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The week that was in Thailand news: Putting the "F.U." into frugality English speakers talk about leopards never changing their spots - Thais make the same kind of analogy except with tigers and their stripes. Rooster is very much a person who decided who they were years ago and apart from a few tweaks here and there I am still that leopard, that tiger...that person. This is especially true when it comes to one of my favorite subjects. Mrs Rooster refers to it as my meanness - I infinitely prefer the term frugality. Being the fifth of six children of parents who grew up during the privations of World War II and its aftermath, it is not surprising that I might have given some credence to looking after the pennies and letting the pounds look after themselves. After all when I grew up the pound was actually worth something. Pocket money was tight so I pretended to be 12 to get half fare on the buses until getting stubble put an end to that escapade. I kept my eyes on the ground at all times in case there were green and blue notes along with the discarded cigarette packets that I collected for a hobby. As a teenager I did gardening for 50p an hour, looked after the annoying children of rich people, painted and wall-papered their homes on the cheap and went everywhere on my trusty bicycle that had no gears. As a young adult when I got trapped in and bored with England, I went into frugality and mischief making overdrive. When the nice but inquisitive folks from the nearby unemployment office came in to celebrate a colleague's birthday at the bar where I worked at lunchtime, I had to feign a stomach ache and go home. But it mostly went smoothly as I lived with my sister and scrimped and saved every penny I could to escape back to Thailand where I saw the possibility of a future. I traveled on the cheapest most round-about airlines. Goodness knows what chances one took with Aeroflot in the 80s! A damn sight more than today's Boeing 737 Max 8's I shouldn't wonder. I lived on khao phat (without extra egg) and the treat of a baen of Maekhong with free ice - despite hating Thai whiskey with a passion. Being young one had to get drunk after all. Kloster and other beer was scandalously priced. Ladies who associated with me couldn't have liked me for my money. They invariably never saw it. It helped that I had "invested" my free time in learning Thai that perhaps made me reasonably interesting to talk to. I learned many ways to describe myself in the vernacular as a miserable skinflint, delivered with a twinkle in my eye. And I made the most of the "nanaseconds" - the time it takes for bar girls to lose interest when they realize they are not getting ladies' drinks. When I got work in Thailand I would save at least half my salary no matter what I earned. When the wives moaned about their allowances I would point sagely to the futures of the children and our own retirement. This was met with bemusement and resignation as Thais generally find it difficult to plan beyond the next meal. I have never expected anyone to help me and I don't give a monkey's bottom (dak-ling, darling) what anyone thinks of me. In fact I prefer to stick two fingers up to anyone who thinks I'm mean - yes, I put the FU into frugality. Years of well paid work - and avoiding that most horrible of English traditions "the round system in bars" - meant I was lucky to save a considerable sum that sits in banks for when my children need it! I certainly don't, at least not yet. With this background is it any wonder that I take the side of the increasingly prevalent "beg-packers" when it comes to the comment-fests on Thaivisa stories on Facebook. It's amusing that people think I am trolling - I'm just being honest. Leave the young people alone - who cares if they sell knick-knacks and postcards to fund their trips. Who cares that people resort to Go Fund Me rather than bother with insurance. It's the modern world. You won't find me contributing to them but by the same token I won't criticize those who benefit. So it was this week that I met - via the cyber ether that means "meet" these days - Kev-In-Thailand. He featured in the most popular story on Thaivisa in the last seven days. Given my background it was hardly surprising that he inspired a grudging respect from Rooster. Kevin Burt was born in Hackney and consequently has an accent that only Londoners partly understand. He has obviously done alright for himself with a business and properties in Spain and runs a 30,000 subscriber YouTube channel - yes, "Kev in Thailand" - to make ends meet. Unfortunately Kev was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He said on his channel that he was 59 and intended to get health insurance when he was sixty! He'd messed up his "maffs" a bit and come a right cropper, I don't mind tellin' ya! Worse still, a couple of people had started Go Fund Me accounts for our Cockney Sparrah in Chonburi (ok...Pattaya). Talk about lighting the blue touch paper on the red rag in the bull, if I may mix my metaphors. Every Thaivisa curmudgeon worth his or her salt came crawling out of the keyboard woodwork - mostly to hurl insults at our Kev. Parasite! Scrounger! Disgrace! Go back to where you came from! Those who supported him were drowned out in a chorus of Cockney condemnation. (This was in stark contrast to his YouTube presence, I might add. Mr Burt spends a considerable time each week filtering out any negative comments - those come from "c**ts" he told me on Messenger, using his delightful if limited phraseology). Worse followed next day after the Rooster interview was published in which Kev admitted to smoking on the hospital balcony and claimed - probably quite correctly - that his illness had nothing to do with his having 50 a day and more to do with not having his "5 a day". Few seemed to have read the part where he said he was paying for his own care out of his own pocket. Just saying "thank you" to those who started Go Fund Me was enough to hang, draw and quarter this Devil from the Docklands. Rooster offered to visit him in hospital when he came up to Bangkok later in the week (I could after all claim the petrol money back from my Thaivisa employers). He thanked me but declined - he admitted he'd had enough of Thaivisa for one week. Ha! There is a big difference in allowing only adulation on one's own channel and opening oneself up for dissection on a platform like Thaivisa. Anyway, on balance I like Kev and I wish him all the best in his health struggles. I'd be betraying my principles and especially my hatred for insurance if I stated otherwise. I've never bought any insurance unless I was legally obliged to. I consider it a bad bet and consequently have saved thousands. If I ever need medical care I have the premiums I never paid for 40 years in the bank gaining interest. Getting a much better press reaction this week was a Mr Stephen Trimble - an unlikely name for a strapping 25 year old American who came to a lady's rescue when thieves tried to steal her bag on a beach while she was out swimming. He was beaten up by three thugs as a result. Phi Phi Plod noticed that he was drunk so rather than restore Thailand's image immediately they asked him to come back in the morning. Mr Trimble posted his bloodied self on Instagram and wisely decided to continue enjoying his holiday rather than get detained by the constabulary's inevitable slowness next day. However, the Immigration cops on the mainland understand Instagram and instant image enhancement and that was enough for them to put a rocket (I expect from none other than chief Big Joke himself) under the Phi Phi cops' derrieres . Soon enough a man was "helping them with their enquiries" as we used to say in Croydon. By now Mr Trimble had been traced to Koh Pangan ready for the full moon party - once at that gathering I expect he will forget he is even in Thailand let alone that unpleasantness in Krabi. Posters praised him on Thaivisa for his "goodsamaritanship" (like Shakespeare Rooster enjoys coining new phrases once in a while) though the thread degenerated into a "which nationality is best" free-for-all. Fortunately I have always liked Americans and I even had to concede that their esteemed leader Big Toupee had a point this week when he criticized Mrs May for her approach to Brexit.....sterling didn't know whether it was coming or going in a tumultuous week for Whitehall that I am sure had many pensioners in Thailand checking the Forex markets with a mixture of gloom and expectation in equal measure. It was reportedly said by former British PM Harold Wilson that a week is a long time in politics and that is all we have left until the General Election in Thailand. Those that believe the election is precisely what it says on the tin - an election of a general - had better prepare not just for the next seven days but the aftermath. That is when things always get ugly in Thailand, when the people have spoken. In the last week we could all continue to laugh at and with the Thais over what they refer to as their democracy. Ten election rules were given to us by Sanook ranging from not boozing to not betting. Even polling of any kind in the lead up to the election was deemed a no-no. "Super Poll" just got in in time, however, with their vox pop on whether Uncle Too's (PM Prayut's) attempt to become a fashion icon had been a good idea. Three quarters of the Thai population - even many of his supporters - suggested he should stick to khaki underpants and boring suits rather than attempt to look like an Asian Justin Bieber on military strength steroids. Rooster has never voted anywhere and being only a resident has no right to do so in Thailand. This is just as well because I wouldn't have had a clue down the years where to put my "X". It's meddlesome enough having to deal with one's own "ex". Admittedly, I have a soft spot this year for Bhumjaithai as I am always proud to be Thai when it suits me. Also, their "weed for all" platform strikes a chord! Newin Chidchob - the so called "kingmaker" of Thai politics - has thrown his not inconsiderable political muscle behind the legalization lobby portraying his stance as a boon for the impoverished farmers of his Buriram power base. Though one had to have a quiet little snigger at his comment that he had no personal financial interest in the matter! Ultimately I am hoping that one day Mrs Rooster may be able to use her smallholding in Loei not for Sugar Cane but Mary Jane. Apropos residency and my love affair with money (or so people who say they know me like to believe) this week it was time to renew my decrepit "Police Book". It is a largely pleasurable event that takes place for 15 minutes every five years or so at my local station. It costs 800 baht, or I ought to say it should cost 800 baht. In March 2014 after conversing in Thai with complete ingratiating fluency about the officer's beloved Liverpool FC and their chances of winning the EPL, I had been handed the 800 baht bill. Stupidly, I paid with a 1,000 baht note and I waited a few minutes for the change. Then waited a few more. It was one of those occasions when one sensibly decides not to wear frugality on one's sleeve...besides I'd still be there if I'd waited any more! This time the previous guy had retired and I had a new officer. This time we conversed about my children in England and his relatives in Canada. This time he asked for 800 baht. This time I handed over the correct money. I was tempted to pay with a 1,000 baht note just to see what might happen five years down the line of Big Too's 20 year anti-corruption drive .....only tempted, you understand. Feeling buoyed by the extra 200 baht in my pocket I went to 7/11 to hand in several years of satangs I had saved and bagged. Without even counting the piles of coins the lady handed me another 200 baht in crisp notes. This was turning into a memorable day like when Basil Fawlty expressed himself finally ahead in life after a win on the gee-gees. Several stories this week reminded Rooster of other amusing events from my own past. One was a woman who went online to complain after finding a cockroach in her beer at Beer Fest in the new Terminal 21 in Pattaya. Many hilarious denials followed about whose cockroach it actually was! I recalled an occasion when I had found a roach in a pepper shaker in a sushi restaurant in Sydney. I put a napkin over the top lest the creature escape and only "noticed" its presence after gorging on an expensive dessert. It all ended up being free of course though the chef standing by the door sharpening his knife as we departed indicated that we might be better off never to return. In Pathum Thani a Thai guy did what Rooster has done on occasion and pinch the keys from the ignition of a drunk driver creating mayhem. The hapless and sozzled Somchai could do very little except wait for the sluggish sergeants to bang him up. A lorry once sideswiped my car and I felt the driver was going to flee the scene. To offset that possibility I pretended to go and take a leak behind his rig and found his keys still in the ignition! He was thus still there when the Bang Na constabulary and his insurance company finally arrived to rule in my favor. Thailand's hospital authorities also announced this week that foreigners reneging on their bills owed them 300 million baht. I was somewhat surprised it was so little then I remembered one of the few occasions I have been in hospital in the kingdom. My liver was about to rupture after I got an amoebic abscess following dysentery. Rather than wheel me to the ward after I went to St Louis Hospital at death's door, the nurse kindly wheeled me to the ATM instead. Grimmest story of the week had to be the murder by a Jordanian man of his own two year old son. This so called "father" tied his little boy to a pram and dumped him in the sea at the Bali Hai port in Pattaya. My editor had sent me the story to translate and as I got into my work I pleaded with a higher power that this was not what I expected, was it? It was. Readers of this column will know that I thoroughly deplore capital punishment and I find it very distasteful when posters talk about the retribution in prisons and what "they'd do if it was up to them". That said, one hopes that a dank cell with poor food and an adequate supply of cockroaches and lack of bed linen awaits this miscreant for the next thirty years or so. And so to lighter matters and this week's Rooster awards. "Best Photo" goes to the person who snapped a motorcycle entangled high up in power lines in Surin after an accident. How it got up there - and the fate of the rider - is anybody's guess. The story led to my "Best Post of the Week" that goes to 'Damrongsak' for: "I didn't know Thailand had charging stations for bikes". Next, it's tremendous news for those who say that I never mention Chiang Mai enough in The Week That Was. I am glad to rectify this with the "Cough Splutter Hack And Wheeze" award after the northern city was named as the most polluted place on earth for several days running. Several posters came out with the mother of all cliches suggesting that this was a "nail in the coffin for Chinese tourism" in Chiang Mai. On the contrary, I would have thought pollution would have made them feel more at home. Last prize is the "Rooster Total Bloody Envy Award" that goes to Nutcharut Wongharuthai or Mink who reportedly became the first woman in the world to get a 147 maximum break in snooker. My hat flies off to Mink, aged just 19, who achieved something that Rooster could only dream about. My top break is 50 and probably always will be! Mink is a charming young lady I had the pleasure of meeting with my daughter last year. She will be hoping to take her achievement from the practice table to tournaments especially at the Women's World Championships that will be held at her home base - the Hi-End Snooker Club in Lat Prao - in June. Finally as so many expats are apparently thinking about leaving Thailand due to the onerous visa and financial regulations I must report a conversation with an old friend and Thailand veteran who decided to go back to the UK a few years ago to work and get his Thai/Brit children educated in England. We were shooting the breeze online about the amazing changes regarding the attitude towards marijuana in the kingdom when he said out of the blue that now the kids were safely at uni he had decided to come back to Thailand for good. Funny that. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2019-03-16
The week that was in Thailand news: Sense and Sensibilities - with Durian for afters. My last day at high school in South London went with a bang. Not that I was there to enjoy it. Some naughty sixth form leavers had raided the CCF armory and got hold of a thunderflash, a pyrotechnic device used to simulate battlefield conditions that were used on school army days. It is deafening when set off outside - they always had to warn the neighbors near the school that it wasn't the IRA. These students had put the device under the stage at the final assembly. Unfortunately the best, perhaps the only memorable thing that happened in my boring school days I missed. I could't be bothered to say goodbye to the friends I made at school. I have never seen a single one of them to this day. I was thrilled to leave school behind and start my Brave New World (I never understood, or read that set text!). I was confident that I was already sufficiently streetwise and savvy from playing truant and ignoring teachers. The following Monday I started work as a cub reporter on a very well read and highly regarded provincial broadsheet. However, it was a rude awakening - I was treated like a dishcloth and soon realized that at 18 I had an awful lot of growing up to do! Presently I found myself in the company of thieves and ne'er do wells, otherwise known as the Metropolitan Police. I also started associating with all manner of other South London riff-raff from gypsies who threatened me with golf clubs when I went to report on their illegal camp to a man owing thousands in rent who had been housed in a luxury flat by the council because they had nowhere else to put him. He forewent the golf club and threatened to shoot me. My teacher hadn't told me about all this. Quickly, me and colleagues started chasing police cars and fire engines to get the scoop. On one occasion at a road accident a pedestrian had lost a leg that the police had put in a cardboard box. The copper at the scene winked and said that the victim who was on his way to hospital was "hopping mad". This black humor - experienced by me at crime scenes and in countless courts when ushers would slip me notes in the press box with scurrilous observations - made me realize that school days had sheltered me from the realities of life. I thought I was a big man for not crying when seeing the virtually lifeless body of my mum who was on the verge of death from colon cancer when I was just 16. Now I was in the real world. And it was even worse than that family tragedy. I quit my job in 1982 to travel the world fully expecting that now - after being a reporter for the best part of three years - I could stomach anything and face any eventuality. Then I arrived in Thailand..... One of the first things I did while on tourist walkabout was pop into a rescue foundation office in the Rama IV area. I was fascinated by the pictures of dead bodies in glass cases outside. I'd seen some of the grisly things on show but this was another level. The man in charge smiled at my newbie question: Is this appropriate? Maybe not, he conceded, but it sure helped keep the donations flooding in for his organisation. I soon discovered that the Thai public were not shielded from the realities of life and death at all. But it didn't seem to damage them - quite the opposite. Their print media and television at the time - and to this very day - published the most terrible of images. You had to access the Thai press of course, The Bangkok Post and The Nation would never go down that route fearful they would alienate foreign readers with all their "Sense and Sensibilities". On the streets riding a motorcycle for hundreds of thousands of kilometers around the kingdom I came across some shocking scenes. A Benz with people inside was on fire in Petchaburi, a motorcyclist's head came off and slammed into a taxi.....a man who was next to me "on the grid" at an intersection at night left a second ahead of me and was creamed by a pick-up. He was trying to get up despite his leg being 50 yards away. Hopping mad, eat your heart out. I am forever reminded of these stories in my translation job for Thaivisa that sees me put into English an average of ten stories a day from the Thai mainstream media. Many of these involve accidents and serious crime - with descriptions and pictures (albeit blurred in most stories) that would make anyone's hair curl. I am acutely aware that the clientele of Thaivisa fall into two camps. The largest of these, I perceive, think that translating the full details from the Thai press is voyeuristic, unnecessary and sensationalist. Others - perhaps those who might have seen gran in the coffin in the front room as was customary in Britain not too many years ago - say report it like it is. I usually defer somewhat to the sensibilities of the former group with words like "suffered head trauma" when the Thai says the brain matter was spread over a wide area and took half an hour for municipal cleaners to scrape it off the tarmac. But there are some stories where the power of the news, in my opinion, really needs a "no holds barred" approach. One such story this week was what happened to a young lady optician out shopping for fruit at a market in Bangkapi. The driver of the Number 115 bus lost control and sent her to the next life after crushing her between the front of his bus and a power pole. I warned my editor that this story was going to have the full details and he went with that. Many posters laid into Thaivisa but a few came to our defense with one, "seahorse", suggesting that detractors not visit "Liveleak or Bestgore websites"! My opinion, for what it's worth is that Western societies - despite all the images and reports that are out there in these days of social media - have become too insulated and protected by death and destruction. People die in "hospices" and not at home any more. The Western media shield us from real life with the mistaken idea that we can't stomach reality and that by showing it they will lose readership. Funny that this seems to run against the ever increasing drive towards sensationalism in reporting. While the description of the unfortunate optician's demise was too much for many I took pity on them when it came to describing the death of an infant crushed by a fork lift truck in Trang. The story here was less about the horrible injuries and more about the cover up clearly being perpetrated by the owner of the timber merchants worried about being prosecuted for having unsafe work practices. Some posters on such stories burble that "life is cheap in Thailand". Believe me the Thais care about death as much as anyone else - the only thing that is cheap is the compensation paid by the rich to the poor. Death is something that the rescue foundations - who provide a fantastic service in Thailand helping both the public and the police - face every single day. In Bangkok this week netizens came to the defense of one rescue staffer who had to spend a whole night with a corpse - he had jumped off the Rama VII bridge - because the cops couldn't decide whose jurisdiction it came under. The staffer's mistake was venting his frustrations online as so many do these days to their cost. His employers - mindful that they must not aggravate the cops who they rely on - transferred him pending an investigation. I'm sure he'll soon be reinstated as that is Thai style as much as picking up corpses is their daily stock-in-trade. Ruam Katanyu, Poh Teck Tung and Sawang Boriboon (in Pattaya), to name but three, do a sterling job but you need a strong stomach to both live in Thailand and read their reports. I recall, having learned how to read Thai through crime magazines, that Poh Teck Tung was one of the first things I could say AND spell in Thai! Fortunately for those with weaker stomachs there was, once again, plenty of a much more light-hearted nature to entertain and amuse readers of all ages and bents on Thaivisa this week. Story of the week among the Thais - that received good attention on the forum, too - was "Mr Durian" (Rooster's applied moniker) who offered his daughter and 10 million baht for a good son-in-law who could take "Nong Karn", 26, off his hands and help run the thriving durian business! Unfortunately the advertisement backfired somewhat after 10,000 prospective grooms applied from all over the world. Ten million viewed the translated story on a Chinese website alone. Anon "Sugar Daddy Non" Rotthong was forced to backtrack and abandon the selection procedure though the local mayor - with a twinkle in his eye - said this was a pity as his own son would have made an ideal suitor. The selection day was due to have been April 1st that gave plenty of grist to the mill for those who thought the whole thing was just a publicity stunt to boost sales of durian. Apropos the "King of Fruits" I have to report that I am getting old. On reading the story about attractive Nong Karn I have to admit I was drooling on my computer - not from this fresh-faced cutie thirty years my junior but from the thought of where the next plate of Rooster's favorite fruit was coming from......a sign of the times. Top story from top cop Big Joke this week was the Lt-Gen's news conference after his BFF and DPM Prawit Wongsuwan cried foul after a news site suggested that "His Portliness" had used public funds to sip luxury coffee at 12,000 baht a cup. In most countries this fake news nonsense would be laughed off by politicians. I could imagine someone like former PM David Cameron lapping up such an opportunity at the despatch box turning such a suggestion to his advantage with some carefully chosen old Etonian slap-downs! Unlike Democrat Party Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prawit did not go to Eton and has about as much repartee as a broken down wrist watch. I once met Abhisit at a Scrabble tournament, as you do, and we conversed briefly about his love for Newcastle United FC. He was one of the only Thais I have ever met who could pronounce English better than moi! What would have been called "Coffee-gate" in any Western country had the added benefit of allowing the military to go after Pongsakorn, a deputy at the 'upstart' Future Forward Party, who foolishly admitted sharing the story. He could be banned for ten years for this storm in a coffee cup. Thus joining those who face similar trouble for promoting a high profile person to front their party. Suffice to say that the election hustings are proceeding in the Thai style to which we have all become accustomed. Pot and pots of various kinds kept the titter-o-meter straining this week. You had to laugh at the suggestion that it would be a good idea to admit smoking marijuana by going to the police for their "amnesty". That would be one sure way to find yourself on an unwanted database. Meanwhile a Chinese man featured in the alliteration headline of the week after stealing all his neighbors' plants to stock the garden at his "ban roo-roo" (luxury house) in Chiang Mai - blame Rooster for "Police Prosecute Poo the Potted Plant Pincher". Down in Thong Lor in Bangkok the real story was missed. The headline suggested that the news was all about 206 sidewalk motorcyclists being nabbed in one hour generating 206,000 baht in fines. The real news was that the Thong Lor cops had actually managed to leave the station for purposes other than shake down tourists near Soi Cowboy! The constabulary at that particular "nick" are notorious. For one thing you might have thought they would have been a bit more determined to protect one of their own who was dragged under the wheels of Red Bull Boss's Ferrari. It's a never ending case that will never end in justice unless someone kidnaps Boss at Harrods and delivers him to the RTP like the daredevils who achieved that with Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs on the streets of Rio de Janiero. Even then I doubt Boss would actually do the time. And so to a few Rooster awards. "The Lying Female Toe-Rag Award" of the week is jointly presented to Mew and Jomsap, both Thai ladies I am glad I never met. Mew tried to cover the fact she was paralytic behind the wheel and drove herself into a klong by blaming the aforementioned Poh Teck Tung. Admittedly the foundations do sometimes cause accidents with their scary driving but this was not one of them. Find Mew and jail her please. Jomsap, a former teacher, has been jailed for eight years for perjury. She took in everyone - including the hapless Bangkok Post who had a "Free Jomsap" campaign - after she claimed she had been wrongfully incarcerated in the death of a 74 year old cyclist. It was a messy affair and she had now been proved to have lied in court. A nasty piece of work who I hope does not enjoy rice gruel every day. Meanwhile the Arthur Daley sponsored "You're 'Avin A Laff Award" goes to the middle men who brokered the deal that will thoroughly shortchange the boys from the Moo Ba academy over their cave drama movie deal with Netflix. Maybe the families think three million baht each is enough money after all the trouble they caused! I don't. The "Darwin Award" for complete lack of service to the gene pool goes to the two motorcyclists caught on video at the "U-Turn of Death" in Nan. One hopefully receives his prize through the bars of his cell while the other is awarded posthumously, for obvious reasons. Bikers should learn to look especially if they hope to pass on their genes as well as their jeans. The last award is the "Double Rouble Trouble" (it helps to pronounce it incorrectly) that goes to the Russian in Pattaya who expected sex at a traditional Thai massage place in Jomtien. When he didn't get it he smashed the place up. If and when he comes back from Cambodia to face the music he may find the Pattaya police to be the least of his worries. His Russian wife will also be waiting for him. Rooster -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2019-03-09
The week that was in Thailand news: Mind your language - why I swear by Thailand! Newbies to Thailand might believe the simplistic guidebooks that claim the Thais are demure and known for always turning the other cheek. Anyone who has been here the proverbial five minutes knows otherwise! While it is true that most Thais will do most anything to avoid conflict - and the loss of face that inevitably entails - when things do go pear-shaped it can be very unpleasant indeed. Much of the skill - and it is a skill - enabling a foreigner to live happily in Thailand revolves around how much to be Thai and how much to be foreign. And it involves knowing the difference; knowing when barriers are crossed and knowing how far those barriers can be pushed. Some don't care about this and pay the consequences. Some let the Thais run roughshod over them in benign acceptance that this is "not their country" - this leads to consequences, too, in the lowering of self-esteem and a feeling of disempowerment. (And leads to venting on Thaivisa forum about Thais.....but that's another issue for another day!) One area of life in Thailand that everyone can relate to is use of Thai language. Rooster has been in both a happy and difficult position for years regarding what legendary columnist Bernard Trink always referred to as "the vernacular". I am not a native Thai speaker but I have advanced skills. This is a double edged sword - having the abilities I possess means expectations are high. Anyone who knows me would criticize me - perhaps not to my face! - if I used Thai language that was even a wee bit inappropriate. He should know better! For 15 years I was head of Thai language and culture at Harrow International School in Don Muang. It was a privileged position and one that led to tightrope walking the like of which few foreigners in Thailand would ever have to tread. It also set me apart as a kind of go-between. I was between the expatriate teachers and the students and senior management. I was between those self-same expatriates and the hi-so parents who were our clients. It was a balancing act at times and one that always kept me on my toes. Apropos language the school always had a problem - we had so many Thai students and the teachers wanted them speaking English but many preferred Thai especially out of class. This was grudgingly accepted by some teachers as an inevitable consequence of 80% Thai enrollment. But what really got many goats was their belief that the children - some in primary - were swearing like troopers in Thai. Only a few expats could pick up on it leading to what some saw as a problem. Many parents complained that they heard a lot of bad language around the campus. I was asked many times what the Thai swear words were. I was always somewhat reluctant to advise people officially because I believe that your Thai skills have to be fairly good before you could be remotely sure what a child had said especially in a noisy playground. So I advised caution. But when pressed I came up with a list of what to listen out for in the corridors of the school. And in order to take the pressure off non-Thai speakers I implemented a system where offenders who were suspected of swearing in Thai were sent to my office. The miscreant was welcomed in sternly and told to wait (stew). Rather in the manner of the Thai police and their suspects they were advised to admit to their crime before we moved on. No re-enactment was necessary! Softening, I spoke of my own use of Thai swear words and that swearing makes one part of a club. I never once said that adults don't swear but I impressed on kids that there was a time and a place for it. School was neither the time nor place. Finally they were just warned - Thai style again - but if they re-offended they could expect their parents to be told and their place at Harrow to be questioned. They then signed that they grasped the consequences. No one was reported to me twice. The problem was never eradicated but a lid was kept on it that most accepted was the best we could do. If you are not a native speaker swearing in a foreign language is tricky. I can just about get away with some rough language with people I know well, especially if it is accompanied with a smile. But by and large I avoid it unless I am speaking facetiously or trying to otherwise be funny. I still come a cropper at times but, hey, that refers back to what I said earlier about pushing the boundaries. Life is dull without that. Two people who knew no such boundaries in the matter of swearing featured in my favorite video of the week on Thaivisa. This was a foul mouthed duel between a taxi driver and a portly woman who was obviously trying to rip him off by not paying the fare. The driver pursued her all down the soi as "every Thai swear word under the sun" (as the translator put it) was hurled back and forth like profane ping-pong. Buffaloes, elephants, water monitors and other animals were invoked. Their sexual proclivities and those of mothers were raised. Parts of the body too rude to mention (soles of feet and heels no less!) and their unseemly association with loftier physical attributes were made. It was what Brits of a bygone era like myself refer to as "fruity". The good thing about the verbal violence was that it did not escalate into something decidedly worse. How many times in recent years have we seen tooled up taxi drivers or road-ragers produce "sparta" or fruit paring knives, swords and machetes, or even guns. All too often I am afraid. It was great to just kick back on this occasion, get the popcorn out and enjoy the foul-mouthed free-for-all. One man not averse to the occasional swear word is General PM Big Too. He has often brought the officer's mess into the public arena to create an even worse mess. One comment I particularly liked on the forum this week concerned the swearing heard throughout the land when he starts to deliver his Friday treatise on national TV. Swearing from the public, that is, as they turn off the TV and do something more interesting instead. This week Prayut headed for a Krabi hospital to meet the Finnish father of a five year old who was savaged by dogs on Ao Nang beach. While this caring act will do no harm to his political ambitions it was good that he went just a bit out of his way (he was in the south anyway). It will be even better if he followed up by barking some orders that would help to end the menace of soi dogs in the kingdom. The boy survived - just - but next day a toddler was attacked at his house. A quick 'neighborly' offer to recompense the family to the tune of 100,000 baht reveals how serious it was. Of course the Thai press loves to jump on bandwagons - vehicles that often pass by fast and are never seen again - but this one, along with the carnage on the roads is one that should not be allowed to go away "until next time". Tourism will be affected. Innocent children will die. Ordinary people just out for a walk, jog or cycle will feel threatened while the dogs are giving better treatment than many humans. Animal cruelty laws have gone too far and need to be reined in to allow public authorities greater freedom in containing and hopefully one day eradicating this menace. The problem is multi-faceted - not just a simple Buddhist problem as many posters contend - and political will is needed. Politics, of course, was gaining even greater attention this week as election fever spiked. Some posters on the column last week even wanted to hear my take on various issues that have surfaced in recent weeks regarding high profile candidates. Suffice to say that when it comes to some figures in Thailand I won't cross those aforementioned boundaries. To keep the dog theme going, I think "self-muzzling" is often a great idea. This avoids being bitten, something that has never happened to me in Thailand. It also helps to warn off the necessity of divorce. More concerning this week were efforts made by the junta to silence political opposition with a number of amateurish moves against their opponents. The fresh faced leader of a party attracting considerable influence among young voters will hopefully not be unduly worried by the KUBs (khaki underpants brigade). One day they might have a lot more to answer for than putting a few porky pies on a website. Though not a news item I clicked on a forum topic that mentioned porky pies and saw that it garnered a great deal of attention. Expecting to read comments about Thais lying (rhyming slang porky pies=lies for the uninitiated) I was a tad disappointed that it was about pigmeat in a pastry casing. It did make me hungry, however, and reminded me to tell the kids who are visiting from the UK over Songkran to bring lashings of Branston. One set of places that have often made me feel like swearing are hospitals and doctors' surgeries (and don't get me started on banks...). This week we were reminded that hospitals can't force patients - or even the doctors - to make people fill their prescriptions at their own pharmacies. This was not news to frugally minded Rooster who has connived with doctors for years to circumvent their employers and save money. I would advise everybody else who cares about the baht in their pocket to do likewise as new laws requiring hospitals to be fair are as likely as no one getting sick anymore. Much comment was made on several other stories of both quirky and irritating natures. Quirky was a post of a woman on Facebook who said that an "aunty" got on the MRT and promptly sat down in her lap. Sanook went to town quoting many netizens one of whom suggested, if the offender was indeed a foreigner, that the "lap-sitter" should be taught that lovely Thai swear word that is rarely spelled out - e-dork (whore). It's a powerful word that should be avoided - no wonder prostitutes in Thailand are referred to as "women looking for something to eat". Overstepping the mark was a Slovenian who had planned to propose to his wife on Valentine's Day. When she didn't turn up for a romantic dinner he took out his frustrations - along with a bit of Slovak slang I shouldn't wonder - on campaign posters in the neighborhood. It emerged the reason for this was that she was out canvassing but all ended well as the candidate forgave him and wais were exchanged. That Thai habit invariably gets my vote! Great comment accompanied a story that suggested there were less accidents on booze free Buddhist holidays, like last Tuesday. Lo and behold the stats showed that "only" 24 perished on the day in question and the debate was reignited further. Rooster would have been happier if Bacchus had ordered his followers to drink milk and Sir Walter Raleigh had just brought back potatoes to the old world. Drink and fags have got a whole lot to answer for. Questions were also raised this week about an altogether more pleasant drug that is never out of the news these days. Ganja. Fears are being raised that new regulations designed to pave the way for medical use of the drug and possibly recreational use in the future are becoming confusing and being misinterpreted. I'm afraid that given the Thai's penchant for not having a cunning plan and making things up as they go along I will not be surprised when this results in an unholy mess with the RTP interpreting the law for their own pecuniary pleasure. I shall be taking Mrs Rooster up to Loei next week - the children started ten (ugh - TEN) week Thai holidays. One eye I shall keep on the kids and the road outside gran's and the other on the adjacent sugar cane field that hopefully one day might be a pot plot. So to a few Rooster awards. "Surname Of The Week" goes to a policeman who felt he was defamed after an irate member of the enemy (the public) went online to complain about his checkpoint. The Pol Capt's second name was "Sa-artnak" or "squeaky clean". It reminded me of Cyril Fletcher of "That's Life" fame on UK TV who once featured a real life name of a solicitor who came to his attention: Robin Bastard. "Employee Of The Week" also goes to a cop, well a concrete one of the "Ja Choey" variety referred to as "Sergeant Standstill". A Songkhla woman had apparently won three lottery prizes because of him and had now set up a shrine at the cop's solid feet to get a fourth. With the usual amount of inactivity from the RTP this was most impressive - maybe Sgt Standstill can be given overall responsibility for tackling the carnage on the roads. He won't be any worse and may be cheaper. The "Glenn Hoddle" award for "Services To The Afterlife" goes to the hi-so Mustang driver and his girlfriend who got a security guard to turf out a disabled woman's trike from a handicapped person's parking spot at Terminal 21 in Pattaya. Glenn paid the penalty for believing in karma too. Finally, the "Rotten To The Core" award goes to Krisana "Mona" Suwanpitak the ex-beauty queen who murdered her "insubordinate" teenage maid. She has finally been jailed for life. I'm tempted to swear when reading about people like this but, considering the boundaries again, I shall just content myself with a Thai proverb along the lines of beauty only being skin deep. "Suay tae roop, joop mai horm". Beautiful on the outside - but the kiss is not fragrant. Rooster. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2019-02-23