Tall, imposing and a natural raconteur, Peter’s life experiences doing deals in some of the world’s most colourful and dangerous places – Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Libya, to name a few – are unique and go a long way to explaining his nickname, James, as in James Bond
Nickname: James after 007, and also Chang by my Thai friends as I love elephants as I grew up with them in India.
Born: May 10, 1941 in Calcutta, West Bengal, India.
Education: Up until 10 years old at Christian schools in Calcutta and from 11 to 18 at a UK boarding school which I hated. Left with 4-5 GHSE ‘B’ grades and returned to Calcutta and no higher education!
Family: Ex-wife in Watford, UK. Four sons; the eldest (51) is married an Estonian girl and they have a boy and girl, and live in Guildford, UK.
The second (49) is a trained Michelin star chef in London at the Connaught Hotel and has lived in Thailand for 17 years. He’s married to a Thai lady and they have two girls. He worked at the Oriental, Hilton Millennium, Sheraton in Pattaya, Antanara in Phuket, Sofitel in Bangkok, Chatrium and now works at the Amari Watergate. They have a house in Pattaya.
The third (45) has a boy and girl, lives in Watford and was married to a Latvian girl.
The fourth (41) is a chef who trained at the Connaught in London. He worked in Australia for 12-14 years at his own restaurant. He now works in Orlando, Florida, as executive chef of a top end British-style gentlemen’s club. He’s not married.
Where did you spend your early life? Born and bred in Calcutta where my father worked for over 40 years as an electrical engineer, putting up the first electric street lights around the mid-1930s.
Tell us about your parents and their life. My father was from a poor working class family in the Leeds area of England, the eldest of 12 kids. His father was a coal miner. During the Depression in the 1930s he got a job in Calcutta as chief engineer for Calcutta Electric Supply Co Ltd. The whole family returned to the UK in 1963.
My father, a self-educated man who as the eldest son looked after the family and two sisters during the Depression until he returned UK. He never settled in Britain and died seven years later.
My mother was the youngest daughter of a middle class family from Harrow area. Her father was a Circuit Judge in India under the Brit Raj. She was into all the colonial social life of Calcutta - they say opposites are attracted to each other.
How long in Thailand? 25 years.
What brought you here? To set up a financial services company for Mercedes-Benz as a JV with the Thonburi group, which was interesting and challenging.
What is your present situation? I retired in 2009 at the age of 68 in Bangkok with a Thai wife and house in Sukhumvit Soi 65. I recently celebrated my 80th birthday.
First-ever job? Returning to Calcutta 1958/59 I got a job as trainee manager with Chartered bank. It was a great life as I played in the bank’s sports section - field hockey, tennis, football, swimming and squash. And worked one day a week. My father said I needed a proper job!
Then? Back in the UK again, I worked in the auto financing division for the Bank of Scotland as a sales rep, with a company car a Morris 1000 convertible. It really impressed the girls, or so I thought! I did this for many years in the UK setting up auto financing programs for companies like Renault, VW, Nissan,Caravans International & lastly MB .
Later I worked for a company in Newport Pagnell building specialist bodywork for high-end clients like the military, and Ministry of Defence. This job took me to the Middle East where I won a contract from the Aide King of Saudi Arabia to build the largest and most luxurious caravans in the world, 20m long and 10m wide, complete with kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and air-conditioning. These ‘Super Caravans’ caught the attention of the Sultan of Oman and Libya’s leader Muammar Gadaffi, both of whom purchased their own caravans.
We also sold 3,000 trailer caravans to the Italian government in 1980 after the disastrous earthquake in southern Italy for poor people to live during the winter months.
Eventually I got a lift in an old truck that somehow made it across 2,000 miles of desert without any obvious roads or signs to Amman in Jordan. On the way, we found a small oasis, complete with brothel, restaurant and booze, which reminded me of an old John Wayne movie in the old Wild West days !
Your last job in India? My last job in May 1996 was to set up a financing company for Mercedes-Benz in India to cover the financing for cars out of Pune and trucks/buses out of Chennai (formerly Madras). So I had super miraculous jobs at the start and end of my working life in India. In between I was with Mercedes-Benz in the UK from 1990 setting up a green field financial services (FS) company, then moved to Thailand in 1990 in charge of business development for all Asia-Pacific. One of my tasks was to set up a joint venture with the Benz Thonburi Group. During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, we survived by capturing 95% of the market for five-star hotel VIP limousines.
Early influences? In India taught by my father Humility, Courtesy and Politeness, and to accept all types, from the very poor to the top types of people.
When was the last time you visited India? In 2009, when I had the great pleasure of meeting some former colleagues and friends in Calcutta. I was also asked to join a kite flying festival and was rewarded with life membership of the Calcutta Kite Club.
Where else have you lived? Australia.
High and low points in your life? High, being bought up in India to understand life. Low, I can’t think of much. I did go on a tiger hunt in India with my father when I was about 11, but didn’t like seeing the ‘kill.’
Most memorable person you’ve met? The Sultan of Oman, and also Muammar Gadaffi of Libya. We were under strict conditions not to talk about the caravans we sold Gadaffi.
Person you wish you’d never met? One of my regional bosses whilst with Mercedes-Benz in Asia.
How do you relax / exercise? I used to play tennis, but now swimming and walking in the area near my house. Also playing with our three dogs - two street boys and a girl !
Favorite Bangkok restaurants and bars? Gianni, Bourbon Street, Di Vino, Calderazzo, Ekamai beer house.
Favorite cuisine? Italian, Indian, Thai. My favorite dish is English breakfast with HP sauce.
Favorite weekend getaway destinations? Hua Hin, Jomtien.
Favorite countries, other than Thailand? Spain, Italy, Germany and India.
Any hobbies? Avid reader of fiction and travel, and supporter of Soi Dog Foundation of Phuket & The Friends of Asian Elephants (FAE) in Lampang
How has the Covid lockdown been for you? OK and manageable.
What would you change about Bangkok if you were the Governor? Get rid of overhanging electric cables, re-lay pavements, cut overhanging trees and control motor cycles recklessness!
Any regrets in life? None
Next overseas trip? ASAP after Covid, probably Spain,Germany and Italy.
What’s next for you? Continue to enjoy life at a slower pace, be happy with only real good friends, and hopefully continue good health to increase my ‘expiry date’ and reach my 7th cycle in a fit state