Thursday, November 22, 2018

Geordie's Platter

My mother would have been proud of me. Just cooked a big dollop of pease pudding, Geordie style and a very tasty cottage pie...Kempie style. Out of his world, or as some might say "yummy yummy", not my favourite word to sum up my exquisite cooking, but some seem to like it. A few beers tonight should add the finishing touch


Brings back the rhyme:
Pease pudding hot 
Pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot,
Nine days old.

Not exactly Lord Tennyson, but brings back a few memories all the same. Remember taking fresh pease pudding and freshly cooked ham stuffed into a stotty (Geordie loaf) down the pit when I was a young bairn of 16. My pit pony, Jackie, loved them. Not sure who farted the most, me or Jackie.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Just back from an enlightening 2 day trip to Fang and all points north into the hills and valleys of northern Thailand. As I had visited that part of the countryside on several occasions previously, the trip in itself, although passing through many scenic locations, didn't qualify to be described as  enlightening. What made it enlightening was what I experienced while there and the sweet and sour memories that lingered with me on my return journey. Sweet because I witnessed first-hand the incredible inner strength that some of the people I met displayed and made me feel humble in their presence. Sour because of the effects of the stigma some others were forced to endure from their neighbours and sometimes their own loved ones. I am talking, of course, about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

I was fortunate to be in the company of 3 hard working and totally dedicated young gentleman, employed by the northern Thailand charity foundation "Rejoice Charity". They are affectionately known as "The Three Men and A Truck" charity by the local communities and HIV patients they cheerfully present with, Formula Milk, sweets, snacks, cast-off clothing but most of all a listening ear and ever-ready words of sympathy and understanding, something which can be in very short supply in their local community. Their role in  supporting children, families and communities in rural Chiang Mai Province can be a daunting and sometimes thankless task and one which, unfortunately, the end is not in sight. Read more about them and the work they do here

During all the time I spent with them, which included an overnight stay in a Fang hotel and a few refreshments before  dinner, not once did I hear or detect a hint of dissatisfaction, frustration or disagreement (except, maybe, who's round it was to buy the beer!) and how well they deserved that cool refreshing liquid after their gruelings day's work. They'd soon be up and back on the road again, together with local Health Care Workers (all HIV infected) visiting another batch of needy locals, some hilltribe and some Thai. Never showing signs of hurry or time constraints and always leaving the impression that they had travelled from Chiang Mai, solely to visit them. 

A mention must be given to the volunteers, themselves infected with the HIV virus, who assist the doctors and nurses at the various rural hospitals and clinics who's help is invaluable and rightly deserve the title of "Angels of the North". Of course, what charity doesn't need donations and sponsors and Rejoice is very much in the same financial dire straights, even more so because of the below-the-radar operation it employs, thereby only just managing to survive almost on a day-to-day basis. They also operate a school sponsorship scheme which, for small amounts, can make the difference between a child getting a worthwhile education, in many cases up to university level and scrounging day-to-day in the squalor and grime of their lowly existence. 

Having lived in Thailand for almost 20 years I am fully aware of the numerous charities, orphanages etc that exist in and around and beyond the Chiang Mai area and all doing incredible work for their organisation. All, except maybe the large international christian sponsored, needing assistance, in one form or another, but believe me if Rejoice, who are not having any regular or reliable sponsorship, become unable to continue their outstanding work, it could be the difference between life and death for many of the people who rely on them so desperately.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Journey of a Lost Soul

23 October 2018
Starting this diary on my smartphone to hopefully help me get a grip on the weight problem. Also to put some thoughts down on paper in case Alzheimer's kicks in, God knows everything else seems to be. Yesterday's water-fast was quite successful, made a bit of a pig of myself around midnight though! Will try again today, hopefully it will be as successful if not more so.

Read up again on my health check-up report from Rajavaj hospital re. a few possible problems, which I won't go into. The weight problem was again highlighted, especially with the gout playing up, how many times do I need to be told!! Happy, though that the new medicine for the osteoarthritis in the knees seems to be doing some good.

Have I had such a great life that I deserve all this comeuppance? It's all relative I guess. Some would say I got a raw deal, others may say I got off lightly. 
Need to dig out the "Easy Way to Lose Weight" book. Was a great help the last time. So why did I stop? Good question.

Still on my bed at 8 am, this new smartphone has a lot to answer for.

Feeling quite peckish, tried drinking water, then drinking more water, talking to myself, even having a haircut, but it was the KFC that finally did the trick!

Weight: 117 Kg/257 lbs/18.4 st (and for those who haven't caught up yet): 2.3 cwt!

Sunday, July 22, 2018


We're half-way to 2018 already? Seems like I’ve been asleep for years. And maybe I have. At least in terms of living a purposeful life. Felt that the proverbial ‘rut’ was widening and sucking me into its belly. The Collins New Dictionary defines ‘rut’ as “a narrow or predictable way of life, dreary or undeviating routine.”(not the alternative: “sexual excitement of male ruminants”, I hasten to add!) Yep, I guess that’s about it, seems to fit the bill, or at least did.

That’s not to say that being in a rut is necessarily an undesirable state for all. There are many who languish in its sanctuary, and indeed wouldn’t (or couldn’t) have it any other way.

It was Arnold Bennett, the British Novelist who said: “The great advantage of being in a rut is that when one is in a rut, one knows exactly where one is.
But Ellen Glasgow, the American Novelist suggests: .”The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions

Take your pick.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Nowhere Man

Was having a quiet drink the other night in a local downtown Chiang Mai pub with a friend, talking about this and that but mainly the other. In the background, local songsters were playing their own rendering of the Beatles song “Nowhere Man” I knew it was this song because my friend did the interpretation.

Not that the song wasn’t in English, it was, or at least was meant to be, it was just that, well to be kind, it needed a wee bit more practice. Not that yours truly could have done a better job, but I tend to keep my sorrowful serenading behind my shower curtain and not contaminate the all-ready over contaminated Chiang Mai air with more pollution.

As the song reached its welcoming end my friend said to me in a thoughtful manner “You know, you’re a bit of a Nowhere Man”. I thought nothing of it at the time but later I reflected on what she had said and what caused her to say it, “..a bit of a Nowhere Man”. Ok, so it was out with the lyrics and on with the MP3. At the end I could see where she was coming from... but alas not where I was going!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What's it all about!

Have you ever been in a position (No, not that position JJ!) when you say to yourself “What the f****** h*** (flipping heck) am I doing here!” I don’t mean here in Chiang Mai, I mean here on this God forsaken planet! That’s if you believe there is a God to have done the forsaking in the first place. I have travelled extensively around Arabia, Asia and the back streets of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and had many a reason to doubt the ‘Maker’s’ existence. My Irish catholic mother (bless her) would be turning in her grave, to hear her only, ex altar boy son utter such heresy. But doubt has a lot going for it.

Without going into Tsunamis, Middle East conflicts and Newcastle and Sunderland derbies, there are countless, seemingly insignificant, experiences anyone of which is qualified to sow those nagging, irritating, inconvenient seeds of doubt in, what is already, a confused mind.

Where was the descending finger when I asked for another pint of the devils brew in my local the other night and ended up serenading the ugliest Lady of the Night to be found on the backstreets of Chiang Mai. Or the time on the golf course when I chose the wedge instead of the 9-iron and plonked it straight into the water. Where was He I ask! And so on, and so on...

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

93 Year Old Australian Charged With Rape

Despite the seriousness of the case I had to smile at the recent incident involving a 93 year old Australian guy who was recaptured in Myanmar having fled from Chiang Mai following rape charges. He is accused of raping 4 girls under the age of 15 at a local village in Doi Saket.

Although he has pleaded not guilty, should he be convicted it is understood he could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison. But the good news for him is he may only serve 10 years of that. At 103 years old it is considered unlikely that he will still be a threat to society...but you never know! Lock up your daughters!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mayor Wants Us To Cut Down On Boozing

The Chiang Mai Municipality has said that they have noticed pubs breaking the law, underage drinkers getting away with it, so something needs to be done.The answer is simple; extend the drinking times; lower the legal age of drinking and the associated crime rate will drop dramatically and who knows Chiang Mai may just be a happier and more law abiding place to live in. And as an added bonus, many of the less fortunate bar owners may just about keep their heads above water. (At least before the floods return again) Add all of that to the increase of tax on booze and everyone's a winner!

Don't know why someone hasn't thought about that.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's All Too Much!

It's enough to pull your hair out! Decisions, decisions, and more decisions! Pressure after pressure and after even more pressure! Why is there such a demand on my life, how am I to cope with all these complexities thrust upon me unwanted, uninvited and totally unnecessary. At a time when I ought to be reaping the fruits of my hard earned retirement, having battled through the rigors of adolescence, married life, fatherhood and bloody hard work here I am tense, tired and stressed out.

Why you may ask (or may not!) What is the cause of such mental anguish from a normally placid, tranquil and ordered mind? It's the sodden Olympics, that's what! Why so, you may further inquire. Because in years gone-by when the Olympics were broadcast on the telly, life was easy, there was only one channel to watch and a little later on maybe one or two more at the most. Now, thanks to the wonders of satellite TV and streaming on the internet there is a multitude of events to be watched and most at the same time. Add to this golf, F1, football and others, the result is cranial confusion!

Well I suppose I can last out for two weeks when things should settle down and relative calm descends. I'll be challenged by more manageable tribulations such as; should I just have 2 bottles of Leo or go for the promotion, how shall I cook my eggs in the morning and one slice of toast or two. Ah! The good life!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Can anyone help me please!

It has almost reached the stage when it's all become too much! Nothing I do seems to improve the situation. My life has become one big calamity with failure after miserable failure. My body is in a constant state of anguish and rebellion. My mind appears to have given up the ghost in all but the minimum of mental tasks and refuses to allow reason to enter its tumultuous vault. I have scoured the web; solicited well meaning advice even sought the company of better minds but all to no avail. It seems that I am at the doorstep of the 'Waiting Room' where once inside it's only a matter of time before the door in front of you slowly creaks open and the beckoning finger appears from the darkness and in the immortal words of the late Roy Orbison, "It's Over".

If anyone has any last ditch advice to help improve my golf, I beg you speak up and speak up now before it's all too late. My life, such as it is, is in your hands.

God meets the world’s greatest golfers as they enter heaven.
God asks Arnie first: ‘What do you believe?’
Arnie thinks long and hard, looks God in the eye, and says, ‘I believe
in hard work, and in staying true to family and friends. I believe in
giving. I was lucky, but I always tried to do right by my fans.’

God can’t help but see the essential goodness of Palmer, and offers him a
seat to his left.

Then God turns to Nicklaus and says, ‘What do you believe?’
Jack says ‘I believe passion, discipline, courage and honor are the
fundamentals Of life. I, too, have been lucky, but win or lose, I’ve
always tried to be a true sportsman, both on and off the playing fields.”

God is greatly moved by Jack’s high-pitched eloquence, and he offers him a
seat to his right.

Finally, God turns to Woods: ‘And you, Tiger, what do you believe?’
Tiger replies, ‘I believe you’re in my seat.’

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Moments of Magic

Returned, from my self imposed exile and soul searching, due to popular demand, (thanks David!) to once again take on the responsibility of delivering the coup de grĂ¢ce to my would-be suicidal readers. Although given what's happening in current world events they need little help from me. Notwithstanding these gloomy times there have been a few moments of magic:

The latest being the great win by Chelsea winning the European Cup, congrats to the team and their loyal supporters, must confess I had written them off. Seems the 2-0 drubbing by 'The Toon' did the trick! Come on ye Blues! Not to forget a word of solace for the Spurs fans, "heads up you still have Harry".

The Chiang Mai Immigration On-Line Queue System was given a try-out by yours truly last week and worked like magic. In and out in 30 minutes, amazing! What used to drag on for hours and sometimes into the next day has been streamlined into an efficient, painless and almost pleasurable experience. At a time when the volume of visitors, mainly due to immigrant workers, has expanded three-fold I had no time to open my book and switch on my music. Well done everyone you deserve our applause....and now the 90 day reporting fiasco?

The £ (or ₤) peeped into 50+ Baht for a short while last week, sparking a frenzy of shopping lists, holiday arranging and plans for a new car. Alas it was short lived, dipping once again into the 40s and bringing with it fears of the impending gloom associated with the Greek crisis.

A cross-section survey of 10,000 people in London, made up of a representative sample of local citizens consisting of Afghans, Albanians, Pakistanis, Indians, Poles, Iraqis, Somalis, Bosnians, Turks, Moldovans, Latvians, Lithuanians, Bangladeshis, Ethiopians, Russians, Congolese and Zimbabweans were asked if they thought Britain should change its currency and adopt the Euro......99.9% said no, they were happy with the Giro.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why is life such a bitch sometimes?

My bestist buddy had been home in UK for only a few days and goes and pops his clogs! Not a bye-your-leave, nor a "farewell fellow traveller" not even a "you can have my 3-wood if I don't come back". Totally inconsiderate and downright shameful, that's what I call it! How did he think I was going to survive without the bars of Cadbury's Bourneville chocolate or worse still the packets of Plain Chocolate McVities Digestives he always brings back for me. Who was I now going to thrash on the golf course the 3 days a week we played together and now I won't have the satisfaction of telling him I used to cheat!

Why is life such a bitch sometime?

Went to the Gymkhana Club to empty his locker (and steal his balls) as requested by his son Steven in U.K. Before I could even get near the locker the management were there taking photos of the content and asking if I had had permission from my friend's son to remove the contents. Several packets of tees, a few balls, 1 half-decent set of clubs, a sweat stained hat and smelly golf shoes. I was furious! Was I about to 'steal' my dead friends belongings? A friend who I have played golf with, drank beer with for years, looked after when he was ill and prayed for when I thought he was on his last legs before going home last year. 

Why is life (and some people) such a bitch sometimes?

On the other hand I have to thank the management at the Riverside Condo and his landlord, David, for the help and kindness they showed when I turned up at his apartment to begin the painful task of sorting out his bits 'n' pieces. Believe me the contents of which are worth considerably more than the contents of that grubby old dilapidated locker at Gymkhana. No photographs except the ones I took, no proof of authourisation needed from his family, which by-the-way I had with me, I was left alone to prepare an inventory of the apartment for sending to his son for his decision on their disposal. I must confess to the 'stealing' of 2 of his chocolate bon-bon candies, It had been a long day. 

This time life wasn't such a bitch!

God rest your soul Mr Jim, I will miss you bonnie lad

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lumps and Bumps

Following a check-up with the local hospital Dermatologist and the subsequent biopsy results I was told that I had several areas of skin cancer on my face, head and ear and that they all needed to be removed. This was the payback for all that sunshine I subjected my body to while working in the Middle East for many years and not heeding the advice of using adequate protection. Macho Man strikes again!
To cut a long story short, I priced around, found a reasonably priced, reputed Plastic Surgeon and had them removed. (Due to the Family rating – Photos on request) About 1 hour and a bit on the operating table, a few deft slices and a dozen or so stitches and voile! No, not a good-as-new face but a face that would put Rocky in the shade. One week later, stitches removed, a few words of encouragement and back in a week for the laboratory results. Fingers crossed they got it all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hips O' Steel VII

Hips ‘O Steel – VII (Driving)

1 Weeks Post Op
Just a last quick update re the galloping hips. Driving and getting around much better, still cautious with the getting in and out,the Suzuki’s wee bit compact in the driving compartment area so need to slip in a little gingerly. But once ensconced, eat yer heart out Lewis H!

The golf is not so progressive as the driving but hitting the ball well and even bringing the Driver into play which I had abandoned several years ago as a waste of time and energy, but starting to put it through it’s paces again with some positive results. Have to be careful with the golf and not let my new found enthusiasm carry me away. Feel some pain after each session, finding muscles and ligaments which are still on the road to full recovery.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hips O' Steel VI

Hips O’ Steel VI

9 weeks Post Op
Have been driving my car for a few days and swung a golf club for the first time with the new hips. Great to be back in the driving seat. Although it is a bit of a struggle to get in (the 90 degree rule is still in place). Once in all is well. Nice to be able to get out and about without assistance. Although my taxi driver Mr. Jamras was a God send and I can’t thank him enough. Always available and always cheerful, would have gone crazy without him. But now my little Suzuki is up and running and taking good care of me once again, “Arigato”

Hitting a few baskets of balls on the driving range at the golf course and walking around several holes to build up the strength in the legs. Think it will be a little while before I’m back in the thick of it cursing the water hazards and the trees, but, a month or two should see me just about there. Watch out Mr. Watson, your days are numbered!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hips O' Steel V

Hips O’ Steel V

Just to keep you in the picture re the hips. Saw the Orthopedic Surgeon yesterday and he seemed pleased re my progress, wasn’t happy about the suggested game of squash. Said I could walk without the stick while around the house but take it when I venture outside walking. I need it more to fend off the dogs around my streets as much as I do for stopping me falling over. (memo to me: buy a catapult!)

March 2nd 2009 – 6 weeks Post Op
I am to see the OS again next Friday 13th, strangely enough the last visit was Friday 13th also, wonder if his first name is Jason by any chance, being meaning to ask him about the white mask he wears. I was expecting him to give me the ok for starting golf and hopefully driving, but, 4 days ago my right knee blew-up (blood everywhere!!) the size of a balloon and painful as hell. I went straight to the hospital.
At first they were worried about thrombosis, which is not uncommon after a hip operation, but an ultrasonic scan ruled that out but showed gallons of water around the knee joint. Then a straight x-ray showed arthritis of the joint which had flared up causing the swelling. Not much to do but get an injection, more pills and complete rest of the joint. He said that maybe the extra exertion on the knee joints, because of the hip situation, was too much. So that has slowed down my planned progress by quite a bit. In fact I am only now starting to hobble around once again with the aid of the stick…what a bummer!!!
But life goes on, albeit at a more sedately pace. So looks like golf is on hold as is driving for sometime, I reckon for at least another month, maybe more. Let’s see what ‘Jason’ has to say next Friday. I hope he doesn’t advise replacing the knee joints as well, or I’ll never get through the airport scanners. Not that I would be able to afford to go anywhere at the moment, or indeed ever again, what with the money situation and cost of bodily spare-parts……

March 14th 2009 - 8 weeks Post Op
Visited the OS clinic yesterday. Thankfully the knee has returned to it’s normal size and is no longer a problem. But will continue the anti-inflamatory medicine for another week. That apart he is well pleased with the progress and unless I have any problems he wants to see me again in one year for a follow-up x-ray! I was a little stunned, felt like someone had kicked my walking stick away. But gotta say, I am at the moment feeling confident about the whole affair and continue to make good progress. Mustn’t get too cocky though!
He did advise me to start swimming and do my exercises in the pool, I have found this has helped a lot. I am also walking up to 1 km with the cane. Ok maybe a little without the cane but I didn’t tell him this. I had a dry run trying to fit into the car, maybe next week will see me there. Golf is my next target, he tells me that’s not too far away, (he must have seen me on the tee box!)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hips O' Steel IV

Hips O’ Steel IV

3 weeks Post Op
I know you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats wondering how yours truly and the new hips are doing. Well we’re doing just fine. 30 sutures (metal clips) out on Saturday and the wounds are A1. Dressings were removed on Thursday and no longer required. Told-off by the surgeon for trying to walk without my cane, said I must stick with it for at least 2 more weeks. Have lost another 2 kg (4.4 lbs to you imperial lot) which all helps me and my hips get along that bit quicker.
Driving and golf are still a way off yet but walking (hobbling) towards that time. Maybe 4 more weeks will see me there-abouts. Have been a good boy with the booze, none since before the op. Although I’m edging towards a nip or two of Jameson’s as a nightcap, purely for medicinal purposes you understand.

Sleeping has been the bug bear, having to lie on my back is unnatural for me and is very uncomfortable. Trying not to use the sleepers as much as I can but sometimes it’s necessary. Not that they help a great deal, still consider Jameson’s as the drug of choice. Watched the Toon/Mackham game last night, now there’s real pain! A few hip operations wouldn’t go a miss there, and maybe a lobotomy or two also
Ok gotta rush (I wish) hope you are all well and not letting the weather or economical crisis get to you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hips O' Steel III

Hips o’ Steel III

A few hours in the ICU then back to my room, with tubes going in and tubes coming out, everything was hunky-dory. The next day the OS came and asked me to swing my legs over the side of the bed. Even though I had been warned that this was routine for my post-op, it was still an anxious moment. Shouldn’t have worried though the staff were well trained to manage the situation even with a fat fart like myself. With feet on the floor and a few guided and assisted steps I was (almost) mobile 1 day after the operation. From then on it was me and my Zimmer frame and Khun Took the Physical Therapist. Nice girl but determined!

Day 4 saw the end of the tubes, wounds were clean albeit very sore, especially if I strayed over onto them while sleeping. Bodily functions had almost returned to normal, although during a # 2 the tiny bathroom was reminiscent of a scene from a Harry Houdini act. One major problem was sleeping for any length of time, more so because I was not allowed to turn on either side and had to maintain a pillow between my thighs to alleviate stress on the weakened hip muscles and ligaments that crossing my legs would cause, possibly resulting in a hip dislocation. It all resulted in only one or two hours sleep a night. But that was a small price when compared with the progress I was making.

 Day 5 and it was away with the Zimmer frame, by-passing the crutches and introduction to the walking stick. Again Took came into her own and drilled me on the techniques of walking with a cane. She also dangled a carrot in the shape of an instruction from the OS saying that once I mastered the ‘art’ of climbing up and down the stairs minimum of 10 steps, I would be allowed to go home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hips O' Steel II

Hips o’ Steel II

2 days to go
Working my way through the many mini ‘to do’ lists I’ve made out; order taxi, adjust the house, haircut, toilet seat arrangements, etc, etc, etc. Been trying to reduce the flab over the past few months to help make the extra weight on the arms and legs a little less after the op. Managed to come down 8kg but a wee bit short of my target of 12kg. Maybe the next couple of days may see a kg or more if I knuckle down to it.
Played my last game of golf on Monday, badly, said goodbye to my lovely caddy Pin, a petite and beautiful hill-tribe girl (Aka) she’ll be a big miss. She said she would wait, but don’t they all! It felt like I was off to some distant land to fight for some lost cause, could almost smell the grimy station and hear the hissing steam from the train. “Farewell my Lovely”. Silly old bat!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hips O' Steel

Hips o’ Steel

1 week to go It was when I was unable to bend down to stick my golf tee in the ground and had to drop my ball instead that I finally decided enough was enough, time for the chop! The discomfort in the left hip had increased over the past few weeks and now is in competition with the right as to which one is the biggest pain in the backside!

I asked the orthopedic surgeon to replace them both simultaneously if he considered it doable. He strongly advised a pre-op medical (heart, ECG, chest x-ray, blood count) the works really, to be sure I was in good enough shape to withstand the traumatic effects of the bi-lateral replacement. And what do you know, I passed with flying colours! The internal workings of this oldish body are in great shape, apart from the crumbling hips that is. Even the gout is behaving itself. So decision made.

Let the hip-op music begin.

So it’s looking like Saturday 17th January will be the chop day, and all being well, 7 hobbley days after that, I can take my new spare parts back home with me. Golf maybe a little difficult at first and 5-a-side football and squash will definitely be out for some time, but getting drunk and falling down stairs is always a viable alternative. Probably puts me in contention for a place in the ‘Toon’ (Newcastle United) team.
I looked at the cost at some length as to which country and hospital would offer the best deal. The deal I was offered here in Chiang Mai turned out to be the best, not only was the bi-op. cheaper but it eliminated the need for airfares and accommodation.
The total costs involved could have bought me a nice new shiny car or shares in an Omani racing camel (jockey not included). ‘Fraid it’s put a big hole in the inheritance dosh, has reduced it to the equivalence of “pints all round” and a half a bottle of Jameson’s! There might be a money order or two (enough for the cremation fuel bill) lying around from The Department for Work and Pensions in UK but that’s about it.
Tune in next week for another exciting episode of “Hips of Steel” and find out if BoF (‘Boring old Fart’) can take the steps which will return him to his former glory!