It was just one job after another, he says UK expat Barry Kenyon has had so many jobs in Pattaya that he has almost lost count. He started off teaching English as a second language in the 1990s and then started Pattaya bridge club which he sold in 2001. For many years he was the British honorary consul in the resort before retiring in 2010, but carried on until 2013 as assistant information officer at the Immigration Bureau. Not to mention his being the deputy editor of
Pattaya Today from 2003 to 2008.
Now 76, Barry says he’s certainly slowing down, although he still writes freelance articles and has just completed a book, Honorary Consul Pattaya, which was published as an e-book available on Amazon Kindle and is now a
paperback available in Thailand and soon worldwide. (See the instruction at the end of this article for a free copy). He adds that he maintains his role with the Tourist Police as the media officer dealing mainly with press enquiries
and video shoots. He recently completed, with Siamese Vision Media Company, a video on the work in Pattaya of the Foreign Tourist Police Assistants.
“So many expats I know become bored with their life in Pattaya after they realize that weekly trips to the golf club and regular visits to the pub simply aren’t enough to give structure to their life,” he says. “There have been times in the past when I have had too much on my plate, but I feel that’s better than being bored stiff just waiting for the sun to go down.” He adds that he has never deliberately sought any of the jobs he has held. “Actually they just fell into my lap.”
Born in war-torn Britain in 1941, Barry was brought up in Lancashire and attended Colne Grammar School and Liverpool University where he gained a first-class honours degree in classics (Latin and Greek) and ancient history. Realizing that these subjects were not much in demand in the 1960s, he took a further degree and postgraduate diploma in sociology and criminal law. He spent much of his working life in colleges in the UK and overseas, and quit in 1992 to start a new
life in Vietnam as an English language teacher-trainer. “This plan fell through when the college in Hanoi accidentally burned down, so I fell back on exotic Thailand and the alluring Pattaya.”
He started working for the British embassy in 1997 after another disaster. He founded Pattaya bridge club in 1994 and had to contact the embassy for advice after one of the members died suddenly of a heart attack in the Le Cafe Royal where the club then met. “The embassy told me that they had nobody at that time to deal with Pattaya emergencies, and that was the beginning of a 13- or 14-year relationship.” He adds that Pattaya was a very different city in those days with many more Brits and no Russians or Chinese to speak of. “The other differences were that Thailand was a good deal cheaper than it is now, there were fewer street crimes and the property boom hadn’t started.”
Very recently, he published his memoirs, Honorary Consul Pattaya, which he describes as nearly 14 action-packed years in the tourist hotspot. “I felt it’s a story worth telling if only because it reflects what can go wrong when you holiday abroad or become an expat. Over the years I dealt with down-and-outs, the bankrupt, the sick, the jailed and the dead.” It’s also important for people to know what the embassy can do in these circumstances – frankly a lot less than is generally understood. In my later years with the embassy, the government in London became more and more dominant over what you could do – and what you could not – for clients. I was even told I was working too hard and over-servicing. By 2010 I was glad to quit.”
There is also quite a lot of humor in the book as Barry details the very odd requests from British visitors, including the recipe for Princess Di’s wedding cake and a plea to help find Elvis Presley who was believed to have escaped from his coffin and was living above Burger King on Beach Road. “It’s all in a day’s work. I was attacked by ladyboy thieves while carrying out my duties for the embassy and even managed to stay upright during an autopsy observation when other witnesses were fainting.”
Another weird incident was when he was asked to intervene in the matter of a large billboard on Sukhumvit Road showing Adolf Hitler welcoming visitors to Pattaya with a stiff-armed salute. “I had to persuade the local authorities that Hitler makes a bad advertising model for a fun city like Pattaya and is completely unacceptable anyway because of his involvement in the death of 50 million people in the early 1940s.”
The book Honorary Consul Pattaya also recounts several of the criminal cases in which Barry was involved. They include Colin Martin, the Irishman who spent many years in a Thai jail for murder, who later wrote the bestseller, Welcome to Hell. There was also Michael Stacpoole, the bagman for British politician Jeffrey Archer, who ended up being deported from Thailand for visa overstay, and Paul Cryne, who committed a murder in UK while on bail in Thailand for allegedly being involved in one here.
There are key sections in the book on the decline and fall of the British consulate office in Jomtien – it closed little more than a year after Barry’s retirement, the attempts by the gutter press in UK to discredit him after he was
awarded the MBE, and insights into the role of the Tourist Police Foreign Volunteers on Walking Street. An amusing final chapter looks at the differing roles of honorary consuls around the world.
Asked if he has any regrets on his 20 years plus in Pattaya, Barry says his failure to learn Thai properly is the main one. “It’s so easy in Pattaya to rely on the fact that many people speak English that I fell into that particular trap. On
the other hand, I never expected to spend so long here. But now I couldn’t envisage living anywhere else.”
“Pattaya, warts and all, is still a great city.”