Richard Constable

Farangs and sirens

Teaching colleagues from over the years who never really succeeded in the romance stakes

In my last blog, I wrote about my five favourite Bangkok dodges and those got me thinking about some of the poor souls (teaching colleagues) that I've known over the years who got 'royally shafted' by their Thai ladies.

Skin and blisters

Rob Farmer, 39, from the Smokey Mountains in the USA, was one of those kinds of American teachers who take their job extremely seriously. One day I heard him telling his students 'I'm not just any foreign teacher' raising his voice 'I'm the head foreign teacher in the biggest school in Thailand.'

Actually, it was only the largest government educational institution for all that it mattered. And I was a new instructor to the school, who unbeknown to him was being paid more by the agency than he was.

Rob's romantic life was different to most other ex-pats, because his darlings, both first and second relationships were with Muslim women (from Central Thailand) and even better than that - sisters.

Let's get this clear, he'd had a year or so correlation with the divorced elder sister (thirty-something) and mother of one. Then after Rob and she had split up; now a friend of the family he became more acquainted with the younger sister.

But after a few months all wasn't well, as the baby sis was telling Rob that she was not good enough for him. (I think we all know this one, she was trying to brush him off.)  He went on to tell me how she'd told him that she'd previously had five or six sexual partners and that he should have a clean girl. To which he replied, 'No way! I'm an American, I don't want a virgin - I want a woman who's fully experienced!.'

At this point, I began to see a wider picture and asked the question 'Why was she explaining all this to you, and how come you didn't have more idea?' Rob answered 'Ah gee, well you see,' deep breath 'we've never actually slept together.'

Later they too parted company (not that they were ever really coupled.) At around this time, I overheard Rob bending an old female Thai teacher's ear. 'I didn't see why I'd got to keep paying her uncle's truck repayments.' pause 'I mean alright, for a couple of months to help out, but at 9,800 baht a month I thought I'd already played my part.'

Just three months down the line, and the 26-year-old former object of Rob's desires got married, whereupon he attended both the ceremony and the evening due as a guest of the bride. Now, six and a half years on, still I sometimes ponder on if the groom was actually her uncle.

Casino weakness

John Clabon, 36, was a successful ex-pat with a share in a private language centre, who was taking home a hundred thousand baht a month, which back in the day was a substantial amount. His spouse, 24, was a very amicable northeastern woman, who had a weakness for gambling in underground casinos, though I'll come to that in a moment.

My wife and I, John and his wife were friends for a couple of years, and during that time we'd often go to their home to drink, eat, and be merry. Although, not extravagantly, I mean 5-star chicken and sticky rice, peanuts, Thai cheese sticks, bags of ice, and a good many full-size bottles of larger.

John, a generous host, would often insist on paying and give his other half a good few hundred baht to go and get the fare and knockback, still never a sponger I'd often go and give her the readies to cover it myself. (Sadly, it wasn't until after we'd drifted apart that my wife confided in me, that John's wife never told him that I did this, but pocketed the baht for herself.)

Back to John's better half's casino weakness; she would invariably lose, so she'd have to borrow from 'aunt',  the owner of the local mom and pop shop, who charged her the usual community ten per cent per month interest. Which she could normally handle because John gave her 20,000 baht a month for housekeeping and utility bills. (They generally ate Thai food and then only in the evenings, also they didn't use AC in their living areas.)

However, when her debt with aunt got up 100,000 baht she could no longer stretch to the 'loan shark's extortionate rates. Therefore, she'd have to confess all to John, at which he'd pack her suitcases and order her to leave. Then at this point, she'd promise solemnly to 'be a good girl for John'. After that, they'd pull in their belts for a while to clear the debt, that is until the next time.

A pitiful tale

Haircut 100, was the name of a UK band in the '80s, and Haircut 100 was also the slightly callous nickname foreign teaching colleagues gave to our next victim. Martin Jackson was a forty-six Englishman, who was spliced to a native female who was a few years older than himself.

Coincidentally, he'd got an odd hairstyle (no Nick Heyward), for someone with a fine head of hair, and his domineering skinflint of a wife used to present him with just 100 baht a day, hence the nickname. (I don't know if the boys who christened him were also inferring that Martin was receiving a 'financial haircut', though, I think it might have been a shade too deep for them.)

Martin worked full time in a private green board jungle (the actual biggest school in the country), and where he could in local language centres part-time, yet he gave all of his hard-earned cash to his old lady. Although, not before suffering much duress, as he rarely stopped lamenting about her wiles or how she lay hold of all his brass.

His nickname for her was Poopy because when she wanted Martin to wake up on Sunday mornings (his day off), she'd sometimes break-wind directly into his face. Pitiful it was, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, and loathe his mean bitch of a missus.

Martin would be telling me how that come this salary payment he was going to take some out for himself. For example, six thousand baht monthly, to put away for his future as he wasn't getting any younger. Unfortunately, he never did, and as I write this now I'm wondering what the hell must have happened to him because if he's still around he'd be nearing sixty.

A man who achieved his ambitions

Cliff Briley was a 43-years-old former pub manager who, having been stiffed by a brewery on what should have been a hefty bonus, decided to run off with the takings - which from a busy boozer in London amounted to a good few thousand pounds. However, by no means a fine lump of lucre, even 20 years ago. Other than that and some modest savings, he'd brought an enviable record collection to Thailand.

After a while, having travelled a bit around the Land of Smiles, he found himself living with a modern Isarn girl, Bridie was an attractive 26-year-old and she'd a job in an office in the capital. Although, her family were rural people who had a homestead in a village somewhere upcountry in the kingdom.

Incidentally, Cliff was an industrious kind of chap, every month he'd send 3,000 baht back to the village to buy a mountain pig. That's, he was building a herd of swine and one day he wanted to have a house built on his lady love's family's smallholding, and obviously at some stage live there with her.

The first hint that something wasn't right, was when Cliff had to sell his beloved  'golden oldies' vinyl 45's because Bridie's mother needed a 125,000 baht operation on her face for skin cancer.

However, this proved only to be a stumbling block, and not the final nail, insomuch as Cliff and Bridie made a great team. Accordingly, over a period of about eight years with Cliff working corporate gigs, they managed to build a fine herd of mountain hogs that had just started to bring them in thirty thousand baht a month, also they'd got a nice newly built home on Bridie's kindred's land.

Needless to say, on returning from a week working in Rayong to the house they rented and shared in the City of Angels - poor Cliff got the biggest metaphorical kick in the bollocks he'd ever had in his life. What I mean is, not only had Bridie gone yet the only things left there were her house keys on the kitchen sink, and Cliff's personal possessions, clothes, etc.

She'd taken every stick of furniture that they'd accumulated over their eight, or so years together, and hadn't even bothered to leave a note.

Nor did he ever go to her home village to confront her, and neither did she ever contact him.

Part of their culture

Bill Barrow was a nice enough 29-year-old Londoner, who'd lived in Krung Thep for a couple of years.

Bill and a male friend had initially come to Amazing Thailand on holiday. Here they'd met a Thai-Indian guy with who they became friendly, and later the three went into a joint venture of owning and running a restaurant in the Big Mango.

Unfortunately, this all turned sour when the Thai-Indian guy somehow managed to acquire everything for himself - so there he was, now losing even more money by paying a local legal representative - to help him get his investment back. (Little did he know at this time, but within a few months he'd be going back to the UK to become a London underground policeman or the equivalent of.)

Bill's other problem was with his significant other's three brothers; that's they weren't financially secure. And Bill had given each some folding stuff on numerous occasions and even paid back loans on their behalf. Ironically, Bill was far from well-heeled, and they were bleeding him dry.

Bill felt very strongly that it was his place to help his lover's siblings out in a way of dosh. He argued that as he was living with their sister they expected financial compensation, it was part of Thai culture and besides he was living in their country.

In brief, a few recollections of foreigners and Thai femme Fatales, when in fact everyone who has ever lived here, no doubt has a few similar tales to tell. Moreover, I firmly believe that most Thai cross-cultural alliances are little different from other transcultural associations anywhere else in the World.

And if you believe that, I may well be able to cajole you to make a smart purchase of a nice little secondhand motor! Hardly any miles on the clock; as only one owner - a little old lady who only ever used to drive it to her local temple on Sundays. 


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