I remember, with some clarity, the first time I came across a copy of Citylife magazine. It was soon after I arrived in Chiang Mai in a small café on the Ratwithi Road (now sadly no longer with us due to the owner’s somewhat misguided investment in a Mai Rim ‘adventure-sports monkey-farm’). But there it was, sitting on the table amongst a bunch of other glossies with the words Citylife Chiang Mai emblazoned across a photo of a beautiful girl, or a couple of sumo wrestlers, or some blokes on bikes, I can’t actually recall what, but I was hooked. I picked up the periodical, and it truly was a thing of beauty — the matt-gloss finish, articulate articles and informative events and entertainments pages. I was especially impressed with the spine. It’s got a really solid spine of the quality you rarely find on other magazines these days — very firm. The sort of thing you could probably knock the top off a beer bottle with if the need ever arose.
I knew immediately I needed to possess a copy of my very own so I asked the proprietor of the now regretfully defunct establishment (he never did get over the incident involving the two Mormon missionaries, an ATV and a gibbon) how much he would accept for this monarch of magazines. I am utterly unashamed to admit that I ejaculated more than a small whimper of joy on being informed that the magnificent monthly was complimentary, gratis, free-of-charge and that I was welcome to take it away with me and keep it forever.
The next few days for me were heaven. I would whip out my supplement at every opportunity, give it a good thumbing, revel in the narratives and salivate over the ads for Chiang Mai’s culinary delights and massage emporiums. I walked the boulevards of my new home clutching my magazine, eyes wide with wonder. Citylife’s pages had given me a thirst for knowledge. What was this Podology Centre I’d read about? I had immersed myself in the details of the third revision of the Chiang Mai New City Plan the night before and couldn’t believe I was strolling those very streets. Would I bump into a hill tribe? Would a tour operator really allow me to exchange a few baht for half-an-hour on a gun range with an Uzi? Could I actually get a full Brazilian wax for the price of a beer back home?
Yet this did not last. Like a tweeker looking for his next bag of cheap cranky I realised I could not be satisfied with a monthly hit. I needed more. I had to be part of Citylife.
I needed a plan that was subtle, clever and complex. I knew I would need to play the long game — after all, convincing the north of Thailand’s premier publication that I had anything at all to offer was going to be more complicated than anything I’d ever attempted to execute before. So I sent Pim, the editor and owner, a cunningly crafted email: “May I write for your magazine?” She replied, “Sure. Send over what you’ve got.”
And that, as far cleverer people have said before me, was that. This month it is Citylife’s Silver Jubilee and I couldn’t be prouder to have been part of the family for the best part of a decade. Well, part of the family in the sense that a drunk uncle at a wedding is considered part of the family.
I have been allowed to indulge myself in everything to do with living in the Rose of the North from the semi–serious to the truly preposterous within the pages of Citylife. I have been permitted to produce pertinent pieces for CityNews and for two glorious years I had the privilege of writing an awful lot of wank about wine. And I’m still here with my very own diary page where readers can tell me exactly how dreadful they think I am with some poorly constructed prose in the comments section of the website. It has been my honour, my pleasure, my pride and my joy to have been part of this fabulous publication.
So a colossal thank you to all at Citylife — especially Pim, James and Aydan — and a very happy 25th anniversary. I very much intend to carry on, until somebody rumbles me, so here’s to the next 25.