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BOOM!……then everything went black, including my flatscreen TV.
It was 2.17 am on Thursday morning in locked down Bangkok and what Rooster and many others had been waiting for for 55 years – an appearance in a major football final – went blank.
A transformer or something had exploded nearby plunging my condo into total darkness and robbing me of England vs Denmark.
Minutes later the overhead fan came on at half-cock, it was now a brownout as the Americans say. Hopeless for internet box and TV.
Major life crisis!
Turn on phone and follow text. Misery as Denmark score, and I feel totally helpless. Muted joy as an own goal puts us back in with a chance. Half time – now what to do?
I was beginning to panic, convinced the blackout would mean a Denmark victory. Quick think – Thailand usually comes through in a crisis in my experience. Then I remembered.
The neighboring estate at the end of the soi had an old boy security guard in a shack with an ancient TV.
He might just be awake and……
Throwing on clothes and remembering mask and bike keys I drove past our own building’s security guard at breakneck speed.
You could see him thinking: Where’s that loony going at this hour (now 3 am) surely Nana Plaza is shut?
Five hundred yards down the soi there was Loong – he’d never met me nor I him – but at least he was awake even if the TV was off. He didn’t seem freaked out by this masked raider arriving on a Honda 250 and screeching to a halt.
Time to practice my best Thai starting with a mild admonishment, Thai style.
“Loong krap, why the hell aren’t you watching the football!!
“I’m an Angrit guy. We’ve had a “fai dap” and I can’t watch the match….
“Oooo, khrap”, he replied grasping my predicament and admittingn he’d forgotten all about Euro 2020.
He insisted it was on Channel 36 despite me saying “chong song na khrap, chong song”. Going down through the channels was laborious and the second half must have started. I took charge of the remote and keyed in 002.
Joy – it was 47 minutes in and still 1-1.
Loong, 75 if he was a day, was chuckling uncontrollably at the turn his normally quiet night had taken. He offered the weird foreigner his comfy seat and a draft of Leo – both politely declined remembering “kreng jai”.
Besides, a plastic stool was bliss and I didn’t need beer – like millions of Brits, and Danes, worldwide our collective stress levels and adrenaline were through the roof.
What fun we had, Loong and I, until the icing on the cake after 4 am when England scored and we triumphed.
Cue Englishman dancing impromptu jig and Thai “yaam” almost swallowing his false teeth.
I “wai-ed” my new friend deeply and thanked him. Joked that I’d be back for the final if the electricity authorities didn’t get their act together and headed home.
Like Harry Kane and his recovery from the missed penalty, Rooster, with thanks to Beautiful Thailand and its Beautiful People, had found a way to watch the Beautiful Game.
Like those who remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, I’ll always remember where I was when England beat Denmark 2-1 after extra time.
Sleep only followed after completing my ten daily translations by 9am. My English editor had been awake most of the night,too, so the ASEAN Now faithful got some early stories from Rooster for a change!
The football aside, it was a pretty grim week as the Covid numbers and deaths spiked daily.
One official said that daily infections would hit 10,000 by the end of the year. Maybe something was lost in translation; surely he meant end of the month, even end of the week.
And so it transpired. By Friday cases reached 9,276 with 72 deaths and that’s only what the government is admitting to.
Others started coining a new phrase “fourth wave”. Surely it was only a matter of time before the nation became the hub of waves.
PM Prayut – a loong who, frankly, I’d rather not meet in the dead of night – had a mixed week.
Very bad and extremely bad with a touch of utterly atrocious.
Firstly, he had to go into a 14 day quarantine at the army base where he lives. He’s no longer a general but probably feels comforted at being close to the Mess.
He’d been in close quarters with Veerasak from the Surin Chamber of Commerce while on the Phuket Sandbox junket on July 1st. Veerasak had Covid.
On Monday a Suan Dusit poll suggested 66% of Prayut’s compatriots thought he was doing a terrible job while a Super Poll suggested he should take a pay cut.
This prompted Big Too – a word meaning to grab something by force incidentally – to announce he would not take his salary and allowance for the next three months to fight the good fight – 376,000 baht.
More than a dozen of his fawning cronies followed suit including Thamanat Prompow still trying to repair the damage of, to him, being wrongly accused of heroin smuggling by those nasty Australians.
Sanook didn’t let Prayut’s modest display of largesse go unnoticed saying that the National Anti-Corruption Commission were unable to reveal the extent of his assets as there was no provision in the law to do so.
That’s Handy Harry.
All they would say is that he had had 102 million baht before he became PM 6 years and 9 months ago and had earned 10.4 million since.
Somehow I think it unlikely that he’d have just 112 million (plus interest) now.
That likelihood was about as obvious as the National Economic and Social Development Board who pointed out that the rich have got richer and the poor poorer during the pandemic.
One thing I will say though is that those of us who have been lucky enough to keep our jobs – an increasingly rare species in Thailand – have plenty of disposable income but nothing to spend it on.
If and when the pandemic is over, there are plenty of people with money to burn, should they so wish. Clever investment in selected businesses – including tourism – could be big earners.
Apropos, the fallout from the start of the Sandbox continued apace. First off we were asked to believe that foreigners at a market were new to Phuket. They looked like expats having a bite to eat if you asked me.
Then came news that 2,244 visitors had made it in the first week and flights were continuing to arrive almost every few hours……
Two of these “tourists” turned out to be an 83 year old man with Alzheimer’s who got lost and probably thought he was in the Philippines and a guy who nipped off to see his wife at their Rawai rather than wait at the quarantine hotel for a night for his test result.
Many of these visitors are obviously people looking for a way back in without onerous quarantine at ASQ facilities. Though for Rooster, who has little love for the island, having to spend two weeks there would be torture enough.
Meanwhile the age-old problem of taxi rip-offs on Phuket reared its ugly head. An investigation of sorts went nowhere.
The authorities in Gulf side Samui tried to upstage their Andaman cousins by saying that 80% of taxis and other public transport on their island had joined an app plan to eliminate gouging of tourists ahead of their reopening next Thursday.
Vaccinations continued on the Surat islands including Koh Phangan where foreigners got jabbed with an 80% target now met.
In other vax news it was announced that the US was donating 1.5 million doses of Pfizer. There appeared to be a stipulation that 20% of the jabs should go to foreigners in Thailand though Charge d’Affaires Michael Heath made no mention of this.
He went on Facebook later in the week to make a speech in Thai about that “special relationship” between Uncle Sam and Uncle’s children.
It’s brave of any foreigner to speak in Thai but I suggest that Mr Heath needs a little work on his tones and a few consonant sounds.
I’m available, sir, at the specially discounted rate of 3,000 baht/hour, so long as you come to my place.
At the end of the week came some additional nails in our collective Covid coffins. Ten provinces including Bangkok were placed under additional restrictions,
a curfew with provisos installed, malls were ordered shut and the hoarders descended on Makro and Lotus.
None of this seemed to make much difference to us at Rooster Central. Our pool reopened – utter joy – and my eight year old enjoyed her Zoom lessons well prepared by the excellent Thai and expatriate staff at Attamit School – respectful joy.
Mrs Rooster stopped tearing her hair out concerning her daughter’s education and just removed lumps worrying about Covid….oh well.
Penultimately, I would like to wish all Italians the best of luck for the match tonight (2 am Thai time Monday morning) and ask that the England fans remain quiet for their national anthem and put their laser pointers away.
Finally, Rooster has always been a lover of good acronyms with many like SNAFU, FUBAR and JAFA being Scrabble word favorites. Google if you don’t know the meanings.
But I particularly enjoyed the highly appropriate one revealed this week for the Disaster Response Association of Thailand.
Hopefully Englishmen everywhere will not be saying that come 5 am tomorrow.