Blimey It Will Soon Be Christmas
It is the beginning of December and the question is, where has the year gone? The dreaded season of ill will to all men known as Christmas is almost upon us “with nary a baby in the house washed" as our friends across the Irish Sea would say. I will soon have to prepare my traditional Ebenezer Scrooge impersonation and pen my customary annual dissertation on the horrors of the festive season. I had not noticed until it was pointed out by my pal Codefreeze that I have recently been making submissions on an almost monthly frequency. This is quite sad and begs the question “should I get out more often?”
I detest Christmas; I hate the false bonhomie and the admonishments from all and sundry to be constantly cheery. For 11 months of every year I am considered a pisshead but for 1 month a year my drinking becomes acceptable as I apparently turn into a festive reveller. The pubs are full of once a year drinkers and young bucks wanting to fight after a sniff of the barmaid’s apron. Neanderthal drunks asking “Are you looking at me?” and “Are you calling my beer a poof?” has replaced the sound of carol singing as the traditional greeting in town centre hostelries. I hate the cold weather, congested roads and being stopped every 5 yards by overzealous traffic police wanting to breathalyse you. Yes, I hate Christmas with a passion.
It was not always so. When my boys were younger I joined in the festivities with great enthusiasm, searching for the Christmas tree, putting up decorations and sledging with my lads (snow permitting). I would dress up as Father Christmas for the kids' party and Christmas fair at the local church. I attended interminable parties including fancy dress on New Year's Eve and hosted an open house on New Year’s Day.
I remember the fancy dress parties when my first wife and I would dress as couples from history such as Anthony and Cleopatra, Robin Hood and Maid Marion etc. I would always dress as the female, I was quite slim and gentle-featured for a bloke so could get away with it. We took great care and delight in our preparation. My Maid Marion evoked much comment as no-one recognised me and I recall my exotic Cleopatra created quite a stir amongst the community, I was so convincing if I lived in Nigeria I would have been stoned to death. It was great fun for a few years until my wife began to suspect I was enjoying the cross-dressing a little too much so it had to come to an end. I hasten to point out I have not felt the urge to resurrect this inclination for some years… it was just a phase… harrumph… honestly.
Life has changed for me over the past few years. My sons have grown up and after two divorces I live alone in a one-bedroom flat in a rust belt town. Christmas does not have the same attraction as it once did. However it is a sobering thought that none of us will see a traditional Christmas in future if the juvenile “cult of the perpetually offended” known as fundamental Islam prevails. I see the insidious Muslim influence continuously eroding many of the western values and Christian traditions because it upsets their “delicate sensibilities”. Despite my personal irritation with the festive season (and I am well known for being a miserable git) it would be extremely sad if our politically correct and spineless leaders caved in to those unspeakable creatures and the time-honoured Christmas disappeared completely.
As always for the past 9 or so years I have considered escaping the Christmas festivities. I seek an alternative to spending it in Wednesbury pubs like the “Neanderthal and Trollope” being totally ignored by the inebriated womanhood who consider they are entitled to no-one less than George Clooney as their festive companion. My venue of choice would be spending the Christmas period in the Kingdom of Thailand. Although I do have a fairly busy work schedule for the first few months of next year I have no assignments or commitments from 18th December to 9th January which would in theory be the perfect time for a Siamese sojourn.
The mere thought puts a huge smile on my face and my frown turns upside down. I am sure Christmas Eve in Soi Cowboy has much to commend it. I can imagine the girls dressed as Santa’s elves in Nana Plaza. It is gratifying to think that everyone in Suhkumvit would be eligible for a public stoning under Sharia law and therefore must be thoroughly enjoying themselves. I picture enjoying a traditional Christmas dinner at Union Hill’s gaff in the Bangkok suburbs pulling crackers with his wife and fighting for the wishbone with Frugal Phil. Boxing day could see me watching the Albion thrash QPR on TV in the soft embrace of two Isaan ladies in a Nana Hotel bedroom. Then on the 29th December watching the Baggies shove it up Man United in a lively Suhkumvit bar. Both these venues would be eminently preferable to sitting in a freezing cold English football stadium with Bovril and a scabby pie. A trip to Sin City for New Year's Eve in Secrets Bar would also gladden the heart. There is one particular hostess there who would be the perfect companion for the festivities. I would probably have to suck a lemon to take the smile off my face.
However, knowing the Mothership will be fully booked over Christmas and a glance at the prohibitive cost of flights for this period bought me back down to earth with a bump. Even Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Airlines are 3 times what I normally pay and they have outside toilets on their aircraft. In my current reduced circumstances I could not contemplate this expense so will have to postpone my plans for a festive foray. It would be more sensible to make the trip at Easter (but before Songkran) when I may have accumulated a few quid. I am going to be sensible and adult for a change, forget Thailand and grasp the vocational opportunities currently being presented to me. I will use the time over Christmas constructively and work on research and preparing the teaching materials for the projects I have that I will explain later in this missive.
So it looks like I am once again resigned to spending another Christmas in Blighty. Now that I am reconciled to it I can put some effort into making the best of it. It may actually not be so bad, I am no longer quite the “Billy no mates” that I was a few years ago and I now have a fair cadre of friends in my home town. I have a few Christmas concerts with my choir and expect there will be a few festive activities in the local pubs. I also have the delight that my beloved “Baggies” have made an unbelievable start to the football season currently sitting third in the premiership table only 4 points behind Man United. It is the best start to a season since 1954 when we won the FA cup and were runners up in the league. Having the bragging rights in the West Midlands is a wonderful experience. The fans of our rivals Wolves and Villa complain that Albion supporters are like Jimmy Saville victims….you don’t hear anything from them for 30 years then suddenly you can not shut them up.
I will have to get my Thailand fix through the usual surrogate processes. These include the Stickman site, correspondence with my Thai lady friends and weekly visits to the local Thai restaurant. This establishment opened a couple of years ago in the town my eldest son lives. The Thai families who run it are friendly and genuine people. They have a gifted chef and the food is authentic and excellent value. They have come to treat me and my boys almost as family and quite a few of our friends use it as a meeting place. I was one of its first regular customers when it initially opened and I often ate alone. Eating alone is somewhat of an anathema to Thais and I am certain they felt pity for me.
My visits there are somewhat bittersweet. They often evoke memories of when my Thai wife Nat lived in the UK with me. I reflect on the mistakes we made and speculate how things could have been different. The major issue was the debts she had back in the kingdom and her need to send regular amounts of money back to Thailand to satisfy the banks. Although I helped as much as I could the scale of her debts exceeded my modest resources. This obligation began to dominate her whole being. When I lost two jobs within six months, in panic she left me to work in London for a few months before finally returning to Thailand. I speculate that if this Thai restaurant had been here whilst she was in the Midlands with me she would still be living with me. They would certainly have employed her and I feel she would have enjoyed working there. As well as a source of income to send her regular payments back home she would have had the companionship of respectable Thai people that all Thais crave. But such is life, it is now water under the bridge and I acknowledge I should stop tormenting myself.
I am occasionally asked “Would I do it again and bring another Thai lady back to the UK?” It is an interesting question; the thought of a Thai woman sharing my life remains compelling. There is the obvious issue of companionship but coming home to exotic meals on the table and shopping for food together are simple intimacies I really miss. I recall the sense of pride in Nat meeting my family and friends and the delight in introducing her to the British way of life.
I have never been a particularly covetous chap and am not especially envious of those who enjoy more material success than me. I am not even resentful of my contemporaries who have paid off their mortgages and have impressive pension plans, for such is life and I am pleased for their good fortune. I do however display an irrational jealousy whenever I am in a supermarket and see a grey-headed English bloke with a young raven-headed Asian wife in tow. I will have to seek absolution from Brother Thomasso for my violation of the 10th commandment although I have never actually coveted my neighbour’s oxen.
But I ask myself, is the culture gap too wide to successfully address the inherent problems of bringing a Thai girl to the UK? Am I now too set in my ways to tolerate the change? In reality it is probably too late for me to repeat the exercise. I do know a couple of (non bar girl) candidates I correspond with but in reality I do not know them well enough to contemplate the big step. I would need to prove I have known the lady for more than three years to satisfy the UK immigration process. Presenting all correspondence to prove the relationship is genuine is only one of various administrative hoops one must jump through.
Of more significance is the question of if I afford it. The cost of the visa process, the flights, settling her in and the obligatory trips back home to assuage her homesickness is not for the faint of heart or light of wallet. It is a sobering thought that what it would cost me could fund 6 honest mongering trips to the kingdom. It would also cost me a keelhauling from my friends Bangkok Barry, Frugal Phil and Union Hill if I contemplated marriage to a Thai lady again.
Although I am always ready to admit it is only being miserable that keeps me going I like to think I am a resilient chap. I am quite pragmatic and have always adopted the philosophy that if one wants to eat an elephant it should be done one small slice at a time. My targets remain modest and I find a goal a day keeps the black dog away.
However sometimes events come from out of field to upset you. It is with sadness I report the fireman pal “Simon” who was going through a difficult divorce I referred to in my last submission committed suicide last week. This week Brian, another of my best pals, passed away with cancer. Brian was 10 years older than me. When I was a snotty nosed apprentice, he was the production manager of the foundry. For some reason he took a shine to me, took me under his wing and we remained friends ever since. He was a scary character, in his younger days he managed the bouncers at a notorious night club in Dudley and was likened to an ageing Steve Segal. He had always been disparaging about my trips to Thailand but on meeting my wife Nat he was totally captivated by her. When his wife passed away it was around the time I began my Thailand trips. He discussed us going to St Petersburg in Russia for a holiday. He alluded to seeing the historic sights but I suspect he was considering finding a Russian bride. I often speculate if we had gone to Russia it may have replaced my Thailand obsession. I could have ended up waiting at the airport to receive a Russian wife with snow on her flip flops.
Although my life remains permanently on a six month horizon I do however have an inclination my fortunes are slightly improving. Without the “sword of Damocles” of the benefits dispute hanging over me I can now put it behind me, remove my head from my annular orifice and concentrate on getting my act together.
When I returned from China I acknowledged that I was unlikely to find a conventional job in a local foundry so I threw my hat at the revived interest in technical education. After 15 years of inactivity and in the total absence of any of the further or higher educational establishments offering certificate or diploma level courses in cast metal disciplines the director of the foundry institute had the idea of setting up a “virtual” college for the industry. My impression is that most UK colleges now employ more salesmen to promote services and more silly tarts to monitor “political correctness” than they employ lecturers to deliver courses; as such they are a total waste of time.
I initially volunteered my services free as I was optimistic that working freelance for our professional institute would eventually bear fruit. It has, and I am finding the kudos working with an eminent organisation which is the professional body for the industry is certainly an advantage over going it completely alone.
In fact last Monday I went up to Cumbria with the institute’s director and we obtained a contract to present an extensive training course in casting technology for the apprentices and team leaders at a copper based foundry owned by an international corporation. They supply equipment for all the UK and European steel works. It is in the extreme North West on the edge of the Lake District not far from the border with Scotland.
I have been assigned as lead tutor on this project. This will involve living there one week every month from December to April to present the course. I can be “Billy no mates” in the wilds of Cumbria equally as well as in Wednesbury. My willingness to live the nomadic existence got me the job so I can not complain.
I have also been engaged to work every Wednesday (when not in Cumbria) at the local college to teach on the new Diploma in Cast Metals. Although both contracts will barely cover my living costs it is a good start to a new vocation. It will also lead to other opportunities and one never knows when an Asian contract will drop in my lap again, especially in the long holidays the colleges have.
Part of my duties is liaison with the local foundries that have apprentices. Because I have been in the industry 40 years I know most of the proprietors of the small companies and the CEOs of the larger organisations. Many of their senior technical staff went through the training school I ran when I was Director of a large foundry in Darlaston some 20 years ago. Last week I went to a prestigious foundry who have undertaken a huge programme of investment. The personnel director is known as an empowered and pushy harridan. She has a reputation for being aggressive and demanding and employs the intimidation techniques common in the automotive industry. Most people who deal with her are terrified of her. Having been around the block a few times I am neither impressed by silly strident tarts nor intimidated by automotive bullying tactics. She told me her technical manager would be joining us in the meeting and she informed me he had been instructed to vigorously interrogate me on the technical aspects of the course her apprentices were on.
When her Technical Manager came in, he had a big smile on his face upon seeing me. He was another one of my apprentices that I trained some 15 years ago. He pointed at me and remarked “I am not going to question anything that old bugger says – he is the bloke who taught me everything I know”. This comment was both unexpected and welcome and he continued “If he is involved in this diploma course then our lads are in good hands”. We shook hands and exchanged a few anecdotes about the old days and mutual friends and after a few minutes he left us to it. His intervention was well timed and took the wind out of the sails of my virago antagonist. Funnily enough after this testimony her whole demeanour and attitude to me completely changed. She relaxed and we had a very constructive discussion. After a while I had begun to warm to her and could see she was a committed and highly intelligent lady. I swear she even began flirting with me. She is a striking woman but I determined she was definitely “man's work and me a mere boy”. These days I employ the axiom ….don’t let your mouth make appointments your body may not deliver upon
I was interested in a recent submission by my pal “Old Bill in Cyprus” in which he articulated a tale about a western woman whose unfounded allegations left him in despair. I can fully empathise with his exasperation at the perverse behaviour of English womanhood. I recall being accused by an inebriated silly fat tart of “slipping a date rape drug into her drink a few years ago. I countered her by asking if I had slipped it into her 15th or 16th double vodka and Red Bull.
A couple of weeks ago I bumped into Tracey the inflated Kylie Minogue I referred to in a previous submission. I found myself in an Indian owned pub (that serve free curries at half time) to watch the Albion v Man City game on an illegal satellite channel and saw her enter about 20 minutes before the end. At full time I moved over to where she was sitting to chat to her. She seemed pleased to see me and we had a comfortable conversation about her recent trip to Blackpool (which is the English Pattaya without the sun, sex or sense of sanuk). As before I got the body language and subliminal messages that she was definitely interested. But when I was about to leave and gave her a piece of paper with my phone number on, the look on her face suggested I had just wiped my arse on it before handing it to her. I was a little disappointed and concluded I would never understand women as long as there was a hole in my anal orifice.
I must however confess I am not finding all my female encounters to be negative. I was at the Institute offices last week and went into the kitchens to make a coffee. There is a rather sweet Indian lady in her early 40s who works there who I regularly flirt with. On seeing me she remarked “when you smile you look like Donny Osmond”. Now I have been compared to Roy Hodgson (the current England manager) and an ageing William Shatner ….but never Donny Osmond. I did check for her white stick and guide dog but it did wonders for my ego and I walked about the rest of the day with a definite spring in my step. Funnily enough within a few days one of my chorister pals remarked I looked like Jimmy Osmond and I did wonder if my Indian lady had got them mixed up.
I also had an interesting episode when I went to a concert given by a rival (but far superior) male voice choir. During the interval I engineered an opportunity to chat to their lady pianist who took my eye. Around my age she was not particularly pretty and quite chubby but definitely a cultured and elegant lady. At the end of the concert I suggested we meet for a drink the following week to which she agreed. We met at a country pub and had a pleasant evening. I was on my best behaviour; I entertained and amused and felt we got on very well. I ticked all her boxes; we both have an active participation in choral music and shared many other interests. We are both divorcees with grown up children and equals in intelligence and education. I was quite optimistic about developing a friendship with her.
The next day I received a text from her informing me she enjoyed the evening but did not feel “that spark between us“ and did not want to lead me on by meeting again. I was disappointed but could perfectly understand that she just did not fancy me and was seeking something better than me. I can appreciate her desire not to compromise her quest for the perfect man but I do fear that ultimately she will be very disappointed.
In a previous submission I talked of schizophrenia in that I appear to be a different person when I am in Thailand than when I am back in the UK. I attributed this to the availability of women in the kingdom. Another aspect of this duality is I employ different standards to my requirements in a female in the two locations. When I am in Thailand I seem to be quite fussy, I am very discerning and employ quite detailed specifications for the women I engage with. But in Blighty my standards fall and I am willing to compromise on my requirements in a woman ….in fact they fall quite dramatically. There are times when it seems my only stipulation is they still have a pulse. This is of course from necessity as in the UK the situation of availability is completely reversed.
40 years of emancipation has given western women more choices and raised their expectations. Even 50-year old women feel they can attract and are entitled to a 35-year old man as her partner. The dichotomy is that escalating obesity, a penchant for tasteless tattoos and piercings along with increasingly selfish attitudes has actually reduced the attractiveness of western women. The few women who have slim figures and retained any modicum of femininity are at a premium. They are like rocking horse droppings. They quickly recognise they are a rarity and as a privileged minority can afford to be extremely selective. A perfunctory observation around town centres, shopping malls and pubs confirms there are considerably more presentable men than there are acceptable women. I estimate it is a factor of 4 in the 35 to 55 age group.
The Office of National Statistics recently announced there are now 1.3 million men aged between 40 and 60 living alone in the UK. They also report that the proportion of British men who are married fell from 79% in 1996 to 69% in 2012. They postulate that in the last 10 years as women are becoming increasingly independent financially they are getting considerably choosier. An accompanying survey of working women asked the question “Would you support a man with earnings less than yourselves?” Over 80% asserted that they would not. I found this highly disturbing but was not surprised. I know many single independent women who express the philosophy “I have worked hard to get my home and a few possessions together so there is no way a man is going to get his hands on half of my assets”. I also know many working women who are in relationships openly declare “What’s his is ours, but what’s mine is mine”. I can not fail to conclude this demonstrates a meanness of spirit and a refusal amongst modern womanhood to take their share of social responsibility.
It always seems odd that in the UK, in a land of liberated and empowered females living in an allegedly permissive society it is becoming increasingly difficult for men to engage with woman. Even with the cultural and language barriers (and occasional third world mentalities) it seems easier to connect with women in Asian countries like Thailand.
A further illustration of my duality is my activity with ThaiLove inks. I have been a member (on and off) for a few years. I use it to two distinct objectives. When I am in Thailand I like to occasionally meet ordinary Thai ladies as a diversion from the usual mongering activities. I regularly converse with respectable Thai ladies on TLL. They include nurses, office workers, and teachers in their late 30s or early 40s. I have met up with quite a few over the years on my visits. I treat these encounters as legitimate dates.
Sometimes the ladies bring a chaperone, sometimes not, sometimes it leads to sex, sometimes not but I always treat them with good manners and great courtesy. They are usually fascinating creatures and generally better educated than the P4P girls of my customary acquaintance. All of them are divorced or widowed and the majority of them are women of property I believe most of these ladies would have never contemplated mixing with a farang man when they were young. But in latter years finding themselves ignored by Thai men they find the attention and courtesy from a western gentleman is a pleasant (and exciting) distraction. Unlike their younger sisters the motivation is not money; it is principally curiosity but sometimes sheer sexual frustration. I can well imagine living in a quiet town in Thailand being doted on by one of these good natured ladies,
I also use TLL in my continuing quest for Thai women already living in UK. Unfortunately within a short time of being exposed to British “culture” they adopt the same sense of entitlement as their western sisters. I again have to adjust my expectations. I receive no interest from Anglicised Thai women below the age of 40 and even those in their 40s and 50s are seeking better prospects. An example was Noi the Thai lady I was stepping out with before my trip to China. At 50 she was the oldest Thai woman I have been with. She was reasonably attractive but I wouldn’t have given her a second glance whilst in the kingdom. I was never intimate with her and I now realise she was merely using me to pass the time until something better came along. She finally told me she had found another man on my return from China.
Living in the UK I have to confess in my time I have been with some real dogs. I recall a harrowing experience in the early days after my first divorce that I had buried away forgotten deep in my subconscious. It involved a blind date arranged by a female workmate of my brother. At the time my self esteem was lower than a snake’s scrotum so I was grateful for the attention. I was totally unprepared for the shock when I actually met the woman in a local pub as arranged. I am fairly tolerant and I can handle a woman being plump if she has a pretty face and can even accept an unattractive face if she has a nice body. But not only was this woman hideously obese, she was gruesomely ugly and to compound things she didn’t even have a decent personality. In fact she was quite a selfish, opinionated cow. The evening was not pleasant but (and this is an indication of how worthless I considered myself) I agreed to a second date. On the second date she took me back to her house and asked me to stay the night but made me sleep in her spare bedroom. I realised she was prick teasing me to the point of humiliation. I did not even get breakfast the next morning. I finally came to my senses and distanced myself from her.
What was disturbing was that my brother’s lady friend clearly considered that this repulsive woman to be the best I could hope for. If this was her perception of me it was quite a sobering thought. It was a wake up call for me I resolved to shake myself up never to drop my standards or plumb such depths again. In the intervening years I slowly regained a modicum of self esteem and do try to maintain some standards. The result is I haven’t had sex with a white woman for almost 10 years.
A couple of years ago I received the attentions of a lady in my local pub. I would regularly find myself in her company at the quiz, disco or karaoke evenings even though she lived a few miles away. She had an agreeable and pleasant personality and was a woman of property. She was quite bright and I became comfortable in her company. At the time I had quite a few lady friends I enjoyed platonic friendships with so thought little of it. As with my other lady friends we would occasionally go out to the theatre or see a musical and I even took her to a couple of my choir concerts. I treated her like a pal and it took me some time before I realised she had designs on me. The problem was I just did not fancy her. She was as fat as she was tall and wore horn rimmed glasses that made her look like Ronnie Corbett in drag. I had no doubt she was up for a poking but it was like hugging a sofa and I was terrified that in shagging her I would have passed the Rubicon and would never have got rid of her. I merely ignored her advances for a time but the tipping point was when she took me to one of her family weddings. I was uncomfortable enough that they all assumed we were a couple but when I found all her work colleagues called her “Aunty Jo” it was a bridge too far. If all I could look forward to was being “Aunty Jo’s boyfriend” then please put the pennies on my eyes now. I would rather spend the rest of life as a lonely old git. As it happens I moved away to Essex for 6 months and she finally tired of my prevarications and left me alone.
In my last submission I reported my fears for the demise of my local “The Welded Wallet”. I am happy to report that there have been some positive developments. The new landlord is an astute guy and got around the absence of an entertainment budget from his parsimonious employer by thinking outside the box. Instead of having to pay for a disco/karaoke on the stage he now operates a modest laptop karaoke from the end of the bar. This reinvention of the format has created an intimate atmosphere and has begun to attract customers back. The new arrangement has enticed groups of unaccompanied women on Saturday nights who tell me they prefer this more easy-going environment to the more intimidating disco style arrangement and they feel more inclined to come in and have a sing and a jig.
The last three weeks have seen several parties of ladies come in and I have taken delight in their observation. The one group consists of around 12 middle aged ladies aged from 40 to 60. They leave their husbands at home, drink too much but are good fun to be around. There is a group of 4 attractive girls in their late 30s who enjoy trying out new songs and exhort me to attempt a new repertoire. There is another bunch of friendly girls in their early 30s who enjoy dancing. The most interesting cohort is a group of 20 year olds who come in with the obvious intention of going on to a night club but always end up staying. They are all very pretty; they have no tattoos or piercings and dress scantily. I love to watch their erotic gyrations as they dance on the improvised dance floor. Every one of them is extremely chubby and they spend most of the evening fighting with the hems of their micro skirts as they rise up their ample thighs but they are all quite lovely. Saturday night is very entertaining and last week there were 50 women in the place and only 10 or 12 men. The irony is of those 50 ladies there is not a single female who does not have a husband or partner at home. It is disappointing to be in a place outnumbered 5 to one by women and still go home alone but the friendly atmosphere compensates somewhat.
I am getting to an age where it feels disturbingly comfortable tucking my shirt into my underpants. This is but a short step to cardigans and incontinent pads. I sleep in the recovery position to save time for the paramedics. I get emotional at the slightest provocation. My ass is disappearing and now need braces (suspenders) to hold my trousers up. The waistband of my trousers is imperceptibly rising up to my chest. I sing along to the music in elevators. When out travelling I don’t automatically reach for a beer. I have to consider the reducing capacity of my bladder and often drink tea. I even have a couple of alcohol free days every week to give my liver a rest and occasionally go to bed early. I can not understand why I wake up feeling worse than I would do with a raging hangover. I suspect in the absence of alcohol I am experiencing the illusion called reality.
I am reconciled to my state of inertia. Being an old git who lives alone does not necessarily mean that I am a lonely old git. I am comfortable with my life and the thought of having an empowered western woman galumphing and multitasking around my little flat fills me with dread. I still have a good head of hair, my own teeth and a sparkle in my eye but I often feel a mild disquiet about the future. I would probably benefit from a little carnal diversion and the threat of modest mischief occasionally to revitalise me and Christmas is on the horizon. Oh I forgot about Christmas…..Does anyone have the number of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Airlines?
Very nice ramblings, as always. Merry Christmas to you!