There’s a coronavirus pandemic, what shall we do?

Ban the sale of beer, of course!

Is it my imagination or do the Thai authorities ban the sale of alcohol every chance they get?

Having an election? Let’s ban the sale of beer the night before. Religious holidays? Let’s ban the sale of beer. I don’t have such a big problem with that. A vicious global virus? Let’s ban the sale of beer. I have more of a problem with that.

Really? Is this the answer to all travails? No beer or whisky?

Of course, at the weekend this ban was lifted. Praise be. Though the queues to snap up one’s favourite tipple that resulted did no one any favours.

What was the reason for the ban in the first place? To stop large gatherings of people who want to get drunk in each other’s company seems to be the answer.

I can’t help feeling that this fixation with alcohol is misplaced. Though I would say one thing – I have the strongest of feelings that here in the UK where I am seated writing this the consumption of alcohol has probably increased as people seek ways to occupy themselves and cure the lockdown boredom.

Pubs in the UK and Thailand remain closed. I did read of one of Pattaya’s Dark Side that tried to stay open while giving the impression of being closed. If the ban goes on for long enough will we see American-style “speakeasy” bars from the days of Prohibition opening behind closed doors and with passwords being used to get in? Don’t rule them out.

But, it’s been a pig of a time, hasn’t it?

Do you know what to do with yourself in lockdown? Obviously not, if you are reading this!

Just lately, everywhere you twist and turn you see the use of the word “unprecedented”. You could say its use is, well, unprecedented. But there seems no other way of describing the impact of this virus. Nothing like it has been seen in most people’s lifetime. The last such outbreak was at the tail end of World War I when the Spanish Flu claimed an estimated 50 million lives (the war itself is thought to have only claimed 15-19 million). One estimate says that a third of the world’s population were touched in some way by the Spanish Flu.

Hopefully, the number of deaths from this pandemic and those affected will amount to much lower totals. I think that is a fairly safe bet given the advances in medicine in the past 100 years.

I don’t plan to dwell on this … but at one stage in recent weeks, I thought I might also have Covid-19. Let’s be honest, it is nothing to boast about. Whatever the problem was I was very worried for a while given that the virus seemed to claim a lot of people with pre-existing conditions. I am a diabetic.

For a few days, I wondered what to do. Just about every bit of advice seemed to say don’t go to your doctor’s surgery or your local hospital. It was a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” situation, I thought. It seemed to me that you had to think you were about to turn up your toes before you could get medical attention. And by then maybe it was too late.

But I will move on.

I have found it distressing to see the impact of the virus on Pattaya. People have been left wondering where the next meal is coming from so big praise to all those who came to the aid of the needy.

I read somewhere that the Thai government was giving hand-outs of Bt5,000 to some people. Admittedly, I am a bit sketchy about whether that was a one-off or, say, monthly.

Photo credit: @seanchenn

My Thai wife, who has been working regularly here in the UK in a Thai restaurant (where else?), got her payslip today. She has not worked for the past month. Sure enough, she got 80% of what she would normally get, which was a welcome relief.

I told her to be grateful she was in the UK and not at home when this epidemic struck. Though, that said, I’m frightened to think how many years it will take the UK to pay back all the extra borrowing that this pandemic is prompting.

The last time the UK borrowed extremely large sums (that I’m aware of) was during World War II. By the end of the war, it had amassed a debt of US$21 billion. It was only at the end of 2006 Britain made a final payment of £45.5m on its war loans. More than 60 years later.

There are those who are saying that this round of borrowing may prove worse.

And, on that “happy” note I will wish you all well and here’s to the day the tourists can return to Pattaya, the bars can re-open and life can return to something resembling normal!


By Dave Buckley