6-year-old nephew cries out loud: I want some whiskey too!!
Brother replies: -Sure...but do you remember what happened last time you had a sip of whiskey?
- I vomited.
- Do you still want some?
So it was with a sickly feeling (which had nothing to do with my booze consumption yesterday) that I received and slowly opened my new passport. And alas, there it was, the photo that shall follow me for the next ten years (or until I lose another passport), and I look just like Zombie Barbie having a stroke.
The camera has caught me in such an amazingly freaky stare that if I met myself in a dark alley, I would scream and run away.
I suppose it could be worse.
I have a French friend who texts me with an accent. If it was anyone else, I would assume they are just making fun of themselves but this guy is not one to do so. He also has the most amazing ability to make his text messages sound just as irrationally and passionately upset that only the French can get.
"No, no, no, no...it is u woo is ze opeless one, I ave ze next 3 evenings off..."
I really quite like it.
I think I might start texting in Swenglish: "Hallaaa. My neim is Inga, ja!"
I had an evening of badness yesterday. I don't want to talk about it. Instead I'll tell you about another dumb thing I once did.
In 2000, sitting on a train between Murmansk and St Petersburg, I stroke up a conversation with group of Russian soldiers. They were on their way to Chechnya, I was going back to St Petes.
Thinking it could be cool/educational/interesting to keep in touch with one of them, I gave him my address. I gave him my address as in "write me a letter". He assumed I gave him my address as in "come for a visit"...which is obviously what he did!
The evening after the train ride, he appeared on my doorstep with flowers, champagne and cake.
What happened next is a bizarre story of badness, stakeouts, hiding, the Queen of Lalaland (my flatmate) loudly protesting that she does not feel comfortable lying to a Russian sniper, and H appearing like some sort of deus ex machina to be greeted by "shit, get down on the floor and stay away from the windows".
When it was all over, and sniper boy was finally on his way to Chechnya, the Queen of Lalaland was asked how she dared living with me considering the company I kept. "At least my life isn't boring" was her general response, adding "and he brought champagne!".
This is what is generally referred to as the "incident with the Russian sniper". So now you know!
I don't worry about getting older, really I don't! I like the wisdom and respect that each year brings.
My subconscious seems to be in a state of alert, however, and keeps popping up to make me aware of the fact that I am about to add another year to my age.
Wherever I look, something or someone is there, suggesting disadvantages to growing old. One of my students asked me not IF I was going to go on botox...but WHEN. One suggested that if I really feel the need to tell everyone how old I am, perhaps I should lie about my age by some 5 years. Outside my front door, the hospital opposite has hung an enormous sign celebrating the plastic surgery department's 10 year anniversary.
I don't care. ID Marie should shut up. Marie Super-Ego is 32 tomorrow and happy about it!
Peter Englund is a brilliant Swedish Author and Historian. In a recent interview he was asked the standard likes/dislikes question. His reply for favourite beverage was:
Tea. If I drink alcohol I do so to get drunk.
It reminded me of an old friend, who would refuse to go to a parties with us if we weren't on for a full night of drinking.
He used to claim that he lived according to a Yoda-esque philosophy on life; you either do or do not, there is no trying.
I used to claim that he was a bloody alcoholic and just wanted to drag the rest of us down with him.
There are many advantages of being a head taller than everyone else. You don't, for instance, find yourself breathing into someone's armpit while travelling on the underground.
One problem, though, is the Chinese insistence on stopping in the middle of the road. If you are walking down a crowded street, you have to keep walking. If you really need to stop, you move to the side before doing so. Everyone knows this, surely!
It seems I'm completely out-of-sync with the Chinese walking style. I walk much faster and because I'm tall (and often have my head in the non-literary clouds) I don't notice much what goes on at ant level. When someone stops right in-front of me, I inevitably walk straight into them. This happens every day, sometimes more than once. It's frustrating.
If you find that a conversation is moving in a direction you're not entirely happy with, you can keep the advantage by using a technique I call deflection.
This is easier done on men as their response tend to be more predictable (apologies for generalising).
There are 4 deflection techniques that I frequently use:
1. Move the attention away from yourself by providing a worse example.
- So you've spent five years and thousands of pounds on a university degree to end up in a job you can get qualified for through a two-week course in Thailand?
- My barman is a Neuroscientist! (this is true, he is!)
2. Change the topic of conversation to one he could not possibly win.
- Marie, have you SEEN the credit card bill this month?
- Does this dress make me look fat? Be honest!
3. Use sex to make him lose focus.
- Marie, how many pairs of shoes have you bought this month?
- You know how you were saying that you'd like to me to get one of those slutty nurse's uniforms...
4. Run away
- We need to talk
-Wohoooo...there's my bus, gotta run!
Today's teaching material is on workplaces and prepositions. I work in a hospital, on a farm etc. In addition to a long and useful list of examples, the authors have added in a mine. This is good-to-know stuff but I promise that not ONE of my students will know what a mine is. This is Hong Kong...if you ask someone where gold comes from they'll say "the shop".
I'm simply going to claim that a mine is where Prada handbags come from.
The irony is that only a week ago I commented on the fact that HK men are so used to women taking the initiative, you'd even be grateful for the attention of a stalker!
Well, be careful what you wish for, I say! As of Friday evening I have one. In my defence I want to point out that I did nothing to encourage it. It was a brief bar conversation that unfortunately had me reveal where I live in enough detail to work out the exact address. My stalker was also cunning enough to get my phone number of someone in that bar. It's not a well-guarded secret so there are plenty of suspects!
Some 15 text messages, 5 phone calls and one early Sunday morning knock on my door, have left me feeling a little bit uneasy about the whole situation. Especially as my Sunday morning "No, you can't come in. I don't drink coffee and I don't like people just showing up at my doorstep" did nothing to discourage him.
The ironic thing is that P always used to say "you're not exactly Sjarapova". Well, it seems some people think I am! An ugly version perhaps, but still!
Canada, Slovakia, Belarus, Hungary and Philippines
After a long, warm shower you slide into clean, crisp bedlinen under a duvet just warm enough to keep you perfectly comfortable. Every tired part of your body relaxes; from your heavy eyelids to your silly-shoes-maltreated feet. Sleep is only seconds away.
This is when you notice that despite having already flossed, a tiny bit of a strawberry is still stuck between your teeth. Do you get up?
The singer in Tonix is the father of the girl I was best friends with in school. This is how I ended up on the door VIP list during numerous Tonix gigs at the mere age of 14.
I don’t remember it being much fun hanging around a bunch of drunken adulterous grown-ups. It was more the case of popping in to get a hot dog, then going back out again where cool teenage boys on mopeds fed us beer, often followed by some snogging-behind-a-tree.
Those were the days!
"Ouch, ouch! Get me out of here, man. I'm frying!"...but in Chinese, of course!
It has been pointed out to me that:
"Mark Six has 49 numbers (1 - 49), not 50.
The statistical probability of picking 6 randomly drawn numbers from 49 are 1 in 13,983,816 against 15,890,700 for 50 numbers.
Your readers deserve quality fact checked journalism!!!!!!!!!!"
I apologise! The "word of the week" in my training centre will next week be "pedantry". You inspire me in so many ways ;)
That the Hong Kong Chinese are racists is never more evident than whilst travelling on public transport. The seat next to me is always the last to be filled, with some even opting to stand rather than to sit down next to an evil white person.
I'm used to this by now and don't think much of it. This morning, however, as I looked up from my book, I was surprised to see about 120 people standing, but the seat next to me was still empty. I looked down on the seat to see if there was actually something wrong with it. There wasn't. I then glanced up at the person sitting on the left of the empty seat. My eyes fell upon the smiling face of an Indian man.
- Do you think it's you or me? he asked.
It's a shame that there wasn't a black guy around as well so we could have had the whole train to ourselves!
S emailed me re So how did you guys meet? with his own suggestions for far worse ways to meet than online:
- She was my arresting officer.
- I picked her from the catalogue of "Beautiful Tajikistan Brides-4-You (2008)".
- I woke up and she was just...like......there.
- In rehab.
- At a Ferret Fetishists Meeting.
I'd like to add:
- We met at a nudist summer camp. It was love at first sight!
As I arrived at work this morning I found the topic of today's workshop to be "Text Messaging". Dreading the answer, I asked myself if it could really be the case that I am to be teaching the language bastardisation that SMS English is. It was "yes", naturally.
When it comes to this linguistic abomination, I'm a dinosaur. I write my text messages in complete and correctly punctuated sentences. I find it off-putting to read messages with 4, U, C and whatever else lazy people write. Nor do I understand the abbreviations. I have to Google most of them. It's only a few weeks ago that I found out what "lol" means. Twice I have asked my brother "what do you mean, brb?", only to get annoyed that he has left the chat without telling me.
However, as I am now to be teaching this, I decided to dive into the world of one-letter words and searched out a list of those commonly used. I have to admit that some are rather clever. I am also amused at the originality of rude comments. The list is, in fact, so full of rudeness that I felt compelled to check with my manager that it wasn't too much even for one of my classes (I never shy away from teaching "conversational" English ). He was kind enough to point out that I might want to remove the ones that I don't want to have to explain in class. Hence btycl (booty call) quickly disappeared!
1. First time I heard of the concept “mock Tudor” I thought it meant "bagpipe player".
2. In Russia I had a pet cockroach called Igor.
3. It takes me 22 min to get ready in the morning. If I’m in a hurry I can cut the time down to 10 min – this still includes a shower.
4. I have 84 pairs of shoes…not including boots or trainers.
5. I take the radio quiz Melodikrysset almost every week.
6. I was once invited to join my friend the Prince of Congo to a bbq at Gordon Brown’s house, but I didn’t go because I had a really wicked hangover!
7. I’ve never attempted a handstand, not even against a wall.
I've just had a brief chat about whether or not people should have cover stories for how they met, if it happened to be online.
I think that online dating is probably the most honest way to meet someone. You exchange a few emails, meet up, hopefully have a nice evening and become at least friends.
Owning up to the fact that you met online can in no way be more embarrassing than hooking up with someone in a bar, get drunk and end up in bed with a guy you don't know the first thing about.
Or even worse, meet someone at say, a Tory Party event, get drunk and exchange phone numbers...who would ever want to own up to meeting like that?
No wait, that's how I met my ex!
I've had my family over for a week. It's been really nice to have them here, although a bit of a challenge speaking Swedish every day (I'm crap!).
My auntie is a frequent reader of this blog. This means that whenever I start telling a wee story about something that's happened to me recently...she already knows! It's nice but rather strange. I have decided to hold back on some stories for next time so I can have some original material for her.
It doesn't happen every day but occasionally I read Barometern, the local newspaper of the town where I grew up. The Editors of Barometern are superstars at putting life back into perspective. Today's news are:
- There are people on the Internet who commit fraud.
-A man bought a bicycle four months ago and now it's rusting.
-It's been snowing.
I've been discussing with my manager whether or not we should be allowed to slap our students into becoming better people!
I have one student, a woman in her 30s, who has been coming to introduction classes for 3 months and still claims she cannot understand "the dog is in the street".
We all know that she understands, she knows that we know that she understands...but she has entered into some sort of teenage rebellious stage where she's just too cool for school.
This is where I think a slap in the face would be suitable...for her own sake, obviously!
A very serious looking, uniform-clad Mr Health Inspector came and knocked on my door today.
-Your AC unit is leaking water.
- No, it's not. It's the AC unit on the 7th floor that leaks. It drips onto mine, so it looks like it's coming from here but really, it isn't.
- No, there's no one at home on the 7th floor so it must be yours.
- Well, it's 11 am, perhaps you should try them this evening.
- No, is yours.
- Ok, well why don't you come in and have a look.
The serious man inspects the AC and concludes that the water is indeed from the 7th floor.
- Ok, so you need to arrange additional drainage for the AC.
- But mine's not leaking. Surely the people on the 7th floor have to deal with this.
- They are not at home.
-What, like never?
- What do you mean?
- Can't you just leave them a note?
- Ah, yes a note. Ok, ok.
- Great. Thanks for stopping by!
With mind-blowing special effects (just look at the youtube clip) and a story-line that would make Tolstoy green with envy, V just rocked my 80s world.http://hk.youtube.com/watch?v=VObQfWMgmIM
A bit of trivia for you: in the first series, the first language spoken by the Visitors is Swedish. Once the flying saucers have landed(?) an announcement is made through a speaker phone. I believe the first words spoken are "God Afton", which means Good Evening. I think the first meeting took place day-time, so that wouldn't make sense at all...but it's been over 20 years so perhaps I'm mistaken on this point. I'm certain that it was Swedish though!
However, I did recently apologise to a friend for only ever calling her when I am drunk stupid. She replied that it was perfectly ok - better pissed than never!
I gave in and bought one of the mega machines that "also plays CDs". It seems to play every modern format of music known to man (although not necessarily to Marie) out of 5 speakers and something called a sub-woofer (when did this become a word?). I quite like that in addition to being "also a CD player", it is also a radio!
Hooking it up yesterday I was rather pleased with the sound quality. However, I only managed to get sound out of 2 speakers and the sub-woofer-thingie. I will have to troubleshoot today or if worse comes to worst...call a man!
Flat hunting in Hong Kong can be quite depressing. I've had to add new criteria to my search.
Perhaps I am just being difficult. More flat hunting on Saturday!
I am not getting through to people any longer. I don't know what I am doing wrong.
In India I had the following conversation:
I would like a taxi driver for the day, please. I am going to Khan Market for a few hours, then Imperial Hotel for lunch, then back here.
Ok, so you can visit the Red Fort in the morning.
No, I only want to go to Khan Market and Imperial Hotel
But you have time to visit the Red Fort.
Yes, but I don't want to.
But there's plenty of time, it's berry berry interesting.
I only want to go to Khan Market and Imperial Hotel.
If you leave at 8.30, 2 hours at Red Fort, then your driver will take you anywhere. It's all included in the price.
Thank you. I only want to go to Khan Market and Imperial Hotel.
So you don't want to go to the Red Fort?
Are you sure, it won't cost extra.
Thank you, I'm sure.
I am now viewing flats. My main criteria is UNFURNISHED. Otherwise I'm easy. This morning I viewed a flat in Sheung Wan.
This flat is furnished.
Yes, you want unfurnished?
Yes, it says so right there in your papers.
But the furniture is very nice. Very contemporary.
Yes, but I already have furniture.
Maybe you can fit your furniture too?
No chance. Can they remove the furniture?
Oh, no can do. Why don't you sell your furniture.
No, I like them.
Ok-la. I have one more apartment in this building. Let's go see!
5 min later.
This flat is furnished
...(feel free to continue the dialogue - I have no strenght left)
That was all!