So, today Matthias is coming for the weekend. Matthias is Lanying’s ex-husband and he’s the complete antithesis of me. Whereas I am slight, intellectual and shy, he is fat, down-to-earth and gregarious. Lanying is very fond of him.
She said, “Won’t we make a funny couple when people see us together! Large and small side by side.”
Matthias is here in London doing a little business. He is always doing a little business. It’s not always reputable business but you’ve got to admire his entrepreneurial drive.
Since I work in a bank I have to turn a blind eye. Something he was asked to do in Zurich sounded like money laundering to me. Whether he did it or not, I have no idea. One of the rules in banking is that if you suspect someone is doing something they shouldn’t, you are not allowed to let them know that you are suspicious. You are just supposed to tell your compliance department, who will deal with it surreptitiously.
So I told Lanying that I don’t want to know about Matthias’s business deals.
Matthias first met Lanying when she was working for her father in Thailand. Lanying’s father is a doctor. He was invited to Thailand to treat a rich patient and opened a private clinic there. Matthias was involved in a car accident and lost the use of an arm so he went to Lanying’s father for treatment. It was Lanying’s father’s idea that Matthias and Lanying should marry.
Matthias gets a disability allowance from the Swiss government, which he manages to hang onto even though he no longer lives there and, thanks to Lanying’s father, recovered the full use of his arm. He gets the disability allowance but somehow he avoids paying child support and alimony for his first wife, who lives in Germany.
Lanying brought a stability into his life that it lacked before. When the pressure builds up he can’t handle it and runs away. When they split up they were living in a little German town by the Swiss border but soon after the split he went to Thailand again, married a Thai woman and had a child by her. That’s the simplified version. He also has an apartment where he lives on his own.
He is irresponsible but kind-hearted. While he’s here Lanying wants him to set up our wireless router. We’ve had it for six months without taking it out of the box. I expect Matthias will have it up and running in ten minutes. He understands technology.
One of the things she regrets about marrying me is that I have no idea what the latest gadgets can do. “You are so backward,” she tells me. “You are stuck in the stone age. Really.”