In his own words: Dave Buckley
John David Buckley is the driving force behind the soon to be rebadged Real Estate Magazine, the longest-established monthly publication dedicated to primarily covering the property scene in Pattaya.
The 61-year-old Briton has lived in Pattaya for over a decade, and in that time has used his skills as a former full-time journalist to turn REM, as it will soon be officially known, into a slick professional product.
REM will produce its 150th issue in November, a milestone for any publication almost anywhere, and certainly a significant achievement in Pattaya. Although Dave has not been at the helm for all that time, there’s no doubt this 45-year veteran of the Fourth Estate has kept the magazine well and truly afloat. As he says, “You’ve got to say, I’ve only really been involved for the last 50 or so…I was involved when the hundredth issue came out, but didn’t take it over until after that.”
Although, as Dave notes, were he to ever sell the journal it will have to be to someone whose initials are J.B.
“The man who started it was John Botting. Then it was taken over by John Black, and then me. Everyone knows me as Dave, but by real first name is John, so John Buckley. So the next person to take it over will have to have the initial J.B., or they can’t own it!”
Perhaps a ‘Jim Beam’ or another ‘Johnnie Black’ could be the next owner.
When did you first come to Thailand, and Pattaya?
It was 1977. I had been working in Hong Kong and was on my way back to the UK. I came for three weeks and stayed part of the time at the Siam Bayshore, the hotel at the bottom end of Walking Street. Of course it wasn’t called Walking Street in those days. I had been working on The Star newspaper in Hong Kong and had been given a letter of introduction to the managing editor of the Bangkok Post but I didn’t use it. I was pretty much tunnel visioned about getting back to London and working in Fleet Street. One wonders what might have happened had I used that letter, but I was really quite focused on getting to work in Fleet Street. I thought if I could put a daily newspaper like the Daily Express on my CV then I was made, not so much for life, but I figured it was going to stand me in good stead. I got back and the Express Newspapers was struggling to get people with daily newspaper experience to help launch the Daily Star. I’d worked on a daily in Hong Kong, so I was hired within two weeks of returning to work on the Express, allowing someone else to move to the Star.
When had you gone to work in Hong Kong?
I’m terrible with dates, but it was 1977. I know I was 25 at the time because I missed out on the chance to play football in the national stadium in a warm-up match before West Bromwich Albion took on a Hong Kong XI. Albion were the team that blazed a trail to Asia for English football. They played in China and Hong Kong and I would have had a chance if I hadn’t been a few months too old for an under-25s team. It was a warm-up match, but in front of those sorts of crowds it would have been the biggest sporting thing I’d ever done.
Were you much good at football?
I was a reasonable what would be termed ‘weekend footballer’…I kept a referee’s report from when I was sent off in a football match. How sad is that? I was banned sine die [Latin for indefinitely postponed] from playing in Hertfordshire because I didn’t pay my fine after being sent off. There were only two matches left in the season and I knew I wasn’t going to play the following season so I didn’t pay the fine. So, now, at the age of 61, I can never play football again in Hertfordshire.’
How did you get into journalism? And is it the only profession you’ve engaged in for your working life?
I left school at 16 and became a reporter’s telephonist at the Press Association. I used to have to go to telephone boxes and read the news stories hand-written by reporters over the line back to the PA offices.
I haven’t worked anywhere else, but journalism has certainly taken me to a variety of places.
I did spend two weeks painting girders and discovered I suffer from vertigo, but no, the majority of my working life has been as a journalist.
How long have you lived here permanently?
After my second marriage broke up I came back here to see a man named Dave Chandler, who I’d worked with and to whom I’d recommended Thailand. He came here and stayed so when I was thinking about a place to go I wanted to go somewhere where I knew someone, so I came back to Thailand. That was in about 2000. Of course I fell in love too quickly, as one often does here.
I was going back and forth to the UK to work for my old company. So, I was doing two weeks in the UK producing a worldwide staff magazine for HSBC . But I made the mistake of inviting the internal comms. manager of HSBC to come to Pattaya for a holiday and, well, you can guess the rest. He ended up coming here to live, and so my contact at HSBC disappeared, and I ended up having to consider what the future held. I think I moved here permanently about 2003-4.
Are you married? Any children?
I’ve been married four times now. Two Thais and two farangs…I have two children. My eldest son, who’s 25, is working with me here in Pattaya.
Do you plan on returning to the UK to live at some point?
Really the only reason for me to return would be because of declining health. As the years advance you know things start to niggle and health insurance here is ridiculously expensive. At least back in the UK I would have access to the NHS [National Health Service].
But this place has somehow maintained the ability to be better than anywhere else you might want to be. Sure there are things about Pattaya that annoy the hell out of me, but I’d still rather be here.
What do you think the population of expats in Pattaya might be, based on what you’ve seen with regard to running REM?
I’m terrible with numbers. Quite frankly I haven’t got a clue. But I would guess that the foreigner numbers equate to about 10 or 15 percent of the total who are here. Of course, whether people are expats or tourists I have no idea.
An incident earlier this year involving your motor vehicle and the drive-thru at the Sukhumvit McDonald’s late at night has become a source of mirth for those who know you, and via the wonders of the Internet, and Facebook especially, many who don’t. Would you care to elaborate on the ‘incident’?
Well, I’d been out to a function and was a little tired and emotional as the saying goes. I placed my order for a cheeseburger, drove around the side to collect it and hit the accelerator instead of the brake. There was a car in front of me just picking up an order and in that split second I had to decide whether to hit the car in front or swerve. I turned the wheel to the right and hit the wall. In hindsight it’s a funny story, but it wouldn’t have been had someone been injured. I regret it of course, but am thankful that no one suffered any injury. And I never did get my cheeseburger!