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The Quiet Man





Almost everybody on Phuket knew James Fraser Darling. He was a very noticeable guy, shaped like Tweedle-dee, always dressed in a jacket and tie, and always with several newspapers and a big book tucked under his arm.

He was an academic of the old school, quoting Herodotus and Chaucer the way most of us recite “There once was a man from Nantucket…” His father had been a famous ornithologist, knighted by the Queen. He and his circle of intimates were familiar faces at every gallery opening, wine tasting and gala dinner held anywhere on the island. He had enormous appetites and funds to satisfy them; his wine bill at The Boathouse exceeded 20,000 baht per month.

Guys like him are a dime a dozen on Phuket; nobody comes here for the waters. For several years, there were rumors about games of Naked Twister on the beach. Supposedly, boat-loads of farang men and sea-gypsy boys were going out to a deserted island off of Rawai Beach for weekend “picnics”. There would be sticky rice and barbecued chicken for the boys, bottles of wine, baguettes and tubes of paté for the farang, and a Polaroid camera and plenty of film for posterity. At sundown the boatman would come pick them all up, sandy and exhausted, the boys happy to have a couple of hundred baht in their pockets and the men just plain happy.

The expatriates who live on Phuket have way too much free time, and nothing to talk about except each other. For the last two months, since his arrest, people have been talking about James. One guy said “He likes jail, it’s his melieu. Just like a British public school. He’s been in jails all over the world, and he thrives on the structured lifestyle and close quarters.”

Another told a long story about how he had an affair with his female teacher when he was ten years old. “Didn’t do me any harm,” he said, “she taught me things that other boys could only dream about at that age.” Of course, most parents would want their son’s teachers to teach the curriculum established by the Board of Education, and nothing else. No politics, no religions, and no positions from the Kama Sutra. If sex education is necessary, then most parents would want it taught in the classroom with slides from a medical text, not in the cloakroom or the back seat of the teacher’s car. “I cried when they finally arrested her,” this guy said.

Some people are angry at the NGO which brought this affair to the authorities’ attention, though of course the story was already known to the authorities for some time. Nobody pisses in the bushes on the south end of this island without a cop taking note of it. But the Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights were the ones who forced the authorities to take action, and since then the CPCR lawyers have been described in the bars as “Spinster Temperance Crusaders.”

“You know,” said one guy, “there are societies in Nepal where children are introduced to sex as young as four or five.” Yeah, and the Aztecs threw virgins into volcanoes, in Europe they used to burn sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease as witches, and some Hindus drink their own urine. So what’s your point? “Have you ever read Plato?” sniffed one intellectual.

There was a story in the newspaper on the same day as James’ arrest concerning an English tourist who saved a 3-year-old kid on a sinking ferry off of Samui. “God gave me this child for a reason,” said the tourist. The men who picnicked with the sea-gypsy boys probably thought the same thing now and then, but given a choice of baby-sitters, most parents would choose the working class bloke from Manchester.

Most modern people feel that within certain limits of common sense and hygiene, anything two consenting adults do together is fine. And the definition of adult can be flexible. Some countries set the line at 18 years, other countries, like this one, at fifteen. Several million years of evolution have programmed men to plant their seed in the freshest field available, and any man who says that he’s never been attracted to someone under the legal age of consent is a liar. Louis Malle’s movie “Pretty Baby” made Brooke Shields a star, and not because she can act.

But most of us have a social conscience, a survival mechanism which tells us right from wrong, which helps us distinguish between harmless fantasy and harmful fact. In some people that mechanism is defective, and they come to believe that their pleasure is worth another’s pain.

Maybe in your fantasies the year is 1850, and you’re the Barbary Pasha, with a harem drawn from all the subjugated races of the Ottoman Empire: women from China and Spain, from Russia and Ethiopia and every place in between. But in real life it’s 1997, you’re a parent, a spouse, a tax-payer and a voter, with a mortgage and an auto loan and a job. You don’t ask your wife, or any other woman, to dance naked while you puff on a hookah and keep time to the music by slapping your boot with a riding crop. The veiled and perfumed chambers of the Pasha’s palace are a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.
James and his friends have taken up permanent residence in their fantasies. They deserve our pity, and our constant vigilance.

Addendum:

It took a couple of years for James’ trial to run its course. He was sentenced to 33 years, but spent only a couple of years in jail before being repatriated to Scotland. He now teaches English to children in China. Read about it here: http://ukpaedos-exposed.com/2012/07/04/james-darling-morayedinburgh/