The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #66 – The Ducks and Drakes of Evil – 28th November 2020

I don’t know how much longer we can keep this up. The ducks and drakes of evil are for a lesser form of people. The razor cuts, one hundred and twelve times, across the throat, the voices of reason.

Highly curated, carefully selected and specifically ordered* for your listening edification by world-renowned DJtenzenmen, who has over 100 years of experience in this business.

This week there’s music from Action Beat, Slapp Happy, Shudder To Think, 7 Seconds, Marnie Stern, Sleaford Mods, Slade, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sun City Girls, Umlaut, The Dickies, Dangerous Girls, Jawbreaker, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Users, Orthrelm, Massicot and Trumans Water.

Incidentals taken from the Church of the Sub Genius Hour of Slack.

Listen right here or Podbean, Stitcher, Apple, Amazon…..all those cool places I guess.

* ie totally random.

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Luring me with all the people I love above all else – 3rd September 2020

Now is the time of change. After a long sticky summer and apparent death to all plant life suddenly the rains come. Despite the cooler temperature the humidity rockets making one wish for the drier heat of summer. After a week or so of the rains, those apparently dead plants now threaten to destroy everything built by humans, house swallowed up by jungle. Thankfully, the snakes go and hide from the rain; somewhere…they are always hiding. We call the gardeners, they do their work but it looks like they need to come back again the following week, the week after and so it goes.

And soon the rain deluges. Not much thought seems to be given to drainage. Perhaps it’s just an inconvenience for a month or two and not worth the investment but a lot of shoes get wet or you may choose to stay at school until the water has eventually seeped away.

Some creatures have little care for the foibles of the weather. They always find the right spot.

At the tail end of the season we head to a hot spring where we can soak our legs for free at varying degrees of insane heat. Kids play and splash in the 30 degree water while we suffer in the 45. No one is even close to the 85 degree water – who would be!? Predictably, whilst we are there, it starts raining. Later, at a restaurant, I can’t feel my legs. They are either relaxed or in shock. Either way, the no-feeling is good.

As if to signal the end of the rainy season (after a brief 6 to 8 weeks, though thankfully much more rain than last year) critters emerge.

Weird hairy caterpillars bumble about and the snakes make a reappearance. One morning as I’m leaving for work I’m surprised to find a couple of small crabs standing guard in the driveway. Amy says they usually live in the rice fields but to me it seems so weird to see crabs about 500kms away from any coast.

And so it seems the rain has ended until next July. We get out and pay a visit to the border market town of Mae Sai and shop for more socks and underwear and visit our favourite cafe/bar/restaurant.

This parrot announces our arrival like a door chime fog horn and I jump out of my skin. Other birds step out but thankfully don’t squawk.

The cafe is hidden away in a market, down a hallway that then opens out into this fantastic courtyard of artwork and decorations. All sorts of obscura adorn every space. In a shed area the owner keeps his batches of homemade hootch though he tells us that he was recently fined one hundred thousand baht and forced to pour it all away.

However, he disappears off somewhere for a few minutes and re-appears with a couple of bottles of plum shoju which are duly purchased. He remembers us from our last visit back in October and doesn’t seem to phased about his fine and lose of illegal merchandise. In fact the cafe is only open for 4 hours a day and I’m not sure anyone goes there to eat.

He potters around rearranging things, happy to chat about life but also happy to be alone by himself. He owns the whole market area and can easily survive of the income from rent. Nice life.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Memorial for Tim Smith – 25th July 2020

Crave fun, brave sun, he keeps the world as his disguise
Slave hung, brave sun, the leader of the starry skies
From the tops of the trees
To the bowels of the Earth
Swings from pillar to post
‘Cos he’s here
And now
And now
He’s here

24 Cardiacs tracks randomly selected by iTunes, in memory of the genius of Dr Tim Smith, The Leader of the Starry Skies.

….never mind the war take me home again
For the last time

Defenders of the world we make believe in – 5th February 2020

This morning’s breakfast was interrupted by a special cat delivery of a small baby bird. Once extracted from her mouth the bird attempted to fly away but couldn’t get too far. Some missing feathers, some blood and maybe a broken wing. Better the delivery was already dead. Now we will guiltily try to nurse this baby back to health or comfort it to it’s demise.

When bleeding lizards and frogs are delivered we simply throw them back in the long grass. What makes us more sympathetic towards some animals over others? In the same way meat eaters think it’s disgusting to eat cats and dogs. Why I can justify eating fish to myself?

On returning home in the afternoon, the baby bird had indeed demised. The killer (pictured above in gentler days) strutted around oblivious to Amy’s admonishments and sadness. It was dinner time. “Feed me!”

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to be able to see the sun rise over the hills. This morning I videoed it for a couple of minutes. It was beautiful.

From the ground and in the air, it’s a fabulous spectacle – 2nd February 2020

Oh! I went riding around in the hills and valleys again today and I savoured every minute of it. The cool morning air countered the sun and heat, the sky white with mist and smoke, though thankfully not the thick cancerous smoke that will soon be with us every day until rainy season. Every paradise humans have found required a garbage dump.

I’m surprised I’m energised this morning after a 7 hour drunken sleep, woken somewhere in that time by Indian indigestion. I guess the two coffees kick-started me well enough so as soon as I got back from the cafe I hopped on the bike, no destination in mind.

The locals stare curiously at this white-haired monster screaming through their quiet village daily life but return the big smiles I beam at them. Spread the love. I get stuck behind what may have at one time been a truck but has been mangled into a new form so as to navigate its territory. On the back, two old uncles cling on to the stack of metal merchandise, though one is drunkenly singing and dancing to the traditional Thai folk music blasting from the rigged up PA system. The audio system far more important than the vehicle, which drops bolts and parts to the ground as it bounces around. It’s just turned 10 am.

Finally, I turn off and deeper into the hills through dirt tracks, some familiar, others new to me. Besides the divots and bumps, sleeping dogs must be navigated, their nerve holding much longer than mine.

Eventually, time to turn back, sore butt yet soaring thoughts. For brief moments in time it is wonderful to be alive. Let’s seek them out.

Suitably invigorated I set about the task of finally moving the stack of bricks that has been sitting in the middle of the garden for the past two years. They had become so familiar that they were practically invisible now. Every now and then I would be reminded by the cats sitting atop the stack, surveying the garden, waiting for birds to fly into their mouths.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the garden and half the clothing I used to wear has decomposed, my sweat probably had eaten through the fabric. Stacking 12 blocks at a time into the wheelbarrow I soon regretted not having gloves but whatever, time to toughen up these dishwashing hands again.

Nearer the bottom of the stack, I started to notice discarded snakeskins so thought to be a little bit more cautious, particularly as the blocks have 3 deep pockets through them. And finally, in the bottom of the pile, a small shy snake tasting the air with its tongue from within one of the pockets.

I carefully removed all the other blocks, keeping a good eye on the snake in its home. At one point it decided to make a break which gave me chance to capture a photo which I could get an ID for the snake later on Facebook. The snake exchanged one pocket for another as there was nowhere else safe to go, just open spaces around.

I figured I’d give it some time to chuff off on it’s own accord but then realised the nearest place of solitude was in our room where Amy teaches. Not the best option. So it was, pockets facing away I carefully picked up the whole block and chucked it over the fence into the deep scrub and long grass outside. Situation dealt with.

Godspeed….

Through the Facebook group, I discovered the snake was a highly venomous Thai spitting cobra. In our ignorance of its existence until this day our cats and I had been lucky and likewise, today this shy, delicate yet deathly dangerous beast let our relationship end without grief. I just hope our relationship has ended permanently.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful at my ability to bounce back and be positive again. I remember a time a minor thing would play on my mood for many days.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #14 – 30th November 2019

Music from Effigies, Cardiacs, mr sterile Assembly, Charlottefield, Goblin, Charming Hostess, Palberta, Lungfish, Yugen, Subway Sect, Helta Skelta, Hatfield and the North, Churn Milk Joan, Radio Delhi, Midori, Positively 13 O’Clock, Boy Wonder, Blood Brothers and Human Expression.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to the staff at the hospital this morning who took care of Amy after she fell over and hit her head. Nothing serious thankfully.

Try to relax me now but then again, Oh no! Isn’t it good? – 23rd-29th March 2018

Damn, I’m running out of energy.  Early mornings of digging earth, shovelling stones, wheelbarrowing stones through wet clay, moving concrete blocks from one end of the garden to the other, these things are catching up with me.  Amy jokes that it’s like an everyday episode of the Biggest Loser and I hope that it can at least result in some weight loss.  We generally only work until about 10am when the sun breaks through the cloudy haze and starts to sear flesh.  If we are not running around on errands or furniture shopping we can get a couple of hours in from about 5pm when heat tends to dissipate somewhat.

I’m trying to keep my promise to never complain about the heat here and, in fact, most of the time it doesn’t bother me too much, certainly not to complain or moan about.  But it is energy sapping.  I’m at 3-4 showers a day at the moment.  Any effort in the garden is almost instantly rewarded with wet clothes and it’s important to cover up as much skin as possible.  The biggest pain is when bending down to pick out weeds and sweat pours over my glasses, which I’ve also managed to drop on concrete and scratch the supposedly scratch proof lenses.  The next biggest pain is standing upright again and feeling dizzy for a few seconds.

We arrived at our house at about 8.30am this morning, with Amy’s parents driving up too.  We had a small hornet’s nest to get rid of and Dad was going to show me the correct way to use the metal bladed strimmer, which appeared to be just not to use near anything that might smash the blades, which is unfortunately not that many places on our land but at least he got some long grass and weeds cut.  However, as soon as we arrived I was so exhausted I fell asleep for 3 hours, despite all the noise going on around the house and garden.

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We’ve started buying various bits of furniture that we need now that we are close to the end of the house build.  We won’t get them delivered until we’re absolutely sure everything that needs fixing is fixed and that seems to be delaying us a bit and it looks like I may not even get to live here before I head off for my course in Chiang Mai.

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I’m supposed to be doing a pre-course task before attending but I’ve just been too tired and time consumed with everything else.  This weekend we are driving to Chiang Mai to meet Sydney friends Lekky, Steve and Lena, along with Jessica and her dad.  We’ll drive back to Chiang Rai with Jessica and her dad the following day and then drive up to the Myanmar border the day after and see what goodies we can buy there.  I’ll be driving mostly though I hope I can get Amy to drive on Sunday so I can watch the AFL on my phone.

I’ve had to pay for the AFL app access along with VPN subscription to be able to watch the games but in the end, it seemed to be the easiest option.  There are a couple of Aussie bars in the city that screen the games but they don’t open until 5pm and the early games are already halfway through by then.  Plus I like to have a beer and relax when watching and don’t want to have to drive the 20kms or so home afterwards.  Damn, I can’t wait to sit down on our new lounge with a beer from our new fridge, watching football, overlooking the sun setting over the mountains out the back window, the smell of Amy’s delicious cooking wafting from our kitchen.  It can happen one day, right?

I have more to write but it’s going to have to wait. There are no more 1994 entries scheduled to post either, not until I get more free time to write them up which might not be until the end of May.

What a lovely place to be, what a lovely place to be.

 

 

 

Faster than snakes with a ball and a chain – 9th February 2018

See you later Adelaide, I couldn’t wait to leave you.

I got a taxi to the airport, three hours before take off.  I just couldn’t sit around at the house, waiting.  It was time to start the journey even if that meant sitting and reading my book at the airport for a couple of hours.

I will miss you slightly, in that comfort of a regimen of work and sleep, preparing for these next precipitous steps, uncomfortable dread gnawing at me.

A zip and snooze and I’m landing in Brisbane as the sun sets back nearer Adelaide.  My son, Hayden, is waiting for me with a big hug and we get lost in the maze of car parks and lifts, assisting others who are similarly lost.

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Brisbane is the opposite of Adelaide in road layout, it’s a mess, made messier by the winding river running through it.  It also makes it more interesting immediately.

We arrive at our apartment, ablute, and then search for food.  Opting for takeaway burgers and beer, we sit and talk for an hour or so before hitting the sack in my first decent bed for many months.  Blissful rest with crazy dreams.

It’s interesting to watch Hayden finding his way in the world.  I am now at the point where I just have no idea what ‘teh kids’ (as I call them, on purpose typo) are into these days.  Popular culture was never my thing and though Hayden has his own interests outside popular culture at least he still understands all those current references.

I’m really only interested in old bookshops and reading about history, trying to get a better understanding how we are where we are.  No longer being in the now, doing the do.

But I know I must do the do again when reaching Thailand and I was visualising a day in my life there.  Riding a motorcycle to school to teach English, I want to feel that thrill on the new, fill myself with the wonder of ‘how did my life end up here – that’s just amazing!’  But then also wanting it to feel familiar again, something normal, but not get to the point of a rat race boredom.  A balance is something I would like to strike and something I feel like I’ve never been able to achieve.  Like sitting still, very fast.  Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired.

Today we went book shopping and found a great store called Archives.  If I had the time I would’ve spent so long looking through here but opted instead just to ask at the counter for a couple of books I remembered being interested in finding.  Sometimes I think it’s just a little game of something to do in a place, with the possibility of a little reward at the end.  Like setting a little goal for the day.  The assistant took me straight to two of the books I asked about and I was amazed that she knew them immediately and where they were located.  If I ran a bookshop that’s how I would want to be, knowing exactly what you have and where it is.

The only problem with these two books is that they are both massive and heavy.  Hayden and I struck a deal that he will bring them to me later in the year or wherever it is that he gets chance to visit us in Thailand.  I have enough to read already so no hurry really.

I used to hate reading, sometimes would force myself to read books just for the hell of it.  Somewhere along the way I’ve just found myself enjoying it more.  I read, and have always read, lots of comics, usually alternative and mature comics rather than superhero type stuff, though I am now going through old 60s and 70s Marvel.  I’m not sure what the appeal to me is really?  Maybe getting lost in those world with some hints of visuals perhaps, as I generally only read non-fiction books otherwise.  I actually would like to read more fiction too and get lost in those worlds but somehow real life books are just what is interesting to me these days.

This afternoon I will attempt to write a small piece for my mothers funeral.  I have an idea for it, just a small event which sums up her attitude to life and dealing with problems.

Having Hayden around is distracting me from thinking about my mum not being there to talk to.  I really want to show her today’s pictures of our house, but showed them to him instead.

Hayden is a typical early 20s guy I guess, with what people my age might consider strange ideas, thoughts or views on events in the world.  He does, however, have his head screwed on and shows a lot of empathy a lot of the time.  When I think back to my life at his age I was the same, finding my way, honing my opinions and beliefs.  I discussed this with him today and said I thought that every parent wants their children to gain the wisdom they themselves now have, faster than they did.  To get smarter, quicker.  However, being a parent, being older, you also know that that is not how it works.  You can nudge in certain directions but one can only grow under their own directives.  When Hayden is ready, he will be.  He’s happy enough and figuring it out.

 

I walk my love in mornings gleam – 4th February 2018

How to write this?  How to put my feelings into words, express my thoughts clearly.  Maybe I can’t.  So let’s just stick to the facts.

I was contemplating a visit to the UK before settling in to my new life in Thailand.  Knowing my mother was probably in her last year and the timing was kind of right, it had suddenly become a possibility. I know I wrote just recently that I wouldn’t go back but something, I’m not sure what, made me reconsider.  A couple of hours into my first night shift, I called my cousin, Sharon, to discuss.

Sharon was fine with the idea but did warn me that my mum was very ill now and it may not be the way I wanted to remember her.  The doctors at the hospital, knowing a little about my mum’s wishes, had given her a good dose of antibiotics that hadn’t helped her much, so the decision was to switch to morphine for pain reduction and for her body to fight for itself.  This seemed a good solution.  If she had the strength she would recover, if she didn’t, she would be comfortable.

About an hour later, Sharon messaged me saying she had been called urgently to the hospital and perhaps another hour later she sent through a message, carefully worded, “Your mum has just silently faded away.  No more struggle, just peace and tranquillity.”

Sharon had passed on my love whilst mum was still breathing and held her hand until she was gone.

Of course, this outcome was not unexpected, I guess we had all been gearing ourselves up for this moment and I was strangely calm.  I sat at work, contemplating, thinking, sad but not emotional.  I went over memories of my mother and they all provided me with comfort.  I’m grateful her end wasn’t an extended suffering, around the other dramas of the palliative care ward.  Grateful she had been happy in her last few months at the care home.  In fact, my sadness is countered by everything she did for me, knowing that she was proud of what her son had achieved in his life.  I will continue to make her proud.  I just wish I could share these things with her.

I called Amy.  She had just got back from an event and had had a couple or three beers and was in a tipsy chatty mood, so I let her talk and I sat and listened and loved her words, pouring out of her and into me.  I soaked up her love and thought to myself, my mum has gone but my life is still complete.  I have everything.  I am happy.

When Amy talked about my mum, I gently told her that she was gone and she couldn’t believe me.  She burst into tears and apologised for talking all about her night and herself.  I calmed her down, telling her it was just what I needed.  As she continued to cry though I could feel myself starting to crack.  I started pacing the office I was in and managed to stay positive.  Amy insisted we go back to the UK for the funeral and I agreed, though not particularly for the funeral part but it presents us with the right opportunity to catch up with what is left of the family – something I now feel compelled to do.

I finished off my night shift and when I got home set about making new plans.  As I was due to quit work in a few weeks anyway, it seemed to make sense not to bother coming back to Australia after going to the UK, instead ending up in Thailand.  My son, Hayden, was also due to visit me in Adelaide the week before I was going to leave.  So with a little bit of juggling and some flight changes, I’ll leave Adelaide to go to Brisbane to visit Hayden for a few days, then to Sydney, on to Thailand next, to pick up Amy to fly together to the UK.

All of this planning kept me busy and I ended up awake for around 30 hours before finally sleeping peacefully until the following morning, where I failed to get up with my alarm.  No hurry now.  No more work, no more night shifts.

Still calm inside, still quiet.  Doubled meds, finishing off the codeines.  I can’t wait to hold my little Amy in my arms again.

Goodbye mum.  Thank you for everything you did for me.

Love you, always.

It smells just like me and it smells just like you – 18th November 1994

After work, the Dublin dude – whose name is possibly Pete – they’re all calling me by my first name because they only have my one name to remember but I have all their names to remember – anyway, he is driving the works minibus to the train station so I gratefully accept a lift not realising what a mad bastard driver he is (should’ve guessed!).

Some hour or so later I make it home where my beautiful baby chatters her beautiful head off to me about all she’s been up to while I’ve been slaving! (ha) And she’s even got dinner all made and, yummy it is and then she rubs my feet in Vitamin E and lavender oils and it’s all too much, I have to go to bed and catch up on lost sleep!

Bang! The alarm clock wakes the dead – out of the cloak of shadows, the depth of dreams, the grace of angels, it’s quarter to five (man, the hour has a four in it – I can’t understand why I am awake – a common problem for the working population) and ah hell, I’m on the train again. Wish me luck.


A-ha! Back on the train, etched with pathetic graffiti and dirty from a decade of to and froing up the North Shore.

Work was work and lunch was lunch but I found out I wouldn’t be needed next week which is some relief (our 14 crates arrive today, yippee!). And after the grind I walk to the train (some distance, dude) via golf course and foreshore trail (smells like shit, that unmistakable estuary whiff) up some roads, still running and gunning after nine hours on my feet, just try and stop me! And I, happy and singing cos for the first time in Australia it feels like a Friday and it feels like anything is possible tonight (even though sleep is probable and probably preferable – leave the Friday night life to the youngsters and wish ’em all the best).

I walk via a storm drain, stopping to watch golfers practice on the driving range, noting there’s a ‘hole-in-one jackpot’ and I reckon I could do that, no worries! (No worries mate! I’m even writing my new language). Then up the street some more to witness a fistfight in the street, holding up traffic and passers-by. Ego! Oh yes, bruised male ego – some guy dinked another guy’s car – big fuckin’ shit, man!

A passer-by says to let ’em get on with it (Jeez – what a wasted life!)(Shaun sits in judgement over all, by the way). What a spectacular life I’m having though, on the train again, homeward bound, leafy in love, seeking Broni cuddles.

25th Mar 2021 – I’ve used this Van Pelt image before but the mention of the golf course in the text brought it to mind again. And of course, now I’m listening to them!