Archive for April, 2012
I love living in a hot country. I like waking up to sunshine almost every day. I like the warmth, don’t mind a bit of sweat; and could never, ever, live in the UK again. But this is a bit much.
The last week it has just been getting hotter by the day, and now we are experiencing something in the region of forty degrees of Mr. Celsius.
No, I don’t want to go out and take photos. I don’t want to sit and type on a computer. I just want a small air-conned room and a bed to doze on until the rains come and temperatures decline.
Which means you are not going to see many updates until normal service is resumed.
Now, if you excuse me, I’m going for a little lie down.
The 2012 Formula 1 season has been a cracker so far. Close racing, loads of overtaking and no clear favourites emerging.
But the racing was rather pushed into the background last weekend when the circus went to Bahrain. Last year’s race was cancelled due to social upheaval, and there was much debate prior to the event as to whether this year’s Grand Prix would/should take place.
Like most of the countries in the region, Bahrain has problems. A ruling family from a sect that believes an imaginary friend should be worshipped in a particular manner, lording it over a population, the majority of whom believe that the same imaginary friend deserves a different kind of devotion. Cue riots, tear gas, detentions and stories of bad things happening. Not as bad as Syria or Libya, so generally ignored by the Western press; until this weekend.
The most prominent soundbite came from Ed Miliband, a sock puppet who also happens to be the “leader” of the Labour Party. Ed waited until the thousands of tons of equipment and hundreds of people that are needed to run a Grand Prix had been sent to Bahrain before announcing that the race should be cancelled. Nice timing Ed. Still, he only made the comment once, unlike a previous interview which revealed his true intellect:
Not to be outdone, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, waded in with the suggestion that Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton should withdraw from the race; presumably an attempt to implement foreign policy using selected British sportsmen. Paul Di Resta was excluded from her demand, either because she had never heard of him or because he is Scottish and therefore not sufficiently British.
George Galloway decided he better say something and came up with: “There is blood on the tracks and anyone who drives over then will never be forgiven.” Bonus points for referencing a Dylan album George, but minus a million for confusing rail tracks with a race track. Plus one point for your rather tasty new wife.
Should the Grand Prix have gone ahead? On the one hand it could be seen to be supporting a repressive regime; on the other hand it gave the opposition several days of publicity which it would not otherwise have received. It also gave journalists a chance to go and meet ordinary Bahrainis, and I found this from Joe Saward to be particularly enlightening.
On balance, Formula One has not enhanced its image by going to Bahrain; but it is a shining star of wonderfulness compared to hypocritical politicians in search of a shallow soundbite.
Here’s some facts for you Ed, Yvette and George:
In 2010, the British government sold tear gas and crowd control ammunition, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and sub-machine guns to Bahrain. In February 2011, when the protests kicked off, 44 export licences were revoked as a token gesture (although many remained in place). By the third quarter 2011 it was back to business as usual with all arms export licences being approved. In February of this year, Amnesty International criticised the continuing sale of tear gas to Bahrain by UK firms, sanctioned by the British government.
Feeble quotes about a motor race over one weekend; check. Sustained criticism regarding the UK government’s continuing sanction of arms sales to odious regimes; not a fucking whisper. Grand pricks.
On Sunday morning I was up early for a drive to Bangkok. Wearing my best shirt and second-best pair of jeans, I was comparatively smartened up in order to attend the AGM of our condo; to be held in the offices of our management company.
This was to be the last meeting in their offices, because we have kicked them out and a new company will take over in June; assuming endorsement from the owners at the AGM.
Pulled into their car park with time to spare and headed straight for the toilets. An early start meant I had not had the chance for my usual morning date with destiny and it was with some pleasure and relief that I settled down for what can best be described as a good shit.
Whilst going about my business I exchanged texts with She Who Must Be Obeyed.
I have arrived in Bangkok.
Good! Has the meeting started?
No, I am having a shit.
Anyway, almost time for the meeting so I put away the phone and reach for the toilet paper. There is no toilet paper. THERE IS NO TOILET PAPER!!!
Never mind, I will use the spray thingie that the Thais use. There is no spray thingie.
A lesser man may have panicked at this point; but my years of toilet training kicked in and I looked around for a toilet paper substitute. There was nothing.
But then I remembered that in my bag I had a booklet containing the papers for the meeting. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that meeting agenda papers are not absorbent and it took most of the contents of the booklet before I felt sufficiently cleansed in the botty department.
I then discovered another fact about meeting papers. If you cover them in shit and drop them in the toilet; they don’t flush. Instead they form a coagulated mess which sends a very clear message: “Someone has selected pages bearing the letterhead of the company that owns these toilets, coated them with shit, and dropped them in the bowl. Someone doesn’t like us”.
I scurried out as employees of the company were sauntering in, unaware of the horror that awaited them. I spent the next two hours trying unsuccessfully to hide the fact that my meeting papers were much reduced in number. I am sure there were whispers.
Thankfully the managing company were voted out, so I will never visit their offices again. I shall ensure the contract for the new company includes the provision of toilet paper in their loos.
Mainly, it’s the annoying accent. Plus, I am sick of her looks. And I am very suspicious of this guy that seems to be hanging around our house. I did try to kill her but that seemed to be an impossibility; so I’m stuck with the lion faced, whiny bitch; who spends her days running some obscure business and only gives me a token of the takings. Never joins me in bed either.
Plus, I am now boss of the Thieves Guild, top mage at the College of Winterhold, leader of the Dark Brotherhood, master poet at the Bard’s College, prime mover in a civil war and completer of the main quest that forms the backbone of the game.
Yes, one hundred and eight hours playing Skyrim and I reckon I am just about done. Still plenty of quests I could undertake; but I am now so powerful that nothing is much of a challenge; apart from trying to get rid of my annoying wife.
Time to move on to other games; especially on a brain-meltingly hot day where slouching in front of a computer in an air-conditioned room seems like a good plan. Total War: Shogun 2 – Fall of the Samurai here we come.
Oh, and I will be away for the next two days so no updates till at least Monday night.
Up at 05:00 to take She Who Must Be Obeyed to the bus station. Lucky girl is avoiding Pattaya Songkran day by attending a two day seminar in Bangkok. I return to bed and doze a little longer before arising to check out the box of goodness that finally arrived yesterday, no thanks to the wankers at TNT.
Within the box is a new tripod. I confirmed the need for a new tripod by having the wife carry around the old one a few times on photo trips. “This is very heavy and falling to pieces; you should buy a new one” was her sage advice. I did’t really care about the first part of her sentence, but the “you should buy a new one” phrase is always taken to heart.
But she was right about the old one too. It’s an aluminium monster that I have had for years. It weighs too much and is developing a tendency to shrink in length when it shouldn’t.
The tripod of my dreams (I do dream of tripods, and in my dreams the tripod always has two long legs and one tiny, stubby one. I don’t know what this means.) has always been a Gitzo; big bucks, light weight.
But then I discovered a British company called Three Legged Thing, with a sense of humour and a new range of tripods; and before you could say “Paypal”, I had slapped down an order for a “Brian” (all their tripods are named after famous rock guitarists).
It was my Brian that finally arrived yesterday, and I spent much of today fiddling with his many features, plus taking a photo of him next to a temple; just to prove there was a tripod from 3LT in Thailand.
At some point there will be a review which no doubt pleases you greatly.
One of the many downsides of getting older is that more things go wrong with you. Other than my thyroid, which I consider to be sufficiently weird to warrant a post or two, I try and spare my gentle readers the details of my many ailments. My continuing battles with an ingrowing toenail could warrant several stomach-churning photos should I chose to share. An article entitled “my week with Ebola” would make for entertaining, if entirely fictitious, reading. My trip to hospital last week to treat a rather nasty attack of asthma was noteable only for the ridiculous bill they charged me.
But a more persistent ailment over the past six months has been something my physio described as “Subacromial Impingement Syndrome” and I described as “my buggered left arm”. Somewhere deep in my left shoulder, a tendon had become inflamed with the result that I could hardly move my left arm in certain directions. The condition gradually worsened until a visit to my physio became necessary. She is the wonderful woman who guided me back to health after I broke my back and it didn’t take her long to diagnose the problem; and warn that it would take at least three months to fix it.
So, twice a week I have been going to see her for heat pads, ultrasound and something she calls “manipulation” which involved stretching and wiggling my arm in various directions; just on the edge of where it would start to hurt; and sometimes over the edge. Sure enough, just in time to be almost cured before the thyroid saga commenced, my arm regained most of the movement. It was only then that she told me some of her patients take up to a year to solve the problem.
The main impact of this nonsense has been an inability to windsurf. I don’t know how long it has been since I last stepped on a board, but I am guessing at least last September.
So, it was with some trepidation that I made my way to the windsurfing club today. Would my board still be there? It was, albeit a little dusty. Would my sails still be there? They weren’t, they had understandably been moved to storage; but I was offered a bright red 8.0 metre and off I went.
As soon as I stepped on my board, it was like I had never been away. It was wonderful to be planing over the water again; although my sessions were brief and followed by extended recovery periods on the beach. She who must be obeyed had an outing too, and proved to be as out of condition as I am. But it was fun, and a pint of Boddingtons this evening was a fine end to the day.
The latest in my trilogy of “suck” posts (there may be more) and today I return to a topic close to my heart and even closer to my trachea, my buggered thyroid.
It’s been a few weeks now since I attempted to murder it. Since that time I have been chucking down handfuls of pills every day, including a triple dose of thyroid suppression pills, beta blockers, and a little white pill the purpose I which I forget (memory booster?).
The combined assault from the radioactivity and the suppression pills seems to be working because I feel I have now moved from being hyper thyroid to the less obviously named (unless you are a whizz at ancient Greek) hypo thyroid.
Symptoms include feeling depressed and I can confirm that I feel very depressed. Things I have to be depressed about: None. Things I am depressed about: Everything. I mean really, whats the point of living? And the cat has vomited. Again. Fuck, I’m so miserable.
Next up in the symptoms list is a lack of energy. Just was well that it is Songkran and I can’t go out and do much, because I wouldn’t if I could. Remember the polo shots I took more than a week ago? Still not processed. Some crucial documents to draft for the condo committee? Not so crucial that they can’t wait until tomorrow (repeat daily). Stuff I have accomplished over the past week: Nothing. If I wasn’t so depressed I would worry about it.
Never mind, my lack of energy allows me time to address another symptom; sleepiness. This one is easy to handle. I just lie down on a conveniently flat surface and take a nap; several times a day. I wake up refreshed, depressed and unwilling to tackle anything, which means I usually turn over and have another snooze.
Anyway, I need plenty of rest during the day because my nights are interrupted by symptom number four, muscle cramps. The usual target is a leg and I wake up screaming whilst extending the cramped leg in a vigourous fashion. Not much fun for the cats who are sleeping at the end of the bed. Poised to flee when they hear the scream, they find themselves being kicked across the room into the wall. Our relationship is becoming strained.
No so my relationship with She Who Must Be Obeyed who declared “I don’t care if you’re hyper or hypo, I will still love you”. Which was nice but didn’t stop me trying to remember which way I should slash my wrists to be totally effective. But then I decided I would find out the answer to that tomorrow because I needed a nice little nap first.
Thyroids suck, and it’s two more weeks before I visit the doctor again.
I am sure Songkran is a joyous occasion in many parts of Thailand; but in Pattaya it sucks.
If you are in Bangkok, or almost anywhere else, there are a couple of days of soaked chaos and then life gets back to normal. Unfortunately, the official day of mayhem in Pattaya is not until the 19th; long after everywhere else has dried out and gone back to work. Some people use this as an excuse to chuck water around for eight days or more.
I have no problem with the day itself. If you venture outdoors on the 19th, you are going to get wet; and I have done just that in previous years. Armed with a waterproof camera and a change of clothes in the car, I have wandered the streets of Pattaya and had a good time.
The problem comes in the week before the official day. The vast majority of the people in Pattaya just want/need to get on with normal life during this period; but their are a small army of dickheads who are determined to fuck up things for their own enjoyment. And the embarrassing thing is that these dickheads are mainly foreigners.
Of course there are some Thais playing early too. There is a gang of small kids splashing water in my soi; but they can be easily avoided or, as a last resort, run over. And if you demonstrate to the Thais that you are nicely dressed and not really up for a soaking at this time, they will leave you alone.
Not so the inbred, tattooed, fuckwits that take up station outside the bars on walking street, Beach road and second road. To them, this is Songkran and everyone is a target; irrespective of the willingness of their victims.
Yesterday, in the space of a few hundred yards, I saw incidents that made my blood boil. First, an old couple, smartly dressed, walking down the road minding their own business; until the arseholes outside a bar tipped a bucket of water over them. The old lady was soaked and close to tears, the old gentleman was shaking with anger. Their attackers just laughed.
A little further down the road a Thai lady on a motorbike was going or coming from work; smartly dressed in some kind of uniform. Drenched and mocked; her impression of foreigners was forever ruined.
And finally a young couple with a baby in a pushchair. All three soaked, pushchair awash and baby screaming.
I have nothing but contempt for these scum; but as I am an ancient, weedy wimp, there is not much I can do about it. But I do wish them a face-full of faeces infested water at some point in the proceedings. Meantime, I shall continue avoiding all public places (including on the 19th as I no longer have a waterproof camera); until this Songkran nonsense is over.