A few years ago, shortly after I moved to Ayutthaya, I drove a friend to hospital after he’d been attacked by a dog. At the pharmacy, half joking, he asked the pharmacist whether she had any medicine to deal with dogs. The pharmacist wouldn’t oblige, but an elderly woman in an adjacent queue piped up: take some minced meat, add some powdered soap, and get some medicine from a particular stall in the market.

Of course, my friend, a dog-lover himself, didn’t follow up on the advice. However, sadly, many people do, and many dogs die in terrible agony from having been poisoned by neighbours. One particularly upsetting incident happened in Ayutthaya recently.

A local policeman, Somyos, owned a one year old macaque named Taew and a dog, Suea. They were best friends. Taew used to like to ride on Suea’s back. Such was the sight that local TV stations had broadcast footage of Taew the dog jockey.

Taew rides Suea

A neighbour (also a policeman) resented the couple’s fame, and was particularly enraged when one day Taew and Suea climbed into the back of his pickup. In retaliation, it appears, he poisoned Somyos’ two cats, so Somyos took to chaining up Taew and Suea to protect them. The neighbour, however, apparently still managed to poison Suea. And so the newspapers showed a heart-rending picture of Taew clinging to the back of the dead Suea, Taew not realising that his best friend was dead.

Taew clings to the corpse of Suea

So, so sad.

(Both photographs from The Bangkok Post.)


After a night of fasting, I’d had my blood drawn at the hospital and was permitted to eat and drink again. It was too early for lunch. I wandered along the hospital corridors, past the pseudo-French bakery, past Starbucks, past 7-eleven. Nothing appealed. Then I saw it: a stall selling cupcakes and coffee.

I’d never tried a cupcake before, though almost every week Martha Stewart practically orgasms on screen over them, so I knew they must be something truly wonderful, a delicacy on a part with the first asparagus of the season, truffles, foie gras and the finest caviar. I had to have one.

Judging by their appearance, they are some sort of mutant bastard offspring of British fairy cakes. The colours – lurid pinks, fluorescent greens, vivid mauves – have no counterpart in nature. I didn’t let that put me off. I just knew from Martha that these were something amazing.

I chose one of the less gaudy offerings: mutant caramel flavour. It came in a little plastic cup with a domed lid. Remembering that this is an American delicacy, I realised that it was meant to be eaten with one’s hands, just like hamburgers, pizzas and almost everything else. (Well, that plus the fact that no knife and fork was proffered.) Emulating a snake, I dislocated my jaw to take a first, tentative bite. I could feel my teeth turning to black, rotten stumps as they sank their way through the two centimetre-thick frosting – frosting of such sickly sweetness that surely even the most sugar-crazed hummingbird would be repulsed. The sponge underneath crumbled shamelessly over my lap.

They say “life’s too short to frost a cupcake”. I don’t know about that, but my life will never be so long that I will want to eat another one.


Guess who I found on my doorstep this morning:

Pinchy the crab

To explain, this is a land crab. They live in paddy fields and are salted and fermented to make a tasty addition to somtam (green papaya salad) – not that I have such a fate planned for this particular crustacean. There are paddy fields abutting my moobaan.

And yes, I know that Pinchy was a lobster, not a crab. Now, if I did have lobsters grazing around the house I couldn’t guarantee them safe passage.


“One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should”

In my early teens I attended a grammar school in Kent that had a traditional rivalry with a nearby school. Occasionally there would be set-piece fights, and a handful of students would return to the classroom after lunch bloodied and bruised.

“We came out of it, naturally the worst.
Beaten and bloody. And I was sick down my shirt.
We were no match for their untamed wit.
Though some of the lads said they’d be back next week.”

I didn’t get involved; I abhor violence in all its forms, plus I’m allergic to pain.

Such rivalries in Bangkok don’t always end with just a few cuts and scrapes.

A nine year old kid died earlier this week not far from where I live. He was caught by the random spray of bullets intended for students from a rival college. The bus he was on was packed. (Aren’t they all?) The driver (and all credit to him) sped to a nearby hospital. Jatuporn Polpaka was already dead.

“Not like Buddha, not like Vishnu
Life wouldn’t rise through him again.”

Rest in peace, dear Jatuporn.