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Fourth of July
From the thirteenth of September, 2004 to the fourth of July, 2005, we slept on my mother-in-law’s floor in the small, rice-growing village where we live in northern Thailand, while we were waiting for our own house to be completed. However, after a party at a friend’s that finished after midnight on the third, instead of going back to Mum, we slept on our own floor.
You could say that the fourth of July, 2005, was our own Independence Day. There were no windows or doors yet in those days, and I’ll never forget being awoken at seven am by my wife’s screams when she surprised a poisonous snake changing its skin in the spare bedroom.
She phoned her mother who lives only fifty yards from our rear gate, and she came over and killed it.
She also phoned the contractors to tell them to get the doors on sharpish, and then she set about organising a party. The eleventh of July completed my first full year in The Land of Smiles.
Just under seven years after that event, I was filling in a U.K. visa application form for my wife and it called for details of her parents’ identity cards. Well, her father has been dead for twenty years, so that only left her mother.
When I saw the card, it was my turn to be shocked.
‘Do you know when your mother was born?’ I asked my wife, not knowing whether it was a stupid question or not, but I had never seen her have a party.
‘No,’ she replied, ‘I’m pretty sure she’s never told us’. Now, I’m fairly certain that as a Westerner, you find that strange enough, but I informed her that her mother’s birth date was easy to remember because it was on American Independence Day in the year after World War II finished: July 4th, 1946, but she gave me a blank look.
‘What are they?’ she asked.
She had never heard of either, but Thailand doesn’t look far outside its own borders or affairs, except where football is concerned, and they are not taught about WWII, because the Japanese overran them and that is considered embarrassing, so they just ignore it.
On the other hand, every year, I get asked by at least one American, whether we British celebrate the 4th. Of course no! We lost! Although I personally am glad you escaped the poncy British royal family and aristocracy (despite the fact that you have let everyone down by allowing your own aristocracy to develop).
However, in spite of not celebrating the day, I hope that those who do have a great time, and maybe some of you will remember my lovely mother-in-law’s birthday as well.
(This true story is expanded upon in the second volume in the series ‘Behind The Smile‘ called ‘An Exciting Future”).
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Podcast: Fourth of July