The Odyssey: A Pattaya expat’s quest to come home during COVID-19 – Part 4


There is not really much to report at the moment. Obviously, I had a massive sulk and went off to pout when I heard the Thai government had closed the borders for another month. It then got me thinking, what is the point of all those quarantine beds if the government is not going to use them? Especially as it is the likes of me who has to pay for them when I do get back to Thailand. Don’t they want to try and get any of their money back?

Anyway, this is not the venue to discuss politics. So, what of old Blighty at the moment? Well, people are becoming more and more frustrated with the continuance of the lockdown. This was enforced by a lovely letter I had from my godmother today. She will be 91 by the end of the month and was married to my godfather – a wonderful man – for 70 (yes, seventy) years. In her writings, she says, “…in my long life I have never known anything like it. Pubs and cinemas stayed open even in air-raids!” It does make one wonder what the world will look like when all of this is finished. What will be the ‘New Normal’?

Well for a start, I will not be able to see the wondrous sight of Scotland winning every rugby match that Scottish Rugby puts on for us week after week. The latest festive treat was a game from the 1984 Grand Slam season when we beat the French – always a good thing. Sadly, when all of this is over, we will revert to reality and I don’t have to tell you what that means.

Also, one thing I will not miss is having to watch Boris live on TV. I now find myself sitting with a dictionary next to me to find out what heuristics will spew out on any particular evening. The latest one was ‘marmoreal’. For those who are as equally thick as I am this means, “made of or compared to marble.” If you look at the Merriam Webster’s definition, it gets worse – “of, relating to, or suggestive of marble or a marble statue especially in coldness or aloofness.” Given that Boris was trying to compliment the British public’s common-sensical values you may understand why I am a tad confused. On top of this he then dives into another language, “Salus populi suprema lex esto” which, as we all know, translates as “the health of the people should be the supreme law.” Why can’t he just say this in English rather than make us all click on to Google translate?

I do find it amusing when I go out on my weekly adventure to the supermarket to hear people chatting in the aisles (appropriately social distanced of course), wistfully looking forward to going back to work. They probably never imagined they would hear themselves speak such words but I have heard folk say they missed such things as: “pressure”, “the boss shouting at me”, “deadlines”, “commuting”, “traffic”, “the general hassle of going to work”. How times change and just shows that the old phrase, “the grass is always greener…” is so true.

One of the first things I had to do when the Thai government issued its latest missive on lepers such as I was to go down to Heathrow to renew my ticket for the fourth time. I stated earlier in a previous Odyssey report that I did not believe the roadworks would be finished by Christmas. I forgot to add one thin – Xmas 2021 at the earliest. I would not be a happy chappie if I had to commute into London on the M4 every day.

Things were slightly different at the Lufthansa desk. You can see they reckon they are now in for the long haul – forgive the airline pun – by the fact that there are now plastic screens up between the person at the desk and the customer. Lufthansa were as brilliant as ever and I wonder if they realise how much a little bit of civility and kindness goes? I will certainly be using them again. I then returned to my car to drive back to Caversham when the tyre pressure light came on. Fortunately, Europcar was just round the corner so I popped in there to see if they could solve the problem. Well, even I could see there was a bloody great nail sticking out of the read offside so they changed the tyre there and then. Yet again, great service and by people who were prepared to get closer than 25 years so as to help you out.

When all of this is over, it will be interesting to see if people are still prepared to meet with each other – especially for business. I have now got used to the two or three second delay in a reply when chatting with someone on Zoom or that very old-fashioned concept called Skype. I half suspect I will be expecting the same thing even if I am sitting opposite them over a desk when I eventually get back to work.

As well as all of this, I do find myself wondering if we will ever use physical money again. People look aghast at me when I try to hand them a ‘fiver’ – not that you can get much for a fiver in the UK these days. They assume I am some sort of serial-killer who is trying to add them to my list of ‘folk I have managed to knock off today’. Then, when I offer them a credit card, I get a look that could kill at thirty paces and silently says, “Why didn’t you give me this in the first place?”

People are complaining that pubs, clubs and restaurants are not being allowed to open. I can vouch for this and can also state that whilst there are no longer any queues for these kind of places, they have been replaced by long lines of people waiting to disgorge last week’s consumption at the Bottle-Banks.

Going back to the supermarket side of things, after being here for what seems like an eternity, I do wonder about the freshness of things we buy in Thailand. Take milk for instance. If I buy a pint of Meiji or Dutch in Makro with a sell by date of say, 130520, I know it will be good for what seems like months. Over here, if I see something with the same date then at one minute passed midnight of the ‘use by date’ the bloody stuff curdles into a glutenous mass that is more akin to my wife’s homemade cottage cheese than a pint of milk.

Talking of food, one thing is for sure, when the lockdown ends, half of us will have learned how to cook properly and, if we haven’t done that then we will all have a serious drinking problem. I, for one, need to practise some serious social distancing with the fridge and am wondering where to go for next weekend’s bank holiday – the kitchen or the living room.


One of my business partners is a brilliant baker. Maybe I should get some tips off him as to how to create a magnificent marraqueta or perfect pannetone? I suspect I will be blaming the oven door for not closing properly and so forsaking the potential of this domestic bliss.

I don’t think anyone expected when we changed the clocks, we’d go from Standard Time to the Twilight Zone. It’s now got to the stage that I really get excited about deciding what to wear – even when it is time to take the rubbish out.

I do also wonder why the UK government says that everyone has to be two metres apart when the World Health Organisation says that one metre is enough. I will let the reader digest this fact and leave you with this final thought – it is better to be six foot apart than six foot under!

Must also Read:
The Odyssey: A Pattaya expat’s quest to come home during COVID-19 – Part 1
The Odyssey: A Pattaya expat’s quest to come home during COVID-19 – Part 2
The Odyssey: A Pattaya expat’s quest to come home during COVID-19 – Part 3