Stephen King’s: The Knocking



As many of you are no doubt aware, most writers and journalists of note now come to me first when they want help on their stories.

Legendary horror writer Stephen “I’ve written more books than I’ve read” King is no exception, and recently submitted to me his draft for a China-based horror story. He’s been enjoying a bit of a resurgence in popularity recently with not one, but two, films based on his books out in the cinema right now (It and The Dark Tower). Good for him. I’ve always thought Stephen was a structurally sound writer, despite pumping out some absolutely awful shit during the 80s and 90s. Yes, you don’t see film versions based on his stories about a killer pair of wind-up teeth (Chattery Teeth) or a haunted laundry press (The Mangler, oh shit, they did make a film of that). I haven’t seen the new version of It yet, but I’m very curious to know if it includes the scene at the end where six eleven year old boys take it in turns to gangbang an eleven year old girl. Oh yes

Anyway, Steve’s keen to have a crack at the China market. All that bourbon and cocaine doesn’t pay for itself, you know. So, without further ado, I am proud to present an exclusive excerpt from King’s upcoming China-based epic: The Knocking.

The Knocking.

It was one of those hot summer nights that reminds one of misspent adolescent evenings spent in the back of your old man’s Chevrolet trying to finger Nancy-Jo, the red-haired chick from next door. The heat pushed one down like a drunk and horny divorcee from the outer laying regions of Bangor, Maine. Stuart Rex, part-time writer and full-time dreamer, lay on his sticky bed, lighting up another Camel cigarette and sucking up the sweet cancery goodness. Ahh, it sure was good to be a smoker.

The electric fan’s blades swept from side to side like chainsaws, and Stuart thought about his upcoming novel. He had gathered a lot of material since arriving in China, and he knew some major award was going to come out of this. The horrific traffic accident he had witnessed, the sinister smiles of the made-up ladies in the barber shops, the massive shit someone had taken on his doorstep… Stuart was here to learn about man’s inhumanity to man. And then hopefully make a TV mini series out of it.

Without warning, there was a knock at the door. Not the usual rat-a-tat-tat of a girl guide selling cookies, but the mad demented constant knocking of a serial killer. Reaching for another smooth Camel cigarette, Stuart decided to ignore it. He had long ago learnt that answering the door in China brings little reward, and he had already had three neighbours this week claiming to “collect the water fees”. Enough was enough. He was not answering that door.

But the knocking did not stop. Again and again with no pause, the dreadful knocking persisted to resonate around the house. Who knocks like that? What mental sickness could drive somebody to knock on a door for so hard and so long even when it was obvious nobody was going to answer.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. It was like an unfunny never-ending joke. Each knock tore into Stuart’s head like a rusty screwdriver. He knew he was going to have to answer the door if he was ever going to make the knocking stop. However, as he made his way towards the slightly slanted door (was it smirking at him?), each terrible knock weakened him and he fell to the floor covering his ears. Why was this person knocking on the door so hard? Why did bad things have to happen to good people?

(Knock Knock)

As if things could not get any worse; his mobile phone began to ring. But the phone was in another room and Stuart did not have the strength to go and retrieve it. He knew that the ringing would never end either. Incessantly, the knocking of the door and the ringing of the phone intermingled and combined into an eternal aural inferno. It would never end. Stuart knew it would never end. If he could only find the strength to just crawl towards the door and tell the person to go away. But the noise, the inhuman noise…

Somewhere, in the house next door, a neighbour plugged in a drill…


Or is it?

Or is IT?

Or IS it?

OR is it?


Yes. Yes it is.



If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.


I was going through some old junk the other day when I came upon an old notebook from my school days. Inside was a selection of short stories I had written waaaaaaay back in the day when I was probably just 13 or 14.

Of course, they’re absolutely terrible.

More for my own sake than anything else, I thought I’d post one of them here just as a little time capsule. This abomination was called Changing Times and is a steampunk story that was probably heavily influenced by The Chaos Engine that was one of my favourite computer games at the time.


Changing Times


 (Extracts taken from the diary of Sir Philip Redgrave)

August 3rd 1897

Wallace the younger announced during our daily whist session that he is to leave for the United States on the eleventh to “seek new opportunities” as he put it.

The damned fool has resigned from his prominent position at the East India Company that his dear late father left him after so much hard work. We tried to dissuade him since the club would not be as lively as it is when Wallace is intoxicated and entertains us with his medley of college songs.

Alas he has set his mind on emigrating, claiming that our Great Britain was “behind the times”! Indeed! I always knew his interest in Marx would fill his mind with queer ideas.

On my return home I was about to see Charles when Mrs. Jones stopped me saying that he desired not to be disturbed. Must see him after breakfast.


August 4th 1897

Charles must be working on something special; he was up to ungodly hours tinkering on his latest contraption. As usual he thanked me for the loan of my basement and for taking an interest but said he was too busy for visitors. He promised to show me his work tomorrow. I do hope the poor chap doesn’t overwork himself like Hartford did at Oxford.

The rest of the day was quiet except that one of my students, Brown, expressed a desire to study the Rights of the Zulu Nation. He seemed rather fervent about it but I convinced him to continue his classical studies.


August 5th 1897

Charles has created a quite phenomenal machine! Straight after breakfast I went down to the basement where Charles showed me his latest device.

It’s a small brassy hued box about a foot wide and a foot high. It’s connected to a large pipe that moves around as if it is a snake. This pipe is connected to a large steam generator that resembles a combustion engine out of those infernal new automobiles.

At the front of the brass box is a sheet of this glass with lights behind it. Underneath are a series of protruding knobs labeled 0 to 9. Pressing these buttons cause that number to appear on the glass. By typing in numbers you can write calculations which the box will supply the answer to.

Charles calls it a “computer” and predicts that it will become a boon to accounts departments across the globe. I have advised him to apply for a patent.


August 6th 1897

The Lord Runcie has invited me to his estate… in India! The proposal was given to me over dinner at the club this evening. I’m delighted to view the far reaches of our empire since the university is getting rather tiresome lately.

It’s a large manor which he bought with the proceeds of the spice deal he made last year.

When I returned home Mrs. Jones seemed most distressed. Questioning her revealed nothing except that she heard “strange noises” along the walls during the day. It’s probably rats.

It will be good for her to have a rest while I am abroad, like Charles I fear she works too hard.


August 7th 1897

Left the house in the capable hands of Mrs. Jones and Charles who continues to add small improvements to his machine. Said my goodbyes to Wallace who will have left for the Americas before I am back. The young fool will be sorely missed by all.


(From the notebook of Police Constable Kerr)

August 31st 1897

A number of people have reported to me strange emissions of steam from the Mayfair residence of Sir Philip Redgrave.

His housekeeper, a Mrs. Phyllis Jones, says Redgrave is currently vacationing in India.

Will investigate for myself tomorrow.


September 27th 1897

Finally returned from India and have vowed never to return to that wretched country ever again.

What little I saw of it due to a high fever (mercifully gone) was full of dirt, disease, beggars and mosquitos.

The crisp September air is a refreshing change to the humid Indian climate which caused havoc to my sleep pattern.

Must go to sleep as soon as possible.


September 29th 1897

I awoke from my slumber to find such chaos around me.

The murdered body of a police officer was found behind my residence in early September. Another Ripper of 1888 in Mayfair? The body seems to have been mutilated in the most grotesque way according to the police. The sight caused the finder, Mrs. Jones, considerable distress and caused her mind to be lost because of the trauma.

Dear, sweet, gentle Mrs. Jones. I cannot write about the amount of pity, sorrow and concern I feel for her.

Charles bothers me continually. He seems little concerned about these events and concentrates all his energies into his machine which is virtually unrecognizable to its first state.

Pipes, cogs, wheels, dials and pumps completely cover the basement forming one giant monster of metal and steam. And right in the middle of the beast still lies the shiny brass box, a beating heart supplying constant power to the computer.

As well as calculations, the machine can now perform many other feats, the most amazing is its ability to simulate any environment in the little brass box behind the glass screen. Charles calls it a “virtual reality”.

Charles too has changed. Gone are his debonair looks which charmed the ladies at St. Hilda’s. He seems much more paler and thinner. When he rarely speaks it is in a much lower voice, almost sinister.

My conscience tells me to worry about Mrs. Jones, but there is something about that machine, and Charles, that intrigues me.


September 30th 1897

Forced myself to visit the Joneses even though I knew the sights would cause distress.

Journeying to their East-end terrace was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. Rarely have I wondered from the comforts of the upper class society and the images that greeted me filled one with guilt.

The squalor that these people live in is mild compared to India, yet it is still rife with disease and vermin. The bad conditions must surely bring out the worse in people because the folk are repulsive, ignorant, arrogant swine. Mrs. Jones has a small but spotlessly clean terraced house; it is like a shining beacon of light amid the dirty East-end. She is in a most terrible condition, spending her day staring into blankness, never opening her mouth except to eat. Quiet Mr. Jones tends to her night and day. Thank heavens they are childless, otherwise it would be a nightmarish situation.

Latest news from the continent tells of increasing tensions between France and Prussia.


October 1st 1897

Spent the day browsing through the club’s library before my return to the university tomorrow. From what I read of Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days I can confirm that the parts based on our very Reform Club are well researched. When he visited the club a few years ago I was promised a part in it, so I may find myself reading about myself in a later chapter.

Sent out advertisements for a new housekeeper and got a note from Charles asking me to get some papers from his dormitory.


October 2nd 1897

Being back at the university was much more enjoyable than I had thought it would have been. The students and teachers seemed so eager to hear wonderful tales of India that it was hilarious to see their disappointment when I explained how little I saw of it.

Remembering my promise I went to Charles’ dormitory and saw that it hadn’t been used for a long while.

The papers seem to be a speech written by Charles about his computer for when he presents it to the university. It is interesting yet disturbing. I took the time to copy it out:


The Information Revolution by Charles Babbage.


“As we speak, the world around us changes as the Industrial Revolution improves living standards, communication, and mass production. Some people say that the future is now, but I disagree.

“To progress man has to find a way to change his environment to suit his needs, any good historian will tell you this. Mankind needs to overcome the obstacle of bad communication, transport and cultural differences if it is to achieve a one global Utopia.

“In the beginning I designed the computer as a machine that could store information and calculate any problem in seconds. Now I realize that it has the potential to achieve much more. Imagine a world where all countries are united as one and the jobs of production, cultivation and building are taken care of by a giant computer, leaving man free to enjoy life, study, and to expand the Utopia.

“To achieve this we have to be able to bend the environment to our will. This is where the technology of the computer comes in… (The next part is all about the technical details of the machine so I have omitted it).

“…with this power it is possible to “warp” space, time and matter.

“Objects could be generated out of thin air, terrain could be changed to a more suitable land, people could be teleported across the globe and time travel would become a reality. The possibilities are endless.

“With my computer, the Information and Industrial Revolutions would grow side by side, allowing man to step out into a brave new world!”

– Charles Babbage.


It seems that Charles envisions a new society. I fear that Marxism has deluded him with its promises.

The basement door was shut tight when I delivered the papers. Charles would not answer me despite my protests.

The machine now emits a monotonous banging that continues as I write this.


October 3rd 1897

That infernal racket never stopped during the night and Charles still won’t open the door.

Weariness prevented me from going to the university and I eventually resorted to staying at the club all day just for some peace and quiet.


October 4th 1897

The noise continued unabated until last night when it suddenly stopped.

Jardine inquired about my absence yesterday and refused to believe my story. The cur even threatened mw with dismissal if “I continue with nonsensical excuses”. Nonsense indeed! It was Jardine in ’78 that tried to convince us all in his sightings of spirits and poltergeists. Later that evening when I returned home the architecture of the room seemed strange and warped. Maybe I should lay off the sherry.


October 5th 1897

Something eerie is afoot and I’m sure that machine is the root of it.

I awoke to find my surroundings nearly unrecognizable. All the furniture and walls seem to be distorted and twisted to quite grotesque standards. From the outside the house is normal, but the interior resembles a macabre freak show.

What is happening to me? The bizarre happenings that have occurred recently are scarcely believable to myself. I must admit that I am now afraid of my own house yet I daren’t leave it for fear of what will await me when I return. The computer’s ability to “warp matter” is surely the reason for this devilry and Charles persists in ignoring my pleas to allow me into the basement. Perhaps he is dead and the machine is out of control, that would explain why a cloud of chaos has descended on Mayfair.

Tomorrow I must force the basement door open to try and stop that engine of destruction.

May God help me.


(The handwriting now is less cursive and is gradually reduced to a childish scrawl)

October 6th 1897

This will be my last entry, dear diary. Charles is dead. He had good intentions for that beast but it was not to be.

I managed to burst into the basement early this morning and was astounded at what I saw. How the machine grew to that size is beyond me. It was like a factory below my house. Rivets turned, pumps pounded away endlessly, cogs clicked into place and the steam… oh the steam! It was beautiful yet menacing, a huge monster never ceasing it’s work, forever growing, towering ominously. And right in the centre, supplying the amazing power, was the shiny brass box pumping energy into the creature’s veins.

As I stood in awe, Charles approached me not shocked in the slightest at my presence. Only his closest friends would have recognized him. His entire body was pure white and it radiated a soft luminance. I only dared to look into his eyes once and the sight still makes me shudder. Wild flames basked in a brilliant white glow danced in his white pupils like wicked devils.

He talked like a mad man, eyes darting in all directions, speaking of a new order where man and the machine lived together in harmony building a new Utopia.

It sounded so wonderful! The computer would spread British influence through Europe, the colonies, then the world! As the talk became more frenzied, the machine seemed to grow angrier. Every part of It’s body moved faster and faster until Charles reached the highpoint of his speech when suddenly It let out a huge piercing jet of steam from It’s furnace.

When the steam cleared Charles lay dead on the floor scorched to a cinder. The machine had turned on its creator.

I write this locked in my dining room in a state of abject fear. I have decided I cannot live in a world run by a machine with a mind of it’s own.

The last thing I saw before I fled from the basement was the little brass box. On It’s screen It showed something growing and growing until It filled the entire globe. Humans will not be needed in this world as the Beast can create further machines from within It’s bowels.

God created Man and Man nearly destroyed the Earth. So what of Man’s new child?

– Sir Philip Redgrave


So ends the diary found near the body of Sir Redgrave. The body of Charles Babbage was found in the basement scorched beyond recognition.

There is no sign of “warped furniture” or a giant machine; the basement is completely empty. The writings are probably the work of a deranged mind due to the fever Sir Redgrave contracted in India. The official verdict is that Sir Redgrave murdered Charles Babbage then took his own life.

The rest of the day was quiet except for some of the East-end populace making reports about “a huge mechanical flying bird” heading towards Westminster. Such reports have been dismissed as nonsense.

– Detective Inspector William Bull

The Ex-Chairmen

Alan and Tony
Alan: Thanks for inviting me over over to the BBC, Tony. I haven’t been here since Bill Oddie’s leaving party when SpringWatch was cancelled. Messy business.
Tony 2
It’s my pleasure, Alan. Now, I wanted to talk to you about new sitcom ideas for the China market. China represents a lucrative new territory for us and research says they are just crying out for a new sitcom. Any ideas?
Alan 2
Ermmm…. yeah. How about this one? It’ll blow your socks off.


Scene: (Images of Chairman Mao overseeing the masses in Tiananmen Square, Deng Xiaoping visiting the States in a cowboy hat, Hua Guofeng being driven about in an open-top car, and Hu Jintao masturbating into an oven glove. After two clips of each, a bright red “YOU’RE FIRED” mark is stamped over each Chairman. Next clip shows all four ex-Chairmen carting their stuff on a tricycle to some random down-and-out apartment in Beijing)

Caption: The Ex-Chairmen!

(Shot of Mao Zedong trying to unblock a sink, shot of Mao Zedong falling over, shot of Mao Zedong being chased by a goat)

Caption: Starring Adam Sandler as Mao Zedong!

(Shot of Deng Xiaoping with his face glued to a window, shot of Deng Xiaoping kissing a man dressed as a woman, shot of Deng Xiaoping looking shocked)

Caption: Co-starring Ellen DeGenerate as Deng Xiaoping!

(Shot of Hua Guofeng punching a policeman)

Caption: And Charlie Sheen as Hua Guofeng!

(No image is shown of Hu Jintao)

Caption: Episode Five – Revolution is not a dinner party.

(Scene: A dirty, dingy hutong house with unwashed cutlery everywhere. Mao is walking around in his nightgown, Deng is making tea, and Hua is sat with his head in his hands drinking a bottle of whiskey)

Mao: Oh bloody hell, look at the state of this place! I mean just look at that cup, it’s actually got bloody mould growing from it!

Deng: Well, if the rest of you did some cleaning, instead of just me all the time, I’m sure it would be a lot tidier.

Mao: Shut up, will you? When I was Chairman, I had an army of Red Guards who I could call on at anytime to clean my cups.

(Hua takes a swig from his whiskey and shoots a passing rat)

Deng: But you’re not Chairman anymore, and the sooner you get used to that the better.

Mao: Oooh, you’re not Chairman anymore, you’re not Chairman anymore. That’s all I hear from you! You’re just jealous because my picture is in Tiananmen Square and yours isn’t.

Deng: They only put that up to keep the cats off the lawn.

Mao: Go fuck yourself, you capitalist running dog. I’m too busy for this – it’s time to feed Jiang Zemin.

(Mao walks over to an empty fish tank which enclosed a huge slimy toad. He sprinkles some flies into the tank which the toad greedily gobbles up)

Mao: There you go, my little baby. Eat them all up. Crush them in your maw.

(A letter pops through the door. Hua stands up, smashes a picture frame over Deng’s head, then falls over)

Deng: That’s the second time he’s done that this week!

Mao: (Looking at letter) Oh God, look at this. It’s a stupid postcard from Xi Jin bloody Ping. “Hi guys, really busy right now publishing my memoirs, hope all’s well with you.” Bastard. Bloody bastard. I hate that wind breaker wearing cunt nearly as much as I hate you Deng.

Deng: Oh, look! My two cats have come back! Hello boys!

(Two cats enter via the window – one black, one white)

Mao: Useless reactionary remnants of the feudal past. Did any of them bother to assist the masses and at least catch a mouse?

Deng: Yeah, one of them did.

Mao: Which one?

Deng: It doesn’t matter.

(Hua Guofeng moves to slam the cats with a giant hammer but is interrupted when Hu Jintao suddenly bursts into the room)

Hu Jintao: I’m pregnant! And the father is one of you!

Mao and Deng: Say whaaaaaaaaat?

Jiang Zemin: Ribbet.

And so on, and so on; for another seven seasons.

Alan 1

Tony 1

Smell my cheese!
Smell my cheese, you mother!



If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

An interview with Ray Hecht

It’s that man again…

Ray “Spratly” Hecht still lies within the 9-Dash Line

Here’s Ray Hecht. You may remember him from his books South China Morning Blues (that I reviewed here), Pearl River DramaThis Modern Love and The Erotic Adventures of Hercules (as yet unpublished. And unwritten).

Ray was recently kind enough to feature an interview with me on his site where I discuss my thoughts on writerly things.

Direct your mouse pointer hither.

Some highlights:

“…like a nerd at a prom night getting drenched in a vat of pig’s blood…”

“…a tenacious black woman who fought against 1960s racism to become the first botanist in space…”

“…I’d probably grab a samurai sword and go berzerk outside a Beijing branch of Uniqlo…”

“…8 Reasons why Asian Girls are Better…

If you don’t think pig’s blood, botanists in space, samurai swords or Asian girls are interesting, then I don’t know what is wrong with you.

Thanks Ray for the interview.


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Why I Write

Taking his cue from the titular George Orwell essay, former editor of expat mag that’s Shanghai – JFK Miller – has been gathering together a collection of authors and asking them “Why do you write?”

He’s got quite the list of impressive authors on there: Peter Hessler, Murong Xuecun, James Fallows… and now he is lucky enough to add my name to that illustrious list.

Go take a look.

As well as being named after an assassinated President, JFK is also the author of the tell-all tale of his time at that’s Shanghai and his challenges with government censorship. It’s called Trickle-down Censorship and I’m currently about three chapters in and enjoying myself immensely. Review to come soon.

In the meantime, here is the Q&A from whyiwrite:

Why I write

Primarily: self-amusement. I don’t believe that my opinion particularly matters, and the world would be a better place if a lot more people realised that as well, so I’m not trying to shove my point of view down somebody’s throat. Like other non-bestselling/non-celebrity writers, money is not my prime motivation either. I write whatever amuses me or is especially latched within my head on any given day, regardless of whether other people find it interesting or not. Just take a look at my blog: it’s a hotchpotch of stories involving talking penises, scripts about children’s TV shows involving dead bonobo monkeys or pastiches of obscure 1980s Victoria Wood songs. I find that if I don’t write then these weird ideas tend to remain in my brain and fuck me up, so the only release is to get them out on paper.


Do you write every day? If so, how many hours?
Oh, if only I could write everyday – and I don’t just mean Excel spreadsheets or TPS reports. Not being born into a rich family who could succour me with a trust fund for a few years, and not being born good-looking enough to exchange rent money for an hour every evening on my back, I unfortunately have to spend the vast majority of my day at the grindstone. Those precious few moments of free time that aren’t filled by preparing my lunch (for work), ironing my shirts (for work) or standing on a train (for work), might just might give me a moment or two to write something down. And that’s only if I don’t have a new game for my Xbox at the time.


Describe the physicality of your writing domain…
This is a very middle-class question directed towards someone whose family never even used to own a dining table (it was TV dinners on our laps in front of CBBC). My “writing domain” is generally wherever I am with a notebook or laptop when the writing mood takes me—normally the sofa. One place I can definitely NOT write though is in a hipster coffee shop. Probably because I’m not a bearded pretentious twat.


Worst source of distraction from writing?
Real life, work, and the dog licking my face.


Best source of inspiration for writing?
When I was younger I used to write a lot of typically emo poetry that is a rite-of-passage for any tortured writer who considers themselves a budding artiste. I noticed that there was a correlation between the depth of my poetry’s nihilism with the number of empty bottles of super-strength cider that almost magically used to accumulate around me. In these more enlightened times it is now somewhat-frowned upon for a man over a certain age to drink himself senseless with dubious brands like “White Lightning” or “Scrumpy Jack”, hence my main source of inspiration in 2016 is predominantly gin.


How often do you get writers’ block and/or doubt your own ability?
Considering how little time I get to partake in my favourite past time, I have never experienced writer’s’ block. That doesn’t mean that the things I write are any good, but if I had more time than I could certainly produce more of it—kind of like sticking a more powerful generator onto an industrial muckspreader.


Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
I don’t read a lot of contemporary writers as it is my firm belief that nothing of worth has been produced since 1987, but there are two writers whose work I always make a point of reading. The first is the French depressive-extraordinaire Michel Houellebecq and the other is obscure writer of nihilistic horror Thomas Ligotti. They are more or less the only writers I enjoy who aren’t dead—though considering how depressed both of them are it surely won’t be long.


Favorite Chinese writer?
It’s a cliche to say Lu Xun as it is normally the choice of readers who haven’t read anyone else, but he really is the best. He combined the best of the Russian and French literature trends that were prevalent in his day with his own unique Chinese style. Some of his best work is in his more obscure collection of final essays: Wild Grass. It was written when he had basically given up on life. The Communist Party likes to quote Lu Xun’s famous works like Ah Q and Kong Yiji when it suits them, but they never quote any of his stories from Wild Grass as it would probably result in either Zhongnanhai getting burnt down or a mass gangbang.


Best book about China?
Ways that are Dark by Ralph Townsend. It’s amazing. It’s a semi-racist diatribe about China in the 1930s written by an American diplomat, but it’s worth reading thanks to the density of his prose and the almost Lovecraftian horror he assigns to what he sees as a contemporary Malthusian dystopia.


Favorite book?
The Stranger by Albert Camus.


Favorite writer?
Publicly: George Orwell. Privately: HP Lovecraft.


The book you should have read but haven’t?
I quote Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra several times in my book Party Members, but I must confess that I’ve never actually been able to finish it. Still, it isn’t as bad as—oooh, let me think—absolutely ANYTHING written by James Joyce. James Joyce writes books that are not only hard-going, but also makes you question why you did it afterwards. A little bit like sex with a horse.


You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
It was a short story about a homosexual in World War One who gets his life saved by the spirits of his dead comrades who return as angel-children. Then he meets God. It won a national youth writing contest, but when I think back to it I can’t help but be grateful that it was written before the widespread use of the internet and that it has DISAPPEARED ENTIRELY FROM THE FACE OF THIS WORLD.


Does writing change anything?
On a social basis: writing can change everything. On an individual basis: it can keep you sane.


What are you working on now and when is it out?
I recently had my first book published—Party Members. It’s a dark comedy about corruption in contemporary China. I’m now trying to finish a compilation of short stories that I’ve been working on-and-off with for about two years. Not sure what the final name will be, but I can tell you that the stories written so far include tales of dumplings being made out of foreskins, an underground milk farm and a sci-fi story set in the future where women have designer abortions.

So far it is yet to find a publisher.


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Short Story: For the Children…

A bit of a change today.

Some of you may be interested to see the type of thing I write about when I am not on the topic of China.

Some of you may not.

Regardless, here’s a short sci-fi story written by my good self. Don’t worry though – it contains my usual sick twists.

For the Children…


“A great life. An even greater future! Choose KFC for your child today!”

The leaflet was a smorgasbord of bright colours. In addition to the corporate KFC hues of red and white, the page was splashed with various shades of pink and baby blue hearts floating around cartoon images of happy babies.

“Hundreds of thousands of children have benefited by having their birth program sponsored by KFC – the company that first brought you Thai Tom Yum Flavoured Wings and the Quadruple Chicken Deluxe. You can trust us to deliver your child as easily and as swiftly as we deliver our chicken.”

On the reverse side of the leaflet the bright colours gave way to slightly more serious subject matter. The cartoons were now replaced with photographs of healthy happy children – white kids, black kids, Chinese kids and even one young girl who carried a hint of Eskimo – holding hands and laughing within endless fields of impossibly green grass. Scattered around the photographs, bullet points in a comic-sans font shot out important facts for the discerning consumer.

“We understand that some of our clients have concerns over the future health issues involved with a KFC sponsorship. However, the vast majority of our KFChildren™ go on to lead bright, vibrant and fulfilling lives. Here are five undeniable reasons why our food choices can form part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle…”

The rest of the leaflet was a jumble of bullet points, asterisks and small print that was too small to be legible. Sighing, Mary tossed the garish leaflet onto the pile with all the others. To be honest, she had always preferred McDonalds to KFC. The thought of being forced to think otherwise made her shiver. Everybody knew that the French Fries at McDonalds were vastly superior.

Whoever had designed the interior of the waiting room had been a genius in soothing architecture. Hospitals, especially those in the public sector, were generally not known for their comforting ambience. Most were austere prison-like structures, as ugly on the inside as they were on the outside. Mary thought back to a particularly harrowing memory when her mother had brought her to the local general hospital for a collar-bone that had dislocated during a school hockey match that had become overly competitive. The pain in her shoulder had been intense; she had screamed all the way in the back of the family car. Her screaming had been so intense that her mother – fearful for her daughter’s very life – had been forced to switch the car onto driverless mode and climb over into the backseat to comfort her daughter. Yet despite the gnawing pain that had chewed its way deep into her body, pure fear had silenced her cries as soon as they stepped foot into the hospital’s casualty unit. Drunks, drug addicts and drop-outs littered the halls. Some sat down but most of them were rolling around the vomit-covered floors in their own filth. The derelicts were not alone. Amongst the sordid remains of self-inflicted misery were those who had committed no sin other than being born during a time of near-constant economic malaise. The old, the poor, the stupid. They tried their best to distance themselves from the drink or drug crazed that shouted obscenities to anyone who would listen. On dirty stretchers at the edges of the corridors had lain people in various stages of torment. Some were even already dead. For hours, Mary had held her mother’s hand tight in that filthy waiting area. Waiting in silence for a chance to see the nurse. Waiting for the filthy bearded men to stop staring and leering at her. When they did finally see the doctor it wasn’t so much of a relief. The rusted, broken equipment, the smelly blood-smeared gown of the nurse, the rushed and indifferent procedure cracking her collar-bone back into place… it had been Hell.

It was still technically within the public sector, but due to the profits involved in modern maternity and the fierce competition between different corporations to promote their respective sponsorship packages, the maternity hospital was almost an oasis of luxury and calm. There were no buckets of vomit hiding in the corners. Neither were there wild-eyed men covered in the stench of alcohol. Everything within the waiting area was perfectly designed to put any potential mother at her utmost ease. The walls had been painted a soothing pink colour and the chairs were not the cheap plastic stools of the general hospital but the type of soft velvet armchairs normally only found in high-class coffee shops. Gentle jazz music was piped through the speakers, though occasionally this was interrupted by soft whispering voices touting the benefits of Coca Cola. Mary glanced at the kind-looking middle-aged woman who sat behind the reception desk in an immaculately clean nurse’s uniform; she flashed Mary a warm genuine smile.

Despite the comfort, Mary was starting to feel queasy. She got up from her seat, walked past the other six or seven women who were also waiting, and headed over to the small tea machine that was placed next to the water cooler. An array of biscuits had been tastefully arranged on a plate. Mary took one of the biscuits and pressed the button for chamomile tea. Hot water splashed down from the machine’s nozzle and an advertisement suddenly lit up the screen in front of her.

“Coffee…” A deep rich voice announced. “The battery for an active life.” The screen flashed images of a slim, attractive young woman in her late twenties. Cycling, running, sky-diving, conducting high-level business meetings… and in between each shot an image of her happily gulping down a cup of delicious-looking hot coffee.

“Alcohol, cigarettes and fast food dull the senses leading to a life of failure.” The rich voice spoke again while the woman on the screen was now transported to an elegant coffee shop accompanied by a multi-racial mix of beautiful male and female friends. “Coffee, however, gives us the energy we need to succeed in a tough competitive world.”

The camera pulled back to reveal that the group of fashionable young professionals all had a smiling toddler on their lap. The group clinked their cups and laughed. The infants giggled as they sucked on transparent bottles of iced brown liquid.

“Nescafe. Be caffeinated. Power your life.”

The screen faded to black as the last of the chamomile tea poured into Mary’s cup. She wrinkled her nose at the screen before heading back to her seat. “I hate coffee,” she mumbled to herself.

Sipping the tea, Mary thought back to Adam. The light green of the chamomile matched his eyes. They had only been dating for five months; introduced by a mutual friend at a Christmas Party. Even though he had been wearing a ridiculous jumper that featured an ironically tacky snowman and reindeer, he still looked irresistible when she first saw him standing amidst a group of friends whilst making some joke about presents. He had caught her looking at him. Red-faced, she had turned away, but ten minutes later he had walked purposefully over to her and had held out a hand introducing himself as Adam.

It had been that purposefulness that had drawn her to him. She had been with many guys before, but rarely with one who had such a determination about whatever he turned his mind towards. He seemed so sure of himself. Mary, on the other hand, always doubted whether she was doing the right thing. Of course, she knew she was attractive – she had no doubt there. Her long red hair and even longer legs meant that she had few rivals when it came to attracting the opposite sex. However, though confidant in her looks, Mary had less confidence in her judgment. She had made mistakes before and was terrified of making them again. Adam had been like a gale force wind in comparison. When they first spoke to one another Mary could feel the force within Adam’s eyes and the desire within to make her belong to him. Faced with such determination she was powerless to resist.

It had been a wonderful relationship and a wonderful five months. Too wonderful actually; the wonder of it all was probably what had led her unconsciously to make her mistake. Somewhere, between the weekend trips to the countryside and long nights curled up together in his gorgeous apartment, her happiness had caused her to forget her birth control pills. Adam had remained determined to the end. Just as he had so purposefully strode into Mary’s life, he had strode so purposefully out of it once she announced she was pregnant.

There was a coughing sound to her left that caused Mary to glance over. The woman in the armchair beside her had coughed a little whilst gulping down a mug of Nescafe too quickly. She was a homely mousey-haired woman in her mid-thirties who had the harried concerned look of a primary school teacher or social worker. She smiled when she caught Mary’s eye.

“You look nervous, love. Is this your first time?” The woman offered a mint to Mary who shook her head politely.

“It’s never easy, though they try to make it as easy as possible. This is my third one… and the last, I can tell you!”

Mary tried her best to ignore the woman’s conversation, but it was too late. She was evidently one of life’s natural gossips.

“I’m going for one of the credit card companies this time around. Visa probably, though Amex has a good deal too. I know, I know: everybody says never go for the credit cards, but the way I see it, the debt that they will get themselves into can only spur them onto being more successful in life? Am I right?”

Mary did not respond and had even stopped looking at the woman. This, however, did not deter her in her monologue.

“The thing is, I chose Pepsi for my eldest and McDonalds for our Sharon. Like everyone I thought that I could keep it under control as long as I kept them fit and active. It’s a nightmare! The amount of money I spend on sports classes for Timmy and Sharon costs a fortune, it would have been far cheaper getting them on better but more expensive products. And you know what? They might say that it’s controllable but I can tell you that it isn’t. Even with all the karate classes our Timmy is the heaviest boy in his class. Sharon isn’t far off either. At least with the credit cards I won’t have to worry about the next kid’s weight. Plus, they won’t be old enough for an Amex till they’re eighteen so it’s less stress for me. Do you…?”

An electronic noise from the reception desk indicated that it was the turn of the woman to see the doctor. She smiled her saccharine smile once more then shuffled off to the consultation room. Mary gave a silent prayer of thanks that she had been spared any further conversation with the woman.

She tried to read one of the promotional leaflets again, but the dreary monologue she had just been subjected to had drained all interest from her. She was still no closer to making a decision. It was all just so overwhelming. At the age of twenty-six she should still be concentrating on her career; building those first foundations towards a steady and secure life. Her job was not exactly the greatest job in the world – Mary saw it as no more than a stepping-stone to something more fulfilling and better paid – though it was decent enough and allowed her to maintain a good social life. She didn’t feel ready yet to exchange her career and friends for nappies and milk formula, especially as a single mother.

Obviously, there was always Embry-No. Just as there had been huge scientific leaps within the field of maternal health over the last twenty years, so too had there been equal developments within the field of abortion. The two opposing sides had raced to out-compete one another in an ever-escalating arms race for the future of women’s wombs. And Embry-No was more or less the atomic bomb in the fertility wars. Hundreds of years of scientific research condensed into one tiny little pink pill that could make an unwanted baby disappear faster than the often-errant father in such cases. It wasn’t cheap, but it was effective. And painless. These days it was even produced in different flavours and sold on the upper shelves of respected pharmacies. “Don’t kid yourself!” was its logo, printed in cute pink bubble letters upon the box cover. Its manufacturers definitely had the teenage market in consideration as a core demographic.

Mary was unsure of her future, but she hadn’t swallowed the pink pill just yet. Instead, she had almost dreamily waltzed through the entire procedure until she was here, three months into her pregnancy, still uncertain about what tomorrow might bring. She hadn’t even considered anything regarding sponsorship packages, yet everybody knew that at the three-month stage it was time to consider these options or face inevitable destitution once the invoices for labour fees arrived. Automatically, without much conscious thought, she now found herself at the maternity clinic.

There was another electronic noise indicating that a further consultation room had become available. This time the kindly receptionist gestured to Mary that it was now her time to go in.

If the reception area had been covered in an obscene amount of advertisements, the interior of the consultation room was even worse. Every spare space on the wall was given over to brightly coloured posters advertising the benefits of each company’s package. Mary guessed correctly that the doctors were given incentives from the big corporates to make sure their logos featured as heavily as possible during the crucial last moments of a prospective mother’s decision making process. The doctor was a stern Indian man of middle age who waved a hand for her to take a seat. He tapped busily at his keyboard without looking up.

Stern though he was, at least it was a real doctor, thought Mary. Scanners and computers had replaced most general practitioners during the last ten years. Only the rich could afford to meet a real human doctor face-to-face. The rest of society had to endure the faceless red lasers of the scanning machines and the monotone voice ordering prescriptions that could not be argued with. Maternity was the last bastion of human contact for most people’s medical history, though the corporate incentives made it a very lucrative field for the doctors concerned.

The doctor pulled out a Theranos gun that quickly and painlessly removed just a single drop of blood from Mary’s left wrist. Removing the plastic capsule containing the blood from the gun, the doctor inserted it into a small receptacle attached to his computer than tapped a few keys. With a grunt, the doctor confirmed that which he already knew.

“So, the tests confirm you are three months pregnant,” said the doctor in a bored tone of voice. He went through the same conversation several times each day. “Have you already decided which package you would like to select to cover the maternity fees or would you like me to elaborate on the different options?”

Mary bit her lip, unsure how to answer. The doctor sighed.

“Are you familiar with how the sponsorship packages operate and what they entail?”

“Of course, I know. Everybody knows. I’ve got plenty of friends who have babies. It’s just…”


“… I don’t know. I just don’t know if this is right?”

The doctor pulled his chair closer to the desk and removed his spectacles. Polishing them with the corner of his sleeve, he replaced them back onto the bridge of his nose and gave Mary a stern look.

“Whether it is right or wrong is not the question. The most important thing is that it is a fact of life. Unless you are highly wealthy – and I do not mean to be rude but I doubt that you possess such wealth otherwise you would not be here – the only way for most normal people to cover the maternity expenses is with the help of a corporate sponsorship programme. You may question the morality of this but it is a fact. Also, you must consider that it is only right and fair that the companies who agree to cover the cost of your maternity fees should be able to expect some… ahem… return on their investment.”

Mary blushed. The doctor had misunderstood her when she had questioned whether the procedure was right or wrong. She had been thinking more about the personal circumstances which had led to her being single, three-months pregnant and sat alone in a maternity clinic. Eager to force the doctor into mellowing his gaze, she quickly changed the subject.

“Can you explain how the actual procedure itself works? Will it be painful?”

The doctor laughed. “Oh no, not at all.” He held up the Theranos gun. “Like most things in matters concerning life it just involves a small prick.” He laughed at his own joke, even though he had made it many times before he still found the allusion amusing.

“Just a small prick,” he continued, “just the same as having a blood test. Only this time we won’t be taking something out of you, we’ll be putting something in. Genetic code in this case; code that will make its way straight into your unborn baby’s neurological DNA. You won’t feel a thing. The code simply enters the fetus’ DNA structure and makes certain alterations according to the package you have chosen. A lifelong fondness for a certain company’s soft drinks in one case, an affection for designer goods in another. It’s very simple, really, and it’s totally 100% your choice so that it suits your preferred lifestyle.”

“Ah, yes. I see.”

“Good,” said the doctor, lightening up a little. “So have you chosen a package already?”

Mary shook her head. The doctor could not see her hands shaking from his side of the table.

“I can go through the options with you if you’ll find it beneficial. There’s hundreds of choices, but they do fall within certain similar verticals that prevent it from getting too over-whelming. Most people tend to go for the big names anyway – your KFCs, your Pepsis, your Apples, etcetera – but there really is something for everyone. Now is probably the time as a medical professional to state that although I do receive a small financial benefit for each package that I deliver to my clients, I am always upfront about the likely advantages and disadvantages of each choice. We want you to be fully informed before choosing what is best for you and your baby.”

Seamlessly, the doctor had metamorphosed from a stern general practitioner to an enthusiastic salesman right before Mary’s eyes. The sales pitches for each respective sponsorship package were obviously what had lured him into the medical profession. The doctor pulled out a handful of leaflets from his drawer, most of which Mary had already seen within the waiting area.

“McDonalds is a popular choice as you’ll know already. We’re into the second generation of maternity sponsorship already so a lot of mothers like their children to share the same… interests… which they were already gifted.”

Though she had no known no different throughout her entire life, Mary still flinched within when she heard the euphemistic terms of “interests” and “gifts” that were so commonly used when discussing children, when in actuality they were addictions and manias. Even the word “sponsorship” didn’t ring true to her. She felt “slavery” would be a more appropriate choice.

“Fast food is a good option. It’s cheap, popular, and most importantly won’t be too much of a drain on your finances while your child matures. On the downside, I’m legally obliged to say that without an intensive exercise programme your child is liable to an increased future risk of obesity and diabetes. If that isn’t your thing, I could always gift your child with an incessant need for the latest products of the clothing or electronic company of your choice. However…” the doctor allowed himself a slight chuckle, “…I’ve had many a sad client sat in your seat right now telling me how they’ve got no money and wish that their only monthly outgoing was just a few wholesale boxes of Mars Bars. You can’t satisfy everybody.”

The words weren’t really sinking into Mary. She could see the lips of the doctor opening and closing but she was not concentrating at all on what he was saying. Instead her thoughts were outside. Through the window she could see the mousey-haired woman whom she had spoken to earlier in the reception area. Her appointment concluded, she had returned to her car where her two obese children were slurping giant bottles of Pepsi and gorging on French Fries on the back seats. The woman looked so tired as her children screamed for more food; their plastic drinks containers almost empty. How old was she? Mid-thirties? Yet she could just as easily be the same age as Mary, but with more wrinkles on her face from the stress of her children’s constant demands. And now she was going to bring another child into the world. Another screaming mouth that was programmed to demand whatever consumer product had been imputed into its brain. A mindless creature with zero free will and an endless appetite that could never be sated. Did the world really need another hungry mouth to feed?

The doctor waved his leaflets at Mary once again, bringing her back into the room.

“So, have you decided yet?”

Over in the car park, the mousey-haired woman shouted at her children for spilling Pepsi all over the inside of the car.


The living room was decorated according to the tastes of a woman much older than she actually was. Though only around fifty years of age, Mary’s mother had appeared to have modeled her household design on that of a much earlier era. Subconsciously, she had replicated her childhood memories of her own grandmother’s house. Net curtains draped over the main window keeping the snarling modern world at a distance. Within the room, all was soft and pastel-coloured. Fuzzy warm sofas took up the bulk of the room; a room already made smaller by the soft red velvet curtains and thick heavy carpet. The shelves of the room were also decorated in the style of an older woman than Mary’s mother actually was. Porcelain ornaments of horses, cherubs and rosy-cheeked peasants jostled for position with half a dozen framed photographs of her daughter’s progression through life. Only the mantelpiece was bare; the sole object of ornamentation being a small picture of Mary as a newborn baby.

“Ok, Ok love, I understand. It’s your choice and nobody else can tell you what to do. Take care.”

Mary’s mother placed the phone back into its holder and stared at the room for several seconds. Mary had just telephoned to notify her mother that after much consideration she had decided not to keep the child. She would be taking action that very afternoon to abort the fetus.

In many ways, the mother understood the daughter’s choice. She had been more or less the same age when she had been pregnant herself with Mary. Like Mary, she also had nobody in her life to support her; the father being a nameless waiter whom she had one too many drinks with during a summer holiday in Greece. It hadn’t been easy bringing up Mary alone, and it hadn’t been easy bringing her into the world either. She had given up on her career ambitions to be a mother. When she found out that she was young, single and pregnant with Mary, her main hope was that her daughter would not grow up to make the same mistakes that she had. That hope had kept her awake at night; fearful for both her own future and the future of her then unborn daughter.

It all seemed so long ago now. People change a lot as they get older, she thought.

Mary’s mother suddenly felt the full force of the silence in the room. It was too quiet, so she reached out to the music speaker and switched on the nearest radio channel in order to fill the void. She hoped Mary would visit her later this week as promised.

The music played and Mary’s mother found herself thinking back to her grandmother’s house and how similar she had styled her own living room in accordance to that memory. However, there was a key difference. Her grandmother’s house had been filled with photographs of all of her grandchildren. Every shelf and space was covered in vibrant photos of children, laughter and life. She stared upwards at the empty mantelpiece facing her and how sad it looked with just the single photo of Mary as a baby. Only dust covered the rest of the surface. Dust covered not only the bare mantelpiece, but the entire room as well. The whole room felt so empty. She turned the music volume up louder to drown out her feelings of loneliness. At the time, all she had wanted was for her daughter not to make the same mistakes that she had made. It was only with the best of intentions that she had cast aside the standard options of sponsorship package and gone for a much different choice. The only choice, really. The Embry-No. Very few mother’s chose to gift their children with the Embry-No.

Mary’s mother wept. Not just for the grandchild she had just lost, but for the five previous grandchildren she had also lost over the last eight years, and the grandchildren that she was still yet to lose. It wasn’t Mary’s fault: she couldn’t help herself. Yet it was small comfort to the old woman in her empty house who cried every night at the loneliness all around her.

Dust continued to fill the room.


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

The Horror of China Expat Magazine Listings

The epitome of China expat articles: an article on fucking dumplings

Big news this week in the China expat-sphere was that the venerable City Weekend magazine had closed its doors. Well, the announcement technically says that the owners are with great optimism having discussions about a vague future online business, but anybody who has been around knows that this is mere media code for “The journalists have already re-applied to the Beijing Happy Giraffe No. 17 Kindergarten”.

In the pre-web 2.0 world, or whatever the fuck it’s called these days, the expat rags used to have listings of various pretentious and/or wanky events around town. Some of these could be quite funny – especially the personals section that regularly featured Sunnygirl87 – a traditional girl – looking for a man with a thirteen inch cock and a minimum monthly salary of 40,000 RMB a month to be her “language exchange partner”. Or some such variance.

Some of these listings will be pretty dated now, but here was a parody I wrote back in 2007 about the types of listings that City Weekend and its rivals used to feature.

Sept 1st: Jungle is Massive Night at Club Babyface*

Find that minimal isn’t enough for your dancefloor fix? Had enough of monotonous trance synth-lines that have sold out to “The Man”? Wanna take a pill drop back to the true progressive era of sub-sonic woofer house music? If you want an indication of where Gen-X dance music is going next, then join us as we invite DJ Nobody’s Ever Fucking Heard Of But His Name Ends In A “Z” all the way from Amsterdam to set off a selection of fire and car alarms as crowds of Chinese businessmen and prostitutes listen indifferently and play dice instead. Chivas and Green Tea sets start at 888 RMB and come with a complementary grape.

* Although the management of Babyface will try its utmost, Babyface can not guarantee the presence of black people at any publicised event.

September 4th: Ladies Who Lunch

The Ladies Who Lunch will this Tuesday be dining at a delightful American themed diner recently opened just off People’s Square. Serving a homemade selection of traditional American fayre in a comfortable, yet trendy, environment; this guarantees to be a welcome alternative to our usual weekly drudge of holistic therapy and alternative yoga*. This week our selected book will be the back cover of a pirated Desperate Housewives DVD, and as we complain endlessly about how difficult it is to find good service in Shanghai these days, we will consider sending the waiter’s tip this week to the Urumqi Orphanage for Christian Children, before crossing the road in order to avoid eye contact with a gang of street beggars.

Please contact Judy for the address of the People’s Square McDonald’s Branch.

September 8th: The Shanghai Expat’s Club September Gathering

Exactly seven lonely foreign businessmen who have been in China for no longer than two months each join together in the lobby bar of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and try and kid themselves that this is called “networking”.

September 12th: English Corner

“Can you use chopsticks?” “Are you a Christian?” “Can I invite you to a dinner?”

If the above questions don’t make you want to immediately stab yourself in the eye with a rusty coathanger, and if for whatever fucked up reason you’re desperate and lonely enough to even entertain the thought that being the only foreigner surrounded by a group of two hundred Chinese students could ever be anything other than a spiritual experience roughly equivalent to having a 20 foot Native American totem pole covered in faulty cheese graters forcefully penetrate your quivering anal hole, then please come along to the Number 94 Middle School English Corner. COME.

September 15th: Hash House Harriers Fun Run

Nestled in between Chongming Island and Pudong, Hengsha Island (literally: “Clean Island”) is an unspoilt patch of paradise untouched by Shanghai’s encroaching development. Join the Drinking Club with a Running Problem (!!!!!!!!) as we spend two days running, enjoying the scenery, drinking beer out of our shoes, and finally getting into an argument with a farmer for pissing all over his crops whilst a 4 foot tall butterball from Ohio attempts to drag you away by screaming “Just leave it Brian, he ain’t fucking worth it!”

September 18th: Opening Night of a New “Western” Restaurant in a Second Tier Provincial City

Relive the classic days of Laurel & Hardy, the Keystone Cops, and The Three Stooges by paying good money to dine at the opening night of Happy Apollo Italian Westaurant in Yantai City. Chuckle as the waiters try to serve food even though the management forgot to purchase any plates, guffaw as the cashier is forced to prostitute herself in a feeble effort to get her hands on some change, and roar hysterically as the Spaghetti Bolognese turns out to be a cardboard baozi covered in sand. Then weep, weep untold tears of salty misery, as you realise you’ve been waiting three hours and still haven’t seen a menu.

September 21st: 300 and something days to the Olympics

Go about your normal daily existence and do your best to ignore yet another fucking mediocre Government sponsored pop concert in order to celebrate 300 and something more days to the fucking Olympics.

September 23rd: Sunny Hotel Dinner Buffet

Enjoy an uninspired Chinese buffet in a three star Chinese hotel with no economic discounts or benefits whatsoever in a hope that the management still decides to place their advertising with this magazine next year.

September 24th: Cunt Cinema

The Beijing Bookworm will present a series of mostly French independent short films made by Europe’s best respected amateur cunts. This collection’s themes revolve predominantly around freedom of speech issues, women’s rights, and cunts. All cunts welcome. English subtitles for the cunt impaired.

September 30th: Labourer Holiday

Are you aged between 12 and 80? No plans for the National Day holiday? Then why not go on a working Labourer’s Holiday?

– Learn all about carrying a bucket full of dirt!

– Earn at least 17 yuan!

– Free instant noodle and steamed bun meals!*

– Free cigarettes for all mine workers!*

– Free police supervision!*

– Complete privacy as you enjoy your Labourer’s Holiday (Road will be closed to its own residents)!


Not free.

Whilst the magazine tries its best to ensure all event listings are correct and complete at time of publication, the editors cannot guarantee that locations, times, names, national boundaries, and even the laws of physics will not change before due dates.


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

The Even Further Erotic Adventures of Xi Jinping!


Previously, on…

Parts 1 and 2

Part 3

Xi Jinping meets popular /r/China character James

Xi Jinping sat in his Audi A6 while trapped in the mother of all traffic jams somewhere near Beijing’s 4th ring road. To pass the time he was strumming his finger over Tantan profiles as quickly as a Baltimore crack whore flicking herself off on a “Black Girlz Gone Wild” video.

Xi was pretty depressed. He had given instructions to his personal chef to prepare him a delicious steak and strawberry jam sandwich for the journey. Looking at the sorry item in his tupperware container he could see that the chef had completely screwed up and added ketchup rather than jam. The bread didn’t even have any sugar in it. It was disgusting.

To cheer himself up, Xi reminded himself that he was head of the Communist Party and that, technically, he owned every piece of property in the entire country. He decided to drive off the ring road and go and collect rent from one of the 1,400,000,000,000 properties in his portfolio. There was one school in particular that he had in mind.

Wiping the ketchup off his special “rent collecting” windbreaker jacket, Xi knocked on the door of the Happy Giraffe English School. The cunts in these private English schools were raking it in, but Xi hadn’t seen a single People’s Money from them in years. As leader of the world’s oldest and most harmonious civilisation, Xi loved collecting money and pushing people around, so even now his jaundiced one-eyed python was twitching like a Cambodian orphan on a landmine. Hopefully the school would have a sexy receptionist that looked like Angelababy. Sadly, when the door opened his mounting erection shrank from the size of an autonomous province to the size of a mere special administrative region.

Standing before him was an awkward looking man-child with thick glasses hiding a pair of shifty looking eyes that resembled day old tea eggs in two small dishes of spunk. He looked like an idiot.

“Hello,” said the man. “My name is James.”

“Where’s the money?” demanded Xi. “I want my fucking rent.”

“We have no money, Mr Jinping Sir,” stammered James. “We just spent our last remaining petty cash on installing a new school bell. Would you like to hear it?”

“Go on then,” said Xi.

James looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry, you can’t. It’s broken. Would you like to look at a photo of my blue Geely hatchback instead? I’d show you the real thing but the security guards towed it away for parking it by the trucks. They’re stupid.”

Xi pushed aside the idiotic Director of Administration and barged his way into the school. In a fit of rage, he tore the school bell from the wall and crushed it beneath his extremely well polished shoe. Next, he tore off his windbreaker jacket and clothes and allowed the stale air of the crumbling property to encircle his glistening skin like flies around shit. He looked across at the cowering man in the corner – his eyes showed more fear than an average foreigner confronted with the characters 南海路 – and he felt his cock grow to epic proportions.

“If I can’t have my money, I’ll have you instead!”

James needed no encouragement. He had earlier finished half a bottle of Tsingtao and was as pissed as Uncle Ganbei on New Year’s Eve. James quickly whipped off his trousers to reveal a groinal area that was covered in pubic hair so black and so dense that Xi Jinping thought he was looking at Harambe as a child.

“Chairman Xi,” said the newly eroticised James. “I must insist that if you are to take me that we do it in a harmonious and patriotic fashion. Perhaps we can roleplay? I can pretend to be Taiwan, and you can be the Motherland rightfully reclaiming me?”

“Let’s do it,” roared the author of the Art of Governance.

Before James knew what had hit him, Xi Jinping reached out to him like the Port of Dandong reaches out to the world. Xi bent James over and was banging his arsehole like Ringo Starr on the drums during the final section of Ticket to Ride.

“Do you accept the One China policy?” growled the former head of the Communist Youth League.

“Yes! There is only one China and I’m an inalienable part of it!” cried James.

“Do you acknowledge the sovereignty of the Communist Party?”

“Yes! Drive your PLA tank through my streets of Taipei, beloved Chairman!”

Mere seconds later, Xi Jinping pulled out of James’ arsehole which now resembled the flag of Japan. And not the current flag of Japan either – the old one with all the rays coming out of it. Aiming at James’ head, the Chairman spunked a nine-dash line all over his face. As he stood over James, his cock now an empty shell and his balls hanging like punctured leather footballs, he felt he had made significant steps in bridging political divides. And getting his dick covered in shit.

“Thanks for the reunification debate, but I still want my money next week.” Xi pulled on his windbreaker jacket. He bent over the spunk-covered wreck that was James and was all ready to whisper “Harmony” in his ear and pat him on the fanny, when he noticed a young foreign man in the corner of the room holding a Coolpad.

“Who is that?” asked Xi.

James looked up. “Oh, that’s /u/Chinahandy – he’s this guy that follows me around and writes made-up stories about me online.”

“Oh yeah,” replied Xi. “I’ve got one of those guys too.”

The End


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

The Harmonious Societers: Part Two

Last week the whole world was introduced to the new superhero group from the People’s republic: The Harmonious Societers!

We left our intrepid band trapped in Tiananmen Square facing a platoon of tanks that had been sent by their arch-nemesis WTO Man as part of his nefarious plot to get China booted out of the World Trade Organisation for child-labour violations.

So let’s return to our heroes in…

Episode Two: WTO? No, no, no!

Announcer: Last time we met our beloved upholders of peaceful rising and harmony, the diabolical WTO Man had issued forth a battalion of tanks from Tiananmen Square to squish our heroes. How will the Work Unit escape this time? And will WTO Man succeed in his sinister plot to prevent child labour in China? View on, dear boys and girls, view on! And don’t forget: today’s episode features a very special guest appearance from Andy Lau!

Guanxi Gary: The tanks! They’re almost on top of us! We’ll never escape in time!

(The tanks rumble onwards, but their manufacture proves to be so shoddy, that upon impact the tanks all fall apart into a million little pieces.)

Chairman Mao: Thank the Party for corrupt manufacturing processes and unenforced quality standards! We’re saved!

Suzy Wrong: The People’s Liberation Army would only use its weapons in self-defence or to protect China’s domestic interests anyway. Like Taiwan and Vietnam. They cannot be used for evil.

WTO Man: You’re still too late Harmonious Societers! Within seconds these children will begin polishing my shoes, and then the whole world will see the truth about child labour. Who will buy your Three Kingdoms themed mobile games then?

Guanxi Gary: Come Harmonious Ones: to work!

(Guanxi Gary quickly pulls out the legendary Manbag of Han and reveals the mighty Chunghwa Gun within. He fires a torrent of cigarettes into the air which rain down upon government bureaus across Beijing. Within seconds, hordes of plain-clothed policemen arrive on the scene and drag the children away.)

WTO Man: What? What’s going on?

Guanxi Gary: Your plan was doomed to failure right from the beginning, WTO Man. Using the ancient powers of guanxi, I contacted the concerned authorities and reported that these children are the offspring of migrant workers. Under article 21(b) of the Provisional Charter on Migrant Children (2005 revised edition), these countryside brats had no right to gather in a group of more than four people on state-owned property. They have been taken away and will be sent to work in contracted mining quarries after having their vital organs harvested and delivered to retired cadre. It’s all over.

WTO Man: No! Never! Thankfully I contacted a number of foreign reporters who have observed this whole sorry scene of blatant human rights abuses. They’ve seen everything and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Guanxi Gary: I don’t think so. Suzy is already on the case.

Suzy Wrong: (to foreign reporters) … and so you see that this is in fact a domestic issue for China and an unavoidable consequence of a developing economy. Besides, the government has stressed that the use of child labour is strictly forbidden in the production of Three Kingdoms licensed products and have vowed to probe any allegations of labour abuse.

Foreign reporters: Thanks Suzy. And we’ll be sure to visit your hometown in Anhui Province that you told us so much about!

Suzy Wrong: Yes. It is very beautiful and is famous for its locally produced aluminium-flavoured soft drinks.

WTO Man: You may have won this time Harmonious Societers, but you’ll never catch me! Oooh, what’s this? A comfortable looking chair? I think I’ll just sit down for a minute before I make my escape. What the… who’s grabbing me?

Chairman Mao: (Mutating back into human form) Hah! You fell for the oldest trick in the little red book! Nobody escapes from the Chairman!

WTO Man: Bah! Curses! Etcetera, etcetera! And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you pesky Communists.

Guanxi Gary: And so the forces of Harmony and Socialism are once again restored to our glorious Motherland of 5000 years. Let this be a lesson to all those who wish to harm our Socialist Paradise: the Work Unit of the Harmonious Societers will never allow foreigners to openly hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. Unless, of course, it is in our interests to do so. Suzy, Chairman: let’s get in the Audi and return home.

Suzy Wrong: Wait a minute. Where’s Uncurious George?

(They all turn around to see a group of laughing families kicking the monkey’s head in and extinguishing cigarette stubs out on his eyes.)


All: Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Andy Lau: I like sucking cock.

Announcer: Let us leave the Harmonious Societers now and wave farewell to their heroic adventures. But rest assured, whenever the shadow of disharmony threatens to cast its unwanted face over the Motherland, they will be back once more to save the day.

(Since the making of this show, Jiang Binbin who played Suzy Wrong unfortunately lost her battle against Honesty Cancer. She is now Chief Spokesperson for the Beijing Paralympics Committee.)


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

The Harmonious Societers!

Last week we were introduced to Uncurious George: The new cartoon character with socialist characteristics. This week I’m developing the concept even further by “doing a Marvel” and expanding the Uncurious George universe by sticking him in an ensemble team…

There are a lot of good things about China. TGI Friday’s have opened up a few more branches in Beijing, and the ratio of state-owned hospitals to stunt artists is only second to the United States of America. Yet for all the T-Bone Steaks in Jack Daniels Sauce that Evil Knievel can eat in the emergency ward, let’s not forget there are a lot of bad things about China too. And probably the worst thing about China is that it has a huge shortage of superheroes. Spiderman would probably have contracted cancer if he had been bit by a radioactive spider over here, and Batman’s Batmobile would be useless during rush hour on Beijing’s third ring road.

It is time for superheroes with Chinese Characteristics (TM).

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to meet…

The Harmonious Societers!

The Cast:

Guanxi Gary: In normal life, Yang Wei is just another mid-level protocol officer in a city government office. But when Yang Wei puts on his black-rimmed glasses, he beomes Guanxi Gary: The Corrupt Superhero! Able at any time to call forth the formidable power of guanxi, Guanxi Gary can have a foreigner’s residence permit revoked faster than a speeding bullet. Our leader of the Harmonious Societers also carries the legendary Manbag of Han: a manbag that has been passed down through generations since the times before Christ, and contains all sorts of awe-inspiring weapons, including the dreaded Chunghwa Gun.

Position: Leader and Party Secretary of the Harmonious Societers Work Unit.

Suzy Wrong: Suzy was just another schoolgirl at the Nongzhou Number 47 Middle School, until a freak accident resulted in her being trapped overnight in a classroom with nothing to read except political textbooks from circa 1979. When she emerged from the classroom the following day, she had become Suzy Wrong: a girl possessed with the incredible power of bullshit and bollocks. Her marvellous abilities allow her to believe propaganda that normal human beings could not possibly believe, and to confuse her enemies with false statistics and half-baked truths. Suzy is completely immune to any potential sexual advances from predators, although it is prophesied in the Book of Changes that she will one day succumb to a marriage proposal from a spotty-faced IT technician from Dalian.

Position: Token woman and tea-pourer.

Chairman Mao: Not actually the Chairman Mao, but a man called Mao who can change into a chair at will. Mao developed this amazing talent thanks to his years as a Beijing taxi driver, where a particularly nasty traffic jam caused him to finally become one with his seat. As well as the fantastically useful power to transform into a chair, Chairman Mao is also the driver of the Harmonious Societer’s awesome assault vehicle: The Audi!

Position: Driver and spare chair when visitors come round.

Uncurious George: Recently ousted from his position as CCTV’s number one children’s entertainer by his one-time friend Comrade Worker Mouse, the dead bonobo monkey who is dragged around by a piece of string has found his true call as a member of the Harmonious Societers Work Unit. Aided by a mysterious voiceover, Uncurious George helps the Harmonious Societers by controlling crowds and defeating enemies with his power to instil uncuriousity and acceptance of the status quo in all around him. In tight situations, he can also be picked up by his fellow team-mates and used to batter dissidents around the head. Uncurious George is rumoured to be diseased.

Position: Comic Relief, a bit like Snarf out of the Thundercats, but more Socialist.

Now grab hold of your seats, as it is time for the first instalment of (deep breath)…


(In Supermariovision)

Episode One: WTO-A-Go-Go!

(It is a peaceful day in the Huaishi City Government Office. Yang Wei, our hero, is in the middle of some very important affairs.)

Yang Wei: I’ve told you before, I require a minimum of seven cups of tea and two packets of cigarettes per hour. Don’t let me catch you slacking again, there are plenty of people out on the street willing to pour me tea for one yuan an hour, you know.

Work Han: This is very bad meaning Mr. Yang, please don’t take my job away from me. I need that one yuan an hour to pay for my monthly abortions.

Yang Wei: We Chinese have a saying, it goes: “And mind you never bring me Marlboro lights again”. I only smoke Zhongnanhai, Little Panda or Chunghwa, and don’t you forget it.

(The phone rings)

Yang Wei: What’s this? The Xi-Line is ringing! Looks like trouble is afoot! (Answers the phone) Yes, yes… trouble at mill, you say? No problem sir, this looks like a job for… Guanxi Gary!

(Yang Wei takes out a pair of black-rimmed glasses and puts them on. There is an almighty flash and Guanxi Gary appears where Yang Wei previously stood; looking exactly the same apart from a pair of glasses)

Guanxi Gary: Behold the awesome power of Guanxi! A power for which no foreign equivalent word exists, except, possibly, relationships. Or connections. I must summon my fellow Harmonious Societers immediately!

(Our four heroes are gathered in the prestigious and modern Harmonious Societer Work Unit. It has an unnecessary marble column, a woman stood by to open the door, and a thirteen year old Lenovo computer displaying a half finished game of Solitaire.)

Guanxi Gary: Fellow Harmonious Ones, it would appear that our glorious Motherland is again in mortal danger.

Suzy Wrong: Are the youth demanding their rights?

Chairman Mao: Are once formerly decent Communists celebrating Christmas?

Guanxi Gary: No, my friends. It would appear that our arch-nemesis has returned to cause more evil and destruction in our fair land. I’m talking about… WTO Man!

Suzy Wrong: The WTO is a corrupt and decadent organisation that only seeks to enslave the oppressed masses of China to foreign and Japanese imperialism. He must be stopped!

Chairman Mao: Nice lie, Suzy.

Suzy Wrong: Thanks, I used that one to pass my middle school exams.

Guanxi Gary: WTO Man has been spotted in Beijing attempting to deprive children of their Party-given right to produce counterfeit Lego. If he succeeds, I don’t need to remind you all what consequences we might face. Without child labour…

(He pauses for dramatic effect)

Guanxi Gary: …I’m afraid there will be no fireworks for Spring Festival.

All: No!

Chairman Mao: Wait a minute, I want to hear what Uncurious George has to say on the situation.

Uncurious George: (A mysterious voiceover emits somewhere from behind the dead monkey) I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY.

Guanxi Gary: Excellent choice of words Uncurious George. Now, without further delay… To the Audi!

(They all race to the front door. Unfortunately, the door-opening woman appears to have disappeared for her lunch break.)

Chairman Mao: Curses! Without anybody to open the door for us, it looks like we’re going to be delayed. Does anybody have a pack of cards?

(Three hours later, and the Harmonious Societers’ Assault Audi brakes to a halt in the middle of Tiananmen Square. WTO Man is stood in the middle of the square surrounded by young children.)

Chairman Mao: Bloody traffic, thought we would never get off that third ring road.

Suzy Wrong: Beijing has a modern and developed traffic infrastructure; it is perfectly capable of staging a modern and harmonious Olympic Games and hosting the Asia Pacific regional headquarters of many multinational companies.

Guanxi Gary: That’s right Suzy. Look! It’s WTO Man!

WTO Man: Hahahaha! You’re too late Harmonious Societers! In two minutes I’m going to ask these children to polish my shoes, and then I will pay each of them ten yuan for doing so! The whole world will soon see how child labour is rife in this country! Hahahaha!

Suzy Wrong: You’ll never get away with this. You do not enjoy that right under the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

WTO Man: Wrong again, Suzy Wrong. And just to make sure that you don’t spoil my handiwork, I’ve arranged a little surprise for you all!

(A huge rumbling starts, and Tiananmen Square begins to shake.)

Guanxi Gary: By the wart of Mao! Tanks! And they’re heading right for us!




(Brought to you by Omo: the washing powder of choice for all proletariat dictatorships.)

To be continued…


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.