it now!

But it should be no surprise that women appear to be in a state of utter confusion when Western society and the feminist dominated media send so many mixed messages to them. Firstly they convince them that men are to blame for everything in their lives which does not encourage any sense of responsibility for their own actions. They then exhort them to the impossible task of juggling working full time and bringing up a family. The mixed message is further compounded, on one side they encourage a sense of entitlement (L’Oreal ….because you’re worth it) then bombard them with perfect body images that diminish their self esteem. With a mix of low self esteem and an inflated sense of entitlement it is little wonder the poor dears are confused and difficult for us mere men to understand.

Now I quite acknowledge that this information hasn’t done me a lot of good but if I can use it to help the lads it would have some purpose. I was particularly interested in their bewilderment why the girls they met preferred bad boys to nice boys. Although much of this is already well documented I had identified the numerous mistakes I had made so I distilled my research and experience into a simple list.

10 reasons women don’t like nice guys

1. Respect – if you are too nice to a woman she perceives you as a doormat and no one respects a doormat. If you appear “needy” women find this a definite turn off.

2. Predictability – Women crave excitement, if you are too nice and make it easy there is no challenge. With no challenge there is no excitement to them.

3. Nurturing – Women’s nurturing nature prompts the desire to change a bad boy. Nice boys don’t need changing so there is no interest.

4. Project – They see changing a bad boy as a project. If they didn’t have the excuse of something to fix they would have to take some responsibility for their own lives.

5. Biology – the female of any species is looking for the strongest genes for their offspring. Bad boys are usually physically stronger suggesting better genes. The caveat to this is that once impregnated females do seek a more nurturing male.

6. Fear of intimacy – Women have a fear of getting too close emotionally with nice boys but fool themselves they can put “distance” between them and bad boys. This is why you should never become just “friends” with a girl you have any intention of poking. Once you become “friends” you will never ever get into her pants.

7. Low self esteem – Despite a sense of entitlement most women actually have low self esteem. If a man treats them better than they are used to or expect they are confused. Bad boys treat them in a way they expect. I believe this is why the DeAngelo cocky-funny technique appears to work so well.

8. Sex – Bad boys look as though he will deliver, she feels nice boys will not.

9. Charm – Bad boys know exactly what to say (or not say) they know what women WANT to hear. Women may claim they want compliments but can not handle them.

10. Protection – Bad boys give the illusion they can physically protect a women.

I chatted to some of the lads one evening and presented this list to them (plus some additional advice given to me by a couple of lady friends). I suggested they use any chat up lines only within in the context of this information. I emphasised that they should always remember that no matter how good you think the pick up technique is, it is always the girl who chooses. One of my pals once observed “It doesn’t matter how much pussy there is in the room, it is woman that have them all“. If they don’t fancy you immediately they will freeze you out anyway. Most women are extremely shallow and have a very narrow and unrealistic specification for the man they seek. A positive relaxed attitude and confident mannerisms when approaching women will always increase your chances. But even the best chat lines or positive attitude are worthless if they think you look like “Albert Steptoe”. Conversely if you look like Brad Pitt you could recite the phone book and their front bottoms would be salivating and their mudgeon as wet as a mermaid’s wash cloth.

I used to witness first hand my old pal Shanghai Chris. He would spout the most banal and errant nonsense to women but as an extremely handsome chap they hung on his every word and he was shagging them faster than you could pull them from under him. I would define Chris as a “player” rather than a PUA. The difference is PUAs employ indirect tricks whereas players operate directly within the game. However the principle message remains confidence and projecting the impression of being self-assured, positive and relaxed.

One piece of advice I did convey was to leave the fat ugly girls alone unless they have an amazing personality or their family owns a substantial business you could inherit. Other women only feel contempt if you have been seen with women they consider inferior to themselves. However if you are often seen in the company of extremely good looking girls their interest is piqued. It is advantageous therefore to restrict your activities to 7s and above at least for a time. If they blow you out so what….but you could get lucky. I am waiting to see if my modest advice improves their rate of success.


xxx


A couple of years ago I wrote a whimsical piece entitled "Where the fat girls dance” about my experiences in the “Neanderthal and Trollope” (aka The George Inn) on Friday nights. It was a notorious establishment, the sort of place if you still have both ears you are obviously a sissy. The pub is now closed as the authorities became tired of deploying Police in full riot gear to the customary mêlée on Friday nights. I was always amused at the number of girls who seemed to be continuously pulling down the hem of their micro skirts as they relentlessly rose up their ample thighs. Observing this fat wench shuffle always begged the question, why wear such short skirts if they are so self conscious about them? I would watch the women on the dance floor and note there was not a discernible waistline to be seen and nowhere a body that was not disfigured with ghastly tattoos. Watching slim presentable young men dancing attendance on these gruesome and corpulent creatures always mystified me. I came to the conclusion….In the land of the truly hideous the merely repulsive is king.

I was still looking for a new watering hole and most of the pubs in the area such as “The Benefit Claimers arms” or “The Cutpurse and Footpad” did not appeal. There is only one decent pub left in the town centre, the “Pig and Trumpet“. It had just been renovated and is quite lively at weekends….but it has such a silly name. I popped my head in on Friday night for the disco and noted it was somewhat reminiscent of the old George. Many of its clientele had migrated there but a huge contingent of bouncers and doormen had clearly eliminated the worst excesses. There were a number of women there who would have been most appealing if they had not been dressed like dockside hookers and drinking like the apocalypse was imminent. The place was fun and I had a few incoherent but amusing conversations with some deliciously intoxicated ladies but as they were only standing by some genetic memory I did not pursue the encounters. I only stayed for a couple of pints but was informed that Sunday afternoons were good with entertainment on every week.

The last few years have seen a significant change in society’s attitude to Sunday activity. Only a few years ago Sunday drinking was restricted to a few hours. There was a long standing British tradition of the Sunday lunch time drink. Even subservient married men were allowed out for an hour to visit the working men’s club or local pub for a beer with their friends whilst their dutiful wives cooked the traditional Sunday roast. This was an exclusively male preserve with no women to be seen. If a woman was seen (shock horror) questions would be asked in the house why she wasn’t at home cooking her husband’s dinner. But at 2.00 PM precisely well-trained husbands would obediently return home to consume Sunday dinner. Back under their wives authority their pass outs would be confiscated until 12 the following Sunday. Freer spirits could later return to the pubs at 6.00 when they reopened.

In the past 10 years the pub opening times were gradually relaxed and now open from 12 noon to 12 midnight effectively allowing all day drinking on Sundays. This change in social convention has seen many venues expand the provisions for family friendly Sunday dinners but also many establishments cater for a different clientele and have live entertainment on Sunday afternoons.

As I previously mentioned last Sunday I was at a loose end with my son and brother otherwise engaged. Without my usual drinking partners I had a thought about staying in and not going out for a beer….I took that thought into a quiet corner and beat it soundly with a stick.

So on Sunday afternoon I find myself in the Pig and Trumpet. There is an accomplished guitarist playing named Bev who I recall playing in a successful local band some years ago. There is a pleasant ambiance and the place is jam packed with revellers. Has Sunday afternoon become the new Saturday night? I take a seat overlooking the dance floor, a good vantage point for observing the activities. I observe there are many of the same ladies I saw on Friday night but note they are no longer dressed like Patpong tarts. In fact ALL the women I can see are dressed quite demurely in modest skirts or trousers with colourful tops and blouses (all courtesy of Wal-Mart or Matalan). They all looked rather feminine and pleasing to the eye. The ladies on the dance floor were also dancing with decorum to the skilful renditions of some old favourites; they also had smiles on their faces.

My eye was drawn to a chubby woman standing near to the bar at the edge of a small group I assumed were her friends. She was watching the guitarist and not paying them much attention. But she had certainly caught my attention. She was wearing a white denim skirt and a rather pretty blouse which showcased her shapely breasts. She had bleached blonde hair and was definitely far more chunky than is my usual taste but she had the most beautiful face I had seen in a while. She also had a most wonderful animated smile, I was totally mesmerised. I looked more closely at her and guessed she was late 30s or early 40s…it was as if someone had taken Kylie Minogue and inserted a bicycle pump up her orifice (I think we should have a moment with that thought) and inflated her to twice her previous size. The effect was quite extraordinary. I was still taking the skin off my first pint so it was not beer goggles that caused this interest. I looked at this captivating creature and I had an immediate compulsion to chat with her. I can not explain it but I felt I would never forgive myself if I did not. I walked over to the bar and stood near to her for a moment before engaging her in conversation. “Old Bev certainly hasn’t lost his touch” I said. I will admit not the most notable of chat up lines but she turned to me with the most enchanting smile I have seen this side of Suvarnabhumi airport and replied “Yes, he is always very entertaining.” We chatted for time about nothing in particular and I was surprised at the positive response I was getting, the little touches on my arm as she spoke, the eye contact and warm smiles are all indications that she was interested and was not going to summon a constable for my arrest. I had not received such attention from an attractive English woman for quite some time.

Just as I was thinking this was too good to be true, one of her friends came across to us. She was a big woman with a mahogany tan and a face like a bulldog licking piss of a thistle. I gave her a friendly smile and she gave me a look as if I had asked to eat one of her children. With the minimum of ceremony she dragged the object of my attentions away with the explanation she wanted to meet someone down at the “The Cutpurse and Footpad”. My chubby sweetie gave me an apologetic smile, mouthed a “Sorry” as her friend hurried her away through the door. I have no idea what that was about but I had quite forgotten how mean-spirited some women could be.


xxx

Today is my birthday. I am now 57 which my son informs me is a “good age for a pig”. I had almost 60 birthday greetings on Facebook and I actually knew a couple of the people who sent them. I have just been down the Talbot Inn to see my beloved Albion beat the league leaders Everton, breaking their 11 game unbeaten run. The Indian owner of the pub has recently spent a fortune refurbishing the room and setting up a huge screen with a satellite link from the Middle East for the games. I joke that this usually involved a beheading or a woman being stoned as the half time entertainment. In truth there are free curries provided at half time.

Just before half time I was pleasantly surprised to see the pretty blonde lady from the previous week enter with two friends, a pleasant brunette and the mahogany harridan. They take their seats at an adjacent table and I receive a pleasant smile of recognition from the lady. I was eating a huge chicken tikka naan wrap at the time which detracted somewhat from the sophisticated nonchalance I was attempting to convey. At half time I received my free curry which prompted the brunette to remark “you must be hungry eating a tikka naan and a curry” I smiled and replied “As a single bloke I never know where my next meal is coming from “she laughed and pointing to the blond girl said “Our friend Tracy is single maybe she could look after you” Establishing the lady’s name and status was very useful intelligence. I did not get chance to develop the conversation as the three ladies left soon after. But I felt some incremental progress had been made and suspected I would bump into her again soon.

The game ended with the Albion beating Everton 2.0. My beloved baggies have had an incredible start to the season beating Liverpool 3.0 and drawing with Tottenham. Today’s win puts us 3rd in the league and above Man United, Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool. It is particularly sweet to see our rivals Aston Villa languishing in bottom place.

Tomorrow morning Stickman’s weekly column will supply an hour’s diversion and the Wolverhampton Sunday league begins a new season. The venture with foundry education and training is beginning to develop and could see me through till Christmas. But tonight my destination is the Welded Wallet as the latest incumbent is having a farewell party. The cycle of life begins again. It will be interesting to see what excitement and misadventure this next year brings. Watch this space.



Stickman's thoughts:

Very nice as always… It must be said that it was most unsporting and certainly ungentlemanly like of you to mention the Liverpool result!