So Songkran has come and gone, with three hundred and twenty corpses on the tarmac kingdom-wide in a week, chaiyo! Never heard a splash of water, except for the mock pouring of some scented fluid by my half-breed daughter on her old man’s wrinkled wrist while her full-breed Thai boyfriend kept objecting ‘That’s not the way it’s done!’ ‘That’s not the way it’s done!’ but never showed her how.
On that Songkran Day as I read a British literary magazine in the heat of the front porch, the surrounding world was so soundless – not a car, not a bike, not a blaring pickup truck, not a hammer banging, not a chainsaw whining, not even the shadow of a neighbour – that I caught myself thinking I was the last man on earth.
So the first round of the French presidential election has come and gone and I, who had on a whim spent hours and hours watching on the net entire speeches by all ten candidates but one (some woman’s xenophobic ducon la joie ranting I couldn’t stand ten minutes of); I who had arranged for my daughter to meet me at the embassy before closing time for her first presidential election as a full-fledged French citizen, having insisted for her to cut short her weekend in Pattaya for the purpose, having after her call at 1pm saying she was on her way and would call me when she was back in town decided I had time to do some urgent shopping, having on my return home at 3:30pm called her portable and found that having called me repeatedly and fearing the worst had driven by my house, rung neighbours, and was now at the embassy, having suitably informed her of the procedure – ‘choose any one bulletin but one’ –, found myself later that night, thanks to TV5 for once taken over by the France 2 circus, among the 19.5 per cent of hapless abstentionnistes.
My excuse, if I need one? I have three: all ten candidates were too eager to please to be trusted; having spent more than half of my life here and waiting here for death without any of the niceties like health coverage or pension prospects that could make being a dutiful and revendicative Frenchman worthwhile (correction: I’ll get a new French ‘biometric’ if you please passport in a few days, just in time to crown cheesy Hollande), I’m only French by default, so what the hell; and more basically I’ve been up to my chin for the past ten days in a marathon I’m bound to lose.