Thursday, 30 April 2009

A Meme

I don't usually do memes but I liked this one, I nicked the idea of Mr Johnny of Durham.


- Go to Google image search.
- Type in your answer to each question.
- Choose a picture from the first page.
- Use this website ( to make your collage.


1. What is your name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What is your hometown?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. What is your favorite movie?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What is one word to describe yourself?
10. How are you feeling right now?
11. What do you love most in the world?
12. What do you want to be when you grow up?

I just really like my first picture :P

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Bare Mannequins

Part of me feels sorry for the increasing number of bare mannequins in the window of the popular shop, Urban Outfitters.

Then I remembered their clothes are grossly overpriced and they only stock glorified Primark goods that I have never been able to afford.

So quite frankly, serves you right UO!

... but seriously, credit crunch or what?!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Kettle

Here is a poem from the poet John Agard - I love it.

Put the kettle on.

Put the kettle on.

It is the British answer

to Armageddon.

Never mind the taxes rise,

never mind trains are late.

There’s one thing you can be sure of

and that’s the kettle mate!

It’s not whether you lose,

It not whether you win,

It’s whether or not you’ve

plugged the kettle in.

May the kettle ever hiss,

may the kettle ever steam,

it is the engine that drives our nations dream.

Long live the kettle

that rules over us.

May it be lime scale free

and may it never rust.

Sing it on the beaches,

sing it from the house tops;

the sun may set on empire

but the kettle never stops.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Indulging in Dreaming

I stumbled across this article which showed Chinese netizens' reactions to the Britain's Got Talent singing phenomenon Susan Boyle. Here are a few of my favourites:

I do not understand what she is singing but my eyes are moist. I am so touched I am shaking uncontrollably. She is 47-years-old, and she walked onto the stage to sing “I have a dream!” I am 42-years-old. I [now] feel I very much have a future! Thank you SUSAN!

Watching foreign television shows, I have a feeling of truth/real. When can our country’s television shows be true/real?

After listening, I am truly moved. She made me believe that even ordinary people like us can also show our radiance. Suddenly, I feel I too am not that ordinary.

I find it interesting that quite a lot of the press over here, at least a lot that I have read, has been negatively skewed in terms of the voyeurism of the 'reality' TV show genre and disgust at the initial reaction of the audience to Ms. Boyle before she opened up her fantastic pair of lungs, example here.

Then we look at the Chinese comments and all people seem to have is praise and admiration, not just for Susan (I found the first woman's comment particularly moving) but for the reality TV show as we know it.

I'll be honest, I have never been a fan of shows like Dancing on Ice, X-Factor or Britain's Got Talent. I will watch them but I never vote and will not be on tender hooks if I haven't seen it. I, as many other people on our fair isle, have always been kind of disturbed by the fact that people are transfigured into entertainment, their back stories, hope and dreams are all hammed up for our viewing pleasure. I just don't like it.

But then I read these comments from people on the other side of the world drawing so much optimism from this show that gets such a bad wrap over here. People say that The X-Factor and Britain's Got Talent and the fame obsessed society are what is wrong with Britain today - but now I am not so sure.

Britain's Got Talent especially shows people from all walks of life, all kinds of different people of all ages; short, tall, fat and skinny and occasionally those with weird double jointed tendencies - everyone is represented.

If this show gives people in China hope that they can make better people of themselves, that they don't have to be conventionally sexy or young to have success, then maybe we need to have a bit more positivity vis-a-vis this talent show and the quirky contenders in it.

Maybe I don't necessarily agree with the 15-minutes-of-fame-obsessed culture that seems to go hand in hand with this genre of entertainment (to be frank I an sure the 'obsession' with fame has existed long before TV and Britain's Got Talent), but if this programme gives people all over the world 'hope' - which after all is the buzz word of 2009 - then why don't we just brush off our cynical British selves and indulge in a little bit of dreaming?

In other news isn't this purging business causing a stir - here is a blog from Dave, an incredibly intelligent man, that I particularly enjoyed on the subject.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Falling thorugh Time

Chinese has an interesting point of grammar. When we talk about weeks we use 《上》 to talk about the past and 《下》to talk about the future. 上(shang) on its own means up, above or on top of and 下(xia)signifies the opposite. If you, as I, have a strangely visually wired brain then you will probably join me in seeing this quite interesting concept of falling through time; going from 上to 下, up to down. Granted the same cannot be said for when we talk about other periods of time such as days or months, a differing system is used, but I like this imagery so I am going to stick with it.

It was always quite hard for me to grasp, this concept of us moving downwards through time. Maybe it is a western mindset but I always visualised in my head us building upwards through life almost as a kind of construction site and we were all creating our own little sky scrapers which would have occasional bridges across to others’. In my head humanity resembled one big city with lots of high rise buildings and walkways. As I said, I am an overly active visual daydreamer.

I remember that in RE class we often addressed the concept of fate and the amount of choice we have in life and I always struggled to express my viewpoint. Something along the lines of “I think fate does exist but not really because I think we can choose where we go but we still have to follow this path thing but I’m not sure… what are we talking about again?” would regularly exit my mouth. Somehow I managed to scrape an A in my RE GCSE despite my apparent lack of ability of explaining myself. I also earned myself a half decent A in my Maths GCSE. However, I still maintain that I struggle to add together double digit numbers and won’t even touch triple digits with a barge pole – says a lot about the British exam system, no?

Anyways, I be digressin’.

This concept of falling and the imagery that came with it kind of handed me an alternative to the ‘Humanity City’ concept, this helped me to rearrange my thoughts in terms of a path in life and how it is set out. If we are falling through time then we have little control because, well… we are falling. Maybe we can spread our arms, slow down and enjoy the view for a bit like a parachutist or tuck in like a bullet and fly through parts of our life and look back in 5 years and realise we remember nothing (case in point, my early teens.) Some times we get knocked by the walls of our path of ‘fate’ but we don’t have a chance to stop and catch our breath, we just have to keep falling and falling into the unknown . Sometimes we fall towards a fork in the road and notice just in time for us to kick ourselves off the sides into the path of our choosing, sometimes we notice the fork too late and have to take the hand that is dealt to us.

I am still not sure which concept I prefer; the ‘Humanity City’ or the ‘Falling through Time’. The later has a certain romantic quality to it that I kind of like, we only have so much control – which is close to what I was trying to express in my RE classes. I am also musing over whether these concepts can be considered Western and Oriental, there is certainly a very American and Thatcher-like philosophy to the City concept in terms of building your own destiny, and the Falling concept feels more Chinese… although I cannot place my finger on it (not just the fact I took this idea from a piece of Chinese grammar.)

So while I am trying to figure out where I stand in terms of my two little theories let me know which you prefer. Would you be more inclined to take the view that we are 100% in control of our destiny, building our lives and relationships like metropolises, or would you rather place your lives more in the hands of fate, destiny, chance or whatever you want to call it? Falling through time like little rag dolls.

This may seem like a bit of a pretentious blog, discussing fate and all that jazz, but it is in no way intentional. Those of you that know me irl will probably know this is genuinely what happens when I have too much time on my hands (i.e. when in an airport) – my mind wanders and I all of a sudden become really philosophical.

Anyways – I will see you soon.




Friday, 17 April 2009

Alone Time

I have been accidentally left alone tonight but I am OK. I have gone round 北师大 campus and collected some of my fave food here and am having a kind of feast with myself and an online illegal version of V for Vendetta (naughty, naughty Jazza).

I am going to make the most of it, I have had little to no alone time these past few weeks. Who knows? I might even read! SCANDALOUS!

I went to the art district in Beijing the other day and took some appropriately arty pictures, here are a collection:

In this district dedicated to all that is art (and very expensive food and drink - I couldn't find a coffee under 25yuan!) I found an exhibition dedicated to British artists. Me being British, I decided to take a look and was genuinely blown away - we apparently breed very good arty people.
I forgot to take down the names of any of the artists but the exhibition is called "English Lounge" and is at the Tang Contemporary Gallery until the 26th of April.

There was one piece that I really liked by ... which had a map of the British Isles:not a very good picture I admit but I think you get the gist.

Each of those flags represents a list of Chinese restaurants in a certain area in Britain. You can see Glasgow, London, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Manchester seem to have a very large amount. I even managed to find my local back home in Essex:(Yau's Chinese Restaurant, Billericay)

I just thought it was a really simple but thought provoking piece of artwork. I think it even goes into what it means to be British today - the kebab shop, the Chinese Thai or Indian restaurant down your road, they're just as British as the chippy or Woolworths. All these shops and places go to making up life on this little island just as much as the rest of us and I genuinely believe that is what makes being British today so great.

A music video that has taken this trip to Beijing by storm has been the 2008 Olympic song: "Beijing Huanyin Ni" (北京欢迎你- YouTube it, it's fantastically cheesy) and within it is shows clips of all that is considered 'Chinese' - Peking duck, tea ceremony, Peking Opera, calligraphy dumplings and more. It got me wondering what the hell is going to be in our Olympic music video? After all, Britishness is much harder to define in the modern age.

It will be interesting to see what we decide to do; if we end up clinging to traditional Britain, that of the class system, scones, Lords, Ladies, the empire and foxhunting - or whether we will have the balls to take on the gargantuan effort of representing the huge spectrum of people who live here today.

I may have ended up rambling here so I will leave you to whatever you were doing before hand.

I hope all is well where you are.


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Future of a Bad Blogger

So I am the worst blogger in the world. I should have really set myself a target of blogging every day, or even every other day, just to document this trip.
Oh well, I fail.

So, I have an exam tomorrow. I have to read a text aloud, have a conversation and recite a Tang dynasty poem, shown below:


It's nothing too hard, and we have been told off the record that 'everybody passes' and that it is just so they can give us a certificate saying we have graduated from something, but I just don't want to make a fool of myself: especially with the poem. I am shit at memorising things, I was when I did GCSE drama and I still am now. It has taken me a day to memorise two and a half lines of that thing. Not good.

Something that has come out of me being here that I really wasn't expecting was me thinking a lot more about my future. I think it might stem from being with so many people who are at different stages of their degrees, quite a few people are going to be graduating this year, and it has got me thinking where I am going to be when I am finally finished with University in 2011.

Granted, I will probably not be the same person as I am now; I would have spent a year in Nanjing and written a dissertation of 10, 000 words (still not sure how that is going to happen) but I at least know these things:
  • I will still be active on the Internet, whether it be vlogging, blogging, tweeting or all three I will still be here.
  • I want to escape from the education system, at least for a little while, I need to escape from the bubble and really crave to be in the 'real' world, even this early in my Uni career.
  • I want to be able to travel and live abroad for at least a little while BUT I am still very conscious that England will always be my home - I need to be able to come back here.
I think teaching is a necessary string to my bow but I am not sure yet how prominent a role it will play in my immediate future after University but it will at least come in handy.

I have also got a few projects that I am planning on getting started soon after I am over my jet-lag when I am back in Manchester. They may work or they may not - regardless I want to give them a shot.

Very little point to this blog, as per usual. I may update before I leave China, I may not. Place a bet on it, have a bit of fun with the outcome :P

I will speak to you sexy little strawberry smoothies very soon.

Jazza 杰仁

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

About the Language

I'll be honest, I have been much more active on the Internet than I was expecting to be. I thought I would be lucky to even be able to log onto twitter and blogger, maybe upload one video of the trip. I am not even two weeks in and I have uploaded two.
I think this is a good thing. It means it is more probable that I am going to be able to continue with this massive part of my life when I move to Nanjing in September.

Seeing as it is possible for me to update my experiences I thought I had better do so; as I have said before, more for me than for you.

Language lessons have been exactly what I needed: a good kick up the arse. For too long I have been plodding along in Chinese language and having some first year students (I am in my second year) having better oral skills than me has been a little disheartening but just what I needed. It has rekindled my enthusiasm for speaking foreign languages, which can only be a good thing.

(Reading through this again I think I may have been harsh on myself saying that I had been 'plodding' along, I haven't. I think I had almost lost my way in terms of motivation.)

I have started being more proactive already, bought a blank books and have started a 'Sign Diary' where I am trying to document the signs that I don't understand, whether it be the whole sign or a specific character and it's context. I plan to jot down and learn about three or four a day and in this way increase my vocab. I would love to take credit for this idea, but I stole it off my friend who has been living here for about a year.

Today was a positive day for me in terms of my confidence in Chinese. I, for the first time in a while, had that contempt feeling and rush of being understood in a foreign language. It seems kind of silly, I have been speaking Chinese for nearly a year and a half and have been using it here for over a week, but today it just hit me that the sounds I was making were being relayed into another persons brain and being understood and in turn the sounds they were making were entering my brain and being transfered into meaning. I haven't felt that since I was about 15, so it was nice. Those of you who have learnt a language may know what I am talking about.
When you are in a classroom there is a certain amount of scepticism towards the sounds and the arrangement of letters you are being told to speak write. It isn't really until you take these practices into the real world that you realise that these sounds you have memorised and the grammar you have drilled are actually words, feelings and language. This is why I love languages, I believe no other academic discipline can reap such visible and immediate rewards in terms of that moment when euphoria hits you when you understand and can be understood.

Through this most are some more images from when me and Tash went to the summer palace. It is weird putting someones name here and not linking them... I forget most people don't have much on the Internet past a Facebook.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Lessons from China

China so far has just been amazing. I keep having to check myself in realisation that I am actually here. It is so easy to consider a city just any other city, where ever you are in the world, with tourist attractions, taxis and foreign students, and forget that you are on the other side of the world.

I have so far eaten starfish (tastes like a less potent crab), looked into the bedrooms of emperors past and had countless vendors beckon to me with, “look-ee look-ee!” If only they knew they had no chance of getting my attention without correct grammar. I have been considering selling them English lessons, “for you, my friend, special price” of course.

I have recently, from going on this trip, reached some self-realisation; a part of my personality that I have never really noticed before and quite frankly isn’t a positive one. When I say recently I mean it happened about 10 minutes ago.

I have been quite prejudice to people from ‘privileged’ in the past.

On this course there are people from all walks of life; final year management students and first year dance students, from Aberdeen to London and from all over the EU.

I get on with everyone fine, from all backgrounds etc. But I have caught myself making or thinking snide remarks about the people who obviously have money or went to a posh school. I seem to to it particularly around the people who are from Oxford or Cambridge.

Basically, I need to stop. Assuming someone is going to be up their own arse because they had a better education or because they go to Ox-bridge is as bad as if not worse than assuming someone is going to be thick because they are from Ireland, or violent because they are from Scotland, or a chav because they are from Essex. I am lucky enough to have grown up in a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds but was never really exposed to the high end of the spectrum. This may explain but clearly doesn't justify this predisposition I seem to have to force a stereotype on people.

If going to Uni has taught me anything it is that people will always surprise you in how they will act because of their background. I need to get the hell over myself and let these people just be people, and not just “that posh bloke".

So if I learn nothing else from this experience then at least I will have learnt to accept posh people into my heart.

In other news here are a couple of pictures I have taken whilst being here: