Kids Say The Funniest Things!

Teaching my kids the word ‘tell’ I asked the class if anyone could tell me a secret.  Cherry, a boisterous nine-year old stood up and yelled “A boy in my class is disabled.  He is very, very ugly.”  Lost for words I merely gawped and quickly moved on to the next bit of vocab.  After class I was heading for the office when another kid from a different class pointed at me and yelled “black man!”  Either racist or blind, or both, the kid continued to chant this while I tried to vain to shut him up.  Political correctness doesn’t work here.  For one, they don’t do politics.  For two, they have a top selling brand of toothpaste called Darlie, which translates as Black Man toothpaste.

The logo as you can see, consists of a smiling black man in a top hat.  Unbelievable.  It’ll be a while before anyone here gets in trouble for calling a woman ‘dear.’  (Referring of course to David ‘Pistachio’ Cameron and his horrendously sexist and demeaning slur).



This Easter weekend I got bored at school until I found my work-mate’s passport photo.  It is ridiculous.  He looks like he’s auditioning to be a kids TV presenter, or he’s doing cabaret on a cruise.  So I spent a fair while photocopying the pic and doing this:

And this:

And these: 

All in all there were about twenty stuck up around the school for when he arrived.  He was really chuffed.

Football Vs Egg Chasing

Last week I witnessed the clash of the footballing titans that are Shanghai FC and Sydney FC in the Asian Champions League.  Hongkou Football Stadium was awash with about 6000 Shanghai fans and about zero traveling Sydney fans.  Despite this the atmosphere was pretty electric, with the Shanghai faithful chanting and bouncing for the whole 90 minutes.  Their chants consisted of ones that all the other big clubs use in Europe but with the word ‘Shanghai’ craftily shoe-horned in there.  At one point they even sang the French national anthem (absolute tune) but in Chinese.  I spotted a ton of foreigners at the game, who were clearly reliving their days as members of European ‘firms,’ as they all had their tops off (Jimmy 5-bellies) and were yelling obscenities into loud-hailers that the locals didn’t understand.  My mates and I got our tickets from a tout outside the ground.  While I was waiting for my mates to arrive I watched the game that the touts and the police must play every week, as the hawkers creep up to the metro station trying to push their wares.  As soon as they cross the line between the concrete outside and the tiles of the station floor they are fair game for some police brutality.  I watched one guy getting repeated dead legs from a beret-wearing cop.  Later I saw the same guy creep back to the station clutching his numb legs and arse.  It reminded me of school.  We ended up getting the best seats in the house, right above the local ‘casuals’ and this being China we could bring as much food and drink from outside into the game.  So, numerous cans of Suntory and sandwiches then.  Excellent.

This weekend was Easter if you didn’t know.  China certainly didn’t, although apparently our school did as we were forced to celebrate it with every class.  This meant painting boiled eggs, hiding them and then hunting for them.  One of my kids just ate his eggs.  Lad.  Once this was done I tried explaining the significance of the egg (is it just me or is there a muddled message here; somewhere in-between the egg symbolizing the new life of Spring and coincidentally the resurrection of Jesus and the egg representing the rock that Big J rolled to the side on his way to surprise his disciples) but as I wasn’t really sure myself (and I was only ever into Easter for the chocolate) we just played balloon volleyball, my new favourite game.

    I also spent a lot of time drawing egg portraits.  They all looked the same but this is because fat Chinese kids look the same too.  Joke!  That kid William is a hero by the way.

‘Cultural Differences.’

My banker student told me a pretty mental story the other day.  In Pudong airport, a son was returning from Japan to see his mother, who had just informed him that she could no longer pay for him to study abroad.  Greeting him in the arrivals lounge she was promptly stabbed in the stomach nine times by her furious offspring.  The errant child then did a runner.  As the stricken lady lay on the polished floor, her life ebbing away, people just stood and stared.  Nobody offered to help.  Eventually a foreign bloke came forward, took the lady’s scarf and put pressure on the wound, while yelling at the onlookers for not helping.  The ambulance finally made it’s way to the scene, the victim was whisked away and did thankfully survive, and as the for the heroic foreigner – nobody knows.   You can watch a video of it here:

That’s right – somebody just filmed it all on their mobile rather than try to help.  This weird apathetic behaviour is distinctively chinese.  J.M Ballard writes about locals watching executions unflinchingly in ‘Empire of the Sun,’ while I’ve seen men hitting women in the street as people look on, like it’s a boring game of cricket.  I’ll never understand it and I’m not sure Chinese people could ever explain it either.  Their mindset, forged by some of the most brutal events in 20th century history, is so different from ours it’s beyond simple explanation.  Still, watching an old lady slowly die while you await your baggage is pretty shameful in anyones book.

Toilets, Giants and Nazis.

My flat-mate is away back in Scotland visiting his family so I’m home alone at the moment – it’s awesome.  I can now sing in the shower without reprimand and watch all the miserable war movies I’ve been storing up over the past 9 months.  Talking of which, I think I freaked out our maid (everyone has one here, it’s quite normal and extremely recommended) as one time she was mopping around my lazy arse while I watched a Nazi documentary.  It was her first day.  The poor woman thought she was being paid to clean the dishes of a white supremacist.  The next week she came round I made sure I was watching The Cosby Show.

Talking of groundbreaking comedy, our new American work colleague has got me into all sorts of good stuff, notably The Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher and the legendary Stephen Colbert.  Our new American colleague is also 6 feet 7 inches.  This is exactly a foot taller than me (I round myself up from 6-and-a-half inches to 7).  Coupled with my equally tiny Australian workmate, when we hit a bar together it looks like dad is taking his two sons for their first pint.  He’s so much taller than us that if the music is loud somewhere and we’re all standing, we literally can’t communicate without Treebeard having to stoop like he’s under fire.  I sometimes think we’d be better off using our mobiles.  He’s also so tall that if kids at school run into him they inevitably head-butt him in the balls.  Ah, the joys of being short.  Additionally, the school toilet, which was evidently designed for midget chinese kids, is so lacking in headroom American Matt has to bow like he’s in a dojo just to take a leak.  Again, my head doesn’t even touch the ceiling.

The toilet has an interesting design flaw in that it is under the stairs, and between the landing mid-way down the stairs and the window, lies a sizable open space directly above whoever is doing their business.  Of course, being a Chinese toilet it’s a squatter job.  Of course, being a dick head, I have introduced the tradition of pouring water on to any foreigner daring to do a squat.  Nothing makes my day more than seeing Aussie Ben climb the stairs back to class with a soaking T-shirt and a miserable face.  It has now reached a point where teachers must wait for the perfect moment when everyone is away or taking a class that they can then rush downstairs and fire off a quick bum torpedo.  It’s a fabulous place to work.

The Teacher’s Handbook

My boss offered me a contract extension today, to which I replied that I’d think about it.  Obviously I’m traveling first, but seeing that the UK is still apparently “buggered” for jobs, a steady job with pay-rises ahead and a possible share in a new school are pretty tempting.  Nevertheless, it makes me wonder if my boss has ever actually seen me teach.  Some days I’m good for sure; the kids are learning, they seem happy and the parents viewing the class through the windows (like cops surveying an interrogation) appear to be satisfied too.  Other days, like today, I’m all over the shop.  My teeth are hurting (permanent ones to be bolted in on monday – pimp my gums) and I had Magnus Pole visiting again on a booze soaked cloud of disaster.  My head was not in the game.  I did invent some new games however, all with the purpose to help waste some time in class.  I present to you the first installment of my Teacher’s Handbook – an extremely useful education resource that will rank alongside wikipedia in no time.

1-Ball-Fan-Roulette.  Attach one or more sticky balls to the fan attached to the ceiling (you will need a ceiling-based fan for this game to work.  And sticky balls).  Make the kids stand in scattered intervals around the classroom with their eyes closed.  Turn the fan on.  As the fan’s rotations increase in speed the sticky balls begin to lose their purchase and eventually ping off into the abyss and hopefully on to a child’s head.  If a kid gets hit they win a prize.  I’d like to point out that sticky balls are not hard and no kid has been harmed in the playing of this game (so far).

English used – minimal.  “Stop looking!”  And “Teacher, teacher!  I got hit in the face!”

2- Draw an empty dream bubble on the blackboard.  (I realise that in some circles one cannot refer to the board as black as denoting something purely because of it’s colour is judgmental and conducive to racism.  Luckily I don’t move in these insanely sad circles.  The board is black.  Just like the green man that tells you it’s safe to cross the motorway is green.  Get a bloody grip).  Get a kid to stand under the dream bubble and pretend to be asleep.  Then get the kids to shout out random words and draw what the ‘sleeping’ kid is dreaming of.

English used – high variety.  Usual words used – “Poopoo!  Alex is an ugly girl.  Poopoo!”

3- Pull Tom.  Tom is an insanely fat ten year old in my ‘Olive Class.’  If you don’t have a Tom you can use yourself.  Get Tom to lie down and see if any of the kids can pull him across the classroom floor, like tiny asian huskies.

English used – almost none.  I cry with laughter though so that’s what matters.

4-Kill the bubbles.  Turn the fan on and start blowing bubbles using those wee pots of soapy water and the tiny hooped thingy that comes with it.  Allot two kids as certified bubble-killers.  Watch as they scramble around attempting the impossible task of preventing bubbles hitting the floor.  It’s basically the closest I’ve got to recreating the final stage of The Crystal Maze.  I am Paul O’Brien.  (Was that his name?)

English used – minimal.  “Teacher!  Booble!  Booble!”  Bubble is a tough word for them.  Booble is a far funnier replacement.

So that concludes chapter one of my Teacher’s Handbook.  I hope you took notes and I’ll welcome any feedback, queries or, as unlikely as it may seem, criticisms.  Recess.


Long In The Tooth

Obviously things were going too smoothly.  I had a little fall last night.  By little I mean I chipped four teeth, two of them severely.  So a trip to the dentist was in order and deciding I should go to a reputable one, I was rewarded with a reputable dentist’s fee: 12000 RMB.  If my insurance doesn’t cover this I could be in a spot of trouble.  I now have some temporary crowns in and await the permanent fixtures shortly.  My dentist was a lovely woman called Lucy.  Her assistant wasn’t so lovely.  She seemed obsessed with shoving various implements as far down my throat as possible, like she was testing my gag reflex.  I knew it was bad when I first smiled at Lucy.  “Ooh, that was an expensive fall,” she quipped.  I didn’t smile again.  Two injections were needed to numb my mouth, the first proving ineffective as I writhed in agony under her drill.  I had to admit to Lucy that I hadn’t been to the dentist for a number of years, and after this experience I can’t say I’ll rushing back.  I won’t be rushing to drink too much soju and fall down  stairs with my hands in my pockets again either.  A truly rubbish day.