Swampy - Eulogy

Parent Category: News & Stories Category: Bangkok Gentlemen Spoofers


Steve  Eaton


?? September 1956 – 19 August 2012

This appreciation of Steve and his life in Thailand over the past twenty years incorporates a multitude of comments and perceptions from his wide circle of friends who came to know him and enjoy his company during his life in Bangkok.

We learnt the sad news on Monday, the day after he died in hospital, and in the following twenty-four hours the internet was ‘swamped’ with dozens and dozens of e-mails expressing shock and sadness at our collective loss  --  and remembering the fun and amusement of his company.  This short address includes much of the sentiment of all those messages.

In Bangkok, Steve was known almost universally by his friends as ‘Swampy’ – a nickname bestowed upon him with pointed affection by a stalwart of the Bangkok Gentlemen Spoofers, allegedly in recognition of his facial features but it sort of fitted in other ways as well – particularly when one recalls that the other ‘real life’ Swampy was an anarchic idealist. There is an irony in Swampy being universally known by his nickname – because he then spent the next twenty years bestowing nicknames of varying politeness on a multitude of other Gentlemen Spoofers in Bangkok  --  and once Steve had defined and declared a nickname, however rude, it always stuck !

The bar game of Spoofing was central to Swampy’s time in Thailand – for over ten years he was the Chairman of the Bangkok Spoofers;  he kept it going through some very ‘thin’ times and it was Swampy who started the Asian Spoofing Championships ten years ago, which always brings in a wide range of contestants from Europe, the Middle East, Australasia and Asia;  for sure that will be his continuing legacy to the global brotherhood of Spoofing.   This convivial ‘sport’ took place every week at the British Club and it was the Club which formed the main centre of Steve’s social life in Bangkok.  He was effectively an institution there and the Churchill Bar has not been the same since he left six months ago.  It is often said that no-one is irreplaceable, which may well be true, but there is now definitely a perceptible ‘hole’ in the Churchill Bar, which is keenly felt by all his chums.

It must be said that Swampy was no Saint – he certainly had the knack of offending people – but in his enduring defence it can also be said that this was usually because he was uncompromisingly straightforward in the expression of his opinions.  There was no ‘side’ to Swampy;  he told it as he saw it without fear or favour and possessed an intellectual rigour which is sadly lacking in these days when there is too great a fear of causing offence.  Steve had a complete disregard for political correctness;  he was brutally honest.

However, the aspect of his character which was most universally recognised and which has been most remarked upon by his friends in the past couple of days was his most impressive intellect and his encyclopaedic knowledge of (seemingly) almost everything.  I guess this came from a combination of his hugely wide reading (you never saw him without a book – or a bag of books), an excellent recall ability and, for sure, a tremendous brain.

When the Bar Quizzes were held in the Club or other bars around town, Steve was the guy you wanted first and foremost on your team.  Most of us recognised his high intelligence and this made it hard for us to understand why he did not use his ability to further his career and for financial reward;  but fortunately we are all different and one cannot live other people’s lives for them.  Swampy always seemed to be comfortable in himself and was sufficiently self-contained not to need the trappings of commercial status to which most of us aspire.   His hard-bitten counsel was appreciated by those who had the sense to listen and he had an unique view of news and events, both global and local to Thailand.

Steve was also a man who enjoyed life pretty much to the full.  He had an acerbic and wicked wit and a cackling laugh which was instantly recognisable across a crowded room. Bangkok had already become a quieter and duller place without Swamps – and sadly now the world has, too.

Swampy will be greatly missed by all his friends in Thailand;  as one of them wrote this week   “In all my life, I have never known anyone like him”.   Swampy would have loved the double-entendre in that comment and would certainly have appreciated both sides of the coin.  I know he would have taken them both as a compliment.  He was, indeed, one of a kind.

From Bangkok, we all send our most sincere condolences to Steve’s mother and family.  We are pleased to have known Steve and to have had him as our friend for so many years.  He will be long remembered and his memory will be oft-toasted over the coming years by his good friends in the British Club, the Bangkok Gentlemen Spoofers and the Mutton Club.

May he rest in peace.

Roger Willbourn


21 August 2012

Memorial Spoof