Reed in Asia
Another first for me in Asia - Thailand
Myra and the children were living in our house in St Helens, Merseyside then and I only got to see them very occasionally now I was working at GQ in Godalming, Surrey. Even before taking the job with GQ, the previous job as a production development engineer for Dunlop tyres, I had to live in a hotel for a year, so it had been a very long time since we had lived together properly due to my work commitments. So I went to see my Technical Director at GQ and I asked him if I could take a one week holiday before I went to Thailand and then fly to Thailand from Ringway, Manchester airport. This he readily agreed to and he said that he would take care of all of the travel arrangements for me.
The next three weeks passed quite quickly, GQ were doing research and development on a new technology dome, the Air Defence Tactical Training Theatre (ADT3) and I was actively involved with this. On the Friday afternoon before I left for St Helens for my one week holiday, I had a final briefing with the Technical Director and the Operations Manager. We went through all of the technical details involved with my forthcoming installation in Thailand and we also went through the official contract, a copy of which I was given to take with me. Then I was told just before the meeting ended, that they had just received a telex and that we had a problem in Thailand, one of the indoor live-firing ranges at the Thai naval base in Sattahib, Thailand, had developed a fault and I was asked to go and repair this after initially checking the dome inventory at Don Muang, but before I actually started the installation of the dome equipment, because this indoor firing range problem had now become the priority. When the meeting had finished, the Director handed me my flight ticket to Thailand, wished me good luck, shook hands with me and then I left to drive to St Helens.
When I arrived home in St Helens about three hours later, I went through my trip to Thailand details with Myra and told her that I would be leaving from Manchester Ringway in one weeks time to fly to Bangkok and that I would probably have to stay in Thailand for about six months. Not just because of my working away from home for a long time by then, but also when I lived in the house with Myra and the children, we had started gradually growing apart, we did not get along very well together at that time and I couldn't quite put my finger on what the exact problem was, but we just seemed to be incompatible when we were living together, so living separately for a long time by then was not a problem for either of us. I never played around though and I never went out in search of any other girl for me, I just involved myself more in my work and drank a few more beers each evening.
The day before I was due to leave, I packed my bag with whatever warm weather clothes I could find in the house and I also threw in an old pair of RAF flying overalls, I thought that they would be ideal to wear when I was working in the dome in Thailand because they were loose fitting, they had a lot of pockets for tools and they also had a map pocket at the knee that I could put electronic diagrams in to view easily whilst working. That evening we went to my parent's house I hadn't seen them for a while and my father had volunteered to drive me to the airport the next day. After a while at my parent's house my father asked me if I wanted to go out for a beer and I quickly agreed, my mother, Myra and the children stayed in the house and then my father and I walked to the local pub 'The Saracen's Head' . This was the pub that I had had my 21st birthday party in 12 years before and the landlord and his wife were very pleased to see me.
My father and I had always had a very special relationship, we were more like best friends than father and son and we could talk to each other openly about anything at all. So we spent a good night in the pub chatting about Thailand and the Far East, I had never been to Thailand before, but when I was living in Singapore, many of the single RAF guys would go to Thailand on holiday and come back with lots of stories, usually involving Thai girls. We had quite a lot of beer to drink that night and unusual for me, I drank a lot of whisky too, at closing time I said goodbye to everyone that I knew in there and then my father and I went back to his house. My father drove Myra, the kids and me back to our house and as I got out of the car, he told me that he would pick me up at 09:00 the following morning, said goodnight and then he drove away. Once back in our own house, I went straight to bed and I immediately just slipped into an alcohol induced coma for the night.
The next morning Myra woke me up at 08:00 with a cup of tea in bed and a bacon sandwich, my head was a little light, but no hangover. I really needed the tea though and I downed it quickly with my sandwich, I told Myra that I would take a shower then and go downstairs for more tea later. I showered and shaved quickly, got dressed, put my washing and shaving gear in my suitcase and then went downstairs for some more tea. The children were just sitting watching cartoons on the TV when I sat down in the living room and I just watched them, Douglas was 10 years old then, but still quite small in stature, Cheryl was four years old then, she had been born in Germany just before I left the RAF. They had both been born overseas, so we were quite the international family! The doorbell rang then and I went to get it, my father was standing there smiling and asked me if I was ready, I looked at my watch and it was 09:00 already, I quickly went upstairs, got my suitcase and took it to the car, my mother was sittineg in the car and she said good morning to me, I put the case in the back of the car, my father had an estate car so it was easy. Then everyone got in the car, I couldn't believe it, the whole family was going to the airport with me, I felt like a young child being seen off on holiday for the first time, not at all like a thirty three year old electronic engineering professional going to take care of a major international, Thai government, military contract.
At Manchester airport, I checked-in for the flight and then we all went to the restaurant/bar, my father bought me a Guinness with a whisky chaser and then we all just sat talking and drinking. I said that I would try to phone them on arrival at Bangkok and I said that I would bring back lots of photos and some presents for everyone when I came back. I was then called to the flight, so I quickly finished my drinks, everyone went with me to the departure gate, my father shook my hand and wished me luck and the others all kissed me and said goodbye. In the aircraft, it was a 747, I was shown upstairs to the business class seats and my seat was next to the window on the port side. From my seat I could see the terminal building easily and all of the family could obviously see me because they were all waving to me, so I waved back to them, still feeling like a child on my first outing alone. The aircraft started to taxi then and everyone was still waving to me and following the aircraft by walking along the terminal building windows. I was glad when we eventually cleared from the terminal area and started to taxi to the runway, I had found the whole scenario very embarrassing. On take-off, as was my habit now, I timed the take-off run from release of the brakes to rotation (V2) and it was always about the same time for any aircraft, usually around 42 seconds and this time it was 40 seconds, so now I was flying to my next adventure.
'I wonder what Thailand is like?'
I shall be adding to this site over time, so if anyone is interested then please have a little patience and call back here from time to time. One of my very few pleasures in life these days is beer so I shall be occasionally referring to beer, I just wish that beer was the only reason that I am legless all the time
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