25 April 2013


In Thailand, folk seem to be obsessed with uniforms. There must be huge factories somewhere devoted to the manufacture of work and school uniforms. Across the road from my little apartment there's the headquarters of the Siam Commercial Bank - a collection of tall buildings clad in mirror green glass. Like worker ants, this complex teems with bank workers and they all wear the regulation SCB purple uniforms. Lord knows what they do in there all day - probably write out extra uniform requests. I see them busying about, often buying or eating street food - another national obsession..There are thousands of them. All as purple as... as plums!

Where is Mr Pudding?
We need some extra tuition
When I was first here - back in 2011, I would often see strangely mature young people in school uniforms riding on the subway or the Sky Train - white shirt and black trousers or black skirt with the school belt. It took a while before I realised these older school pupils were in fact university students! Yes - university students in uniforms! I don't think that would go down too well at the University of East Anglia or Kent State, Ohio!

Within this school - where I am writing this particular blogpost during a free period - our army of ancillary workers all sport bright turquoise polo shirts. However, the maintenance men have grey polo shirts with side stripes in black and orange while the security men and the kitchen staff have their own distinctive uniforms which include face masks.

At the nearby "Major" shopping and leisure complex there are about thirty cafes and restaurants. In each establishment there is a different uniform. This might include vaguely Japaneses style uniforms in places that serve Japanese food to Frenchified uniforms with little white pinafores. The cinema staff wear smart cravats and silky gold waistcoats while the supermarket workers, "Starbucks" and "Dunkin Do-Nuts" people all have their unique uniforms too.

Then there are the taxi drivers and the road sweepers, the police and soldiers on leave, hotel workers, bus drivers, subway workers, gardeners, even the photo company team that visited the school this week - all in their own uniforms with particular colours and logos. And of course the children in our school are all in a uniform that includes ties, socks and leather shoes. Brilliant in such a hot climate. Not.

I have never been a big fan of uniforms even though I accept there are a few occupations where uniforms are pretty vital such as catering, hospital nursing and cricket. However, I prefer to think of a world where people are allowed to express their individuality not only through their thoughts and spoken words but also in the way they choose to dress. But hey - what do I know? Maybe I am something of a dinosaur still attached to the hippy dreams of the late sixties, still singing along with Richie Havens..."Freedom! Freedom!' 


  1. We've just waved our daughter off on the flight to Bangkok to take up her teaching position in Rayong. It was interesting how specific they were about what she was expected to wear at school - very formal - but now I understand why!

  2. Good Lord! Always useful reading your blog, Sir Pud. I have just decided on the uniforms for my waitresses.

    I am surprised you do not favour the social equality of uniform!

  3. Leave it to you to wind up in (or be attracted to) a school where the uniform is ties, socks, and leather shoes. Where are you, Thailand Nudist University???

  4. I think the Thai people would look wonderful in whatever they decided to wear. Most of us Americans who wear uniforms seem to bulge out of them. It doesn't make quite the same impression.

  5. When I started Grammar School, we were the very first students, as it was a newly built/opened school. We were very modern and hippie-ish and didn't have a uniform.......but after a year or so we decided (I cannot remember why..it was so long ago)to adopt a uniform and we designed one ourselves....I remember suggesting a hat just like an air stewardess hat which we wore at a jaunty angle, and we also wore a tabard......isn't it strange how even very average looking people look much nicer i.e. more attractive in a uniform?

  6. Very interesting post YP. I'm so glad you are telling us all these bits of information about Thailand...
    My opinion? I love seeing a bloke in a uniform. A well-cut garment can improve any figure.

  7. And I bet there are no personal interpretations on wearing said uniforms .. Sleeves rolled up, buttons undone, ties loosely tied, different colour shoes and socks. Compliant citizens huh?

  8. SHOOTING PARROTS Pity I am not staying longer. I would have invited your daughter over to Bangkok and she could have slept (for free) in my lovely king size bed.
    RHYMES WITH...Ha! Ha! I see what you mean you saucy fellow!
    JAN BLAWAT You're right - overweight people in uniforms can look absurd when they should be wearing flowing smocks or kaftans to hide their ripples.
    LIBBY I disagree with your final assertion. I think everybody looks nicer in self-selected clothes.
    KATHERINE You love seeing a bloke in uniform? You should have told me that before I visited your NZ eyrie. I would have come dressed as First Lord of the Admiralty!
    CAROL CUNNINGHAM Mostly people seem to wear their uniforms happily but there are some schoolchildren who still manage to adapt their uniforms ever so slightly to demonstrate their personalities.

  9. With great sadnesss, I have noted your rebuff.

    Marcia agrees that black skirts and tailored white shirts would be ideal for the waitresses but skirts with slits are out of order. I agree.

    Keep well. YP. Alex and I are off to buy fuel so we can fire up the generator I serviced today so we can pump and deliver clean water to the kids of the neighbourhood. I can't bear to see kids suffer.

    There are no decent schools here so I have to send Dominic to a private school in Europe if he is to stand any chance whatsoever. Don't you think it hurts me to say goodbye to him?

  10. HIPPO re. "rebuff", obviously the main thing that got my goat was the deriding of England. I'll not have that from anybody. It is in my blood for I am a part of England. I guess we were lucky in that just up the hill from us - a fifteen minute walk away - there was an excellent comprehensive school which we had every confidence in for our children. I appreciate that the picture will be very different in Angola but what about the Luanda International School?


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