March 2016’s posts

The virtual private network (That’s entertainment!)

17th March 2016

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

Spider piss, spider piss, does whatever spider piss can…

 

I had a coldsore.  Herpes simplex is in town.  HSV-1 sounds like a railway construction project title.  I didn’t want to wait the 7-10 day clear-up time.  It is unsightly and uncomfortable.  On Wednesday (the 2nd of March) morning, I could feel a tingling burning sensation on the left of my lips.  By the afternoon a small blister erupted.  By the evening my lips had dried and become much more sore.  The small blister had multiplied into a cluster of fluid-filled pouches.  I’m fairly certain that on Tuesday (March the 1st) night, somebody at football took a swig or two from my personal drinks bottle.  I am not happy about this.  I have always hated sharing drinks bottles, glasses or anything of the same irk.  That said it could be fatigue from the 60km of cycling slapped around two hours of football… or strong sunlight… or menustration (as if)… or emotional and psychological stress… endless possibilities.  Last Thursday morning I opted to call by the pharmacy (as I had in October 2014).  The cream is the same tiger balm deep heat smelling one as before.  This time they have me something called Sihuang Xiehuo Pian (四黄泻火片).  The tiger balm fragranced cream has soothed the lip symptoms and I hope it’ll swiftly clear up the blemishing.  The new tablets contain 7mg of berberine hydrochloride in their 0.25g tablets.  Take 4, three times daily, said the pharmacist.  The description of the tablet’s uses (from the box label), directly translates as:

 

“Treatment against heat dampness, purging fire detoxification.  For inner burning filled, red eyes and throat, toothache , sore tongue , scanty dark urine , dry stools and surgical sore embolism.”

So, having survived my pigeon Chinese exchange with a pharmacist, I fled to school via a breakfast stall.  At school, I asked my colleague Wendy about these new mysterious tablets.  She explained in scientific terms that farmyard spiders have moved into the city and taken a leak on my lips.  They came in, cocked many of their eight legs and took a slash on my face.  I was pissed on by spiders, man.  I didn’t argue, as the story was backed up by many tales passed down from generation to generation by ancestrial kin.  I guess there is a reason why a primary school of Chinese whispers gets that name.

 

Forgive me for going all Sam Smith and saying that the writings on the wall, but right now, I am so far up the creek of crap, I don’t know if I need to wade, dive or kayak away.  Something has reappeared that I thought was long buried.  A storm is coming.  If I am to make it through this storm, I either face it head on and don’t further ignore it, or I won’t be able to breathe.  I can barely breathe thinking about it.  There isn’t much light left at the end of the day, and that is when hope is at its least.  Last week, I was ebbed so far off, I thought deep dark thoughts.  A demon has appeared at the end of my bed, and it wants to pull me in.  I’m afraid and unsure.  I must face it.

 

On a more positive front HubHao have published two of my latest articles, one is about a local Hash Harrier group.  A second article skirts a little too close to political matters for my liking, so I’ve coined a pen name, Indigo Freeman, to write about taxi driver strikes.  Whilst not entirely political it does talk about workers’ rights, to which I am not willing to tie my name to this increasingly warm fronted debate with China.  China is busy changing a few things at the minute and has been for over a week.  VPNs have been null and void for some time.  The big two meetings (Liang? ) has been attended mainly by party officials but has had guests such as Edmund Phelps (2006 Nobel laureate in economics) and Steve Chu (former U.S. Secretary of Energy who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997).  China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) has been seeking suggestions and insights from overseas to assist China with various matters.  Whether it is economic approaches, financial risk control, clean energy, cooperation on the Belt and Road, the middle income trap or health care reform, China wants to progress.  Tougher bans on tobacco advertisements, the tackling of obesity and many more sensible healthcare decisions have been announced.  As the U.K.’s own government strangles and constricts the National Health Service, China looks over at Britain as a model of aspiration.  When you try to explain that their goal is being destroyed in Britain, they never understand.

 

Without a VPN, and with increased internet censorship of late, sites such as YouTube has been useless.  I shouldn’t complain because I am a guest of the state.  I’ve relied on the Chinese equivilents but can’t quite get my music fix or communicate with those who don’t use email, WeChat etc.  BBCs websites have been up and down but thankfully MCFC.co.uk has remained unaffected.  City TV beats having a TV channel on cable or satelite TV where every programme is half-thought, dragged out and often repeated.  It is informative, well-produced and broad in content.  There have been moments of humour, something for the kids, deep interviews, past perspectives and far more content targeting a wide and now increasingly global audience.  I feel in touch with the club and at ease with how our club is being ran.  The chairman’s reports, Inside City, youth team highlights and general first team footage have been particularly pleasing to see.  I love my club and it feels great to see and hear praise from other team’s fans about our website.  They want to be where we’re at and when they get there, we’ve already gone further…  I prefer to use MCFC.co.uk over social media (which can often be restricted in use at offices, social media has no use in China when I am working there, etc).

 

The last 10 days has seen temperatures drop from 22°C to 7°C.  The previous week’s hot exploration around the Dongguan Botanical Gardens seems a distant memory.  Last Saturday was so cool in comparison.  Yesterday’s heavy rain showers hinted at the spring monsoon deluges that may follow.  That said, the night sky was clear and starry, amongst the glows of light pollution.  Today, the humidity ramped up to a steady 90% and the temperature has risen to 17°C.

 

Today, I had to perform a presentation to the English teachers within Dao Ming Foreign Language School.  I think it went well.  I was challenged to talk about my Spring Festival vacation, which I feel was rather boring.  I told of the short spell teaching, the multiple problems I faced with regards to travel, my attempts at ten pin bowling (where I hit a strike… on the wrong lane), my bike rides and my ambition to write novels.  With a few props (Spitfire Ale ten pins from a gift set my Mum once gave me), the medal from the Shenzhen football tournament I played in, and a cycling hat, it seemed to go well.  The head of foreign language [They olnly teach English], Miss Jiang, belly-laughed and left her poker-face aside for a wee while.  If she was happy, I think I did an okay job.

 

I’ve been offered the chance to interview Boris Becker this weekend at Mission Hills in Shenzhen.  The article and interview will be for a local magazine.  I may have to pass due to prior commitments teaching that morning.  I have a morning class from 8.20am to 10.10am.  After that class, I have my Chinese class.  I’m also not a fan of tennis, so maybe it isn’t my cup of tea.  Speaking, or writing of tea, I am drinking a lovely bitter black tea with added lemon to sour any hint of fragrance.  It certainly soothes an aching throat.

 

This last week’s classes have flown by, with many classes affected by coughing and spluttering ill children.  The change in temperature and humidity has allowed a spring colds and flu to move freely.  The foreign teachers here, Tess, Beth, Arvid, and Jack have each had at least one day off with sickness.  I’m the last man standing – and I am doing my best to avoid the dreaded lurgy or man flu.  My fruit intake and recovery from football (this last week my Murray’s FC team lost 4-3 and won 7-0 in two fixtures…).

 

The school have offered me a football coaching role and extra lessons but my contract with Worlda forbids me from accepting it.  And, also, from working for the school for two years after leaving Worlda… so I’m a tad upset.  What next?

 

Today, I have uploaded the blog post having typed it long ago.  It has been changed a little to accommodate for the best part of three week’s absence.  I’m sure more will follow…

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

Magic that slips over boundaries

17th March 2016

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

I’ve noticed since I have been in China, how odd the sense of hunour is here.  Mr Bean is a demigod, ranked so highly he is on a par with everyone’s favourite unconvicted paedophile Michael Jackson.  On a side note I don’t band around this vile word paedophile so freely, but in the case of a man so childlike in nature with a disposition for over the top body reworkings, and one too many children staying over, it does worry me that celebrity and great music can prevent legal experts from taking on the once-upon-a-time-or-maybe-now-Adam Johnson of America.  Anyway, now I’ve ripped a few more friends from my Facebook list by condemning the singer of the wonderful Thriller, I’ll crack on.  Bean is immortal here in China, appearing at square dances and even being badly remade in Chinese.  I can see why, I have been told many Chinese jokes, lost in translation and jokes about black people having an abhorrence of cannibalising their own digits, to slurs about the Japanese and besmirches of those who Hitler aimed to wipe off the Earth.  I don’t believe the students who told such tasteless ditties, aimed to offend.  I think they learned them from adults, who learned them from seniors and nobody has ever questioned why such materials are banded around.  Then came a generation of kids, aged nine and upwards who can self-translate whole realms of language.  The bright sparks look bold and pleased with what they have changed into my native tongue.  I slap their achievements out of the air, swatting them aside like a mosquito preying on my arm.  Here I fill their ears with education and soon they listen.

 

I hate division by stupidity.  Racism and exclusionism I abhor.  It is like being at a meal and several souls inviting each other for a night out to the cinema, without inviting one person sat between them.  We’re all in this together.  Why snipe?  Why overlook?  Even if that person acts silly or brave, they should be included.  Mr Bean never ousts anyone, well he does show his selfishness throughout ther series but we never ever feel hurt by this.  The plot is simple, as life should be.  The only minor confusion arises by his lack of dialogue.

 

To me my childhood featured great TV shows like Challenge Annika, The Crystal Maze, London’s Burning, The Paul Daniels Show (R.I.P. Paul Daniels) and Mr Bean.   Yet, many years later, one show refuses to leave TV screens.  In part because, maybe it was never shown until many years after it was first released and in part due to the comedy genius and timing of the main actor.  Mr Bean prattles on.  A gift from Rowan Atkinson and Britain to the world.  To China it is the Fawlty Towers reruns of Germany.  This is their vent.  Slapstick humour can be wonderful.  Leslie Neilsen and Charlie Chaplin (the other guy with that ‘tache) are my slapstick heroes.  Eric Morecambe added dialogue with a stooge, a fall guy.  But Mr Bean… if you even whisper Mr Bean in a class, the students erupt in laughter.  They haven’t seen anything yet remember everything they have seen.  A tidal wave of euphoria from a teddy-bear carrying brown suited fool.  Mr Bean turned 25 years-old last year, and here in China, his legacy rolls on, with Snickers giving him a recent TV advertisement.  His simple mumblings and bumbings have won him a host of fans.  His symbolism of Great Britain and slow-witted tomfoolery offer escape.  Be that escape from grey industrial lives or homework, I’d rather see my students pander for Mr Bean than reach to jokes about race and gender.  Maybe, just maybe, Mr Bean should be awarded a UN ambassador roll for racial harmony…

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

Slippery when…

27th March 2016

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

The week before last, I was slipped into, I slipped over numerous times without any assistance and witnessed multiple counts of sliding.  There was a sudden temperature change causing the 100% air humidity to run water down most, if not all, walls exposed to external air for longer than a few minutes.  Even opening my door last weekend, allowed too much damp air into the apartment.  An extractor fan in the bathroom had drawn more water into the bathroom than had originally remained following a shower.  Mould growths seemingly expanded before my eyes last Tuesday as I sat at my desk.  The tiny green specks on my backpack’s pocket grew into thumbsized smudges by the end of the day.  I have since cleaned my backpack thoroughly.

 

I’ve seen scooters smashed to smitherines by sliding wet roads.  The humidity has turned well-laid roads into skating rinks.  The lesser repaired and maintained roads have been far comfier to cycle along due to extra pothole and debris offering stable traction.  China is busy, so busy that sometimes multiple worlds collide.  And when, you’re cycling, it pays to look forwards, sideways and behind you.

 

Actually, this spring has seen many more headaches, flus, coughs, colds and viruses than last year.  It had felt significantly cooler and damper compared to my previous two springs in Dongguan.  I’ve had signs of man flu on and off, a mild fever for a good two weeks.  Coupled with my bruised left calf, swollen achille’s heel and hairline foot fractures (related to being a victim of a slip) last week had been a rather sluggish week.  Two games of football during that timeframe resulted in a 10-4 win and a 5-1 defeat, with my team almost unrecognisable between the two ties.  Both were against Red Lions (Dongguan) FC.  Following Manchester City’s defeat in the Manchester Derby, there is no further desire or need to mention football.  Well… just a little… Shenzhen will host Manchester City against Borussia Dortmund on July 23rd followed by a Manchester Derby in Beijing five days later.  Actually, football news here has become more prolific in the last 6 months.  Many clubs and media groups are tapping the Chinese market.  Good to see Chinese City fans get a mention on the official website and for activities to take place around derby day.  The less said about the result, the better.  It is up there with the expected gun shooting massacres in the US of A.  C’mon America, sort it out!  Not that I should say anything because gun crime in China is on the rise.

 

I now have the tools and materials to fashion my own sushi.  This will be most exciting.  Between the stir fry dishes from my favourite Sichuanese restaurant, it makes sense to try cooking new foods at the apartment.  In fact, I’ve managed to cook almost every other day for thr first time in ages.  The first batch of sushi was a success.  More will follow.

 

Yesterday, I went walking from Houjie to Dalingshan through Dalingshan forest park.  Spotting several kingfishers and a dozen golen-black jay-like birds was particularly pleasing.  The evening’s meal at Nazaar Turkish restaurant made up for the disappointment of seeing Batman Vs. Superman.  What a cluttered up movie that is!  My Saturday class (in week three) moved from the below par training centre to class 306 in Dao Ming.  The 15 students paid more attention and the facilities were far better.  Going forward the class will split into a class of 8 and a class of 7 students.

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

 

Football terms in Mandarin

27th March 2016

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

 

EXPRESSION PINYIN HANZI
PENALTY DIAN QIU diǎn qiú 点球
RED CARD HONG PAI hóng  pái 红牌
YELLOW CARD HUANG PAI huáng pái 黄牌
FOULT FAN GUI fàn ɡuī 犯规
HAND BALL SHOU QIU shǒu qiú 手球
OFFSIDE YUE WEI yuè wèi 越位
DIVING JIA SHUAI jiǎ shuāi 假摔 跳水 tiào shuǐ
REFEREE CAI PAN cái pàn 裁判
LINE REFEREE BIAN CAI biān cái 边裁
BALL QIU  qiú
SOCKS QIU WA qiú wà 球袜
SHIRT QIU YI  qiú yī 球衣
TROUSERS QIU KU qiú kù 球裤 短裤duǎn kù
FOOTBALL SHOES ZU QIU XIE zú qiú xié 足球鞋
RISE THE FLAG JU QI jǔ qí 举旗
KEEP PLAYING JI XU TI jì xù tī 继续踢
PASS THE BALL CHUAN QIU  chuán  qiú 传球
KEEP THE BALL KONG QIU kòng qiú 控球
DO NOT LOSE THE BALL BIE DIU QIU bié diū qiú 别丢球
SHOOT IT SHE MEN shè  mén 射门
IN THE GOAL JIN QIU jìn qiú 进球
OUT OF THE GOAL MEI JIN méi jìn 没进
TACKLE CHAN QIU chǎn qiú 铲球
PUSH THEM TUI TA tuī  tā 推他
KEEP PRESSURE (GEI TA MEN YA LI) JIN GONG 进攻 jìn gōng
LONG BALL CHANG CHUAN QIU cháng chuán qiú 长传球
OPEN TO THE WINGS CHUAN BIAN LU chuán biān lù 传边路
CLOSE DEFENSE FANG SHOU JIN BI fáng shǒu jǐn bī 防守紧逼
FACE THE BALL KAN ZHE QIU kàn zhe qiú 看着球
EXPRESSION PINYIN HANZI
RUN PAO pǎo
PLAY EASY MAN DIAN LAI màn diǎn 慢点
I DID NOT HEARD THE WHISTLE WO MEI TING JIAN CHUI SHAO 我没听见吹哨
IT’S OUR BALL WO MEN DE QIU 我们的球
CORNER JIAO QIU jiǎo qiú 角球
FIRST POST??? I HAO WEI 一号位
SECOND POST??? 2 HAO WEI 二号位
HALF TIME ZHONG CHANG (XIU XI) 中场
MAKE A SUBSTITUTE HUAN REN huàn rén 换人
WAIT, HOLD ON DENG YI XIA 等一下
INJURE SHOU SHANG shòu shāng 受伤
I JUST HIT THE BALL WO MEI FAN GUI 我没犯规
OPPONENTS DUI SHOU duì shǒu 对手
KEEPER SHOU MEN YUAN 守门员
STRIKER QIAN FENG qián fēng 前锋
DEFENCE HOU WEI hòu wèi 后卫
CAPTAIN DUI ZHANG duì zhǎng 队长
FREE KICK REN YI QIU rèn yì qiú 任意球
EXTRA TIME JIA SHI SAI 加时赛
FINAL SCORE BI FEN bǐ  fēn 比分
MIDFIELD ZHONG CHANG zhōng cháng 中场
FOOTBALL MEMBERS QIU YUAN 球员
COACH JIAO LIAN jiào liàn 教练
NOT USUAL PLAYERS LENG BAN DENG 冷板凳
MULTI SUBS DUO NENG TI BU 多能替补
OWN GOAL WU LONG QIU 乌龙球
PLAY WITH HEAD TOU QIU tóu qiú 头球
POST MEN ZHU 门柱
FINISH TIME JIE SHU 结束
EXPRESSION PINYIN HANZI
CONTROL THE BALL KONG QIU 控球
HOLD AND PASS THE BALL  chuán  qiú 传球
WARM UP RE SHEN 热身
FRIENDLY GAME YOU YI SAI 友谊赛
GOAL POST BIAN KUANG 边框
SHOOT VERY BADLY TI FEI LE 踢飞了
NET WANG DOU 网兜
PITCH QIU CHANG 球场
WIN YING LE 赢了
LOSE SHU LE 输了

 

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

 

Easter is east.

30th March 2016

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

I hope you had a happy Easter time.  This Easter weekend resulted in the investment in some chocolate for my classes.  Kinder, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, and Cadbury’s Fingers have entered the fray.  They are all rewards for Easter themed virtual reality egg hunts on my powerpoint-based classroom games.  I started the theme of Easter in yesterday’s grade 8 classes.  Class 801 were abysmal as ever, they have a complete disrespect for all teachers.  Not just me.  I gain 50% of their collective attention at best.  Five students were asleep on entering the class and refused to be disturbed thereafter.  Of the five desks of five students, one desk failed to have any input.  Infact from the 25 students, only 10 students had any input.  They don’t fear the teachers in all classes.  They don’t look forward to any classes, despite most saying they want my class.  I’m told I get the best response from them out of all their physics, politics, maths, geography, biology, art and other English classes.  Even the P.E. teachers cannot find a way to grasp their enthusiasm.  In some ways, it reminds me of my lesser-spotted younger borther Paul.  He seems totally cut off from me.  This class are the closest thing to that.  If I died today, I doubt he or they’d care.  In stark contrast 803, try, try and try somemore.  Every student.  The rear of the class has been foricibly pushed forth by the class’s absolute commitment to having a laugh and learning at the same time.  They may have spent two years saying, “John, what’s your name?” but amongst their warm humour, they have shown strides of effort.  Class 804 moved from the morning period 4 to period 5 in the afternoon.  Three-in-a-row classes on a Monday certainly make the week easier to tackle.  Class 804 embraced the task well, as did class 802 in the morning.  I just wish I could grasp class 803 and bring them up to speed.  The Chinese English teacher Joyce has her hands full trying.  Her predecessor never had a chance.  Good luck to her!

 

At the weekend Murray’s FC were winning 8-2, and after some handbags the other team walked off the field shouting things like “shit foot” and “f**k crazy” which made the petulance all the more entertaining.  Our player, Werner, who had been fouled, had stood up angrily, and you could see fire in his eyes, yet he never lashed out.  They did, all their players were around him.  As quick as the heat built up, it went.  They went.  They walked away to another pitch.  We carried on with a training game.  Last night (Tuesday), Murray’s FC Maine Road lost 12-0 to Murray’s FC ATFC.  The damage was done by half time and even though in the second half we made it difficult for the opposition to create chances, we were never in the game.  Brazilian team FC Cavera rolled Dongguan Koreans FC 17-0, whilst Red Lions (Dongguan) FC lost 4-2 to Winners (Hengli) FC.  Murray’s FC Bilbao won 10-4 at XiHu.  I may have to give my achille’s heel a rest, because yet again, that and the tendons on the top of my left foot feel like they are burning and ache very much.  They feel fine whilst cycling and in the game.  When I rest, that is when the pain comes…

 

I’ve been reading about Xiāngfēi (香妃), following a conversation with Wendy about butterflies.  There are so many accounts and fascinating stories about the so-called Fragrant Concubine.  Xiāng (香) is the same character as in Hong Kong (香港) meaning Fragrant Harbour.  Anyway, Xiāngfēi is a most interesting story indeed.  Now HubHao have paid me up to date, I may try to write about this.  Tonight (Wednesday), I am going to see some jazz with Mark Lotz and A Fula’s Call.  The line up will feature original African and modern jazz music with Mark Alban Lotz (Germany/Holland) playing the Indian flute; Omar Ka (Senegal/Holland) has the vocals and guitar; Afra Mussawisade (Iran/Germany) is on percussion with Abu Djigo (Senegal/Italy) on guitar also.  So, a stiff-assed Brit will walk into a livehouse in China, to watch an eclectic and wide-ranging collective of sound.  Can I get away with eating Turkish food for my dinner tonight?

 

Today, in HòuJīe (厚街), many fire engines and emergency workers attended a huge evacuation and fire drill at the nearby Wanda Plaza.  Speculation of a huge fire, plants being over-watered was soon doused when an image of several dummies on the road was banded around by WeChat.  I have had two grade 7 classes move this afternoon due to a membership sign up for the students to volunteer locally.  Well, at least that’s what I was told… no teacher has explained it too clearly.

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

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