The Alan Chronicles

Clouds and close-up of Wat Arun temple, Thailand

Wat Arun

I’ve had three pay cheques from my job. I’ve got a work permit and a category B immigration visa. I’ve been to an island, used every mode of public transport available in Bangkok, and even learnt a few more Thai words (tao rai, ka? / mai ow na ka). I’ve eaten a truly absurd amount of ice cream, bought clothes I’ll never wear from market stalls just because they’re cheap, and danced in the street near little old Khao San road. I’ve skated and picnicked and taught kids and adults and climbed temples and boated up the Chao Phraya river in early afternoon as the sun gets low and golden and the shadows get long.

But let’s talk about more important things: there’s been an escalating Nature situation in my flat. The death toll is in the hundreds. It all started with Alan. I must’ve told you about Alan?

Alan had been in the bathroom for four days before I finally got up the courage to eliminate him. I’d trapped him there, underneath a washed and perfectly hospitable empty sweetcorn tin. It had taken great courage on my part. I was too nervous to destroy him immediately so I left him there. For four days I had to step over him to use the toilet or shower or sink. I made sure not to knock the tin in case I disturbed him and thought frequently about feeding him a bit of sandwich just to make his imprisonment  more bearable. He was so big a cockroach that it was almost like having a lodger, or maybe more like the dead man in Yossarian’s tent only less human and inconveniently less dead. Are you even still human if you’re dead? Not if you’re a cockroach. The point is, he was too big to just kill as you might ‘just kill’ a wasp or an ant – hardly without noticing, certainly without caring. I left him whilst I tried to not have to deal with the situation. Maybe I could just step over him until the time came to move out of my apartment? What’s a year of stepping int he avoidance of conflict, eh?

NO. Four days is all it took for my appalling murdery instincts to take hold. I needed to take control of the situation. I needed to toughen the fuck up and stop thinking of Alan as the kind of cockroach who might wear a smoking jacket and use a pipe and read leatherbound books through thin-rimmed half-moon glasses. SentiMENTAL. So I killed the bastard.

Ok, that’s not true, I’m just saying it to seem wellard. Actually I threw him gently off the balcony. He’s a cockroach – he didn’t even feel it.

The thing about Alan is that he left me with the gift of CHILDREN OF ALAN. Little Alanites and Alanettes. Like CHILDREN OF THE CORN, only worse. I’ve murdered about three. I’ve learnt my lesson: cockroaches are not pets, they are EVIL DICTATORS IN THE MAKING. Thank goodness they’re too tiny to be involved in gang warfare or government or banking. Instead they just hang out underneath my fridge (underneath, but never inside my fridge). They scuttle out every now and then – not so often as before; I’m not sure there’re many left – and I hear them giggling to themselves at night. Telling jokes. Poking fun.

I’m not sure what the relationship between the cockroaches and the ants actually is, but I’m sure one exists. The ants, though, are a different story. With me and the cockroaches, it’s a war of attrition. With the ants it’s straight-up antocide. I’ve killed the bastards in their hundreds. I’ve stomped on them, drowned on them, poured bleach on them. The bleach was a bit of a desperate act, I’ll admit, but the bastards are tenacious. One day they’re marching through my bathroom and are suddenly being killed in the tens, TENS of tens, by the Great Bleach Siege of 19th October, and the next they’re back on another track, just chillin’ their boots and taking the scenic route across the tiles and up the door frame like nothing ever happened.

Actually, I’ve gained respect for the ants. They don’t resent me for the murders and I don’t resent them for their tenacity. Actually, I admire it. We share a  mutual respect, I imagine. Sometimes they even come snuggle with me in my bed. They bite me, sure, but on the other hand I smack them to death whenever I realise that they’re biting me, so we’re about even.

I won’t even go into the little jumpy spiders, the weird mosquito larvae that live in-between the tiles in my bathroom, and the missing geckos, presumed dead, probably murdered by the fucking cockroaches (the bastards).

One day I’ll write something about what it’s ACTUALLY LIKE living in Bangkok, or being a teacher, or trying to build up a roller derby team from scratch, but until that day you’ll just have to make do with weird, tangential, pointless posts about Nature.


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