It’s been a few days

Hasn’t it? 

Christmas Day was foggy, windy and icy. Boxing Day was sunny, calm and icy. The day after Boxing Day was cloudy, windy and icy. Rob said that there was even some snow, which didn’t surprise me because when I’d been off DVD shopping I kept expecting to see flakes of snow flutter across my path. There wasn’t much snow, though. I think I saw the aftermath of some, but by that stage it was no longer recognisable as snowman DNA. 

On Christmas Day, I had a chat to my parents on Skype and then went round to Yvette’s for lunch. The food was excellent and we had a good time. After that, I felt no inclination to have tea. 

We went to Ronnie’s for our staff meeting two nights ago. Ronnie’s is an Australian restaurant out near 南禅寺 (Nánchán Sì). (Ironically [I think], Yvette’s also Australian, but she teaches maths. Hmmm. Perhaps “coincidentally” might be the more relevant adverb.) The food was good and included fish and chips, and pies, although the prices were a little steep. I won’t object if we go back some time, but I won’t be going there without good reason. Not easy to find either. I ended up getting a taxi with Caleb, Bruce and Angela by chance. The driver delivered us to the allegedly correct address, but we were outside a Home Inn. The restaurant wasn’t that far away, but because the building had apparently been renumbered (although how the driver knew that 58 was actually 29 I don’t know [the numbers had been halved?]; and just to be ironic [yes, actual irony this time], a shop about two doors down was numbered 80), we didn’t know which way to go until someone led us there. Ronnie’s was, in fact, further along the street, but back from the road. 

Yesterday afternoon was the New Year’s concert for the whole school. Obviously the act I was involved in was not included in the programme, and what I stayed to see (I generously gave an hour to something I saw eight years ago) was much more polished than our rather sorry excuse for a performance. Nick and Peter appeared in some performance by the PAL 1 class, but their presence made little sense. There was a Michael Jackson tribute routine because he is to China today what the Carpenters were when I first arrived here. Mind you, kids here still think rap is current. Is it? 

Meanwhile, the New Year’s honours list is out and I see that Peter Jackson has been knighted; so, too, Patrick Stewart. If I was an old person (well, really old), I’d be all overexcited about Status Quo getting gongs. Jenson Button was awarded an MBE and Anthea Bell, who’s one of the translators of Asterix, got an OBE. 

And the awards strike quite close to home because my uncle was awarded a Queen’s Service Order for services to horticulture. Who knows? One day I might get a gong for services to education. Now I really am being ironic. 

After Nick (that is, my sister’s husband and not the physics teacher) got me Yasser Seirawan’s Winning Chess Strategy for Christmas, it was apparent I needed the other books in the series, most of which arrived today. These were Play Winning Chess, Winning Chess Tactics, and Winning Chess Openings. I’m waiting for a fourth volume to arrive. Anyway, this lot will shut me up for some time to come. 

I’ve been reading short horror stories by Wilkie Collins (yeah, it’s still the Wilkie Collins season) and I’ve been formatting and editing (slightly) the text of the letters of Mary Wortley Montague which she wrote as she travelled across Europe to Istanbul as the wife of the English ambassador to Turkey. Interesting letters to read (you can actually get a 1794 edition from Google Books) and Lady M seems to have been a decent sort of person quite ready to correct the misconceptions the rest of Europe had about the Turks. On the other hand, she does seem to have met all the hottest babes in Turkey and practically no other species of woman on her travels. 

Outside the school, fencing was being erected to block off access to the pavement, which means that there will be pedestrians wandering down the cycle lane, blindly oblivious to cyclists and electric bike riders who will, in turn, be blindly oblivious to the pedestrians. The buildings on the street along the north side of the school have been being demolished and there’s now a concrete block wall up along that street. We’ll be moving our kit to the other building at the end of the term. Thus construction season continues in Wuxi.


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