13 March 2016

Ladyboys

In two spells, I spent almost a year working in Thailand. As time passes, some of my memories of South East Asia are dissolving. Other memories remain. I contend that we have no control over the things we remember. The reasons for cerebral selection are mysterious. They always have been.

When some people think of Thailand the term "ladyboys" will frequently arise - often with a little titter and raised eyebrows. Personally, I have got nothing against ladyboys. Like those memories I just spoke of, effeminate young men have little control over who they become.

Thailand is not awash with ladyboys. It's  not as if every other fellow you pass in the street is proudly walking along, swinging his handbag and happily displaying his feminine side. In fact, most Thai men are like Yorkshiremen - masculine, their veins coursing with pure testosterone - like Clint Eastwood in "Pale Rider".

When school photographs were taken at St Stephen's School, a team of professional people arrived with their equipment. They were all in the company uniform and the leader was an elegant,  shapely, coiffured and expertly made up ladyboy. He or she was good at his/her job and comfortable with his/her ladyboy identity. It wasn't fancy dress. It wasn't a joke.He/she was being who he/she needed to be - accepting the hand that life had dealt out.

Acceptance. In some respects you might say that the Buddhist values  that underpin everyday life in Thailand make it easier to come out as a ladyboy. With a few reservations, Buddhists are better at accepting differences, better at accepting disaster and better at living in the moment. You don't get many ladyboys in Saudi Arabia.

Anyway, all of the above was just a preamble to sharing the following memory of a particular ladyboy.

It was just after midnight one weekend when I was walking home to my little apartment, by the side of one the main arterial roads that heads for central Bangkok from the north of the city. In the daytime the road is choked with traffic but that midnight it was relatively quiet. Ahead of me was a concrete footbridge over the road and at its base there was a lone figure.

He/she was a ladyboy but unlike any other ladyboy I had seen before. He/she was built like a Welsh rugby player. As tall as me, with forearms like Popeye the Sailorman and thighs like tree trunks. Whereas most ladyboys are experts at applying make-up, this one appeared to have had his/her make up applied by a chimpanzee. It was heavy and badly smudged. He/she was wearing a shapeless but sparkly gold sack and size eleven high heels.

There was nobody else around. When I reached the footbridge this Ladyboy from Hell sought to engage me in conversation. There followed a tirade in the Thai language - delivered at Volume 7 and he/she simply ignored my protestations that I was English and didn't speak Thai. He/she appeared mentally disturbed or crazed by mind-bending drugs. It was hard to tell. He/she pushed me and then attempted to grapple with me. She/he  was wearing an aroma called I believe SBO - Stale Body Odour.

I just wanted to get away. I was not in the mood for being raped by a crazed Welsh tighthead prop in a glittery sack. I pushed back and yelled  my own tirade of English expletives. The Ladyboy from Hell was suddenly startled and stepped back against the fence. I marched away, leaving the confused lone figure behind. Rejection can be hard to suffer.

So it seems that not all ladyboys are demure, girlish figures, preened and plucked like catwalk models. Whenever the word "ladyboy" crops up in the future I will surely recall that feisty midnight encounter by the concrete footbridge. And thankfully, I lived to tell the tale...

19 comments:

  1. I'm sure I spotted a few of the Welsh pack wearing sparkly tights when I was watching the Six Nations game last night.

    I can't say I saw many ladyboys when we were in Thailand a couple of years ago, but there was one who ran a small beach shop when we stayed on Ko Samet. He (or she) was the full make-up and frock, but the the illusion was wrecked because of his five-oçlock shadow and the fact that he must have been pushing fifty. He was definitely more Bet Lynch than Betty Grable.

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  2. Up here in the frozen north there are hundreds and thousands of them. They all wear skirts but don't shave their legs.

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    1. Would you be prepared to undertake an important piece of fashion research Adrian? Lift a hundred kilts to see what is being worn beneath - if anything. Then you can make charts and graphs to demonstrate your findings. My money is on frilly pink bloomers.

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  3. Acceptance...what a wonderful word, and vastly underused today.

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    1. Yes. There seems to be more resistance and defiance than acceptance these days.

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  4. Just back from Athens.
    Wandering happily along the streets of Plakka when I became aware of a young man following me ziig zagged the street n he did the same, scared quiet area ready to throw handbag n run. Thankfully taverna up ahead. Old guy unbeknown to me had been watching, ushered me in to taverna.they locked the door n about 6 or 7 guys ran out to sort him out..gave me coffee, cake booked a taxi for me I thank them, Could have gone so wrong in hindsight, taverna was a mans coffee house.
    Didn't, thankfully there was no where else to run.

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    1. Travelling is meant to broaden the mind but you can keep that kind of fright. The nice thing was that there were good and decent people there to help you Kirrie. What a relief!

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  5. Probably a left-over from the afternoon football game, and he'd lost his trousers in a tackle!

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    1. He was definitely not Australian Lee!

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  6. He/she was a ladyboy but unlike any other ladyboy I had seen before. He/she was built like a Welsh rugby player

    You obviously never frequented the cossack pub near the station in sheffield.......lesbians the size of fatima whitbread

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    1. No wonder The Cossack was demolished! And no I never went in there John...though you evidently did. Did you dress like a cossack?

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  7. A rather scary incident! I know I don't stand a chance against most men; I can run fast, but depending on the shoes I wear, not as fast I would like to. I am very much aware of my surroundings whenever I am out on my own after dark, but also during the day, when I am somewhere remote like the fields or the woods.
    So far, I've been very very lucky. The only scary incident - which, thankfully, didn't fulfil its threatening promise of rape and murder - happened to me on Sicily on a bus. No ladyboys were involved.

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    1. Whenever I am out walking and I encounter lone women, I am painfully aware that they are probably seeing me as a potential threat even though I am not a ladyboy! I always say "Good morning!" or "Hello!" and often get no reply as if replying might be deemed some kind of invitation.

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  8. What a scary thing to happen YP. I'm so glad that you coped with it so well and were able to file it away as another story to tell. Do take care as you walk down those lonely streets in Sheffield; virile, handsome men of your calibre are always at such risk walking the streets. Elizabeth x

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    1. "Virile and handsome"! I like that description Elizabeth and shall arrange to have those words carved into my headstone along with "penniless", "grumpy" and "Tigers fan". Thanks for calling by again. I shall certainly watch out for predatory Page 3 models when walking down Sheffield's mean streets.

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  9. Yikes! This just confirms my suspicion that it's not a good idea to walk around anywhere after 10 p.m.!

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  10. A subject about which, until a few minutes ago, I knew absolutely nothing. I think I'd rather have stayed in blissful ignorance.

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