Recently, to give myself a pastime I thought I would write a daily routine and events of my life during these days of Covid 19.
Mildly ambitious, I was hoping to pen an amusing and satirical Bridget Jones's Diary style come adaptation, though as it was beginning to shape up more like that of a puerile version of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole 13 3/4, so accordingly I decided to knock it on the head.
Just yesterday, there I was like a latter day male version of Emily Dickenson (recluse), although the poet was of course a prisoner of her own devices, unlike me, who has been confined to barracks so to speak, by a political precept. In addition without pay and allowances, although not through any crime that I committed or for that matter one that I was convicted of.
Therefore, what am I to do now? The options are limited; read something online, listen to Spotify, watch yet another so-so movie on Netflix. Controversially, I could go to the local supermarket and keep fit by practicing social distancing, a rigorous activity here in Thailand as most people walk directly towards you.
More to the point, as we are all expected to make personal sacrifices for the greater good of the country we live and ultimately for mankind, admirably most people have fallen into line. What's more, they are doing just as their relative government has elected.
Subsequently, a country like the UK is to pay people up to eighty percent of their lost earnings to a maximum of £2,500 (100,000 baht) per month which is apparently just above the median. Sounds generous, and brings to mind the words of another poet Robert Browning:
O, to be in England now that April is there
Then again, The USA government is sending each American everywhere who earns less than one hundred thousand dollars a year, 1,200 bucks (40,800 baht) a month. What it is, to be 'A real live nephew of my uncle Sam's', or in the words of Will Allen Dromgoole:
He, too, must cross in twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.
Alternatively, I have heard that the Thai government are going to give each adult Thai citizen that it deems fit, a stimulus payment of 5,000 baht (120 pounds) a month for the next 3 months. Strangely, not a single line of poetic verse springs to mind, even though I can hear Chopin's Funeral March pulsating in my ears.
Nevertheless, I am sure this 'stimulus' would be more than welcome to thousands of EFL teachers who generally work either part-time or full-time in language centres, tutorial or cram schools. These teachers are normally paid at an hourly rate, and no hour means no pay. Not to mention, the private and government day school foreign teachers - the majority of whom are on short term contracts.
And it gets better, because the student numbers in the language centres were dropping in January and February due to the virus. As the learners were reluctant to come into close contact with others, especially Chinese registrants of which there were some.
The language schools having taken a month on month financial knock, had to close their doors by government request circa March 18th. Whereas, now some are unable to pay their teachers the money they earned last month. Without trying to complicate matters more, the language schools work on a pay system where they are always holding 2 - 3 weeks pay of teachers money - even after paying their salaries.
Furthermore, now that the Thai Prime Minister has decreed understandably so in the circumstances that schools will not open until July 1, not only but also, that the school year will run through October into April without breaks. Like the old saying goes 'The writing is on the wall'.
In as much to say after the 2011 Bangkok flood when the schools were finally opened for the second semester at the beginning of December. Although, many teachers were paid and therefore regarded it as a holiday or some kind of life experience. However, some were not paid and somber tales were related to me by gaunt and still shaken teachers who had been unable to pay their rents and had shed weight without a need to diet. Others were slightly more fortunate, whilst having spent all their savings.
Casting my mind back again, this time to the August 2019 sale of the historic British Embassy and its 49,000 square meter plot in Ploenchit Bangkok for almost 16 billion baht! This sale of public property was originally given the go ahead and later orchestrated by the then Foreign Secretary for State, Boris Johnson, who is now the UK Prime Minister. To throw a curve on the words of poet Rupert Brooke:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That isn't for ever England
Momentarily, I wonder to myself how much of that Boris will be allocating to help British citizens who are in a fix in Thailand or who are going to be - due to Covid 19? I'd hazard a guess it'll be somewhere in the region of a big fat zero!
On to more recent times, I refer to the twenty-six-year-old British English teacher here in Bangkok who last month having found himself without a job or adequate means to support himself. And presumably seeing a dark and unwelcome future looming, tragically took it upon himself to end his life by jumping off his balcony. And yet his Thai girlfriend said that he hadn't spoken to her of any grievances about his recently incurred situation - whereas he clearly did have serious tribulations.
He will be no more than one of the innumerable deaths caused indirectly by Covid 19. As in one of those neither calculated nor considered in the final count which is going to go into hundreds of thousands. That is to say, before hopefully at some stage a vaccine will be formulated and befittingly marketed.