The History of 'Behind The Smile'
~ the Story of Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya ~
The writing of 'Behind The Smile - Daddy's Hobby' was not achieved quickly. In fact it took six years, but the
research was even more protracted. That took me 45 years. 'Behind The Smile' will be seen by many as relating only
to Thailand, but that is not the case.
I was born in Barry, South Wales, but I never saw the rough side of town, although many would have thought that
where I came from, the Colcot ('working side', as the taxi drivers called it) was pretty bad. My parents gave
me and my four brothers a good life, but really, I should only speak for myself and will do so from here
I loved school and had the sort of brain with a retentive memory that made learning things and passing exams
quite easy. I had also been brought up to be polite, so, except for a resistance to authority, I got on well at
school. I never had time to see what was later described to me as the 'seamier side' of life.
One evening, after school, when I was about 17 years old, I went with the school rugby team to a couple of bars
in town, my first pub crawl. It was St. David's Day and we sang at least one song in each bar in that pre-juke era.
We sang all night, which in those days was until 10:30 and I was introduced to some appreciative ladies - young and
not so young - who were described as 'working girls'.
I knew the expression, of course, but it was the first time, I had ever met any. They did not seem as, as ....,
'bad' (I suppose) as I had been led to believe by jokes, the TV and general gossip. In fact, I was quite fascinated
I had never seen such women before. They joined in, they danced, they'd be rude and they would just act as if
there were no-one (maybe no men) watching them. I was taken with them, although not literally.
A few years later I moved to Portsmouth, which in the Seventies had 20,000 sailors and 20,000 students, but was
/ is actually a garrison town. Now, most of that lot were men and there were plenty of women about too. However, I
was still a swot, well, a little bit less so by then, and I did not get involved until I took a part-time job in
the Wiltshire Lamb near the Students' Union.
The landlord's name was 'Sweeney' Todd. He had just retired as a Master at Arms after a lifetime in the Royal
Navy. I earned and learned more after shifts that I should have. There were many working girls in the Lamb,
especially after hours.
From there I moved to Den Bosch in the Netherlands and there was a real Red Light District there. I 'had'
to walk through it every night to get home from the pub and many times I would stop to chat with the girls. They
often asked me to get them a kebab or some chips at two o'clock in the morning while they desperately hung on for
the off-chance of a punter.
I knew many of them well, but not physically. We often used to play darts on their nights off. Darts being the
'in thing' in the Netherlands in the Seventies and it was quite chic to be taught by a Brit.
There was also a bar called Daddy's Hobby, which the boys and I used to use quite frequently - 'Bat Out of Hell'
seemed to be being played all the time.
Twenty-odd years later, I ended up in Pattaya and I immediately got on with the girls in the bars. What I have
written in this book, Behind The Smile, is not autobiographical and nor does it relate to any specific people or
bar that I know, but I have heard more than 75% of those tales from the girls themselves and i am forever grateful
that they could see the friendliness in me to trust me enough to relate them.
I love Pattaya and I love Thailand and I love Portsmouth too.
'Behind the Smile' refers to the fact that Thailand is known the world over as 'The
Land of Smiles'.
by Owen Jones