Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Never ask a Producer for Money"

 

"Never ask a producer for money," said the familiar voice, crackling down the line from London, "ask them for advice instead and then they will give you the money!"

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving (War is Over)

Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year in America.  But what is this strange American ritual that celebrates the planting, renewal and survival of a New England far from England?

 


 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Who do we get for the Yank?"

 

My learned cohort Ian St John sent over "the slate details" from Scott Free, a film and television company founded by filmmakers Ridley and Tony Scott. They were after certain films for certain genres and the Male Trailing Spouse had to cook to order. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On the Hustle in Filmland

 

Vertigo Films, a British production and distribution company based in London, were interested in our ultra-violent but funny cop thriller and wanted to pick up the script.  There was one itty-bitty problem: we didn't have one to show them.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Running out of tea bags in America

 

Northerners put milk in first, Southerners second.

 

Two hundred and eighty five Earl Grey tea bags, twelve sachets of Lemsip (Lemon flavor), two jars of Marmite and half a bottle of "London Pub" malt vinegar -- it's tough to be a Brit in the God made State of Georgia. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Martin Fyffe your soul is mine!

The Devil's Rain (1975) directed by my late friend Bob Feust.

 

"Martin Fyffe," cried Jimmy Greaves, Satan's Minister on Earth and hotshot Brit director in the everlasting Kingdom of Hollywood, "Martin Fyffe, my disloyal servant, come forth and claim the fate that I have prepared for thee!"

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Hollywood Sanction

"I'm a very important director."

The Male Trailing Spouse was getting his head around "step deals," "staggered pay" and "3% of the gross" when another script arrived from the Court of King Jimmy Greavse. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hollywood Babylon

The scriptwriter's life would be ideal but for the scriptwriting itself. That was a problem I had to overcome in order to succeed in the showbiz city of Babylon.


"I'm a very important director."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Yanks dress for shit

OK there are exceptions

I have laughed at American fashion sense for decades. But now that I am living in the USA, as a dysfunctional, dual-national, Male Trailing Spouse, I can attest to the (relative) fact that there are a LOT of blokes in America who dress like complete and utter shithouses.   

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Going Mad via Hollywood

Saint (left) and Greavsie (right) my codenames for the Hollywood double act.

The day was starting quietly enough for the Male Trailing Spouse and then he got out of bed. It was a big mistake. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Alex in Wonderland

 

 

The Male Trailing Spouse is back in his milieu. The film biz to be precise. Hooray for Hollywood, "that screwy, ballyhooey Hollywood" and Hooray for me! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Working Out in the USA

TV hard man Lewis Collins in Sergio Tacchini tracksuit.

72 kilos/11.3 stone/158 pounds (no need for liposuction), alcohol units 0 (gave up three years ago), cigarettes 4, calories consumed 2850.   

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The View from Suburbia

There is light rain over Metro Atlanta but the view from suburbia is White. 

 

 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

9/19: my first coup d'état!

October 6, 1976: one of the bloodiest coups in Thai history.

Do you remember your first coup d'état? I do.  It was September 19th, 2006 and I was living in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

First Year at Marienbad

Welcome to Virginia-Highland, Atlanta.  I have been living in this double barreled neighborhood for just over a year now but there are déjà vu moments when I get the odd feeling that I have been here before.

Welcome to your Home from Home

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Train Yourself to Trail

It is surprisingly easy to become a Trailing Spouse (TS). Any man can do it by following a few simple rules.  Within a short period of time, you will be able to brag to your friends that you have become part of a TS network, are on your way to being socially ostracized, stabbed in the back, and possibly tortured under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Training for Trailing Spouses

I have become the perfection of idle for many observers of the business of trailing the better half. Few appreciate, or seem to care, that I remove myself from danger and achieve ends by the application of poncing rather than working.

 

Get into the sports bag, Mr. Williams.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tradecraft for Trailing Spouses

To be a professional in any occupation, one must acquire the skills and tools of the trade and in this respect the Trailing Spouse (TS) is no different.  The skills taught to a would-be TS are known as "tradecraft". It is a set of rules or standard operating procedure. These are diverse, and include thrashing the maid, going to the gym, having lunch with inappropriate persons, and a multiplicity of other practices. 

 

E.G. Russia and China

Monday, August 5, 2013

Laughing at Americans

Yanks are good for a laugh. And if you are a Brit, living in the US of A (exactly one year today), there's plenty to laugh about. Don't get me wrong. I love America and I am an American through my Father. But, because I am half Yank, I can slag off the foibles and idiosyncrasies of the Fatherland. It's my First Amendment right So there.

Reynolds: an American symbol of Victory and Manlihood   

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Daeng Place

Where every low-life knows your name


Daeng Place. At one time, in the early part of the 21st Century, it was probably the greatest boozer on Planet Earth. What made it so spectacular? Every loony, near genius, defector from reality and second class citizen drank there. Me included.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Diplomats Behaving Dumbly

There are some second rate, no, tenth-rate minds, employed in Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service. I make this gross generalization because I had the misfortune to mix with some of these philistines and numbskulls from 2003-2012.

 





The Dip Card

Freeze! UN Spouse! Keep your hands where I can see 'em, on the beer bottle, chester. That's right, moron. My juju is stronger than your JUSMAGTHAI social club membership card. Fuzz wave me on. You win a watermelon cavity search in Bombat nick. So don't mess. I outrank you. I am top of the food chain, you scum sucking, bottom feeding, Chang drinking, kiddie fiddling, sex offender you!  

This here I.D. is my do-what-the-fuck-I-want-get-out-of-jail-free-card. Not a laminate from Khao San Road It's official. Bona fucking fide. Same same no different to the brass balls I got dangling right between my legs.  

Out on the Tiles

When a man about town becomes a male trailing spouse, he ceases to be about town forevermore. In my case, the town was London and the post was Bangkok, a city with a well worn rep for human intrigue and self gratification.

 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Male Trailing Spouse and his แม่บ้าน

Clean-ing, iron-ing, cook-ing. No, not three cities in China -- just three things that a mae baan does well.  A mae baan is a maid, a Thai maid, quite literally a "mother of the house". And for 8 years, 10 months, 3 weeks and 6 days in Bangkok, Thailand, I had a mae baan (and a bloody good one at that).

Friday, July 12, 2013

Diplomats Behaving Badly

Foreigners are used to Brits behaving badly overseas.  We parade our nationality, and regional identity, in gaudy football shirts; get loud when drunk, cause scenes and pick fights with total strangers. Our name is Legion and we are many -- lager louts, football hooligans, the barmy army and feral youth That's us Brits in the corner, a bunch of turds who shouldn't be flushed out the country! 

Diplomatic Impunity

 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Who Mourns for Michael Bollinger?

The male trailing spouse is officially in mourning.  A great friend recently died in Bangkok. This is my testimonial to Michael "The General" Bollinger. A man who typified the rugged image of the American hero; honorable, direct, caring, larger than life and twice as ugly!

Michael "The General" Bollinger 1948-2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Trailing Spouse in the Gutter

You meet a lot of super characters in Bangkok. It is a magnet for the unreformed and a hub of the damned. Fugitives. Traffickers. Bigamists. Racketeers. Fraudsters. Nonces, clockwork junkies and old-fashioned drunks. The male trailing spouse had the privilege of slumming with the very worst that the city had to offer. 

"Can you help a fellow sexpat down on his luck?"

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sex and the Trailing Spouse

When men think of Bangkok they think about sex. Easy sex. Quick sex. Paid sex. Long time. Short time. No problem.  Sex is everywhere in the city of angles (angels?) And its outward signs, the neon strips and go-go bars, are aimed exclusively at men from the West. Good boys go to Heaven, but bad boys go to Thailand.  

 

(It says so on the t-shirt)





Sunday, June 9, 2013

Serial FCO Spousal Abuse

Men make a lot of selfish excuses about not being in a position to take three years out of working life to accompany their wife or partner overseas. They are burdened by the irrational gender constructs of society. And tend not to give up their economic, social and cultural capital.

Well I did. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cucumber Sandwiches at the CLO's Tea Party

The Community Liaison Officer’s tea parties were noted in Bangkok society for their host’s exquisite taste that captivates her guests.

“It just occurred to me,” the CLO said, replying to my RSVP, “you will be the only male in attendance.”


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Man on the Spying Trapeze


Who is the spy at the Ambassador’s reception? That is the question. Is it the junior diplomat drinking Scotch at the bar, or the worn-out, platinum blonde wife of that know-it-all Counsellor in the Political Section? Perhaps the Third Secretary in Economic/Development, the one who drinks shandy and watches Sex and the City. There are a lot of unsavoury characters in the ranks of the intelligence community, and he’s a bit of a “red flag,” isn’t he? I heard that he’s got a first in gay from Cambridge. For all we know, he could be Moscow’s man at the UK Mission. Let’s face it: any one of these characters at the Ambassador’s reception could be the man, or woman, on the spying trapeze.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Expat under the Jackboot

Achtung Farang! For you ze party is over. Three years ago on May 19, 2010, things went pear shaped for the 8.2 million or so residents of Bangkok. The sit-in and occupation of the city by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the 100,000 strong red shirted supporters of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra (removed in a military coup of September 2006) was forcibly evicted by security forces after a two month protest. Snap shots pinged and ricocheted. Grenades banged. And plumes of smoke from arson attacks rose up from the city centre blackening the sky. Dangerous days in a country defined by a rift. You were either a Yellow or Red. But, this time 3 years ago, if you happened to be Red, you could have ended up dead, dead, dead.

The AWOL Ambo

In May 2010, nerves were frayed at the UK Mission in Bangers. Red Shirt protestors (the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship) had set up camp next to the Embassy compound, a brick's lob from the Ambassador's residence. They were a noisy bunch who played Thai country music 24/7 and liked setting off fireworks. Silly Billy UK based staffers (now living on site to cut costs for HMG) thought they were getting mortared. There was much panic below stairs. Many diplomats, worried about a Mau Mau style massacre, fled to Pattaya to play elephant polo and 18 holes of golf. Surely the upper ranks of the UK Mission would be sporting their best stiff upper lip?

Bollocks they would. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Goodbye to Thailand

CONFIDENTIAL
THIS DOCUMENT IS THE PROPERTY OF HER BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Secret Origin of the Male Trailing Spouse


How does a nightmare begin? For Alexander Reynolds, journalist, newly posted to Thailand, it began at a few minutes past Seven on a lost Wednesday night. It began with the arrival of a strange book from a distant bureaucracy.

“DFIDSEA Bangkok Welcome Guide: A Little advice to help you through your first days and weeks at post in Bangkok.”

In the years to come, Alexander Reynolds would go back to where it all began. Many times.


FCO Spousal Abuse

Three weeks ago The Times asked me to write (and rewrite!) a feature about my life as a male trailing spouse. 

“I’ve been on the hunt,” the Boss lady said, “for an expat husband who might write a funny piece for us about what it’s like following your wife’s career across the globe. We always hear about the expat ladies who lunch, but what about the men? Do you lunch, shop and get pedicures too? Does it feel emasculating and how do others react to the news that you’re the trailing spouse?” 




Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tom Jones KO’s crowd at the British Embassy May Ball


The role of the British Embassy in Thailand, or any British Embassy in the world for that matter, is to work with the host government and the private sector to increase bilateral trade and investment. For many years some of this vital business intelligence work and lobbying was done over prawn cocktail, beef wellington and apple crumble at the British Embassy May Ball.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tips for Trailing Spouses

Excess baggage: 4.7 kilos; time spent in official line at immigration: 22 seconds; Duty Free; fags: 400 Benson and Hedges; booze: malt whiskey (three litres); cosmetics: X2 Clarins Super Moisture Gel ($22 each!) Run to gate (late again!) turn left in aircraft (business class), fasten seat belt, pop Xanax, read latest edition of The Economist and try to look intellectual on the flight back to London.  

A trailing spouse must trail, trek and travel. Globetrotting is good for the image. It makes you exotic and your friends jealous. But flying is expensive, right? Not necessarily.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Trailing Spouse is Born!

I am proud to have been a Trailing Spouse (TS) for many a year now. I’ve happily trailed with the Department for International Development, the United Nations and now Habitat for Humanity International, an American non-profit organization serving the world, and all because I have a brilliant wife.