Imagine my surprise today when the signs (Thai and English) in the local supermarket declared a mid-afternoon ban on the sale of alcohol. “Between 2 pm and 5 pm”, according to the sales assistant, “beer, wine and other alcohol cannot be sold, it’s the law”. I could, however, have my bottle of celebratory, imported booze wrapped up, in a showy bag with a golden ribbon.

This transformed the bottle of mid-grade Australian bubbly from “alcohol” to a “present”. According to my helpful sales assistant, “there is no problem selling presents”.

I couldn’t hide my smile.