Telling fortunes 'a nice little earner'
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Telling fortunes 'a nice little earner'

A recent Thai news story concerned a man nabbed in an online fortune-telling scam. He would inform customers suffering from misfortune that their situation would dramatically improve if for a small fee he made a few prayers on his "direct line" to the deities in heaven.

It will come as no surprise that the prayers never seemed to work the first time and the "small fees" became increasingly larger as the customers paid for each subsequent prayer ceremony. The outcome was that the 100 or more customers' woes increased while the fortune-teller's bank account looked a lot healthier.

In the words of Arthur Daley in the British TV series Minder, it was "a nice little earner".

Fortune-telling (Mor Doo) is an accepted profession in Thailand and popular among some citizens. Unfortunately the kingdom is littered with assorted self-proclaimed crystal-gazers, clairvoyants, soothsayers, oracles, palmists and psychics who can sometimes be a bit dodgy.

It's not just gullible folks who seek help from the spiritual world. It is no secret that some of those holding responsible positions are a highly superstitious lot and may even have their own soothsayers who are paid handsomely.

It has always been bit of a worry to think that important decisions concerning the country could depend on the juxtaposition of the planets, the queen of spades turning up in the wrong place, or whether the lines of an important person's palms go in the right direction.

It is probably just as well that the art of reading tea leaves isn't a popular pursuit in Thailand, otherwise we could really be in trouble.

Unsatisfied customer

When I was first in Thailand a story appeared in the Bangkok Post which I have never forgotten. In those days fortune-tellers would hang out at Sanam Luang and for a small sum would offer their words of wisdom.

This particular tale concerned a young lady who was down on her luck and decided to consult a to Sanam Luang fortune-teller for some advice. It wasn't long before he explained that her luck would only improve if she had sex with him. Although it wasn't quite the advice she had been hoping for she duly obliged. But her luck didn't improve.

The fortune-teller then explained the obvious solution was to increase the frequency of their trysts, to which she reluctantly agreed. But many weeks later there was still no signs of her luck improving.

Eventually the woman got so fed up she sued him, not for sexual harassment but because he was a lousy fortune-teller.

Predictably right

To be fair to fortune-tellers they sometimes get it right. The following tale is mentioned in my new book Beyond Nowhere, available at AsiaBooks, on the website and Amazon.

An English friend in Bangkok married to a Thai was told by a fortune-teller that an unexpected visitor would change his life. The forecast turned out to be spot on. Two weeks later his mother-in-law from Buri Ram arrived on his doorstep and has ensconced herself at his residence ever since. A life-changer indeed.

Better and wetter

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may have wished he had consulted a fortune-teller on the timing of his speech on Wednesday announcing the July 4 election day. It was raining as the PM wearing a smart suit and without an umbrella strode out to the lectern on Downing Street. The rain got heavier and heavier.

By the end of the speech he was a very soggy PM standing there looking a bit forlorn in his rain-soaked suit. He was totally drenched, resembling someone who had just taken a wrong turning in Bangkok in the middle of the Songkran festival.

Matters were not helped by protesters on Whitehall almost drowning out his speech with loud music which included the opposition Labour Party anthem "Things Can Only Get Better" which quickly emerged on social media as "things can only get wetter". All in all it was not exactly auspicious and more importantly, his suit was ruined.

Have a mice day

One interested observer was the No 10 "chief mouser", Larry the Cat. The feline first sat on the window ledge to escape the rain and later on the doorstep. Larry, who is known as a cat with attitude, did not look overly impressed at the proceedings and no doubt was wondering why his boss was getting soaking wet in the pouring rain without an umbrella.

At least the British can be thankful the election will all be over in six weeks. Across the Pond it seems to go on forever.

The lazy mouser

Larry was possibly pondering whether he was going to have yet another boss. It was only two years ago that he was subjected to three different PMs at No 10 in a matter of months. It included a highly entertaining moment when Liz Truss attempted to stroke him and the feline showed his displeasure at this blatant photo-op by running off down the street.

Cat lovers will be aware that Larry was once a stray at Battersea Dogs and Cats home. Despite his official title, Larry has not been the most efficient rat catcher and received an official reprimand in 2012 when a large rodent was spotted strolling through David Cameron's study. The cat reportedly spends most of his time sleeping, prompting the tabloid press to dub him "Lazy Larry".

Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

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