RETOX REPERCUSSION – MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Some while back a pastor in America told me he couldn’t work with me because my books weren’t Christian. I pointed out that a number of my poems were definitely religious verse. Another lady writer said she knew all about a-go-go bars and said I was writing wrongly about them. She didn’t want to collaborate with me in any way whatsoever. I defended myself by saying my overall intention when writing about Pattaya nightlife was exploratory, serious and critical, and asked her to read one of my books on Pattaya in its entirety. She didn’t. Another dude quoted me without giving context. I wrote a review for another and was asked to change some comments I made about his typos. (His typos were just that – typos.) I usually get five-star reviews but don’t jump up and down in rage if I get three stars. You can’t please everyone.
It therefore came as a bit of a surprise that when I wrote that I had a bad Christmas lunch in Retox, I got a lot of “feedback” (“bullshit” / “dickhead” / “twat” / + +). I just thought to complain about a poor meal was as natural as waking up (or a bad headache after drinking too much) and that anyone could do it any time without consequences. The reactions to my article were varied and surprising. I was told to go home if I didn’t like Retox food. I was told I had been identified via my photo. I was told I was prejudiced. I was shown a photo of a meal I never ate. I was asked why I didn’t complain on the spot. I was asked why I didn’t go to that Christmas lunch with a camera. Other insinuations were made about my preferences but nowhere was it acknowledged that it’s the most natural thing in the world to complain if you pay for a meal but find the food which should be hot cold and tasteless. I remain surprised that innocuous things like this cause a stir, and that the stir also led to my being called one of the Thai bargirls’ all-time favourites : khee nio.
When I get a fellow author telling me he doesn’t like my book or a drinking-partner telling me I’m wrong not to want to go back to Europe (or, indeed, people who don’t know me telling me I’m khee nio), I don’t take it so much to heart that I start calling that person names. Criticism and advice are what I expect. Indeed, on Christmas night, the same day after I’d eaten that meal in Retox, I went to hear mass at the local Catholic church and the priest there told us to go home when we get old and ill because there is no well-structured, national health service in Thailand which will look after us. I’ve often said and written I won’t be going “home” except horizontally but I didn’t feel outraged by the priest telling me differently. I’m sure any national health service will help me to die, and though frightened by many of the stories I hear here, I’m not going to get my knickers in a twist because someone praises Italy’s hospitals and feels that Thailand will let ill farang down, and I’m certainly not going to use the occasion to denigrate religion or priests.
A cold and tasteless meal is cold and tasteless. You can eat it and shut up or you can say what you think. I didn’t expect for a lot of reactions to a normal thing like that. What’s up, guys? Can’t you say a meal isn’t to your liking and can’t you say where you bought and ate that meal?