Absent With Own Leave, that is – since 24 November.
Not that I went anywhere at all, but heavy housework combined with attempts at catching up with homework left me in no mood to vent my spleen here – and almost catatonic, come pastis time, until late into every single night.
I’ll spare you the house despairs – life without my own tap water until just a fortnight or so ago; dispiriting quarrels with kind souls so much willing to please one and all they’re unable to deliver in a timely fashion to anyone at all; finding out that termites have eaten an entire window frame or that the resident ghost is still working the (brand new) water pump; a toilet seat pipe leak turning into a bathroom WW1 trench battle scene, among other calamities.
I’ll just say that, for the first time in my life, I’ve (competently and proud of it) mixed and laid out cement, drilled holes into and installed a shelf on a wall with my very much gnarled hands
– and come to the conclusion I’m past DIY and the only thing to do in this country to keep one’s sanity is never to repair but throw away, buy new and have other people do the job for you. If you can find them, that is, and if you have the means.
State of the art: two doors and one window need replacing; so do the armchair and sofa; a new toilet seat is to be installed tomorrow; so is the water purifying gizmo a previous savvy team was unable to make work; the gate door needs welding; and the whole house new coats of paint.
On the public side of my life, I’ve managed to keep afloat. Advance programming saw me through the floods, so that my bilingual blog was able to come out on time every fortnight with a short story, alternately contemporary and classic:
‘I just want to go out for a walk’ by Than Yutthachaibodin,
then ‘The lone sunflower’ by Seni Saowaphong,
and then ‘Jitra doesn’t go shopping’ by Boonchit Fakme,
and currently ‘Tags’ by Khamsing Srinawk.
I’ve spent quite some time in the last week or so trying to rebuild a ‘buffer’ of stories: as many as nine are now pre-formatted but the trouble is twofold: getting the Thai text in an electronic format and contacting the authors for permission to proceed.
Does anyone know who Sukamol Rungbun and Naruecha Mueanjai-ngarm are and how to contact them?
I’ll deal with ’Rong Wongsawan, Saowaree, Fa Punvoralak, Wuthisarn Charnwiboon and others myself.
Contacting the authors was also paramount in coming up on time after the flood hiatus with my end-of-year anthology, 11 Thai short stories – 2011, now available at thaifiction.com and soon at immateriel.fr. For this I received superb help from old friend Wiang Buason of Samanchon Publishing – don Wiang, as Siriworn calls him tongue-in-sheik.
Unlike the first anthology in 2009, the stories in that book have never been published in English before, and I dare say that half of them are really top level. Guess which:
Meanwhile, I’ve also endeavoured to read short stories e-mailed by various young authors, taken time to assess a historical saga of sorts about one sideline actor in the Boworadet rebellion of the 1930s (hello again, Khun Nat) and am currently going through three novels kindly sent by Sakorn Pulsuk, whom I find more successful in short story mode.
So, while hundreds are being ritually slaughtered on the roads in this most jolly season, I’m keeping to the grind – and my fingers crossed, as I may have to go and bury the dead in the dead of French winter.