It's been quite an entertaining week trying to figure out whether or not we will be able to watch the Football World Cup on Thai television. The lively debate has prompted a number of own goals, yellow cards and even a few porky pies.
It does seem a little odd that football-mad Thailand appears to be the only country in Southeast Asia not to have bought the World Cup broadcasting rights. Unfortunately it all comes down to forking out buckets of money which of course is the tricky bit.
It is not an unprecedented situation in Thailand however. In the past there have been similar scenarios in which an ” influential person” has stepped in at the last minute to save the day. Mind you, they are leaving it a bit late this year as we are already deep into added time.
At the time of writing (Friday) it is still up in the air, pending “negotiations”.
The Thai public are quite used to this sort of thing. In 1986, live coverage only began in the quarter-finals. We had to thank an influential general who happened to be a football fan and ordered the TV stations to pay up so the public could watch the rest of the tournament live. Mind you, as it was being played in Mexico nearly all the matches were in the wee hours of the morning for Thai viewers.
There was also considerable debate whether we would get to see the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However the generals came up with some fancy footwork in the final minutes to ensure the hoi polloi didn’t miss out. It couldn’t happen again could it?
Those were the days
Back in the 1970s we had to be content with old tapes. I still possess hazy memories of sitting in a Klong Toey noodle shop down by the docks, watching a tape of England losing to West Germany in the 1970 tournament. As distressed as I was by the result, after retiring to the nearby Mosquito bar for some solace, a couple of Singha beers later the defeat didn’t seem quite so important in the big scheme of things.
Back in 1974 we had no live broadcasts at all and had to make do with two-day-old tapes of the matches. However I must admit to not being too bothered as England hadn’t even qualified for that tournament.
The World Cup definitely has its uses for those of a political persuasion. When the tournament was held in the US in 1994 Thailand was in the midst of a political crisis. The government was wobbly and a no-confidence debate had been called.
But a leading opposition spokesman suddenly announced they would postpone the debate because the MPs wanted to watch the World Cup on television and didn’t fancy having their viewing pleasure interrupted by such irritating things as a government crisis.
Now that’s democracy in action.
Another one gone
It was sad to learn of the death of British actor Leslie Philipps at the grand old age of 98. It was only in April that he featured in this column concerning the BBC Radio sitcom The Navy Lark. He would not have been particularly well-known in this part of the world, but was something of an institution in Britain and will be greatly missed.
I first came across him on The Navy Lark which was very popular in the early 1960s. It was broadcast every Sunday afternoon and was an ideal programme for allowing the food to settle after the traditional Sunday roast. You only had to shut your eyes to feel you were among the motley crew and their weekly disastrous exploits aboard the frigate HMS Troutbridge.
Philipps was perfectly cast as the incompetent sub-lieutenant who hardly knew the bow from the stern. He was supported by two very versatile actors, Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee. Barker was brilliant as the intelligence officer who, when answering the ship phone would say in the dumbest-sounding voice “intelligence speakin”.
Sub-lt Philipps’ navigational knowledge was limited to a desperate “left hand down a bit” when it looked like the ship was about to collide with the dock or another vessel. This would be followed by a cry from Philipps of “Ooh nasty” or “lumme!” They all became popular British catchphrases at the time.
Philipps also appeared in several Carry On films which he wasn’t that proud of as he wanted to be known as a serious actor. However he did go on to play more substantial roles in Empire of the Sun, Out of Africa and Scandal in which he played Lord Astor. In more recent years he was the voice of the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter films.
With his plummy voice he frequently played aristocratic characters with an exaggerated upper-class accent despite being brought up in a working class household in north London, before moving to Essex . He regarded himself as a cockney but at the age of 14 his mother sent him to elocution lessons where he learned to talk “posh”. It was a move that changed his life and the Daily Express said Philipps had “the smoothest ‘Helll-ooo!’ in acting”.
His wife Zara called him a “national treasure” and few would argue with that.
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