Until I left the B&B for my new home. I posted a review for the B&B on the booking website I had used, 4.6/5 stars. He didn't like the loss of 0.4 stars. And he made it clear on three separate occasions in quick succession, the last as I left the pub as he remonstrated with me on the street outside.
My apartment (I have been told off for using that word here, but flat is such a negative term - think apartment and you think New York and Shirley Maclaine) is more like a tiny house. It sits atop a small department mall, with no one above or below me, and I was lucky to get it for a couple of reasons. First it is really nice and quiet. Although only one bedroom it has six double cupboards for storage. I bought a single-and-a-half-size bed, singles are just too small and double would make the room look small. I bought a nice table but now use the table as my desk chair as the chair I bought starting wilting under my weight after just a week (it was made in China). The chair is now my bedside table as it can manage to support the digital radio clock I bought and also a book (Hilary Mantel's The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and other stories). I haven't risked more things.
The main room is half kitchen and half living room. It has an oak desk in it where I work - my one treat. Nothing else. The money was running dangerously low and I needed the reserves to run the business. The kitchen has a washing machine and fridge and a gas hob. It is better than our Thai kitchen. I don't cook much at the moment as every spoon and spice jar has to be bought as I only brought a few clothes and work stuff with me. I bought a kettle. I have settled on a red colour theme.
The view from living room is across the roof with the perched gulls, to a church tower. There are just eight hobbit houses on the roof, built in a U-shape. The other side looks out at the Gaiety theatre, although you wouldn't guess its name from the outside.
The 'discussion' in the pub shook me up for a couple of days. I was genuinely shocked by it. But I realise it was my mistake. Britain has moved on in my 14 years out of the country. In many ways I don't recognise it anymore. The pub culture is not for me. Instead, if I do go out, I go to a restaurant (or a restaurant pub). I can sit alone and people-watch or read Private Eye and not have anyone fling spittle in my face.
In any case, I am here to work. The whole point of this exercise is to grow SingMai without strictures of visas and work permits and also be closer to potential customers. With that in mind I have already spent three days in Aberdeen to visit two possibles. One is almost certain to order and is discussing future collaborations. The other requested a demonstration kit so they could send it to their parent company in Canada. Both seem very positive. Neither would have happened without a visit, and by visiting I got to view their products and factory so I have much better idea of their market. Yes, that is why I am here.
There are only two outstanding administration issues left - a business bank account (but I am told I will be sent papers to sign next week) and a driving license, which I don't need to drive as I have no car, but it is used as a form of ID as I am an alien here now having been abroad for so long. In any case they have my birth certificate and National Insurance card as I had to send them together with DNA samples of my mother and grandfather and a sample of the Ogilvie hunting kilt. That's been two weeks so far.
The apartment was also lucky because my landlord is the builder who built it. As such he was prepared to take a gamble on me without a credit search which I would have failed because I am nobody here. I think it was empty because you have to climb six flights of stairs to get to it. There is an elevator (isn't elevate a nicer word than lift - Americans are such positive people) but it is broken and belongs to the mall, not the builder. Judging by the people I have seen in Ayr, it is not just an issue with the number of stairs, but also with the width of them.
So after trying to over-zealously join in the drinking culture of Ayr, I have returned to my hermit-like existence of Thailand. I do have a couple friends to visit once I get some income, and, another advantage of the heightened location of the apartment, I have started getting a little bit fitter. I live just a five minute walk from the seafront which stretches for miles and miles. Even walking around town is a pleasure (of sorts).
Ayr has a traditional high street, or almost has. There are two Gregg's (bakers) plus various other sundry bakers. One Gregg's is just a takeaway, the other you can sit in and eat your purchase because looking at some of these people, there's little chance of the food making it home, so they might as well sit and eat it there. There are two butchers which look good, but no fishmongers as this is a port after all - in fact I haven't seen a single fishing boat. There are lots of mobile phone shops (mobile phone, however, is a much nicer term than cell phone). There are two electronic cigarette shops, barely enough to cover the demands of a society where smoking is compulsory. There is a grocers, but he is of the 'fallen off the back of a lorry type'. There are lots of takeaways.
I have become accustomed to farmer's time again. I wake at 5 a.m. and am usually asleep before 8 p.m., falling asleep to the radio. The radio is my friend and keeps me sane. My only other conversation now is with banks or a muttered hello as I walk along the seafront.
I miss Ploy and the dogs, more than I thought I would. I miss Thailand and I miss my home there. Ploy and I talk most days via Facebook which helps. I hope to go and see her as soon as I get my first orders. She wants me to buy a car but that would be a big impact on our finances as I cannot get credit (have to be resident for at least three years) and I am not in the market 'for a run around' as one friend suggested. When I was 17 and just passed my test, maybe, now when I am nearly sixty, it is just a lump of metal that doesn't start reliably. I have moved on. In any case, for the last 8 years I have been travelling and relying on public transport, and that seemed to work out OK.
I lay in bed listening to the screamed obscenities in the street below (at about 11.30 p.m. and again at 2.30 a.m. when the nightclub closes) and to the gulls. They are the only sounds. I wonder if this is the right place to bring Ploy. Apart from the visa hassle, would she feel comfortable here. She had enough issues in Southampton. The visa is difficult (and expensive) enough, but things like getting her driving license would also be difficult and I know she would soon tire of Ayr. In the same way I can do things easily here, she can do things easily in Thailand. As our sales become more Western-centric and I don't have to visit Asia so much, will we end up being apart more than we are together. I guess I will just have to see how things pan out.
For now, over this bank holiday, I have a stocked fridge and will get to work and let Ayr's citizens shout at each other and complain about the weather.
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