It’s Raining

It must be because it rains so much in the UK that we have so many words to describe the event. This morning it wasn’t the first tweet of a bird that woke me but the hammering of rain drops on corrugated roofs. I arrived in the hospital and as I stood dripping in reception waiting for the lift a student walked up and, after a moment’s hesitation while he stared at the floor and constructed the sentence in his mind, he turned to me and said “today, it is raining dogs and cats very much.” That’s the beauty of language, it doesn’t really matter if you get the grammar all messed up, the meaning generally gets through. And before you start sniggering at his mangled effort, how would you say it in Mandarin then smartarse? Or French?
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Because I’m a physicist, people automatically assume I must like science fiction. I’m not really sure how they worked that one out but I’m pretty sure there is a bit of stereotyping going on. I never really got sci-fi, as a kid I read the occasional story, but no more so that other kinds of fiction. It was more a case of whether a story appealed to my imagination; I wasn’t interested in the carefully thought out science or engineering concepts. It wasn’t the faster than light gear that excited me, so much as the automatic doors and in ship communication system on the Enterprise. I think it was because it didn’t seem to require quite the same leap of logic as the transporter system.
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altar boy

As an altar server, Easter was a busy time for me. Particularly so given one of our priests had delusions of grandeur. To some extent, his ambitions were thwarted because church was built when our town was still a village and was of limited capacity. Easter is one of those times when all those Catholics who have fallen by the wayside briefly rediscover their faith and pile into the front pews at their local adopting a suitably pious expression. I may have only been twelve, but I had them sussed.

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Bling up your dead

You’ve probably read in one of the national rags that it’s tomb sweeping festival this weekend. Time to get the diesel generator out the garage and wheel it down to the local graveyard first thing in the morning along with the high pressure hose you bought for cleaning the lawn furniture. Best to beat the crowds; rest assured, it’s going to get busy down at the cemetery this weekend.
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5 years and counting

I first decided I wanted to come to China when we studied Chinese history at O level.  Everyone else did the traditional WW2 gig, for some reason our teacher decided on an alternative path.  We hurtled through the dynasties, paused for breath at the Boxer rebellion and rolled on to Mao Zedong (or Mao Tse-Tung before he changed his name) and Jiong Jieshi (the politician formerly known as Chiang KaiShek) before grinding to an abrupt halt at 2nd December 1949. It was if nothing of interest happened after that as far as the Oxford Examination Board was concerned.  We still had time left so we padded out our knowledge with British parliamentary reform in the 20th century.  I think our class must have had the most warped perspective of any examination candidates that year.

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a life a bicycle

I never would have thought it possible, but I think I could write a book about my bicycle. It wouldn’t be one of those naff Thomas the Tank Engine books, after all, how could you write a story about a bicycle. “Boris the Bicycle pulled up to the kerb and toppled over…” can’t really go anywhere with that. I was thinking more about a catalogue of failures and repairs that I have experienced since I walked up to the bicycle emporium and handed over the princely sum of 8 quid for my steed. Tall enough for someone of my gait, but still low enough I can get my feet on the ground in a hurry. It was a match made in heaven.

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Room Service

Since Sunday was the Lantern Festival I left my house at 6pm to give myself plenty of time to get to the airport for my 8.30pm flight.  I needn’t have worried, the flight got put back until 11.30pm so I didn’t arrive in Beijing until 1am.  Then I had to queue 30minutes for a taxi and didn’t get to my hotel until 2.15.
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I’m stuck at TianHe airport in Wuhan waiting for my flight to Beijing.  Usually I’m stuck in Beijing waiting for a flight back to Wuhan so it makes for a refreshing change.

With the sole exception of when I showed up for my interview and they sent a car for me, the only cars I’ve used in Wuhan in have been taxis.  Wuhan taxis aren’t like the ones in Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen, they look more like something out of Flight of the Phoenix, defying all odds.  Continue reading “taxi”

Windows 7

Been having a bit of tussle with my laptop the last couple of days.  I’m a Linux man but still use Windows (i) for word processing because it has good proofing tools for documents and (ii) the Tor version of the Mozilla web browser ( is only available as a precompiled package – I need this to open all the sites that are blocked in China.
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Heathrow Airport – you might have heard of it

I’ve just booked myself a ticket back home because I have to take care of some legal stuff.  I’d been trying to do it through the British Embassy in Beijing but because of the increased levels of bureaucracy I worked out it was cheaper to fly back to the UK to take care of it than to take multiple trips to the capital.  The latest wheeze from the boys behind the bulletproof glass was I needed my birth certificate which had to be requested from the UK, and could take anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks and even then, given the amount of pilfering that goes on in our mail room, there was little chance of it finally reaching me.
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