Readers' Submissions

From the Formicary: Post Early for Christmas

  • Written by Markin
  • November 18th, 2013
  • 6 min read



I know it’s not ‘fashionable’ to say that you don’t like a country and that you don’t like its food, climate, people or culture. Perhaps it’s even worse to say that you feel that as a generalisation a nation is at best laughable or at second best (but arguably worse) sad and pitiful.

Equally, it is ‘fashionable’ to avoid generalisations – such as, and this just an example, stating that Thai men are feckless.
Well so be it.

But read this maybe (from the on-line ‘New World Encyclopaedia’, so it must be true).

“During World War Two, the nation was used as allied military bases. Soldiers brought modern industrial goods, which prompted the development of several cargo cults. These are movements attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic and religion. The cargo cults believe that manufactured western goods (cargo) have been created by ancestral spirits and are intended for the indigenous people. White people, it is believed, have unfairly gained control of these objects. Cargo cults thus focus on overcoming what they perceive as undue "white" influences by conducting rituals similar to the white behavior they have observed, presuming that the ancestors will at last recognize their own and this activity will make cargo come.

The classic period of cargo cult activity, however, was in the years during and after the Second World War. The vast amounts of war material that were airdropped into the nation during the Pacific campaign against the Empire of Japan necessarily meant drastic changes to the lifestyle of the indigenous people. Manufactured clothing, canned food, tents, weapons and other useful goods arrived in vast quantities to equip soldiers—and also the indigenous people who were their guides and hosts.

By the end of the war the airbases were abandoned, and "cargo" was no longer being dropped. In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, the indigenous people imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood, and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses.

One such cult revolved around the belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum (believed to be derived from "John from America"), promising the indigenous people deliverance. John Frum continues as both a religious movement and a political party, with two members in Parliament in 2006.” (Source: New World Encyclopaedia – on-line)

Now come on! Not even a wry smile at the antics of a ‘weird’ society and people? Come on you can giggle a bit (even if it’s behind your hand and in private).

So, it’s nearly Christmas and the ‘boxes’ MUST arrive on time for the step-sons.

OK, they already have nick-names but I’m trying to decide what a suitable farang collective term for them might be. I’m toying with: ‘beloved step-sons’, ‘naughty scallywags’, ‘you two who have enhanced and enriched my life immeasurably’, ‘drain on my resources’ and ‘parasitical vermin (PV)’.

I think I’ll have to settle on the last of the above even though I know that in the conventional taxonomy of stuff ‘vermin’ aren’t ‘parasites’ – look, we’re talking about amazing Thailand where many forms of hybrid exist.

Yes the boxes have been sent to Ant’s sons.

Here it might be worth remembering (and I quote myself), “Ant (my legal wife) works hard at a low-paid job here in London. Ant is frugal. Money flows to Thailand. She pays the rent, water bills, electric bills for both sons plus a monthly allowance plus half the hire-purchase on the new car purchased for eldest son, plus the insurance on that car – but not, as it transpired, insurance on his BIG black motorbike. See here. And of course the sons have the run of our (sorry Ant’s) house in Jomtein. Ant and I share the cost of medical insurance for eldest son’s son (nick-named Satang. Look I couldn’t make it up. I don’t have the imagination. Yes! Satang). Ant and I also share medical insurance costs of eldest son’s step daughter – he didn’t care, “She not my blood. Farang think too much, Buddha blah blah blah. Me good driver etc etc.”

The Christmas cargo has been sent.

‘We’ use a door to door service – collection from our door in London and delivery to a door in Ding Daeng. Hell you won’t expect the PV to go and collect their cargo would you! But what am I thinking – they’d send the wives.

The content of the boxes was mainly ‘cargo’ gleaned from a recent almost relaxing holiday on Corfu – a trans-shipment if you will.

After filling in the customs declaration the collecting agent did comment, “Don’t they have T-shirts or plastic toys in Thailand?” (He really did!) Good point. I know the PV would rather have the dosh/mulla/the all mighty Baht delivered by Mr Weston Union. They could then purchase cargo of their choice – knives, revolvers, base-ball bats – to play with over the festive period. Naughty rascals!

I did email the owner of the company that was flying the boxes into the ever hungry kingdom to say that there might be a niche market of some customers who would like to have their consignments parachute-dropped a few hundred yards off Jomtein beach. I would certainly be prepared to pay a premium for such a service. At least the PV’s would have to take some exercise (I have their best interests at heart). I would pay even more for a ‘gold service’ that guaranteed a shark presence at the drop point. But then they’d probably send their wives.

The company owner is considering this potential expansion of services.

Anyway, next time when you fly into Suwannaphum Airport, make sure you have a window seat. Have a good look at the control tower. Is it real or merely a barely plausible copy? Are the people in it wearing real head-phones or are they made of wood?

Most importantly, what is it being waved as landing signals by those ladies standing on the runways? O yea, they seem to be…yes they are!…it’s their panties!

So, I guess that’s not all folks as I have more rants that it may be good for me to share!
Pip pip.

P.S. The quote at the beginning was real but is about the Republic of Vanuatu. It’s real! Check it out if you will.

P.P.S. OK to laugh now?