PHUKET: Tom Sharpe can be described as the heir of PG Wodehouse, the master of English farce. His first satirical novels, Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, were written about South Africa to where he had moved, after attending Cambridge University, to work as a teacher and social worker in 1951. A decade later, he was deported for “sedition”.
In 1976, he scored his biggest success with Wilt, a hilarious novel about Henry Wilt, a cynical drunken lecturer at a mediocre English university. The highlight, and the cover cartoon, has a frantic Wilt stuffing an inflatable sex doll down a piling hole. Why? Don’t ask.
Wilt inspired four sequels, the latest of which is The Wilt Inheritance (Arrow Books, London, 2011, 328pp). Despite the 35 years that have passed since the first novel, Wilt is still middle-aged, still dissatisfied with his dead end job as a mediocre university professor, still saddled with Eva, his hare-brained and bossy wife, and afflicted with four teenage daughters – Josephine, Emmeline, Samantha and Penelope – the “quads” or quadruplets.
Wilt contemplates his middle-aged lack of ambition:
“Wilt’s spirits sank even lower when he thought of his daughters, all four of them exact replicas of his ghastly wife and just as loud and overbearing as she was. No, more loud and overbearing than she was, given the combined effect of their quadruple efforts. All four girls were inexhaustible in their petty squabbles and inter-sororial battles, and he was pretty sure that the demise of his get-up-and-go had pretty much coincided with their arrival.”
“Ghastly” is the most overworked adjective in this book. Everyone is ghastly. Eva befriends the ghastly Lady Clarissa, a drunk and a nymphomaniac, who is married to the ghastly Sir George Gadsley, a gun nut and philanderer after fat ladies. Lady Clarissa persuades Eva to move her family to her country estate for the summer, so that Henry can tutor her son, the ghastly Eddie, so he can pass his exams to get into Cambridge. Eddie shows no interest in anything except for throwing stones at trespassers on the estate.
“Nothing, be it animal or small child, was entirely safe when Eddie was around,” Lady Clarissa reflects. “There had been a couple of unfortunate run ins with some of the townsfolk, who seemed not to accept the argument that if their children would trespass on the estate then they only had themselves to blame. A lot of silly fuss about nothing really. After all, what were a few stitches here and there? And it wasn’t as if the child was good-looking in the first place.”
Now, however, Eddie has graduated from stones to Sir George’s high-powered hunting rifles. The problem is that the author hasn’t bothered to develop the character of Eddie at all. We don’t even know what he looks like.
In fact, Tom Sharpe is 84 and showing his age. Many of his jokes are lame and the plot wanders about witlessly. An aged uncle of Lady Clarissa has died of drink. The quads hid his body. Eddie discovers them and manages to shoot himself to death. The quads hide his body. The police search the estate with sniffer dogs who seem overly fond of the quads. But they get off scot-free and return to their posh boarding school to wreak more havoc.
There are a host of stock characters: the retired army colonel, the bumbling police inspector, the petty village vicar. The vicar hates Sir George for spreading the rumor that he was “a pervert who interferes with small boys”. The inspector thinks this over and asks: “And are you?”
“How dare you! Of course I’m not. You can ask my wife, if you don’t believe me. I don’t even like small boys . . . nasty, vicious little things. Or big boys, come to that.”
The whole novel is covered with this sort of fustian air. The country has moved on but this sort of genteel comedy has not. Perhaps satire is a game for young men who are angry enough to sustain it. The octogenarian Tom Sharpe is just telephoning his satire in.
“The Wilt Inheritance” by Tom Sharpe is available for download for the kindle from Amazon (click here), or by order through the main bookshops in Phuket.
— James Eckardt
‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people
On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.
From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.
The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.
One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.
There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.
This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.
This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.
21% of Thai teenagers are gambling
PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest
Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.
The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.
The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.
According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.
“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”
In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.
The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.
“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”
SOURCE: The ASEAN Post
Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare
A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.
She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.
She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.
Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.
“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”
This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.
The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.
The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.
SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum
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