Cigarettes And Whisky And Lukewarm Women
Christmas came and went with no harm done. In posting this latest missive I reflect on the kindness and encouragement I have received from the Stickman community in the past 10 years. I have also learnt they are an extremely discriminating bunch and never fail to surprise. Last year I spent six months penning an 81,661 word novelette “The Mongering Philanthropist” posted over 14 chapters and received just 5 notes in that time. However when I posted one of my repetitive self indulgent and inconsequential epistles “Normal service is resumed” I got twice that response from fellow stickmanites within 24 hours of its posting. I am unsure what to make of this but it would appear that the discerning fellows of the Stickman congregation prefer factual ramblings to works of fiction, which is a lesson learnt for the future.
I usually treat the season of ill will to all men that is known as Christmas as a tribulation to be endured. I hate the Christmas revelry and the false fervour it entails. It appears to be a criminal offence to not be in raptures over the festivities. In previous years even Ebenezer Scrooge would have baulked at my curmudgeonly conduct, but this year I was determined not to be such a misery and make an effort to enjoy the celebrations and the run up to them. I also resolved for my own peace of mind to avoid anything related to Thailand. This meant no ThaiLoveLinks, no visits to my Thai restaurant and no involvement with capricious Thai women residing in the UK as in previous years.
I like to think I am a resilient fellow who treats the iniquities the world throws against me with charm and forbearance. I do get low sometimes and occasionally feel worthless so when I do receive a little encouragement it is all the more appreciated. I am not seeking sympathy but just explaining the context of why the simplest of things can keep me cheerful.
A couple of months ago the West Midlands branch of the foundry institute asked that we put on a presentation about the recent renaissance in education, particularly the two local diploma groups I was tutoring. The evening was a tremendous success held at the local Conservative club and well attended by 70 members of the foundry fraternity in the Black Country. The director of the national foundry institute gave a talk and I had invited the head of engineering from the local college to speak. I coached six of the second year students to each make a presentation about themselves and I gave a light hearted talk which was well received.
There is always a bar, free buffet and an opportunity for networking and I was surprised at the plaudits I received for my efforts in educating a new generation of foundry men. I was suddenly the flavour of month. The reception from my old colleagues and acquaintances was in sharp contrast to that of a couple of years ago when I was generally ignored, it was as if my unemployment was contagious. I couldn’t even get arrested at one of these functions. I suspect they no longer think I am after their jobs and now feel it safe to talk to me.
I was expounding to one of my old colleagues how exciting it was educating the latest generation following almost 20 years of neglect. I explained we had about 18 students in the Midlands and another 20 around the UK. My old friend commended me for being willing to stand up and expose my knowledge and experience, an activity most foundry men were reluctant to undertake. Unprompted he also reminded me I had done this before and helped develop a previous generation.
From 1989 to 1996 I was Director of a leading aluminium foundry where I had initiated a training school and mentored a group of trainees up to degree level. In the subsequent ten years several of them held senior technical positions, one girl became an international trouble-shooter for JLR and five of them became foundry managers. Three of them subsequently became managing directors at prestigious operations (one at a major organisation in New Zealand). I had forgotten this until my colleague pointed it out. As one of those managing directors he was conscious I had supplied a complete generation of foundry management throughout those years that no one was doing any training.
I returned home that evening feeling like a dog with two dicks in a street full of lampposts and a bladder full of piss.
I have a group of pals I have been friends with from when we sang together as boys in a church choir. They have all done well in life and include two accountants, a solicitor, a forensic scientist, a senior tax inspector, a University professor (who sadly passed away last year) and the guy who wrote one of Cliff Richard’s hit records. We get together about three times a year and some of those adventures are probably worthy of a report one day. They included a weekend canal trip and being the actors in a murder mystery weekend. I remain the only raggedy assed member of the group but they continue to invite me, probably because I am always good for a tale or two. I think they consider my Thailand interest a mere aberration that I will be cured of once I am back under the influence of an assertive English lady…..in other words under the thumb as they are. Their friendship kept me together after my first divorce some ten tears ago for which I remain grateful. Our latest meeting involved a Christmas dinner at a local pub and gave further opportunity for 50 years of reminisce. I left their company in good spirits.
On subject of music, a few months ago the conductor of our male voice choir declared his intention to retire at the end of the Christmas programme. As he has just turned 83 and has been a member for 50 years it was understandable.
John and my father were best friends for 40 years; he treats me like a son and confides in me. He expressed the fear that we would not be able to find a replacement for him. He felt no one would want to take on the leadership of our choir of geriatrics. I could understand as the smell of incontinence is stronger than their voices at times but I disagreed and felt some young musician would relish the challenge. I cited the example of my friend Jodi when she returned to Bangkok with a doctorate in music from a western university. She was hungry to take on the challenge of revitalising a failing choir to build on her reputation. I am proud to report she has been very successful in this and has now gained a well deserved national prestige as a conductor of choirs and orchestras.
I was convinced we would also find a young musician who would relish the challenge even if he was merely using us as a stepping stone to greater things.
As I predicted we were approached by a young man who was deputy conductor of a larger choir and looking for an opportunity to take the helm. He is a lively young Irish lad just turned 40. He is an accomplished musician although a little unorthodox. He has a piercing through the bridge of his nose which has raised a few eyebrows amongst the elderly members of the choir. I suspect we are in for some interesting times.
The week before Christmas was busy for me with lectures to the groups I tutor in the Midlands. I returned home on the Friday to find three letters on my doormat. The first was a statement from my bank revealing I was only £50 away from my £1600 overdraft limit and penury. This was no great surprise as it had cost £1000 to get my ageing Mondeo through the MOT and to be taxed and insured. I also had not earned anything in August during the college holiday so the overdraft was a cumulative effect. Another was a demand from HM Revenue for £2500 income tax and the final one from the local authorities claiming I owed them £1500 in overpaid benefits from two years ago. I had won a court case against them last year so had hoped the issue was resolved…it clearly was not. Faced with this irritation I did what all good drinking men do, I buried my head in the sand and thought sod it, I will worry about this after Christmas.
I put on my drinking jacket and made my way to the Saddlers club in Walsall to meet my brother. We were to see a Ska band in which my old school pal Ecca plays trombone. There were over 400 people enjoying the music and dancing with wild abandon. It was a splendid example of the British right wing working class at play. The majority were ex skinheads like my brother still sporting the fashions of the skinhead era with Ben Sherman shirts, Stay-press trousers, Crombies and Doc Martins very much in evidence. However the ubiquitous bald heads were more a function of age than a fashion statement now. It was a most enjoyable evening and I am always amused by the irony that the music of preference for the working class right wing is Ska and Reggae. Which as you all know is a music genre that was introduced to Britain by the black immigrants from Jamaica and the West Indies.
On the Saturday it was Jess’s 21st birthday party in the function room at the Pisshead and Ponytail. Jess is one of my karaoke pals and her mother Deb is a widow in her 40s. Jess has indicated that her mother would not be averse to my advances; I had not acted upon it but thought the party a good opportunity to do so. Unfortunately at the party I discovered she already had a bloke, a big fellow who worked as a bouncer at a city centre club. I was a little disappointed as it appeared she had merely been keeping me on the proverbial back burner if not just teasing me.
To be honest in some ways it was a bit of a relief. I don’t really have the wherewithal to engage in a relationship. If I did entertain a lady I may have to clean my flat and change my bed sheets. I fear I may have to send my bed sheets to be annealed and hammered out before I can get them into the washing machine.
I had also resolved to keep away from English dating sites but at a loose end the day before Christmas eve I spotted a few likely candidates on the POF site and sent off a couple of introductory notes. Not really anticipating any interest I didn’t check the site again but on Christmas day I noticed a note from one lady, which read “I saw you had been on the site but as you have not replied to my note I am not interested now”. This unrealistic expectation for an immediate reply beggared belief and merely confirmed my opinion of a particular type of English woman. I usually ignore such stupidity but could not let this pass so sent her a reply “I apologise for missing your note but if you expect such high standards so be it, I wish you luck in your search but suspect you are going to be bitterly disappointed”. I appreciate it was a totally futile gesture but I felt better for it.
I had a quiet dinner on Christmas day with my Mum. On Boxing Day my eldest son came with me to the casino club. We meet up with my brother and his extended family which we refer to as the Borg collective. We had a wonderful evening getting drunk, talking daft and making absolute idiots of ourselves on the Karaoke.
I reported I was going to avoid all things associated with Thailand during the festivities but could not forgo my interest in reading a few stories by Thailand related authors. I have now read every book by Stephen Leather, John Burdett, Jake Needham, Christopher Moore and Dean Barrett. I have also discovered some interesting new writers in Tony McManus, David Thompson, Guy Lilburn, Matt Carrell and James Newman. They are a group of accomplished and entertaining wordsmiths and I commend them to the house. I still have aspirations to publish myself but reading the output of these gifted writers has made me appreciate how much I still have to learn.
There have been a few disparaging submissions about old farts and sad tossers who can not find women in the west and find it is only in Asia can they enjoy human contact with females never mind intimacy. Although I do take issue with the indiscriminate use of the sobriquet “loser” in these essays I can not argue with their premise. I am definitely amongst that number and it is clear I lack the social skills to interact with the new breed of western women. I make no apologies for this.
However I know a bunch of young English lads in their late 20s (early 30s) who make the pilgrimage to Pattaya twice a year to avail themselves of the carnal pleasures on offer. They are all perceptive bright lively young men from upper working and middle class upbringings living in a pleasant midlands town. They are fit good looking lads who certainly have no difficulty attracting English girls. They go to merely supplement the diet of white meat with a little more spicy fare.
I must confess even these well balanced lads claim their Siamese sojourns have effected their perspective of English women. They often talk of being in “Thailand bubble”. Three of them claim they have renounced all contact with local girls. It is not that they complain of lack of female attention as I observe they are never short of admirers. They all have good jobs in construction with substantial disposable incomes and are definitely considered a good catch by the ladies.
They do however cite the attitudes and empty-headed pretensions they encounter. Specifically the prevailing conception “I am a princess” and there is always the ubiquitous issue of how fat young English womanhood are becoming. These lads clearly understand the Thailand experience is a mere chimera but have rejected the alternative reality.
It is always interesting to see the perspective of a younger generation. I am not sure what the implications are but it seems a growing phenomena. I can not help but feel western females are outsourcing their role to their Asian sisters. The message to elderly Thailand aficionados seeking a Thai lady will be get yours whilst stocks last.
I have been watching the BBC programme “Sun Sea and suspicious parents” where parents spy on their teenage children observing their drunken hedonistic activities whilst on vacation. I found the whole premise voyeuristic and somewhat distasteful. One episode followed two groups of lads from Leicester and Peterborough on vacation in Ko Phangan. They turned out to be a bunch of vacuous pissheads who got bladdered every night and went home without getting laid. The thought of six handsome and fit young men who go to the land of vertical smiles without once getting laid beggars belief and I feel the term “wankers“ to be a most fitting epithet.
I did observe their attentions were exclusively to western girls on vacation and there was no sight of a Thai lady anywhere. If they wanted to just get drunk and be rejected by fussy western girls they could have saved a lot of money and gone to Aya Nappa or Ibiza or even stayed in a UK resort in Devon or Cornwall. It was further evidence that youth is wasted on the young. There must have been thousands of men of more mature years who know Thailand who could have advised them they would have enjoyed more romantic success by removing the cultural blinkers and turning their attention to the local Thai girls. It does raise serious questions about western culture and attitudes. I enjoy a drink as much as the next man but find it saddening that young blokes feel it is their role to get shit-faced in the shortest possible time. It is as if they were anticipating rejection so drank to excess to validate their failure. Of course this merely perpetuates the cycle and guarantees rejection.
I receive a note from Nat my ex Thai wife. Her latest fantasy was a request “Will you adopt my daughter as her (farang) father is not interested in her”. I did not think I should dignify it with a reply. However with Thai women one can not take anything at face value. She explained in a subsequent note she was not asking me to support her or asking for money but was merely offering for me to live up in Issan with them. She declared she knew I lead a lonely existence in the UK and was offering me an alternative. I doubt her intentions were completely altruistic but she never fails to bewilder me.
My Thai friend Annie who owns the local Thai restaurant has always claimed she was reluctant to introduce me to her Thai lady friends. She had once declared as she considered me and my sons as friends she would not wish her Thai lady friends upon me as she felt they were too mercenary. She also knows I have no money so I suspect this is the principle reason.
The issue of money is a difficult one, I am not particularly materialistic and I don’t covet my neighbour’s oxen. I accept the run of bad luck I have had and am generally content with my lot but I do recognise the need for a few bob even for simple pleasures. I also acknowledge the power of money, although it does not necessarily make you happy it can impart a more comfortable level of misery.
I am convinced that if I had sufficient money I would have little difficulty in finding a young floozy who would be happy to let a genial old geezer support her as a mistress in the Asian tradition of the mia noi, even in the UK.. I have worked out this would cost around £12k a year. Although beyond my current resources I conclude it would be considerably cheaper than supporting a wife.
I have a good, almost fatherly relationship with most of the students I tutor and on occasions they ask my advice on a variety of subjects. Although with my poor track record I am certainly not qualified to advise them on affairs of the heart, I have been around the block sufficient to counsel them on other issues. I do tender an alternative view on economics. I have found a single gentleman can live in the UK (outside of London) reasonably comfortably with an income around £18k, and can just survive on £10k. If however he is married, his wife will have aspirations for a house, furnishings and divers possessions. With the cost of a mortgage, financing insurance etc an income of around £40k is required. The addition of children would necessitate an income of £45 to £50k.
I suggested to my students as they progress in their careers they could anticipate a salary of around say £35k. They will probably marry and live in perpetual destitution in a three bedroom semi detached house on a hamster wheel trying to satisfy the constant whims of their rapacious wife and kids. The alternative option I propose is to not get married, remain single and live in a one or two bedroom flat. They would find themselves with £15k a year disposable income. With this amount they could pay for a top class tumble with a piece of high grade Tottie from an escort service every 3 or 4 weeks. They could keep a young mistress in a small apartment across town or visit an Asian fleshpot and live like a premiership footballer 2 or 3 times a year. I confess I tender these observations somewhat tongue in cheek but I know some of the lads are contemplating my counsel particularly those who are receiving matrimonial pressure from girlfriends. I think it is the discussions of the wedding ceremony, guest lists and the associated nonsense their little Princesses subject them to that prompts their doubts. They realise their beloved is more interested in the wedding dress than in their future relationship.
I am not totally devoid of female company, as I reported in my last missive I have the fragrant company of a group of young ladies who sit with me on weekends at the karaoke. I appreciate I am in the dreaded “friend zone” with the older girls and the teenagers see me as a kindly uncle but their company is appreciated.
I have an interesting rapport with four girls in their mid twenties. Bev the sister of my gay pal Stephan is tall slim with long black hair, she has a friend who is similarly striking in fact they look like twins. When they are dressed up at weekend’s in short tight dresses and high heels they look amazing.
There are also two mixed race sisters who seem to have adopted me. They are also tall and slim and although not as striking as Bev and her friend are extremely pretty and quite exotic. When I am on stage and sing an up tempo number my raven haired temptresses get on stage and gyrate behind me as if they are my backing dancers. Similarly when I sing a reggae number my ebony sisters do the same and dance on stage with me. Their performances have become quite a feature on Saturday nights to the amusement of the audience and envy from the other male singers.
I have had some fascinating conversations with these girls over the past year and I get the strong impression that none of these astute and exquisite girls would be averse to becoming a kept mistress to an older sugar daddy. This information is purely academic as I doubt I would ever have the wherewithal but it certainly confirms my belief that it is not just Thai women who are willing to go with older men for security, all women have the potential for prostitution and it is all a question of degree and opportunity.
I can safely report I got through the New Year festivities unkissed but unscathed.
The first day after the holidays I show my head in the institute offices and finally receive a cheque from work done in November that wipes out my overdraft. I present an invoice from December, that when paid, will feed me through January. My solicitor pal has contacted the Local Authority, he threatened to report them to the relevant ombudsman and the £1500 demand is reduced to £850. I negotiate a schedule of repayments with them. By the end of January I have addressed most of my debts.
The renaissance in foundry education continues and interest in the institute’s peripatetic foundry college is growing. There are serious plans for courses in Edinburgh, South London, and the south coast and in Wales. I have tendered to deliver them all. This increased activity has inevitably attracted interest amongst myriad foundry consultants and commercial training enterprises. I know these training organisations do not have the relevant foundry knowledge or expertise and I know the rates most of the consultants require, so I have deliberately underpriced all the completion and I am fairly confident I will get a good share of this work. I am not being greedy but see this opportunity as my last throw of the dice. It will be hard work which will involve living out of suitcase and being Billy no mates in strange towns. However it is the chance to earn a few bob whilst I still have my health.
The New Year has been kind to me so far. At the start of the year I had 12 days of work in January and 14 days in February whilst March was looking promising. I attended the foundry Institute’s annual technical quiz in the second week of January. This is a prestigious event competed for by teams from most of the foundry companies in the Birmingham and Black Country. Being self employed and with no affiliations, the last few years I turn up and usually get invited to join any team that is short of a team member. This year was no exception and an old pal from my college days soon pressed me into service on his team. The competition involves an element of general knowledge but the majority of the questions are specific to the technology of casting and metallurgy.
I don’t know if it was because I have been researching and honing my knowledge for my teaching role but that evening I was in the “zone” and answered most of the questions without the aid of the two other team members. Bugger me if we didn’t win the completion by a fair margin. My old pal invited me to take the trophy home and the kudos I will get from having my photo in the Foundry trade journal is priceless. The trophy is enormous, like a block of flats and is currently taking up a large amount of space in my small flat. The only drawback is it has doubled the value of my house contents and may necessitate actually taking out some insurance.
Half of my income last year came from teaching Diploma courses at a local college. It will hopefully continue to provide a regular income but I have had to commit to undertaking some formal teacher training as part of the contract. I put it off for a year but finally enrolled on the introductory PTTLS course on Thursday evenings. It starts just after I finish my class with the Diploma second years which although does not see me get home till 10pm is quite convenient. It is an interesting course with a number of students from diverse backgrounds. It also includes a handful of extremely attractive and fragrant young ladies which has helped my motivation to attend.
My local pub has been running a karaoke competition since the New Year. The prize money is £750 which has naturally generated a lot of interest. I have no chance of winning as my gay pal Stephan is nailed on to win but I entered determined to give the youngsters a run for their money. The contest requires we sing two contrasting songs each week in front of a panel of judges. Each week two contestants are ejected from the contest. We are now into the fifth week and I am still in it with 10 other singers. Future rounds will involve singing without aid of words on the karaoke screen which may give me an advantage over the less confident younger contestants. I am not sure what I would do with the prize money in the unlikely event I do win. Suggestions on a post card please…. to the usual address.
I have just returned from Scotland teaching the first week of a Certificate course in Queensferry which is a fascinating little town in the shadow of the iconic Forth Bridge. It was held at an impressive steel foundry and there were 12 students drawn from supervisory and technical positions. The course is six weeks over six months and could prove lucrative for me. I have made a few friends already and have been invited to join the local whisky tasting society. I recall the last time I engaged in a whisky tasting session I lost the power of speech for two days.
I have also won the contract for a similar Certificate course in Wales so in a few months I could be solvent and able to put away a few quid in savings. I could replace my 13 year old Mondeo or wisely invest it but I am actually contemplating a trip to Thailand (be still my quivering heart).
Now I can understand many of the sensible gentlemen of the Stickman community have already raised an eyebrow or even launched into fit of apoplexy at my totally irresponsible intentions. I do appreciate it would be prudent to put away something for the metaphorical rainy day. However I have seen far too many rainy days in the past few years and anticipate there will be plenty of rainy days when I am sat drooling in a nursing home. I am resigned that I am not going to find a woman in Britain whether English, Thai, Chinese or Philippine. I appreciate I have left it too late to find a lady in Thailand and bring her back to live in the UK. Like Neo in the Matrix I must decide whether to take the blue or red pill. I still entertain the desire to retire to Thailand but if I intend to do so as near to my 60th birthday as resources permit before my health gives out I need to make plans.
Like many blokes my initial contact with Thailand was with young bargirls in their 20s. I later joined ThaiLoveLinks and slowly developed contacts with nurses, school teachers, and government officials in their late 30s. For five or so years I met a few lovely regular Thai ladies on my visits but there was still an undercurrent of the requirement to “take care” experienced with the bar girls. Just after this time I got married (and divorced) which curtailed my involvement with TTL. Somewhat disillusioned with my lack of success with Thai girls resident in UK I let my subscription slide the last year or so. I was also aware of the threat from my Bangkok pals Barry, Phil, and Mark who promised to have me keelhauled under a barge on the Tipton canal if I ever contemplated marrying a Thai girl again.
I have recently rejoined ThaiLoveLinks but have revised my strategy. I changed my search settings to older (45+) ladies with a high level of education. I was hoping to engage with well-informed professional ladies and have been pleasantly surprised by the articulacy of response and the quality of the older ladies who have replied. I am conversing with doctors, solicitors, professors and senior executives rather than the nurses, clerks and teachers I previously engaged with. They are cultured and of independent means and I am finally learning there is a world outside that of bar girls and Issan school teachers.
It will be interesting to see where this latest folly will take me but I will continue to keep you informed.
Watch this space.