To The Wolves – 9th December 2022

The wolves are gathering
Circling their prey
Armed with razor claws
Wet teeth on display
Surrounded by enemies
Fallen down ill
Fears turned to acceptance
Of the coming kill
Hot breath drinks blood
Flesh torn and ripped
Life flows away
Once so tightly gripped
Now the hunger sated
Left in the soft snow
The body reconciles
The way we all go

The future of the human race will likely depend on our ability to transcend this tribalism and to see our fate as interconnected with everyone else’s.

Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
The confusion caused with communication in our school as there was a meeting in the afternoon that meant we didn’t have classes. It was not clear if we were supposed to attend this meeting, along with all the students and there was enough confusing information that it meant I could sneak away, come home and have a nice afternoon nap! I can see my attitude to miscommunication is positive when the outcome works in my favour like this and luckily in this part of the school everything generally works out like this. This was not the case in our other schools.
The best thing about today was:
Listening to the Pitchblende album at high volume after Amy went out for the night and I ate a weed gummy. I always liked Pitchblende and their music is not easy to latch on to. Last night took it to the next level. If I hadn’t been getting sleepy I would’ve listened to the whole album again. As it was I hopped into bed and fell asleep listening to the jazzcore podcast which was also terrific.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As I was driving dad’s van back from our Mae Chan dinner, all the u-turns were closed off by police, which happens when a member of the royal family comes to visit Doi Tung and they want the motorcade to be able to smoothly pass on through. This meant we couldn’t make our exit for the last 200 metres home and we were instructed to pull over to the left and turn our lights off and wait for it to pass. Amy was a little frustrated and said “fucking stupid” and her dad was annoyed at where I pulled over and wanted to move 5 metres forward but everyone told him it doesn’t matter though by this time he’d jumped out of the car indicating he was going to drive now. He got back in the passenger seat and I was just bemused by everything. Amy’s dad has some weird reactions sometimes and I don’t get it at all. I can’t see any connection between the way Thai kids react and the way he does. It’s like an alien mindset to me that I just can’t understand. It seems to be cultural but most reactions I can see some sense in but sometimes his are just bizarre. I’m curious about how his thinking works! Anyway, I agree with Amy that it’s fucking stupid to inconvenience so many people like this (hundreds and hundreds of police have to stand around for up to six hours preparing for this)but there doesn’t need to be a reaction to it. In the end, we only had to wait a few minutes and I calmly sat and waited until we could go again and we were home without too much delay.
Something I learned today?
I’m writing this on Saturday morning and recalling events of yesterday and I know there are many small things I learned in passing, by reading, talking and interacting but nothing is stepping forward to announce itself right now. It’s one of those days of learning whilst not knowing you’re learning. Accumulating knowledge, stored in the brain bank and used subconsciously. Today I will try to be more conscious.
In what ways are you good at your job?
I’m good at my job in that I can make the students feel like they are having fun whilst learning a little. I come up with ideas for classes and I try to gauge my student’s feelings and abilities and help them when I can. I’m flexible, patient and understanding. Really these are not specific skills for my job of being a teacher but more for life. Life is my real job. Am I good at that? I’m still a student in that regard and hope to always be.

I took this picture because Cap was super chilled and sunk into the sofa, lost in his fur. No new pictures today so this is a default fallback cat pic!

Makes Me Laugh – 2nd November 2022

It’s difficult to see your point
When you are the one effected
Cos I’m just going to carry on
I choose not to be infected
Your cold hard exterior
Makes me laugh so much
Your two faces finding
There’s things you cannot touch
Hello and good morning to you
I care not your reply
Every day the same
It’s not my business to wonder why

Most people are stupid and lazy and really only concerned with getting through the next couple of hours with silliness and stimulation and something to eat. Be polite.

Katherine Hepburn

Today I’m feeling:
Happy. A little breathless.
Today I’m grateful for:
The printer at work where I finally was able to finish scanning one of the books I use for one of my classes. I was also happily watching the kids outside doing fun and funny activities with older students. It made me realise the different ways kids learn some responsibilities here.
The best thing about today was:
Reading a stack of different comics this evening. I know I do this most evenings but the stories were all particularly enjoyable tonight.
What is your favourite photo of yourself?
Probably the one from Dean’s party the week after Torpedo Town in 1986. I’m standing tall, topless and skinny, pointing at the camera with a cigarette. It was the second time I’d ever taken acid and at this party Emma and I did it together (her first time) and we had a great evening, night and morning. The original photo got sent to an American gay punk fanzine, which I got sent but without the original picture returned. So now I only have this photocopied copy of the picture.

I took this picture because this sequence all happened pretty much in about 60 seconds. Cap was happily by my pillow. Kim came in and sat on the bedhead which I was surprised about as she usually goes straight for play and hence me taking the picture. As I was sending the picture to Amy, Kim had gone into attack mode and I took the second picture. Cap quickly jumped over to the other bed and Kim seemed satisfied with that and nonchalantly returned to her slumber on the bedhead.

Stephen Pike – 8th October 2022

What were you doing in my bed last night
That made me wake up screaming?
Who are you and why give me such a fright
Even though I was only dreaming?

This was a real dream, a man walking up the bed and bending down to strangle me, and as he did I woke up screaming ‘Stephen Pike, Stephen Pike’. I don’t know who he is.

No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.

Viktor Frankl

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed.
Today I’m grateful for:
The bananas I bought at the market that have fed me for the last couple of days. Why are other people’s bananas so good and tasty but the ones growing in my garden don’t go well?
The best thing about today was:
Being around home all day and not feeling stressed or bored or anything in particular. The whole day has been pleasant and enjoyable.

The most important invention in your lifetime is…
The internet, I think. Being involved in IT I was able to utilise my skills early on and saw all the possibilities the internet could provide. It enabled me to contact people around the world easily and allowed me to travel to different countries.

I took this picture because Cap was sitting on the mat in the bathroom looking cute and like he was a teen again so I got down to his level to take photos. This one shows his broken tooth and his broken tongue.

Rolling In – 22nd September 2022

The bird in the limes whoops
‘Here comes the rain’
Ants busy themselves in relocation
Coming inside again
At each gust the bough twists
Fruit falls to the ground
A flash to signal cats
To hide from the oncoming sound
Low breaths hanging dark
Pushed frantically apace
Rapid gunfire hits the sheets
Falling around this place
The frogs shout out their pleasure
The cats, a-sleeping, wait
Again the birds are whooping
As the worms turn toward their fate

What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.

Thomas Carlyle

Today I’m feeling:
Tired but content
Today I’m grateful for:
My students at least seeming to understand what it is I want from them in class. They lose their bravado when having to talk with me one to one.
The best thing about today was:
Finishing classes early and being able to come home and have a sort of nap whilst listening to Sebka Chott, with Cap alongside me.

I took this picture because I love finding drawings of me in my student’s books. Some of these kids are quite talented.

The Week That Was – 16th December 1979

Brain dump (by mouth) – 13th September 2020

Cappuccino walking slowly something wrong – But he can’t explain why – just a funny cry
Why cats can’t speak our language – Why we can’t speak theirs – Old man – Looks old acts old – His hair still beautiful Looks Still beautiful – Must prepare for the inevitable – We love him very much
Neck cranky – Slept okay – Stretch And yawn
Temporary crown keeps falling out when eating – Annoying but funny
Speaking still weird I think I’ll go back to writing

And so ends the attempt to dictate morning pages

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my shirts and shorts. I’m thinking about all the t-shirts I have owned over time and what they meant to me.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #43 – 20th June 2020

This week there’s music from Outside In, Deerhoof, PFM, The Small Faces, This Heat, Debile Menthol, Quizz Kidz, Magma, MC5, Lightning Bolt, The Vibrators, Unsane and The Shades.

Brain Dump

Fed cats but forgot to check KimChi didn’t eat Cap’s food. Cap’s so lovely – follows Amy everywhere. So fluffy and gentle. Kim teases him all the time and Tigger seems to hate him! Which cat am I? Tigger the hater – Kim the teaser – Cap the gentle. Which do I want to be. Of course. Be like Cap.

Half Man Half Biscuit on mental jukebox. On the ‘roids. Five-minute workout. Feels good but not yet inspiring enough to do a 10 or 20-minute workout. Don’t need to push it anyway.

I read – can I act on it? Practical things yes, but mental things? The result of performing practical things will bring me towards the mental things. I will spend my whole life doing this.

Ache in shoulder. Cateran. *

Time to watch a movie today? So many great movies. Sometimes feel like I don’t have time or concentration to watch movies anymore but that’s not really true. Painkillers or not today? Aching eye – tired from screens probably. Do eye exercises?

*reference to The Cateran song Ache from the album of the same name. I believe the line sung is ‘ache in clover’.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for getting out of bed with my alarm this morning and doing my morning routine when I could have ignored it completely. I feel good for it.

No windows, no ceiling or floor – 30th September 2019

Woke up just before my alarm. In my dream, I was trying to enter a password for something but kept getting it wrong. Things are fairly normal at home. Normal is good. Why I write this is because all our cats are happy at the moment.

All the humans are happy too.

My last week at school. Very relaxed. Not sure about what is coming up next – well, actually, I am. It’s holiday time. LIve in the moment. Your job doesn’t define you.

Gratitude Journal

Playing sport with some of the school kids made me smile, even when I fell over and hurt myself! I smiled and laughed with Amy a lot this week, feeling better about things in general. I smiled coming to school knowing that a holiday is coming and I will be leaving this environment. I smiled at Kim Chi and Cap chasing each other around the house. I smiled when the big dead lizard made Amy jump a mile into the air!

9th Mar 2021 – When I think about working at schools in Thailand I can’t help but believe that I am there for the student’s education and I care more about them than the ‘adults’ working there, who I can generally take or leave. The Thai staff at the schools I have worked at have a different agenda entirely as far as I can tell.

Born annoyed – 10th January 2018

Gah!  As I was dozing off after night shift this morning I came up with a good narrative to write about.  I was struggling to remember it but then realised it was based on something I’d written already, so with knowing I could just reference that as a reminder I drifted off to sleep contentedly.  Now I’m here and ready to write I can neither remember it nor find reference to it – whatever ‘it’ was!  I’ll have another go in a minute.

My brain is always vomiting up mad ideas, some of which I get to pursue and often fail at but mostly they get dispensed to lost parts of my memory – possibly for the best.  This is particularly amplified by the constant grogginess of shift work hours.  Right now I don’t need any more ideas.

One day I may indulge myself in the pursuit of meditative silence but it’s never really been my style.  Give me speed and LSD over a spliff and valium any day.  I do wish I could sometimes turn off the noise when I’m trying to sleep though.  I also wish I could’ve turned off all the negative content that plagued me when I was younger.  But here I am now, some wisdom intact but with the body nearer decay.

Just got off the phone with Amy, our first catchup on her day’s news.  As I’ve been asleep and pretty much just come straight to work I don’t have much to say.  Amy is a good talker though and I provide input where I can.

Our house is all walled and sealed now and a new set of workers are coming in to start working on the finishing details.  These workers are transient homeless Burmese cheap labour.  Tough willing youngsters going wherever the money is.  They build a mini slum for themselves to live in onsite and drink cheap whiskey when their day is finished.

This has brought up Amy’s safety as an issue though.  She has been travelling to the house before sunrise to water plants and trees before the day gets too hot.  The location of our house is a little out of sight from the road and it’s basically just a small village anyway, so never many people around.

Now that the workers will be living onsite there is potential for trouble and something we need to consider to avoid.  Amy will need to be there at certain times to advise on specifics for the workers so we’re not sure how we’ll go about this yet.  Her mum and dad are both busy with other things during the day so not really available to come act as security guards either.

Note that we both doubt that anything bad may happen but in this circumstance, we want to be extra cautious.  If something were to occur it would be everlastingly associated with this house.  It also makes me think more about security ongoing.  We are planning on security lights and maybe a camera or two.  I also want to get a dog at some point too but that will have to wait until I am settled in too.

The community around is already curious about this strange house being built.  Only strange by Thai standards, it’s fairly basic by western standards.  But anything new is great for village gossip and rumour.  We will want to make friends with everyone around but also don’t want people up in our business.  I think it’s more likely for me to end up closer to those around if I can help or assist with things in any way.  I’m actually quite looking forward to that aspect of this new life.  It doesn’t matter if the locals think I’m strange, I’ll just be a crazy foreigner.  For Amy though they are likely to be more judgemental.

As I alluded to yesterday, there are certain traditions and customs that we won’t be adhering to such as a big housewarming for family, friends and neighbours.  No spirit house at the entrance.  This has already been an issue of discussion with Amy’s parents.  Whilst I think these are just a quaint custom and don’t really have an objection to them as they have no other meaning for me, for many traditional Thais they are seen as a necessity to provide spiritual protection and prayers are said as you drive or walk past, supposedly.  Of course, I don’t buy into that and Amy completely rejects it.  I think her rejection is a show to other Thai people that you can’t depend on luck and fate and other forms of woo to bring you what you want.  She sees it in her friends, the friends who say how lucky Amy is to be able to have done the things she has done and is doing in her life.  Amy knows full work that she has worked her ass off to do these things and it has nothing to do with luck.

Perhaps some of her friends also think I am some kind of rich sugar daddy, as foreigners are often seen but again both Amy and I know that this is not the case and we are doing what we have to do to get where we want.

This was another thing we discussed tonight as we talk about her friends who are constantly disappointed with their lives.  How their lives are in debt and loveless, their exes having gone on to brighter things with other partners.  These are beautiful looking women who find the quick and empty highs of expensive purchases and credit card holidays.  Their online personas at odds with their inner turmoil.  We have tried advising them on better approaches from time to time and almost everyone comes to talk with ‘Auntie’ Amy for advice but she gets tired of watching people make the same mistakes over and over again.  Why come for advice if don’t accept it.  Obviously, it is more complicated than that but perhaps obviously, it isn’t.

We don’t sit around thinking we are better than everyone else but we can see that we are happier and I think one of the reasons is that when we met we were both at points in our lives where we were happy with ourselves.  Even now, if anything happened to break up our relationship, we both know that we would be able to carry on, maintaining the happiness in ourselves.  We love each other, we want each other but we don’t need each other.  I think some people want and expect too much from themselves, their partners and their lives.  When I was younger, I did too.  It’s a course set for unhappiness and an unfulfilling life.

Our second call of the night, before Amy goes to sleep, revolved around our cats – our default topic when there isn’t much left to talk about.

Soon after Amy moved in we decided to get a cat.  Amy left several of her cats at her mother’s house but they were reluctantly looked after.  Unfortunately, they all passed away by the time Amy moved back.  I hadn’t had a pet since leaving home, more than 20 years previous.

We lived next to a shopping centre that had a pet store and we were smitten with a kitten on display there.  This was before discovering much about pet shop animals and pet farming practices, something soon to be highlighted by how sick our new pet was in the first 3 or 4 years of his life.

Our new resident happily adjusted himself as we did too, to have this other thing living in our space.  A purebred rag doll, as a coffee fan, I crowned him Cappuccino.  He has been a beautiful pain in the ass ever since.


About a year later, a little concerned that one cat might be lonely on its own we thought what fun it would be to get another little bastard.  This time we went to the RSPCA and found a little tiny handful of fluff Amy named Tigger.  It soon became apparent that these two boys were not going to be great friends.  Like chalk and cheese, Cappuccino is an expensive and fussy prince whilst Tigger is a doesn’t-give-a-shit street cat.  Tigger soon became the fat cat, hoovering up any food left lying around, often times just pushing Cappuccino out of the way to get to his food too. Capp would wander about graciously, always complaining he was hungry so we had to devise ways to stop Tigger from being renamed the Vacuum Cleaner.  He would often eat so fast, without chewing and biting anything that he would throw it all back up again 5 minutes later.  Which of course, meant he was hungry again.

Tigger was adventurous enough to take a plunge off our first-floor balcony one day and we desperately searched our whole block for him but he must’ve hidden himself away somewhere.  The following evening, as we sat in our apartment, we could hear little pathetic cat cries from outside. We dashed outside and a scared little Tigger was hiding in the bushes and took some coaxing to come out again.  The first thing he did when we got inside was the dash to the litter tray and dump a great big shit in there for us.  He must’ve been holding it the whole time waiting until he found a litter tray again.  I think Capp secretly enjoyed the house to himself again briefly and maybe even encouraged the original jump or perhaps providing a little push himself.

Tigger took another jump into the unknown a few months later as a bird flew past him but luckily Amy was there watching whilst it happened.  She ran out and quickly retrieved him.  As he became fatter and lazier I think he decided he was getting fed well enough not to go chasing after more food.

Cappuccino became a favourite visitor at the vets, where we handed over piles of dollars on a regular basis to try and fix his urinary issues.  Finally, we eunuched him and he is pretty much a girl now.  But this wouldn’t be his last time to get to travel in the car to various places, him screaming himself hoarse in displeasure.

Cappuccino had been recommended to get his teeth cleaned as they were getting a bit mucky so we had to drop him to the vet in the morning where he would be sedated, teeth cleaned, and awake for us to pick up later in the afternoon.  All was well until later that evening. We’d heard a bit of growling and hissing from the other room and a while later Capp sauntered into the kitchen and gave his usual cry to be fed.  I noticed his mouth was red though and forced his jaws open to reveal a mouth full of blood and half his tongue flapping loose.  It was too late for the vet so it was off to emergency.  As Capp didn’t seem too bothered by his new multiple tongues, the vet there advised to wait and take him to the normal vet in the morning, giving him a quick shot of painkillers in the meantime.

So back in the car again, the vet surprised to see her favourite customer and us sad walking wallets again.  And lucky boy, he gets to stay overnight again – his favourite thing in the world.  We had the choice to just leave his tongue as it was as it would probably heal up but just remain flapping around.  This didn’t seem like a great idea as it could easily get bitten again whilst he was eating.  So with a stitch or two, he was fixed again.  But not for long.

Capp would often try to exert his authority in the house but without realising that he probably wasn’t the boss, and Tigger would stand for none of it.  He would take a swipe at Tigger who would then swipe back, a chase might occur and then two rolling balls of fur would explode for a few seconds before they retreated to their corners of safety.  This happened about once a week and it was common to come home to patch of carpets covered in big chunks of Capps white hair, Tigger often with telltale signs of white hair around his lips.  So we didn’t think much one night when it happened again.

This time though Capp was squinting with one eye and which was weeping down his face.  When we looked closer we could see a big white area on his eye and a little bit of blood.  We usually err on the side of caution but his regular visits to emergency vets were meaning we might have to take up second jobs.  We gave it the night to see how it would be in the morning and of course, it was worse.  Out came the carrier again which quickly sees him disappear and then the screaming starts.

The vet had a look and poked around a bit and we could see that the white area was a deep cut across his eye.  She stuck some antibiotic and painkilling liquid in there and advised to come back in a couple of days.  Oh great – we have to go through all this again in a couple of days.  Here, just take my debit card and pin number.

That couple of days later, with no real sign of improvement, we were recommended an animal eye specialist about an hour away.  Our first visit there the next day and the doctor offered a couple of solutions, one expensive and another very expensive.  Or, he said, we could just leave it and see what happens but that might mean losing the eye if things go badly quickly.  The doctor could see that was reluctant to make a decision there and then and so advised to come back a week later.  He did the antibiotic and painkilling liquid too as well as some other more specialised checks that saw us well out of pocket.

Back we came, Capp still no more happy and used to travelling in a car.  The doctor said the eye was looking ok but he would like to do a graft on it – it would cost some outrageous amount but would likely fix it up properly.  Again, he could see my hesitation and he asked me to think about it whilst he had another look and poke around.  He lifted up the flap of skin over Capps’ eye and said it was possible to cut this flap off and see how the healing process goes and that a graft would still be possible after that if it didn’t go well. I don’t know how or why but Cappuccino was completely tolerant of us holding him steady as the doctor took a pair of tiny scissors to the tiny flap on his eyeball and snip, snip, it was off.  Thank you very much and come back in a week.

Thankfully his eye rapidly improved and I rang the doctor up and said thank you very much but I don’t think we need to come back for a final check and another couple of hundred bucks.

So with all that stress of these bastard cats, we decided to stick them on a plane – see how they like that!?

We chose a good company and again, threw an open wallet at them and despite some concern when we initially received the boys in Thailand they made it through intact.  They even seemed to enjoy being loose in the van that we picked them up in at the airport.

Safe to say, we love those little furry fuckers.