Treasure! Treasure, I tell you! Jewels of the ocean sent over seas and up the river! Landed to me! Inspirational treasure! Oh, how delighted I am! For my gold, has such value untold. The treasure is the warmth of thoughts shared. To be unforgettable. To dream the unknown future foretold. Tell me dreams. Are you with me? Are you for me? Oh, your unforgettable embrace. My heaven. My dream. One day, I hope you shall return. Until then, I have my treasure. The greatest treasure, however, is your heart and soul. My memories. You are the treasure I seek.
I have a box.
At breakfast the box shall open.
What’s in the box?
What could it be?
It’s not my birthday.
What mystery lies within?
An unexpected box.
It’s labelled to me.
What could it be?
For Mr Bee?🐝
Bad morning. Bad evening. Bad day.
Actually, I want to greet you all positively and wish peace and love. It just doesn’t seem suitable. The title of the writing seems like bad language, but it reflects my mood for an approaching date. My Mum always said that words like fuck, bastard and arse, amongst the plethora of curses are just ways of expression. I agree. When we say that piss and twat are bad words, we empower their misuse. Some words like cunt are extremely terrible. I try my best to avoid usage of all these fecking shite words but some days they are just so appropriate.
I am writing this on September the 4th. It’s fast dawned on me that September the 12th is on the horizon. I want to vomit out the words that are rattling around my head now.
September the 12th hasn’t always represented a bad day in September, and for many there have been far worse. For me personally, it isn’t the absolute disaster of a day. Far from it. I’m sure it’ll be a pleasant and wonderful day indeed. It just marks an unwanted anniversary. It represents exactly two years since I left Mancunian soil for China (via Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region etc). The day after the Vincent Kompany testimonial, Uncle Ed delivered me to a flight, alongside my friend Maria and a shedload of luggage. Who’d have thought that the world would go tits up?!
The summers of 2015 to 2019 have all been enjoyed in Great Britain. In fact 2014, marked the longest I’ve gone without summer at home. It being shortly after the February of moving to China. 2020 and 2021 have not given chance to see family or friends back on British soil. Nor has there been a chance to meet half way or for overseas visitors to call by.
I understand that for many, it is the same. For a many people, losses and tragedies have been their visitors over this pandemic of annoyance and continued uncertainty. It’s the uncertainty that this winter or next summer, mobility to see family and my best friend may or not be possible. I’m optimistic but these days it is better to be realistic as more sensible. Right?
Concluding the writing should not involve a message of peace and love. I’ll always wish you all, friend or for, family, flamingo doing flamenco or fungi, peace and love. Today’s scribbling will partake in a list of fuck you messages. It’s only appropriate.
Fuck you to COVID-19. With all due respect to viruses and diseases globally, you’ve really got on many people’s nerves. Enough is enough.
Fuck you to the origins of COVID-19. Tut. Tut.
Fuck you to the conspiring conspiracies. Don’t believe the truth?
Fuck you to the bullies of Wuhan. It’s a city. It has people. People have feelings. Spread love, not hate.
Fuck you Donald Trump. Profits high? Definitely.
Fuck you to those who divide. See above.
Fuck you to those who profited at the detriment of others during this hugely annoying era. There’s a huge increase in billionaires and millionaires, and wealth shares.
Fuck you Man Utd. Always appropriate.
Fuck you to all nations who have politicised this pandemic. You know who you are.
Fuck you those who failed to act and swept away those who wished to speak. Also applicable to the Afghanistan situation. And Rwanda. And countless other events, mostly involving Team America: World Police.
Fuck you to the silencers of the voices. Opinions may be like arseholes, in that everyone has one, but words are powerful and beautiful things. As Mel Gibson said, in Braveheart, “FREEDOM!” before he got in trouble. Terms and conditions apply.
Fuck you Boris Johnson, the budget Donald Trump. Sniveling little inhumane turd of a shriveled up scrotum of a man.
Fuck you to the dismantling parties of the NHS (a bonafide British treasure). See above.
Fuck you to the sneaky laws and regulations that exploited the pandemic conditions. UK included. The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) could be fined for saving the lives of migrants? Those laws as are fitting for the 1930’s Nazi Party.
Fuck you to anyone who doesn’t believe this pandemic is real and that COVID-19 is a lie. Wake up! Tackle it. Don’t deny it.
Of course, using the phrase fuck you is negative and wrong. I rescind all of the above. Stay positive.
Until the next time, when I see family and friends, peace and love!
One kilometre up. Another one down. Toughest climb and hardest descent of my life. Sweat, tears and muscles burning like volcanic lava. At stages the fumes of my depleted energy switched my head into autopilot. I walked aimlessly and without thought. Vacant. Empty. Even desperation and hunger departed my mind. My soul carried me. Hope hadn’t slipped away completely. Bruised worn feet made it through the darkest evening to night. A bed and a meal waited for the day’s end. A great sleep followed. Two different years, two tough challenging experiences. Twice. Twice, the walk carried on.
Yesterday was such a day. A tiring cycle ride to play football. A testing first half-hour. A stretched thirty minutes followed. A near empty final third. And then. And then the ride back. A thirty minutes cycle ride doubled in time. Ten grueling ten kilometres. Sweat. Pain. Tears. Two cups of yogurt and a litre of water. Knackered. Back against the wall. The cycle bad become the rupture machine. A test of stamina and mind over matter. The Junbesi of Dongguan in high humidity and subtropical heat. I crawled into bed following a shower. The kind of shower that involved slumping and letting the warmer than usual water just hit from above. Careless shower. Even sleeping in bed I fed mosquitoes and didn’t care. Exhausted.
Tough moments are there to be overcome.
No drunken state of mind was needed. No spontaneity other than the heart and mind being aligned at a state of euphoric relaxation. A new experience was had. Better late, than never.
Dali was a place I felt relaxed enough to make enquiries about one of my ambitions. Many people call ambitions a bucket list these days. I haven’t really listed the things I want to do, the places I want to see and the experiences I must have, for two reasons. Firstly, why list? I’ll contradict myself immediately. I love a list and a plan (at times). Other times call for spontaneity. Secondly, things change. We adapt. We live. We learn. We fight problems like COVID-19, negativity, alarm clocks and mosquitoes.
So, on my, it’s in my head bucket list, I wanted a bee tattoo. Following the atrocities of the Manchester Arena bombing, the bee has undergone a resurgence in its representation of God’s favourite city: Manchester. I say God’s favourite city, but I mean the Gods of rain. All of them. It’s been about two years since I experienced Manchester in the drizzle. And Vimto fruit cordial on ready availability.
So, Echo recommended a friend called Lin for just black or blue tattoos. I wasn’t so keen. It’s a commitment. Bees are colourful after all. A further friend, Zhao, was put in touch and suddenly the bee idea was gaining momentum. Not only that but I wanted to incorporate bats, to symbolise flight and misunderstood mammals. Then, I had to add an aubergine, because QiéZi (茄子) has helped me relax and rediscover myself. Do you believe in resurrection? Then I wanted some lyrics. I toyed between the music of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. Bring me sunshine? Echo offered to draw the tattoo too. I declined. Maybe the next one…
I settled on The Levellers and their track One Way, which has been there so long and I completely agree with the lyrics, “There’s only one way of life and that’s your own.” Perhaps I owe royalties now. I’ll donate to their chosen charity or cause. It needed a font. So, Helveticamazing was selected. It’s a very Mancunian font. At this time, the bee evolved into the colours of Manchester City. Well, the sky blue aspect anyway. Sadly, Zhao didn’t have purple so the eggplant needs finishing another day. Or, it could stay white, like white eggplants. Why not?
Being on a tattoo bed face down, having a pinching, scratching and sometimes sharp sensation was oddly relaxing. At first I was experiencing discomfort but soon found myself lost in John Le Carre’s The Mission Song. With QiéZi and Xiao Jie looking on, at times, I must have napped because they disappeared then reappeared later.
Zhao spent around two and a half hours defacing my skin. QiéZi has two artworks that each required ten hours of work. One on her thigh is a huge colourful fish imagery. Another is the Greek Olympian Poseidon. And her feet, arms, back all have interesting smaller complimentary stories. If a twenty-five year old can be so relaxed and patient, to complete that much fine artwork, so can I. My decision had been made years ago to get a tattoo. The actions needed to be in the right place, at the right time and accompanied by the right people.
And here it is…
Anticipation surrounded the morning. We after off for a selection of steamed, boiled and grilled breakfast mainstays of Chinese breakfasts (across this huge nation). With that, those without raincoats purchased those disposable rain jackets designed to be worn for an hour or so. The kind that would make Mr Macintosh roll in his grave with tears. Not to mention environmentalists. Sorry Greta!
Abuji Cuo (阿布吉措) sounds Japanese. It certainly seems unlike Mandarin Chinese. It’s surrounded by the Ajiagang Mountains and stands high over meadows and scattered pasture houses. It’s well off the beaten track and fairly clean of trail litter. The name comes from one of the many local Yunnan languages and people but I couldn’t find a true translation or meaning. It is apparently very holy. The China National Highway 214 and Xiangli Expressway (toll road) are to the west. Here a dirt track leads under two bridges (the new Shangri-la railway line).
The car journey led us to a gate. It had a weight on one end and two barriers across the path ahead. Here began the wander. The base camp was labelled just that. The pathway was an old track, now used by loggers as well as the original farming people of these steep damp foothills.
Rounding a bend, the footpath exited the road, passing between free-range pigs and towards a slim yet fast-rushing stream. Our group of six with a local man tagging along crossed the stream over felled logs now doubling as a bridge. Here the path gently led to an open plain standing below the face of the mountains. The phone signal had soon disappeared – something good for the quiet ahead, but unusual on mainland China.
After passing through the deep lush green meadow, the path banked left over several bubbling streams complete with stepping stones and bridging points. Here the path zig-zagged up and across gaining altitude fast. It’s steep sections were marred by slippy sticky clay interspersed by sharp shards of rock. The sides of the path displayed vivid biodiversity with wild gooseberries, something like rhubarb and wild strawberry plants amongst the plethora of greenery.
A local Yunnan man Qī Lín(七林), a girl from Anhui, a student from Guangzhou, a girl from Heyuan, a girl from Hubei, and another girl (from somewhere in China) walked up in light to heavy rain. The thick cloud thinned and grew in almost pulsating slow motion. At times the valley behind seemed hidden. At others it became a tapestry of various green hues.
The imposing mountain to our right shoulder (mostly) could have been Skull Island from the King Kong movies. It’s ferocious face looked brittle and completely impervious to those intrepid climbers who like such nooks and crannies. The artistry of nature had created such a detailed spectacle. The top range of peaks could have been a crown, or a bed of thorns. It truly sets the imagination running as wild as the fight ravines within.
The stream accompanied the walk up, and at times became the pathway giving clear flow to passersby in need of a quenching swig of freshness. After one small lake the path hugs a slope covered in knife-sharp vicious broken rocks. Blue flowers emerge where the rocks allow soil to gather. The rug of land is unforgiving and not a place to stand in awe of the view ahead.
What lies ahead is possibly the greatest lake view I have ever seen. The cauldron of clear green and blue water appears impossibly deep. Local legend has it that there is no bottom to the icy water. It’s entirely believable. The edges look crystal clear but beyond that, well diving would be the only way to know what lies beneath. The surrounding slopes are mixed in terms of harsh angles but most are barren. Life is not easy. We were stood around 4300m and the highest point is about 500m above here.
The caldera-shape of the valley spreads wide and long. From numerous vantage points it’s hard to tell what started this paradise on high. The geological features and lay of the land are mesmerising. It grips your heart whilst choking your throat of air. You can suddenly become breathtakingly awestruck. You look. It stares back blankly. Rumour has it, if you speak to loud then rain will come. Here at the top, for the most part, rain eluded our group. The feeling of healing as you look around you at the majestic landscape is overwhelming. I couldn’t help but feel my heartstrings being tugged and a tear in my eye. There are few places left that are this pristine.
Shangri-la (香格里拉县/Xiānggélǐlāxiàn) is a county and a city that draws it’s English and Chinese names from James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. It influenced China to rename the Yunnan city of Zhōngdiàn (中甸) in 2001 to Shangri-la. The Shangri-la of Hilton’s writing could have been Kashmir, Tibet or anywhere else along the Kunlun Mountains of the author’s description. But, if James Hilton had have travelled to Yunnan and Abuji Cuo to see the steep cliffs, loose and rocky earth scattered with flora and colour, he may have set his chapters here.
Abuji Cuo is about 4 to 5 hours (around 17-20km) up and only accessible from May to October. The gate (near a temple) is manned and access denied at other times to allow ecological balance. Non-slip shoes are essential, although I spied a few people in sport shoes. One unlucky soul was sporting a sprained wrist, leg injury and looked sheepish. Her local guide was guiding her down ever so slowly. The muddy pathways demand good grips. The steep falls are lethal in appearance. And there are yaks. Yaks can surprise from above, and they did on our walk once or twice. Death by yaks would be rather a bad day at the office. The road starts between to Bixiang and XiaoZhongDianZhen.
The hamlets of Nigeria, where we drank milk, and the Niguqe (尼古个) hamlet are sparsely populated so expect to see few people. The nearby hamlet of Gangzhemu (岗者木) is close to a scenic spot called Bitahai (碧塔海景区) but that could easily be a different world. However, it would make a tasty multi-day hike with camping. Scope to return? Head to Bengla (崩拉)?
The walk back down was every bit as unforgettable as the ascent. Ancient woodlands caked in drapes of moss and lichens, the sound of a chorus of different birds and the smell of flowers give your senses a tasty day. After reaching the pasture at the cliff face, a local woman gave us hot potatoes, and well wishes. After that we walked to the road and were greeted by a drift (or drove) of pigs. The curious tail-wagging group led us to discover some local fruits, to which nobody knows the name. QiéZi gave me one that looks like it is shaped like a bottom. Rather cheeky!
Soon after Qī Lín (七林) introduced us to an elderly farming couple. Here we had hot milk, sour homemade yogurt and delicious cheese. The wooden cabin was a good end to a day’s hike and we bid the farmers goodbye before jumping in a car back to Shangri-la. The unique and diverse holy Abuji pasture would occupy our minds for the evening and I’m sure that visiting there, we gained something more.
Grid reference: 27.666254378118495, 99.90886934422305 (Abuji Cuo) to Bixiang village (27.604282621386876, 99.78759058373961). 14km distance as a local chough would fly.
再见！Zai Jian! Goodbye!
Salvador Dali has nothing to do with the Yunnan city of Dàlǐ (大理). The draw to Dali has been the art district, cycling, the coffee and cafe culture and my friend Echo. Also, wherever I’ve been in China, everyone mentions the comfortable weather of Yunnan.
Echo or Eck published a poetry little picture book recently. She’s made her nomadic home in Dali. Here she’s honing her artistic talent, existing comfortably and living happily. I dropped by (via Guiyang and Kunming) from Chengdu, Sichuan province to say hello. I told Echo I’d arrive on Sunday but Saturday afternoon, walking by the Terra coffee shop seemed as good a time as any. Yunnan is great for growing coffee and Dali has no shortage of coffee shops.
A good old chinwag and catch up preceded a walk through the ginnels of Dali’s ancient old town to a door in a wall. The door was open and smooth tempting beats were gently rolling out. Ducking below the low entrance, an Old-styled yard with greenery and tables greeted us. Echo’s friend (or should I say complication?) Yali and his brother were serving up delicious pizzas. The pomegranate tree nodded towards the range of locally-produced liquors. Here Echo introduced me to Myrtle Bee, a girl named QiéZi (茄子 or eggplant/aubergine). There were several others but my recollection for names had by now been overwhelmed.
Meanwhile my mouth had been delighted by a cream cheese and tomato pizza, followed by a further shared pizza with zucchini and deliciousness on top. The pesto dip was a smart move. A side salad featured a baked cheese and rocket lettuce. It was a bit too salty for my pallet, but overall very tasty. The funky beats faded and a disappointing bar called King Cat followed. The music wasn’t my cup of tea, but it saved wading through deep puddles and high-bouncing rain. After a later than expected hour, I arrived back to the Jade Emu China Australia International Youth Hostel, only to find my swipe card to enter didn’t work. The matter resolved itself and I slipped off into dreamland.
I didn’t need a sign for Cāngshān (苍山). The imposing green and cloud-kissed range of peaks. The Didi taxi driver from Dali railway station to the hostel had given ample chance to view the waving weaving green peaks. So, with a late rise and a belly full of good food, I set out for a waterfall recommended by a friend. On passing a set of small waterfalls, I headed up a track made by goats or sheep or possibly very narrow humans. The steep track disappeared and I soon found myself jutting between soft earth, trees and huge fluffy plants. By which stage I’d reached a ridge, with a very confuddled water turbine worker, who then directed me up a hidden pathway towards the top ridge. It was a tough but pleasant trail.
The undergrowth swept away to reveal a near-hidden valley tucked between two mountain ridge lines. I wandered down, dipped my feet, watched the butterflies and listened to the idyllic birdsong. One can definitely relax when clouds cuddle the mountains above, and gentle breezes softly drift around your chest whilst your feet are in chilly flowing waters.
Once again Busa called for dinner. Their second opening night led me to catch up once again with Echo, her Yali and other friends. The waitress Hazel, from Changde, took an interest in the book I was reading. A few days later, the tatty and soggy paper back was left for her to read. Echo’s friend QiéZi invited herself to my next walk the following day. Cāngshān (苍山) once again would be the wandering space.
With little barefooted QiéZi (who is no taller than 155cm), we set out towards the Cloud Jade pathway of Cāngshān. Passing the chair lift to our left, then our right, then left again we ascended. Stopping for Pu’er tea, a coffee and a snack at a park Police point seemed reasonably normal. The local boss had her grandson playing with leaves as she served a refreshing brew to us both. We left behind the options of hospitality and wandered paths here, there and everywhere. My pigeon Chinese and a relaxed mood made the afternoon to evening a satisfying and contented ramble.
By about 8pm, after almost eight hours of moving forwards, we descended through dark shadows and paths more at home in the deepest darkest parts of JRR Tolkien novels. Emerging from utter darkness, with only the company of fireflies, seemed to take a while but the adventure was nevertheless a great day out!
The next day (which is today, now) I decided this town needs a little more of my presence. I decided for the remainder of the holiday that I’d be here or there, but not so far from Dali. Why not? A place that puts a smile on your face and opens you to the nature around it, isn’t all bad! Ian Fleming penned some of his books in his Jamaican home of Goldeneye. Perhaps a few days in Dali and I may have found my Goldeneye.
However, a few hours later, I changed my mind. Have shoes, will walk. I will keep looking for answers and smiles.
Zai Jian! 再见！Goodbye!
Dear all, interested or not, especially Blues,
I’ve known Waits since I joined Shenzhen Blues way back in 2014-ish. The oddity of it all, is that he and I hadn’t met in person until July 2021. Arriving in the old Zhangye Railway Station I spot Waits by the railway station entrance immediately. His sky blue t-shirt emblazoned with MCFC was exactly what I had expected to see. Us Blues stand out. What amazed me most is that Zhangye is 2865km from Shenzhen. There are no direct flights, and certainly no direct trains. The quickest flights via Lanzhou are 5 hours and 50 minutes.
Waits has been following Manchester City for years. We’re not talking about a glory-seeker at all. He latched onto the singers of the blues on the back of a certain Sun Jihai. He’s endured seasons of toil and mid-table football, before the good times came along. He even said he preferred watching City from 2001 to 2009. Most City fans have that romantic lust for those times. The expectation and the angry eye of the media these days can be all-so-consuming. He’s sat up at all hours of day to see the famous sky blue and white team play umpteen teams over land and sea… and Stretford. He’s one of our own.
Over the years I have acted as his football jersey mule, occasionally sourcing one or carrying his Classic Football Shirt orders from my Mam’s house to China. His collection, his famed home-office (man cave?) is full of City. Tencent and QQ media have interviewed him. He was interviewed for Shenzhen’s live fan gathering at the end of the last season. He’s featured on City’s Inside City shows and other places too. Sometimes, I wonder why Manchester City’s China office hasn’t offered him a position (of remote working). His passion for teaching English and his love of City is for all to see.
Waits reply to his best goal: “SWP nearly zero angle shot”
Waits has translated the poem This Is The Place by Tony Walsh, with permission. The Chinese edition featured in Dongguan’s defunct HubHao magazine and online. Shenzhen Blues also published it to Manchester City fans in China. For years Waits has translated Manchester City’s On This Day information, statistics, facts, stories and tales of City folklore. He’s encouraged young and new fans alike, giving advice, passion and fairness accordingly. He has championed the Champions before they won leagues, cups and trophies (this century). Recently, he translated an interview between Mark McCarthy (Manchester City Match Worn Shirts, MCMWS) and Pete ‘The Badge’ Berry.
这是我和@Waits 还有@二蛋💭 一起运营的公众号，会发一些曼城相关的好玩内容。欢迎订阅！
Miranda, @Waits and @二蛋 are running this public account. It will share some interesting content about City on it. Come and subscribe！Go on!
His favourite game remains City beating Tottenham Hotspurs having gone 3-0 down to come away 4-3 winners. Considering the games that have passed since, he’s sticking to that one game. He even chooses Kevin Keegan as top gaffer over the elite leaders that have managed the Citizens since. He told me once that he translated subtitles for There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble! Hey Manchester City China, “Go on, give it to Waits!”
Waits has much more to him than football. Whilst he plays it with students and local Zhangye folk, he can often be found strumming his guitar. A few renditions of Blue Moon have been heard over the years. And, in recent years he has welcomed Amos to his family alongside Mrs Waits. The family can enjoy tales of how Waits was raised on a cavalry base by his mother and father. They can discover their Sichuanese heritage, without taking a panda! Whilst Waits asked more questions, than I asked him, when he spoke, he spoke in an articulated way about all manner of things. I learned about Zhangye’s three Buddha statues. One standing, one crouching (tired) and one resting.
One thing, I can say about Waits is that his English is fantastic. He asked me, “What do you think of my English accent?” I think I hurt him, with my joking response, “It sounds Chinese.” In actual fact, his English is very clear and follows a British tone similar to that found on Downton Abbey and other TV drama shows set in England. I probably have only met a dozen Chinese-born people who have such a great spoken English accent. Obviously, Waits is not speaking Mancunian-nasal tones but his heart is definitely in it! Innit.
Ode to Hart
Time, flows in passing days,
Memories, flashes now and then,
And my tears, reluctantly falling,
Falling like I’m faking falsely by no means.
No more you on the pitch
No more your passion, your shouting and your encouragement
No more your commitment, no more your fighting, your joy and regret
Because I know, gone is gone
Like your waving to us
Your clapping, and your farewell words
“We are all grown man, we get over with it.”
Happy 30th, my HART. Happy everyday
It’s not something I won’t let go
They may forget, but I won’t
They may laugh, and I won’t
Neither will I forget nor will I laugh
I will keep it in my heart and keep you my SOUL AND HART
Waits [April 19th, 2017]
I hope that the next time I see Waits, we can enjoy a good old chinwag and I’ll get to know more about him. It was good to hear him talk with enthusiasm about how my Mum with Paul visited him on his trip to Manchester to see his first City game. I liked his response to how a City steward offered him tickets to Old Trafford swamp to see that lot play and he flat out refused, pointing to his badge. Pride in battle indeed. Until next time I meet Waits, I consider him a great friend and a wonderful person to know (with great English).
- 你为什么追随曼城？Why do you follow Manchester City?
- 你最深刻的曼城记忆是什么？What’s your favourite Manchester City memory?
- 你最钟情的曼城球衣是哪几件？What are your favourite Manchester City shirts?
- 说出你心目中的曼城最佳阵容。Name your all-time Manchester City XI (eleven).
- 这个赛季最终的结果将会如何？How will this season end?
- 你去过曼彻斯特吗？如果没有，你梦想去那里旅行吗？Have you been to Manchester? If not, do you dream to travel there?
- 在中国，你会推荐外国城迷们去哪里参观？他们应该尝尝哪些中国的食物呢？Where do you recommend City fans see in China? What food should they try?
To submit your questions and answers, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or send a WeChat message to: acton28.
The little man darting up the tree.
The kid with stings, bites and bruises.
The joy at finding spiders and beetles to see.
The sad face when his team loses.
The dancing girl we could all look up to.
Singing about butterflies and happy times.
Telling stories through and through to me and you.
Whistling words with witty rhymes.
Proud teachers and parents gazing onwards.
The strumming rumbling tuneful times.
Their journey goes on and onwards.
The walks, the runs, the climbs.
This isn’t a time of sadness or madness.
You’ve touched us all, including me.
This is a moment to feel collective gladness.
The books passed around silently.
Your departure may come with haste.
Jet off, carry on the journey of life and love.
To the future, you go, do not waste.
Look back, look up, down, left, right and above.
We were here. We were now. We were one group, at one place, in one time. We were lucky.
Get out there. Carry on to share. Bring that spark of sunshine, in another place, in another time. You’ll be lucky.
They’ll be lucky.
(Unless Mr Lee makes coffee again: for the love of God and all the holy characters, stay away from the coffee machines)
Farewell and Bon Voyage Shawver tribe.
224 words shaped so many bedtime reading sessions. Bedrooms around the world were greeted with a heart-warming tale of growth, albeit through humour and a spot of seemingly obesity. The story has radiated like the light from the moon, from pages in over 60 languages to beaming eyes looking at the colourful intricate nature of the tale.
“That’s something I learned in art school. I studied graphic design in Germany, and my professor emphasized the responsibility that designers and illustrators have towards the people they create things for.” – Eric Carle
Eric Carle didn’t just write that one book of course. His designs, illustrations and words have appeared in numerous texts. Having dropped his first drawings in 1965, Aesop’s Fables for Modern Readers (Peter Pauper Press), the new-to-the-scene and relatively young illustrator was spotted by educator and author Bill Martin Jr. One red lobster in an advertisement led to a lifetime of colour and creation.
“We have eyes, and we’re looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.” – Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was an award-winning book collaboration with the late author Bill Martin Jr. Thereafter cardboard editions, die-cut holes, inflatables, plastic pockets and multiple versions of artwork with words began to grow and filter from Eric Carle to the world. Countless children have lived and learned through rhyming picture books and used string in one of his many creations.
“One day I think it’s the greatest idea ever that I’m working on. The next day I think it’s the worst that I’ve ever worked on – and I swing between that a lot. Some days I’m very happy with what I’m doing, and the next day I am desperate – it’s not working out!” – Eric Carle
The story of the story-teller is ever more remarkable. This was a man, who his wife Barbara Morrison, strongly believed had held a form of post traumatic stress disorder. He’d dug trenches on the dreaded Siegfried Line of a World War II battlefield. He’d seen death at first hand, aged only around 15 years of age. But then, darkness turned to light over the years: “One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and – pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.” Okay, it wouldn’t have been that simple, but Eric Carle refused to bow down and give in. Years of toil brought his mind to a place where writing was permitted. An audience was earned. From Germany in World War II, he returned to his country of birth, the U.S.A. and found his way from Syracuse to the New York Times as a graphic artist.
“Let’s put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you wind up with a 200,000 word novel. We, picture-book people, or at least I, start out with 200,000 words and I reduce it to 20.” – Eric Carle
Via stints back in Germany, for the U.S. Army (during the Korean War) he went on to be an art director at an advertising agency. His collage techniques, rich in hand-painted paper, featured layers and slices of vivid imagination set out as tiny pieces of artwork. Nature and wonder have set tones throughout his simple stories. These stories have been warm and inviting, and give hope to children, especially those new to schooling and education.
Papa, please get the moon for me is a tale of great importance in my opinion. It shows us that imagination is wonderful, even if it is breaking something seen as impossible. Whoever told me that Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny weren’t real, or anybody for that matter, that breaks the dreams of a child, deserves a good long look at themselves. Reality and imagination can sit side by side, otherwise Neil Armstrong, or Elon Musk or Celine Dion would not be around. Ability and knowledge need the company of spark and dream – and that’s where imagination grows.
“They are deceptively simple. I admit that. But for me, all my life I try to simplify things. As a child in school, things were very hard for me to understand often, and I developed a knack, I think. I developed a process to simplify things so I would understand them.” – Eric Carle
As I sit typing words and reading about Eric Carle’s history, I recall flicking through glossy covers of his books, and the joy as my face beamed when I discovered a translated copy in Hengli, Dongguan. That beautiful familiar white cover with a caterpillar and a red apple missing a mouthful, all slightly imbalanced, as if to say, and to appeal, that things aren’t always neat and tidy. One day when COVID-19 passes and the world is a little more tidy, I dream to fly to Amherst, Massachusetts to see the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. That would be as good as finding another Uroballus carlei on a trip to Hong Kong. The Caterpillar Jumping Spider’s Latin name is testament to the reach and pull of a world class picture book writer.
“My father used to take me for walks in the woods. He would peel back the bark of a tree and show me the creatures who lived there. I have very fond memories of these special times with my father and in a way I honor him with my books and my interest in animals and insects.” – Eric Carle
ERIC CARLE June 25th 1929 – May 23rd 2021
“Rain, rain, rain, a wicked rain
Falling from the sky
Down, down, down, pouring down
Upon the night
Well there’s just one chance in a million
That someday we’ll make it out alive” – Wicked Rain, Los Lobos
Pluviophile means a lover of rain. I heard that people who identify as lovers of rain are generally down to earth and calm. I’ve even been told that daydreamers and those inclined to imagine are usually associated with that of rain. I’ve never fact checked these matters as I was too busy dreaming.
The beat of the rain droplets finding their way from way up high to land and join their countless companions. Some land on trees. Some impact puddles. Many land and immediately get swept away.
Many days without rain make my heart feel dry and untouched. Rain is my pacemaker. I’m from Manchester, a city with a heart of regular rainfall. I now in Dongguan, a city that gets a fair amount of showers throughout monsoon season. Every drop of life that falls from the sky brings
The energy of the downpour fills me. The damp smell opens my nostrils. It fills my lungs and soaks into my blood. I’m drawn to puddles and want to stamp in them, no matter the cost to my sodden shoes. That’s when I know that running is needed. Not in sun. Not in cold. Not on a dry hot evening blazing with colourful light. No. I choose rain.
Thank you kindly and ta’ra for now!
It’s been over twenty months since I stepped on the soil of Great Britain. I’m not saying everything is roses and sweet gooseberries but I miss so much about the lands I was raised in. I want to feel the winds off the Irish Sea, the saturating rains of the Lake District, and see the fluffy clouds over the Pennines.
I long to see my family, friends, football and food. I want to visit my ancestral connections and toast my grandparents. I want to wander down lanes and places to reminisce about my dog Pup and all those days gone by. I don’t feel old but I do miss the ability to choose to visit my past and explore the future of my homelands.
I haven’t visited a proper charity shop or heard the term Bric-a-brac in so long now that even passing a construction site here in Dongguan excites me. Some discarded or unwanted piece of summat or t’other may grab my eye. Or land me in hospital with need for a tetanus jab.
I want to hug my sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts, Mum and Dad and all the other members of my scattered tribe. Nattering, sharing good foods, talking nonsense and stories, or catching up like it was yesterday. The new norm? No. We’ll carry on, just like we always did. Keep calm and drink Vimto.
Yes, I love my job and can keep busy but the longer this goes on, the bigger then pull grows. It’s tugging at emotions and connections that are strong and resolute. But even hours for the confident can be testing. Home sweet home? I’m looking for my home. I’m comfortable and content here. Opportunity is knocking on the door and chance is presenting a good hand in? life’s game of cards. Just there’s no Whitby scampy. No fish and chips, like back home.
They talk funny here but not like the funny there. I miss St Helens, Wigan, Glossop, Lancaster and all those diverse accents that are so close to home, yet so far. Winter Hill, I miss it too. The slopes, the towering vast plains and the bleak beauty under grey cool skies.
Road signs. Bus stops. Proper speed bumps. Those bubbles that appear in warm tarmac. Rhubarb crumble. Manchester tarts. Live music almost everyday, every where. Yes, I know, things have changed. No thanks to COVID-19 but the good times will return.
Manchester City versus Everton sees the return of fans. Sing like you’ve been stuck indoors for months. Champions of England. We know what we are. MCFC, ok.
Heartbreak was never the aim of the game.
Not was collating the rest as conquests.
There wasn’t intentional slurry to bring worry.
Only the trail of blood said he should.
Be more careful and less wasteful, more tasteful and less hastened and dull.
His heart still longed for the romance that never gonged.
The sound of dreams slipped from his seams.
Hope bound to him and wound around his frowned face. He drowned.
Tears leapt from his eyes to skies like waterfalls hitting ledges and wedges of rock. His shock.
He clinged to hope, like a rope ascending a tough slope.
If it happens, happenstance will make it happen. If not, then now what?
Mistakes, shakes, and high stakes versus mountain walks, sea swims and great lakes.
Life goes on. Life. Goes. On. It goes on. And on. And onwards he goes.
Good evening from China to your morning, afternoon or evening, or night or day…
The topic task is differentiation. Twenty words (at a font size of 28, my favourite number) per slide is a target. I need 8-10 slides. The presentation will take twenty minutes or so, alongside my translator Junny or Nicole. I’m nervous about making this stand, but my duties at Tungwah Wenzel International School (TWIS) are varies and help me develop. Next week sees two days at a seminar in Shenzhen and from June I’m studying online again… until then here’s my draft copy of text to accompany the presentation.
Good parents want children to grow. You’re all eager to see your kids go from strength to strength. Your kids need to feel, to learn, grow and taste success. We can all share a journey together. That journey is getting the most out of your kids, both now and in the future. We can help develop a clear and positive pathway for beneficial and tailored learning.
As a modern and international school, with all the latest methods, we know that students come from various backgrounds and exposures to language. Our task is to provide different routes to gain further understanding. We can do this in the same classroom, through homework or via specialist areas within the school facilities.
Differentiation is a means to tailor learning instructions to meet the needs of individuals. The contents, the processes and the products can be differentiated. These can be coupled with changes to the learning environment. Flexible grouping and ongoing assessments make this approach an overall success.
It’s a framework and philosophy that allows provision of diverse teaching within or across multiple grades of teaching. It gives scope for students to progress at various speeds, with suitable framework to bring them up to and beyond the target speeds of their learning.
CONTENT – British music band Public Service Broadcasting have an album titled Inform – Educate – Entertain. This is a mantra we can take to students to acquire content, enrich with processing, deconstruct, reconstruct and construct ideas. It must make sense. We develop teaching materials alongside assessment methods that match students and their individual abilities.
PROCESS – Plants need a variety of conditions to grow. Flowers only blossom at certain times. Culture, grasp of language, reading comprehension, gender, motivation, ability or inability, lack of interest or actual interest, awareness or preconceptions, style of learning, bias, the weather, the heat, the endless heat, etc can be barriers or they can be tools for teachers to latch onto and adapt their learning styles. Variety is the spice of life. Let’s act with it, and not against it!
PRODUCT – The classroom is our mission room. The launchpad of learning needs to be ready for lift-off. Students need to feel included. Different expectations may be needed for each class, with each student set realistic tasks that must be completed to a satisfactory effect.
LEARNING ENVIRONMENT – Classrooms need to be accommodating. They’re a proactive place to use varied learning methods. Optimal growth as a learner is essential. The days of ‘one size fits all’ are gone. The classroom environment can be turned to an advantage. Students may support each other in. paired-reading, comprehension or competitive tasks alike. Behaviour can be managed to give a safe and supportive surrounding.
Through pre-assessment, continued formative assessment and final summative assessment, the essential feedback dialogue between student, parent and teacher becomes a tool for improving the student’s overall study needs. We will focus on a student-centred instruction that is fair, challenging and champions an engaged student.
Differentiated instruction gives a lift up steps in the staircase of life that is education. It helps students move towards independent learning from various starting points. Growth is key. Skills and knowledge must be in tandem with widening a student’s range of interest, monitoring their progress and always drawing effective ways to learn. Students and their classes will better reflect a teacher’s understanding. You as parents will see that students gain solid roots, strong trunks and start to bloom in their development.
New benchmarks and targets can be set time and time again. Parents share their perspectives and teachers deepen the all-round feelings of a students. Interests can be aligned to tasks and changes over time can be discussed openly. A full and final picture can be seen of an end product that all wish to see: progress.
Thank you kindly for your time.
From the official TWIS WeChat communication (and my words):
Many plants and trees
need different soil to grow.
They develop under differing conditions of
light, air quality and soil types.
They are specific to microclimates and subject
to influence from all around them.
Students are the same.
They must be nurtured in varied ways
that suit their overall development.
When conducting differentiated learning,
teachers recognize that all students are
different and unique
and require different teaching approaches to
help students succeed.
Come and join our G4 Homeroom Teacher
as he shares the importance of
on May 22.
It wasn’t so sharp. I didn’t feel the coldness until it withdrew. The tiny fierce syringe shot inside like the wind blew.
The liquid vial, so small in hand. The nurses steadiness and readiness. One swift move, into a groove, of my skin. That’s it. It’s in.
Social Security pays for the ways that give days to this phase that ends slays. With every jab and prick, the world gets closer. Closer to open doors, walked floors, airplane snores, and many less bores.
My arm became heavy, unsteady and a weight I just carry. The doctors, the nurses; and the once-upon-a-time they married, but not now; the lost souls lost deep in books; the young who cast withdrawn looks; the babies and toddlers who haven’t yet seen grandpa and grandma; the grieving and the upset beyond feeling; we’re all getting closer.
The new norm is now. The now is new. The normal normality of the norm is here as a dawn. We could slink away, sink today or sail that way. Lay down your fear. A new beginning is near.
Drowsy side effects mean you feel. If you feel then it’s real. If it’s real then here’s the steel. We’re stronger than before and living longer what’s more. So, take the first hit. Go back for the second stab. Curl up after, roar in laughter. Stay bright, feel right and let go of uptight. The new now is the norm that is is next to you. Let’s go.
The steps leading up were worn and damp. The turnstile had swept me inside. The cool depths of the stand arched left harshly, then opened to a space aged yet far from antique. Brilliant white reflected harsh overhead lighting. Dad grabbed a match day programme. A chunky magazine booklet featuring the teams of the day. I tottered along on tired toes.
We’d strode at pace from the Clarence pub across streets far away. Eventually we swept up Kippax Street, around alleys and ginnels in to a brick wall gate. The rustic metal clanked and turned as a stub was ripped away. The darker than sky blue, yet far from royal blue panels fitted here and there gave a code to the area around. The bricks and mortar moulded to concrete and metal alike. The whole thing fitted together.
The steps into the stand opened up a tiny sliver into an outside world. Bright light forced its way in. It pierced all. The opening spread and unveiled line after line of seats. Wide to either side. Kippax blue. Glorious shades of blue, filled with those dressed in blue. Blue denim, sky blue football shirts and scarves of blue and white. Big bold lettering. Wonderful sounds. Waves of chants. The lullaby sounds sank and rose over and over again. The roof up above and the stands opposite bounced all the ambience back.
The smell of chicken balti pies reached me almost as fast as my Dad handed me the crusty sweet curry savoury snack. I gripped its warmth and shivered as the whole sense if occasion matched the cool air. I knew it at that moment that my place of worship was here.
The Maine Road home of Manchester has been missing since 2003 but the spirit goes on. We all long for those days and those feelings, but they live on, inside us. Sentimental as it is. I miss those feelings. That cool fresh Mancunian air. The longing for home is strong. But today, I feel something new. Only time can tell what it is.
Ta’ra for now.
COVID-19 risk. Be aware! Cover your mouths. Do not scare.
It’s tick season. Take care and reason.
Traffic is heavy and bad. Stay home and be happy or glad.
QR Code, vaccine history. Where to go is no mystery.
Foreigners not welcome here. Sit home with a cold beer.
Camping is strictly not allowed. The Policeman shouted rather loud.
Didn’t you hear me? You need a permit to travel, not free.
You’ll be followed around. Don’t make a sound.
The trains are all booked. My plans are royally…
Relax. We’re halfway between October the 28th 2020 and the same October date in 2021. It’s my 38 and a half year birthday. I had candles. The kind that deter mosquitoes. I had cake. A great student kindly gifted me a cupcake. Technically, it was a cake placed into a paper cup. Below the cake was a selection of fruits. Thank you Sofia!
There were horns. It was a video about a foghorn in Cornwall. There was even a card! I had to use my swipe card to print and photocopy. Several students even sang “Happy half birthday to you… ” which was rather creative and humorous.
Well until the 38.75 birthday…tally ho!
Good whatever time it is,
“She used her body just like a bandage;
She used my body just like a wound” – Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are, Meat Loaf
I’m lay watching The Big Lebowski. I’ve finished three seasons of Fargo in the last few weeks. The original series based on the movie was fantastic. The second was equally addictive viewing. The third starring Ewan McGregor (from Perth) and David Thewlis (of Blackpool) was less enthralling but largely watchable. The black comedy crime drama is certainly well filmed, scripted and produced. Martin Freeman (from Aldershot) stars opposite Kirsten Dunst (Small Soldiers and Jumanji) reminds me that some child actors go on to better things. Allison Holman, Colin Hanks, Ted Danson and a host of others make for great casting. Billy Bob Thornton definitely gains points for portraying the word sinister.
This week has seen my first wild tortoise spotting. I moved the miniature mobile speed bump off the road to about twenty metres into forest grasses. I have the mosquito bites to show for it. That evening’s wander sighted many toads, frogs, moths and a few mantids.
I wasn’t going to watch the fourth series of Fargo until I spied Ben Whishaw (from Bedfordshire) is amongst the Star-studded cast. Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland is represented by singer Jessie Buckley. The original Joel and Ethan Cohen brothers have a long list of great movies as directors, producers and so on. What makes me a great fan is their script writing ability. They’ve written the script for Bridge of Spies for Steven Spielberg, and rumour has it that. a Scarface remake is under their pens. Joel, without Ethan, will be involved in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Denzel Washington as Macbeth is intriguing.
Anyway, when you can’t ride a bike, kick a ball and feel utterly energy – devoid, then movies are a good escape. That and the musical writings of the late Jim Steinman. No matter what, Jim Steinman’s music is all coming back to me now. Those who haven’t listened to his works, sang by others, should read ’em and weep. Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart and Meat Loaf‘s Bat Out of Hell are essential playlist features. Steinman was a highly influential lyricist, playwright and composer. He dabbled as a solo artist and expertly produced Sisters of Mercy and Take That amongst others.
“There are times I think I see him peeling out of the dark,
I think he’s right behind me now and he’s gaining ground” – Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are, Meat Loaf
Jim Steinman, 1/11/1947 – 19/4/2021
Enjoy your [insert time period]
The chocks are not moving. The engine is keen to roar into life. It wants to roll, taxy and take-off up into the sky.
The engine started purring, then growing. Now snarling. It begs to be released. The wings are strong. The body is ready. Yet, something is holding back.
There’s a loose wire, you see. There’s a rattling song. It threatens. The flight may get cancelled. The pilot’s navigator is absent. Some of the ground support are there, but not quite there.
The pilot is distracted. He’s taking readings, throttling too soon, and forgetting his instructions. The flight check sheet has been misplaced. Take-off is scheduled.
Will the flight happen? Will the aircraft lift up or skid to a perilous doom? Will the aircraft pilot be told to turn off its engine? Will gremlins strike in the cold internal wiring?
Like the pilot, doubt covers my mind like the storm clouds gathering beyond his airfield runway. Our intended pathways have obstacles. We must overcome. We must.
We shall. We will. We will never give in. We’ll be relentless. We’ll find a way to soar. Or, go for a pleasant enough sandwich with a beer.
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*the author wishes for distancing from the word intellectual. He doesn’t quite know its meaning.
Feel free to copy this.
I ache. I throb. I hurt. I feel my pulse in places I’ve never felt the beat. I find I don’t want to eat. The face I wear is brave outside. Inside is different. Inside, I want to cry. I’m beat.
I slouch. I trust. I turn. There’s pressure in my muscles I’ve felt before. This time it’s different. The shapes I move are difficult. Inside it burns. Outside, it darkens and bruises. I’m beat.
I blink. I squint. I scratch. I’m restless and mindful I don’t want to be beat. at hey say rest. I know I must rest. I feel lazy. I feel guilty. I lay down. The day is going. I’m beat.
I hop. I twist. I hope. I know it’ll be better soon but I can’t feel then what I feel now and I can’t feel now what I will feel then. When? Oh, when, Oh. When. I’m beat.
Good evening from China.
I’ve received many complaints (3 or so) from bloggers in relation to the post: plagiarism. I’ve copied the link so you don’t have to. Perhaps some are of the feeling that my brand (style) of writing to be offensive. Good. I had to write a disclaimer. I’ll write a better one after researching disclaimers using valid sources. I’m surprised that a piece of free thought slapped down as writing and labeled as ‘creative writing’ gathered such impassioned battle cries.
I started blogging to document a journey and as a diary. It began as a replacement for letters that I used to write to my grandmother on an infrequent basis, but still they were important. I used to anticipate her replies and love opening a letter to her magnificent hand writing. Gran was truly remarkable in her writing. Every sentence pushed wonderful words through my chest an into my heart. It was here that I learned creative writing was about feeling. Not through many books. Not through documentary or textbooks. I long for the return of letters from my grandmother. It’ll never happen.
At first I had to check if their replies came on April the 1st. The upset parties to my post even worried that I’d censor their disgust to my attempt at creative writing. Last time I checked I thought satire, humour and mock documentary sat within the scope of being creative. At home with poetry, short stories, novels, movie scripts, plays and so on. Then I started to think about mythical and known internet trolls. Perhaps their wonderful work was too of a search engine result and suddenly ousted for the briefest second by a piece penned as a thought after school. It was a busy Academic Integrity Week at school. Maybe, it influenced my thoughts.
Gallows humour has allowed countless opportunities to tackle tough subjects through making light of that problem. It’s got people in better spirits to engage (research and debate), inform (discuss and present), and educate (probably through pie charts and digital presentations. British people use humour often, rightly or wrongly. Censorship is something that is opposed. Freedom of thinking and expression is celebrated. The hook of some writing can appear strong. It can be on varied emotional levels to draw in a reader.
Not all creative writing follows the same pathway. Nor should it. Diversity spins new genres outwards. The line between visual art and poetry can be transdisciplinary. I’m not saying that anything I write is entirely original in thought or movement. Everything I write is either from my head, thought about or to encourage further thought. Quotes and citations come often. Anyone can blog. Many copy and paste quotes, create graphics and most adhere to respect of the original writer. Some do not. This mirrors a world that is neither good not bad, just merely grey and blurry.
Blogging and writing is a free outlet for many people. Some can. Some do. Some cannot. Freedom to blog is arguable in some boundaries. Adding a note at the end of a blog that says: feel free to copy, following a tongue in cheek stab at the serious subject of plagiarism is acceptable. It was and remains my work. If someone can find identical work predating it, well done, and how did you change the web date stamp?
I know that I often write nonsense, gibberish or poppycock. I like words. I like language. Please don’t ever think I’m looking to cause offence. Even if my tone is perceived as aggressive, I won’t hide faceless behind a username or in the murk of the internet. I’m me. If I slate a world leader, or berate a popular celebrity, it isn’t something I wouldn’t do face to face. Give me ten minutes with former President of the U.S.A. Trump, and I’ll treat him as a human but roar like a lion.
So, was I wrong? Or was I right? I sure as hell don’t feel like I did something wrong. What bothers me, is that somewhere three or four (or more) people feel that I wrote something ‘disgusting‘, that made someone so ‘angry’ that their blood was boiling. Worryingly, this came in a world of racial and gender inequality, poverty and careless environmental attitudes. I’m thankful I didn’t denounce COVID-19 as a conspiracy or talk about lizard-people overlord kinds. Still, not could be the next topic, providing CTRL+ALT+C works. Just kidding. Seriously, feel free to copy my thoughts. Use them as our own but never ever believe plagiarism is good.
Tally ho and away I go.
DISCLAIMER：THIS COULD BE MY FINAL POST EVER!
Additional disclaimer: not bloody likely!
If you checked out now, how would you be remembered? Fondly by some? Infamous by others? Perhaps. Not. At. All. Maybe you’ll be forgotten, like a lost teddy bear on a train bound for nowhere in particular.
What’s your legacy? Did you do something good? Did you make someone better? Maybe you broke a heart, or a string of hearts. Maybe you’re but a regret to most and a faded memory to another. Perhaps. Nobody. Will. Recall. You.
What did you do right? How did it go? What did you leave behind? A divorce? A fatherless child? A mother grieving over an unborn dream? It could be that words won’t be spoken about you. Perhaps. Silence. Is. Best.
Who’ll be there? At your funeral. Will there be shadows cast from people? Or the shapes of memories dancing in fading lights spun by the branches of trees dancing in the wind? Perhaps. No one. Will. Know. When. You. Go.
Will you get a choice when to go? Unlikely. Most never know. Some expect. Some arrive at an unfortunate moment. Some prepare well ahead but it arrives far too soon. Some get through extra days and leave as heroes. Some die another day. Some have no time to die. Perhaps. You’ll. Never. Know. Until. It’s. Over.
British life had the The Duke of Edinburgh Awards which was a most unique bond between the Royal household and common people. He was a refugee, raised at a school in Scotland and experienced a fairly good life after the Royal Navy. He did marry his third cousin though. Never shy of controversy and bold in his outlook he followed a great Jewish German educator from Germany to Scotland. His mentor Kurt Hahn gave him stability at an early age. I’m by far not a Royalist but his ethos reached the Air Training Corps and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme rubbed off on me.
As a key reformer of a ruling monarchy he served the nation for many years. He also tried to give something back.
Rest in peace to the former Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. 10/6/1921 – 9/4/2021.
An incredible story and life.
The voice came from the ground. It was a single loud clunk. Clunk! It sounded like localised thunder. It’s waves shot upwards towards my ears. A metre away in any direction it would be inaudible. Almost imperceptible that a large rock could move and create such a loud static sound. The eagle spotted a kilometre overhead may have spotted it. The black kite perched nearby definitely did.
Distracted by a pretty and handsome young couple saying, “Hello tall man”, I slipped on the loose near-horizontal dusted ground and hit my armpit on a pointy-up blunt branch. After all the near-vertical declines and sharp jagged spines of rocks, it made sense to slip on an easy area of walking. The now vanished chains of support weren’t there. Drops of suicidal angles had scattered behind me. Plain and simple became my hazard. Complacency in action. Or inaction in complacency. Anyway they looked a happy and cute couple. They witnessed a size-fifty shoe slide and a tall man wearing a Dal Bhat power 24 hour T-shirt ram a tree branch by armpit. The girl spoke, “Xiaoxin”. That means careful. So, I stumbled past them, 小心 indeed.
Today, marked a walk starting at 07:30 from Dongchong to XiChong and back, on the DongXiChong trail. I started with Dong (east 东) and ended west at Xi (西) but liked it so much I returned for a second helping of Dong. Like you do. This classic coastal pathway was at times stunning, at other times saddening. The mountains meeting the sea formed a terrific seascape. Clear blue seas and grey skies that eventually turned blue made trekking easier than being under baking sun rays all day.
The nearby Pingshan mountain and a view of Sanmen island did little harm to my vivid impressions of DaPeng peninsula. Cliffs and rock scrambling have long been my thing since experiencing it with Grylls Head outdoor adventure centre and Chapel Street Primary School in year 5. Rocks, holes, tiny islands, bridges, stacks, columns and landforms made by sea erosion towering over sea reefs and the omnipresent imposing tides of an angry sea can’t be a bad day out. It certainly perks your ears up for the cry of seabirds and the crash of countless waves. I wondered, as I wandered, how many stories can each shell tell?
Between the coastal villages of Dongchong and XiChong it is mostly undeveloped, save for the XiChong observatory and three small beach shacks. A few steps and chains have been fitted but nature mostly rules the route. There’s litter, at shameless quantities and annoying spray painted signs pointing out numbers for boats, lodges and so on. I’ve heard it compared and listed as one of the top ten routes in China. Perhaps that needs confirming. Also, that’s a worrying statement about the state of coastal routes. Yes, there are beautiful near golden sands at either village and some great pebble beaches between, but surely there’s more?!
The potential for ecotourism is high provided the litter mountain can be contained. If you can’t carry it back, why carry it there? Discarded wrappers, bags, drinks bottles, beach mats, hats, parasols, gazebos, barbecues and more were seen. Almost all was made in China, so no blame can be sent across the South China Sea. The blowing sea breezes and tides can only be responsible for so much. Humans as a disgrace for the rest. The National Geographic Magazine may need to review their write-ups. Although this walking route is not far from Shenzhen bustling centre, it feels remote and relaxing. Just about two hours from Futian via Yantian port!
16km of up, down, sideways, forwards and back ruined my Altra walking trainers. They’ll need replacing. They’re good for rough wear but not for smartness. This highly scenic route is dusty and tough at times. I enjoyed the 8km walk there and around XiChong so much that coming back made sense. Meeting nobody for three hours on my outbound journey was rewarded with meeting many friendly faces on the return journey, even if I was turned away Mary and Joseph-style by two coffee places in XiChong. On returning to Dongchong a kind shopkeeper pointed me to a shop selling Nespresso coffee. Not a bad end to a walk.
Finishing the day following a video call could only be done one way. Seafood. The local barbecue restaurant was perfect. There’s a few places to choose from. Most feature the animal kingdom, well the aquatic part, anyway. Reflecting on a day well spent, I thanked the trekking gods that I didn’t encounter whatever or whoever left behind all the crap that local village volunteers were bagging up.
I can’t roll my eyes. Nor can I change my seat. The old man besides me is yelling like thunder. His voice so loud that my chest is shaking. His young grandson is shaking a phone, striking it on my legs. He’s but a year or two under half a decade of age. He’s just watered the seat too.
I can’t change my seat. Nor can I stand up. The elderly man has boxed me in. There’s a stack of mangoes, sticky and sweetly overpowering in fragrance. They hide the wretched stench of urine. They boy ignores every dramatically loud instruction. “DO NOT PLAY!” “BE QUIET!” “DO AS I SAY!” His flabby chin wobbles with every wasted forced breath.
I can’t silence the noise. Nor can I use my earphones. I’ve dropped them onto the floor. Into the piss. The gray old man, swats his grandson’s head but still the boy persists in screaming and cheering. “Automan! Automan! Automan!” One superhero and his name rattle throughout the coach. The smell is getting warmer now. The heat of the coach’s overworked air conditioner is vaporizing the urine. Breath it in.
I can’t understand the old man. Nor can the old man see I’m annoyed. The child suddenly stops. He ceases all noise. His grandfather keeps hitting his head. Not gently. There’s a slapping sound. Thud! Thump! Slap! He shouts and balls at his prey. I kick my bag to try and stop the flow of warm stinking yellow waste water finding it’s way to my bag. The bag skips a beat and lodges between the old man and his grandchild, now sat on the floor. The grandchild looks up and strikes the old man with my bag. Oh! My! Gosh!
I can’t understand what the old man is shouting at me. Nor can he catch my look of innocence. He spits between his words and I suddenly want a rain jacket. The flow of words and abuse rains down on me. I’m thankful for my face mask. He prods a finger at me. I understand a few words. Foreigner this. Foreigner that. America or something. Go away. Get out. And that’s when I decide I’ll never use a public coach again. The end.
He’s not gapp
The sequel to yesterday’s post involves the sudden deaths of five winged attackers. Slain at my hand on entering the apartment. As I squeezed through my open door, in a heartbeat, and closed quicker still, these terrors followed me in. The ones spotted are gone. At least one more remains.
Beware the lone gun. They blend in. They lurk in shadows. Mosquitoes aren’t like you and I. They’re equally not all bad. Sorry to say that.
Mother mosquito is doing a good deed. She’s genetically-programmed to hunt you and I down. We’re targets stuffed full of proteins and nutrients that give her a child-bearing body. Our amino acids are like the prenatal supplement human beings buy at a pharmacy. They’re good for eggs. Daddy mosquito is busy eating fruit and watching the football.
Whilst his mouth parts are shoved into juicy fruits, she’s probing you and I with her elongated snout. Her segmented body is often so light that we seldom notice the deed until the girl has left. Her wings rarely touch their target. She uses organs called halteres to gather intelligence before dipping in on her target. The original bouncing bomb over a dam. And they have separately formed compound eyes which may explain why swatting them can often prove difficult. Olfactory systems are fine tuned to smelling our perspiration or nonanal, also called nonanaldehyde, pelargonaldehyde or Aldehyde C-9. By the time you read them, chances are you were bitten.
For the girly mosquitoes, they start as eggs (thousands clutched together like a raft of doom), turn to larva then a pupa before becoming fully grown irritations of adults. Their male counterparts do the same steps but don’t directly irritate by biting people. From floating on water, they hatch into algae feeding juveniles before turning into proboscis hammering adults. Some live up to a week. Some species can live for several months. Splattered specimens don’t live as long. The adults breed and lay eggs in cupped leaves, ponds, lakes, disused waste containing water, cracks with water, and all shape and form of water containing objects or places. Just when you thought it was safe to pour out the water…
Mosquitoes are actually about 112 different genera. That makes up several thousand species. Not all feed on man (or woman, or child, or LGBTQ+). Other arthropods are on the menu. They’re on most corners of the Earth, provided a meal ticket is available, invited or not. It seems at times like every species is having a crack at me, and thankfully they’re not.
They’ve got bad reputation because of their irritating bites, and other small matters like malaria, yellow fever, Chikungunya, Dengue fever and so on. The list is longer than the average serial killer’s whoopsy points. They’re adapted to their watery breeding grounds and that’s where a vector can bring a long a nasty friend. The circle of life in inglorious action.
Transmission of disease kills. Pangolins and bats can take a deep breath, knowing they’ve possibly spread less harm to the COVER-19 world than an ill-timed Celine Dion world tour or mosquitoes. In fact, it’s said that of over half of the people that walked the Earth, mosquitoes carried the vector that helped caused their demise.* They’re the UPS of death. Much like, as the WHO are indicating, perhaps COVID-19 started life from a delivery system. Or perhaps mosquitoes are not responsible for that many deaths?**
Tonight’s ideal human menu: a starter of O type blood, with a side of human prone to abundant skin bacteria. For the main course, a heavy breathing type (to test that legendary mosquito detection skillset), alongside high body heat release. Dessert will comprise the blood of a pregnant woman. The ideal menu will then be inherited as a genetically-controlled component, meaning that mummy mosquitoes daughter will love your taste too!**** Our crepuscular (or otherwise) feeders don’t like to be disturbed in the day, however the ferocious Asian Tiger Mosquito hunts during daylight. And its spread from Southeast Asia to the globe has been rapid. Thanks to international travel and freight, it finds itself feeding overseas. Its distinct striped appearance is best noticed as you squish its central nervous system outwards.
Many cultures say mosquitoes evolved from the ashes of giants and their mortal remains being incinerated. Punegusse may well be the cause or that if a 79-million year old piece of Canadian amber containing Paleoculicis minutus*** would be a good evolutionary story. Whatever was stomping around when old P. minutus was buzzing about, I hope it was equally as bugged as I am by one lone wolf fly zipping around my apartment right now.
Did you know that before Walt Disney even dreamed of Mickey Mouse, Windsor McCay animated the mosquito in 1912? How a Mosquito Operates was state of the art for? its time. An animation about a man being tormented by mosquitoes. Almost a hundred and ten years have passed. Who can’t relate?
*Timothy C. Winegard (31 Mar 2021). The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator. Text Publishing. p. 2. ISBN TBC
**“More or Less – Have Mosquitoes Killed Half the World? – BBC Sounds”. http://www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
***G. O. Poinar; et al. (2000). “Paleoculicis minutus (Diptera: Culicidae) n. gen., n. sp., from Cretaceous Canadian amber with a summary of described fossil mosquitoes” (PDF). Acta Geologica Hispanica. 35: 119–128. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-29. Retrieved tonight.
****Fernández-Grandon GM, Gezan SA, Armour JA, Pickett JA, Logan JG (22 April 2015). “Heritability of attractiveness to mosquitoes”. PLOS ONE. 10 (4): e0122716. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1022716F. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122716. PMC4406498. PMID25901606.