Ramblings From The Rust Belt
Blimey, Easter is over already, a quarter of the year has gone in the twinkling of an eye. It seems like only yesterday it was Christmas Eve when I returned from my latest Thailand trip although I do appreciate it took me till the end of March to submit the trip report to this site. This probably indicates that although my body currently inhabits a Black Country rust belt town, my psyche still resides in the kingdom of Thailand.
One astute contributor suggested one should never make any important decisions within six months of returning from a holiday in the kingdom. I would appreciate if he could remind me who he was so I can compliment him on his sagacity. Wise counsel for sure but it begs the question; if one goes every six months to Thailand hopefully you would never have to ever make a decision again?
Despite the many misgivings I have previously voiced about my obsession with Thailand I still yearn for the place when I am away. One may question what has Thailand to offer other than soft feminine women, warm weather and exotic food? The answer could be….what else do you want?
I must admit even after visiting the country for 14 years there are still many places I have yet to see. For example I have never been in the Crazy House bar in Soi Cowboy or seriously explored Soi 6 in Pattaya which continues to worry me should I never return to the kingdom.
I continue to be fascinated by the perennial question, do bargirls make good wives? I acknowledge all the problems debated on this site with the consensus being that as damaged goods no man in his right mind should consider marrying a bargirl. I however remain ambivalent as I have seen some successful marriages with girls from the bar. It is obvious that many Thai women I meet in the UK have had more than a passing acquaintance with the bar scene despite their husband’s protestations to the contrary. Some girls are honest like one girl (who works in my friend’s restaurant) who is truthful about meeting her Wolverhampton born husband whilst working in a bar in Pattaya’s Soi 6.
My own observation is Gem and Jin, the last two timeshare girlfriends I had in Bangkok, could probably have made good wives being a little older and quite pragmatic would maybe be more appreciative of the opportunity. Neither of them had families to support and would perhaps have settled well in England. Over the years I have entertained several ordinary Thai girls like nurses and teachers but always felt developing a relationship with them required “taking care” which involved funding a small Issan province.
A side effect of my unhealthy fascination with the kingdom is that I am forever comparing Thailand with what I see here in the UK. To be honest I have little real complaint with life in the UK, our rule of law and British values (for the time being) ensure our way of life and I am proud to be English. There is a comfort in knowing that any time of day you can find most of the local police force in Morrison’s supermarket buying snacks and hospital nurses stuffing their faces in Gregg's, the bakers. The only real issue I have with living in England is with the lack of commonsense of British womanhood.
I still feel that British women are their own worst enemy and even the most sensible intelligent girls occasionally default to insanity. It is often the little unthinking idiosyncrasies that perplex me as much as the ubiquitous feminist diatribes we frequently suffer in our politically correct society.
I was at a 50th birthday party last week with my middle-class friends in a town on the edge of the conurbation. The party was held in the Scout hut which serves as a community centre for the town so although there was a DJ and an impressive buffet there was no bar every one bought their own beverages (in my case a crate of beer). I was sitting with three couples I knew doing my usual impression of a spare prick at a wedding. I noticed Sarah removing the top off a beer bottle for her man. Sarah is the mistress of my best mate Devin and is a rare treasure. Sixteen years younger than my pal she dotes on him and dances attendance on his every need.
Seeing her perform this simple act of affection I teased her that she would be putting the toothpaste on his toothbrush next. Sarah blushed and remarked she did that already and laid his clothes out for him every morning. She gave me a big smile and continued “I think I am turning into one of your Thai girls”. I made a comment along the lines that the Thai girls I have met certainly know how to look after a bloke when I spotted Michelle sitting opposite visibly bristle and declare “but they have been taught to be subservient all their lives.”
Michelle is married to my pal John and we have been friends for years. She is intelligent and educated and always good company. I really like her but could not let that remark pass without comment. “I assure you that Thai women are certainly not subservient”, I said. “They are strong willed and independent but understand they can get everything they want by being feminine and caring”. I continued “My Thai wife wouldn’t let me help her with domestic duties, claiming it was her job and not mine”.
Michelle’s reaction was almost pavlovian in its immediacy. With a snort she exclaimed “And I bet you did nothing to dissuade her of that behaviour.” I gave a smile and quietly remarked, “I could no more change behaviour influenced by her culture any more than I could change the attitude influenced by 40 years of feminist indoctrination that prompted your comment.”
This was unusually eloquent for me and Michelle being a perceptive lady accepted my remark and realising that her comment was somewhat unthinking changed the subject. I was fortunate that Michelle is an intelligent lady, if she had been a strident feminist an unpleasant scene may have ensued.
I think western women are secretly terrified their men will one day wake up to the deception that has been played on them. Men have become beasts of burden on a continuous treadmill to support the desires and entitlements of their women. They do so without any security, their women could strip them of their possessions and children almost on a whim as 75% of divorces are now initiated by women. The final irony is the guilt trip western women perpetuate about sharing domestic duties. This is why mention of Thailand and the alternative feminine attitude it represents is such an anathema to western women and provokes such violent reactions. It is like the story of the Emperor's new clothes where we are all so programmed we are terrified to voice what we actually see.
As an aside the party was a huge success and the music was good so I wasn’t called upon to sing and the buffet was excellent. It is well-known that if it wasn’t for free buffets I wouldn’t eat. There was a huge amount of food left over at the end despite everyone’s best efforts.
This is a bit different from some of the parties I see in my local, The Welded Wallet, where there is a nearby housing estate named the Friar Park home to some prime examples of the British underclass. On occasions members of this tribe book the pub for birthday parties and the like whereupon the landlord screws everything down that is removable. At these events I often witness the phenomenon I describe as the “Friar Park buffet”. At 8:45 four fat and horrendously ugly tattooed matrons will put out a buffet on a trestle table. Said harridans will then stand at four corners of the buffet administering dirty looks to any one who has the temerity to actually eat anything. At 9:15 they declare the buffet closed and divide the (largely untouched) food between the four of them into Lidl or Aldi shopping bags they have bought with them for that purpose. These bags are quickly taken away probably to feed their families for the next week.
I probably spend far too much time drinking in pubs on the sink estates of my rust belt hometown but they offer great opportunity for an amateur anthropologist to observe the worst excesses of humanity. I particularly enjoy the “Benefit Claimers Arms” where there are some choice specimens to observe. Some of the clientele are steroid-fuelled, muscle-bound Neanderthals but the majority are scrawny little knobs wearing the chavvy uniform of sweat pants and cheap baseball caps. Unbelievably, the pub attracts some of the prettiest young girls in the area. Admittedly most are serious salad dodgers (I can’t help being fat, it’s glandular….so your glands ate all the pies?) but there are a handful of real lookers in their early 20s who would not be out of place in top shelf wank magazines.
On Thursday nights there is a karaoke, the DJ, Carla is 30, perceptive and a real babe. We have become friends and often have a fag together outside. I asked for her take on the phenomenon of the pretty young girls chasing scraggy louts who if brains were gunpowder wouldn’t be able to blow the wax out their ears. Carla smiled and remarked “even though we know these lads are wasters, these girls see them as exciting and dangerous and young girls are always attracted to the danger associated with bad boys.” She continued “the problem comes when they get a little older and want to settle down. Being associated with dodgy characters will put off any decent lad from going with them”. It is girls like Carla that occasionally restore my faith that all is not yet lost.
At the other end of the pub spectrum a new bar has opened in the town. It is an upmarket establishment and a lot of money has been invested. The source of this investment is the subject of speculation and is almost certainly dubious, but who cares? It has a good ambiance and at weekends has live acts which draw a better clientele than the rest of the town. It attracts slightly older ladies giving them a chance to doll up. That they choose the “mutton dressed as lamb” school of couture adds to the appeal of the place. In theory it should be a good hunting ground for me but although most of these ladies “hit the wall” some years ago they refuse to accept it and still throw themselves (unsuccessfully) at men 20 years younger than themselves.
Hitting the wall is the expression used to describe the point when a woman loses the bloom of youth and her “sexual market value” diminishes. This generally occurs between the ages of 25 and 35 in many English women. By 40 most look as if a bicycle pump was inserted in their anal orifice to inflate them. I have nothing against plumper ladies per se but hate their delusion that they look like Jessica Alba or Megan Fox rather than Adele. I accept I am 60 and past my prime but I am amusing, presentable, still have a good head of hair and certainly do not deserve the looks of disdain I receive from Susan Boyle lookalikes if I give them so much as a friendly smile.
I do occasionally worry that I am drinking too much but take the thought into a corner and beat it with a stout stick. The alternative is for me to stay in my flat either writing more of these interminable essays or wanking myself into a coma.
I have my life on hold at present as a few weeks ago my mother suffered a stroke. She is still in hospital, her body is recovering now but added to her Alzheimer’s she now can not talk or communicate. I am unsure if she even recognises me and my brother. Up to this point she was coping well at home. I did her weekly shopping and cooked a meal twice a week for her. The doctors said with the care she will now require she will not be able to return home. They have advised we put her in a specialised care home which is going to cost all her savings. I don’t suppose this is how she intended her savings to be spent but such is life. I know I cannot expect any inheritance now but as long as she is properly cared for it doesn’t matter.
For many years I have very much lived on a month to month horizon, never expecting to survive to see retirement I attempted to emulate John McDonald’s character Travis McGee enjoying his retirement early in instalments and only returning to work when his money ran out. I tried this for a while but the idea never quite worked. However, in the last three years the teaching role has offered the flexibility to work for just three or four days a week. I will never be rich but this freedom may extend my life expectancy. Without the stress and anguish of a management position I may even live long enough to end up retired in Thailand.
The Institute’s Diploma programme involves teaching two Midland groups, a small group in Kent and one in Essex/East of England. The 15 days work a month this entails covers my monthly expenses. The additional Certificate course in Ashford I deliver every couple of months is a bonus allowing me to tuck away a few quid.
The hotel I stay at in Ashford is interesting and friendly. On Wednesday nights it is full of groups of women out for a meal. They are of various ages and many are very eye-catching. On the morning I left one of the waitresses (an attractive woman in her late 40s ) gave me a kiss in the cheek and when serving breakfast touched my hand commenting “We must look after our favourites.” I am unsure what to make of this but will definitely explore it further when I return in a few weeks.
There are a couple of interesting developments on the horizon of significance to me. The UK government finally woke up to the problems of an ageing workforce and skills shortage in manufacturing in general and the casting industry in particular. This interest was due to lobbying by top UK engineering companies like British Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Airbus and Jaguar Land Rover who see the UK casting industry as vital to their supply base. £440 million was invested last year through the technology strategy board to develop education and training in the manufacturing sector. An impressive figure but to put this into perspective, last year Germany invested £1.6 billion in their Fraunhofer institutes alone. The Germans acknowledge they face certain challenges whilst in the UK we have a crisis.
Surprisingly some of this investment money has actually percolated down despite the usual obstructions from civil servants and the best efforts of financial consultants to divert it into their own coffers. In the West Midlands a partnership has been formed between the leading engineering companies, universities, colleges and trade associations. The plans for a new elite centre based around Wolverhampton University are well advanced. The plans also include a facility to be built in Tipton with its own small foundry specifically for cast metals training. Planning is well underway and it is scheduled to open in September 2017. I was surprised to be approached and offered a job as a tutor to deliver Diplomas and apprenticeship training. It is exciting news which if it happens could keep me employed until I retire.
However I am not holding my breath, it is still 18 months away and from experience the cast metal industry will find some way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
I have a couple of family weddings coming up which have affected my plans to visit Thailand. I was hoping to visit at Easter but decided to take advantage of an increased workload and deferred it till Whitsun. However, my brother is getting married Spring bank holiday. He is 55 and is getting married for the first time. He has been engaged to the girl for 20 years so he has escaped pretty well to date. I have also had to rethink my usual plans to visit in December. My eldest son is also getting wed and has chosen December 23rd for his nuptials. I can either plan my trip for late November/early December and return before his wedding or leave after his wedding and take my Siamese sojourn late December and early January. The latter option would allow me to complete some of my teaching commitments before Christmas but being in the high season flights and hotels increase in price significantly. Any advice would be gratefully received.
I can understand if readers are beginning to get tired of the inconsequential ramblings I post at frequent intervals. I do also appreciate the relevance to Thailand of the content is at times negligible. I write these regular missives principally to keep my brain active in an attempt to ward off the inevitable dementia that comes to us all. I do therefore beg your indulgence. If my missives are not to your taste you can choose to not read them. All I ask is you don’t take my ruminations too seriously. For those who remain amused by my mildly misogynist musings, watch this space.