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.

THE EX-CHAIRMEN!

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
Questions?

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.

Book Review: Expat Jimmy by Travis Lee

expatjimmy

 

Within certain expat circles, stories about one’s first day in China are almost akin to stories about losing one’s virginity. There is a certain oneupmanship involved in trying to depict the first moments of one’s time within the Middle Kingdom that wouldn’t be out of place within a male locker room. Considering the physical symptoms of jet-lag that normally occur after a long-haul economy-class flight it’s amazing how few people readily admit to just falling straight asleep on their first day in China, but these are probably the same people who claim that the first time they had sex it was with their Double-D endowed babysitter and lasted all night till the bed broke.

(When people ask me about my first day in China I normally regale them with the tale of how I went alone to a hotpot restaurant and ate all of the food when it was still frozen as I didn’t know I was supposed to wait for the waitress to bring along the bowl of hot soup. That actually happened… but it was not until about three weeks after my arrival. If I was to tell them that my first day in China involved nothing more than a three hour wait in the airport for somebody to collect me followed by nothing more exciting than an early night and 45 minutes trying to translate the remote control for the air-conditioner than I imagine that they’d probably wander off bored and look for a Hunter S Thompson novel.)

Travis Lee may be known to long-term China expats as one of the occasional writers for the now defunct Lost Laowai blog. He has previously released a novella entitled The Seven Year Laowai which is a semi-autobiographical story about being an English teacher in the third-tier city of Wuhan and the strange types of fellow educator that is often found in these schools. Now Travis has released Expat Jimmy – another short story (very short, in fact) which acts as a spiritual prequel of sorts to his previous work.

travis
I (WAS) AN EDUCATOR!

Across its hundred or so ebook pages, Expat Jimmy details the first day in China of the aforementioned “Expat Jimmy”. Like the protagonist in The Seven Year Laowai, Jimmy appears to be a semi-autobiographical stand-in for the author – a fact he clarifies within some of his blog posts. Jimmy arrives in Wuhan and is shown around the city of Wuhan by long-term sexpat expat  and Head Teacher Adam. Throughout the long day they go through an implausible number of activities and places for just one day – let alone the first day in a new country fighting against tiredness and jet-lag. Jimmy visits a few bars, a nightclub, a KTV joint, a restaurant, the house of a Chinese family, the house of another foreign teacher who wishes to buy drugs, and even witnesses an attempted suicide on the streets. Compare this to my own list of activities that I accomplished last Sunday which is composed of nothing more than ordering a pizza and watching five back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad.

The amount of places visited is unrealistic, though I can understand that the author is trying to present an introduction to all the weird and wonderful aspects of life in China within the vehicle of a one-day timeline. It doesn’t quite work and there is almost a little too much happening within the one hundred pages of this story for it to settle in the reader’s head and leave an impression. In addition to the numerous places visited, there is also an underlying story of Adam’s past hinted at, as well as fears within the newly arrived teacher that he is setting out on the same path.

Travis is a good writer and has a knack for describing the feelings of emptiness and vague fear that are experienced by young rootless individuals seeking out meaning in a new set of surroundings. His characters all carry an air of being lost or searching for something that isn’t there to be found. There is an existential dread lurking in the background that I enjoyed. Both Expat Jimmy and The Seven Year Laowai have some great elements but I felt both were not quite the finished product. Now that Travis has some experience in writing I would like to see him perhaps combine his two stories into one whole and create a tale greater than the sum of its parts. I hope he can rise to the challenge.

Travis Lee blogs at http://www.travis-lee.org and Expat Jimmy can be found on Amazon.

***

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.

Ed U Cator: TEFL Detective. The Exciting Conclusion!

school-detective

Scene: The camera shows a sky-high view of the Number 8 Happy Giraffe Kindergarten. On the streets surrounding the Happy Giraffe Kindergarten are the usual detritus found nearby China’s junior academies of learning: namely, unscrupulous principals with bags full of ready cash and middle-aged TEFL teachers rolling on the floor clutching their hangover-induced aching heads. The camera zooms in on Officers Rocky Zhang and I Like World of Warcraft Liang who are stood by the main entrance.

Officer Liang: So, our detective friend has finally gotten over his mini-breakdown?

Officer Zhang: So he says. He sent me a message on WeChat last night. Here it is.

(Officer Zhang shows Officer Liang the message on his phone. It says “I’M FEELING BETTER NOW PLS COME OVER. PS DO YOU KNOW HOW I CAN ASK THE WOMAN IN THE DIY SHOP FOR NEW LIGHTBULBS?”)

Officer Liang: He sure likes to use capital letters.

Officer Zhang: Apparently the caps lock on his phone is broken.

Officer Liang: And why is it we have to meet him here? Can’t we just meet at the police station like normal procedure?

Officer Zhang: He told me that his school forces him to do “office hours” so he isn’t allowed to leave the building between classes. He’s got a spare hour now between Listening Comprehension and his 8th Grade Conversation class and he mentioned that he should be able to fit revealing the murderer of Tina Budong within that time.

Officer Liang: Right. Let’s get this over with then.

(The two policemen enter the school and make their way to a spare classroom that Detective Ed U Cator has set up as his investigation room. Within the room Detective Ed U Cator is stood in front of a whiteboard while three other adults are sat on chairs in the front row. Officers Zhang and Liang stand by the open door deliberating whether to knock first.)

Detective Cator: Come in! Come in! You’re five minutes late though so you’ll have to sing a song. Can you sing Jingle Bells for us?

Officer Liang: Fuck off.

Detective Cator: OK! Take a seat then. Now, let me introduce what we are going to be talking about today. I’ve created a short powerpoint presentation. Eyes forward!

(There then follows a twenty minute scene where the overhead projector fails to operate properly. Several hilarious scenes ensue: Detective Cator banging the laptop and getting increasingly angry; Detective Cator screaming down the corridor for someone from IT to help him; Detective Cator crying as a useless oxygen thief from the IT helpdesk just taps at the screen and repeatedly says “Uh? Uh?”; Detective Cator finally throwing the laptop out of the window and proclaiming that this kind of thing would never happen in a “proper” country.)

Detective Cator: Right, we’ll do this the old-fashioned way then. After analysing the evidence of the Tina Budong murder, I have established that it was only logistically possible for one of the other foreign teachers who live in the same seven storey walk-up to have committed the murder and escaped unseen to their respective apartment. I have gathered all of the foreign teachers here and will introduce them for the benefit of Officers Zhang and Liang.

(Detective Cator approaches the first teacher: a dishevelled looking specimen who has three empty bottles of erguotou already in front of him.)

Detective Cator: Bryan Scumis. 61 years old. Australian. After teaching TEFL in Saudi Arabia for twenty years he swore in 2013 that he would never return to the Kingdom but blew all of his cash in Thailand during one long hot summer. Forced to do “one last trip”, Bryan was unable to re-enter Saudi due to certain comments on his social media channels. China welcomed him. Bryan’s hobbies include drinking, online pornography, painkillers and white-water rafting. Say hello to everybody, Bryan!

Bryan: You can all go fuck yourselves (vomits).

bryan
Bryan

(Next, Detective Cator approaches what on first sight appears to be a stranded whale that has been covered in clothes by Greenpeace in an attempt to keep it warm. On closer inspection, it turns out to actually be an American woman.)

Detective Cator: Elly Mint-Fresh. 43 years old. American. Cis-gendered and unmarried. Identifies as “Gender Queer”. Teaches conversational English and second-wave feminism to six year olds. Was close friends with Tina Budong and both were working on setting up a regular slam poetry session at the local English Corner. Elly has told me that her preferred pronoun is “zhe”. Is there anything you’d like to say to the class, Elly?

Elly: DONT TOUCH ME, YOU RAPIST CUM-SKIN!

elly
Elly
(Finally, Detective Cator indicates the last foreign teacher: a young man in dated clothing who has a scruffy-looking goatee beard.)

Detective Cator: And here we have…

Teacher: Dzień dobry! Ah am der native Engerlish speaker!

Detective Cator: …erm, here we have “Kevin” who according to his CV is from Manchester in England.

Kevin: Tak! Ah am loving der Manchester footsballs! Eet always raining der dogs und cats een my hometown. Very rainy!

(A female student walking past the room looks up when she hears the word “rainy” but quickly scuttles away.)

Detective Cator: Kevin has told me that he enjoys collecting surplus military equipment and that his favourite film is The Human Centipede 2. Also, he told me that his name is not – absolutely not – Mateusz.

Kevin: It’s true! Fish und chips!

kevin
Kevin

Detective Cator:
Now, as part of my excellent TEFL Detective process I have utilised the finest detective methods known to mankind to eliminate the suspects and find out – resolutely and with no doubt – who was behind the brutal murder of Tina Budong.

Officer Zhang: Do you implement DNA testing within your process?

Officer Liang: Do you use advanced algorithms to calculate a rate of possibility?

Detective Cator: No! I simply asked each of the teachers to write me an essay of no more than 250 words explaining what they did on the evening of Tina Budong’s murder.

Officers Zhang and Liang: Ohhhhhhhh…….

Detective Cator: (Pulls out three exercise books and hands them back to the teachers) First up: Bryan Scumis. Please read out what you wrote for me.

Bryan: Darkness. Endless darkness. I tried drinking bleach tonight so that I don’t have to fuck around finding mixers for the erguotou. That fucking bitch upstairs is stomping around with her big fucking hooves again. She’s always sneering. Just like all the other white bitches. In Saudi they’d be burka’ed up and not allowed to speak. That’s how it should be. I’m gonna show her what…. That’s it.

Detective Cator: That’s it?

Bryan: Well, there’s more but I can’t read it ‘cos the page is covered in blood, cum and vomit.

Detective Cator: No problem, Bryan. Good effort. Elly?

Elly: (Stands up) On the evening of my friend Tina’s brutal murder I was, as always, at home working on my blog: “White men and their venomous impact on Asia”. Most importantly, I was busy putting the final touches to my lesson plans as unlike the other teachers in this school, I take my role as an educator of young minds quite seriously. This entire exercise is pointless and a demonstration of Detective Cator’s male privilege.

Detective Cator: OK, thank you. And… Kevin?

Kevin: Ah am sorry. Ah did not do der assignment. Ah was buzzy wiv reading der Shakespeare and watching der Human Centipede 2. Have you seen eet? Eet bardzo dobrze… ah mean eet very good! I like it.

Detective Cator: Officers, it should now be clear that one of these teachers is not telling the truth. One of these people gathered here is not who they claim to be. The one who is hiding the truth about their identity will undeniably also be the killer of the unfortunate Tina Budong.

(Everybody sits up straight in their chairs. The tension is high. All eyes are on Detective Cator.)

Detective Cator: The murderer of Tina Budong is…

(There is a suitably dramatic pause.)

Detective Cator: Elly Mint-Fresh!

Elly: What?

Detective Cator: That’s right – the clues are obvious. You’re a liar and have been hiding your real identity all this time!

Elly: What the fuck are you talking about you cis-gendered scum?

Detective Cator: Simple. Allow me to demonstrate.

(Detective Cator pulls out a marker pen and begins writing on the whiteboard.)

Detective Cator: In your statement you wrote that you were working on a blog entitled “White men and their venomous impact on Asia”. Any educator with even an ounce of training will know that although the word “impact” has in colloquial terms come to mean “to strongly influence”, this is technically incorrect. The verb form of impact means “to strike with force”, not “affect”. The noun form of impact can mean “to strongly influence” but the verb form cannot. Furthermore, you began the next sentence with the words “most importantly”. Within the established rules of adverbs, “importantly” means “in an important manner”, hence “most important” would be the correct construction in this case. A genuine English teacher who has been offered the privilege of teaching the young minds of China would know this; therefore you cannot be who you claim to be. Officers! Arrest this woman!

Elly: Noooo!

(Officer Zhang leaps out of his chair and clubs Elly Mint-Fresh around the head – knocking her unconscious. With the help of seventeen nearby police officers – who just happened to be around – they soon succeed in carting her comatose body to the police station. Bryan Scumis and Kevin leave the classroom with grins on their faces. Only Detective Cator and Officer Liang remain in the classroom. Officer Liang shakes the detective’s hand.)

Officer Liang: I have to hand it to you, Cator. I doubted your skills. I thought that English teachers were worthless members of society who had nothing to offer anybody, but you showed me today that I was wrong. Please accept this duty-free box of cigarettes and a bottle of Maotai as thanks.

Detective Cator: You’re welcome, Officer Liang. Just doing my job.

Officer Liang: Tell me, now that you have solved the case of the Tina Budong murder, what’s next for Detective Ed U Cator?

Detective Cator: (The camera zooms in for a close-up) A teacher’s work is never done, Officer Liang. Whenever there is need to sing the numbers one to ten to children: I will be there. Whenever there is a spare five minutes in a school’s New Year performance that needs filling by a foreign man singing the Little Apple song: I will be there. Most of all, whenever a young girl from the countryside absolutely must jerk off a man in exchange for 150 RMB: I will be there. Because, my friend, I am and always will be…

(The camera zooms in even more.)

Detective Cator: AN EDUCATOR!

(Exciting music. Closing titles.)

Caption: Next week’s episode – P is for… Paedo?

educator
Edward Ulysses Cator contemplates his future
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.

Ed U Cator: TEFL Detective

A new television detective drama brought to you by Arthur Meursault.

teacher-detective

Voiceover: In the aftermath of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, crime and despair had descended upon the once harmonious Middle Kingdom. Without the concept of a unifying effort to rally behind, moral decadence now gripped the hearts and minds of the descendants of the dragon. Terror stalked the lower tier cities. Dogs were raped. Women were eaten. The people cried out for a saviour, but the corrupt police were too busy with their banquets to listen.

An alternative was needed.

A search took place throughout the land for that one man who could help fight crime with astonishing powers of deduction and reason.

Eventually that man was found.

Unfortunately, he was immediately hit by a bus and died.

Instead, the only available hope was a new type of detective. A detective who had ample time to solve mysteries due to only being on a 15 hour per week contract with his school. That man was…

Detective Ed U Cator: TEFL Detective!

SCENE: Funky 70’s music plays over the backdrop of an urban tier-88 cityscape. It’s the type of music that makes a man want to grab a woman by a log fireplace and force her to caress his masculine chest hair. Suddenly a red sports car is seen pulling up beside a police station. The camera then totally ignores the sports car to centre on an overweight foreign man in his 40s riding on a beaten-up e-bike. Huge letters in an aggressive yellow font zoom out to announce the title.

TITLE: Edward Ulysses Cator is…

SUBTITLE: THE TEFL DETECTIVE

The foreign man on the bicycle pulls out a bottle of erguotou from his jacket pocket and takes a swig. After a brief sick, he turns to the camera and smiles. His yellow broken teeth demonstrate his Britishness.

TITLE: STARRING HUGH LAURIE AS DETECTIVE ED. U. CATOR

A montage of exciting scenes commences. Detective Cator handcuffing a trio of sex traffickers; Detective Cator singing in front of a Kindergarten; Detective Cator rolling over a car bonnet with a murderer in a headlock; Detective Cator stood in a Kindergarten office demanding to know why he hasn’t received his salary yet; Detective Cator firing a gun into a suitcase full of drugs; Detective Cator in front of a room of children crying over a photo of his ex-wife and kids who he hasn’t seen in 6 years.

A huge explosion fills the screen.

TITLE: TONIGHT’S EPISODE – M is for… MURDER.

SCENE: The camera opens on an average tier-88 police station. Faded posters cover the walls carrying bold statements like “REPORT A FOREIGNER TODAY” and “COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS A CRIME UNLESS APPROVED BY THE GOVERNMENT”. Behind sturdy wooden desks, several diligent police officers bravely do their part in the fight against crime by sleeping. However, two officers are awake: Officer Rocky Zhang and Officer I Like World of Warcraft Liang (English name chosen by himself). The two officers are inched over a series of grisly photographs depicting a murder scene.

Officer Liang: The facts still don’t make sense to me, Officer Zhang. For the sake of clarity, and needless exposition, would you mind just walking me through the details again?

Officer Zhang: No problem, Officer Liang. Even though it makes no sense why I would didactically recite the basic facts of a murder case to my close colleague when we’ve obviously been working on the case for some time, I shall proceed to do so.

Officer Liang: That’s what makes you a great police officer, Rocky!

Officer Zhang: Yes, that and my shoot-to-kill policy towards elderly Falun Gong practitioners. Anyway, let’s go over it again. Victim is a mid-twenties Caucasian female named Tina Budong who was grossly overweight by our harmonious standards. Her body was found at the stairwell of her apartment by an elderly neighbour who tried to recycle her. Cause of death appears to be either massive damage by a blunt weapon to her head and body, or a Pumpkin Spice Latte deficiency. Forensics aren’t sure yet. We’ve tried to analyse her intestines, but the pure vegan diet that this feminine expatriate adhered to has made it impossible for any of our laboratory team to be in the same room as her stool sample for more than one minute. So far we haven’t managed to find any further clues.

Officer Liang: It’s certainly a mystery. No leads. No clues. I just don’t know what we’re gonna do. If we don’t solve this case soon then the resultant loss of face for our department will be worse than that time the Chief of Police was caught in a cheap hotel room… with his wife.

Officer Zhang: (Shudders) The shame. A man of his seniority should never have contemplated sleeping with his wife. What was he thinking?

(The two officers sit silently for a moment)

Officer Zhang: You know, there is one man who might be able to help us. Have you heard about that new maverick laowai detective who assisted Officer The Diaoyu Isles are Ours Chen in the fake fake milk powder scam?

Officer Liang: Hmmm. You mean that fat freelance guy who worked out that the fake milk powder was actually real milk powder so the resellers were losing out on profit?

Officer Zhang: That’s the one!

Officer Liang: How did we find him again?

Officer Zhang: He was stood on Zhongshan Road handing out leaflets for No. 8 Happy Giraffe Kindergarten and on the back of the leaflets he had scribbled a note claiming that he was a freelance detective. Apparently he has a lot of time on his hands as he only has a 15 hour per week contract with his school. We could give him a call and get his take on the case.

Officer Liang: That’s not a bad idea, Rocky. Just do me a favour: make sure he comes over here to the station rather than we visit him. I know how these foreign teachers live and I don’t feel like walking up six flights of stairs in a grotty apartment that doesn’t even have an elevator.

Officer Zhang: I’m on it! I’ll send him a WeChat message right away…

school-detective

SCENE: A large interview room within the police station containing several empty desks and stools. Officers Zhang and Liang wait patiently upon the stools while smoking. A large whiteboard covers the front wall of the room covered in facts and details about the case.

Officer Liang: I thought you said he was due at 2pm? He’s already an hour late.

Officer Zhang: He sent me a message to say that he’d be late. His school re-arranged his schedule at the last moment without notifying him and he had to teach a bunch of special needs kids that pay double. He’s on his way.

Officer Liang: He’d better be. It took me all morning to write all those case details up on the board. If he…

(The door suddenly swings open and an overweight man in his mid-forties bounces into the room. Detective Cator has arrived)

Detective Cator: Hello everybody!

Officers Liang and Zhang: Erm…. hello?

Detective Cator: Hello! I’m Detective Ed U Cator! Do you know how to spell Ed U Cator?

(Detective Cator uses the edge of his food-stained sleeve to wipe off all the case notes that Officer Liang wrote on the whiteboard. He grabs a marker pen and replaces it with the words ED U CATOR in large letters)

Officer Liang: My notes!

Detective Cator: Ssssh, no talking in class. Now, I’m going to throw this small rubber ball around the room and when you catch it I’d like you to tell me your name and something interesting about yourself. Catch!

(He throws a small ball towards Officer Zhang)

Officer Zhang: Erm… My name is Officer Zhang Lei, but you can call me Rocky. I am a police officer. My hobbies are eating and sleeping, do you know it?

Detective Cator: Very good, Rocky. Now pass the ball over to your friend there.

(Officer Zhang flips the ball to Officer Liang who throws the ball to the ground in disgust)

Officer Liang: We’ve no time for this – there’s a woman dead in the autopsy room and we need to find the killer. We need your help Cator, but if you cock up then it’s my ass on the line. You understand? Your cock-up – my ass!

(Officer Zhang flashes his colleague a brief look of confusion)

Detective Cator: Don’t worry! I am not just a teacher – I am Ed U Cator! And I will solve this as easy as A, B, C…

Officer Liang: That’s a relief to hear, Cator.

Detective Cator: …D, E, F, G…

Officer Liang: Erm… you can stop now.

Detective Cator: …H, I, J…

Officer Liang: Stop it!

Detective Cator: Oh, ok. Sorry about that. Sometimes it’s hard to forget about the day job. Show me the facts.

Officer Zhang: (He places some photos of the corpse in front of the Detective) This is the victim, Sir. One Tina Budong. American citizen. Had been in China for only six months. Her body was found like this.

Detective Cator: I see. She was obviously attacked in a very vicious fashion. I can see that there has been massive damage to the heads, shoulders, knees and toes.

Officer Zhang: And the eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose.

Detective Cator: Hmmm. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes… knees and toes. What could it mean?

Officer Liang: Do you think you can help?

Detective Cator: It won’t be easy, but I think that it’s possible. With a case this serious I’ll have to create my own lesson plan first. I just hope that the school photocopier is working. Give me a call in two days and I’ll let you know what I’ve deduced. In the meantime, I’d like you both to write 250 words about your hometown. Now you’ll have to excuse me gentlemen, one of my students is waiting outside and I need her to help top up my phone credit.

(Detective Cator leaves)

Officer Liang: Mao damnit… are you sure about this guy?

Officer Zhang: I know he’s eccentric, but they say he’s one of the best. (He picks up a pen and opens his notebook) How do you spell “delicious” in English? I want to write about the sweet and sour chicken in my hometown.

Caption: Two days later…

Scene: Back in the police station. Officers Zhang and Liang are back behind their desks.

Officer Liang: Where the hell is he? He was supposed to report to us today on his findings!

Officer Zhang: I’m not quite sure. Officer The Diaoyu Isles are Ours Chen did warn me that sometimes Detective Cator gets a bit depressed and can sometimes go quiet. He did leave me a voicemail at three o’clock in the morning though.

Officer Liang: Who the fuck leaves voicemail? Anyway, let’s hear it.

(Officer Zhang pulls out his phone, accesses his voicemail and puts it to speaker)

Voice of Detective Cator: (The voice is very slurred) Wei, wei, wei, wei, wei, wei? Fucking wei! That’s all you bastards ever say. Wei, wei, fucking wei! I fucking hate this place. I fucking hate this job. I’m Ed U Cator! I’m fucking better than this, you fucking cunts. Eight yuan for erguotou? It tastes like fucking piss. Fucking school. Don’t trust these cunts. I wouldn’t be teaching these fucking brats if that whore wife of mine hadn’t left me. Barbara! Why? Whhhhyyyy? I loved you! Just let me speak to the kids. Just once. Pleeeasssse. Fucking Chinese fucking…

Officer Zhang: (Hitting mute) It goes on like that for another twenty minutes. I guess he meant to call somebody else.

Officer Liang: Hmmm. I’ll give him two more days to let him recover. He’d better come up with some results fast though, otherwise I’ll be taking a very close look at his work visa. A very close look indeed.

Voiceover: Will Detective Ed U Cator catch the foul murderer? Has Detective Ed U Cator been working illegally on a tourist visa? And just how will he stretch his measly teaching salary to cover his alcohol expenses? Find out in the next thrilling episode of Ed U Cator: TEFL DETECTIVE!

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.

White working-class men aren’t allowed to write poetry… but here’s some anyway.

emopoet
Pretty accurate

A few months ago I had the pleasure of throwing myself back into that most enjoyable of activities: moving house. Moving house is always a wonderful exercise – my favourite aspect is always dealing with those efficient and responsive people who work at some of the globe’s finest internet service providers. It has been a few years since I last moved house so I was astonished at how much their service level has improved in the interim. This time it only took me four months to successfully relocate my internet connection.

While going through boxes of junk, I stumbled upon some note books from my younger years. Immediately upon opening the books a dark cloud of self-indulgent adolescent emotion flew out of the pages and infected my surrounding neighbourhood. A group of passing teenagers were unfortunately quite badly contaminated and have now got heavily into grunge music and experimenting with razor blades.

Now, everybody knows that white working-class men aren’t allowed to write poetry. The art is solely reserved for those with better families, better educations and better connections. There may have been a time in the more aspirational 1950s, ’60s and ’70s when bright young talents were plucked out of their council estates and given a chance at a better life by admitting them into a Grammar School, but thankfully we live in more enlightened times today. The Arts are firmly back in the hands of the bourgeoise, with the exception of a few publishing deals and scholarships thrown to ethnic minorities and women to make everybody feel better. We are so lucky to be living on the right side of history, aren’t we?

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I took this photo. The following Wednesday I popped my head round to see what these drama classes entailed and it was just an empty room with two women having a conversation about whether they needed to print more flyers.

Browsing through some of my younger self’s poems, I discovered that the exact same realisation had occured to me over fifteen years ago. Here’s one poem that I remember writing after watching a bunch of overly-privileged luvvies slapping each other on the back on BBC2’s Late Review and telling each other how wonderful they all were.

Fuck Byron

I will not see my father die,

On a deathbed he won’t lie,

And I’ll not hear his final sigh,

I’ll work instead.

I will not meet the perfect girl,

We’ll never dance, we’ll never twirl,

No poems on her hair that curls,

That’ll be unsaid.

More with a slapper I’ll get pally,

And fumble in a backstreet alley,

She’ll notch me on her bedpost tally,

Perhaps I’ll pay.

And as children we never played,

But wondered who would first get laid,

We never skipped along the glade,

That would seem gay.

Scenes like this aren’t for the masses,

They’re only enjoyed by upper classes,

Or in the heads of literary asses,

A false concept.

So I’ll not hold my dying dad,

He wouldn’t want that from his lad,

I’ll go to work and feel sad,

And soon forget.

Looking back on that poem I can’t believe how woefully immature I was back then. Just look at that pathetic usage of metre, rhythm, verse and rhyming. Here in #2017 I now know that proper poetry should be blank verse, contain no rhyme, and is only fit for publishing if it mentions homosexuality, the suffragettes or racism: preferably all three.

Still, talent I may not have possessed, but foresight seems to have been mine. Here’s one poem that analysing my life so far has turned out to be stunningly accurate and probably will continue to remain so.

The Evolution of Man

At one he didn’t know what to think.

At ten he wanted to conquer the world.

At twenty he wanted to conquer the girl he adored.

At thirty he wanted to conquer the job he abhorred.

At forty he wanted to conquer his children’s ambition.

At fifty he wanted to conquer his medical condition.

At sixty he wanted to conquer his world.

At seventy he didn’t know what to think.

Any example of poetry written by young people wouldn’t be complete without some good old-fashioned emo-wallowing on not getting enough sex – it’s the stuff that indie band dreams are made of. I wasn’t cool enough to join a band or learn how to play guitar, so I wrote crap poetry instead. Here’s a couple of examples, again containing that pesky use of verse and rhyme. Don’t worry though readers – I’ve since matured considerably and brushed up on my Maya Angelou. Now I finally understand what great poetry should be.

Old Man Love

Here he comes, Old Man Love,

With helmet of steel and an iron glove.

He comes on a horse as black as the night,

Fiery eyes gleaming and burning bright.

With weapons of sex, passion and lust,

He reduces strong men into nothing but dust.

Hunting’s his game, the thrill of the chase,

Breaking men’s hearts by swinging his mace.

Trailing behind are the hearts he has gained,

Each one blackened, shattered and strained.

Slowly he counts them, one by one,

Spearing them all until they’re all gone.

The day’s work is done, he has enough hearts,

Steadying his horse he turns and departs.

Tomorrow he’ll be back to collect even more,

Be careful, my friend, avoid Old Amour.

USING A FRENCH WORD?!?!?!?! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?!

The Dead Man at a Wedding

A friend of mine

Whom I had not seen for a long time

Invited me to his wedding yesterday

I went, but it wasn’t easy

For you see, I was dead

I had been dead for some time

It was terribly inconvenient

But I went anyway

A dead man went to a wedding

In the church I sat on the back row

Decomposing slowly down the pew

And as the couple exchanged vows

When two became one

I slowly fell apart

Letting the worms nibble away my insides

Later the bride threw the bouquet

It came flying my way

But I could not catch it

Because I was dead

So it just bounced off my side

Knocking an eyeball out as it did so

The meal afterwards was nice

Though I could not eat anything

For the food just fell through me

And littered the floor

The best man’s sister also complained

That my stench was putting her of her food

So I sat and rotted on the verandah…

… for a little while.

I did not stay for the disco

My dead legs aren’t used to dancing

My friend thanked me for coming

Though his wife didn’t look so sure

She did not like to see

A dead man at her wedding

I caught a taxi home

Lowered myself back into my grave

I left my piece of wedding cake

By the side of my headstone

And let the rats devour it

I haven’t been invited to the Christening

That last example is actually not too bad. You can see that by that time I had discarded punctuation and any attempt at rhyming. Perhaps if I had carried on with the poetry I might have finally mastered the art form and stopped using capital letters too.

Well, that’s enough poetry for one day. Since this is still for the time being a supposedly China-centric blog, I guess it would be wrong of me not to include at least one example of one of my failed efforts at writing a China themed poem. Here you go. In all honesty though: this one is genuinely terrible. Author Simon Clode will enjoy the pot noodle reference though.

The Centre of the World

Dust, dirt, sandstorms and grime,

Dry stinking streets covered in slime,

Discarded pot noodles, packets of tea,

Beijing is really getting to me.

No electricity, everything dim,

Wheezing buses packed to the brim,

A million taxis go BEEP BEEP BEEEE,

Beijing is really getting to me.

People wanting you only for cash,

Others pestering for an English class,

Selfish strangers are sending me crazy,

Beijing is really getting to me.

Life without any deep, happy meaning,

Cheaters smiling but lacking in feeling,

This desert decay makes me feel empty,

Beijing is really getting to me.

Join me next week on this blog when I’ll go back to acceptable topics for white working-class men to write about; namely football, tits, and how fucking terrible they are and how they deserve to be wiped out.

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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.

This week’s HOT TOPIC: Which is better? Deng or Dung?

Hello Gemerrs!

Over the celebration of the Christ child’s birth, I got the chance to visit lots of rural areas in under-developed countries. When not being asked to give money to perfectly healthy looking people, the one thing that I noticed is that I saw a lot of shit. And I mean A LOT. So much shit that I thought it was going out of fashion. Surrounded by such sheer amounts of shit everyday I couldn’t help but ponder on the following question…

Which is better? Deng Xiaoping or actual cow dung?

During my 4th seven-hour bus journey to nowhere I actually gave some serious thought to this.

In 1949, Mao Zedong told the Chinese people to stand up. Then, in the mid 1970s, Deng Xiaoping told them to sit down again… and perhaps enjoy a glass of fine wine. Ever since that fateful day, the Chinese people of the world (mostly based in China) have been free to earn money, go for handjobs in massage parlours, and exploit black people – just like their privileged evil white male cousins. And they’ve been doing it very well. United Nations League Tables this year have shown that China is ranked 7th in the world for earning money, and 1st for illicit handjobs! Racial persecution is still slightly lacking though: China was listed a disappointing 29th, getting beaten slightly by the Solomon Islands.

Truly, Deng Xiaoping was a great man – but would we have seen the same results with just a piece of cow dung in charge of the Politburo? I’ve identified several key areas where the merits of both Deng and dung can be evaluated. So who will win? 4ft 7 inches tall Deng from Sichaun Province, or a three inch long piece of shit straight from a cow’s arse?

Let’s see!

Round one: Smoking

Deng: 80 a day man Deng Xiaoping was truly the smoking man’s Chairman. Never seen without a packet of Chunghwa in his hand, Deng would often entertain fellow world leaders by smoking up to fifteen cigarettes at one time, whilst blowing smoke rings in the form of Idi Amin’s late mother. Deng also spread the joy of nicotine addiction to millions more within China: by lowering the legal smoking age to just three months in the womb! Deng Xiaoping: with our yellow, nicotine-stained hand, we salute you!

Dung: Anyone who has ever been to a completely organic farm in the Philippines will testify; nothing steams and smokes quite like a freshly laid turd. Once mistaken by the early Celtic tribes of Britain as manifestations of God, cow shit will continue to give off a pleasantly smelling sulphuric mist, until it dries up and goes all hard. The steam emitted from a fresh “moo’ers egg” is so strong, that Napoleon actually covered his ships in layers of shit in order to disguise his navy beneath a layer of mist. Shit’tastic!

Verdict: Due to his ability to smoke not only cigarettes, but also cigars, cigarellos, and erections; Deng Xiaoping wins the smoking round hands down.

Deng 1 Dung 0

Round two: Rotting

Deng: A bit of a latecomer to the wacky world of decomposing; Deng only really started rotting seriously after his death in 1997. Though some of his critics would say that his post-1989 policies were already lifeless and irrelevant, and that his rule has helped to keep in power a corrupt and out-of-touch gerontocracy, Deng only has a history of about twenty years of being genuine wormfood. The man from Sichuan has also lost out to Chairman Mao in the rotting stakes: Deng Xiaoping was cremated after his death, whilst Mao’s rotting corpse continues to pollute the atmosphere in Beijing. A poor performance from the late dictator in this round.

Dung: When it comes to slowly decomposing, breaking down chemically, and emitting nauseous gases: cow dung really is the shit. It’s brown, smelly, and rots in the ground. If I hadn’t already made a cheap joke about Idi Amin’s late mother, I would have just done another one there. In fact, cow dung is so good at fertilising, it was once number one on in the UK for a record 37 weeks under the pseudonym “Bryan Adams”.

Verdict: Cow dung thoroughly trounces Lao Deng in the rotting round, leaving Xiaoping looking timid in the corner and covered in poo.

Deng 1 Dung 1

Round three: Chinese characteristics

Deng: Our Deng is as Chinese as rice, pandas, and female infanticide. One little known fact, is that not only was he born in China, but Deng Xiaoping could also speak Chinese, cook Chinese food, and is rumoured to have held a number of posts on the Chinese government later in life. Mr. Xiaoping loved China so much, that during the Cultural Revolution he actually jumped out of a window so that he could be closer to the Chinese soil. His three children, Cathay, Middle Kingdom, and Sick Man of the East, are all named after the country he loved. When once asked at a state function in 1987 what his favourite country was, his famous reply was “Probably China”.

Dung: Pathetic. Cow dung displays about as much Chinese characteristics as Big Macs, the French, and rational thinking in the face of justified criticism. Let’s look at the facts: Can’t use chopsticks. Doesn’t like Chinese food. Has no concept whatsoever about “One Country, Two Systems”. Doesn’t take selfies. Can’t name even one Chinese dynasty. Doesn’t harass westerners on the streets of Beijing for free English lessons. It’s about time somebody went up to Mr. Cow Poo and told him: “If you don’t like China, you can go home!” That’ll show him.

Verdict: Following in the footsteps of Fu Manchu, Ming the Merciless, and Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid films, Deng Xiaoping shows his Chinesey-ness with pride. Cow dung, on the other foot, just proves itself to be a running dog of the imperialist, capitalist, scum.

Deng 2 Dung 1

Winner: DENG XIAOPING! Well done Sir!

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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 Pigeon Responds!

It’s Chinese New Year… which means the arsenal of fire crackers exploding outside my door make it impossible to compose a proper blog post. Plus, several discounted bottles of baijiu are also not helping the cause.

So, in place of a carefully crafted series of witty bon mots, instead we pass this week’s soap box to one Simon Clode – author of the book The Last Flight of the Pigeon that was reviewed here last week. You may recall that I dissected this prose as particularly and peculiarly Partridgean… and Simon has responded in the same vein. Rather than cut-and-paste his response to my review here, I instead encourage you to pop over to his blog and take a look at it yourself. It’s a masterclass on how to reply to book criticism.

Now where did I put that baijiu? I’m feeling dangerously sober…

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Celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Cock by purchasing my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that also features a giant Chinese cock. It was meant to be.