HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Family Money: Eggs in a Basket - Part 2
Snap Shots: How to bag your heads!
Modern Medicine: Dementia

Heart to Heart with Hillary
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
Women’s World
Animal Crackers
A Slice of Thai History
The Message In The Moon
Antiques, are they genuine?
Shaman’s Rattle
Guide to buying a large dog

Family Money: Eggs in a Basket - Part 2

By Leslie Wright

A growing niche

Last week we started looking at what for many is a very suitable vehicle for a capital investment: the Personal Portfolio Bond.

Ten years ago, there were only 12 names in this branch of the offshore financial services industry, now there are 25 names in the offshore insurance bond market alone.

PPBs offer flexibility and added security to investors. For instance, say an investor likes the fund of a particular provider but not the provider itself; they can decide to create a wrapper under another company.

In addition, since most of the large offshore life companies operate from well-regulated regimes with a high degree of investor protection in place, you have the peace of mind of knowing that no-one is going to run off with your money.

The more aware investors become of the investment arena, the more portfolio bonds become part of the process.

But not everyone from the industry supports the provision of a wide choice of funds from which the investor can select within a portfolio bond. The argument is that investors are engulfed in a profusion of choices that causes disarray.

Because of the virtually unlimited range of offshore funds available in a typical PPB, some investors prefer to choose from a smaller, more reliable pool of funds.

To cater to the less sophisticated (or interested) investor, the life companies have developed a range of products. The best known such vehicle - generically called an offshore insurance bond (or ‘OIB’ for short) - permits you to hold a number of funds from a standard ‘menu’. This menu includes the life company’s own funds, and typically a wide choice of good-performers from other investment houses as well.

Hence you can still create an actively managed, widely diversified portfolio which can be adjusted to meet changing market conditions in an administratively simple and cost-effective manner, and without the need for highly sophisticated fund-tracking information and a bewildering array of choices.

More choice

The total freedom of choice with a Personal Portfolio Bond (‘PPB’) offers a very high degree of flexibility to the client; but it has its drawbacks.

For one, a PPB may carry higher dealing or administration costs than a simple Offshore Insurance Bond (‘OIB’). This is especially relevant to comparatively small amounts of capital - less than ฃ100,000 or $150,000.

On the other hand, the PPB market is characterised by sophisticated and experienced investors who are looking for a degree of flexibility at the expense of higher costs. The market is not dominated by first-time investors, but rather by high-net-worth individuals (‘HNWIs’).

PPBs serve the top end of the market and predominantly aim at HNWIs who would use the services of an independent adviser or discretionary portfolio manager.

While the charging structure of all such bonds is quite transparently set out in the product literature, the effect of these charges is not quite so clear.

Ideally, your IFA should show you an illustration of how the differing charges will affect the growth of your money.

Also, some funds may not discount their standard entry costs to zero, or have complex charges that kick in after reaching a certain pre-set performance threshold. Many hedge funds charge in this way.

Before including these in your PPB ‘basket’, you’d need to be aware of the entry, management and exit costs that might be associated with them, as well as the dealing charges that might be applied by the life company and/or its custodian trustees.

As these latter range from about ฃ15 up to about ฃ40 per deal, you wouldn’t want to be switching around small components too often! Nor should you take on a large number of funds (to achieve greater diversification) if the dealing charges are going to constitute more than a tiny and acceptable percentage of your invested capital.

Quality control

With the simpler OIB, quality administration and transparency of charges are key success factors of the industry. Clients know the total cost of the product they are investing in and the charges quoted include the charges of the underlying funds.

Moreover, the administrative service provided is of high quality. In most cases, switching between funds, for example, is effected on the same day the client sends his instruction through to the institution.

More and more funds are dealing daily rather than weekly as in the past - although some of the more esoteric funds still deal only monthly or even quarterly. But these are specialised funds for the longer-term investor who fully understands the mechanics of these highly sophisticated instruments.

By the same token, life companies and fund managers have strengthened their information systems through providing online information on products and in some cases setting up a system allowing online transactions.

So nowadays there are a lot of investment ‘baskets’ to choose from. Some would say a bewildering and confusing choice.

But each was designed for a different demographic in a highly competitive market. The investment vehicle that is appropriate for a relatively unsophisticated investor looking to invest $25,000 for 5 years may not be appropriate for an investor looking to invest $250,000 for 25 years, and vice-versa.

It’s a matter of selecting the right basket to hold your particular nest-eggs. And that means seeking objective, independent financial advice to help you select that basket.

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Snap Shots: How to bag your heads!

by Harry Flashman

The most common subject that people take pictures of is other people. However, most people shots get left in the drawer, because most people shots are so bad that everyone wants to forget them. This is the reason that in every town there are “professional” photographers making a living out of shooting portraits, photographs that anyone can take with just a little planning and technique. So here’s all the planning and technique you need to take pleasing portraits.

First off, rule 1. No matter what kind of camera you have, walk in closer. It is the single most important tip to better portraits. Even with a point and shoot compact, walk in till the subject fills the viewfinder from the waist up.

Rule 2. If you have a camera with a “portrait mode” then use it! This is one area where Harry and the manufacturers agree. The portrait mode does work. It maximises the settings to produce the most pleasing effect, gets rid of backgrounds and sets the exposure to allow for the best skin tones. Use it.

Rule 3. Use the flash in daylight. If you have a fancy camera with “Fill Flash” facility, then turn it on and you will see the prints you get back from the photo processor have got sparkle and punch. If you have not, but have a flash you mount on top of the camera, use it, and turn it to around f2.8 to f4. This will not overpower the daylight, but will give catch-lights in the eyes.

Rule 4. Watch for horrible backgrounds. It is so easy to concentrate so hard on the subject that you do not really “see” the background, which can be confusing and cluttered. Try to keep the subject as far away as possible from all backgrounds and if you have manual mode or aperture priority mode, then set the aperture f stop at around f5.6.

Rule 5. Shoot in the early mornings or in the late afternoons. At both of these times the light is more flattering than it is at mid-day, where you will get harsh shadows cutting across the face from the nose.

Rule 6. If you have a zoom or a telephoto lens then now is the time! Using around 135 mm (some people call this the ideal portrait lens), then you again flatter the face and help throw the background out of focus - particularly if you have followed Rule number 4.

Rule 7. Turn the camera on its side so you have the viewfinder in portrait mode as well. People are taller than they are wide, so it makes sense to have the maximum dimension vertically, doesn’t it! By all means, take a couple of shots in the so called horizontal “landscape” view, but the majority should be verticals.

Rule 8. The nose is not the central point of any portrait. In the centre of the viewfinder there is generally a small area which you can use for getting the focus point. After you have set the focus, move the central point off the person’s nose! The more likely central point will be the mouth or chin.

Rule 9. Super trick! Use a gold coloured reflector to give the skin that healthy glow. Just glue some gold wrapping paper to a piece of cardboard about 1 metre square and get an assistant to move it so it reflects “golden glow” into the subject. This is particularly flattering for pale skinned folk.

Rule 10. With older folk stretch a piece of nylon stocking tightly across the lens. This will act as a soft focus filter and smooth out many of the wrinkles we like to pretend we haven’t got!

Follow those ten simple hints and you will soon be taking shots as good as, if not better than the local neighbourhood portrait photographer. After all, he’s only doing those 10 steps as well.

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Modern Medicine: Dementia

by Dr Iain Corness, Consultant

How does this grab you? You have a 20% chance of getting Dementia if you live to be 80. What a great fun future to look forward to. Of course, if either parent had Dementia before the age of 65 you can multiply that by a factor of four! Oh, more fun! But there’s no real need to get depressed, in this environment you’ll probably drop dead from “natural” causes like alcohol excesses long before then. In the meantime, while waiting for medical science to find the magic cure (or the magic bullet), here’s the low-down on Dementia.

The illnesses under the general heading of Dementia are made up of a group which cause a progressive decline in mental functioning. It is a broad brush approach to describe loss of intellect, social skills and emotional reactions, and the commonest of these illnesses is called Alzheimer’s disease.

Unfortunately, there is no instant diagnostic kit or test available, and the diagnosis generally takes about two to three years. It begins with poor memory, especially for recent events (has anyone seen my glasses?), but this can also be caused by depression. The next difficulties are with language and planning and organising, finally deteriorating into wandering and behaviour disturbances resulting in a change of personality. The saddest feature is the report from the carers of these people that they not only have “lost” the person they loved, but are now caring for someone they don’t even like, with around 50% of the sufferers by this stage having delusions and hallucinations.

People will say, “If I ever got like that, I’d want the doctor to give me a big sleeping pill so I’d never wake up again.” The sad part is, that by the time you have got to this stage you are so far out of reality that you don’t even understand what is going on around you. You don’t even know how to ask for help.

Early referral to a nursing home is my advice. The patient is no longer “your mother” but someone of a poor intellect using the physical body that your mother used to use. There is no point in sacrificing yourself and your own family for someone who does not know who you are. The stresses on the carers are far worse than the stresses on the afflicted.

If all that has depressed you, sorry, but here is a poem I wrote in 1970 about the subject of euthanasia, long before it became a fashionable topic for the world’s parliamentarians. It was the result of being asked to see a patient with a terminal disease following the rejection he had received from my fellow medical colleagues. Be warned - this will really depress you!

On Euthanasia

The end is near, he cried exalted,
Ghostly visions his mind’s eye assaulted.
But the price to enter this Paradise Lost
Is Death itself - too high a cost.

So therapeutics come into play,
To drag him back to his dismay.
In being born you have no choice,
In shuffling off they don’t hear your voice.

So man’s noblest form of self expression
Is considered subject of sinful confession
And modern medicine unctuously views

With distaste, the dying’s right to choose.

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Dear Hillary,

My Thai girlfriend and I have been together for three months and we seem to get along OK except for one thing - money. I give her 2000 baht allowance every month and I cover all the food and consumable expenses for the condo as I am employed here and the company I work for gives me an allotment to use for this. My girlfriend is forever saying she has run out of money, but when I ask her what she spent it on she gets sulky and won’t answer me. Is this “normal” for Thai girls, or have I just got a gold digger?


Dear James,

As far as your girl being a “gold” digger, she’d be lucky to find a brass razzoo or a dud Bombay rupee in your piggy bank, James. Talk about long pockets and short arms! You’ve got them both, my Petal. How far does 2000 baht go these days? How much do you spend on yourself every month? If you are going to live with this girl in a conjugal relationship (look it up in the dictionary, James) then it’s high time you took a good hard look at yourself and your miserable nature. If you want to share a life, then share a little of the fruits of your labours. 2000 baht doesn’t buy Hillary a decent bottle of wine these days. I certainly wouldn’t live with you. Gold digger, you ask! You don’t want a girlfriend, you want a slave but slavery was abolished in Thailand many years ago. I hope she leaves you when it is most inconvenient.

Dear Hillary,

The proper way of greeting people is a little worrying for me. My husband attends lots of functions and parties so it does not seem to worry him, and he knows all the people anyway, but they are strangers to me. Should I “wai” when I meet the Thais at these functions, or just shake hands? I am aware that we are guests in this country so I do not want to offend.


Dear Marjorie,

The Thai people are just as cosmopolitan as the farangs at these types of functions. They too do not want to offend. The best way is to just follow their lead. If they wai to you, then return it. If they extend their hand, then shake their hand. All terribly simple really. Stop worrying and enjoy the parties.

Dear Hillary,

One year ago I set up home with a Thai girl who is many years my junior. This does not seem to bother her, though it bothers me at times. Her family comes from the northeast and I have been up there and met them. They accepted me quite readily, but I always felt a little left out at the family gatherings as they can only speak Thai and my girl had to translate all the time. For this reason, and because I am busy at work, I have not been back up there, though my girl does go up frequently. Is this the usual way families behave in this country? If it is, I will say nothing, but she will often go back for two or three days, the last being the end of Buddhist Lent. Have I anything to worry about?

The Worrier

Dear Worrier,

You may have lots to worry about, or nothing at all. Are you worrying because you think she is not going back to the family rice paddy? Hillary is having to try and read between the lines too much here. It is very usual for daughters to go home and pay respects to their family, and often contribute financially as well. Does your lady have children there that are being looked after by Mama? Honestly, it sounds very normal to me. Talk to your friends who have been married to a Thai girl for some time. You’ll find it is the norm in this country. Caring and following the family principles will carry over to you as well, if you allow her to follow her traditions.

Dear Hillary,

How many “Maid” questions do you get every week? Mine is driving me batty. She was such a treasure when she first came to work for me, always cheerful and couldn’t do enough around the house, watered the garden and everything. She was punctual and would work overtime without a murmur. However, over the past few months she has got sulky in her attitude, gets to work late, wants to leave early and as far as I am concerned, does the absolute minimum. We pay her good money, but my husband won’t do anything about it as he says the domestic issues are mine, he has enough to do at his company. I have pointed out on the clock the times she is supposed to work for me. I have tried speaking firmly with her, but all this has had the opposite effect. What do you suggest I do Hillary, and how to go about it?

Wits End

Dear Wits End,

If you have a good command of the Thai language, then speak directly to your maid, but if you do not, then you need a trusted intermediary. She may have problems at home, she may have problems with you, she may have financial problems. Thais in these situations tend to be a trifle obtuse and the “real” reason can be difficult to find out. Get a Thai friend to talk with her, without you being present, but don’t take offence at what you may find out. You may have to re-examine your attitude.

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Fast thinking

There are many perils to starting a business in Sin City. A young waiter this week caused a stir when he asked the farang owner for his first week’s wages even though he had worked only for a few shifts. “But you have only worked here for three days,” exclaimed the indignant farang. “OK,” came the reply, “So I trust you for the first half of the week and you trust me for the second half.”


One of Manchester’s intellectuals, a rare breed in Pattaya these days according to some, walked into Empire Records and spent about ten minutes fruitlessly browsing the shelves. Finally, he approached the cashier and explained he wanted to buy a classical music CD for his brother’s birthday. The cashier said she would check on the computerized index if he would give her the musician’s name. “Anything will do,” he explained with measured slowness, “provided it’s by Joehand Batch.”

Immigration changes

Informed sources say that “immigration bail” or pakan taa mor has all but been abolished. This was the type of bail, lasting up to 14 days, which allowed convicted foreigners (with surplus cash of course) to wait for their deportation to the airport in their hotel room rather than in the police lockup or the immigration detention center. Now immigration bail is available only in cases of serious and documented ill health and must be specifically approved by immigration headquarters in Bangkok. In a nutshell, wealthy farangs sporting a guilty verdict will no longer be able to party whilst awaiting their flight home.

GEOC recommends

The name’s a bit pretentious perhaps, but August Renoir Restaurant in the Flamingo Hotel, behind the old Day and Night Bazaar, should be on your list for tasty international dining. The best value, though it’s not prominently advertised, is the three course daily special for around 150 baht. The a la carte menu is substantial and there’s a good Indonesian section too. GEOC (Grapevine Eating Out Collective) tried the salad bar, lobster cocktail, New Zealand steak and a proper chocolate mousse for around 600 baht.

Citizenship not for you

There’s been a bit of a stir amongst the bald heads on Jomtien Beach after the government announced it was extending citizenship to foreigners working here. The plan is a limited one – to grant citizenship to selected guest workers from neighboring countries and is all about identified skill shortages. The proposals have nothing whatever to do with farangs who are thinking of opening a barber shop by the waterfront or sinking their severance pay into yet another bar in South Pattaya. Sorry, lads, choose another route if you believe the kingdom really needs your services.

Charge parking

Pattaya is to charge for private parking along Beach Road in a bid to counter mounting traffic congestion, according to reports from City Hall. The idea is to remove the vehicles for rent which presently clutter up the pavement from Orchid Lodge Hotel to Siam Bayshore and spoil the scenery. Quite how replacing one set of vehicles by another improves traffic flow or benefits the environment is not crystal clear, but doubtless all will be revealed Pattaya style in early course.

Readers’ queries

JH asks why a farang must leave the country even if acquitted of a serious criminal charge and suggests this is unfair. Not really because you are by now probably on visa overstay. But persons found not guilty by a court are free to leave under their own steam rather than being deported by the police. That said, visas in any country in the world give you right of entry, not a guarantee to stay until the terminal date… MC wants to know where to find a chiropodist in Pattaya. We don’t know of any, but the main hospitals tell us they can deal with corns and bunions.

Day to day philosophy

A buffet dinner is one where the guests outnumber the chairs.

A tanned appearance by Londoners is not sunburn, it’s rust.

From the number of ants which show up at a picnic, it’s probable there were more than two in the Ark.

Some people are no good at counting calories and have figures to prove it.

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Social Commentary by Khai Khem

First separate bedrooms, now separate kitchens

Perhaps it is true; the very, very rich are different from you and me. As a child I used to marvel at the old Hollywood movies in which the plot revolved around the extremely wealthy. More than the story line, I was fascinated by the settings of the old manor houses in England, and New York City’s magnificent penthouse apartments in which the ‘smart set’ dwelled. A movie like Grapes of Wrath had the whole family sleeping 6 to a bed. In Asia, that is not much of a novelty. However, in the more glamorous films, the man and wife had their own bedrooms, and the husband usually knocked before he entered. Gosh. Our family sleeping room didn’t even have a door. I’ll discuss the common water jar outside the door where we all bathed at the well in our sarongs in another column. Suffice it to say that I spent the best part of my childhood in cockroach infested cinemas in large cities.

Now health articles in glossy Western magazines are telling us that the battle of the sexes has moved to the kitchen. Apparently the newest research into healthy eating lists five foods that women need most and five foods which men need most. Of course these lists were created with Western cuisine in mind…but as we all know, food crosses national boundaries faster than illegal immigrants looking for work, so I am going to list them here.

I do not think, however, female readers are going to be happy about the findings. Life always seems to be harder for women than men for some reason. Childbirth may be the first thing that comes to mind, but I also think that pantyhose, hot flushes, and preoccupation with hair should be right up there near the top of the list. Voting rights and affirmative action seem to have taken care of what Freud called ‘penis envy’, but now the women of the upper classes may one day suffer from ‘diet envy’. If you are a man reading this, the list may come as a welcome surprise. Women readers with catholic tastes in food may want to go on strike.

Apparently men need to eat a lot of broccoli which is said to fight bladder cancer. Well, broccoli is okay I suppose. Not bad with lots of cheese sauce poured over it. Men are also advised to increase their consumption of watermelon due to the high level of potassium contained in this fruit. Ladies can get away with an occasional slice. According to the last article I read, men can eat their way through whole fields of them, just like they did when they were children. Oysters are next on the men’s list. Surprised? Yeah, me too. And I thought the ‘aphrodisiac factor’ was an old wife’s tale. Oysters are full of zinc. And zinc may cause levels of testosterone to rise, which is never a bad thing if you are a guy. Next on the list is peanut butter. Oh goodie, I can hear the cheers already. Apparently men can eat peanut butter every day if they choose. It is one of those basic food groups a real man doesn’t even have to mix with anything else, such as jelly, bananas, or even bread. He can just scoop it out of the jar with a spoon. The final food on the list for men is tomato sauce. Particularly tomato sauces which are cooked with some sort of fat. It appears to fight prostate cancer. That’s a good thing, of course. But not as good as the pizza, spaghetti and lasagne that comes with the tomato sauce.

And now comes the list a woman must eat if she is to remain healthy. First is papaya, since it is full of vitamin C, and has more kick to the gram than an orange. Next are collard greens. Well, what can I say about those except they are full of calcium and vitamin D? Who cares. Next on the list is - buffalo meat. Noooo. Not the family water buffalo here in Thailand. This should be American Bison. That big, shaggy-headed beast which used to be an endangered species, but has now re-appeared on the menu in fancy Chicago restaurants. The good news is that at least the women don’t have to go out and shoot their own meat. The ladies’ list also includes flaxseed. I am not sure where one goes to buy flaxseed. I thought linen was made from flax. Last on the list is tofu. Thankfully lots of great Thai cuisine includes tofu. Unfortunately, I got the impression that ladies should eat the tofu and leave the rest.

If married couples are really going to take this list and their health seriously, I suggest in the same way ‘his’ and ‘her’ bathrooms are now so popular, new homes will be designed with separate kitchens. While the wife nibbles on her flaxseed like a parakeet, her husband will be joyously indulging in another slice of pizza. Of course this dietary exclusivity is only for the upper classes. The rest of us will continue to fling the family dinner into a giant wok for a few minutes and pour the whole mess over a mountain of rice.

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Women’s World: Women at War - Cynthia

by Lesley Warner

With a code name like ‘Cynthia’ you would not expect to be remembered as well as the famous Mata Hari, but Cynthia was a World War II version of the legendary Mata Hari.

She was born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe on November 22, 1910, in Minneapolis. Amy’s father was a U.S. Marine Corps officer, which put travel high on the family agenda. By the time she made her debut in Washington society, 18-year-old Amy was a beautiful, mature, well-bred and graceful young lady, with green eyes and amber-colored hair. She exuded a magnetism that drew men to her.

Amy married the second secretary at the British Embassy, Arthur Pack, which gave her a second citizenship. She had a son that she gave to foster parents and later a daughter that she kept. The marriage was not happy and when Arthur Pack was transferred to Madrid on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, Amy immersed herself in secret operations. She helped rebel nationalists to safety and to coordinate the evacuation of the British embassy staff from northern Spain.

In the fall of 1937, Amy’s husband said he had fallen in love with another woman, so Amy took her young daughter and left. Amy boarded the Warsaw Express in Paris; she wanted to become a member of his Britannic Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service.

The British Intelligence Service employed Amy and gave her an entertainment allowance of 20 pounds sterling to cultivate her high-placed Polish sources.

She apparently was once reported to have said of her first official lover, “Our meetings were very fruitful, and I let him make love to me as often as he wanted, since this guaranteed the smooth flow of political information I needed.” It was in this way that Amy obtained critical information. Later, when she was in Prague, she obtained conclusive proof of Hitler’s plans to dismember Czechoslovakia.

When World War II started, Amy offered her talents to the British Intelligence Service. She was soon writing political articles for Spanish and English language newspapers in Chile. Britain was then gearing up its intelligence and propaganda efforts in the hemisphere and in the spring of 1940 placing them under the British Security Coordination (BSC), headed by Canadian William Stephenson.

Amy then sailed to New York, where she was given her code name, “Cynthia” and an assignment to set up shop in Washington, D.C. As her cover, she posed as a journalist.

Her first major assignment was obtaining the Italian naval cryptosystem. For this Amy remembered an old admirer who was now an admiral and naval attache in Italy’s Washington embassy. It has been said that Cynthia’s amorous success with her old lover contributed to British victories in the Mediterranean.

In 1941 Cynthia introduced herself to Charles Brousse, the press attache in the French embassy, posing as an American journalist. He became besotted with her and from him she elicited a great deal of useful information.

In March 1942 Cynthia was told that London would like to have the Vichy French naval ciphers. Cynthia put herself at considerable risk to obtain the Vichy ciphers. Whether it was those obtained by Cynthia or from another source, they were used to great effect when the Allies landed in French-held North Africa in November 1942.

With the United States now in the war, Cynthia worked for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services as well as for the British. She considered herself a patriot. “Ashamed? Not in the least,” she was once reported to have said. “My superiors told me that the results of my work saved thousands of British and American lives...It involved me in situations from which ‘respectable’ women draw back but mine was total commitment. Wars are not won by respectable methods.”

After the war Amy married Charles Brousse and they had their happy ending, settled in a medieval castle on a mountain in France until Amy died of mouth cancer on 1st December 1963.

Amy put her life in danger every day to do her part for the war. She is remembered today only by those who were closely connected with her or have the interest to research these matters. She didn’t do it for glory, because she knew there would be none. How many of us could commit ourselves to such bravery?

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Animal Crackers: Why keep cats indoors

by Mirin MacCarthy

Indoor cats live longer

Many people believe the only reason to keep cats indoors is to discourage indiscriminate mating and for the safety of the neighbourhood wildlife. Although free range cats do decimate wildlife, one of the main reasons for keeping pet puss indoors is for its own health and safety.

Cats in danger

Cats are nocturnal hunters and nighttime presents the greatest risk to cats from other stray cats, cars and wildlife, including snakes. Cats that are allowed to prowl around in the outdoors at night are at a great risk of contracting feline Aids. It does not even need mating to contract feline Aids, a cat bite alone is enough to transmit it. Catfights also cause nasty abscesses that result in pain and trips to the vet for puss. Rabies is endemic in the majority of warm-blooded mammals in Thailand, including rats and mice, cat’s favourite prey. A cat has to catch and kill only one rabies infected mouse and it too will be dead and buried long before it lives out its nine lives. If flattened road kill cat is not a consideration in your secluded area, then snakes will be. Thailand and Australia have the worlds’ most venomous snakes. My own Korat cat was bitten by a Russel Pit Viper in Jomtien and only by rushing it to the vet Dr. Nop in Naklua were we able to save its life, with two injections of antivenene in 48 hours. It was close to death for a week and still bears the scar. If I had not seen it in the late afternoon bleeding profusely (vipers inject anticoagulant) it too would be dead and buried now.

Then there is the issue of indiscriminate mating and unwanted kittens, say no more.

What my cat a predator, rubbish!

Many people say their cats are so well fed that they won’t hurt small animals. Wrong! Cats are natural predators and they hunt for sport even if they aren’t hungry. Most cats just play with their prey until it ceases to interest them, usually when it stops moving. This is their instinct, their nature; they were made the perfect killing machine. In this cats are neither right nor wrong, it is just the way they are. Cats cannot be expected to curb their natural instincts and neither do they understand those small native animals such as lizards and birds are vital to a healthy environment.

What is the answer?

At the very least keep the cat indoors between the hours of sunset and sunrise when both cats and wildlife, including snakes, are most active. Have your cat wear a flea collar with an ID tag and a bell on it. It is not cruel to keep pet cats totally indoors, they do not need big territories. Provided they have some potted grass to chew on and plenty to do, most cats will be perfectly happy.

Do not make the transition from outdoor cat to indoors overnight. It would be enough to make anyone neurotic and pee on the floor if locked up with no warning. Cats are creatures of habit, so gradually and slowly shorten the length of time the cat is outside until it is no longer let out at all.

Two options

You have two options if you wish your cats to go outside and be safe. First, you can lead train cats, it is possible, I have done it but it takes time and loads of patience. Then you can take puss outside fully supervised on a collar and lead whenever you want. Alternatively you can buy or make a cat enclosure for your yard, veranda or balcony. These enclosed “outdoor environments” protect the cats yet allow them to get fresh air and sunshine.

(For ideas refer

Next week, “How to keep puss happy and contented indoors”

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A Slice of Thai History: Prince Wan: Diplomat and Philologist

by Duncan Stearn

Part One: The Early Years 1891-1952

In 1991 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) listed the-then 72-year-old HRH Prince Wan Waithayakon Krommun Naradhip Bongs-praband - better known simply as Prince Wan - as one of the great personalities of the world in the categories of diplomat and scholar.

It was a singular honour for a man who had dedicated his life to the service of his country and who was also responsible for coining a vast number of Thai words still in current usage.

Prince Wan, a direct descendant of King Rama IV, was born on August 25, 1891 in Bangkok. After early education at the prestigious Suan Kularb School and then King’s College, he was awarded a King’s Scholarship and in 1905 went to study in England.

An outstanding student, he collected no less than 17 prizes over the next five years before graduating and going on to Balliol College, Oxford. He majored in history at Oxford and then went on to Paris to study diplomacy.

Prince Wan’s career commenced in 1917 when he was appointed Third Secretary at the Thai Embassy in Paris. In 1919, he returned to Bangkok and worked at the Foreign Office under Thailand’s longest-serving foreign minister, Prince Devawongse. Aged just 31, Prince Wan was also appointed as an adviser to King Rama VI.

In 1924, he was made under-secretary for foreign affairs while in 1926 he went back to Europe as minister accredited to Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium. At the same time, he was also appointed head of the Thai delegation to the League of Nations.

Prince Wan returned to Thailand in 1930, accepting a seat on the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University.

Just two years later, the country was thrown into political turmoil by the overthrow of the absolute monarchy. It was at this time that Prince Wan became an active philologist and over the next 44 years he was to bequeath to the Thai language around 300 words. Indeed, books and writing were his lifetime passion, the bibliophile amassing a large collection throughout his long life.

Prince Wan saw the 1932 revolution as, “not just a change of government but a fundamental change in the way of life of the Thai people...” He wanted to give the revolution a reasoned voice and so he began a newspaper, the Prachachat.

Via the newspaper, as well as through his continuing public service, Prince Wan introduced words such as association, bank, company, family, service, supply, demand, freedom, pollution, revolution, reform, war and zone to the Thai lexicon.

Between 1934 and 1947 he was president of the Royal Institute, a position he again held from 1973 until 1976.

In February 1941, Prince Wan was appointed to head the Thai delegation to Tokyo and charged with negotiating peace between the Vichy French government of Indo-China and Thailand in the undeclared war that had broken out a few months earlier.

The negotiations proved exceedingly difficult and it wasn’t until early March that an agreement acceptable to both sides was hammered out. Even then, it was an agreement that Prince Wan felt was less than favourable to Thailand.

After the Second World War, he participated in the negotiations that led to Thailand’s admission to the United Nations in December 1946. The following year, Prince Wan was appointed ambassador to the United States as well as ambassador to the United Nations.

Finally, in March 1952 he became foreign minister, assuming the office held for so long by his mentor, Prince Devawongse.

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The Message In The Moon : Gemini Sun/Leo Moon - The Ham

by Anchalee Kaewmanee

Gemini is self-expressive, high strung, nervous and excitable. Leo is flamboyant, extravagant and dramatic. Combine the two and you get a non-stop soap opera with few station breaks.

Melodrama was probably invented by a Gemini-Leo cave dweller. No matter what people born into this particular combination do, it is done with flair and fanfare. A deep need to express thoughts and feelings is a hallmark of this sign. Never mind if it is with a perfect stranger; these individuals have got to let the world know what they have been going through. They are usually high-profile people who never go unnoticed, even in a crowd.

Perfectly charming, wildly exuberant, and always optimistic, natives of this Sun/Moon combo are always popular and well liked. Others simply cannot resist all that magnetic appeal. (Besides, no one can wait to hear the latest episode of whatever high drama the Gemini-Leo has been engaged in).

In addition to that somewhat exaggerated sense of their own importance, they also possess an air of authority. There is nothing really frivolous about natives of this sign. In fact they actually take their actions far more seriously than anyone can imagine.

Friends and associates have trouble second-guessing the Gemini-Leo. For there are actually two sides of this personality. One is carefree, witty and sophisticated, the other, the willful executive issuing advice and opinions that take on the tone of commands. When one of those bossy moods descends on this person, it is usually more for show than substance. This combination loves to show off those leadership talents and will secretly delight in the fact that others actually believe in the role being played. The Gemini-Leo should try toning down the act somewhat. Even though a bossy command was not meant in quite the way it was said, a victim may still be left cowering in a corner!

As with all natives of Moon in Leo, people in this group will have a tendency to follow their own sets of rules in life, and will probably ignore the advice and opinions of others. Yes, they are open-minded and willing to listen to reason. But in the final analysis they prefer to go their own way because inside, they always feel intuitively right. There are times when stubbornness or desire to prove to the world that they know best can lead to reckless and impulsive actions which can undermine their constructive efforts. They must watch that pride. It is better to try to become more responsive to the ideas and contributions of the people around them, instead of always wanting their own way.

Professionally, this combination has strong creative drives. Aside from artistic careers, natives of this Sun/Moon group can excel in business because they are actually more down to earth than others realise. Whatever they choose to do in life will be accomplished with a sense of responsibility, loyalty and dedication.

Highly romantic and adventurous, all Gemini-Leos actively search for (and hopefully find) the perfect partner. This must be one who shares their enthusiasm and interests. Possessing a Moon in Leo means that these individuals will be far more loyal to their mate than their fellow Geminis. Loyalty is one of their highest ideals, and extends to marital life. Family centred, these people take great pride in their spouse and offspring. It is, however, possible that sometimes they view them solely as an extension of themselves.

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Antiques, are they genuine? The importance of exhibitions

by Apichart Panyadee

Exhibitions, together with important sales of great collections in England gave rise to copies being made by both French and English craftsmen right up to the Great War of 1914-1918, and to a lesser extent, during the inter-war years. It can be very difficult to tell the differences between English and French cabinet work of this period. London was certainly a great centre and its political stability was an incentive to many French craftsmen to settle in England in the mid-19th century.

This 20th century lock is a straightforward type used in France from the second quarter of the 19th century to the 20th. It still has a double throw, but is made of brass and is smaller than its predecessors.

There is constructive evidence to support the theory that French firms supplied mounts for English carcase work and there was considerable to-ing and fro-ing of trade, especially from Paris to London. A further theory which is gaining rapid credence, maintains that Paris firms not only exported copies to New York, but that they also exported ‘spare parts’ and marquetry. The psychology of buying or commissioning copies in the 19th century was altogether different than it is today. Snobbery did not enter into it. Indeed, Francis Watson in the Yankee Collection catalogue points out that Lord Hertford was paying more for a commissioned copy than he was for many of the original pieces he had purchased for his extensive collection.

This is a prime example of the fact that these early exhibitions did inspire fine copies, and create the clientele who would pay for them. It is an interesting point in that it appears to confirm the theory that English craftsmen of the period were equal to the French and that it was simply a question of expediency as to who actually made the copy. The commissioning of fine copies had been a popular one throughout the 18th century, especially with paintings, so that the copy could be admired on the Grand Tour which was a cultural must for the elite of society of Britain and Europe. This trend continued well into the 19th century and the pieces were in no respect intended to deceive. In fact, as we have already discovered, some of the copies were more finely made than originals of the same models. Lord Hertford also had his commissioned copies vary slightly from the originals with an intention to prevent the perpetration of frauds.

This steel lock dates to the Louis XVI period c. 1700. The steel has rusted and the lock shows traces of hand filing.

It is difficult to obtain a clear picture of the quantity of 18th century furniture that was copied exactly in the 19th century. However, the proportion of chair frames made as exact copies of Louis XVI models is high compared with that of cabinet work. As an approximate guide, possibly as many as one in five pieces available on the market today would fall into this category.

The main discussion inevitably centres on French copies and their English counterparts. Other European countries however were quite capable of making copies, but rarely on such a grand scale as the French. There were fewer royal items of an international flavour and access to royal pieces was possibly restricted. What had started out in France as copying the finest pieces of the Louis era with a sincere desire to emulate their sophisticated forms became, in some countries, a race to produce copies of sometimes very ordinary items. As the rapid development of the 19th century progressed, each country chose to copy the very best that it produced, whatever the period. Whereas the French had only to go back to the monarchies of the 18th century, the Dutch, for example looked back into the 17th.

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Shaman’s Rattle : Liver cleansing diet

by Marion

Fad or functional?

Suddenly the latest fad everyone is talking about is the liver cleansing diet. Proposed by a real doctor and best selling female author Dr. Sandra Cabot, it was and still is a hot topic. Never one to be easily swayed I remained sceptical, aligning it with other faddish natural healing such as the Pritikin diet and Homoeopathy. However, all that changed radically when I actually tried it.

Four months ago I consulted my doctor for frequent allergies, lowered immune system with chronic fatigue syndrome, overweight, slightly high cholesterol and excess alcohol intake. She immediately requested blood tests including liver function tests. When the liver function test results were assessed they were slightly elevated with marginally high cholesterol. Therefore the Dr. strongly recommended getting a copy of Dr Cabot’s “Liver cleansing diet” and adhering to it for at least eight weeks.

In spite of my reluctance I did and the results have been amazing. This is purely anecdotal; however, four months later I have lost weight, I no longer drink more than two standard glasses of alcohol a day and don’t miss the hangovers! I have lost my chronic hay fever, and no longer have to take antihistamines and sunglasses with me everywhere. What’s more I can walk up stairs for the first time in years without gasping for breath. I am still on the diet (though have an occasional grilled steak now). The LCD has become an easy to follow a way of life. What is better yet, my blood tests have returned to normal.

Not without its price

The gentleman in the bookshop amazed me by saying, “Fabulous book but don’t expect to do anything the first week you are on the diet!” Be warned, he was right, you are definitely not able to do anything but sleep the first week on the diet. Many people have reported the same. It is not such a radical diet, it just that the body is getting rid of years of toxins and cleaning up its act and its liver, the main vacuum cleaner of the system. That’s exhausting work.

Who needs it?

Purported as a life saving breakthrough for men and women, in my opinion the LCD certainly is. As Dr. Cabot herself says, “The liver, the supreme organ of metabolism has to be the missing key to great health. It seemed so simple and yet so incredible; why hadn’t someone thought of this before?”

“Everyone can benefit from the Liver Cleansing Diet as it is designed to improve overall health and immune function. Those who are in greatest need of this diet are the persons with the following complaints. Excessive body weight, and liver disease as evidenced by blood tests or CAT scans. Those who test positive for hepatitis B or C. Gall bladder disease, high blood pressure, general digestive problems, and irritable bowel syndrome. Immune system imbalances as evidenced by allergies, hay fever, hives, skin rashes, auto immune diseases, some types of arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Headaches and migraines, women on hormone replacement therapy, those who drink too much alcohol and those who have taken recreational drugs. Even older persons will find the LCD a great tool for increasing longevity and vitality and staving off degenerative diseases.”

12 Principles of the LCD

First Principle: The first principle is listen to your body and do not eat if you are not hungry. This applies even at meal times when you are on the LCD - have a glass of water instead. Stop thrashing your liver and conversely eat when you are hungry even if it is not a “set mealtime”. Don’t starve yourself into hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).

Two: “Drink at least eight to twelve glasses of filtered water daily.” This is really vital, and if you do nothing else just do this. It is not so easy either but it pays off, as it will reduce your chances of degenerative disease. Like all plants your body functions better when it is not wilted with dehydration. Adequate fluid intake avoids brain drain and Alzheimer’s. “This is because a dehydrated brain will be more prone to the build up of toxic chemicals and shrinkage of brain cells (neurones).”

Three: “Avoid eating large amounts of sugar, especially refined sugars and flours, as the liver will convert this into fat, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.” Honey and fresh fruit are ok in small amounts and carob not chocolate, also soy yoghurt not ice cream. Avoid all artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks and some diabetic foods as these are toxic to the liver and can cause hypoglycaemia and fatigue.

Four: This is good news. “Don’t become obsessed with counting calories and do ignore the bathroom scales.”

Five: “Avoid foods you may be allergic to or you know from past experience upset you. The most common allergenic foods are wheat and dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, cream, ice cream, chocolate.)”

Six: “Be aware of good intestinal hygiene. Do not eat preservatives, preserved delicatessen meats, sausages or contaminated, reheated food. (Eating acidophilus yoghurt and papaya, pawpaw or papain powder at the beginning of meals may help those with weak digestive systems.) When overseas avoid peeled fruits, vegetables and salads and especially raw foods, oysters and shellfish. Drink bottled filtered water.”

Seven: “Do not eat if you feel stressed or anxious.”

Eight: “Eat organic, fresh produce free of pesticides if it is available.”

Nine: “Obtain your protein from diverse sources (including legumes - beans, soy beans, chick-peas, lentils), and seeds and nuts; not just from animal products such as meat, eggs and fish.” The LCD diet does contain some chicken, preferably free range, fish and eggs, but avoids all red meat in the first eight weeks.

Ten: “Choose your breads and spreads wisely. Buy breads free from artificial chemicals, improvers and colourings, or make your own. Try rye, corn, oats, rice, barley and other breads from health food shops. Alternatively try Ryvita crackers, yeast free pitta breads or sourdough loaf. While on the LCD it is essential to avoid all margarine and / or butter, use fresh avocado, houmos or tahini instead as spreads.”

Eleven: “Avoid constipation by eating plenty of raw fruit and vegetables and drinking plenty of water throughout the day.”

Twelve: “Avoid excessive saturated and damaged fats. The type of fats you eat on a daily basis is so important to your health and longevity and will have the greatest influence on your liver function and your weight. Therefore it is important to understand good and bad fats. Margarines, hydrogenated vegetable oils and shortenings are liver enemies, definitely out during the LCD. Some Oils are less damaged by heating than others, and the best for stir frying are canola, sesame, peanut, high oleic sunflower, safflower and virgin olive oils.”

Next week we will explore healthy fats, essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6, oils ain’t oils, unhealthy damaged fats, cholesterol and liver tonics in Dr. Cabot’s book. In the interim rush out and buy a copy, “The Liver Cleansing Diet” by Dr. Sandra Cabot. ISBN 0-646-27789-8. It may even save your life.

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Guide to buying a large dog: Large Munsterlander

by C. Schloemer

Good points: affectionate, easily taught, good multi-purpose gun dog, good house pet, loyal, trustworthy

Take heed: needs plenty of space for abundant exercise

The Large Munsterlander is officially recorded as the youngest pointing retriever gun dog breed. It has, however, been known in Germany for as long as all the other German gun dog breeds. It resembles a setter in both build and coat, and has a head like that of a spaniel. Smart and easy to train, this breed has an excellent nose and wonderful staying power. For the owners who aren’t interested in shooting, this dog’s sincere desire to please and fine temperament makes it ideal for a family pet. Trustworthy around children, the Large Munsterlander is a loveable companion.

Size: Height: dog approximately 61 cm, bitch 58.5 cm. Weight: dog approximately 25-29 kg, bitch approximately 25 kg.

Exercise: This is an energetic working dog and needs plenty of space for exercise.

Grooming: Fortunately a daily brushing is enough to keep this dog’s coat in good condition

Origin and history: In bygone days, the best working dogs were mated to the best working bitches, with little regard to the colour, breeding, or coat texture. Early in the 19th century, however, people became conscious of breeds and colour, and records of the best dogs were kept. So it was with the Large Munsterlander, which was then classified as a Long-haired Germain Pointer.

When the German Kennel Club was founded and the general stud book came into operation, only brown and white Long-haired German Pointers were permitted registration. The litters containing odd-coloured puppies were frequently given away, finding their way into the hands of farmers and gamekeepers. This group was delighted to have such well-bred dogs which could work. The farmers were not bothered by the dog’s lack of colour registration. And this was fortunate, for it resulted in the saving of the breed now known as the Large Munsterlander. (The Small Munsterlander weighs in less than the Large).

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