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Posts Tagged ‘Thutiyawiseit’

One more nail in my coffin

In English, Reading matters on 27/01/2011 at 11:04 pm

Last Saturday night I forgot to sleep out of despondency.
To the fact that my e-books hardly sell at all and to the curses put on Four Reigns and Thutiyawiseit – nine months and six to seven months of work down the drain – , the TVThai treatment added another straw onto my camel’s back: from what others tell me, TVThai seems to be in the habit of playing fast and loose with interviews. Mine was obtained under false pretence, as a guest to the Sin Samosorn (Art Club) half-hour midday program. Instead I was apparently allotted a couple of minutes on an evening ‘entertainment’ program, without my being informed beforehand. I had made it a condition to be able to talk, beside translation mores, about what happened over the above-mentioned two books: reportedly, not a word of that was broadcast. I was promised a video of the whole exercise – someone who has been there before told me, ‘Don’t count on it or be prepared for hassles!’
To add to the gloom, the Bangkok Post’s revamped, shrunken supplements do not augur well for the pursuit of my contributions. I’m told the refurbished Brunch broadsheet will carry another short story soon. I wonder what this will look like, especially with the accompanying article about the author that is such an informative (and lengthy) complement: in the current format, the story alone would run over at least four pages…
The story in question, ‘A year and a half later’ by Jamlong Fangchonlajit, has been with the Post since I translated it in October 2008. Only 1 900 words long, it is one of the shortest I’ve ever translated. Isn’t its length the main reason why it has suddenly found favour?
The problem is that good very short stories are extremely hard to find – no Saki here that I know of. Most are in the 2 000/4 000 words bracket (as Outlook used to carry); some are even longer. So what does this portend?

I wrote the above before dinner, about an hour ago.

An email at 21:21 informs me that in its mercantile wisdom the management of the Bangkok Post has decided to discontinue the publication of translated Thai short stories. The Jamlong story will come out in the Life section (not Brunch) as usual on the first Monday of next month, 7 February – the thirtieth and last.
I’m glad for Khun Jamlong, saved by the gong.
And I’m going to bed groggy, as last night, for a variety of reasons, I forgot to sleep yet again.

Goodnight all.

My phantom interview by TVThai

In English on 20/01/2011 at 3:21 pm

Just now, coming back from a trip to the Phra Chan (Moon) pier to purchase the latest and last issue of Chor Karrakeit, I stop at the entrance to my lane by the van selling vegetables thrice a week.
One of my neighbours exclaims, ‘Oh! I saw you on TV last night, I don’t remember which channel, something about translation, right?’
This is how I learn that my interview of two to three months ago by a team from TVThai’s ศิลป์สโมสร (Sin Samosorn – Art Club) has finally been aired.
Not a call, not an email to inform me beforehand (I never left the house yesterday). So very courteous and professional!

Four men had come to my house – a driver who kept out of the way outside, a cameraman, a young man who held the mike and the handsome presenter who asked the questions.  They had insisted on interviewing me in situ, so they could peek at my living conditions, at my books, at the pictures on my walls. We talked mainly on the front porch, me reclining in my favourite rocking chair. The recording took over one hour, for a broadcast of perhaps fifteen minutes of chatting spread out over the allotted half hour.
I talked freely about translation methods, Thai literature in general, how my translation of Four Reigns was denied existence and about the extortion racket of the Bunluea Fund over my translation of Thutiyawiseit. I wonder what they kept of what I told them.
Perhaps I’ll find out from the internet. Perhaps I’ll never know.
Thanks a lot, Chong Sarm!

Woe is I

In English on 30/09/2010 at 11:29 pm

Where to begin?

Everything is quiet on the e-book front.
Everything is quiet on the foreign e-book front.
Everything is quiet in this townhouse. Dead quiet.
In the past ten days, I’ve made three unavoidable phone calls, received four, two from my brother. No visitor. Even the seasonal rat has left the living room ceiling.

Item 1 – Did you say Four Reigns? Seventy-nine days ago some dilettante from the Pramoj clan who keeps reading this blog (yes sir, you leave a trace here) offered his help to get my version published if it was any good. Thirty days later, this very busy body hadn’t found the time to have a look at the translation (see ‘Four Reigns under the fifth’), which must be pretty bad, given his subsequent clamorous silence.

Item 2 – The Thutiyawiseit saga remains a tedious joke. With luck, I’ll hear from the Bunluea Old People’s Home before my own cremation. It only took those sleepwalkers ten months to notice I failed to sign a letter requesting their permission to publish (see ‘État d’urgence, connaît pas’).
Not that it matters much, anyway: the website is … out of sorts – has been for the past two months or so. Apart from me (see ‘A sad electronic tale’), two enlightened souls last week tried to buy books from, or so the back office record says. They failed, as I did – predictably, as nothing serious has been done about sorting out the problems.
Why is that?
Because I must rely on two geeks, both young men I like very much as persons yet would sack right away if, behaving as they have, they were my employees. Trouble is they aren’t. Both Pop and Ben have full-time jobs in our glamorous multimedia group and what they do for me they do as favours – extra work at no pay. So that it took them only eight months to retool thaifiction, a fortnight’s job, and get it going as of mid-October last year.
Both Pop and Ben humour me whenever they can, and I’m truly grateful for this, but otherwise seething being in the position of a beggar, which I can’t decently blame them for. I should get reconciled with the idea that I’m 65 and past it.
Ben, who’s short-sighted, squiggles down on trace paper he puts his nose to what I’d like him to fix in a thorough six or eight or ten points list and then, with luck, acts on point one and point two within hours and … that’s it.
As for Pop, usually, to make him do anything, besides hassling him with calls he sometimes takes or emails he never acknowledges, I have to physically sit by his side – and even then.
Yesterday, I crossed over to their offices. I started with ground-floor Ben, who’s quitting his job tomorrow anyway: he has to attend to family business for a while, he claims. He’ll run their online leather bags peddling website, which he designed, and says he has arranged to be back with us ‘sometime early next year’. He has little English, but, endearingly, keeps trying. So I offered him as a fare-thee-well gift a Thai glossary of spoken English terms and phrases I bought for myself a quarter century ago.
Then I went to see Pop, Ben’s capo on the third floor in things having to do with Pop is supposed to cure the ailing payment and delivery pages of the website with new coded prescriptions of his own that are Aesculapius Greek to me. I found him busy checking code on an ASTV Flash and sundry gobbledygook page. After twenty minutes of this and hardly a word exchanged, I left.

Item 3 – Given the state of the website, I had this grand plan of having a French concern of professionals handle all of my production for me for a 35 percent fee. Thanks to a newly found French friend, poet Jean-Noël Orengo, who gave me the idea, I was put in touch last July with a cyber-honcho in Paris who said in an email to him and me he’d be delighted to handle the loot. A couple of unanswered emails later, I called Xavier Gazin up. We had a costly, friendly, fruitful conversation and he agreed to send me a model contract forthwith. That was nine days ago. How long does it take to send an email?
Meanwhile, because of this chap’s technical requirements, I’ve been spending or is it wasting untold hours searching for software turning this format into that to accommodate this or that e-book reader. Ugh.

So what to do? Suicide isn’t an option yet. There are plans for the immediate future: tomorrow evening, a bunch of grateful young Thai poets will come and play up here. I’ve accepted to appear on Thai TV sometime next month (a true sign of desperation, that). I can’t decently conk out yet.
So I practise the ostrich defence. I immerse my neck into housework, into LRB and TLS and NYRB as they come through the mail, into The Naked and the Dead (revisited half a century later in late hours when TV soaps allow), and foremost into translation – a highly poetic Rewat Pongpipat short story the other day, a shoddily written Ror Janthaphimpa one straightened up today –, hoping that one day these accumulating literary riches will turn into e-books I likely won’t be able to sell either.

To end on a gung-ho note, though, as one should whilst life throbs: I just proofed this evening Zakariya Amataya poems I traduced into English that’ll come out Monday 4 October in the Outlook section of the Bangkok Post. Don’t miss ’m, folks.

Old age drivel

In English on 20/09/2010 at 9:16 pm


I feel an absolute wreck today
A sad dough of my former shelf
Maybe it’s too much poetry these past weeks
wracking nervous influx
Maybe it’s too much rain over my roof
sipping under the kitchen furniture
Maybe it’s too many soaps and too few books
too many words and too few visitors
save on this blog bless you peepers
Or something in the air
I was plotting to abscond to France this month
to entrust my e-books to capable hands
walk the past
love a bit the old-fashioned way
but the hands and the past and the love are seemingly busy
and there’s an urgent need to give a facelift to my dental façade
there’s an urgent need to anoint my monsoon-blessed crotch
there’s an urgent need to find a genius
for the bulb that won’t light
the toilet that won’t flush
and the blinds that won’t up
there’s an urgent need to hold the fort
coz Siriworn and his posse of poets will raid my place come Friday
coz the Gavroche brush-up is due any day now
coz the Post needs its feed
coz Thutiyawiseit slumbers
coz Four Reigns is stillborn
coz far as I can see
I’m getting nowhere fast
so I’d better stay put
Meanwhile redshirts have had their day
billions are starving
the planet is doomed
and the wailing newborn next door won’t have it

PS: That was just to keep you and me in the mood, punning under the influence. See what you’ve done, Ms Gold?

État d’urgence, connaît pas

In French on 13/08/2010 at 1:05 am


Hier matin 12 août 2010, une lettre recommandée en provenance de la Fondation ML Bunluea Theipphayasuwan m’avise que ma demande d’autorisation de publication sous forme de livre numérique de ma traduction en anglais de Thutiyawiseit, le grand roman sociopolitique de Bunluea datant de 1968, n’a pas encore abouti parce que… j’ai oublié de la signer. En effet, la photocopie jointe de ma lettre de demande ne comporte pas ma signature.

Cette lettre, je l’ai envoyée en recommandé avec AR, le 8 octobre 2009. Elle a été reçue le 12 octobre 2009.

Comme disait Patrice Blanc-Francart à la TSF dans l’émission ‘Comme il est doux de ne rien faire quand tout s’agite autour de vous’, l’éternité c’est long, surtout vers la fin.

Rainy days

In English on 03/08/2010 at 9:00 pm

Il pleure dans mon cœur comme il pleut sur la ville…

Each time the sky cries the Bangkok traffic stalls, or so I read or hear. Meanwhile, there were reports on Belgian TV the other night of embouteillages cinq cent septante kilometres long in sun-drenched France in one of the ritual migrations of suburbanites come August.
I wouldn’t know, surviving indoors, daily schedule out of kilter, yet sticking to the grind, talking to myself and the house lizards.

I’ve given up on big plans. You know, the best Thai novels and all that trash.
Oh yes, those five copies of Four Reigns are in the making, come what may.
But to hell with the Bunluea Foundation which, at last approach a month ago, after months of expectations and a verbal green light, was still busy drawing that promised contract which would allow Thutiyawiseit to see the light of print, at least in the dim catacombs of few visit and fewer still buy from.
This reminds me that the pain in the neck that was getting permission to air The fallen woman hasn’t brought the novel a single buyer. Nor has Noblesse oblige (Phoo Dee) found one, which is much more disconcerting and depressing.

Thanks to a helpful, well-meaning common friend, I’ve offered, once again, Suchart Sawatsri cooperation on an anthology of Thai short stories. It turns out he’s busy putting together his own, over one thousand pages long, he says, and threatens to go back full time to what he calls ‘artwork’ and film-making, besides resuming writing fiction: let’s see if the old man can finally keep the literary promises of his younger self. Maybe he should give me access to those thousand pages and let me take my pick of great stories.

Meanwhile, I either stultify myself with reading sessions of Chor Karrakeit back issues in search of good material to translate or enjoy myself translating that material. To me, the rule of thumb for that priceless quarterly collection under Suchart’s enlightened editorship is a dozen short stories read to one worth translating. CK 45 had none, CK 47 has three. Special issue CK 46, calling on major talents, has four. Two-thirds through the other special issue CK 51, which calls on top CK writers, I find two passable ones. I have yet to tackle current issue 52 – last but one of that review’s three-year revival, we are told – and a few back ones.
In older former issues, I skipped the longer stories (over 4000 words), as I had to go first for what could be printed in the Bangkok Post. Brevity is no guarantee of quality. Some long short stories, even at novella length, can be masterpieces. Think The old man and the sea or Brokeback Mountain – in local versions: The path of the tiger and – uh.
What I find exhilarating in the exercise is that, more often than not, I haven’t a clue who the authors of the stories I pick are. They could be absolute beginners in the boondocks or town slums, or established talents I haven’t heard of. Their stories set standards. And if translation into English is a consecration (the traditional view in this language-ghettoised land), here I am, blindfolded, anointing the worthy. That’s how Saneh Sangsuk came to matter … and Kanthorn who? … and…

So what have I unearthed lately?
Of course there was Riam Eng/Malai Chupinit’s ‘Flood Waters’ (Narm Nuea) that went into the Post last Monday. (That came from a collection of ‘classics’.) But also, without asking for permission, for my own pleasure as it is too long for the Post anyway, and in homage while it still matters to a great writer I hear is fighting cancer, Paithoon Thanya’s ‘Death in the month of October’ (Khwamthai Nai Duean Tularkhom). (Tom Glass somewhat laboriously translated a dozen other of Phaitoon’s stories under the title Paradise Waves, published in 2001 by Nakorn [Publishing] in Thai and English on facing pages, which is how I know it’s laborious.)
After that came, as promised to myself months ago, Sarkhorn Phoonsuk’s ‘The woman kite’ (Wao Nang), and, minus a few pornographic sentences a neighbour will help me straighten out presently, I’m done with Yan-yong Tulyanit’s crafty ‘The identity card’ (Bat Prajam Tua) and ready to proceed with Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa’s ‘A tale without a name’ (Rueang Lao Mai Mee Chue). All three stories come from CK 47. The first two are short enough to make the Post, but their contents would have the Outlook saintly team running for cover.

What will I do with these? It’s an open question. I have in mind a series of light books on the same principle as Glass’s (i.e. bilingual) that would appeal to general readers, farang learning or improving their Thai and Thais learning or improving their English, and even, if small enough, as mementos for tourists to take back home: ‘Hey, look, that’s what Thai looks like!’ But I need a structure. Anyone interested out there?

PS: By the way, remember that black and yellow ringed baby snake? At Siriraj Hospital, I’m told, they said it was a common green snake, which comes in many colours. Anyway, by then, the creature had turned green. Yeah, right. Next time, if you have a problem with snakes, go to the Red Cross instead.

Of guts and gutters

In English on 28/06/2010 at 10:33 pm

Seventeen years ago, I undertook to select, translate and publish the twenty best novels of Thailand under the label Thai Modern Classics.
One of those twenty was See Phaendin (Four Reigns) by Kukrit Pramoj.
So, prior to publication of my anthology (the 20 best novels of thailand, TMC, 1994 – revised edition 2008, see that started the TMC publishing programme, as I did with every author or their heirs, I sent the relevant chapter of it to MR Kukrit for permission to publish. Each chapter consisted of a biography of the author, a presentation of the story with substantial excerpts, and my own assessment of the work.
As a journalist during the previous decades, I had known MR Kukrit, indeed in the early days (1976) had been briefly his neighbour in Soi Praphinit and had witnessed his fabled residence being ransacked by drunken police officers, had interviewed him a couple of times and failed to please him and his dog Samsee.
To my consternation, the author had his secretary send me a short note in hemiplegic Thai denying me the right to translate his work on the grounds that my translation approach couldn’t possibly do justice to his work.

No need here to retrace the history of Thai Modern Classics, its premature demise in 1988 and resurrection in due time, but as a set of eBooks available on Suffice it to say that, by early 2009, having translated all but two of the twenty novels and having decided not to retranslate Nikhom Raiyawa’s Taling Soong Sung Nak (very well translated already by Richard C Lair under the title High Banks Heavy Logs) I was left with Four Reigns.
By then MR Kukrit was long dead.
As the yearly pilgrimage for visa renewal took me for the last time to Soi Suan Phlu in March 2009 I just sauntered over to Kukrit’s Heritage Home, as it is now called, and was lucky to find there its managing director, ML Rongrit Pramoj, who, in the course of a most pleasant conversation around his father and this book, declared himself wholly in favour of my translating the novel. He told me, though, that the copyright holder wasn’t him but his sister, ML Visumitra. He called her on his portable (she was in England that day) and I briefly talked to her, to the effect that she was concerned about possible complications given the existence of another book in English purporting to be a translation of See Phaendin, which was being reprinted.
That book, Four Reigns, by ‘Tulachandra’ (the pen name of a now deceased husband and wife team who were distant relatives of the author’s on his mother’s side) is, as I explained at length, an adaptation in English of Kukrit’s novel, written in their own style and at times quite at odds with the original. It is by no means the faithful literary translation such a masterpiece deserved and I proposed to undertake. I left and got to work.

Sometime in late November, having completed Book I (‘First Reign’, amounting to almost half of the entire work), I went to leave a copy for ML Rongrit and ML Visumitra at Kukrit’s Heritage Home, with a letter welcoming comment, suggestions and corrections. As the taxi neared the house a late season downpour blinded us. There were a few women in the reception pavilion. To my shame, I was racked with colic and had to use the loo. I was told to take my shoes and socks off and was provided with an umbrella: the loo was just beyond a cataract from adjacent gutterless eaves.

I went on with the translation of Books II, III and IV and rounds of checking against the Thai, English editing and, on June 14, with a printout of the 350,000-word-long translation ready in Word format, I called ML Rongrit.
I reminded him of our conversation of fifteen months earlier, told him I had completed the translation and would be happy to come over and give him a printout of it, and what did he think about Book I anyway?
What Book I? When? Never heard of it. He’d inquire about it. He did mention again the Tulachandra book objection and ended the conversation by saying he must consult with his sister.

That was two weeks ago.

Last week, I got fed up waiting for an answer. Mulling things over, I decided: to hell with the right to publish – let alone the right to translate, which is mine regardless. Maybe I’ll get it eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to format the book and get it printed, at my own expense, in just a few copies with the mention on the cover: ‘Complimentary copy – not for sale’.
I’ll drop one at Kukrit’s Heritage Home. I’ll reward my four editors with one each. I’ll give one to my boss, Sondhi Limthongkul, without whom I’d never have been able to translate not just Four Reigns but the whole TMC series anyway. Perhaps I’ll keep a copy to present at the October book fair to the Crown Princess, who has been known to complain that See Phaendin has never been properly translated. And I’ll keep a copy or two for me to gloat over and leave eventually to my daughter as keepsakes.
That’s what I was busy with these past few days: formatting 908 pages and a cover ready to go to print. Now you know.
Tomorrow, I’ll get in touch with the printer.

PS: On that same day, June 14, I called up Prof Nittaya Masawisut, after hunting her phone number, to find out what was happening about Thutiyawiseit and permission to publish by the Bunluea Fund now that the red storm is momentarily over. She told me they would meet on June 23 and let me know about the modalities of the contract. I’ve just realised today is June 28. If only I could afford a secretary!

State of the craft

In English on 07/03/2010 at 3:30 pm


It took some time, but now, Thai-reading readers, you can read the titles of the books I peddle at not just in English or French but in Thai as well. So now you’ll have no excuse not knowing that Noblesse oblige is the translation of ผู้ดี, or Cobra of แม่เบี้ย.

Users have grumbled that becoming a member prior to buying books is an unnecessary hassle. So, I’ve asked my code coddlers to simplify procedures. This is being worked on. Soon, you will order your e-books by filling in a single form, with email address and phone number, and that’s that. Of course, you’ll still have to pay, through PaySbuy.

Next step will be reminding glamorous Khun Sarosha to honour her promise to advertise the site on her TV channel, TAN Network, so that the world at large – or at least expat Thai communities that subscribe to this medium – becomes aware of our existence.

Four Reigns (สี่แผ่นดิน)

Book 1: I’m still awaiting the verdict of ML Wisumitra Pramoj, who I believe holds the rights to the work in Thai. Last November 14, under the last nasty downpour of the season, I submitted a paper copy of this huge book (nearly half of the quartet’s total length) for appraisal and … approval? or corrections? to the famed Soi Praphinit family compound. To my distress, I had to urgently move my bowels. I was provided with an umbrella to reach the loo through an eaves’ cataract. Since then, not a word.

Book 2 is now ready. I’ve just spent the last couple of days shaping it up, after the blitzkrieg it suffered from my sharp-eyed English editor: nearly 400 corrections, suggestions or remarks over a paltry 60,000 words, plus an extra dozen changes by me upon this round of rereading.

Book 3, only 44,000 words of it, should be ready by next week: since Khun Na is otherwise busy, Khun Anuraj, late of the Bangkok Post, who also nursed Book 2, promises it before she starts on a two-month UN contract on March 12 that will occupy her fully. Meaning that:

Book 4, which weighs 90,000 words, needs to find itself another Thai editor right now, or else I’ll be in the ridiculous situation of an editing span being twice as long as it took me to translate the whole screed. Any volunteer out there? There is a budget for it.

Mind you, when the whole lot has gone through the grinds of Thai and English editors, I’ll still have to read and read again the total 350,000 words to make sure all parts match and the symphony goes as perfectly as I can direct it.

Thutiyawiseit (ทุติยวิเศษ)

Another outstanding case. It amazes me how some people have eternity locked in their fobs. In early February I, upon invitation, attended the annual Bunluea Fund splash at Chulalongkorn University – to reward a young man for a book review. Daughter Tam, whom I introduced as my lawyer, to her tickled dismay, drove me there.  I was exceedingly well received, was told right out that I’d be granted permission to publish, so I quipped that that was what I wanted to hear and I could now go back home. Unscheduled, I was asked to take a mike and answer questions, and thus delayed the likei performance by fifteen minutes. When the likei came on, it was in deafening Thai-accented American English. I fled behind the oak doors. To those who asked I said I couldn’t understand their Thai. In truth, I couldn’t stand the noise. I bought another Bunluea book and pretended to read it, while Tam swatted for her law exam end of March. I was told the Fund would meet on February 17 and permission to publish Thutiyawiseit would follow. Since then, not a word.

Short story for the Bangkok Post

To oxygenate the English side of my brain while I beaver away in the odd hours on a French rendition of พันธุ์หมาบ้า, Les chiens fous or whatever the final title will be, I’ve transmogrified ‘Just looking’ by up-and-coming Jirat Chalermsenyakorn. As it happens, Jirat is the young man who was distinguished by the Bunluea Fund last month (and as this blog testifies, my choosing this particular story preceded and had nothing to do with the Bunluea Fund’s choice). And as it happens, the book he reviewed is a collection of short stories by none other than Kittiphol Sarakkanonda. It’s a small world indeed.

Jolly etymology

In English on 09/02/2010 at 10:12 pm


Just now, I got etymologically curious about that royal decoration whose short name is ทุติยวิเศษ – pronounced thutiyawiseit. It happens to be the title of Bunluea’s excellent political novel I translated not so long ago – a translation for which I am waiting for permission to publish (more on that later).

So I looked it up in a number of online Thai-English dictionaries.

Two pleaded ‘no such word’, which doesn’t say much for their vocabulary spread.

One puzzling answer I got was from thai2english:

ทุ  bad; evil; wicked

ติ [to] blame; criticize

ย  yor yak (the thirty fourth letter of the Thai alphabet)

วิเศษ superb; excellent; splendid

Another answer I got, for ทุติย only, was from thai-language:

ทุติย noun, Pali: son; friend; successor; companion; fellow

ทุติย noun, Pali: second class; second person

ทุติย adjective, Pali: for the second time; doubled

Go figure.

So I figured: all compound words of ทุติย have a ‘second’ meaning implication, never mind the ทุ and the ติ and the yor yak; so, superb second-class distinction.

It is the royal decoration given a Tharnphooying, that is, a Lady, a title above that of Khunying (Dame, usually grandly mistranslated as Lady).

Postnatal depression?

In English on 21/01/2010 at 8:10 pm


I finished translating See Phaendin (Four Reigns) on Saturday evening – altogether some 350,000 words over the past six months (not counting various other bits and chunks along the way, for Seksan, Fa, Sondhi, the Post, whoever else). I printed the last book and spent the whole of Sunday reading it pen in hand and then entering the corrections in the computer file, which I sent that night to Khun Na in Australia, for her to check my translation against the original line by line. Her answer the next morning: too much work for now, so can you wait? (This goes for Book 2 and Book 3 as well, on her desk since last year).

I’ve been in the doldrums since then.

I had woken up with a sore throat that graduated to a runny nose, constant sneezing, headache, and migraine on top of it yesterday, plus fever plus gloom.

Postnatal depression?

Quite simply, I’ve pushed myself a bit too hard, working too much, which means smoking too much and drinking too much, along with erratic sleeping patterns and sometimes strange self-rustled meals. So I’m paying for it. A slight drop in temperature and the bullied body can’t take the heat cold. Twice I postponed going over to the office to see the boss. I did so this morning. And am still sneezing, so ludicrously often and loud that I swear and laugh at myself by myself like a flea-bitten baboon in a cage.

I’ve cut down on fags and booze, taken appropriate leftover medicine, whiled away the hours with much reading (finishing that collection of Filipino short stories, reading again on a whim Don DeLillo’s White Noise, and much of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace) and – being who I am, out of sheer habit really – even translated a ’Rong Wongsawan short story, ‘Kleepkaeo’ (1959): the Bangkok Post wants something by him for the anniversary of his death or whatever journo excuse; this is the only one of workable length I have; I don’t like it particularly except for its ‘jazzy’ style and am not even sure that the prudish Post [which insisted on ‘f*****g’ in that Chart Korbjitti story the other day] will accept its immorality. It’s about a womanizer whose wife pays for his flings yet is humbled by one of his lays: great stuff for a fam’ly paper, what.

Now is the time to delve into Thai short stories again. And as soon as I feel strong enough, make those important phone calls the prospect of which has added depth to my depression. Go out and buy stuff (new glasses, more shelves for more books, perhaps another computer) and have a tooth pulled out: that pricey crown was too pricey to last long; when three dentists take care of one tooth, you can expect its demise in short order (what’s the saying again: too many dentist spoil a bridge?).

And finish writing my will.

Yesterday’s mail

Lo and behold: an invitation on Sunday 7 Feb in late afternoon to a function at Chulalongkorn University. Who by? The ML Bunluea Theipphayasuwan Fund! Did you whisper Thutiyawiseit? An ongoing saga (see ‘Growing pains (3)’ and ‘Taking stock’).

Yesterday’s news

I’ve been a subscriber to the Bangkok Post, on, off and on again, for many years, and I often reflect with admiration on the wonder of having it delivered every single day (around 5:30 am) to my door, whether in the buff or rolled in a plastic sheet when it rains.

This morning, I had a surprise: what was rolled inside the blue box was its sister publication in Thai. I called the subscription department to inform them of the snafu. Sorry, sir, we’ll have the Post delivered to you in the early afternoon. No big deal.

Some time after 2pm, the usual biker came by, apologising profusely, explaining that this morning the presses were late (?!), handed me a copy of the Post and left.

It was yesterday’s copy.