Bangkok: Mama, I’m coming home
10 days of isolation ANYWHERE is nobody’s idea of fun… Spending time in my home town of Dudley is not my idea of fun… 10 Days of isolation while being in Dudley? Well, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.
I’m pretty sure I broke the law during my first 24 hours on British soil too… As in, I’m not entirely sure I should have gone to get my first COVID vaccine jab while I was isolating… Which I did… Sorry! Please don’t arrest me.
There were a couple of COVID tests to get out of the way too while we were isolating…
The test I’d had back in Bangkok had been quite an easy experience (quite surprisingly) and I knew that while in isolation both me and Jo would have to do two self-tests, one on day two and on day eight… I was under the impression that we only had to put the swab up our noses… But no… Upon reading the instructions it became clear that we had to do the throat swab too.
Now… Putting a swab up my own nose was something I was quite happy (well, not actually “happy”) to do… But my throat was another matter entirely…
My throat swab back in Bangkok was quick, simple and I only gagged a little… Sitting there in my living room in Dudley, mouth open, saying “Arrrrr” as Jo carefully aimed the swab toward my tonsils was a different matter…
Every time the swab went near my throat I began to gag… Not quite gagging… But loud “I’m going to be sick!” gagging… And then I got the giggles…. Which made matters even worse.
What should have been a simple process became a 10-minute job… Thankfully I wasn’t sick.
Which is a bonus I suppose.
A day or so later we got our results back, both of us were COVID negative… The next day we both received an email notification telling us we had been in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID… Bloody hell! We’d been so careful, we’d followed all the rules... And someone else had put us at risk… SHIT!
As with most things, the second I read the email I began to experience psychological COVID symptoms…. I felt hot… I felt breathless…. All of this of course was in my head… A bit like as a kid if you heard your friend had head lice YOUR head would immediately start to itch… We did our eighth day COVID test and all came back fine… We had dodged the COVID shaped bullet.
Apart from leaving my house to get a needle jabbed in me I did spend the rest of my 10-day isolation within the walls of my house in Dudley, doing some repair work, some gardening and some decorating in order for us to put the house up for sale in the very near future.
I have a sort of love/hate relationship with DIY… I actually enjoy looking at something that is broken before working out a way to fix it, before actually getting on with the task of repairing something.. And yes, I do have a sense of pride when one of my “fixes’’ actually works out… But I don’t actually enjoy the whole DIY thing… I’m crap at painting and decorating and I absolutely detest gardening… If I could concrete over my entire garden I would… I have no idea how people can “happily” spend time in the garden… For me, it is nothing more than grass-covered hell… Every time I’m out there in the garden I feel as if I’m being punished for something… I do, however, love a good bonfire… Burning stuff just gives me immense joy… See? It’s a love/hate thing.
The work in (and outside) the house will be ongoing for the duration of my time back in England… Getting the house ready for sale and its eventual sale is really quite important to both Mine and Jo’s future plans… Plans which for us do not include a future in Dudley.
Once out of isolation we ventured out into town for our first experience of COVID Britain…Previous visits back to Dudley have left me feeling angry… I detest the use of drugs, I hate the way modern society has normalised the use of drugs… I hated the way every single visit to Dudley town center always involved me walking past people smoking drugs openly without fear of prosecution… Dudley was a town that (to me) had simply given up… A hell hole… A town that should be wiped from the map… A lost cause.
I’d prepared myself for this visit… I’d gotten myself ready to walk into town, to see druggies everywhere, and to leave the place wishing I had never come back… However, this time it was different… Maybe it was COVID… Maybe it was the fact there were so few people actually walking around… But… Bloody hell… I couldn’t smell weed… I didn’t see people openly smoking weed… I commented to Jo that I couldn’t smell weed…. And you know what? A weedless Dudley (I’m under NO illusion that Dudley will ever actually be weedless) wasn’t actually all that bad… Did I fall back in love with the place? No… But then again I wasn’t inwardly planning its destruction either… That’s progress, right?
After our walk around the town we headed toward my parents' house for the first visit in a couple of years.
There is a certain joy to having that first cup of tea “round your moms” … We spent a few hours chatting in the garden with my parents before we went back to our house to continue with the work on the house.
We’ll be in England for a few weeks, most of which will be filled with us doing work on the house… However, we did receive an unexpected message that meant we’d have to take a short break from our decorating endeavours.
A while ago, while back in Bangkok, Jo showed interest in a job back in the UK… Well, showed interest in applying for a job in the UK type of way… She had emailed back and forth, and had gone through the first phases of the interview process.
While we were decorating and while Jo was working (She’d been waking up at 3 am in order to work remotely from England a few days a week) she received a message from the job in England asking if (being as she was in the UK) she could attend an interview in Yorkshire… So, a road trip to Yorkshire was hastily planned.
We had already planned to travel to Kent to visit Jo’s family, so we changed the plan to include a trip to Yorkshire, we would stay in a B&B, Jo would have her interview, then we would head toward Kent.
NOTE: I began writing (writing? Typing… Whatever) on June 25th 2021… I had to stop writing, typing, blah blah blah because I couldn’t say too much without potentially dropping Jo (and by default me) in the shit… But now things are cleared up, processes have been followed… And I can now continue writing.
The drive to Yorkshire was fun, it was nice to get away from decorating, it was nice to get out of Dudley… It was nice to be zooming up the motorway in a very snazzy little hire car… The long and short of it was, we were enjoying our drive toward Yorkshire.
Jo had booked us into an Airbnb in a village called Winterton (Oh so very Game of Thrones) , the accommodation was lovely, the host was friendly, we could see there were a couple of pubs in the village so we were pretty happy, we dropped our bags off and headed off toward the town where the potential job for Jo was based.
For full disclosure, when this job for Jo first came on the horizon I initially said “no”… I didn’t want to leave Bangkok, I didn’t want to leave my friends… But as time went on I could see how life in Bangkok just wasn’t the same… Covid was getting me down, the poverty was becoming more and more apparent… And I could see that members of our friends' group were also looking as if they too would be leaving Bangkok in the not too distant future… I walked to the shop one evening and halfway there I just sort of stopped in my tracks and thought “I think I’m done”… Since that night I had begun to see a move back to England as quite a positive thing and had been looking at properties online… Mentally preparing myself for life back in England.
During my many online searches, I had found some nice houses in and around the town of Goole (where the potential job was based)… Jo had said that she didn’t want to move into Goole… I secretly hoped that a drive into the town would change her mind.
So as afternoon turned into early evening we drove toward Goole.
We found the huge factory that would be the base of the new job and then we drove toward the town center… The area was quite industrial… Grey… Unexciting… As we approached the town center I fantasized about turning the corner and being amazed by a vibrant village… People going about their business… Friendly smiles… I dreamed of Jo falling head over heels in love with the town of Goole.
We rounded the corner just as a woman and her family walked away from the town center, the badly fitting, food-stained jumper she wore drew my attention to her… The two children walking along the road with her also caught my attention… A tracksuit wearing boy and a girl who facially and height wise looked about 10 but with huge breasts swinging about in a filthy grey T-Shirt “Shouldn’t she have a bra on?” was all I could say as my dream of Jo being instantly seduced by Goole faded away…
“Fucking hell” said Jo.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
We left Goole and headed back toward Winterton… We had a few drinks in a local pub while eating takeaway food (the pub due to Covid had stopped serving food) we chatted with the owner before heading back to the Airbnb for a good night’s sleep.
In the morning we drove back toward Goole, the plan was to have breakfast (thank god for Greggs) Jo would go off for her interview and I would have a walk around the town… I had been all for this idea before I had gotten to Goole, but last night had dampened my spirits a little… I wasn’t looking forward to wandering around the town at all.
I wished Jo luck and she drove away leaving me in the middle of a little Yorkshire town called Goole.
I walked toward the town center, it was quite early but there were quite a few people wandering around…A lady was setting up a flower shop… Legs spread wide like a giraffe as she bent over, putting some flowers in a pot… Her skirt was riding up to an almost indecent level as I passed on my first circuit of the town center… I walked past the police station (always handy to know where THAT is) I noted the shops and places of interest as I walked… Asda, B&Ms… A Wetherspoons pub (bonus!) I found myself at the start of the market area (no market, just shops today) I walked toward where I had started my journey, passing various people as I walked… The giraffe legged lady in the short skirt was still bending over her flowers… A lady holding a yellow plastic bag had appeared and was sitting on a wall close to the Wetherspoons.
SQUEAL OF BRAKES!
There was (in my head as I type this) a massive squeal of brakes… But the reason for this squeal will be revealed later… I promise!
I continued to walk… A couple of laps around the town… Giraffe legs had stopped flashing her knickers and was now chatting to various people outside her shop, the yellow bag lady just seemed to be enjoying sitting on the wall near to the pub…
I decided to change my route and walked away from the town center… As I walked I discovered lots of different shops… In Fact, as I walked I began to quite like the town of Goole…
I found myself walking down a residential street… The houses looked nice… the streets were clean and peaceful… I walked for a while enjoying the fresh air and the exercise… After a while I headed back toward the town center, the lady with the yellow bag was still there… Giraffe legs was still chatting… For what seemed like the hundredth time I walked past the police station, this time I noticed the East Yorkshire crime investigation unit van parked on the roadside… Yorkshire CSI… Now there’s a TV show that would be a surefire hit.
I walked toward a different part of town, I found myself in a very nice area… Huge expensive looking houses and a beautiful park… I walked around the park before sitting down on a park bench to gather my thoughts… Taking in the fresh air I imagined myself living quite happily in a place like this… I was at peace.
I headed back toward the town… By now I’d been walking for a couple of hours and I was getting a little bit bored… As I got back into the town my phone rang, it was Jo… She was heading back to pick me up… I walked back to where she’d left me… Passing Giraffe legs and yellow bag lady as I walked.
THAT SQUEAL OF BRAKES I PROMISED EARLIER!
So, I was writing this blog and had just gotten to the part about the lady with the plastic bag (exciting I know!) and pictured her sitting on a wall near the Wetherspoons pub, but I was struggling to put into words exactly where she was sitting… So I looked at the pub on google maps… And Fuck Me! She’s actually sitting there in the image on google street view!
(I hope that was worth waiting for)
Jo appeared in the car park, we chatted about how the interview went (very well as it happens) and then headed off to the pub for lunch, before our drive to visit family in Kent.
The drive from Yorkshire to Kent would take us (depending on traffic) maybe about 3 ½ to 4 hours… So we decided to split the journey up and spend the night in Cambridge… The plan was to stay in a hotel and head into town for some food… Not the most complicated of plans but still… It was indeed a plan.
The hotel was fine, we arrived, checked in, dropped our bags off and headed to the bar… I wasn’t entirely sure we should go into town, after all “The bar serves drinks and food!” but after spying the price of the drinks and food, into town we did decide to go.
Reception ordered a taxi for us and we headed into Cambridge for food and a crafty drink or three… First things first, Taxis in Cambridge are fucking expensive! Criminally expensive… “You’re taking the piss mate!” expensive… Secondly, people in Cambridge have no qualms about riding a bicycle while wearing beige slacks and a striped blazer… As in... They have no fear of looking like an absolute twat.
We arrived in the centre (well I think it was the centre) of Cambridge, I was absolutely fuming about how much the taxi had cost us and was greeted by a street full of absolute wankers.
Beige trousers… Floppy fringes… Blazers… Some twat was even wearing a bow tie… Attractive women wandering around in summer dresses like they were at the Queen’s garden party, accompanied by floppy fringed hurray Henrys (no offence to my friend whose name actually IS Henry) looking around, I remarked how NOBODY WAS WEARING A FACEMASK IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC… I thought people who “went to Cambridge” were supposed to be intelligent?
Overwhelmed by the cost of a taxi, the floppy fringes, the total disregard to basic Covid health practices, I was in a downward spiral… Jo’s dream of having a nice night out was in danger of being ruined by me who had gone into “I must look like I want to kill everybody mode”
I was picking up snippets of people’s conversations… Conversations that weren’t really conversations at all… No “how is Dave by the way? No “Well, I’ve been decorating all week and I’m fucked”… It was all discussions about topics… Debates… One academic trying to out-brain every other academic.
We walked down by the riverside… Boat companies trying to rip people off everywhere…. More academics having bullshit debates while walking along the riverside… Sarcastically I tried to debate with Jo.. Loudly proclaiming that “THE NUMBER FIVE IS INDEED GREATER THAN THE NUMBER FOUR, HOWEVER, IT IS ALMOST INSIGNIFICANT WHEN COMPARED TO THE LIKES OF THE NUMBER EIGHT!”
Jo called me a twat.
She may have been right.
I was indeed being a twat.
I calmed… I pulled back my urge to push every one of these floppy fringed wankers into the river… I took a deep breath…
Two girls walked past… One girl said something about a subject I have no understanding of… Her companion burst out laughing… Fake laughing… The laughing a person does when they don’t understand the joke but feel they HAVE to react to it… The girl spoke again… Her friend fake laughed some more… I felt sorry for her.
We passed a group of people chatting… Talking… Fuck it… Debating.
I noticed one woman who was not talking, she just nodded her head occasionally… I decided she was in the same boat as the fake laugh girl… She had no fucking idea what the rest of her wanker friends were talking about… As we walked I encountered more and more fake laughers and “I have no idea what you’re talking about” head nodders… I found myself hating Cambridge…
As a place, I loved Cambridge… The buildings were beautiful….. But the people just ruined it.
I think there was some type of graduation going on… Young women in beautiful dresses wandered around the town walking with young men in tuxedos…It was all very, very strange… Near one of the beautiful buildings, we spotted a small group of Thai looking girls taking selfies… They just can’t help themselves.
We found a bar… A very interesting bar actually…. It was (if the sign outside is to be believed) the very bar that on the afternoon of February 28, 1953 (yes I Googled that bit) Francis Crick and James Watson announced they had discovered DNA…We waited for a table and eventually they took us inside…Oh yeah, It’s also a bar where lots of Airforce pilots have signed the walls… Lots of Gary “Bomb dropper” Smiths and Barry “Couldn’t think of a cool fighter pilot name” Jones (Yes I made those up) all over the walls… I couldn’t help but look at some of the names and think “I bet a load of these names are fake” …We were seated next to a small group of Cambridge university types… The girls were dressed in evening wear… The boys were dressed in Tuxedos… Except for one… The one in a kilt.
The prick in the kilt… The loud prick in the kilt.
The kilt cost £1000… How do I know this? Had he left the price tag on? Am I an expert in the field of pricing up kilts? Oh, no.
“Oh Yes, my father bought me the kilt for my 18th birthday!” (What type of prick buys someone a fucking kilt for their 18th birthday?)
“It cost A THOUSAND POUNDS!” (Loud enough for all of us to hear, cheers mate)
“Every tartan is different… My father commissioned our own PERSONAL tartan!” (Good on your boring present buying daddy mate)
“Every male in our family has this VERY SAME TARTAN!” (Oh the girls missed out then… I bet they are heartbroken.)
I was listening to him talk… No… No hint of a Scottish accent… Just the bog-standard “mommy and daddy own a mansion” bollocks.
They finished drinking… The tartan boy stands up and promptly loses his balance and falls into one of the wooden stalls… His face a bright crimson he walks out of the pub with his hurray Henry friends…
“TWAT” says the working-class bloke from Dudley sipping on a Guinness.
We ate our (overpriced) food and drank our (equally overpriced) drinks and headed off into the night… Well… Early evening.
We jumped into another rip off taxi and went back to the hotel… Cambridge… I think I’ll give you a miss from now on.
After visiting family we headed back toward Dudley… It had been nice having a break from decorating and DIY but now it was time to get back to it… All the while waiting to hear about the new job for Jo… She had been told she was a good candidate… But there was one more candidate to be interviewed after her… Maybe this other candidate had swooped in and taken the job…
The house (back in Dudley) looked like a bomb had hit it… Plaster had been stripped (well, fallen) off the walls…We had stripped out the carpets (ready for new flooring)… I had wallpapered one room and had painted another… A plasterer was due to come in and (well obviously) replaster the walls…The house may look like a bomb site right now but I hoped it would look nice once all the work had been done.
I’m shit at painting. It’s something I have never been good at and as a result, it is something I avoid… Jo was outside painting doors (I’ll happily remove a door but please don’t ask me to paint it) I went out to see how she was doing and she was in the middle of a phone call… She only went and got the job in Goole!
As Ozzy Osbourne sang so beautifully… Mama, I’m coming home.
With renewed purpose ( now we REALLY have to sell this house) we began ticking off jobs on our decorating/renovating to-do list…
Timeline wise this bit is totally in the wrong place but… By the time we had finished the work on the house it actually looked lovely… Does anyone fancy buying it?
During my time back in England (A time I’ve actually enjoyed this time around) I’ve had a chance to meet up with family members… I’ve enjoyed a few drunken nights with my younger brother (Something I intend to do more of when I move back to England fully) I’m not the best at keeping in touch with people… In fact, I’m a bit shit at it… I honestly want to try to change… I need to change… I enjoy these people’s company too much.
Before too long it was time to head back to Bangkok... We’ve both had our second Covid jab now so hopefully, we should be a tad safer now… It’s so strange this time around… I actually didn’t want to go… I wanted to stay in England… But we have to go back… Say our goodbyes… Pack up our belongings… Prepare for our new adventure…
So until next time….
PS Know anybody who wants to buy a house?