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He could trace the exact moment his life as a confidence trickster began.  He’d filled in a legitimate Credit card application.  Under the heading ‘Designation’, he’d written, on a whim ‘Sir’ not ‘Mr.’ This decision set him on the road to illegitimacy.  Ten days later he was astonished to receive a card in the name of ‘Sir David Eccles.’  He was even more astonished the first time he used it to book a ticket for a holiday in America.  He was given an immediate upgrade.  The next two weeks were a revelation.  With no aristocracy of its own, America fawned over an English Knight.  Doors opened miraculously: the best seats or tables in the house were not good enough.  Every where he went, he was lauded and showered with complementaries. He grew too used to it.
 
Nemesis WomanHe grew ever more expectant; began embroidering his story.  Certain ladies made complaints and he fell foul of the law.  Sir David was one step ahead of the police when he boarded the plane to Thailand and so he came to Pattaya.  It wasn’t the climate; it wasn’t the girls, (though he took advantage of both), it was the possibilities.  For some LOS signified Land of Smiles; to Sir David it meant Land of Scams.  He’d read up on the gem scene; the ‘closing’ of the Grand Palace; the taximeter con. Bangkok had been done to death.  There were rich pickings to be had:  Pattaya was a boom town for the Great Real Estate swindle.  Over the years, his bogus title enabled him to join the boards of numerous local companies.  Sometimes he would form his own temporary company to take deposits for off-plan condos that were destined to never get built.  Being denied land ownership as a farang, he began using women to front bogus purchases.
 
A Public School education had endowed him with perfect manners and his genteel air added to his attractiveness.   Moving with ease among the Hi-So Thai families, he quickly ensnared Yuphadee.  It was an easy thing to have her put her name to pieces of land which, he claimed, were bound to appreciate.  She borrowed heavily from the banks on her family’s good name.
 
He was not at all racist, exploiting any nationality equally.  At one time there was an influx of Scandinavians, all wanting to escape their long, gloomy, winter nights.  Then there was the boom of Russian Nouveaux-Riches with rubles to burn.  Soon the heat became unbearable and he needed to get out of the kitchen.  He closed his office in Soi Bu Kaow; emptied his safe and bank account and fled to Phuket leaving Yuphadee holding the metaphorical baby.
 
Real Estate in Phuket was far more expensive than in Pattaya.  He argued, however, that his profit margins would remain the same but on higher sums.  He was introduced to his new lady assistant at the Yachting Club Annual party.  She oozed class, dripped gold and had that certain quality, David prized most in a female: naivety.  He set about cultivating her and was delighted to find she shared the same interest in a prime piece of land close to the harbour.  It was priced in millions but the sell-on value would be astronomical.
 
Unlike Yuphadee, however, Atiya seemed more intent on matrimony than land ownership.  David could see the opportunity slipping away from him.  Another party was interested and could match his price.  There was nothing for it but to pop the question.  Atiya was delighted to accept and happy to move the wedding plans smartly along at David’s pace.
 
With less than forty eight hours to the signing of the papers: marriage certificate and land ownership in David’s company name, Atiya dropped the Sin Sot bombshell.  Of course she didn’t believe in such an old-fashioned notion; her parents were fabulously wealthy but they could not afford to lose face in the business community.  It was only for form’s sake, she went on, the money and gold would be returned immediately after the ceremony. Her parents would not budge on this, she added firmly.
 
His mind racing, David did the sums; his calm smile pasted across a careless countenance.  If he sold his car, a top of the range BMW; if he withdrew every cent of his Pattaya money and if the bank would allow him overdraft facilities, he could just about do it.  Within three or four days, he would be able to multiply this sum tenfold anyway.  He smiled his agreement and set the wheels in motion.
 The party was a lavish affair, David knew he’d have to foot this expense and had money set aside – seed potatoes, he thought.  A hundred and fifty guests crowded his new family’s house.  The centre piece on the main table was, of course, the plate bearing the Sin Sot sum.  There were stacks of crisp bank notes in recognizable bundles of 10,000 baht.  There were piles of glittering gaudy gold in heavy chunky piles.  It made his heart ache to see his beloved BMW reduced to this pile of jewelry that would never be worn.
 
He and his bride-to-be stood at the door greeting the guests; a photographer on hand to capture David’s famous smile as the introductions were made.  Amongst all the milling and unfamiliar guests in the queue, David caught a glimpse of a face he thought he recognized but couldn’t name.  As the guest, a lone female, drew nearer, a name began to float to the surface from his past; it was his Nemesis, his abandoned Yuphadee. 
 
Finally they came face to face.  David feared an explosion; an outpouring of jilted jealousy, but Yuphadee’s lovely face was serene.  Dimly through his reeling senses, he became aware of Atiya’s gentle voice; a soothing shower on a fevered brow.  ‘David, this is Yuphadee.  She’s come up from Pattaya for our big day.’
 
Then her voice hardened; granite chips flecked the rain storm about to break.  ‘Of course, you two know each other don’t you?’  Before he could answer she ground on.  ‘We had a job finding you, until Yuphadee remembered you’d confided a desire to exploit the Phuket scene after you’d drained the Pattaya one.’
 
She smiled an acid smile at his discomfort.  His mouth hung open slack and befuddled.  His eyes, wild and bulging swiveled wildly until they came to rest on the empty space where the Sin Sot plate had been.
 
‘David, I’d like to formally introduce you: this is Yuphadee, my younger sister.’
 
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILD
 
A look across Pattaya and you will find quite a choice of schools, some more high profile than others. As a parent, what is important is finding one that you believe would be of the benefit to your child while remaining within your budget. Over the coming issues I will write for Pattaya Today on everything ‘education’ while at the same time making you more aware of the ISE International School. I would like to begin this regular column by introducing ISE.
 
ISE uses an American curriculum as it has proved to be the most flexible that we felt would better serve the diverse community on the Eastern Seaboard. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) was added in 2001 to support students attending university in many countries around the world.
 
The American philosophy of education is to be inclusive of the entire community by having a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) that welcomes parents in supporting school programs. There is a strong after school activities program (ASA) that enables students to explore areas of interest outside the classroom. These activities include dance, cooking, sport, martial arts, circus club and numerous other activities.
 
ISE is the only school on the Eastern Seaboard that awards an American High School Diploma to its graduates. This allows students to attend university in most countries around the world. Finally, please have a look online at our school programs and activities, you can find this on the front page of www.inspire-emagazine.com. I am sure you will enjoy it.