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  1. #1
    splendid and tremendous
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    Prologue: if you like Thailand, football and really strong booze you might like this

    I wake up at 6 '0 clock these days; I've no idea why but it's become a little perturbing, especially as I don't start work until 10. Over the last few months though, to kill the hour or two between when the rest of my family get up, I've started on a new book - just 20-30mins a day, but it soon adds up. Although this is a book primarily about football, the prologue is about Thailand, so the read might interest you... or it might not.


    Prologue

    In 2006 a succession of topsy-turvy meanderings had led me into quite a startling set of circumstances. I was living in a makeshift village, a shanty town I suppose, on the southern Thai peninsula with some 50 Laotians and heavy smattering of North-East Thai natives. The settlement comprised around 20 or so huts of varying sizes which had been hastily pieced together out of lengths of old lumber, sheets of rotting plywood, and a whole truck load of rusted corrugated iron - just to lend the locale that really run down, dilapidated look.

    The bathroom was a communal affair whose centrepiece was a 10’x4’ trough full of rainwater which cunningly doubled as a shower, and running adjacent to this were a trio of scantily encased squat toilets which left very little to the imagination, and only the hard of hearing were spared a full bowel movement narrative. And the kitchen, well, there wasn’t a kitchen; no sinks, no dishwasher, no breakfast bar, no white quartz 38mm high definition laminate worktop, no fridge, no food. You ate what the day threw up at you, and you often threw it back up. Ants eggs, rats, snakes, monitor lizards and randomly plucked pieces of vegetation were among the daily specials, and if these weren’t available you made the walk of shame to the little mom and pop shop a couple of clicks down the road and bought a bag of instant noodles. But at six baht, or 10 pence, a pop, this was classed as something of a frivolity. No, we avoided the mom and pop shop, unless the whiskey had run out.

    I wasn’t here on a philanthropic assignment, you understand. No, I was here because I had been on a holiday which had gone frightfully wrong and was now skint – brassic, without a pot in which to piss - and had somehow managed to secure gainful employment with a local construction outfit who moved around the region building houses. They were a transient crew who would uproot their entire village and move on to the next job with everything down to the WC crammed into the back of their fleet of trucks and lorries. Then, upon finding a suitable spot, would make camp for however long - weeks, months or years - the project took them to complete.

    Coming from the poorer parts of South-East Asia, you’d rightly assume that home entertainment appliances were not among the componentry of my colleagues’ pop-up village. I think one chap had an antiquated transistor radio, and someone else had a stupendously large mobile phone that looked fresh from the Fisherprice production line. This was no good to me though, or the other English chap who - in a similar set of circumstances as mine - had taken residence here in the camp and was now having to toil his way out of trouble. He’d been a friend for a few years, and together we spiralled cataclysmically out of control, eventually crash landing in this little village. We may have gone native, but we still had one very strong connection to civilisation. It was 2006. It was a World Cup year. England had qualified for the tournament that this year was being held in Germany and we simply had to watch their opening group game against Paraguay. Had to. And a radio that didn’t work or a mobile telephone that wasn’t actually mobile were not going to assist us with this. Thus, it was time to pay a visit to the foreman.

    We’d been earning the princely wage of around 20 pounds a week for the past six months (yes, really) and I thought it was time for a pay rise, or at least an advance so we could go into town and watch the game with a few beers. I informed him, in Laotian, that we demanded to watch the match, and we preferably wanted to do this in a state of moderate to acute intoxication, because we are English and this is what we do, dammit. I’d been slowly broiled by this blasted South-East Asian heat for four years now and was starting to get a little irked. The foreman, his name was Dit, put his finger up primarily to silence my tirade, but also because he’d had an idea. I have just the thing, he said in his own language. Putting down his glass of whiskey he made his way to the back of his hut - the biggest in the village - and rifling through a darkened corner of the room he eventually unearthed a television set. A very small television set with no plug or aerial. But it was a start. And the next day, myself and my western colleague who hailed from the Potteries, borrowed a motorcycle and with our meagre wages bought a plug, a mighty coil of co-ax and a large, roof mounted aerial - anything less here in the jungle wouldn’t have cut it; if we were to watch this World Cup with any clarity we needed something that would poke through the canopy cover.

    Taking the afternoon off work, we began Project Paraguay. Placing the television set just inside our humble little hovel, my colleague wired up the plug while I got to work rigging up the aerial. But first, in time-honoured big-tournament tradition, a snifter, a mere finger or two of the good stuff - and the good stuff on this occasion, as it had been for the past six months, was a demonic brew known locally as lau khao - literally, whiskey rice – and it weighed in an authoritative 40 per cent alcohol. Fortified, we continued our tasks with varying degrees of success. My colleague had managed to wire the plug, and our sole mains supply was now occupied, but I wasn’t making as much progress with the mast as I would’ve liked at this stage, struggling to stabilise the aerial which I had fastened to the top of a 20 foot length of bamboo. I called for back up. The moonshine was once again brandished, and we took a moment to reassess not only the aerial situation but also our lives in general and how we’d come to arrive at such an unusual juncture. We laughed a lot. Laughing was a coping mechanism. We used it in lieu of crying.

    After making our way through about half of the bottle, we were just about to enter the singing phase of the session – you know, that bit where you expose your entire soul attempting to ape Elvis Presley – when I had the idea of using a neighbouring coconut tree to scaffold the rig. And thus it was we set to with a hammer and nails, haphazardly pinning the bamboo to the coconut tree. The fizz of white noise on the television was now interspersed with people talking, the match was only an hour away, and we’d apparently timed this to perfection. I went into the hut and had a look at the TV, catching a flash of the English kit (playing in home colours today) before the flush of electrical hissing once again monopolised the screen.

    A few minor adjustments later, after manipulating a palm frond so it clamped the rig at an optimum angle, we were rewarded with a clear picture featuring a Thai presenter and three pundits previewing the match. We finished the Lau Khao in celebration, triumphantly chucking it down our gullets with unbridled gusto, and yet, quite tragically, passing out just as David Beckham led the team out onto the pitch in the Frankfurt sunshine. We were snoring sonorously as Beckham swung in a free-kick which glanced off a Paraguayan head and into his own goal, making it one-nil to England. We had been rendered heavily salivating wrecks as the South Americans began to dominate the second half, and looking poised to level the scoring were unable to deliver the decisive blow.
    The post-match punditry fell on deaf ears; we were now snared in the furthest reaches of the deepest, darkest land of nod, and even a large gathering of locals, amassing round our television set to take in the match, failed evoke a stir.

    So for all our exertions Operation Paraguay had been a complete wash-out. We had failed in our mission. But the stage had been set, the television had been primed, and we were now prepared for the following two groups games against Trinidad and Tobago and the Swedes. Indeed, having already chalked up a victory, winning this cup looked well within our capabilities. This was our year; I knew it…

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
    pseudolus's Avatar
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    Needs a picture.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Prologue: if you like Thailand, football and really strong booze you might like this-s.jpg  

  3. #3
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    A good start, Slap.

  4. #4
    Ex TD Fat Club VP Dillinger's Avatar
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    Good stuff Slaps, but
    Quote Originally Posted by somtamslap View Post
    I wasn’t here on a philanthropic assignment, you understand. No, I was here because I had been on a holiday
    Are you gonna mention the best bit of your story in your book this time?

    The part that remains an enigma- The holiday

    The bit where it all obviously went terribly wrong

    We're all family on here mate and all been backdoored by some tidy bird with a cock

  5. #5
    Ex TD Fat Club VP Dillinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudolus View Post
    Needs a picture
    Debauchery is what it needs, plenty of it

    Although If you do need a new illustrator this year Slaps......













    Last edited by Dillinger; 29-01-2018 at 11:22 PM.

  6. #6
    splendid and tremendous
    somtamslap's Avatar
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    ^ A surprisingly accurate portrayal of proceeding events

    But this only touches South-East Asia, alas, most of it is Woking-based and therefore not very interesting at all.

  7. #7
    Utopian Expat
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    Nice work Slaps, looking forward to the rest!

    Dill you slag, is nothing sacred

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat
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    missing some sluts and a dodgy old thai grandad, Dilli?


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Prologue: if you like Thailand, football and really strong booze you might like this-s.jpg  

  9. #9
    Utopian Expat
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    Outstanding book cover

    Looks like a regular night at the Mai Arse Emporium.

  10. #10
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    And for anybody wondering..

    here is that goal


  11. #11
    I am in Jail

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    I like two out of the three in the title, so read a bit.

    Keep at it, Slap.

    *If you don't mind a critique.... I find the paragraphs awfully long. I am good at doing that as well.

  12. #12
    splendid and tremendous
    somtamslap's Avatar
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    ^ Cheers Peeb.

    Have a go at this one. Relevant if you were born in the Eighties, like football, and being English will definitely help a few things fall into place. :yup"

    Just a random chapter...

    Chapter two
    West Germany ‘88 aka school fete aka the day today


    I Owe You Nothing by Bros was playing on the radio before I went out. I remember this as I was still reeling at the revelation that the person crooning this tune was in fact a man and not the husky female I’d assumed it to be for the past six weeks. Indeed Matt Goss, it transpired, was a chap; but he didn’t owe me nothing, he owed me an apology; he’d confused me. And the less said about Tracey Chapman at this stage the better. Goss also owed the nation’s population of teenagers an apology too, for it was Matt and his twin brother Luke who took it upon themselves to festoon their footwear with Grolsch beer bottle caps, and soon, within in a week or two of the track entering the Top 40, every teenager who didn’t wish to be labelled an outcast was duty bound to somehow precure a bottle or two of this premium German tipple, remove the metal clasp caps - a laborious task in itself - and attach them to their shoes. Teenage boys back in 1988 didn’t walk, they clanked. They clanked and sung in effeminate tones. They clanked and sung in effeminate tones and held their hair in place with entire tubs of gel. All at the behest of the brothers Goss, and another little fellow who played the bass.

    I, on the other hand, had just reached double figures, and hadn’t bought into the hype. I didn’t have the time or the inclination to be quite frank. Besides, I’d just been made captain of my middle school football team and bossing the back line was far more pressing an issue than making my shoes look pretty. Yes, although a certain Mr Lineker was still very much the apple of my young eye, I had been unable to duplicate his role on the pitch to the letter, and due to my height (read: lank) at the time, our coach/headmaster had concluded that I’d be best utilized in the centre of defence, and match by match I made the role my own, growing to love it. I’d always see a lot of the ball you see, in the main this was because we weren’t very good, and all of the action was concentrated in the centre of our defence. Sure, we’d won a handful of games that season, but more often than not we’d find ourselves on the end of some pretty torrential spankings — 13-2 against Hermitage Primary is currently ringing some pretty sombre bells.

    Speaking of spankings, England were looking like a world class side heading into the Euros in West Germany that year. Qualification was a straightforward run-in which included an 8-0 drubbing of Turkey, with a hat-trick from Lineker and further goals from Neil Webb, John Barnes and Peter Beardsley. On paper, the team were sound, and our first group game against the Republic of Ireland should be nothing more than a formality.

    It was the day before England’s opener which fell on a Sunday and my middle school fete was in full swing. I’d managed to shirk maypole-dancing duties this year; by no real design of my own, I might add, and rather more because last summer I’d heard the choreographer mutter something along the lines of “I simply can’t work under these conditions anymore,” while bringing his forearm to his forehead and feigning a theatrical swoon. “Deal with it!” I thought a little abashed, while once again weaving my ribbon around totally the wrong individual. I just couldn’t get to grips with it; and happily this was noted by all the right people. And thus this year I was delegated the position of staying in the corner and shutting up while all the clever and more coordinated kids organised the fete activities.

    I was pleased. This meant I could spend the duration of the event playing football on the school’s pitch. We — myself and a group of classmates cut from a similar screw-everything-else-and-let’s kick-a-ball-about kind of a cloth, put our usual game of headers and volleys on hold and instead tried to replicate Andreas Brehme’s free-kick against the Italians in last night’s game — the first of the tournament — which eventually finished one a piece, with Brehme’s strike negating an earlier goal from Roberto Mancini. It was a fairly uneventful match; but the hosts West Germany had fielded a side liberally spotted with talent. Lothar Matthaus, Jurgen Klinsmann, Rudi Voller, and Brehme himself helped fashion a formidable line-up. The Italians weren’t exactly lacking in flair either; players like Gianluca Vialli and Paolo Maldini were in their prime and ready to stun the opposition with excessive passion and great arcing swan dives into the penalty area.

    We were prepared though, and when one of these sides was inevitably happened upon in the later stages of the tournament I was confident that they would be suitably dealt with.

    The reenactment of Brehme’s strike against the Italians kept us going for an hour, before I was hauled away by a teacher who demanded I help man the coconut shy. How utterly thoughtless.
    And no one won a coconut of course. No one ever did. The chances of anyone bar Curtly Ambrose dislodging one of these hulking great nuts from its hoop was practically zero; and even if by some minor miracle connection was made and, defying one of the more fundamental laws of physics, the nut became unseated, to the unlikely victor what were the spoils? Yes, a nut. A large, hairy nut. Yet, for reasons completely unfathomable to the leisure and entertainment industry, the queue for the coconut shy was the longest in the entire fete, surpassing both the lucky dip and the bouncy castle. The mind boggles. You are guaranteed, no guaranteed, to walk away from the lucky dip with at least a small, if totally useless, return for your twenty pence; and the bouncy castle… well, you get to bound about on something large and colourful for 10 minutes; which, stop me when I’m wrong, is a massive win in anyone’s book.

    Yes, the chances of success were low to non-existent, but still, the coconut shy remains, to this day, an English institution. Should an American, for example, be faced with the same impossible task year on year, they’d probably be sufficiently moved to unholster a glock and shoot the entire fete to pieces. Germans wouldn’t trouble themselves with such a pointless task, and the Italians would fall to their knees, and with palms turned to the air and deeply furrowed brows, simply ask ‘why?’ . The Brits, however, seem to simply beg for a chance to fail. But as tedious a task as manning the coconut shy was, it had one hugely redeeming factor; it wasn’t maypole dancing.

    The day of the England v Ireland game dawned and I raced out of my pyjamas and into my football kit, ready to start the day. Unceremoniously tossing a soft boiled egg and two toast slices worth of soldiers down my gullet, I made haste to the green opposite our house in the woods and played football for about three hours until lunch. I always played football. It’s what I did. My fitness levels back in ‘88 must’ve been through the roof. There would often be a decent number of other kids to play with, but I could quite as easily play alone: dribbling the ball around trees and taking free-kicks into unmanned goals was an incredible ego booster, and adding your own commentary and the crowd going wild was the icing on the cake. Although today I must’ve been pre-occupied as I lost possession to a silver birch stump on several occasions and missed a sitter from six yards after some boisterous heckling from clump of gorse on the sideline.

    Lunch that day, if I remember correctly, was roast lamb. Remember correctly or not, that’s exactly what lunch that day was. Because that’s what it always was on a Sunday. And now, suitably repleted, I could concentrate on the day’s main event - namely, England’s resounding disposal of the Irish.

    Everything was in place. I took my seat on the sofa, lamb flesh and a full-bodied Bordeaux on the belch , and watched with interest as the Irish took to the pitch in their emerald green livery. I watched with further interest as the whistle blew and the game kicked off, both teams eager to stamp their authority on the match early doors. And I watched with, perhaps. the most interest of all, which could have quite easily been mistaken for unrestrained horror, as a dinky little chap called Ray Houghton scored for the Irish after six minutes. Oh. Oh dear. That wasn’t supposed happen. But it did happen; the celebrations were taking place before my very eyes which were a quarter twist away from springing an enormous leak. How dare you, Ireland! How dare you, Houghton! How dare anyone that have the gumption to ruin what was supposed to be a textbook afternoon in front of the telly. But there was nothing I could do. And as the minutes quickly ticked by, and the English were time and time again thwarted by Packie Bonner’s ‘heroics’ in the Irish goal mouth, I eventually made peace with the fact this this wasn’t to be our day. Redemption could and would be found when we played our next games against Holland and the USSR.

    But the fact that those two teams actually met in the final of the tournament might suggest that we didn’t put paid to their progression in the group stages. On the one hand, that we were beaten by the championship’s victors and runners-up in the opening stages, could’ve simply meant we were drawn into the so-called group of death and fought toe-to-toe with the greatest two footballing nations in Europe. But I had quite an urgent enquiry: why weren’t we one of the two greatest footballing nations in Europe? Indeed after 3-1 defeats by both the Dutch and the Soviets, with token goals from Captain Marvel (Bryan Robson) and The Donkey (Tony Adams), we had been knocked out of Euro 88 with a grand total of zero points. Naturally, I was disappointed, a little numb perhaps - but this was a valuable life lesson; one must prepare to have the wind taken from their sails from time to time, and the English football team, I was coming to learn, were very efficient at putting the overly optimistic back in their place. Two years time in Italy though, and the next World Cup, would be a different story - we were obviously going to win that.

    I watched the final. Of course I did. This was a Sunday in Britain in the 1980s - the TV guide wasn’t exactly bristling with premium listings. When the Beeb or ITV threw out one of their sporadic televisual treats, you chowed down on it voraciously. Sunday’s fare was particularly bland. Bland to the point that, while watching, you could actually feel yourself turning anemic.
    The day would usually kick-off after six hours of white noise (yes, the television actually stopped being a television every night) with a show called Open University. This was quintessential Eighties viewing; a duller, more vapid collection of visuals you could fail to piece together. It was genuinely depressing to watch. Even at the age of 10, I would wake up, flick on the television and immediately find myself in a state of woeful despair, fighting back tears as I sat perched on the edge of the sofa in my Action Man pyjamas. How could anyone be so cruel as to air this shite; a collection of study materials narrated by someone with no soul, and filmed by people with an eye for the insipid.

    Unless you were a religious man or a fan of heated altercations in fictional pubs then the rest of the day proceeded in the same tedious fashion. Articles of Faith, This is the Day, and What on Earth... comprised the bones of Sunday morning, while Eastenders - just three-years-old in 1988 - was a Sunday afternoon staple. Beacons of light came in the form of Fraggle Rock and Bullseye, and Last of the Summer Wine was a real rose among thorns. But the beginning of Howards’ Way, just prior to bedtime, invariably left something of a sour taste, and the weekend would be forever tainted with fake tans and huge hair. When would I learn to turn off the television as soon as Nora Batty started chasing Compo into the sunset with a broom?

    So the final was a welcomed respite from the sustained volley of tedium. I suppose, even though they’d played a complicit part in England’s premature demise, I wanted the Dutch to win. They’d been entertaining throughout, and who could resist Ruud Gullit’s dreadlocks. It must have been a feat in itself to arrive at the ground on time with a thick jungle of wilting bullrushes impeding his vision, let alone commanding the field during decisive games of football. Yet it was the head sporting this mass follicular entanglement that actually provided us with the first goal of the final; and what an absolute belter it was. Never has a header been met so sweetly and with such devastating power, with Mr Gullit snapping back his head in preparation for contact before driving his forehead through the ball, introducing it at speed to the back of the Soviet net. Stunning. Still one of the most iconic headed goals to this day.

    If that was good, then Holland’s second goal, which sealed the tournament win - was a revelation. Impeccable timing, breathtaking skill and raw, unbridled power combined to make Marco van Basten’s 54th minute volley a moment of total footballing beauty. It was so good, so audacious, that even Van Basten himself looked totally bemused during his celebration. A looping Arnold Muhren ball found our protagonist just inside the Soviet 18 yard box to the extreme right and he sent it home from an impossible angle. Brilliant.
    My faith in football had been suitably restored. Now I just had two years to kill until Italia 90.

  13. #13
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Well done, Slap.
    Looking forward to more installments.

    Cheers...


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