Stickman Readers' Submissions October 20th, 2014

Chances Are

It once was that you could find almost anything that you were looking for in Thailand – especially love – but the chances were that you could also come unstuck by making wrong choices in the wrong places. The reality is that many who gambled on those chances did not find the happiness that they were searching for and they ended up becoming bitter and disillusioned persons. Today it is even more difficult to find that elusive true love – and it seems that people are becoming more cynical than ever and not so willing to take the risk that, so often, hides behind the facade of supposed reality covered by false smiles.

There are some of you who will read this and identify with the sentiments contained in this stream of thoughts – particularly those who have been down the path of the combination of music and love. There are times when we try to deny what we are but it is like a drug habit that you can't shake. I was first hooked with that first guitar at age 14 – or was it 15? Perhaps it was earlier. Seems so long ago now that events seem to melt into one long memory of association that you often wish had never happened.

He Clinic Bangkok

I will skip back a little to before I went to Thailand – the time when I married my first wife, Susan, in 1965. Putting some history as the backdrop for what I'm trying to say, it must be said that my first wife, Susan, encouraged me to keep playing – she actually bought me a new acoustic steel-string in 1966. These words seem particularly significant on reflection:

Didn't feel so cold and tired

Stretched out before her fire

Rolling smokes and drinking up her wine

And I remember candlelight

And singing til we could not sing no more

Then falling warm asleep on Susan's floor

(Words from Gordon Lightfoot – "On Susan's Floor")

CBD bangkok

When I look back to that period, I can see the pattern of how that was the catalyst for the slow destruction of what was our marriage. I had already been through the early stages with electric slabs and an electric bass but, perhaps she saw that an acoustic would be more likely to keep me at home rather than playing in electric bands. Of course she was wrong and I regret that more than I can say here. The fact was that I went upscale with electric instruments and high-power amps and there never seemed any place that one could call "home". That was wherever the jobs were. People seem to think that being a musician is a glamorous occupation – well they'd be wrong. Working as a "dog's body" road muso in bands owned by other persons is just hard grind. The money pays the bills but you see it as just like a factory job – you have to be there whether you like it or not. The only bonus is the girls and the booze. But neither of them ever end up as a bonus – more like a penalty.

When I first went to Thailand, 35 years after my first marriage to Susan, one more marriage and several extra-marital affairs, I thought that would be the end of my association with guitar – perhaps I just wanted to believe that – but the truth is that we cannot escape what we are and it is futile to pretend that we can. Perhaps I should have seen the writing on the wall when I took one of the Martin Concert guitars with me on that first trip to Bangkok when I stayed with Sukanda. Being in Thailand compounded the addiction for the need to play because I fell in love with modern Thai music. I tell you, it is like being chained to a merry-go-round that is being driven by some maniacal circus clown.

It's only recently that I have managed to kick the habit – early in 2013 – but the love for music still remains because I always associate certain songs with certain people who have had a significant influence on the way I feel and how I interact with certain special persons.

Skipping back to Bangkok, in 2000, Natalise wanted me to try for a job playing in some sleazy cafe/bar on Sukhumvit Road – so I went along and gave it a shot – but as a Farang who, at that stage, had very little Thai language ability (and the listeners were all Thai) it didn't seem to be quite the right recipe. The manager was no fool – but there were a couple of young Thai ladies who seemed very interested. Of course, Natalise got me out of there very smartly – and I probably got a couple of clips around the ears for doing nothing when we got back to the condo.

wonderland clinic

When Nat got approval for her Provisional Residency Visa, she came back to Australia and, in 2001, I set her up with an importing business with her registered as the sole trader. It was hard going, at the beginning, with me doing a lot of the "grunt" work such as collecting cartons of imports from Customs and helping her sort out the goods. I did all the book-keeping and tax issues for her as well as the on-line ordering through our export agent in Bangkok. Nat was always a wonderful sales person – she just had a knack for it and, speaking English well, in addition to Thai, made a big difference in the clientele that she had access to. Still, perhaps some things are supposed to go a certain way and we came to a parting of the ways in November 2004 – so, of course, I headed back to Thailand.

Maybe I was lucky in love, even after so many failures in the past, because I did find a genuine person, quite unexpectedly – and it just may be that she could have been the one I was really supposed to be with right back at the very beginning. None of us ever know for sure when it is meant to be – but sometimes you can gain insight from a piece of music or from a poem that seems to fit the circumstances where you find yourself. This song, more than any other I have heard, seems to say all that went to make up all that I remember of that time with this person in Thailand.

"Chances Are"

Chances are you'll find me

Somewhere on your road tonight

Seems I always end up drivin' by

Ever since I've known you

It just seems you're on my way

All the rules of logic don't apply

I long to see you in the night

Be with you till morning light

I remember clearly

How you looked the night we met

I recall your laughter and your smile

I remember how you made me

Feel so at ease

I remember all your grace, your style

And now you're all I long to see

You've come to mean so much to me

Chances are I'll see you

Somewhere in my dreams tonight

You'll be smilin' like the night we met

Chances are I'll hold you

And I'll offer all I have

You're the only one I can't forget

Baby you're the best I've ever met

And I'll be dreamin' of the future – somewhere

And hopin' you'll be by my side

And in the morning I'll be longing

For the night

For the night

Chances are I'll see you

Somewhere in my dreams tonight

You'll be smilin' like the night we met

Chances are I'll hold you

And I'll offer all I have

You're the only one I can't forget

Baby you're the best I've ever met

(Vonda Shepard and Robert Downey Jr. Lyrics)

Back when Susan and I were married, we both worked for the same newspaper company and, at that stage, I was merely playing music as a semi-professional – but I sometimes have wished I had never left the newspaper industry despite the changes in technology and ownership issues that changed the face of the work almost overnight.

Working in a band places pressures on all concerned – no matter if you are in the big league or in the small league – it is so much nicer to work as a solo artist in a club or pub environment where you have total control over what you do. One of my favourite jobs was at a small tavern where you would wander around from table to table, chatting to the patrons and singing whatever they asked you to play and sing. At that time, I had an enormous repertoire of songs – many written by Gordon Lightfoot or Ian Tyson – so that is why I chose some of the content by Lightfoot in some of my past submissions to accent certain points. The pay was good and patrons would often offer a glass of wine at the end of the song and maybe a tip. Girls were a good part of that place as well – but I really have to say that I would forgo all those years of playing music, the playing around and looking for that right person if I had known what I would eventually be lucky enough to find in Thailand. Thailand has always been my "Pot Of Gold".

nana plaza