你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,
Around 176,000 words have been spent to date. They have now migrated in monthly chapters from Wix.com to WordPress. There has been a considerable gap between postings. So, here we go… let’s try and fill in some gaps.
The week, that followed this, I felt like curling up and watching Father Ted. “You’ll have some tea… are you sure you don’t want any? Aw go on, you’ll have some. Go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on GO ON!” I’d shaken off a sore throat and headache which seemingly lasted forever. It started on a Tuesday and exited by Friday, thanks to Asda-branded dual action blackcurrant flavoured 2.4mg throat lozenges containing Hexylresorcinol. “There’s always time for a nice cup of tea. Sure, didn’t the Lord himself pause for a nice cup of tea before giving himself up for the world.” Yet, all I have wanted to do that week, was curl up with a packet of biscuits, crumbs spilling all over the bedsheets and a milky cup of P.G. Tips or Tetley’s tea. Something imported, proper English style tea, proper milk and one sugar. Instead, I ate chicken. “Are you sure, Father? There’s cocaine in it!” Well maybe not just a little bit of chicken but just under a kilogram of the feathered victim of a knife. “Oh, no, not cocaine. God, what am I on about. No, what d’you call them? Raisins.”
Amongst that displeasure, Murray’s Maine Rd FC were renamed Murray’s Cityzens F.C. and we have mostly new players. We lost against the reigning Champions, Cavera F.C., who are chasing their third Dongguan International Football league title, now named, Mission Hills League. The players Cavera (his team is named after himself), Mateus, Fausto, Vini and others tore us a new one, as some would say, we lost 10-0 having trailed 3-0 at the break. An absolute lesson in football. Before the game, we held a minute’s silence to observe the tragedy that occurred involving the Chapecoense team, staff, supporters and flight crew. Such a sad day for global sport. Everyone loves an underdog story, a team that grew and battled to get to a dream cup final. They have posthumously been given the Copa Sudamericana by South American football confederation Conmebol but have captured the hearts of many. Hats off to their Colombian opponents Atletico Nacional for their “spirit of peace, understanding and fair play.” Brazil will play Colombia in a friendly match at the end of January to help victims of the air crash. From the ashes of despair and loss, I hope that a phoenix of togetherness comes from this awful event. On talking with a teacher about this event, she chirped, “Why does no one remember the victims of MH370 so well?” I offered her a reponse, “I guess people need to push the authorities, their communities and the media to show how much the loss matters to make a difference in the way the tragedy is remembered.” Well… silly answer considering the totality of media power both here in China and Malaysia.
By that week’s Friday, I attended class 701, and every student looked despondent before I had even begun. After two minutes, two forlorn tearful students entered the class. Their sorrowful state conveying perhaps they hadn’t done homework and had received a scolding dressing-down. As I went amongst the students later-on in the class, I noticed more tearful faces. One boy was whining like a mourner at a scene of tragedy. Proper tears. I asked him what was up. He told me, “the Chinese teacher is leaving school soon.” I went team by team around the room, only to be greeted by similar melancholy. One girl had written a letter in Chinese with the odd English phrase bordering it, and she asked me to help, “What can you do to keep our teacher here?” I said I would talk with my teaching colleagues in the office and say how sad the students are right now. I did. It turns out the teacher, sporting a picture of a pug dog on the front with the phrase “Pug Life” is leaving very soon. I’m unsure why. Nobody has divulged any more detail and it is not my place. Whilst I feel accepted in the school and by my colleagues, I’m not quite part of the highly-intwined family structures of school life. Parents see less of their kids than these hard-working and well respected teachers. I’m mostly an observing guest, tolerated and respected but never ever equal. They know my place. I know my place. The lines are not misty or obscure. I do my job, without directions form others. My task is to get students talking, even in a teary-eyed environment, by the doldrums.
The weekend arrived, I fled to Shenzhen and attended the Shenzhen Blues Christmas party. Numerous kids visited Santa Claus (me in a blue suit, with fake additional hair) and most adults enjoyed the evening buffet. I won a prize in the raffle with numbert 142, kind of. Except I had purchased ten tickets, numbers 136 to 146. It should have been 136 to 145. I didn’t have a number 142. 142 was drawn from the hat. Katherine and Stephen, the brilliant leaders of Shenzhen Blues apologised profusely. It didn’t matter. I enjoyed the night, prizeless as it was. Soon after they posted me a City jacket as a Christmas present, addressed to Acton 142. So sweet of them. Too kind!
Murray’s Cityzens F.C.’s second game was a derby against Murray’s PandaBrew F.C. We lost 2-1, thanks to a late winner for the opposition. A quick free kick was taken as I lifted Barry up, having clattered his ankles, unintentionally. I struggled to get back and the other team scored. Maybe the goal had been coming but it was a bitter pill to swallow. A week later and we beat Chang’an F.A. 4-1. A good way to bounce back. Next week we have a tough game against Day & Night Bar F.C.
再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye