The writing of 'Behind The Smile' was not a quick event, but the research was even more protracted. 'Behind The Smile' will be seen by some as only relating to Thailand, but that is not true.
I was born in Barry, South Wales, but I never saw the rough side of town, although many would have though that where i came from - The Colcot -was pretty bad as well.
My parents gave me and my four brothers a good life, but really, i should only speak for myself and will do so from here on.
i loved school and had the sort of brain with a retentive memory that made learning things and passing exams quite easy. I had also been brought up to be polite, so, except for a resistance to authority, I got on well at school. I never had time to see what was later described to me as the 'seamier side' of the dock area.
One evening, after school, when I was about 16 years old, I went with the school rugby team to the Chain Locker down by the docks. First time for me. We sang all night and I was introduced to some appreciative ladies - young and not so young - who were described as 'working girls'.
I knew the expression, of course, but it was the first time, I had ever met any. They did not seem as, as ...., 'bad' (I suppose) as I had been led to believe by jokes, the TV and general gossip. In fact, i was quite fascinated by them.
I had never seen such women before. They joined in; they danced; they'd be rude and they would just act as if there were no-one (maybe no men) watching them. I was mezmerised.
A few years later I moved to Portsmouth, which in the Seventies had 20,000 sailors and 20,000 students, but was / is actually a garrison town. Now, most of that lot were men and there were plenty of women about too.
However, I was still a swot, well, a little bit less so, and I did not get involved until I took a part-time job in the Wiltshire Lamb by the Students' Union.
The landlord's name was 'Sweeny' Todd and he had just retired as a Master at Arms after a lifetime in the Royal Navy. I earned and learned more after shifts than I should have. There were many working girls in the Lamb, especially after hours.
From there I moved to Den Bosch in the southern Netherlands and there was a real Red Light District there. I 'had' to walk through it every night to get home from the pub and many times I would stop to chat with the girls. They often asked me to get them a kebab or some chips at 2 o'clock in the morning while they desperately hung on for the off-chance of a punter.
I knew most of them well, but not physically. We often used to play darts on their nights off. Darts was the in thing in the Netherlands in the Seventies and it was quite chic to be taught by a Brit.
Twenty-odd years later, I ended up in Pattaya and I immediately got on with the girls in the bars. What I have written in this book, Behind The Smile, is not autobiographical and nor does it relate to any specific people or bar that I know, but I have heard more than 75% of those tales from the girls themselves and i am forever grateful that they could see sufficient friendliness in me to trust me enough to relate them.
I love Pattaya and I love Thailand and I love Portsmouth too.
'Behind the Smile' refers to the fact that Thailand is known the world over as 'The Land of Smiles'.