Behind The Smile - Background to Some Names
As the author of the series 'Behind The Smile ~ the Story of Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya', I have been asked
several times where the name for the series and the name for the bar and first book, Daddy's Hobby, came from.
The good news is that they were not selected at random; there are reasons for them which I will now explain.
The name of the book comes from the popular English nickname for Thailand, which is the Land of Smiles. Just as
Wales is well-known as the Land of Song, Thailand is well-known by the people who know it as the Land of Smiles
(LOS). This comes from the Thais' reaction to mild adversity - they smile.
If someone trips or has a minor accident, people will smile or even laugh, not because it is funny, but it
allows the one who had the accident to save face. That person who just tripped over the kerb can smile back and
make joke out of the situation rather than feel a clumbsy fool.
The smile is used on social occasions too. When meeting someone (as in many countries), but it is also used if
you've forgotten someone's name. It is used every day, but it's main purpose is to allow everyone to save face
However, the guy who stubbed his toe still hurts and the person who forgot your name still feels an idiot, but
they don't have to show it. The smile hides what is really going on, but in a nice way. Usually.
Hence 'Behind The Smile'. The bar girls have got a rotten job really. Most of them are there to earn money
either for their own kids or their parents' families. Often for both, since it is usual for grandparents to bring
children up so that the young can work and the old can take it easier.
Most of the bar girls are hundreds of kilometres from their small children and miss the a lot. Sometimes they
only get to see their kids once or twice a year.
How many young mothers would like that? Yet they smile and if they let that smile drop, they probably won't earn
much, because they won't be chosen. Who wants to pay for a grumpy-looking companion?
The name of the bar comes from my time in s'Hertogenbosch, Noord Brabant in the Netherlands. I stayed a squat at
Hekellaan 4 - a disused Edwardian school - after I left university. One of my favourite bars was the Big Pink run
by Gren and his business partner, who had the biggest Rolling Stones record collection in the country. He not only
collected titles, but wanted record labels in foreign languages
I worked in a few bars too: for Piet in the Laat Maar on Zuid Willemsvaart and in another bar three corners up
on the right-hand side. I forget the name now.
Anyway, between those two bars and not far from Hekellaan 4 is a street called Hinthammerstraat and there was a
bar on there for a time called 'Daddy's Hobby'. A lot of Brits and Irish used the bar and we had some great nights
in there with the Go Go girls and Meatloaf blasting out.
I forget the name of the landlord, but I and most others got on well with him. He sold a bit of hash and had the
girls, but one day he was found shot to death in his bar and that was the end of that.
I have always thought 'Daddy's Hobby' was a great name for a bar and so used it in the book.
by Owen Jones