After years of delay, Thailand this week concluded its auction to run a 3G mobile ‘phone network here. Not surprisingly, the auction has given every impression that the three companies bidding colluded, resulting the the government receiving 16.3 billion Baht less than the price recommended by a panel of experts from Chulalongkorn engaged by the government. Still, what’s $532 million between friends?

Of course some people will grumble that Thailand has been very slow to adopt the technology. After all, our poorer and more backward neighbours Burma and Laos have both had 3G ‘phone networks for many years now. But that just proves our neighbours’ system of corruption is much more efficient than ours.

Personally, I’m rather glad that Thailand is tardy in rolling out new technology because when, on August 29th at 2:14 a.m. Eastern Time, Lao’s 10G mobile ‘phones become self-aware and start an all-out apocolyptic war again humanity, here in Thailand we’ll still happily be contemplating the possible rollout of 4G technology.


According to today’s newspapers a large hole has opened up under the Rangsit-Pathum Thani Road just to the north of Bangkok.

Policeman looking into hole in road

Police are looking into it.

(Photo from the Bangkok Post, 4th October 2012.)


The UK’s TV Channel 5 is perhaps not a place to expect quality programming. After all, it’s owned by Britain’s most successful pornographer, Richard Desmond, who is more associated with his offerings such as “Ben Dover’s Loose Women” and “Amateur British Lesbos”. However, it contains a few gems such as “The Hotel Inspector” in which Alessandra “Alex” Polizzi of the Forte hotel dynasty tries to fix broken hotel businesses. Her upperclass accent counterpoints her astute obervations which are occasionally bitchy (“whoever designed these rooms, she deserves to be bitch-slapped”), yet she is wonderfully empathetic with the hopelessly misguided hoteliers it is her mission to help. And it produces a strange frisson of delight when a profane word comes uttered from the charming mouth of this charming woman.

When it was announced that Gordon Ramsay was going to star in a shameless American rip-off of the format, I was initially thrilled. It obviously meant that Ramsay had fixed all the dodgy restaurants in America (“Kitchen Nightmares”), had found a new chef for his Las Vegas restaurants (“Hell’s Kitchen”), found America’s best amateur cook (“Masterchef US”), reformed the UK’s prison population (“Gordon Behind Bars”) and managed to teach the whole of the UK how to cook delectable dishes (“Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course”). Not for a moment did I think he was spreading himself too thin.

My second thought was that Ramsay has never run an hotel in his life. It would be about as appropriate for Ramsay to proffer advice on running an hotel on the basis of having stayed in some as it would be for me to regard myself as an expert on how to run a restaurant having eaten in a few over the years.

My third thought, however, was far more disturbing: in The Hotel Inspector, in one recent episode, Alex Polizzi appeared naked. It was when she was trying to fix a naturist hotel in Birmingham where clothing was verboten. It took her a few days to pluck up the courage to undress for the camera, and everything was photographed oh-so-tastefully; there was always a potted plant strategically positioned to hide her modesty. Heaven forfend that Ramsay’s Hotel Hell should feature a naked Gordon Ramsay! Who would want to see the 45 year old’s wrinkly sagging flesh? But it was to come to pass.

In week one the viewers were treated to a sight of a naked Ramsay’s derrière as he entered a bathtub. I assumed this was a one-off and continued watching.

In week two, we were again regailed with Ramsay en déshabillé. Surely an aberation. But no! Weeks 3 and 4 both featured Ramsay au naturel. Is there no limit to the starkers chef that the viewing public is expected to stomach?

One curious feature, though, is that Chef Ramsay appears to have a large tattoo of a draughtsboard on his buttocks – either that, or the offending parts were pixelated by the TV company. Personally, I hope never to find out.


Whisky doesn’t like thunderstorms. When thunder is in the air he’ll cower under my desk or the dining table, and he’ll be off his food. Unfortunately, at the moment there are thunderstorms almost every night. I’ll be woken in the small hours of the morning by the sound of his padding outside my bedroom door. I’ll let him in, and he’ll lie down on the floor close to me until the storm has passed. Then he’ll start padding around the bedroom wanting to go back downstairs. Oh, for an unbroken night’s sleep!

The heavy rain hasn’t been good for Thailand or Bangkok. Currently 11 of the country’s 76 provinces are experiencing flooding. 179,074 people in 1,763 villages are affected. At the weekend an industrial estate in Bangkok flooded when its defences broke. Sukhothai, Thailand’s historical capital before Ayutthaya and home to stunning temple ruins, has so far been flooded twice this year. 130 billion Baht notionally spent on flood defences since last years’ floods (that’s £2.4 billion or $3.9 billion) yet nothing seems to have changed (apart from the bank balances of certain influential people which have become as swollen as Thailand’s rivers and canals).