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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Family Money: Fair & Equitable
Successfully Yours: Mirin MacCarthy
Snap Shots: Giacobetti the colour master
Modern Medicine: You are what you eat!

Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dining Out: Shenanigan’s Irish Breakfast
Animal Crackers: Sacred elephants and scared of elephants!
Down The Iron Road: ‘Fowler’s Ghost’
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
The Computer Doctor
Sea Worlds
Secrets of The Hand
Forgotten Classics
Shaman’s Rattle
Women’s World
Coins of the Realm
Guide to buying a small dog

Family Money: Fair & Equitable

By Leslie Wright

Several readers have expressed concern over the recent collapse of Prudential’s talks to rescue the beleaguered insurer Equitable Life. The pension savings of more than 450,000 people are affected.

It all started when Equitable Life lost a legal wrangle over guaranteed annuities in the House of Lords last summer. Equitable’s actuaries had miscalculated the costs of guaranteeing these annuities, and had wanted to move the goalposts.

That miscalculation and the subsequent judgement against the firm landed them with an immediate ฃ1.5 billion bill, and put the firm in jeopardy.

After months of negotiations to sell Equitable, Prudential - Britain’s largest insurer - was the last potential bidder left at the table.

In a statement last month Prudential said, “After detailed consideration, the board of Prudential have concluded that it is not in the interests of either its shareholders or policyholders to proceed with this transaction. We just could not make the numbers stack up.”

Equitable’s president, John Sclater, said the only realistic option was to close its doors to new business, although he insisted that the firm was not bust.

Equitable’s managing director, Alan Nash, 52, finally realised that he could not go on running a fine old business like Equitable Life into the ground, and resigned.

It is small comfort to the hundreds of thousands of policyholders who now face the certainty of miserable returns on their investments that the man responsible will not be writing them any more of his self-satisfied letters. There have been calls for all the directors to resign, not just Mr Nash. In the wake of this pressure, most have now done so.

Miscalculation or mismanagement?

Equitable is the world’s oldest mutual insurance company - owned by its policy holders rather than shareholders - and it accounts for about a tenth of the British pensions market.

It manages some ฃ35bn on behalf of 650,000 savers, including 200,000 people with unit-linked pensions, which should not be affected.

Pensions already in payment will be protected, but with-profits policyholders who have yet to retire will receive substantially lower returns than forecast.

It is less than six months since Equitable’s president, John Sclater, was telling a restless AGM that Mr Nash was providing “strong and wise leadership”. It sounded nonsense then, and it seems grotesque now. Mr Nash misjudged the problem of the guaranteed annuity rates (‘GAR’) at every turn, and his actions finally produced the worst possible outcome for those whose assets he was paid to manage.

Nobody would claim that running a business of this size was easy, but the disaster was so predictable. From the moment that Mr Nash and his fellow directors decided that bonuses meant precisely what they chose them to mean, the business went into cloud cuckoo land where common sense counted for nothing.

Equitable’s guarantees are unequivocal: the commitment to paying the GAR on the full proceeds of the policy was plain. Only an actuary, such as Mr Nash, could have believed otherwise.

This misjudgement was compounded by a hopeless underestimate of the likely cost of having to pay the GAR. “Merely an irritant, with a likely worst cost of ฃ50m,” came the word from the wise actuary.

The cost of the GARs is now put at ฃ1.5bn - and given the accuracy of Mr Nash’s other predictions, even that is not a figure which commands much confidence.

GARs are highly sensitive to the progress of long-term interest rates, which is why Prudential decided that saving Equitable was just not worth the risk.

It is now clear that the business was not the well-managed, low-cost outfit of its public image. Even as disaster loomed, it was still spending hard on new business. Its last full-page ad in The Daily Telegraph was at the end of October.

The outlook for policyholders is not good. Equitable has already shrunk its exposure to shares and property and will be forced to shift even further into bonds. Its estimate that this will trim returns by between 0.5% and 1% a year looks far too optimistic.

In early December, for the first time, Mr Sclater finally condescended to apologise on behalf of the board. Unfortunately, he did not follow up by resigning, along with the rest of the board who have sleepwalked to disaster.

Equitable Life received more bad news when Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency, downgraded its ranking of the insurer’s financial strength from A+ to BBB.

The history

Equitable Life was formed in 1762, the same year as Baring’s Bank. The two city institutions now seem destined to share similar fates.

When Equitable ran into trouble it could not even find a buyer prepared to pay ฃ1 - the price Barings fetched after Nick Leeson’s dealings in Singapore forced a fire sale to ING, the Dutch bank.

Prudential decided that, even with Equitable’s funds under management of some £35 billion, it was not worth buying.

It is doubly ironic that Equitable, which invented the term “actuary” to describe the professional mathematicians who advise life insurance companies, failed to foresee the risk that eventually destroyed it. Between 1957 and 1988 it sold pensions guaranteeing double-digit yields in retirement. The guarantees seemed unremarkable and unlikely to be exercised so no particular steps were taken to fund them.

Although Equitable was the first to calculate life expectancies on actuarial principles, it did not foresee that its policyholders would tend to live longer than their parents. Nor was it prepared for falling rates of inflation that meant the guarantees it had sold became increasingly out of kilter with what could be obtained in the market.

In short, the insurance company failed to obtain adequate insurance against the risk that it would have to honour the guarantees it had issued to 90,000 policyholders.

Worse still, as far as its 450,000 with-profits policyholders are concerned, it did not have any shareholders either. While these are often maligned as fat cats for taking a share in profits, they also come in handy for shouldering losses - just like the Names at Lloyds who have suffered so badly in the past decade as a result of unforeseen disasters.

The true cost of funding the guarantees Equitable issued is unquantifiable because it will rise if interest rates fall.

Firms throughout the financial services industry are less than sympathetic about Equitable’s fall. Its advertising made much of the fact that it dealt directly with investors and did not pay commission to intermediaries - but nor did it retain substantial reserves to fund contingencies.

The UK organiser of the policyholders’ action group said, ‘’Equitable liked to present itself as occupying the moral high ground because it had a very low cost base. But when it comes to long-term savings, financial strength is vital. It tried to make a virtue of distributing investment returns as they arose, rather than maintaining substantial reserves.

“This meant it had one of the lowest free-asset ratios - the extent to which its assets exceeded liabilities - of any life company. That was why I have said for years that Equitable was riskier than it looked.”

Another commentator said, “This is the culmination of sustained mismanagement. Given the demographics of the Equitable Life client bank and the quality of its brand before recent events, it is staggering how this has been handled.”

Some 238 years ago, Equitable’s Deed of Settlement stated, “Many advances and great benefits may arise and be secured to great numbers of persons willing to become contributors for Equitable assurances”.

Today’s regulators would insist on a warning that the rewards of mutuality also entail risk - as 450,000 sophisticated investors are now discovering the hard way.

Equitable Life is holding urgent talks with various US and European groups in a move to offload the choicest parts of its business and retain the goodwill of its rich and influential policyholders.

The race is on to find a buyer for its 200-strong sales and asset management operation, amid signs that some marketing executives are preparing to defect to other companies.

After Prudential - Equitable’s UK rival - pulled out of talks to buy the whole business, and the negative publicity that has followed, many of Equitable’s with-profits policyholders are very concerned at the future of the firm, and at best are faced with lower returns as the group is forced to switch its investment from equities to bonds.

The UK arm of Aegon, the Dutch insurance group that already owns Scottish Equitable, is interested in the mutual’s asset management business, which controls ฃ33bn of assets. This would double the company’s assets under management in the UK, taking it to ฃ67bn.

If, instead, Equitable chooses to contract out the managements of its assets, keeping overall control, it can expect to be deluged by offers from specialist fund managers who would not want “the baggage” involved in buying the whole business.

Schroders, Goldman Sachs and Aberdeen Asset Management are among the likely contenders for the contract to run all or part of the ฃ33bn portfolio. The most valuable part of the assets under management is the ฃ4bn in high-margin unit trusts. Barclays Global Investors and HSBC’s asset management operation are already sub-contracted to run ฃ500m of Equitable’s passively-managed index-tracking funds.

GE Capital, the financial services arm of the US conglomerate General Electric, wants Equitable’s computerised fund-administration system, which services 500,000 policyholders.

This side of the business has some valuable clients, including Marks and Spencer Financial Services and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, whose ฃ2bn upmarket defined contribution business is serviced by Equitable’s back office systems.

Equitable’s sales force, comprising well trained and highly paid executives, is expected to shrink as people find jobs elsewhere. So unless it acts fast, Equitable could find it may not have much of a sales force left to sell.

Analysts also report that some of Equitable’s 35 fund managers are poised to leave the company, although Equitable recently said there have been “no new leavers”.

The future

How will Equitable Life’s holders be affected by last month’s announcement?

Equitable intends to reduce its investment in equities and increase holdings of bonds, such as government gilt-edged stock. Fixed-interest securities (bonds) are less volatile than shares, but historical evidence suggests that equities are likely to generate the highest total returns over the medium to long term.

Currently, Equitable’s life fund is about 60% invested in shares with less than 40% held in bonds.

Equitable plans gradually to reverse those proportions and claims this move is likely to reduce investment returns by “only” between 0.5%-1% per annum.

So someone who invested ฃ1,000 a year over 25 years in a with-profits pension, assuming annual growth of 7%, could formerly have expected a maturity value of ฃ67,676. Now, they can expect to get just ฃ58,156 - a reduction of 14% of the fund’s potential value.

Similarly, someone who invested ฃ1,000 a year in a with-profits endowment policy will see nearly a 14% reduction in the potential value of their fund. Before the recent revelations, they could have expected a maturity value after 25 years, assuming annual growth of 6%, of ฃ58,156. Now, however, they could expect to receive just ฃ50,113.

But some observers think that Equitable’s 1% projected reduction could itself be optimistic. They claim that the actual reduction in investment returns may be much greater.

Cut & run?

Some 450,000 Equitable Life policyholders are now left wondering if they will ever get their money back. Many have already decided to cut & run.

One Equitable policyholder recently told me he had phoned Equitable Life in UK to find out if he could cash in his pension. “And they told me I would lose 10 percent of the value of my fund if I took it out now,” he said.

In a desperate attempt to stem a run on its funds, Equitable Life is levying a 10% penalty against anyone who tries to cash in their policies now.

An Equitable Life spokesman said, “The financial adjustment for early surrender is necessary in order to protect policyholders staying in the fund.”

Another policyholder who recently sought my advice was hoping someone would rescue the company. “I am very disappointed that everyone has walked away,” he said. “My instincts tell me to cut my losses and get out now. The company has been so secretive that I suspect its liabilities must be much more than they seem.”

Yet another policyholder, who has ฃ250,000 in a with-profits personal pension plan with Equitable into which he has been contributing for 12 years is considering transferring his personal pension plan to another provider. “I will have to pay charges for transferring into any new fund as well, so I will really lose out,” he told me. “But I’d feel more comfortable going forward with a better-run company,” he added.

Whether those who hold on, in the hope that a buyer may be found who will turn the situation around, will fare better than those who swallow the painful penalties for getting out now and placing their hard-earned money with a better managed firm, only time will tell.

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Successfully Yours: Mirin MacCarthy

NOT By Mirin MacCarthy

Over the past two and a half years, the leading lights of Pattaya have been interviewed by Mirin MacCarthy, and their lives and souls laid bare for everyone to see. Some of those people approached the Pattaya Mail and asked that Mirin be put through the same procedure, so that they, in turn, could see what makes this woman “tick”. (Dennis, your wish has been granted.)

Mirin MacCarthy, of the red hair and impish sense of humour, was born in Brisbane, Australia, the elder daughter of an Irish-Australian accountant father and an English real estate agent mother.

Like most Irish descendants Down-under, her father was a staunch Catholic and she was sent to a series of “good” Catholic schools for girls. However, she admits she was more of a dreamer than a hard worker, but still gained a place at the Repatriation Hospital in Brisbane as a student nurse, graduating as a Nursing Sister.

Towards the end of her training she obviously began dreaming about men, ending up marrying a young school teacher and having two sons in quick succession, followed by a daughter three years later.

She travelled to Papua New Guinea with her husband in 1970. “I just loved the tropical nature of New Guinea. It was idyllic in those days - hot, tropical, with servants. We went fishing in clear water and the local people just loved the kids.” It was in New Guinea that Mirin’s artistic side came forward and she began painting and writing poetry.

However, the idyll was not to last, as the youthful marriage was strained, and she and her husband went their separate ways. Returning home to Brisbane, now with travel in her blood, she toured the UK and Europe with her mother before returning to the arduous life of a single supporting mother.

With her nursing qualifications, she joined the intensive care ward of the hospital, every day packing the kids off to school and then picking them up afterwards. She became interested in flying, and would take the kids along with her to the weekend flying school, where she graduated as a solo glider pilot, and then commenced powered flight training, but had to give it up as it was just too expensive for a supporting mother.

Not long after this, she met Dr. Iain Corness, who offered her the post as the Occupational Health Nurse in one of his clinics. Mirin adapted well to the new nursing discipline, while Dr. Iain fell for her charms and then adapted to living with a ready made family of three children, the pair eventually tying the knot in 1982.

Giving up gliding after a nasty crash, Mirin again turned to her artistic side and began to dabble in photography, eventually becoming a partner in a photographic studio in Brisbane and writing a photography column for the major daily newspaper. This brought more overseas trips in the form of photographic modelling assignments, where she worked both in front of and behind the camera.

With the children now older, and overseas travel well and truly in the blood, Mirin and her husband began annual vacations to Asia, including Thailand, and the seeds were sewn which would eventually bring her to Thailand permanently.

The Thai connection really began with her leaving nursing and opening and managing a Thai restaurant in Brisbane in 1989. “This was one job where you had to be on the ball all the time. I had all Thai staff and I had to overcome many problems, especially in the early stages. I’d been open one week when the cook walked out! Fortunately I had some wonderful Thai friends who found me another cook.”

In between times, she continued to paint and write articles for many glossy coffee table publications. But even this was not enough to keep her restless spirit down, and she took on more training, graduating in Swedish massage and then Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi and then finally becoming a Reiki healing Master.

Throughout this time, she also immersed herself in her hobby - pets, particularly birds, having an aviary with several tropical species, as well as an imported Thai Korat cat.

However, by 1995, and with both her parents passed on, Mirin was ready to take things a little easier and the restaurant was sold. Her husband also wanted to leave Australia, so they planned the big move.

It was three years ago when she arrived in Pattaya, complete with the much travelled Korat cat “to sit on the beach, read a book and get my fingernails done.” Unfortunately, she found there was a limit to the number of books you could read, and her fingernails were also limited to 10, so the fingers ended up being put to better use by resuming her career in writing.

Mirin has “almost” settled here, but still misses Australia and the excellent Australian wine. “I can’t drink beer and wine is so expensive here,” she says ruefully.

If asked to qualify success for her, she will say, “sitting on the beach with a good book” - but she has already done (and rejected) that, so she is still looking for the peace of mind that “success” should bring. She does feel that everyone should do something of consequence, and she is proud of having been the founder of PAWS, an animal help society here.

Mirin has a restless spirit offset by a desire to just sit and watch TV some days. She has another aviary for her birds and a loquacious African Grey Parrot that lives indoors. In the fridge she keeps tins of dog food for homeless dogs, as well as food for the Korat, and another stray cat rescued from a rubbish dump. And in between, she writes columns (like this one) for the Pattaya Mail.

A multi-faceted and multi-talented lady - some parts of which, Dennis and all the other Successfully Yours subjects, can now eagerly scrutinise!

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Snap Shots: Giacobetti the colour master

by Harry Flashman

With so many photographers selecting Black and White as the medium to show their “art” it is pleasing to see people like Francis Giacobetti use and manipulate colour to produce their striking images. And striking images is certainly what Giacobetti is all about.

He was born in France in 1939 and was always a sensitive dreamer, as so many artistic Frenchmen are - even though he later took out American citizenship. An advertising photographer, he is, however, best remembered for his glamour pictures of women. Many of the stunning calendars are the work of Francis Giacobetti, and there are many photographers throughout the world who have been envious of him (and of what he photographs)!

To become a top glamour photographer takes time. No one rings you up and asks if you would like to shoot the next Pirelli calendar, for example. You slowly earn recognition. Giacobetti did his apprenticeship the hard way too, beginning as a photographer’s assistant at the Paris Match magazine and then graduating to become a news photographer. This was not his forte as he found that he did not want to take shots of important people just because they were visiting France. Reportage was not him - he was an image maker, so he left Paris Match.

He was very fortunate that the glossy magazine “Lui” was launched in 1964, and he became a regular contributor. They allowed him to produce his colourful images to illustrate the chic and sometimes racy lifestyle presented by “Lui”. Those of you who have seen copies of this publication will know what I mean. Harry used to have a subscription to it, just to keep up with the photographic trends in Europe.

Having made his name in this field, Giacobetti then began to gain the rewards, with other avant-garde magazines showcasing his talents. From there it really was to do the famous Pirelli calendar, with Giacobetti’s highly acclaimed photography featured in the 1970 edition.

There are those photographers who are technocrats - every new device is theirs and they use its features until another new effect catches their eye. Giacobetti is not one of those. He worked in simple 35 mm format, while everyone was calling for 6x6 medium format, using simple Contax cameras fitted with Zeiss lenses. He carries an assortment of filters, mainly graduated filters to deepen the skies in his outdoor shots and that is about it. For lighting, he prefers natural light, but uses its colour shifts to heighten the effect in his photographs.

For Giacobetti, technique is merely a means to an end. He is very talented at conjuring up how the photo should look in his mind’s eye and then using simple techniques to produce that image. Banks of electronic flash heads are not his style - but bright sunlight and a polarizing filter is. And through it all, Giacobetti produces images that are truly larger than life. Everything is bright and chromium plated. Dramatic and brash, just like the photograph reproduced with this article. The radiator of the truck, itself looming majestic into a dark sky, being used as the backdrop for the glamour pin-ups, so often associated with the big rigs. He saw that shot in his mind’s eye before he even lifted the camera. He knew it would require an extreme wide angle lens (probably a 20 mm), a grad filter for the sky and to position the truck so the sunlight hit the radiator grille at an angle. After that it was just a matter of “click”.

Giacobetti’s story illustrates the need to think creatively when going to take photographs. The secret is in the thinking - not in the taking. Sit and reflect just how you want to portray the subject matter and then work through from there. You never know, Pirelli might even ring you for their next calendar - if you show the right amount of original thought. Think about it - and then go out and shoot it. Just like Francis Giacobetti.

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Modern Medicine: You are what you eat!

by Dr Iain Corness

A recipe for Gazpacho soup, published a couple of weeks ago, flicked the switch in my memory somewhere and it referred to some interesting work done by the Mayo Clinic in America. What they had done was to take the standard, or original, recipes and modify them to cut out the “bad” ingredients and replace with “good” items. Look at the recipe for the Mayo modified Gazpacho, for example. To my untrained eye, they are almost identical, so the taste I am sure will be almost identical. However, look at the table below the recipe with the analysis. The original has 290 calories, while the Mayo variety has only 40. 85% fat goes down to zero %, and Sodium goes down from 690 mgm to 190 mgm!

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste fresh ground pepper to taste

Place all chopped, sliced and diced vegetables into a large bowl. Add dill and cilantro. Stir in lime juice, vegetable juice and water. Chill for 4 to 6 hours or over night. Serve cold. Yield: 6 cups.

Original Recipe

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 large green or red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chilli peppers, chopped

1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumber

1 thinly sliced Spanish onion

2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon dried dill

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 cups vegetable juice

1 cup water

3/4 cup olive oil

Mayo Modified recipe

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 large green or red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chilli peppers, chopped

1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumber

1 thinly sliced Spanish onion

2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon dried dill

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 cup vegetable juice

2 cups water


Nutritional Analysis
Fat (grams)
Percent calories from fat
Percent polyunsaturated
Percent saturated
Percent monounsaturated
Cholesterol (milligrams)
Sodium (milligrams)
Protein (grams)
Carbohydrate (grams)
Fiber (grams)



By the simple expedient of getting rid of พ of a cup of olive oil and not adding salt, the soup went from being one with a few bad points, to being one that doctors would highly recommend for all their patients!

So what is the moral of this story? Simply that by the simple expedient of looking at what you are going to select to eat, you can easily change your dietary intake from being a problem one to becoming a healthy one. Well, that’s the theory at least.

I decided to put it to the test this week, by purchasing more healthy snacks and lunches for myself at my local supermarket. Snag number 1 soon reared its ugly head. Most of the tinned, or pre-packed, food had the breakdown of the ingredients in wriggle writing, AKA Thai.

Having discovered that it was all too hard, I have now resorted to eating raw vegetables, while waiting for further advice from the Mayo Clinic! Perhaps they’ll send me a cook?

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Dear Hillary,

It was with much astonishment that I read in the Pattaya Mail on Friday 5 January (Vol IX Number 1), Mott the Dog’s comments about the band Chicago. I ask you - what could a Pattaya stray dog know about music anyway? Of course I have to concede that if this dog hangs out around some of the go-go bars it will have an idea of a certain type of music, but I suspect that Mott is a dog I have seen hanging around Shenanigans from time to time. Hillary, as a woman of culture and taste, confirm for me that Chicago has to rate as one of the best bands ever - I know you will have appreciated them when you were younger, and indeed probably still listen to your collection of Chicago music on a regular basis.

Keen Chicago Slime

Dear Keen Chicago Slime,

When I was YOUNGER! What an insult, but I’ll ignore your rudeness! Oh KCS my poor Poppet! Hillary wishes she could help you, but nobody’s that old that they’ve actually heard Chicago live! After all, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has openly admitted to buying one of their records, other than a strange New Zealand sheep farmer I once met, and we all know what they get up to don’t we. Well, we thought we did, but it seems in actuality it’s lying around on sheep shag-pile carpets listening to old 78’s of Chicago. No, the world of music has changed, KCS, and if Mott the Dog has been seen with his high balls in Shenanigans while equating Melting John’s maudlin mush and Chicago, then you must admire the mutt, even if he did used to lift his leg in go-go bars. What did you want? Mott to hang around the sheep pens? I’m sorry, but Hillary’s music collection does include both Beethoven and the Rolling Stones - but no Chicago. I suppose you follow the Chicago Bulls too, you poor dear. Or is it the Chicago Ewes?

Dear Hillary,

The shopping for tourists is very good in Pattaya, with some excellent shopping centers and malls, but where do you go to find the true authentic local markets? While we are here for three months every year we would like to experience life from the Thai side, rather than from the tourist angle. Where do you suggest we go?

Sheila the shopper

Dear Shopper Sheila,

Hillary applauds you! There is so much colour in our local markets, with so much hustle and bustle, and so much that the usual tourist misses. There are many markets around Pattaya, some of which are “fixed” and some that are held weekly and some that just bob up somewhere for a day and then fold their tents and disappear by nightfall. Hillary suggests you should try the Naklua Food Market on the Pattaya-Naklua Road near the Spirit Tree - very cheap seafood, plus other meats and vegetables and open every day. You should also visit the Naklua Sunday Market on Sawang Fa Road where they sell everything under the sun, from plastic kitchenwares to pets. There is also a market at the South Pattaya Road end of Soi Buakhow every Thursday and the daily market on South Pattaya Road almost opposite Wat Chaiyamongkol. Bargain hard at all the markets, but do not expect the same reduction that you will get at the tourist style “markets” which have inflated prices. Get hold of the Pattaya International Ladies’ Club’s excellent publication, A Guide to Living in Pattaya and Rayong, available in all the major bookstores. You won’t regret it and it will expand your knowledge of this region during your three months here.

Dear Hillary,

I rented a small apartment from a Thai lady I met socially, for six months last summer. She asked me for a deposit equal to two month’s rent, which I paid, because she said I would get it back at the end of the contract. When it was time for me to go back to the UK she would not give me the deposit because she said she was waiting for the bill for the electricity and water and telephone. I wrote to her from the UK but she never replied. When I came this time I went looking for her, but nobody seems to know where she has gone. This has really annoyed me and I was wondering how I can stop this happening again? Have you any suggestions, Hillary?

Roger the lodger

Dear Roger,

Unfortunately my petal, you went into the rental contract with your eyes shut and your brain in neutral. This is not the UK. There are no agencies over here to help hopeless people get their unwisely spent money back. Just learn from the experience and next time rent through a reputable real estate office, which will hold the deposit in trust and credit your account after all the bills are paid. As for last year, put it down to experience.

Dear Hillary,

My friends wanna (sic) know how old you is reely (sic) and would you come out with us one evening? There are six of us who go regular to the bars and we said it would be fun to have you come along with us. Are you game enough for six young fellows?


Dear Harry,

Oh you young boys with the excess circulating hormone problems! You’re all too young for me, petals. When you’ve grown up send me another letter. In the meantime learn to spell.

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The matchmaker

Pattaya expat “Dodgy” Dave Ackeroyd is hopping mad after spending four months building a three foot replica of the Titanic out of matchsticks. Altogether he used 92,616 matchsticks (give or take a few boxes) but does admit to using parts of four spent lighters to help construct the funnels. Alas, as he was getting ready to bring his masterpiece to a birthday party at a bar in Soi Marina, the playful family cat Bonkers knocked the model off the vestibule table. Haplessly, it now resembles the doomed wreck as she squats at the ocean bottom rather than as she proudly set sail from Southampton in April 1912. The good news is that Bonkers was uninjured in the fall and is alive and well. Until Dave catches him, that is.

Filipino mix-up

In Zamboanga, a man who should have been buried has been cremated and a woman destined for cremation has been interred. Funeral director Fernando Lim has apologized to both families and has claimed the confusion occurred during the busy season rush because of the similarity of the names of the deceased. The man’s name was Salvador P. Aguildo and the woman was called Tina G. del Rosario. In a related case last month, a burial at sea had to be canceled after it was ascertained that nobody had recently died on board ship.

News around town

According to a news release, highbrow readers can now buy the British periodical The Spectator at the Pattaya branch of Bookazine on the Beach Road. Stand by for the stampede!… Fawlty Towers in Soi 7 is still looking for a quiz reader to read the questions every other Wednesday. Negotiate your own deal… A public spirited American guy and his wife are trying to set up a Pattaya branch of the Samaritans sometime this year. That any properly organized venture will be deluged with calls from frantic expats is not in doubt. But let’s hope it’s better than one previous counseling effort which urged would be suicides to leave an answer phone message which would be acted upon in 48 hours.

Ninety days compulsory

A reader asks why one year visa holders, who haven’t left the country, must report to the Pattaya immigration office every ninety days to confirm their address when the same rule is not invariably enforced in Bangkok, or so we’re told. The answer is local discretion. There is a large and clear notice in the Pattaya bureau informing long stay visa holders to report every three months or pay a 2,000 baht fine. Couldn’t be clearer. This rule, by the way, does not apply to routine tourist and non immigrant visa holders. If they apply for an extension, the application form asks where they are living locally at the moment. So there’s no need to report separately.

Pattaya goes gayer

Pattaya’s substantial gay businesses are set to organize a festival in the resort, with the centerpiece a gay pride parade and fund raising events for nominated charities around the beginning of December. The idea follows similar successful ventures in Bangkok and Phuket, though not (so far as is known) in Baghdad or Purley. The organizational detail is said to be complex and there are four sub committees looking at the detail. Pattaya has become something of a gay mecca, most recently for a growing number of Americans and Japanese. Nobody knows what the pink baht is worth in the resort. It certainly runs into untold millions and a sizeable slice of hospitality revenue.

Cabbages and Condoms

Opened about seven months already, there’s a good Thai restaurant and hotel in spacious and well kept grounds more or less opposite the entrance to the Asia Pattaya Hotel. Cabbages and Condoms already has a branch in Bangkok. GEOC (Grapevine Eating Out Collective) found the Thai food fresh, tasty, plentiful and inexpensive. You should be able to eat well with an accompanying beer for less than 300 baht. The rooms are attractive, particularly those which face the bay, but on the expensive side. The rack rate starts at over 2,000 baht per night. Quietness rules, apart from a band playing in another establishment nearby, so it’s best to go in a group to make the best of the idyllic setting.

Buying a condo

We get regular enquiries from farangs contemplating buying a condo in their own name. The best advice is to buy one only if you love it. Don’t buy it as an investment, unless conceivably you intend to rent it out commercially, as nobody seriously expects the property market to boom in the next few years. If renting’s your plan, make sure the apartment is beautiful and not too far out of town. Location here, as everywhere, is paramount. But if you are intending parting with your hard earned retirement lump sum, remember that Pattaya is oversupplied with everything. Condos are no exception. So do a lot of foot work, ask around endlessly and, after all that, stick to long established estate agents or a seller you know for sure is genuine.

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Dining Out: Shenanigan’s Irish Breakfast

by Miss Terry Diner

After inviting the Dining Out Team for breakfast, and knowing Miss Terry’s lack of enthusiasm for early morning rising, Landlord Kim Fletcher of Shenanigans sweetened the offer by saying, “We can do it at lunchtime and pretend it was breakfast time!” Miss Terry agreed and the team duly arrived for “breakfast” at noon!

After sitting down in the quiet “library” section of Shenanigan’s pub where I love the dark wood panelling and the “comfy” ambience, the ever smiling waitress brought us the breakfast menu.

The Irish breakfast consists of 2 eggs, bacon, pork sausage, grilled tomato, home fries, toast, butter, jam, tea or coffee and costs 95 baht. While that is a very competitive price for a full breakfast, there were other surprises in store. Firstly, the eggs can be done any way you want - scrambled, easy over or whatever. Secondly, the eggs, home fries, toast and tea or coffee is endless! Yes, after filling up, you can back up for more (if you have any room left)! Thirdly, the coffee comes as Regular, Cappuccino or Espresso or even de-Caff as well. And finally, the breakfast is served between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. - so we weren’t fibbing at all by having breakfast at noon. Sneaky lad, that Kim.

The waitress took our orders of easy over eggs and two cappuccinos and we sat back and relaxed. Part of the breakfast routine for many people is to peruse the papers, and Shenanigans supply some daily UK newspapers, as well as the weekly Pattaya Mail, I hasten to add. Nice breakfasty touch, Kim.

It did not take long before the waitress returned with two hot cups of coffee, some toast, butter and marmalade and reassurance that breakfast would not be long. She was true to her word, and two very large hot plates arrived at the table. When I say ‘hot’ - I mean it - they were hot and it is just so nice to have your food served in this way. How often has your food ‘congealed’ on cold plates before you have finished eating? This will not happen at Shenanigans.

The servings on the plate were large, with lovely thick back bacon rashers - none of the thin strips of shrivelled streaky bacon so often served up as breakfast fare. Eggs were easy overed and the home fries were just crispy and lovely.

On the table there are, in addition to the usual salt and pepper shakers, Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce and Steak sauce, Tabasco and vinegar. It is years since I had any L&P Steak sauce and my sausage got a good going over, I tell you!

After finishing the mixed grill, I spread my toast with lashings of butter, and here is a small thing, but something I feel strongly about. How often do you get given a rock hard, tiny portion of butter wrapped in silver foil? There is not enough to do two slices, you cannot get the paper off without getting butter all over your fingers and it is altogether a pain in the pinny. Shenanigans supplied more than enough spread, thank you again - but - the marmalade! In one of those rotten little hermetically sealed packs which are impossible to open. I eventually stabbed mine, and I have no regrets.

So how did we rate Shenanigans’ Irish breakfast? For both Madame and myself, it was very filling, very tasty (great bacon, I say again) and excellent value for money, especially with the never-ending egg, home fries, toast and coffee. If you are looking for a hearty Irish style breakfast, this is very highly recommended.

By the way, if when you get your breakfast menu it appears to show that breakfast starts with Happy Hours and works through to Cuban Cigars, turn it over, you are reading the wrong side! Just a trap for somnambulists such as Miss Terry and Madame.

Shenanigans Irish Pub, Pattaya 2 Road, below the Royal Garden Resort’s Garden Caf้, 710 641.

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Animal Crackers: Sacred elephants and scared of elephants!

by Mirin MacCarthy

Elephants have long been sacred to Thailand. King Phra Nari in the seventeenth century spent six months a year at his palace in Lopburi capturing wild elephants, especially white ones. White elephants have always had a significant part in Buddhism. A white elephant is considered to be the ‘peace bringer’, the last incarnation of the Buddha before being reincarnated as a man. A white elephant, although not completely white, is an albino form of the natural elephant colour. This is determined from seven places on its body including eye and toenail colour and skin pigmentation. These days, white elephants always belong to the King.

However, not all elephants are revered. There has been a lot of reaction lately after aggressive elephant behaviour. Banning them from the beaches and proposals to keep them fenced and away from the public is not a considered solution.

The Indian elephant is the one found throughout Thailand, South East Asia, parts of India, the Himalayas and Borneo. Once 100,000 elephants roamed Thailand alone, but now the estimated population is down to 4,000. If we wish to save them as part of the culture we must save the tamed as well as the wild. We must make them a part of the landscape and find a way to give everyone access to them.

Our children and millions of tourists do not want to see them in zoos or in inhumane enclosures, or worse, as virtual reality on television. They want to interact with them, feed them and touch them and ride them. Elephants are intelligent and enjoy work and its rewards. Now that their habitats have been destroyed and logging is no longer viable, carrying tourists is a partnership that works both for people and elephants. Riding or just feeding an elephant is one way a tourist can have an amazing experience of close contact with this beautiful animal - a unique part of Thai heritage.

Humans have destroyed the elephant’s environment and way of life, and it is up to us to provide another. Recorded fatalities in Thailand appear to have been from male elephants in a high testosterone breeding mode or “musth” as it is known. This phenomenon happens annually, and sometimes up to three times a year in healthy male (bull) elephants. The increased aggression of males in musth allows them to defeat a normally more dominant bull to mate with a female in heat.

What is not widely understood is that all large male mammals, not only elephants, are dangerous and potentially lethal throughout the mating season, including camels, bears, and elk. The signs of elephant musth are very recognizable. Copious oily secretions drop from the temporal glands on the side of the male elephant’s heads as well as a continuous outpouring of urine.

Often male elephants in musth have been shot and killed because no one has the knowledge to control elephants. The answer is equally obvious. Allow only male elephants under the age of fourteen to carry and interact with tourists if the Thai mahouts are unwilling or unable to tell when their male elephants are in musth. Male elephants of fifteen and over could be used for breeding purposes. It is also a matter of public safety that every elephant corral or zoo should have tranquilizer guns with staff trained to use them.

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Down The Iron Road: ‘Fowler’s Ghost’

by John D. Blyth


London’s Metropolitan Railway was the first section of today’s great ‘Underground’ railway system to be built, work being fist put in hand between Paddington and Baler street, soon being extended past King’s Cross towards the city. Those who know it will realize that this was no deep-level ‘tube’ line, such as became familiar later on, but was only just below street level (some streets being dug up for the line to be built and replaced afterwards), and that quite a proportion was in the open air. Even so there was much misgiving as to the fact of emission of steam and smoke by the steam locomotives to be used - in fact, unlike emissions from petrol and diesel engines, that from a ‘steamer’ although not pleasant, is not dangerous. Concern reached such a pitch that the line’s Engineer, Sir John Fowler, ordered an experimental locomotive from Robert Stephenson & Co., of Newcastle, which, it was hoped, would not emit smoke or steam whilst in tunnels. It arrived in 1861, was tried on a few test runs, and was then put away out of sight. A total failure, of course, and it was left to the Great Western’s Sir Daniel Gooch to solve the problem. Steam can be condensed, but smoke and solid particles cannot, so there was only a partial solution, and when the first section opened to the public in 1863, it was ‘condensing’ Great Western locomotives that worked the trains, on the broad (7ft 1/4 inch) gauge, the new railway being laid to take both this and standard gauge vehicles - just as well, as it turned out, as a disagreement between the companies involved led to a short-notice withdrawal of all G.W.R. equipment. The Great Northern then turned to, and with some quick action was able to provide a service on the standard gauge.

This could only be an interim measure, and Sir John Fowler turned to Beyer Peacock & Co., of Manchester, who designed and built to their series of excellent 4-4-0 tank engines with condensing gear, to an outline specification by Sir John.

The ‘Ghost’

The experimental locomotive remained a mystery for many years, and had information on it been deliberately confused and all traces covered up a better job could hardly have been done. It was referred to in an address to the Institute of Civil Engineer in 1885, but this was not made public, at least at the time. All this led to the engine being known all over ‘locomotive’ circles as ‘Fowlers Ghost’. Rumour had it that it ‘went on hot bricks’, and a picture, much reproduced, later turned out to be totally inaccurate. Ten years later still, it was advertised for sale, and was bought by none other than Isaac Boulton, who had it dismantled and brought to his famous ‘Siding’ at Ashton, arriving on seven trucks. An intended re-building, to include Boulton’s water tube boiler, was not completed before the company went out of business.

Trial runs with the ‘Ghost’

Little is known of the ‘Ghost’ on trial, but a disastrous foray down the Great Western line, about 7 1/2 miles or to the present-day Hanwell station is known; things went badly wrong and there was much difficulty in getting it home; another on its home territory, between King’s Cross and Edgware Road is on record, but seems to have been no better.

During the early building days a train of coal wagons conveyed William Gladstone, Prime Minister of the day, with colleagues, through the tunnels, and a photograph is known of this event, and the locomotive can be seen but no one has identified it; but there is also a contemporary picture of the ‘Ghost’ at Edgware Road station. Prints on the wall of the saloon bar in the ‘pub’ in Action Lane, London, gave me a chance to study both, and I am quite certain that the engine of Gladstone’s train is none other than ‘Fowler’s Ghost’! An offer to the landlord of the pub to purchase both was rudely rejected, yet he had no idea of their interest.

The ‘Ghost’ as it materialized

My only illustration this week is taken from Rosling Bennett’s ‘Chronicles of Boulton’s Siding’, and it is this book that revealed, with interest of the firm who had built the ‘Ghost’, just what the locomotive was like. In fact the original is two drawings, one a side view of the locomotive, the other in one general appearance, and something of the strange boiler.

It will be seen the ‘Ghost’ was a 2-4-0 tender engine (the four-wheeled tender is not shown); driving-wheels a surprising 5ft 6in - not ideal for a lot of stopping and starting, nor for the severe grades of the Met. Line; outside cylinders of modest size were fitted; the gauge was, of course that of the Great Western, 7ft 1/4 inch. Nothing very strange about any of this.

It is the boiler that raises the eyebrows a little! The very small firebox at the rear, the tiny portion of ‘tubed’ boiler over the leading wheels, and the huge combustion chamber between the two, which is where the firebricks were located. When running on open track these were supposed to be heated by the gases from the fire, any spare heat producing steam in the short boiler. When running tunnels, the dampers were to be tightly closed, no gases passing, so no emission of smoke! And in this situation the fire-bricks were to add their heat and assist in steam production.

With an ordinary boiler, something might have been made of this engine, but the use of fire-bricks was a bad error of judgment; and in those day days the fact that water, having the highest specific heat figure of any known substance would hold and retain heat better than would fire-bricks. A later proposal - for another ‘Ghost’ if you like, was designed by Stephenson’s, and the fire-brick presence was retained in an even bigger chamber. Happily this was not built, nor the design completed, so for this article we can ignore it.

The remains of the original ‘Ghost’ were bought for scrap by the Beyer Peacock Company, and so the ghost was finally laid to rest.

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Social Commentary by Khai Khem

A Night At the Movies

Some creaking theatres in Thailand are still censoring movies. If you live in Pattaya, you probably won’t much notice it. We don’t have many cinemas here. But Bangkok is a different story. Going to see a Hollywood film there is quite an adventure. Unless the film one wants to see is purely action, violence and blood, or a horror film in which the special effects make you lose your dinner in your partner’s lap, the local sensors either clip out the offending scene or spread petroleum jelly over the naughty bits. I always wondered how they do that. I am guessing, but it appears they use cotton bud tips in an editing machine. Projected on the screen, one can still see the tiny fuzz lines through the haze. Frankly, I’m rather used to it. Vaseline applied to the face of film crates a Daliesque effect, equivalent to the dropping of a tab of LSD. Leave it to the Thais to always be slightly creative.

Viewing Hollywood’s “latest” in conservative societies can become a hobby unto itself. Since censorship in each country is as diversified as the cultures which allow it, observing the technique is really where it’s at, so to speak. Even if you can’t really follow the original story line, going to the movies in some countries can evolve into an addiction whereby one truly looks forward to just how the butchers will attack a multimillion dollar work of artistic and technical endeavour from another country.

Kissing scenes in Indonesia and Malaysia are clipped. Not the whole scene, mind you, just the part where all four lips are about to meet. India forbade kissing scenes until the mid 1970’s as well. I found it entirely charming that the country with the second largest population of humankind on the planet did not actually want the masses to know what kissing between a man and woman usually leads to. Indian folklore must have some equivalent of the American “stork brings the baby” myth.

In Singapore (in the movies which are not on a very long black-list) the films are cleverly dubbed to exclude dirty Anglo-Saxon curse words, and re-dubbed with slang which is less offensive to the “Sing-lish” ear. I once saw a movie starring John Travolta, where he was dubbed by the sensors and called a woman a “pig” instead of the original “slut”. Apparently in Singapore it is more socially acceptable to call a lady a porker. Occasionally in that island nation, entire footage is clipped out, and one is left with the feeling one nodded off for a nap without realising it. And if by chance the ending of the film is one where the bad guy gets away, and the crime paid off, the whole ending is just removed and THE END comes on the screen. It’s over, and that’s it. Crime does NOT pay in Singapore. So they will not show films which send improper messages to their saintly citizens, even if they have to “fudge” the story line.

Censorship aside, Thailand audiences are uncommonly patient and well behaved. On many an occasion I have watched movies, back to front, with the middle reels left out altogether. Most projectionists are not highly paid and usually spent this time at their jobs either blotto with drink or simply fast asleep. Fifteen minutes of silent sound track, or blank screen would send a lynch mob to the projection booth in a USA theatre, and no jury in the land would convict the perpetrators. Thais, on the other hand, seem not to notice. This interval gives them time to step outside and have a smoke, make a hand phone call, or apply make-up. After all, it’s just another night at the movies.

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The Computer Doctor

by Richard Bunch

From Simon Jackson, Bangkok: As a Windows user, I find using keyboard shortcuts much faster than performing the same task with the mouse. Although there are CTRL+C for copy, CTRL+X for cut and CTRL+V for paste to name but a few of the more common ones, I wonder if there is a way of increasing the number of keyboard shortcuts available.

Computer Doctor replies: I too find keyboard shortcuts quicker, once the brain has remembered what the shortcuts are! There are several programs on the market that will allow you to take control using customised keyboard shortcuts. A couple of these programs spring to mind, one is Hot Keyboard which can be downloaded from - the other is Macro Express, also available by download from The former is the lighter of the two and one that I personally use. It is very easy to configure and you can have global shortcuts which are available no matter what application window happens to be active. There are also application specific shortcuts which are only available when a particular application or window is active. It allows you to control things like Dial up Networking, Volume, Application Launching, Text Entries, etc. The possibilities are vast. Macro Express, on the other hand, is rather more substantial and at 3MB rather larger than Hot Keyboard, which weighs in at 650KB. It offers several more features, as one would expect, including password protection to secure data.

From John Washburn, Jomtien: I have just installed Windows ME and am really very pleased with both it and myself. However, since I did this my monitor, which is a Philips, has started flickering, which is annoying. Do you think this is just coincidence and my monitor has developed a fault or have I missed something in the ME installation?

Computer Doctor replies: It would have been helpful if you had indicated which video card you were running. However, there are a couple of things you should check. Firstly, right click on My Computer, then Properties, then select the Device Manager tab. Expand the Display Adapters tree and check that the correct card is showing. If not then you will need to supply the correct driver, either from a manufacturers CD or by downloading from the manufacturers website, the latter is the preferred method as this will ensure you have the latest driver. Although ME is supposed to be able to use Windows 98 drivers I have experienced several instances where this was not the case and a true ME driver was required. Once you have the driver, highlight the device, right click on it, select Properties, then the Driver tab and finally click the Update Driver button. Follow the directions, browsing for the path to the driver. Once the correct driver is installed then it may be that you need to increase the refresh rate. You can check this by right clicking on the Desktop, selecting properties then the settings tab and Advanced button, click the Adapter tab and increase the refresh rate as far as you can. Normally systems will accept at least 85 Hz.

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Sea Worlds : How life adapts

by Apichart Panyadee

The most striking of adaptations in polar sea animals is to the cold. In the chill of the Arctic and Antarctic, as in the chill of the deep abyss, the sperm whale is warmed by what whalers call “the blanket”, which is eight inches of blubber. The blue whale, the beluga and the walrus all have this protective layer of fat which serves as insulation. Most vulnerable to loss of body heat is the young animal before it gains enough body weight. The richness of the mother’s milk is another adaptation to the severe climate. Harp seal milk, for example, is 45 percent fat, and high in protein, which speeds the rate of their growth. Seals also have hair which grows in bundles. The thick undergrowth of fur traps body heat. For these polar animals, keeping warm is less of a problem than cooling off. On land, a fur seal waves its flippers to fan himself. A harp seal relaxes the arterioles in its fat and skin, which then fill with blood and release heat.

Ecosystems of the Poles

Of the two Poles, the Antarctic is the more “other worldly”. Sources of the Arctic Ocean, both for its waters and its species, lie largely in the Atlantic, with a smaller contribution flowing north from the Pacific through the Bering Strait. The Antarctica makes its own world. It is a world defined by currents. Nearest the Antarctica mainland, easterly winds set one surface current flowing west. Farther out from land, the westerlies set another current, flowing east. This outer westward current is called the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. It is the largest current on earth and the only one to circle the globe completely unobstructed by land mass. It provides a thermal barrier to creatures from warmer latitudes.

The westwind drift ecosystem is the more productive one. It is based both on phytoplankton in the water, on algae growing on the ice, and a living river of krill. Antarctic krill is a species of shrimp. It lives more like a fish than a crustacean, schooling like a sardine and spawning several times a season. Krill is the keystone species in the Antarctic food web. It is the staff of life for the penguin, petrel, crabeater, leopard seal, and the Antarctic whales.

Antarctica’s distant past

When Antarctica was a piece of Africa, Australia, South America, and India, and for some time after drifting away with Australia, it was home to diverse species of flora and fauna. With its steady drift south, and with the formation of the Antarctic Convergence, species began to die out. The chilling of Antarctica was a complex phenomenon. As the continent migrated deeper into southern winter, winds blowing down from the growing polar ice cap cooled the surrounding currents in the ocean, which in turn blocked the warming currents. This formed a barrier for species of warmer climes. For life already on land, most of it died off and the continent froze over. Seabirds, however, prospered.

Lower forms of life in the seas were able to cheat the cold by their simplicity. Sea spiders and sea lice have a cavity of body fluid as salty as the sea itself. Fish biology however, is more complicated and the secret of their success in frigid waters is chemical. Some produce a kind of anti-freeze.

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Secrets of The Hand : The Fate Line

by Anchalee

Fate exists for all of humanity. Astrologically, the planet Saturn is associated with Fate. That is the reason why this line is also called the Line of Saturn. It is a vertical straight line that starts from the centre of the hand near the base of the wrist, where there are many horizontal lines formed, called bracelets. The Fate Line runs towards the mount of Saturn just under the middle finger. It is also called the Line of Fortune.

Events happening against one’s calculations or any surprises in life are called Fate. This can be classified as accidents and events which are beyond human power to avoid. Fate controls power, death, illness, and accidents. Luck influences our lives and lives of others. Fate or Destiny is purely a personal affair. We never find a person sowing good and reaping bad. The honest and hard working person usually succeeds, which a lazy, careless person can be counted on to fail in life. The Line of Fate reveals the role destined for each of us, which we assume according to our talents. It certainly shows the various factors which can affect our career for better or worse. It reveals our strength, mental outlook, and financial status, and shows the ultimate result of our efforts. The Line of Fate is an index to the success of the individual. From the position of this line, a palmist can judge whether a person is destined to struggle hard for his existence, or whether he will lead an easy life without much discomfort and sacrifice. It also indicates whether or not the person is endowed with wisdom, sobriety and calm.

The intensity of these qualities depends on the strength and character of the line. A deep and well traced line of Fate reveals energy, studious inclinations, and necessary patience and ability. The best formation of the Fate Line is the one deeply and evenly traced, with branches to the mount of the forefinger, the ring finger and the little finger. In some cases, the Fate Line ends in a different mount other than it’s own. When it terminates in such a mount, it partakes of the quality of that particular mount.

The Fate Line is not seen in all hands. However, when it is absent, it is a certain sign of hard work and effort. Also, the presence of the Line of Fate in a hand does not preclude an easy life, success and wealth. In order to judge the value and success of the Fate Line, the lines of Life and Head, together with the ruling mounts and thumb must be in good formation. Any defects or weakness is sufficient to suppress the energy and action of the Fate Line. Great patience, study and practice are needed for a master palmist to interpret this line correctly. In thin soft hands, it is difficult to trace the line of Fate. But when you squeeze the hands together, slightly, the line can be noticed. A magnifying glass is one of the things a palmist always uses. Making ink prints of the hands is one method palmists use to insure all lines can be visualised. And long studies for accuracy are needed to determine the indications of this complicated, but important line.

The lower part of the beginning of the Fate Line shows the childhood years, and the upper part shows old age. The absence of a Fate Line does not necessarily mean a negative existence. Many people who had no Line of Fate on their hands have risen to great heights of eminence in various walks of life. There are others in whose hands it is very faint, hardly visible. This does mean, however, that these people should not expect much from providence or chance. Whatever they accomplish will be achieved through their own efforts rather than a stroke of luck.

The Fate Line that is long and straight marks a successful career. It has been found on the hands of all those who follow a steady profession such as teaching, merchants, civil servants and successful corporate employees. It indicates a constant and sometimes remarkable personality.

It is interesting to note that the Fate Line on a male palm does not always mean the same thing as in the female. In the male palm, the presence of a good Fate Line, long and clearly marked, implies a smooth career without hardship. On a female hand, this type of Line of Fate only indicates the longevity and material possessions of her husband, under which she enjoys protection.

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Forgotten Classics : Deep Purple in Rock

by Mott the Dog
e-mail: [email protected]

***** 5 Star Rating

If you ever want to know where the word “Kerrang” came from listen to the opening of Speed King, an open chord with everything louder than everything else.

After a brief respite the band comes thundering into Speed King proper and Ian Gillan’s opening lyrics give you a good idea of what’s to come - “Good Golly said little Miss Molly, as she was standing in the house of blue light.”

There follows six more master classes in hard rock (nothing so crass as heavy metal) where all five musicians vie for the spotlight at the same time; there never has been a rhythm section in Deep Purple, everybody is up front & in your face. The pinnacle of Deep Purple’s music is captured like a rampaging Rhino on “Child in Time”, a beautiful entry by Jon Lord on Hammond organ soon leads to Ian Gillan showing off his amazing range of terrifying screams, until the prince of purpleness Mr. Blackmore is let rip to shred the Stratocaster. Somehow Mr. Lord brings it back under control, until the triumphant finale.

The newly released 25th Anniversary edition of Deep Purple’s “In rock” contains thirteen bonus tracks of varying interest, but it’s the original that got this dog banging his head on the dog house roof.


Ritchie Blackmore - Lead Guitar
Jon Lord - Keyboards
Roger Glover - Bass
Ian Paice - Drums
Ian Gillan - Vocals

Original 7 Tracks

Speed King
Child in Time
Flight of the Rat
In to the Fire
Living Wreck
Hard Loving Man
+ 13 bonus tracks including the original single Black Night

Star Ratings

No Star - Do not accept even as a gift
* - Only buy if you are hard of hearing
** - Only buy if you want to pad out your music collection
*** - Worth listening to
**** - Go and buy now
***** - Buy this even if you have to travel to the North Pole to get it

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Shaman’s Rattle: Recharge, reconnect

by Marion

This is the time of year when we all start to feel a little jaded, fizzing out after an overload of New Year’s cheer, food, fun, wine, women and song. It is just so easy to jump on the merry-go-round and be caught up in frenzied, draining activity, separating ourselves from nature, yes even here living right beside the ocean.

Here are four ideas to recharge the batteries, reconnect with life. Bring the outdoors inside, take a walk on the wild side, relax, unwind daily, and clear your clutter.

Start with your immediate environment, your home or office. Turn it into an energizing, balancing, refreshing haven. Most people these days spend the majority of time indoors, separated and alienated from nature. Our bodies are genetically programmed and have a deep instinctual need to interact with nature. Many of us have forgotten how to be a part of the great outdoor life cycle. Living in extreme isolation from nature in air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting constantly, as many of us do, causes illness, depression and energy depletion. “Our salvation lies in bringing nature back into our environments,” says Denise Linn says in her terrific book “Feng Shui for the Soul.”

It is really essential for your peace of mind to bring your connection with nature inside the home. There are several ways to do this. Go to the beach and collect some shells or to the park and gather some leaves, or to the market and buy some pebbles or live plants or a bonsai. Place a basket of natural objects in each room and especially beside the television and computer. Use a desk calendar with photographs of dolphins or birds on it.

Put plenty of plants in all bathrooms and toilets. Keeping the lid closed on the toilet and the bathroom door shut is said to be important to stop all your good fortune from being flushed down the drain. It is an effective measure for fresh air quality anyway.

Bring the element of air into the environment with wind chimes and fans. Natural orange room freshener spray, or orange essential oil and water spray is a great for freshening up the stale air too.

The element of water can be included easily, either with photographs or large filtered bowls of goldfish, also said to bring good fortune. Surround yourself with peaceful music.

Walking on the wild side means actually getting out there in nature. The majority of us have easy access to the sea here, yet how many of us walk barefoot on the beach daily? Even here in a holiday resort town we get caught up with the craziness of the daily merry-go-round and become progressively exhausted and burnt out. Resolve to start each day with a thirty-minute walk on the beach or a swim or even sitting outside in the garden. Just quietly sitting and watching the sunlight and the birds and the leaves in the early morning is amazingly renewing, restoring. Relaxing and unwinding daily is a must for mental health.

Meditating is not merely a mystical or religious practice, although it can be used to bring serenity and peace of mind. Meditating is a simple device of physically relaxing while emptying the mind of all thought. Having an attitude of gratitude and thinking positive thoughts also has a marked impact on our life. Life is too short to waste energy worrying or being negative. Keep in mind the positive affirmations; “Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings. Just for today I will show respect and love for every living thing.”

The last extremely effective method of re-energizing, recharging those batteries is clearing your cutter, getting rid of unwanted baggage, creating a sacred space for yourself. This is a topic for the next column.

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Women’s World : Beauty Sleep

by Lesley Warner

We are always told that we need to get our ‘beauty sleep’ but I find that if I spend too many hours asleep I look horrendous in the morning with huge bags under my eyes. This is not an excuse for staying out half the night; it’s absolutely true!

Those people that suffer with insomnia have a long and lonely night to get through; I found these tips for those of you with this problem. See if they help.

Sheets are important! Get the highest thread count percale that you can (over 200) because that is smoother. Get some exercise every day, but not just before bedtime. 5 minutes to an hour of brisk walking in the morning is ideal. Keep regular times for getting up and going to bed, not easy in Pattaya. Try to get up at the same time every morning, even if you stayed up late the night before. Keep your bedroom for sleeping- don’t read in bed, watch TV or do anything that will make you associate your bed with anything other than sleeping.

Make your bedroom a snug, safe nest, with a maximum of comfort and a minimum of distraction. The best mattress is a firm one, with a soft top. Those “pillow-top” mattresses are great - firm underneath, with a cushiony surface. If you can’t afford a new mattress, put a sheet of plywood under your old one, and get a foam mattress topper to soften things up. (There is no problem in finding a hard mattress in Thailand).

Avoid heavy meals before bedtime, but a light snack (like cookies and milk) is good. Don’t go to bed hungry, either. There may be some food or beverage that you associate with a bedtime ritual, like a cup of camomile tea - whatever you use, use it regularly, to set up a habit that your mind associates with sleep.

Wind down your day a few hours before bedtime, and avoid anything too strenuous or stimulating before bedtime. Turn off those worrisome thoughts.

A nap may be lovely, but naps spell doom to good night time sleep! Reduce or cut out caffeine and nicotine. Reduce noise as much as possible (a little difficult if you live in Pattaya). Try earplugs. Often a noisy fan (we all have one) to muffle outside noise works well. Keep your bedroom fairly cool. It’s nice to snuggle under a blanket. A warm shower or bath may help or a massage is even better.

Avoid sleeping pills, if you can. They are OK if used only for a few weeks, when something big is going on in your life, but can be habit forming, and may make things worse in the long run. Try relaxation tapes using a headset. Practice with them.

Don’t try to MAKE yourself sleep - it’s impossible, if you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up, and do something essentially boring and non stimulating for a while, and don’t go back to bed until you feel sleepy. Turn your bedroom clock away from you, so you can’t see it. If you have the alarm set, that’s all you need!

Most important, don’t fear insomnia! You won’t die from not sleeping, and you will still be able to function! If you don’t make a big issue out of it, the problem will probably go away.

You could try reading 800 Stepping Stones to Complete Relaxation, Michael Lee Wright. 67 Ways to Good Sleep, Inlander & Moran. The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, Martha Davis. Or one of the other many books on offer. Try some relaxation music for example: Achieve Sound Sleep, Tesar & Tesar. Effortless Relaxation, Steven Halpern. Earth Message, a new age CD written under the guidance of a Thai Buddhist monk Luang Por Charoen, guaranteed to relax you. There is also the Violin For Relaxation, Johann Sebastian Bach. For exercise try Yoga With Linda Arkin for Relaxation. There are hundreds of choices. Look in Amazon books online or ask at Bookazine on Beach Road or try Tower Records in Royal Garden Plaza for CD’s.

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Coins of the Realm : Cars on coins

by Jan Olav Aamlid - President - House of the Golden Coin

The first coin with a car comes from China, Kweichow Province. It was issued in 1928 to commemorate the first road in Kweichow. The coin is known as the Auto Dollar, as it purports to portray the governor’s automobile. What the brand of the car is, I do not know.

The coin appears in auctions from time to time and one must expect to pay 15,000 baht in fine condition, but for an uncirculated specimen, fully struck, which is rarely seen, the price would probably be 150,000 baht.

Among coin collectors there are often discussions about what is an uncirculated coin. Some years back, the first coins produced with new dies looked better than the ones produced later. The dies would be worn, and the coin was not fully struck. On the Auto Dollar from Kweichow this is the case, and many of the coins I have seen, the doors of the car cannot be seen. This reduces the price, even if the coin is uncirculated. Someone told me that on a fully struck Auto Dollar one should even be able to see the keyhole.

The second coin with a car I know of is from Macao. It was issued in 1978 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Grand Prix. Immediately after the coin was released problems started, because on the racing-car there was advertising. Many countries had banned advertising for cigarettes, so the government of Macao decided to withdraw the coin. Only 610 coins of the hundred-pactas in silver were released, and less in copper-nickel. This reflects on the catalogue price, about 4,500 baht in silver and 9,000 in copper-nickel.

Later in 1978 a new coin with a racing-car was released from Macao, this time with no advertising, and a mintage of 5,500. This coin has a catalogue value of 1,800 baht. Personally I think the coin with advertising looks better, it looks like the racing-cars I see on television.

Ten years later Macao again issued a coin with a car to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Grand Prix. 5000 were struck in silver, and in platinum only 10 pieces. The catalogue price for the platinum is about 140,000 baht. In 1993 Macao again issued a coin for the Grand Prix, this time with a car and motorcycle.

Another country issuing coins with cars is the republic of Marshall Islands. They have issued coins with Ford Quadricycle, model A Ford, model T Ford, 1955 Thunderbird, 1964 Mustang and the Ford Taurus. The catalogue price in copper-nickel is around 400 baht, and in silver about 2,400 baht.

The Marshall Islands have also issued coins with Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marlin Monroe. In copper-nickel Marlin is valued at 500 baht.

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A rose by any other name: Freelancer Bar (past the big arboreal landmark on Walking Street) was recently given a name change and is now F.L.B. Bar. Needless to say, there has been plenty of speculation among regular punters about the meaning of the new acronym, most of it unprintable in such an august publication as this. I have a couple of ideas: the Feeling Lucky Babe Bar, for the Clint Eastwood types, or the Frantically Looking for a Beer Bar, for... most of the male population of Pattaya.

With Carlsberg Draught at 50 baht, most other drinks between 50 and 75 baht, light snacks at 50 baht plus and a live band every night of the week, the place is well worth wandering into for a quiet libation.

Maybe mine hosts Pete and Anne should consider offering a prize (a choice between a set of Encyclopedia Britannica and a dozen Tequila Sunrises) for the most inventive (and printable) meaning of the new acronym.

A piece of Bangkok in Pattaya: The Dollhouse, an ogling den in the newly revamped and increasingly popular Clinton Plaza section of Bangkok, is set to open a ‘franchise’ (for want of a better term) operation here in Pattaya in the next couple of weeks. The location is an already existing spot on Walking Street that has always struggled to find a niche. It’s being said that some of the dancing maidens due to strut their stuff in the new venue will be alternating between the Big Chilli and Fun Town, kind of like a dancing shuttle. Let’s hope the big smoke lasses don’t bring their overblown Bangkok pricing structure with them.

A bar, a bar, my kingdom for a bar: With apologies to the Bard, ever since the closure of the Samsara playhouse and noshery on Beach Road to make way for a giant pizza joint, the former innkeeper has been running around Walking Street like the ill-fated King Richard III. However, he has been looking for a bar rather than a horse, although it appears he has more chance of finding the latter on Walking Street than the former.

Despite having pocketfuls of shekels to throw around, he can’t seem to find anyone desperate enough to flog their current asset off to him at the price he’s prepared to pay. Visits to places like F.L.B. Bar, T.W. One and Sharky’s have so far proved fruitless. The search for a new dancing palace is becoming increasingly like a quest for the Holy Grail. We are the men who say, ‘nee’.

In the Boozers: For those of you with a nautical bent (or for those who are just simply bent) the Jack Tar Bar in Soi 6 is well worth a visit. They open from about 10 a.m. and serve good food all day at reasonable prices as well as flogging Carlsberg Draught at 45 baht and having a daily cocktail special at only 55 baht. They’ve got one of the best looking signs in town, although it tends to confuse a lot of people who think the place is called the Jacko Tar Bar. You’ll have to see the sign for yourself to get my meaning and there’s no truth in the rumour that the face on the sign is a portrait of Kiwi Bruce taken about 100 years ago. I happen to know that colour pictures had not been invented then.

My e-mail address is: [email protected]

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Guide to buying a small dog : Shih Tzu

Shetland Sheepdog

Good Points: affectionate, hardy, intelligent, loves children and other animals

Take Heed: best to tie back the topknot with a bow, or your pet could develop eye trouble

The Shih Tzu is a happy and attractive little house pet which adores human company and hates to be neglected. It is extremely intelligent, arrogant, and loves the long, daily grooming sessions. You will need to make time for this job if you decide to buy this delightful breed. However, since this dog is so lovely to view when he is clean and brushed, you may find the grooming as enjoyable as your little pet does.

Size: Weight 4.5-8.2 kg. Height at the withers not more than 26.5 cm.

Exercise: Short, regular walks, and off the lead runs. This breed is happy in an apartment or house with a small garden, but does enjoy a daily walk and a good run.

Grooming: Daily brushing with a pure bristle brush. Do not neglect this task or combing out tangles will be painful. Keep the topknot from getting into the eyes and take care that the ears are free from matted hair. If your dog does develop tangles, use a commercial creme rinse after shampooing and comb through the tangles gently as to avoid breaking the hair.

Health and Care: The Shih Tzu is a hardy breed and does not usually have health problems if well cared for.

Origin and History: The Lhasa Apso was highly prized by the Dali Lama of Tibet who would habitually give prized specimens to emperors of China. It is very likely that the Chinese crossed the Apso with the Pekinese to develop the Shih Tzu. As with the Imperial Pekinese, export of the Shih Tzu was forbidden, and it was not until the death of the Empress Tzu-his in 1908 that these little shaggy dogs were smuggled out of China into Europe

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