Shaken and Stirred – 15th December 2022

The drudgery of the day to day
Took our childlike sense away
No longer dwarfed by all around
Bored with all the knowledge found
No longer novel and mysterious
Everything became so serious
Less scared of what’s seen and heard
Memories need to be shaken and stirred
The eyes of children opened wide
Light pouring in deep down inside
Inspiration to seek the sublime
A world in which you can redefine

The battle against conformity requires you to adhere to another kind of conformity.

Dana Kletter, from Manchild 5

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and positive though a little tired due to the lack of sleep from recent nights.
Today I’m grateful for:
The school director thanking us teachers for our hard work and effort at his school. Even if it was just a vague excuse for a meeting arranged by TLC as pats on each other’s backs, I still appreciate that he said these things. Most of the time we feel quite unrecognised and underappreciated. Of course, no pay rise, no bonus, and no Christmas gifts for us! Oh well, my coffee schedule messed up by the meeting I took the opportunity to invite David to House for a quick Kickstarter brew.
The best thing about today was:
My unruly class of kids in 1/7. Before it started I took Goy aside and asked how she felt about my class. She’s a quiet and top-grade productive student and I don’t get chance to talk with her much. She said she liked the class but when prompted said that it was too easy. I know this and apologised to her but she understood that I have many low-skilled students to manage. I asked her about her classmates and she said they were very annoying and make it difficult to concentrate. Obviously, I agreed and I thanked her for her thoughts. I was glad that she was happy with me as a teacher at least. Back in class, the kids wandered in lazily and mostly in high spirits. The two that I kicked out on Tuesday sheepishly laid low in their seats but I made an effort to try and engage Nong Aoi though she insisted she couldn’t write because her hand was hurting. I tried to make it fun by writing with my other hand which she tried for about ten seconds before giving up. With my left hand I write ‘Aoi ❤️ ?’ and Saipan and Rista got excited and said ‘Geno’. So I got a little embarrassed but it gave me an idea. I quickly got to a break point with some writing and hooked up the speaker and searched YouTube for Dexys ‘Geno’ and started playing it. Many kids got up to dance including Aoi and she had a big smile on her face. It was good to see. I settled them all back down with a promise to play it again at the end of the class. After a while, Aoi asked to escort another student who was feeling sick to the bathroom, however, a few minutes later she turned up with four boys, one of which was Geno. They stuck around for a while but got bored waiting until the end of class. When it did come I played Geno again and other excited dancing kids asked for a couple of other songs and that’s how it ended. I love these kids, one moment crazy upset, the next crazy happy. Just like every other human you ever met.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Last night I found a scratch on Kim Chi that looked pretty serious. Amy was concerned and we talked about whether and when to take her to the vet. It was already 9.30 and I was ready to sleep. We decided not to go then but spent the next couple of hours trying to clean the wound and watching her, putting on a collar to stop her licking and discussing what to do today. As we give her a special medicine for her leukaemia, we don’t generally give her any other medicine from the vet so as not to mix them. She seemed ok this morning and ate without a problem, just annoyed at having her collar on. I called Amy later from school and she’d cleaned up Kim’s room again and decided to keep her there to keep her out of any more trouble. When I got home though she seemed to be more uncomfortable with the wound, which is right on her empty ballbag and was weeping a little cloudy fluid. We quickly decided we should take her to the vet which meant a 2-hour round trip and not a relaxing evening at home. But this is what we do for those we love and so I enjoyed the drive, the traffic, the vets and everything else. I could’ve been annoyed at this loss of free time but I turned it into positive time. The vet advised to bring her again tomorrow which throws out some other plans but this is the way we have to roll.
Something I learned today?
Talking to David over a coffee he told me new things about South Africa that I didn’t know. There are maybe 11 tribal groups in South Africa, all with slightly different cultures. Since the end of the apartheid, the ANC has ruled non-stop but corruption is rife and although overt racism has gone it still exists in more subtle ways. The government is seemingly directed by rich bankers and billionaires ensuring their money keeps rolling in. David said he has come across many more South Africans in Thailand recently as folks are getting out to seek a better future, something which is not possible for the majority. Of course, it’s far more complicated but the underlying immorality and inhumanity are obvious. Perhaps inhumanity is actually the default of humans. Humanity is only something achieved in small doses.
Which aspects do you think makes a person unique?
It’s late already and I would like to write more about this but it also seems obvious that the answer would be ‘every aspect’. There’s no getting around the fact that everyone is unique.

I took this picture because, on a valley bike ride with Bruno, he recommended stopping at this fish restaurant for me to check out. We had a small quick meal and chatted overlooking the fish pond. It was only about 2pm and the owners/staff were lazing around one of the tables. Bruno seemed to think they were high or perhaps they were just in that chilled laid back zone of rural northern Thailand. We were also greeted by an assortment of shaggy dogs and scrawny cats, happily playing, hunting, snacking and snoozing. Lazy days at the fish pond restaurant on a road off the beaten track. A ‘local’ fish pond restaurant for ’local’ people.

The Lighthouse – 6th December 2022

A beacon on the horizon
Rising, falling, yet steady there
A signpost to miseries and glories
A pointer beyond the despair
The building, empty and derelict
Though still overflowing
The chill of winters, the pungent springs
The always knowing
Out to sea the future beckons
Dive into the turgid squall
The past is a rhythm dead
So heed the siren’s call

Direction > Speed. Doesn’t matter if you are moving slow or fast, if you are moving in the wrong direction, you are fucked.

Aditi review of Last Gang in Town: The Story and Myth of the Clash by Marcus Gray

Excellent book for me. I like the Clash a lot but didn’t know much about their history before now. After reading this book I can feel that I perhaps bought into the Clash ‘myth’ more than I’d expected. After reading a slew of rock biographies, mostly about people that were interesting but not necessarily whom I had any respect for, I guess I should have been prepared to find out that these mythological punks were all too human.

Whatever! It’s all done and dusted and I remember the sight, sound, and feel of the pedestal I had them up on!

I found the post-Clash chapters interesting too, as most of the band seemed to struggle with finding their identities after the breakup, and everyone, including themselves, wondered about what could have been.

Today I’m feeling:
Relaxed and tired because of cocktails and pizza indigestion keeping me up throughout the night and then a 5.30 wake up to catch our flight.
Today I’m grateful for:
The two homeroom teachers who (probably) helped push my students to do the work I left for them as I wasn’t at school today. I think about 80% of them did it which was a pleasant surprise.
The best thing about today was:
Getting decent coffee again back in Chiang Rai (at Utopia) and finishing the Clash book and starting an Iggy Pop book. The last of the unread books there for me before I have to start bringing my own again.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Late afternoon and Amy gets Kim Chi up from her current sleeping spot in the walk-in. Kim is still limping on her back right leg and we agreed she needed to go to the vet but with only one car again it was going to be difficult to arrange whilst I’m at school so despite being tired and chilled at home I suggested we go right away otherwise it would have to be on the weekend when we already have a long day trip to Lampang planned on Sunday. In spite of it being school let-out time, I enjoyed the drive to Dr Arnon and back and he doesn’t think there is anything seriously wrong with Kim’s leg and just gave her some painkillers. I was also able to buy some snacks to take for Tokyo at House so that worked out ok.
Something I learned today?
Following on from yesterday, according to another survey, Chiang Rai is the lowest-paid province in Thailand. It made me wonder if the two facts about Chiang Rai are connected. Does drinking decrease as a place prospers? If Chiang Rai folks were paid more would they drink more?
When are you most spontaneous?
I’m not spontaneous much at all these days I don’t think so I would say this would be in my classes when I might add in some things around the lessons I’m teaching. I do miss the days of spontaneity but am also happy with the way I am now too. I’m well-organised and my brain suits that better than being spontaneous as I’m not always good at predicting possible outcomes.

I took this picture yesterday at the Hilton in Phuket because wtf is a peacock doing here just wondering around!?

What’s Not Mine – 24th November 2022

My favourite mug smashed to pieces
Now strewn across the kitchen floor
Happened a thousand times in my mind
And so this is what I’ve prepared for

Whenever you must learn a new skill or alter your career path later in life, you reconnect with that youthful, adventurous part of yourself.

Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Mostly happy, a little tired.
Today I’m grateful for:
The Bath and Body Works car freshener that lost its smell in the car but I brought it inside and shoved it in the screen door and pierced it slightly so the fluid can slowly drip. In the afternoon the sun hits it and the bedroom smells great.
The best thing about today was:
Not having to teach. Can’t complain about days like that.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I was expecting to have to teach today but at the last minute realised that I wouldn’t be able to. I hastily prepared some work for my students to do in their own time and was able to feel that I wasn’t neglecting my students or just skipping out. I doubt if most will do my work so at least I can see who is conscientious at least.
Describe your family’s greatest catastrophe to date.
I suppose this would be my father dying which undoubtedly affected things around me but as I was less than two years old I can’t say that it affected me directly at the time. It’s also not possible to say how it has affected me since as I have nothing to compare it with. I don’t think there has been anything catastrophic in my life since though no doubt some things may have felt so at the time.

I took this picture because Kim didn’t really seem to mind balancing across these parts of the sofa.

The Fog – 5th November 2022

Unable to touch, seems so far away
The lighthouse smashed relentless
The turmoil of storms on display
This fiery cloud is scentless
Securely wrapped in a blanket
Resisting the push and pull
With enlightenment to thank it
Let no self-deception rule

inspired by a Robert Greene piece

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Neil Postman

Today I’m feeling:
Settled and satisfied.
Today I’m grateful for:
Bruno suggesting we ride to Doi Mae Kham which is a place I’d been thinking to go to since 2 years ago. On the map it’s easy to see that is on a piece of land that sticks out into Burma so kinda encourages investigation. In the end though it wasn’t spectacular but a pleasant enough long ride to fill the day.
The best thing about today was:
Finding Kim and Cap hiding next to each in boxes in the walk in. There haven’t been too many fireworks tonight but I think they’ll be hiding in there a lot this coming week.
How do you feel about cold weather?
Cold or hot weather, so long as I can get out of it it’s great. Cold weather in Thailand is relative and it feels great.

I took this picture because the neighbours had a burn off at dusk. It was pretty spectacular. Thankfully the wind was blowing the smoke away from the house.

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.

Pie Time – 26th October 2022

Savour the crumbs of the pie
Scraps picked from the floor
Be sure to breed and multiply
The cogs must turn some more
Money is power is oil is gold
Not for some to touch
And so the story has been told
From parent to child as such
Oil is power is money is gold
Only for some to touch
And so the lie has been sold
There’s already too much
So savour those crumbs of pie
Get back to the factory floor
Sons step in as fathers die
And so remains the score

Leaving this will be easier than living it.

Charles Bukowski

Today I’m feeling:
am: happy and relaxed – pm: tired and subdued
Today I’m grateful for:
My hair bleach to make me feel younger, at least when I look in the mirror. I’m still mixing up old congealed powder that I bought years ago and too thrifty to throw out. It’s not perfect but it still does the job.
The best thing about today was:
Crossing a few little bits and pieces off the to-do list. I have a few more that I have to remember for tomorrow too including picking up a cake for my birthday that Amy has arranged for me. Thank you my lovely little Amy.
What jobs do you do in life that you don’t get paid for?
Thinking in reverse, I do one job of teaching that I do get paid for and I don’t get paid for anything else so it comes down to what might be considered a job. I have a hobby promoting musicians and their music that does have minimal income but I don’t consider it as getting paid and loses more money than it gains. I don’t have any philanthropic jobs. I do work at things but none of them are jobs.

I took this picture because Kim Chi is enjoying sitting on the toilet mat and doesn’t move out of the way when I want to go. This is what I look down at!

Lazy Princess – 20th October 2022

Princess Amy, she’s so lazy
She will never become the queen
Made her teacher really crazy
Because she lives inside a dream

Princess Amy still never learns
But all her friends are growing
They are all taking their turns
Off to bright futures going

Will the princess ever see
The wisdom of work instead?
Will the princess ever be
Able to get out of her bed?

a poem for one of my students

The laws that govern circumstances are abolished be new circumstances.


Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
Amy’s parents bringing me food again. I was out at the time, at Daytripper, doing more lesson preparation and dropped by the market to pick up some dinner. A stall was selling pla duk foo which I hadn’t seen there before so I grabbed that and some bananas. When I got home I saw that Amy’s parents had left some food and when I checked the bag it was pla duk foo and bananas! I’ve got a lot of eating to do!
The best thing about today was:
Reading some random text from a teaching English book and being able to add an idea to make my lessons more interesting for my students next semester. Doesn’t sound too exciting I know but I was inspired enough to update all my lessons immediately.
Another thing was coming across a KLS video from 2016 that was fantastic to see and got my little brain running again about organising a tour for them here. I think it would go really well. I need to start looking into this more.
If you started a sports team, what would the colours and mascot be?
I suppose I might pick blue after my childhood soccer passion for Ipswich Town and Italy. The red and white of Sydney Swans would perhaps remind too much of Arsenal. As for a mascot, I don’t know. I must admit I would not be a good person to make these decisions as I consider them to be irrelevant though I understand their purpose, it’s just not something I’m interested in.

I took this picture because I was surprised to find Kim here on Amy’s pillow. I also find it cute to see cats sleep in this position. In fact it makes me envious. Unfortunately, rockets from the funeral next door sent her off hiding behind the bed again soon after I took this.

The Party – 14th October 2022

Temporary swarms buzz and circle
Conversations bend or disappear
Nests break and reconfigure
With new formations becoming clear
An idler on the roof above
Monitors the party in motion
Follows every dip and rise
As if floating on the ocean
Plans discussed, pleasantries exchanged
Jokes told to absurd laughter
Approaches made, compliments fired
And plans afoot for what comes after

a scene from Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake

To live is to war with trolls in heart and soul. To write is to sit in judgement on oneself.

Henrik Ibsen

Today I’m feeling:
Content and lazy
Today I’m grateful for:
Being able to easily buy snacks and treats for myself at shops nearby and having the money to do it. I’m far away from any major commerce but through the effort of 1000s of people, I can buy yoghurt, blue cheese, chips and toilet paper at stores just a 10-minute drive away.
The best thing about today was:
Listening to Kurws. Great band making interesting music for a decade or so. Today has been a very lazy day after returning from shopping at 10am. I haven’t done much of what I normally do but I’m fine with it. I’m getting used to this quiet life and not having a frenzy in my head of having to do things out of obligation, though I do recognise and appreciate that driving force at times. I know I will get that feeling back in a week or two when school starts again so in the meantime I’m enjoying the freedom to listen to as much music as I can.

I took this picture because… come on, how cute is that! This is from a couple of months ago but I’ve been so lazy to go anywhere and take any interesting pictures today. Even in the garden. I suppose I could have found something beautiful at the shops… Pictures are not usually on my mind when shopping though, usually just want to get in and out as quick as possible.

A Blind Man’s Tale – 11th October 2022

When the sword swings to cut
Is the lover’s face seen?
the battle fought through passions
Whispered in a dream
Towers set to blaze a message
New lives together begun
And so three daughters rose
Along with the morning sun

Based on the Junichiro Tanizaki short story

The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.

Ken Kesey

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and satisfied
Today I’m grateful for:
Having two days in a row not using aircon during the day. I do still have it on for a couple of hours through the night though. I like to feel cold so I can wrap up to sleep. Hopefully, my electricity bill will decrease a little for a few months now.
The best thing about today was:
Finally finishing ironing my shirts whilst watching the last episode of Thai Cave Rescue, then watching a documentary about the rescue and then to come full circle and picking out old clothes, including lots of shirts, which I took to Nick at Daytripper to give out.
Who inspires you?
I don’t know that there is anyone in particular who inspires me currently. I take inspiration from many people depending on the situation. Ultimately I depend on myself for inspiration.

I took this picture because Kim Chi seems to have gotten so lazy that she forgets to get up for dinner. I know she comes and snacks during the day and through the night so I’m not too worried.

The Warrior – 13th September 2022

Rich in dreams but poor in reality
Abundance has removed all the limits
Stepping outside all the comfort
Where days become hours become minutes
Soft, decadent, bored with what’s owned
Kept alive with constant shocks
The warrior plays the long game
And keeps the ship far from the rocks
Renew, and prepare for the peasant’s war
Retrench and practice key strengths
Recognise all enemies come from within
And what exactly is being fought against

Inspired (and borrowed) from Robert Greene

I want to know you’re there, but I want to be alone.

Virginia Woolf

Today I’m grateful for:
Being reminded of the quality of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina whilst watching the old BBC tv series, marvelling at the old tv production style and the seeming absurdities of Russian aristocratic life. It reminds me of times of my youth when I would have cringed to see anything like this on tv and even now I don’t think I could enjoy it without having read the book first.
The best thing about today was:
Was waking up throughout the night to find Kim Chi in various places on the bed. I disturbed her a few times but she happily rearranged herself each time.

I took this picture because I was quite impressed by my student’s drawing skills. Her name is Apple.