Monday, September 25, 2006

Lost in Bangkok

My mother used to regard a train journey, in which she didn't have an opportunity to have a natter with someone, as nothing to write home about.

I'm not as vaccinated with a gramophone needle as my mother was, but I did discover on a flight to Sydney, which began Friday evening, that adjacent passengers were a mother and daughter from Dublin, who were en route to Sydney, for the wedding of a family member later this week. However, at the end of the hour long stopover in Bangkok, the Irish couple had failed to return to the plane.

Some passengers joked that the Irish couple may have been planning a counter-coup.

The 18th coup in 74 years is going to result in the country's 17th constitution. In his book, The King Never Smiles, Paul Handley writes that the king and his coterie of royalists have built a form of a theocratic state that exists alongside - outlasts - the country's regular phases of democracy and military rule.

In contrast with the influence of the Thai King Bhumibol, Japan's Emperor Akihito lives in a gilded cage, subject to a constitution written by the US after the Second World War.

In 1952, King Farouk of Egypt said that 20 years from then, there would be only five kings left in the world - the four in the deck of cards and the King of England. In Europe, in recent decades, the relics of the past have remained static with the return of the Spanish monarchy offsetting the demise of royalty in Greece.

I'm in Sydney, to meet my son who was stabbed in a mugging last week. He is recovering but it hasn't been a pleasant time for him.