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Extracts from a novel, the setting Asia (the UK & Italy) : The first about friendship, love, La & me. The second about Pattaya's notorious Walking Street and Yaa, a dancer from Khon Kaen. The third about Dad & me. The fourth a "taste" of comedy (I hope). The fifth about Nok who Rosta fell for.

      Some time later, in the early flush of our friendship, I even managed to persuade La to go bird-watching with me. In those early days the marshes behind my condo were home to egrets, lapwings, herons and cormorants. The trees nearby had sunbirds and flowerpeckers. The right season filled the sky with ashy woodswallows. Pied fantails hunted the bins behind my condo complex. The trees across the very changeable and floody marshes where the white egrets hunted and rose and fell were friends to indian rollers. Drongos looped and swooped. The asian koel got noisy. Even black-shouldered kites would angle in over those watery wastes. Insects abounded. Fish splashed, and La and I got some out of the mysterious muds using bits of sea-shrimp. Ah, yes, love was good to me and my birds in those early days!

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      How can I describe what we enter? There is the hot, humid air, the jingle-jangle of lights, the cacophony of noise as different tunes hit into one another and bounce and reverberate. There are three hundred males awalking but the men are outnumbered by slim, smiling, beautiful, sexy, young women, dressed skimpily, in hot pants and small, tight tops. Neon signs glitter and glare.

      Heavy, heavy, live music hits us. Hotter and hotter humid air, and stuff comes at us. We are well and truly in the middle of Walking Street....Bevvies of marvellous, dark- or light-skinned girls call for our attention. It is all false, amazing, ambiguous, whatever. It all gets you and to you and gets you going. This is all a very big dream come true. This is a ranting Drughigh fuelled by Dream-Fantasy and Lust. And we are the principal actors, our entry paid for by our big wallets and heads and an exchange rate that exults our little, growth-stagnating but stronger economies.

      Japanese, Khon Kaen Yaa, will you ever return as beautiful as you were, to grace with joy the startled air, to dance in front of me and push yourself into my eager face, disappoint and stun me with chemistry that never clicked though I wished it had a thousand and a thousand times more? I was too old for you and too foreign, or what? I knew after those four days in that forlorn, empty hotel overlooking the grey rained-on Rayong sea that nothing was going to make of itself nothing but how depressed I felt on my return to the great rigmarole that calls itself Fun City where you had told me you wanted to stay and work and dance and drink till four in the morning every morning every day tomorrow and the next tomorrow.

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      10th October. Dad returns from his walk and I hear him closing the toilet window noisily from outside. No key turns in the lock. I open the front door, and he is lying with his head almost on the porch door step, as if that hard cushion were the only thing and comfort he needed. "Don't go," I pleaded. "Don't go."

      How can I describe that cold October evening, its appalling atmosphere, my father juddering, rigid, fighting to regain consciousness, and death and the spectre of death whispering unkindly? Son talks to father after all the wasted years. Son begs father not to leave. Still so much to do to change if not to sweep away the barren years.

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      Like the reptiles whose mission it is to keep down the insect population so too do many exotic birds perform a similar committed task and the innumerable bee-eaters prove the point. There are the red-bearded, the blue-bearded, the green, the blue-throated, the blue-tailed and the chestnut-headed. The formidable, manly and mainly black drongos are forever at it, too, and the insects never fail to satisfy. No black, ashy, crow-billed, bronzed, lesser racket-tailed, greater racket-tailed, spangled or andaman drongo goes hungry. To see shafts and twisted rackets, long streamers of bird extension, is to see or to feel you are seeing — which is really the same thing — a crippler, a surrogate lifer, a megatick of majestic proportions.

      And more.

      These magnificent, voluminous wingers and wizard wanderers of the currents are like Pattaya punters, too, forever at it on an impossible mission to lay as many of the birds as they can without being able to complete the mission because the lays are too many, the punters too few, and the inevitable wastage too great. How many fall off and die? Can Google Search tell me that?

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      Let me wax lyrical about Rosta's lovely bird, Nok, whose name translates as Bird (as I've already told you — about fifty-nine times!) and who inevitably leads to porn bills, as close to hornbills as makes no difference, thereby providing a link and luscious passage from this my present chapter to the next. Ah, Nok, bird-not-bird, you're not just a pretty face but a pretty set of just about eveything else formidable and feminine that Asian beauty, handsome dads and handsomer mums, can exacerbate to ensnare the Rostaranalosses of this world, inclusive of a literary masterpiece of kaleidoscopic, unmanageable colour, but if I insist on your settling here for a while, you know the reason why only too well, and if your writers, and this one in particular, fail to sing your praises, then the failure is all ours! Please to perch, superb  Nok, and don't lift that tail of yours!

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