I note in passing


Indeed, I passed 70,000 hits at about 8.45pm last night. Don’t know who the lucky winner was because Pope B. of, er, Valencia City (? bloody awful handwriting; can’t tell where the place is) ticked the box requesting anonymity. Well, if the Pope wants to be anonymous, I should respect his wishes. The caller was someone who seems to have been going through old entries (although that might be several people for all I know).

(Later. Seems it was a crank call from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those boys are such a pair of wags. There was this other time when the Archbishop of Canterbury turned up at the gates of the Vatican dressed as the Pope’s wife, only she turned up a few minutes later, was arrested by the Swiss Guard, and tortured by the Inquisition for six months until they realised their mistake. She can laugh now, but only after she’s taken extreme painkillers. [Oh, crap. He has nothing to say. –ed.])

Almost the end of the week. We do, unfortunately, have to go in to school on Sunday to give the little darlings their end-of-the-month tests and then on Monday because the stupid system doesn’t understand Monday-to-Monday holidays. I might use Jonathan Dimbleby’s Russia series to take the strain since I got two more discs of it from my Dad the other day.

The PAL classes are being good, but the AS class has neither the level of English nor the commitment, though I can’t blame them if they have no love for the books. NorthStar isn’t exactly exciting (but it’s not meant to be; seems more like a book for someone who’s serious about studying English) and Learn to Listen You Little Bastards is similarly fairly dull stuff (and, again, the sort of book for someone who’s a bit hardcore).

Meanwhile, Colin continues to get personal statements from the A2s, which are works of fiction by and large. The problem is that he (and to a lesser extent, I) has been correcting them only to find that he gets the same sort of thing back again because they’re being produced according to some model which none of the A2s can produce without perjuring themselves because they lack the breadth of experience that their Western counterparts might have. They ought to be honest.

“I’m a Chinese school boy/girl. My life revolves around going to school, being taught copious quantities of knowledge, but having no understanding of any of it. I have no hobbies or interests relevant to my subject because I don’t have time to cultivate them, but I do play basketball or Counter-Strike or go shopping or chat on QQ when my parents aren’t making me do extra English classes at New Oriental or English First. I’m doing physics / maths / chemistry / business because, er, something to do with some advanced nation reacting to centuries of writing 八股文 as a means of advancement, which retarded the country’s technological development; but although I may have an aptitude for the subject I want to study, I have no real interest in it. My dad’s an engineer / a boss (I have utterly no idea what he does) / etc., so that’s what I have to be regardless of what I really want to do. I know, though, that my parents’ capacious coffers will ensure that my application for a place at your university is greeted favourably.

PS, My English hasn’t progressed in two years because the absence of any exam for it deluded me into thinking that it wasn’t important. I hope you will admit me to your Foundation English Programme.”

While we’re talking about foundation English, a couple of weeks ago I saw some girl wearing a T-shirt which said, “No paint, no gains”. Sage words since seeing which, I’ve been buying paint. However, I now realise that it was a slogan for Chinese paint manufacturers. Advertising is cunning.

Meanwhile, the decorations have been going up for the National Day Holiday (the day when Chairman M. stepped close to the microphone and said, “No, I don’t want to buy the Thoughts of Chairman Mao.”), which this year will ignore 30 years of misery and celebrate 30 years of an increasing gap between the haves and have-nots. This city, for example, is absolutely crawling with very expensive, brand new cars, and they’re not being driven by the 老百姓. I don’t think I’ll ever be in China so long that I’ll ever cease to despise motorists and deplore the stupidity of all road users. Or pedestrians. The pavement is there for a reason.


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