I have spent a great deal of time today thinking that I am closer to the sun than I have ever been now I live closer to the Equator than at any time. I certainly feel warmer here though the anticipated pool of melting Brit that I feared has acclimatised quite quickly. Admittedly, it is not as hot as it will get but “it’s 33C? Doesn’t feel like it” has become a bit of a mantra between me and the diplomat every time we gyrate our two step out of the apartments forecourt. The snappy “click” of the guard’s heels is almost metronomic and utterly reassuring before we run the gamut of Bangkok’s speedsters.
There are a fair few nice cars here. Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Audi R8s, you name it, they are either parked next to a street food urchin or trying to outdo each other with their baritone exhausts. Having lived two inches away from McLaren’s brand spanking new offices in Woking I am amusedly aware that a truly fast road car has an engine that whines, rather than grunts. All that torque spinning too fast to hit the lower octaves. Anyway, I don’t possess one of these shiny compensators, just a slick pushchair. It’s all a man needs, really. That and a sense of breathing. In and out. In and out. You know the kind of thing. Pretty important stuff.
The past week has been spent gazing out of a window whilst in front of a PC at the hotel opposite me. The diplomat and I took Isla there. After all, a bar literally nine paces from your front door should be worth a look. The place claims to be a “luxury hotel” and it does a fair job, to be honest. My immediate impression was like walking into the set of “Phantom of the Opera”. All dark latticework, curving joinery, whorls of polished marbles set against a battalion of rearing, gloomy plants. I half suspected those to be the descendants of Rick Moranis’ botanical love. Deep within, an underlit gantry with an Italian restaurant below, an immaculately dressed lady concierge with a French accent who guided us to the kind of elevators one might discover in the Trump, Rockefeller, or Chrysler buildings. Twenty-one floors slide by with a dying murmur, a whisper of oil on bearings and the doors smoothly parted on to the bar which wrapped itself around the building.
Tall, glass-topped tables for two with slender grey iron fluted legs designed to crush kneecaps. Hurricane lamps with vertical flames safe against the wind,yet quick enough to burn fingertips. A fat-legged parapet for staff to glide along with their 150Baht trays of delicate starters. A delicious crab cake mouthful drizzled in a manner that Heston Blumenthal
might approve of. The air was cooler, the night panorama of Bangkok a twinkling neon party that dazzled the senses. In the background away to the south, the flashes of yet another storm, faint crackles of thunder if we concentrated enough. Not a bad place to call a local.
So…I have been sitting watching this place, watching the storms drift in from the south east, comfortably in my air conditioned corner of the apartment. The odd two minute breather on the balcony just to remind myself of real air coupled with a daily trip to Starbucks for my “one hot grand latte” or “neung lawn grand latte, kah ru na” which is my phonetic version in Thai. Seems to work OK.
Oh, kai also means egg. Learned that. Fascinating stuff.
Isla has two naps a day (well, she’s meant to) and that usually involves the inestimable Michael Buble whilst being carried around – the motion seems to lull her to sleep – or the default resort of Ray LaMontagne. Contrary to the Lemonheads claim, it is no shame at all to let the iCloud croonings of the singer fill this apartment with the rich notes of his lullaby. Any new parent with a baby who will not sleep must try him.
Apart from that, it has been a week or work, rice and editing the novel of a good friend. These things take time, require proper attention. This weekend we are off to Bambi; I must look up Bangkok Dolphins and there is a Thai craft market. However, so you know I am not sitting here in a complete bubble know that a scant few hundred yards away those who work at the embassies are trying to deal with the latest diplomatic problem that most of us only know about via the News Channels. I am not usually one to chastise, but having seen events of recent weeks I feel that there are times when freedom of speech in the West precludes us from understanding that words uttered through any medium have consequences in the rest of the world. Those who would indulge in it would do well to learn this lesson before enflaming others and then hiding behind the armchair, protesting about their “right to say what we want, when we want.”
We all know our Rights, it’s time we knew our Responsibilities.
Is this what diplomacy is all about?