A prayer before dawn – A nightmare in Thailand


Another book on life (and death) in Thailand’s prisons.  This one, A prayer before dawn and subtitled A nightmare in Thailand (ISBN 978-616-7111-20-9, Bamboo Sinfonia, 2012) was written by Billy Moore, an English likely lad.

In many ways, this man’s book is a reflection of society in the UK.  “The alcoholic, violent dad, the valiant mother brutalized and broken down by caring for six children and having to deal with a violent husband.  The endless poverty, the 70s council estates rigidly divided into ganglands…”

Author Billy Moore comes from that background, and although he does not use this to excuse his actions, which end up having him incarcerated in Thailand, it becomes part of his case history.

Pattaya gets an inglorious mention: “Pattaya is a seedy sex resort” which is not quite true today.  (It is like saying “London is a seedy sex capital” because it has Soho.  However Sun, Sand and Sex is always a good attention grabber!)

He describes getting off drugs through a rehab establishment, but then describes very eloquently his relapse.  His ‘demon’ is “…always ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness.  But he won’t kill me with an axe or a gun – his weapon of choice is drugs.”

During his sinking to the drug-fuelled depths he alternately becomes paranoid and then very bitter.  “Nobody was for real in Thailand; friendships were fictitious.  The real Thailand, the one that didn’t smile, was a dangerous place to be.  That’s why I stayed – for the thrill and excitement.  The fantasy that I could build here was of my own making.”

Much of the book is taken up with introspection as he begins to understand just how he managed to end up in the many predicaments his fantasy had taken him.  “I have no one to blame for who I am.  I am who I am through the choices I made, making acceptance of my current predicament easy for me.”  He turned to religion, any religion, to help him.  “I would have believed in anything, ghouls, goblins, even fairy tales!”

However, much of the book shows that he was having many problems with “acceptance” and so he turned again to drugs.  Mind you, from what he (and others) have described, it would almost be impossible to come to any kind of acceptance of inhumane treatment.  “I had been stripped of all my dignity.  Every facet of my human rights had been violated and no one I cared about knew.”

This genre of book has probably had more than its fair share of published offerings, and every foreign jail bird appears as a frustrated author.  There is no doubting that Klong Prem is not where one would choose for one’s self, but it is probably just the fact that we know we will be horror-stricken that keeps us coming back for more.  However, it is well written (which makes me think there was perhaps a ghost writer) and at 450 baht an inexpensive look into a life of drugs.  Available at Bookazine, AsiaBooks, DK Post Office, DK Central Road, DCO Thai on-line.