Our Man In Phuket

by Alan R. Cooke MBE



A War Time Childhood

I remember running down the drive beside our semi-detached house at school lunchtime, opening the back gate and seeing my mother at the kitchen door saying “they’ve landed, they’ve landed”. I didn’t understand what she was so excited about. It was 6th June, 1944, D-Day and the Allies had landed in France…

We were expected to make our own way in the world and get on with it. As a result we became emotionally resilient and self-sufficient very early.

Our Man In Phuket

The Army – Royal Engineers

Having jumped out of the plane I looked up to check that the chute had opened and saw all the tangled rigging. I tried to twist my body in order to unravel it, concentrating so hard on the task in hand that I forgot I was plummeting towards the ground. I vaguely picked up the voice on the loud speaker, “Look down Number Ten”, and realised he was shouting at me. Having woken up I looked down at the same time I hit the ground like a rag doll…

Standard Diving gear

Young Sapper Cooke, aged 18, dressed in standard diving dress, sometimes referred to as Hard Hat diving. He needs a haircut, so much for Royal Navy discipline.

As is often the way of it, we were accosted by a couple of whores offering us a “Saturday late night special for squaddies” for a quid each, including 10 bob for the taxi driver, provision of a johnnie and twice round Leicester Square for a quick root each in the back of a taxi. Not a lot in it for the ladies, about eight bob either way I would guess. But it was pretty close to impossible to find girls who were willing to indulge the needs of young guys like us in those days so we were easily talked into taking up the offer.

You see Ma'm… Well you see mam, twice round Leicester Square for a quid seemed good value

Das Island – Trucial States (UAE)

Communication with the surface was impossible, no chance of being able to signal on my telephone cable to tell them to pull me up, as would normally be the case with a life line. No option but to screw down the air outlet valve on the helmet, allow the air to build up inside my suit and balloon completely out of control to the surface, hoping on my way, as one does, I did not come up under one of the many craft above me. If thus I could expect to crush and flood my helmet, and break my neck on impact. With the suit flooded I would drop like a ton of bricks drowning on the way down, and those wankers on the surface would know nothing until they hauled in one dead diver – but the shackle was fixed.

Port Rashid, Dubai

I took the explosives out into the desert and buried them in the sand dunes behind our house, or was it my neighbour Vic’s? I was hopeful that I could now put it out of my mind again, just as I had done while they were in the garage.

As time went by, however, I found it was starting to nag at the back of my mind. Was I really being too irresponsible by leaving so much high explosive in the middle of nowhere, where anyone might stumble across it by accident? Eventually my conscience got the better of me and one dark night I went back out to recover it. By now it was in an extremely volatile condition, with nitroglycerine dripping out like olive oil had been poured over it, a lot more than anything that could be described as “just sweating”.

Ghana, West Africa

Having knocked back such a large amount of brandy I was by this time well pissed and it was time to thank my crew, so we headed to the Love All drinking bar, a remarkably low life establishment in the worst part of the fishing port area. Essentially, it was a shack made of corrugated iron but distinguished by a remarkably robust door and frame, no doubt looted at some point in the past from who knows where. The bar was famous for providing to those who were so inclined, or who had drunk enough not to care, with the opportunity to have sex on top of a swinging door…

Island Furniture

That day nearly twenty years ago in 1997 when the owner and managing director Khun Siriporn Chumrak raised the shutters on the newly created Island Furniture showroom it was hardly a step into the unknown. With fifteen years prior experience in furniture sales the previous five as manageress of one of the only two showrooms on Phuket, Island Furniture was to be the third.

Phuket Hash House Harriers

When I first arrived in Phuket in January 1986 for the construction of the Deep Sea Port I was disappointed that no cricket was played on the island, and then quite annoyed when I learnt that cricket was played in Chiang Mai. Not only no cricket, but there was no Hash (of the running and drinking variety) here either. Well, I could do nothing about the cricket, but I could do something about a Hash.

The Phuket Tin Men Hash

The Andaman Tsunami

The ongoing tsunami Embassy Travel Advisory (TA) referencing not just Phuket but Thailand, was however an unmitigated disaster such that I asked Grenville Fordham to rewrite an Embassy TA saying exactly what the Embassy said, but using a different tone and continuing to cover the Embassy’s arse, which he did beautifully. I offered it to the Embassy and to my surprise it was accepted and put online. Meanwhile that wanker Jack Straw was flying back overnight to London, landed at Heathrow, got an update on the TA change and promptly reversed it – the prick.

The Alan Cooke Cricket Ground (My Loss Leader)

Why would any rational person build a cricket ground on Phuket? Let’s just leave the question there. Having sorted out Phuket’s lack of a Hash problem now what could I do about cricket?

A Grader Clearing The Alan Cooek Ground

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