Limericks are more commonly used to celebrate old men with owls nesting in their beards than the everyday lives of Pattaya bar staff.
Yet Go-Go Girls is a charming collection of 92 verses devoted to the unsung heroines of Pattaya night-life, the young women who hug the chrome poles and entertain the bar-flies at their tables and, possibly, elsewhere. These doughty ladies are the consummate night-time professionals; while a go-go girl tempts you to buy drinks and subtly lightens your wallet, you may fall ever-so-slightly in love with her.
A skilled go-go girl creates a fantasy that may last for years. Long after her smitten customer has returned to his own country he may find himself topping up her bank account, on the promise that she has left the bar and is chastely awaiting his return. It could even be true.
What could be more unusual, and more alluring, than a collection of 38 sonnets about modern life in Thailand? The sonnet was devised in 13th-century Italy and revitalised in 16th-century England. In 21st-century Thailand it has finally come of age.
Most people think of the sonnet as a rather dry form of verse, but in fact the rhythm and rhyme it requires make it proceed at a rollicking pace and the discipline of getting the story across in only 14 lines makes for economy of expression.
If you want to know about making merit, ladyboys, elephants, bar ladies, Songkhran, the jungle and all the other things that go with living in one of the most fascinating countries in Asia, then have a go at this book.
If you thought verse was a dry form of story-telling, prepare to change your mind. Some of these sonnets aim to make you laugh, while all of them will be sure to make you think.
The Thailand Sonnets
The dodo became extinct long before the poet and artist William Blake - 1757-1827 - was born. These sonnets take Blake’s concepts of Innocence and Experience as states of consciousness before and after the Fall of Man and reimagine them for the new concerns of our age. What better than the dodo to symbolise man’s progression from inhabitant to steward and finally to vandal of our planet.
In 1794 William Blake published his richly illustrated Songs of Innocence and of Experience. We are born, Blake believed, in a state of innocence and become part of the fallen world through experience. Despite his visionary insights, Blake had no conception of how far we would fall 200 years after his death, taking mankind to the brink not only of spiritual, but existential, disaster.